Kusama at HAM

HAM, like Helsinki Art Museum. Sorry, we’re not going to talk about food ūüėČ

kusama

…or maybe we are?

Tennispalatsi hosted a retrospective exhibition on Yayoi Kusama, “one of the most famous artists in the world”, though I had never heard about her. We visited the museum on New Year’s Eve (after Finlandia-talo), as it was free during the evening. Before going upstairs. to the bigger hall, we got introdued to Kusama’s life by a slideshow presenting the most important events of her life.

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White wings of Hanko

Hanko, a small and isolated town, is located at the southernmost point of mainland Finland. When we told our colleagues that we would go there in winter, Miguel and I saw bemused expressions on their faces: “Hanko, now?”, “There nothing to do in Hanko in winter”… Not something to scare us, of course. I’m quite amused when I do something people wouldn’t even consider, even more so when I enjoy it!

Miguel had downloaded an app for geocaching, so immediately after leaving the train, we began our quest, and found a capsule in a tree, where we wrote our names. Alas, after finding a second one next to the water tower, our other targets remained invisible. Now, though, we can say we have done geocaching.

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Details of Finlandia-talo

Finlandia-talo (Finlandia Hall) is a prominent landmark in Helsinki city, Alvar Aalto’s last masterpiece, and the center of an ambitious urban plan never implemented.

2017 will see Finland celebrate its 100th birthday, and to start the year, many events were organized in Helsinki on New Year’s Eve. Among those, one looked particularly appealing: a free visit to Finlandia-talo, a congress and event venue designed by the maestro himself: Alvar Aalto, maybe the most famous Finn in history. I didn’t know that visits were organized regularly, so it seemed like a unique opportunity, and I was really happy when the woman at the desk added a line for me, even though the visitor list was supposed to be already full. I’m not going to give you a historical overview of the building; instead, I’ll show some visual details and tell some anecdotes that our friendly¬†guide showed us.

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Colors of winter

When people think about the Finnish winter, their first thought usually is: “snow”. And then, when they get to know the country a little bit more, especially the south of it, they think: “grey”. Yes, snow but not enough to cover everything, and then it melts quickly, creating this depressing pools of slush stirred by the passage of cars and buses. Not to mention the clouds.

I totally understand this feeling: I love snow, I love to see it fall and hide the roads, and attenuate all the sounds. I love the sight of a city wrapped in a blanket of peace, and I always get distressed when temperatures rise again. When snow stops falling, I hate to see those endless, boring grey skies, and I start dreaming about sunny days. Or more snow. Usually I dream about a return of the snow.

When I went to Kontiolahti to view the Biathlon World Championship, I saw a wonderful sunset over the frozen lake, and it was a revelation: there is beauty out there, waiting for me!

kontiolahti-3

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What’s in a pic

Two weeks ago, I made a picture that I felt was great, and which is undoubtedly my greatest accomplishment from a purely technical point of view. It was this portrait of a Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus).

seurasaari-4
Today, I want to explore the path that led me to it: how I created it, what I find so great in it, and what it means to me. So let’s go!

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From sunrise to sunset by -20¬įC, part 2

On the day after, I was due to visit Suomenlinna with a birdwatching tour organized by Tringa, the local bird protection society. However, I already knew that conditions would be very different, with temperatures rising and the sun disappearing behind a veil of snow. So, after Miguel left me (click here to read the first part of the story), I embarked south. I didn’t really expect to arrive in the midst of a fairytale.

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From sunrise to sunset by -20¬įC, part 1

Mr. Winter this year¬†is lunatic and, to be honest, rather frustrating: one day it snows (a lot), and you start believing in the possibility to go skiing, finally… except that the day after, the temperature rises above 0¬įC, and everything melts. Everything? No, some parks and sidewalks resist eternally against the pervading warmth, but trees are bare again, and streets are slushy brown. It’s not fun.

Purple hour

Purple hour

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Home studio

Last year, as a member of the photo-club of the university, I had access to a professional studio equiped with tons of backdrops, flashes and light modifiers… all things I had never seen before, and which opened a completely new field of possibilities. This sparked some interest towards portrait photography. I, the misanthrope, always happy to avoid the crowd, started to take pictures of people. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to this place very long (Finland called, you know), so in addition to reading a lot about this topic, I bought an external flashlight that I¬†put to good use in Bornholm. Still, I rarely use it.

On the other hand, I have also been experimenting with my two plastic white tigers, Iso and Lyhyt, shooting them in scenic locations. This kind of photography asks for more work than I have put into it yet, but I like it, maybe because it’s so different from what I usually produce. My mom offered me two elves (and a chandelier) when she stayed here in December, and ideas started to form inside my head.

I really started to work on them when I received my new gear. A Canon 7DII and a Canon 100-400mm II arrived on Friday, in the middle of a cloudy period. I wanted to try those marvels, but the ever-greyness outside stuck me home. So I transformed my dining room into a studio.

Please meet, from left to right, Lyhyt, Elmer and Puna.

234mm on a cropped sensor - f/5.0 - 1/10s - ISO640 - Manual mode

234mm on a cropped sensor – f/5.0 – 1/10s – ISO640 – Manual mode

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Tallinn, pearl of the Baltic

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This was one of the few sunny week-ends of these past weeks. On Saturday, a freezing walk in the forest didn’t yield the expected results in terms of photography, as there were very few birds around (some Blackbirds (Turdus merula) and a Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)), and I was too cold to stop and take my time. I walked, blinded by the rays of sun reflecting on the frozen ground. Behind the trees, I spotted a herd of Roe deers (Capreolus capreolus).

On Sunday morning, I was in the bus when I saw the horizon turn a deep orange, beyond the city. I met Patrick in the tram to the harbour, a curious coincidence that made us laugh since I had told him on the phone that we would meet “inside”… the ferry terminal, of course. So we met a bit earlier than expected, on our way to the harbour. I got a really smart smartphone this autumn only, and it was my first opportunity to use a digital ticket. So I scanned my phone, and it worked. Aah, technology…

helsinki
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