Tuesday, December 25, 2012

   So, it finally came, the book I ordered (actually it was my wife who posted the order). Two weeks of waiting and less than one more week and it's been read through. I thought it might be nice to share a few thoughts about this piece of work, which carries the name "Digital outdoor photography, 101 top tips", by Heather Angel.
                This how the book looks like, if you stumble a cross it in the book store.
 For me reading a book is somehow related to inspiration. Especially when there is a lack of inspiration, a good book or even a magazine might help to give that so much needed punch to pack the gear, get out and start to shoot. Somehow, usually I just don't manage to get that same feeling when reading and watching stuff on the internet. I need to have something concrete and real in my hands, so a good book will most likely to do the job. Why? Looking images made by other photographers, especially when the pics are made by someone who has a vision, makes me want to do the same, go out and find something beautiful and show it to others. Reading stories makes me want to experience similar kind of things. And finally, good tips and tricks are always appreciated, right? You never know too much so that you couldn't learn a bit more.

   Heather Angel is an author for whopping 52 books, this one is the 52nd. She has a long and successful career in photography, so she surely knows what she's writing about. As the title suggest the book concentrates on outdoor photography. Practically, all types of nature photography is gone through, landscape, flower, wildlife and macro photography. The book is divided in thirteen sections, starting from "Planning and preparation" and ending in "After a shoot" section. So actually the book contains a workflow from the start to the end of a shoot. There's tips for composition, ideas for subjects to shoot, advice for clothing, neat tricks for macro photography and so on. Besides everything is accompanied by images that fit the tip. Actually the title "101 tips" is a bit miss leading, there is quite a lot more tips and tricks than just 101.

  So did I get inspired? Honestly, not as much as I wished. This book is best suited for a beginner. If you've been in to nature photography for a while, then you maybe won't find too many tips you already don't know from this book. The good thing with "Digital outdoor photography, 101 top tips" is that the tips are between two covers, in the internet you might have to search for a while to find all the information which is packed in to this book. Some of the images are absolutely stunning and inspiring, but on the other hand there are a few which made me feel that "this is something that even I could do". So if you are starting in outdoor photography or dreaming of getting out to the wild accompanied by your camera, this book might be an invaluable investment. If you are a seasoned pro, this book maybe won't give you so much (or who knows?).  

  By the way, what I especially liked with this book is that it didn't immediately tell you to go and get the most expensive D-SLR and a bunch of fast glass. So if you don't have "pro gear" it's not a big deal, the most important is to get out and make pictures with what you have. There's also lots of tips for accessories you might need on a photo shoot.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

   I'm not actually a very keen movie maker, but I do sometimes make a clip or two. If I'm sure that I have the image I wanted and there still is time and the action is there, why not, just turn the live view mode on and push play.

  Last spring I photographed lots of Wolf Spiders. There's plenty of them hunting in our garden. One way to identify a male from a female is to look at their pedipalps, that small leg kind of thing between the jaws and the first leg. The males have enlarged pedipalps, in my opinion they sometimes look like boxing gloves, and there in these pouches is its sperm, which the male spider most likely would like to donate to a receptive female. It's time for a courtship dance and this is how it goes...
  This guy wasn't lucky, hes date left before he managed to deliver hes package. Just hope some other female was more impressed of hes dance, drumming and waving.

  Sometimes the Female might be interested of something else. Caught this male in the next clip, when he was furiously trying to make an impression on a female. After a few pics the female hid her self behind the rocks. The male was still waving, but suddenly it stopped. Let's see what happened...
  Amazing things going on in the tiny world of invertebrates.      

Friday, November 30, 2012

   Mushrooms is a nice subject for photography. There's a great variety of them, different sizes, funny colors, strange shapes, some of them are even a delicacy and some poisonous. Anyhow, a nice subject to be recorded on a film or with a digital sensor. Somehow it seems that it took a while before mushrooms appeared this year. Maybe it's because of the long and dry summer, mushrooms like humidity as we all know. whatever,  found a few when walking in a forest a few days ago and of course I  have to share some of them with you, like it or not.

  This first on is actually not from this week but from an earlier photo walk this year. Nice group of mushrooms in a landscape

  The following two are from our garden, a Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus). The scientific name for it comes from how it looks (Have one other too, but I'm too ashamed to show it).
  The surface of this fungus looks interesting so I had to go really close...

  The next images are from this week...
  Actually I had in my mind to shoot birds, so I had my 500mm lens attached, but when I saw this beautiful mushroom I fast changed my lens to a wide angle, just to get the surroundings of the fungus too. Maybe not edible, but it sure poses nicely for the photographer.

   This red hatted fellow was hiding, so I almost missed it. Just love the red cap and the yellow colors in the backdrop... looks like fall to me.

                A family portrait. Mushrooms like to grow in strange places. Look for fallen tree trunks.
                     From a little bit different angle. These guys were quite tiny so I used a macro lens.

