2013 turned out to be a very busy year for me, with lots of new challenges outside photography. I am most grateful for having been able to find time to continue taking photos despite the tight schedules. What I do regret is that I haven’t been able to follow other people’s work as much as I would like to. I am hoping that 2014 will change this.
During 2013 I visited Sweden, France, Latvia, Malta, Czech and Hungary. I have posted photos on Flickr from all of those trips. I have also written about most of those trips in this blog. The trip to Latvia remains unreported, however one of the photos I took there was my most popular shot in 2013. As always, I rely on Flickr statistics on determining my best shots of the year. Sunset in Saulkrasti II has been viewed 1450 times and 92 people count it as their favorite. Saulkrasti is a very small town by the Baltic Sea. I have been told that it is a popular tourist spot in the summer, but during winter when we visited it was very quiet. In Saulkrasti you are always near the sea and whenever it is not cloudy, you can witness a fantastic sunset night after night.
One of my passions in photography is low-key monochrome. I find myself mostly inspired by such shots, and catching them myself never seizes to interest me. Observing the angle of the light and examining the shadows, how they change form and create moods. The opportunity for such shots usually comes quite unexpectedly, and so does the popularity of the final shot when posted online. That is exactly what happened with Gentle Night. It was my second most popular shot in 2013, viewed almost 5000 times and faved by 39 people. Such a simple motif. No planning, no set-up, no going anywhere. Just a peaceful afternoon in the last warm rays of sun, and so it translates also in the pixels when shot in low-key mono.
The difference in camera quality becomes best evident in shots with autumn colors. Especially when you are looking for bokeh effect with blurry background. Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Autumn images also sell best. Sometimes I feel that my archives are already full of autumn leaves, but then I meet a customer who is looking to buy one and I feel that I want to take more. Just because it is so much fun and the light and the colors are so beautiful. The challenge in a shot like Farewell, my third most popular shot last year, is to find the right angle to catch the leaves at their best, and fill the background with other colors in the best possible arrangement. All this in one click of the shutter. I have always liked to challenge myself to make the shot in location, and to this day I haven’t done any post-processing to my images, except spot removal, resizing, cropping and very rarely making them black and white. I don’t even have a Photoshop application. I haven’t found the need for it. I suppose editing photos does not interest me that much, and I do have a film camera background, so this is what I’m used to.
One of my own favorites among last year’s shots is White. I like shooting snow, and snowshoeing around the woods is one of my favorite things to do. So far we haven’t had any snow in Finland this winter. I am hoping that we will get some soon. For a shot like this you need a sunny day in March to get the overexposure and the shadows on the bed of hard snow. White (as well as Gentle night, and most of my other monochrome work) was shot in monochrome, so it hasn’t been post-processed at all. The same applies for #5 Still Life and #9 Sea of White in my list of best shots in 2013.
We haven’t seen the sun for months now in Finland. Every day it is grey and most days rainy. It does not inspire one to photograph. Sometimes I just get so angry at the weather that I decide to try anyway. That happened with the series November Mist, November and Along the Lines. This is what it has looked like in Finland since the late October. No wonder we’re not the most cheerful nation. To my surprise the photos have been popular. Again I decided to use low-key monochrome to bring out the shadows and the tones and it added a sense of mystery to the depressing November greyness. I like to use low-key technique also on colored images, by adjusting the manual settings of the camera when shooting. I feel that it makes the tones softer and adds mood to the image. There is of course always a risk of overdoing it, but here I think it was worked.
As much as I like shooting monochrome, there are moments when color is in order. I have noticed that the most intensive tones can be caught in cold temperatures and in the autumn. Warrior was shot in the heart of the winter at sunset, just like #1 in this list.
I am most grateful for all the people who visit my blog, come to see my photos on Flickr, follow my tweets and pins and posts on Facebook or Google+. I do keep an eye on the streams on various social media sites but I rarely have time to connect. Nevertheless, you can be sure that part of the inspiration for my photos always comes from you. In 2014 I will continue with my straight-out-of-camera nature photography as I have always done. It seems that no amount of other work will keep out of the woods.
I wish you all lots of creative energy for the new year!