I am sooooo proud!

I’m not even going to try to pretend that this is a small thing for me – I just can’t believe there’s a whole episode of the pod Drinking from the toilet with my voice in it! And I’m saying some good stuff! I have decided that my accent is charming and not annoying at all and that I’m actually doing a decent job – with a lot of help from Hannah – trying to explain my Swedish thoughts in English.

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We talk about what makes a good photo, a few tips on what to think about when you want to photograph your own pup, a bit about why I feel strongly that no photo is worth a sad dog, and about the training of a good Top Dog Model.

There’s no photo worth a sad dog! There just isn’t!

And it’s free to listen to. Let my (not so) soothing voice join you in your next car ride (that’s the time in my life when I listen to podcasts), train ride, or dog walk. I hope you get some new ideas!

Studio work

Winter is coming, and I’m trespassing on my husband’s garage…Why? Because it’s nice and warm – and has room for a (very simple but still) studio!

Yep! I’m all set for winter. It’s not a lot of fancy stuff, most of it is second hand, but it works! Two large softboxes with continuous light. Some backgrounds. A fake-floor. Some cheap props.

I’m having so much fun!

My own dog is really easy to photograph, a trained model who loves to work with whatever I bring home.

Do you want to train your own dog to be a Top Dog Model? There’s an online course in the making right now… Just saying… 😉

I’m learning about studio lights, fixing the background in post, trying to get that personality showing.

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It’s really fascinating. And I get to work with different kind of breeds, colors, and furs.

I just love finding the right ways to combine training and photography. It’s all about happy dogs!

So…All set for winter! And one step closer to my dream 🙂

Easy like sunday morning

It’s 5.30 Sunday morning. Husband is asleep, I am awake because the sheep started baaa-ing for food and we have neighbors. Dogs are with me. It’s cloudy but warm, all is quiet (as soon as the sheep are fed).

Instead of going back to bed, I fetch my camera and my Lensbaby velvet 56. This morning I feel like photographing slowly, look for compositions and details, and just fill my head with here and now.

The dogs find their spots in the grass and watch me move slowly, looking at flowers, grass, bushes, anything that catches my eye. When I get more than ten meters away, they get up and find a new spot a bit closer. We are a family. Families stick together.

I forget about the time and take about 50 photos of a rosehip bush. And then 50 more of some raspberries. And so on. My Lensbaby forces me to go slow, set focus manually, really look at my mage before I shoot. It’s really relaxing.

So, these photos are just for me. Full of Sunday morning, summer, dogs by my side, and doing what I love.

Christina and Fant the Fant-astic!

I’ ve known Christina on the web since she took one of my online classes, and I’ve admired her work. She and her beautiful cocker Fant lives in Paris at the moment (enjoy her insta! ), and as they were passing by Sweden she asked for a private session. Some new ideas on street photography, and how to pose Fant in order to not make him look posed, was on the wish list.

We met in Västra Hamnen in Malmö (a beautiful part of the city, do not miss when passing by!). I know the area fairly well, and as Christina wanted to work with the composition of lines and shapes with her 16mm wide-angle, I added the idea “dog goes on an adventure in town” to give a bit of backstory.

And then we got to work. For me, one of the keys is to really “work through” an area. Different angles, compositions distances, poses…Little by little that makes me realise what I want from this scene, and I often end up with something completely different than my original idea. So that’s what I had Christina doing.

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Fant is a very well trained model, and seemed to really enjoy himself! Lots of treats were involved 🙂

We deliberately chose poses that did NOT involve looking into the camera. The idea was to capture Fant’s view of the town – how would a dog explore? If he was a bit adventurous, and more about seeing than sniffing (I know, it’s not super realistic, but the images get better…)?

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This part of town has lots of big windows, and that means lots of reflections. So much fun to play with!

Of course, a dog visiting Malmö would want to look at the sea and the bridge to Copenhagen. We got him to look in the right direction with a little help from some strategically arranged treats.

I really liked the idea of him lying almost like a statue, overlooking the city with the Turning Torso behind him. Him – not so much…But hey, anything for Mom!

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And my last one of a very warm and tired Fant. He did not actually seek that shadow by himself, we put him there. It still tells the story 🙂

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My shots are a bit haphazard, I wasn’t there to shoot but to teach and give feedback and suggestions. I know Christina got some really good ones, and can’t wait to see them!