    The cap might cause some shadows and it sure ain't good for the beautiful gills which you most surely want to show in the image. A good way to get rid of the shadows is to place something white underneath the mushroom. Here and in the next one I used the white side of a postcard, simple, but it works.

  Besides using a postcard to open the shadows, I did some "gardening" with this one. Some times mushrooms can be covered in foliage or there can be some distracting twigs around them, so feel free to clean them away if you feel that they won't add anything good in to your image. Just be careful when removing stuff around the subject that you don't brake it, mushrooms are quite fragile... not so nice to smash your subject because of clumsiness.

  Ordered a book today, Heather Angels "Digital outdoor photography: 101 top tips". When I get it I might write a few words about it. Never too old or wise to learn new things and most of all I hope it will give some inspiration. We'll see.


Friday, November 2, 2012

  On Wednesday when walking in a forest a small thought hit my my mind. It started with looking at how people have left all kind of garbage in the nature. Somehow it looks like it's very difficult for some people to carry out from the forest their belongings. An empty beer can, how hard is it to pack it back to your bag? It's anyway empty now, so it's even lighter than before consuming it, right? Or that empty cigarette box, it's not a very big thing to put it back in to the pocket and carry it to the next garbage container, instead of throwing it were you are? Just too many people think that it's okay to throw garbage in to the environment no mater where you are. Maybe they think, "It's just me and my garbage, it's not a big deal", and when everybody are thinking in the same line of thought the outcome is that there is lots of waste in the nature.
  As a photographer I also think not just from the environmental side but from the aesthetic angle too. It's just so "great" to come home from a photo shoot and then notice that there are some nice garbage, empty bottles, plastic bags etc. in the image. That's when you make a choice if it's possible to clone the garbage away in post or do you just throw that nice image away as "garbage". Of course you can do some cleaning at the place before hitting the shutter release, but in too many cases you just won't notice the trash until you are at your computer and you are eye balling the image at 100%.

 Empty water bottles  and containers are quite a common view. as they are empty the wind and water will carry them around and that's how all nature lovers can enjoy of these beauties very often.

 Empty glass bottles and jars. Nice, specially when broken!!! Of course glass is heavy and when you are drunk you don't have the strength to carry those empty bottles out from there. It's better to leave it there were you were.

                 Some one left the forest without one shoe. People leave strange things behind them.

  If I'm completely innocent? That's the thought that really hit my mind. Honestly, the answer is... no. Probably I've in some occasions left some garbage in the forest. A few days a go I lost my lens hood somewhere in there. For sure that piece of plastic won't decompose in a while if ever. Pretty sure that in some occasions I've dropped some candy bar papers and it have gone unnoticed. So all of us are leaving some traces of our selves when out in the wild. Just a small step out from the path might make a big impact on the surroundings we are in. For example...

  when walking in this type of environment, water and sandstone, you just have to be very careful and watch your step. The water have made an amazing job during hundreds of years and the sight is amazing. But if you don't watch your step you most likely will break something. It will be fixed, but it really will take some time.    This just one example and no matter where we walk it's always good to look around and place that next step carefully and even better if we can find a way which will have the smallest impact on our surroundings.

 As a conclusion, let's not throw and leave garbage here and there, but carry it away from the nature and let's watch our step and in that way show some respect to the environment and our fellow citizen too. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

  In the tiny world of invertebrates there is a group called spiders. There are many people who just hate these critters. There is even a special term for people who are afraid of spiders, arachnophobia. In some cases I understand that people are a bit afraid of these invertebrates. Maybe someone made a cruel practical joke for them when they were young, that might leave some kind of a mental trauma. Some spiders do have a nasty venom, so that might be a good reason to avoid these eight legged critters. Though most of the spiders are not venomous to human, so in most cases this fear is not realistic even if real for some. In our hate for all things eight legged we sadly might miss one thing about these interesting beings, that is how beautiful some of them really are, colorful and with interesting patterns. This is why I thought I would like to share a few images of arachnids...
   Cross Orb-weaver is quite a beautiful spider with a relatively easy to identify pattern on the abdomen. But don't just look at the cross pattern but take a look at the nice stripes on the legs too.

  A Cucumber Spider. Nice bright green color decorated with a few dark spots on the both sides of the abdomen, what a beauty.

How about this one? Nice symmetric modern art pattern.

 Look at these stripes, not bad, huh? No wonder it's called Was Spider.

To be honest I've never seen as beautiful spider as this one. Nice symmetric chocolate brown patterns on a caramel colored cephalothorax (the head), the abdomen decorated with dark spots on a brown base and of course the eight legs which all have nice brown stripes, just gorgeous.

The last one, a tongue showing spider :-p

Do you still think that spiders are gross?   

