So we finally got some snow! Earlier in the week it looked like there wouldn’t be any snow at all so I had made some plans to check a few more spots along the river. When it started snowing, I thought those spots would be even nicer with some open water surrounded by snow. Until I realised that all the small roads leading to the best riverside spots are not plowed in the winter, which makes the river more or less inaccessible now. Plan B: Järvzoo.
I have always preferred the zoo in the winter. Snow makes the dark enclosures a bit lighter and it reduces the overall clutter, and this makes a big difference in some of the aviaries. Sure enough, when I got to the golden eagles, the background net was finally hidden by the snow covered branches and the icing on the cake was the spotty lighting which sometimes hit the bird.
There are only two wolves in the upper wolf enclosure and although it was quite amusing to look at them run with leaps to cope with the deep powder snow, there wasn’t any photo ops as such. Wolverines are also tricky, but then again wolverines are always tricky in the winter. Black fur, white snow. Doesn’t quite work.
But then I got to the lynx. I’m really yearning to get a good lynx picture so that will be my goal for the winter. Now that there’s three of them and the cub is still quite playful, the odds are better of getting some keepers. The best spot in this enclosure for eye level pictures doesn’t seem to be favoured by the animals, the snow was untouched. So I tried to make use of a spotlight here as well and had to shoot quite a few frames to catch the light in the face. Mission accomplished. Although even here I’m bothered by the downward angle, as usual with the lynx.
And then finally I got a picture of the snowy owl. Quite unbelievably, this turned out to be first snowy owl picture I have. All things considered, a lot better visit than the last one!2 comments
We’re not doing any half measures here. After having complained that we have no snow in sight, the big storm that is ravaging Europe right now did reach out to us and dumped such a pile of snow overnight that I’m firmly stuck at home this morning. This is actually the first time it has happened to me in Föne. The Qashqai has enough of a ground clearance to manage the most, but now the wind has piled the deepest snow right behind the car so I don’t stand a chance of reversing out, unless I take the shovel and have a proper workout. Which I don’t feel like doing… So now I just wait for the plow.
Oh and happy independence day Finland!2 comments
Olen kovasti myöhässä Vuoden Luontokuva 2013 -kilpailun tulosten suhteen mutta vasta nyt näin kuvat. Onko vain mielikuvitusta vai onko tämän vuoden taso huomattavasti alempi kuin ennen? Suurin osa kuvista näytti niin kovin arkisilta. Siis ihan suoraan sanottuna, en edes ymmärrä miten jotkut kuvista voivat olla palkittujen joukossa. On toki hyvä että vuoden 2008 fiasko ei ole toistunut mutta ei sitä nyt siitä muka-taiteellisuudesta toiseen ääripäähän tarvitse mennä. En väitä että tänä vuonna on väärä voittaja, mutta selvää on että painoarvo on nyt sisällöllä eikä visuaalisella ilmeellä. Ehkä se on onkin koko luontokuva-konseptin kirous… milloin on kyse luonnosta ja milloin kuvasta?
Omat suosikkini ovat “Kuolema lammella” ja “Huuto”. Ensinmainittu taiteellisuudellaan ja jälkimmäinen draamallaan. Draamaa on toki kilpailun voittajassakin ja “Telkkäpoikueen turmassa” mutta “Huudossa” se hätä on melkein käsinkosketeltava.4 comments
Seems like it’s been an extremely windy autumn with some big storms doing damage, although luckily this region has been spared from the worst. But even so, with the winds we had today it was a bit tough to do half of my walk against the wind… I had to brace myself against the heaviest gusts. With the wind in mind, I didn’t take the SLR with me. Well, not like there’s anything to shoot anyway. But I digress. I sold my Powershot S95 when I realised that I hardly ever use it. For “serious” pictures it’s the SLR, and for the snapshots, I can make do with the phone. I have a Samsung Galaxy mini with a 6 MP camera and although the pictures don’t hold up at closer inspection, it’s still plenty of quality for web use. No wonder that compact cameras are becoming less popular… who wants to invest in a dedicated camera when their phone produces same quality pictures? And when you have the phone with you at all times, whereas the dedicated camera is something you have to remember to take with you. At the same time, when everybody and their brother now get introduced to the world of photography, the sales of SLRs are going up. People just simply skip the compacts. You can see how manufacturers respond to this shift in the market… system cameras are getting smaller and compacts bigger! Five years ago the manufacturers were competing in the amount of megapixels. Now they’re one-upping each other in optical zoom, I mean how about the Canon Powershot SX50 with a 24-1200mm zoom? Ridiculous. But the only way to beat the ubiquitous camera phone.
