Sunday, November 27, 2011


Yesterday the usual November greyness gave way to a more inspiring weather. The days are quite short (sunrise at 8:58 and sunset at 15:38), but clear weather gives more than one hour of extra light compared to the rainy greyness.

Typical colors for the time before we get snow and have some occasional sunny days.

The long and warm fall has some plants confused. In this photo I lifted the exposure slightly and pulled down the darkest color in Lightroom. Simple and effective.

Same trick on this photo as well a some additional vignetting.

Around sunset the weather seemed unusually clear, but by the time I had eaten dinner and enjoyed my excellent French roast coffee a slight haze had come in and there was no point in doing any more serious night sky photography. The lights from the city pollute the sky too much for that. I still walked a few hundred meters from my home to get away from the lights to test a new night sky focusing tehcnique I read about: There is a setting in the camera that resets the lens to infinity focus when powering down. As I expected, the lens did not focus accurately to infinity. The only option is manual focus against a suitably bright star or planet. Jupiter was too bright and it was hard to judge when it was sharp. The focusing consist of making a dot as small as possible and with Jupiter the range in which the dot was small and sharp was unnecessarily big. Dimmer stars on the other hand are not visible. Fortunately, the sky is full of stars and planets of different brightness.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Still fall.

The grey and boring November weather continues. While November has been quite dry, the terrain is still wet from all the rain that fell during September and October. The days are getting quite short, so we could really do with some snow to brighten up the surroundings. Last year full winter started around this time, but the weather forecast does not give much hope currently.

There was some discussion about the effectiveness and some problems with the Olympus in-body image stabilization (IBIS) on the internet, so I decided check it out a little, even though I've had no problems with it. The reputed problem mainly seems to concern the E-PM1 model and has been reported to cause blurring at safe shutterspeeds. My tests have not showed any such problems, and the IBIS is quite effective, yielding some 2-4 exposure steps of stabilization. E.g. most pictures are sharp when using the 20 mm lens (40 mm equivalent) with exposure times as long as 1/5 s. With 1/10 s there is almost never any shaking induced blurring.

Grey colors for grey weather.

I'm still very much a color photographer.

Confused. Is this spring or fall?

This oak plant hasn't yet given up.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vajosuo Beer Ride 2011

Time for the third annual MTB-Turku beer ride in the Vajosuo area. Last year we had full winter, two years ago again both ice and rain. This time the weather was warm and wet, but the rain ended a few hours before we started riding. We took the car to Rantapiha and started riding at 19:00, aiming for the Vajosuo shelter. Five of us started from Rantapiha and Ulla rode directly to the shelter from her home just north of Turku.

The first 500 m boardwalk section was very difficult. It took some time before I managed to get into the relaxed flow that is necessary for boardwalk riding. Still, the conditions were technically very challenging: The boardwalks are mainly in fairly poor shape and they were very slippery. So slippery that it actually was more difficult to walk than ride on them.

Good lights were necessary because of the darkness. The grass looks white on the picture, from light reflecting back from the wet grass.

JJ and his Mickey Mouse lights.

Matti H crashed for an unknown reason.

Fillaristi crashed and injured his leg so much that he had to take an easier route back the next day. The mud was soft enough, but a root was hard.

After 2 hours of technically quite demanding riding we arrived at the shelter and JJ started the fire, as tradition dictates.

After some time, the cloud cover thinned and the moon came out. We grilled sausage and sandwhiches and drank our few beers.

Some time around midnight we walked to the birdwatching tower a few hundred meters away to experience the bog in the darkness. After that we returned to the shelter and stayed up for some time more, finally retreating to sleep a little before three in the night.

We got up a little over seven in the morning. It had been a warm night, probably partly because with six of us sleeping in the shelter there was certainly no extra space. The morning was nice, with the almost full moon lighting up the landscape well before the sunrise.

We started riding again at 8:30 and soon came to the Vajosuo boardwalks, which were in very bad shape and hence hard to ride.

There was some risk of getting wet in case of failure.

A short forest road section.

JJ forces his way through a softer section.

Traditional short break at Takaniitunvuori.

Matti H:s fully rigid singlespeed Surly 1x1.

Greenman's Surly Troll. Fully rigid with gears.

JJ has a Nicolai. German quality engineering.

My Surly Pugsley. As expected, a fatbike was pretty much optimal for this ride as well. I rode without a backpack.

More boardwalk. A single plank is easy to ride on, compared to two narrow planks with a gap in between.

Soon there.

Around eleven we arrived at the parking place again. Thanks to all participants for a great outing.

PS. Due to a somewhat depressing weather forecast I only took my small compact camera. The darkness is very challenging even for a good compact camera like the Canon S90, but I still got some usable pictures.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fall greyness

The unusually warm November weather combined with the usual fall greyness does not inspire to any greater photographic deeds. I had the camera with me on an small excursion with the kids, though, and tooks some pictures for testing some black and white stuff.

Shallow DOF at f2.2 with the 20 mm lens. Nice.

A single picture needed color. Some Sphagnum species become quite red in the fall.

I also did some more testing of the Panasonic 20/1.7 lens. Combined with the image stabilization of the E-P2 it does allow taking some pictures in pretty low light. This one is taken at ISO 1600, f1.7 and 1/8 s, without a tripod. (Pictures taken at All Saint's Eve).

ISO 1600 with the Olympus E-P2 isn't without noise, but the image quality is still fully usable.