Saturday, October 20, 2012

  Like it or not, the fall is here, at least for a while. For me it means that all the funny critters I so much like, will take a timeout and for the most part will pause for the winter. That leaves me with the birds, landscapes etc. and I just guess I have to take advantage of the possibilities there is, without moaning or crying for what there isn't. Of course one big advantage with the fall are the colors. As the nights will get cooler the foliage will lost its green and instead the bright yellows and reds will take place. That's a good chance for nice brightly colored landscapes or detail shots of leaves and other colorful stuff.
  Yesterday, even if I knew I should do something more important, I decided to take a walk in one of my favorite places about 12 km from Botevgrad. In my imagination I was thinking of finding a Nose-horned Viper, but unfortunately there were none, at least I didn't stumble across one. So instead I mainly did some landscape photography.
   The first shot was taken in a bit chilly morning weather, maybe +3 or 4, when there still was some of that always so nice mist around. Just love the soft morning sun, unfortunately I'm not really a morning person.

    Still much of that green left in the foliage. Though that will change in a week or so. The rocks are were I'm heading.

  Almost there... just had to stop and try to make an image with the sun in there. It's just so green almost like in June or July, but it's October 19th.

      Some berries. Looks like black Hawthorn to me, but don't really know.
    One more berry, a blue one, just don't remember what's the name. Though one thing I know, you can make delicious wine of this berry, at least that's what some say.

           With a little bit longer shutter speed the water continues to flow even in still photography.

    One more image of the same stream, this time I though turned the camera 180 degrees to the   opposite side. Nice light, right?
                                         The only animal I managed to photograph, a Robin.

  On the way back home I decided to continue a small project in Litakovo, which have been going on for about one year now. When I was there at the place, I realized it still was a bit early so I have to go there once more later this fall (not enough yellow yet). Anyway, this is one image I managed to capture.
   I guess there is one, two or maybe even three weeks left of the fall foliage period. Let's try to enjoy of the bright fall colors, it's anyway just a once in a year event.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

  Done! Just for half an hour a go came from the "grand" opening of the exhibition. Happy... actually very happy that it's over. In a way it was nice but I just hate to be the center of the attention... blah!
It was nice, peaceful and quiet, until...

...the first guets came. No problem, they are still looking at the images...

...until it's almost 17:30 and they start eyeballing at me. 

Bravo, friends gave me a flower , I can hide behind it :)

They took the flower away :(

You can always rely on friends.

                                      The museum, in case you move around. The second floor.

The staff of the museum did a great job so a big thanks to them. The image courtesy Anu (Wife) Fagerlund for the fourth and fifth image (She's the copyright owner). Others Georg Fagerlund.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

  Just two days to the opening of my exhibition. I'm not really a person who wants publicity for him self, no, I'm rather in the forest with mosquito's than somewhere where there is lots of people. Yes, I want publicity to my images, but that doesn't mean I want it for my own person. The big minus with the whole exhibition thing is that I get some of that "don't want publicity" too. There's the opening ceremony on Tuesday, that means social relations with people. If I'm lucky there will be some people I know too, friends of mine, but as it's an open event there will be probably many  faces I've never even seen, people I don't know. But what can you do? Nothing I guess. Just don't get me wrong, if you read this text and move around Botevgrad on Tuesday feel free to visit the opening and say hi, the thing is just that I'm not very comfortable with social situations and mingling in big parties among people, not really my thing. but that's just me.

 One other thing which has to do with the exhibition is the advertising around the whole thing. Seems that when I showed my portfolio and asked if it was possible to organize an exhibition, the whole thing started some kind of a small "snowball" effect. Not a big one, just a tiny small one, but something anyway. First they called me from the local television... interview! Great, just what I wanted. Then they had an ad with a short something about me and my better half in the local newspaper (web site). But the best was today. Opened one other local website... again a newspaper... and again little something about the exhibition and... me... and my wife... and a stolen image from my homepages. Good work local journalists! At least they could have stated who's the author of the image or put a link to my site, but nope. Maybe they don't know about the copyright law. Will I do something about it? Njah, just don't know too much about their ethics, so it might end up in more trouble. In the text there were already some funny things I know I've never said, so who knows if they would throw some other stuff in there later if I get difficult, and the faster all this and the whole exhibition thing is over the better. The dust will fall down and the life goes on.

  Tomorrow morning I'll take all the 38 images to the museum and at 17:30 on Tuesday 16th of October they should be ready for eyeballing.

  Just to have an image, I'll include this link here  http://imagepro.photography.com/georgfagerlund?site_id=25961&page_id=96261 it's to the "stolen" image. Not in the paper, but my own site. At least you get some idea what I look like. Oh, and feel free to look the other stuff too, probably more interesting than my ugly face.   