But I still prefer my SLR. I just need some snow to decorate the landscape so I will have a reason to use it.3 comments
The first post of the month is also the last post of the month… I don’t think I’ve been this quiet since I started the blog. But there’s a reason for the downtime. My mother passed away on the 4th, I made it to Finland with two days to spare so I could see her in the hospital. She was unconscious by then but it was important for me to get there before it was too late, otherwise I would sit here with regrets. So in the end her fight against the cancer was very short, the disease was too advanced and she was physically quite frail even before it. Since there never was any doubt about the outcome, we all just wished that she would not have to suffer too much, and she didn’t.
We were able to arrange the funeral quite quickly, and I didn’t see any reason to stay in Finland after that so I came back a couple of weeks ago. I am a bit surprised at how well I’ve dealt with my mother’s passing, I think the biggest reason is that I was able to do much of the grieving while she still was alive. The end as such was expected and quite undramatic when it happened (I was there with her). So when the funeral was over, it was kind of a restart of my life as well. In the land of the living, life goes on.
I am really itching to take some pictures again, I mean actual “photography-as-a-hobby” pictures and not just those snapshots from the funeral. November however is not a good month when you need inspiration… Last Saturday I went to the zoo but it was one of the less successful visits and I only got one keeper (not a very good one). On Sunday I did a long walk, and got one picture (not very good) for my troubles. And today I went for a long drive to discover new places, and after stopping at about ten different spots, the last one finally gave me a reason to take out the camera, not that the result is anything to cheer at.
November has always been my least favourite month. It still is.
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Lepää rauhassa äiti.
15.9.1939 – 4.11.2013
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I think just about every landscape photographer likes to shoot the moon, I certainly do. I want to use the full moon as a feature in a landscape picture, so I’m always checking the full moon rise and set times to see when they coincide with either sunset or sunrise. The window of opportunity is very narrow because you don’t want so much light in the sky that the moon is not even visible, and you don’t want it to get so dark that it’s impossible to capture any detail in the landscape without overexposing the moon. And then of course you also need a good spot for taking that picture so that you have an open view towards the horizon while keeping the landscape interesting. That’s a lot of criteria to fill in and in the past it’s been a little bit hit and miss – check the direction of the moon, check the map, check the compass and then hope for the best.
But there is a way to make it easier. You can take out the guesswork and use The Photographer’s Ephemeris to provide the exact information of the time and direction and overlay this information on the map, so can do your scouting on the computer or smartphone and the only thing you need to hope for is for a cloudless sky.
I installed the app on my first smartphone but it turned out that the display was too small which made the app very fiddly to use and I gave up pretty quickly. But recently I discovered that The Photographer’s Ephemeris is available for desktop as well, and that’s when the fun started – the large computer display allows you to see the big picture for very detailed planning, and then I just use the smartphone app for some last minute checks on location.
Last night I put this whole thing to test. It’s extremely difficult to find a good location for either moonrise or moonset because this region is so hilly and forested. If you don’t have a hill blocking your view, then you have forest instead. That is assuming that you find a good viewpoint in the first place.
So started checking all potential locations and found that one my favourite spots would work for last night’s moonrise. The weird part is that the location is by the river which is normally lined by high embankments so you couldn’t possibly see the moon until it’s high on the sky, except that right here, towards the moonrise, there was a valley that gave an almost free view in precisely one direction - the moonrise. The only thing that I couldn’t calculate with Ephemeris was how much the trees would affect the view, but I estimated that I would see the moon at 17:53. The first moon picture here is taken at 17:54!
I’m not going to explain how The Photographer’s Ephemeris works, you should check out the excellent tutorials instead (sunrise and moonrise), but I will briefly explain the screenshot. My location is the large red pin, and I used the small grey pin to mark the highest point along my line of sight to the moon. Since there was some elevation difference to my disadvantage, I saw that I needed to wait until 17:53 before the moon’s altitude was higher than the apparent altitude caused by the elevation, with some reservation for the trees. And like I said, the information turned out to be very accurate!
The last picture is taken at 18:01, which is 31 minutes after sunset. It wasn’t that dark for the naked eye, but it was too much for the camera to handle, so this is a simple HDR (combination of two exposures, one for sky and one for foreground). It is better if the moonrise is 15-30 minutes before sunset, so now I just wait for the next opportunity… when it happens, I have just the right tool to find me the best spot!Comments welcome in English / på svenska / suomeksi
What do you do when you have nothing to do? Go to the zoo, of course. Landscape shooting is not an option now that the leaves have fallen, I’m just waiting for the first snow to turn things around again.
I walked around the zoo twice today, just to get some exercise while I was at it. I didn’t need to spend a long time at any enclosure so by the time I reached the predators, it was so early that I figured I might as well go around again and get a 2nd chance with the animals. As it turned out, the first chance was better, except for the lynx – I was happy to see (and shoot) the lynx cub!
As you can see, there was some snow in the zoo. It was very localised though, only in the shaded places and, well, only in the zoo. Didn’t see any of it on the way there and there’s definitely no snow in Föne.