Saturday, October 13, 2012

  Often people are divided in dog or cat persons. Even if I like all kinds of animals, from insects, spiders and snakes to all the different kind of furry friends... if I should choose if I'm a dog or a cat person, I most likely would choose the latter group. Right now in our household there's three cats plus two, not to mention the two who are always outside waiting for food and the few others who every now and then visit us to get some lunch or dinner. That's all together something like +10 cats. Though I like cats and highly am a cat person... just sometimes I feel that there is just a few cats too much. But what can you do? It's not the animals fault that people don't take care of their pets. At the kitten or puppy state all animals are cute, right? Then you have to face the truth, the animal gets bigger, it eats more, it requires time and of course money... and maybe it ain't so cute any more as it grew up. "Oh, poor me, why did I take this animal?" No one wants to be a bad person and kill an animal, so the issue is solved by releasing the cat or dog in to the "wild"(read: street). Nice people!!!!
  Somehow I just feel that all the cats released by these "nice" people, find their way to our place. So what do you do as an cat person? First you feel bad, then you give a little food, then you start to pet it and after a few days it's become your best friend and it have found a new home. Congrats! So please, take GOOD care of your pet!!! Don't think that it's just a toy you can have for a small time and then throw it. I your kid wants a pet, but he's/she's  not responsible and you don't want an animal, DO NOT yield. Teach them first some responsibility and then MAYBE. Just remember that in the long run most likely it's you  who will take care of the animal and pay the bills. So be responsible and think twice before you take a pet. Why do I write about this? Because I DO NOT WANT TO SEE ONE MORE CAT BEGGING FOOD OUTSIDE MY DOOR (Sorry about yelling, hope you understand my frustration)!
  And then a few photos of our abandoned friends who've found a new place to dwell.

Nallu is an "old timer". We really don't know how old she is, but she's OLD. When we moved here she was already hanging around and somehow she have become a part of the family.
This is her last litter. After this litter we thought its time for her to be retired and she was castrated. Sorry to say that all the kittens died one after an other or disappeared.

Tatu (a tomcat) hanged around for a while, but disappeared probably because of  some territorial fights between male cats.
Nappula just arrived one day and stayed. Probably been someones property before, but was most likely released because she was with kittens. Not to mention that she was a bit traumatized when she arrived, no idea what she's gone through.

Sissi (upper) an Sussu (lower). Two kittens hanging around. Not really our's, but what can you do.

Just happy that in our neighborhood it seems that most people take care of their pets and that there are even people who give food to stray cats and dogs. Keep up the good work.


Monday, October 8, 2012

In case you are moving in the Botevgrad area, from 16th of October about four weeks on, you can check out my exhibition which will be on display at the historical museum in the center of the town. Been planning for this exhibition for two years now (a little dream of mine), but as it too often happens when you are there it really gets very busy. Few of the images were ready but I still have some images I have to choose and print out. On Friday I got the opening date and after one week at about this same time I hope all the images are hung up on the walls in the gallery space at the second floor in the museum. Just really didn't think it would happen this fast! When I asked from the director of the museum if there were any chances to get my work displayed and showed her my portfolio, little did I know that from that Sunday two weeks on... and voila. Of course there still are a few nights and days left and quite a work to be done, but I hope that on Tuesday 16th, every thing is ready for the show.

The theme of the exhibition: "Природата на Ботевград през погледа на един чужденец"
Translated it would be something like: "The nature around Botevgrad with the eyes of an foreigner" 
That would be a room full of insects, snakes, birds, landscapes etc.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Here's a few more images from the Botevgrad brass festival (or whatever it's called in English). And by the way I made a mistake in the last blog post, of course it's October and not September as I by mistake wrote. So on October 2nd, which was the second day of the event I joined the crowd again. No matter that I was a bit ill, what ever flu virus or something, grabbed my gear and took a one hour walk in to the center of the town.
Some of the cheer leader girls waiting that the show will go on. 

Still waiting. A wide angle shot with the Botevgrad museum in the background. 
Enough of light, but a bit of too much of contrast due to the a bit harsh evening light and the shadows of the buildings around. But you can always use it to your advantage.

Still waiting...

When everything is standing still, you can take your time and watch peoples facial expressions. Some expressions are more serious like in this one....

...and then there are those who are just cracking. Don't know what the girl saw in the crowd, but after that she really had hard times not to break out and laugh out loud. Poor she :))

 You can make an image of a musician this way, quite normal framing...

...Or try something else.

                                                            And then the show will go on...

A few more musicians...

 ...and a two cheerleader portraits. 

                                          Don't forget to make a few images of the audience...
Nor the relaxed musicians after the show.

And just one more image. You can always try to make some a bit more artzy images too. Here I chose a slow shutter speed and panned the camera, just to give the picture some extra. 

That's it. We'll see if there is something similar organized again next year. Heard today that the third day was the best, I just didn't have the chances to go there so I'll leave it here and try my luck on something else.