It was a pretty good visit and in the evening I had another good session, shooting the full moon. I will need to talk about another subject that relates to the moon so I will create a separate post for it later.1 comment
I continued with sightseeing today, but this time with some members from the camera club. It was actually a mini-tour, we visited five different spots. It didn’t start out too well when we got to the first spot – it was supposed to be a fine view, but honestly, it was marginally better than what I see from my kitchen window. So I played Wordfeud in my car while the others were busy pointing their cameras this way and that.
The next stop was a junk yard that calls itself for a machine museum – they had old tractors, excavators and other machinery from days gone by. I’m not so much into machines, but all things old can provide some interesting details to study.
The third stop was really nice, it’s an old summer farm that is still being used so the place is well maintained. I would have liked to spend more time there, but the others seemed to be in a hurry so I will put this place on my to-do list. Could be well worth visiting in the summer with all the flowers anyway.
Then we drove to a junk yard. The line between a museum and a junk yard is very thin, but compared to this, the machine museum we visited earlier definitely earns to call itself that and this second place is pure junk. Still, always some details you can pick up, even if a sunny day does not provide the optimal conditions for this kind of photography.
In the last place that we visited, it seemed like people were mentally already going home because it was a very short visit. It’s a very old manor house (from the 17th century I think) and there would have been nice things to explore, but I guess I was mentally on my way home as well because I didn’t want to stick around when everyone else was leaving. Anyway, it’s another place that would be worth a new visit in the summer.
When I came home, I saw two big birds on the bird feeder. Spotted nutcrackers! I’ve only ever seen them once before, over 10 years ago in Ljusdal. They are a little bit too big for the nut feeder but they kept at it, and they’re not very shy either so I got my species pictures. The photo ops were awful though, this new feeder place really isn’t not suited for photography, especially on a sunny day. But nevermind, I got a new species in my album!3 comments
I did some sightseeing today. The water level in Ljusnan is quite low again, so I wanted to explore the shoreline features but this time on the western side of the river, where I haven’t been so much. My first stop was this summer’s favourite at Knutnäsudden, but the rest of the places were new. I was particularly interested in seeing Hovrahällarna, but as it so often happens… the place you thought would be good turns out not to be that, and the place you didn’t expect anything from turns out to provide the best opportunities. And so it was that I spent all of five minutes at Hovrahällarna without taking out the camera, and spent quite some time at Långstrand, precariously balancing on the round rocks while search for the best compositions.
My fourth stop was at Kölströmmen, I’ve been there before but it was over 10 years ago and I never got down to the water (there’s a picnic place on top of the embankment where you have a partial view to the river down below). But now I’ve explored the shore as well and although I couldn’t find anything very photogenic, it was a nice walk anyway.
On the way back home I stopped at Forsänget so I finally saw the place from the other side. In Föne it’s close enough that I can walk there, so it was a relief to notice that it’s more interesting on that side.
So it was a mixed bag but a good trip in all. As I always say, even if some places turn out to be totally uninteresting, it’s important to have seen them so there’s no need to speculate!
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The water level has receded quite quickly in the past week and you can see this clearly on the exposed rocks. If you look at the Långstrand picture, you can see the rocks closest to the water are white – they are covered with dried mud, while the brown rocks have been exposed most of the summer so the mud is worn off. My first impression was, frost, but that was of course impossible because it was quite warm in the sunlight!2 comments
So, no more bird shooting for me. Last night I got startled just when I was about to fall asleep, by a mouse inside the walls. Last winter I had big problems with the mice, thankfully they never got in the flat but they did chew up the network cable that goes through a hole in the wall between the bedroom and living room. And my bed is next to that hole… if you’ve never had mice inside the walls, then you have to take my word that they make a lot of noise! And then when we finally baited them with rat poison, I had to endure the smell of rotting mice. So no thank you, I hope I can stop this problem before the whole mouse family moves in.
What ties this mice problem to the birds is that having a bird feeder so close to the house is an obvious attraction to the rodents. There’s a lot of natural food around the house as well so I can’t be sure if the bird feeder really is to blame, but all the seeds and nuts that the birds drop on the ground will sure help the mice to stay, once they come here. If I have to give up bird photography in order to have a mice-less winter, then that’s what I will do, so I moved the bird feeder away from the house. I’ll keep feeding the birds in any case.
So my one and only session with the birds was last Saturday. It was the first version of the setup so it wasn’t quite good yet, but at least I got a more natural picture of the Eurasian tree sparrow than I managed last year.
It was so sad to see the birds flock on the ground to pick whatever leftovers they could find, on the spot where the feeder used to be… but I’m sure they’ll discover the new location tomorrow. And I hope that the mouse has the good sense of dying somewhere else than inside the wall, assuming that it’s going to help itself to some of the leftover rat poison from last winter!6 comments