So. Lesson learned:

  • What’s the story?
  • Try, try, try!
  • Change something in every shot
  • Leading lines
  • Diagonals
  • Rule of thirds
  • Play with reflections
  • Avoid poses that look posed
  • Work with the light, make the subject stand out
  • Don’t be afraid to go close
  • Don’t be afraid to back up
  • Keep the dog happy!

And to finish: keep your eyes open. What happens around you?

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Lensbaby Burnside 35

It was only a matter of time before my Lensbaby velvet 56 got a friend. As I love swirly bokeh, often use 35mm, and always add a vignette when I edit, the choice was easy. Burnside 35.

I got it yesterday, and this is the very first photo:

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I wanted to make the most of that swirlyness!

I have read that some photographers have had a hard time adjusting to the Burnside 35, but (as I almost already knew) we became instant friends.

So far, I have only had the aperture set to the largest: f/2,8. It gives the perfect effect for my taste. The “golden slider” that controls the vignette is set as dark as possible. I love, love, love how it looks!

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As you can see, the swirlyness is dependant on the background. It gives a nice creamy bokeh, beautifully matte colours, and is crisp and sharp with a painterly feel at f/2,8. It’s very different from the velvet56, a perfect complement!

I also found it much easier to focus. Then I realized that:

  1. I had my lenses on = my eyes function properly
  2. f/2,8 instead of f/2
  3. And i’s easier to see what’s sharp when there is no glow – but the glow and supersoftness is what I love about the velvet 56.

My lensbaby obsession continues…

And so does my obsession with the magnolia in the garden. These are with the velvet 56.

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Speedlight for dummies: part 2.

Pretty soon after my first speedlight-try, I realised what an advantage it would be to separate the flash from the camera. So I got a transmitter. On the list of what I love about Godox: it’s cheap. That means I can learn without having to invest a fortune (so far under 2000:- for flash and transmitter!).

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Lensbaby is too soft for this purpose and my taste at f/2,8, so the rest are taken with f/4.

Today I have been working with my Fujifilm t-x2, Godox tt350, and a transmitter. Lens: I made a bad choice. I couldn’t choose between working on my speedlight skills and working on my manual focus skills, so I chose the lensbaby. I should have gone with an af-lens, as I don’t quite handle manual focus yet. Oh, well! One sharp out of every ten isn’t too bad, is it? Love the look of the lensbaby when I get it right! 😀

Anyway. I wanted a controlled environment, so all photos are from inside my living room with a simple black backdrop.

 

Todays tasks:

  1. Find out how it works.
  2. Try different settings (more or less flash, more or less natural light)
  3. Try different angles (because lighting dogs are NOT the same as lighting people. People don’t have huge triangular ears or very long snouts).
  4. Try to get the eyes sharp.
  5. Maybe get something worth saving.

I wanted kind of low key, and in my mind the photos were fantastic (of course). In reality…Let’s just say I need more practice!

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Flash straight from the side/behind her. “Are you done soon?”

I was worried the flash would be distracting for my model, or even frighten her, so the first thing I did was to flash it in a different direction and give her a treat a few times. Flash = treat. She got that really fast, and there were no problems at all!

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Flash behind her. I so missed the focus on this one, but wanted to show the effect. The light on her face is natural light from a window.

I started with TTL-mode, and adjusted the amount of light. I got the lighting of her really nice, but wanted to get a darker background so I changed to manual mode instead.

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Flash bounced in the ceiling. Nice, but too much light on the background.

In manual mode I set the exposure on the camera first, and then I added a tiny bit of light from the flash.

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Flash almost straight in front of her a little bit to the side.

I also tried to bounce it in the ceiling, and compare that with flash straight-on. The bounced one is much softer, obviously, but also harder to control.

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From the side, bounced in the ceiling.

Luckily, I have a very patient model who works for a handful of kibble. That allows me to play and test things! After an hour of shooting, I know A LOT more than I did an hour ago. And I guess that after a few more sessions, I may even start to know what I’m doing…:D

Play is good for you!

My lensbaby has not left my camera, I’m mesmerized. It’s so different from “normal” photographing. The combination of mastering the manual focus (hard!), the special soft qualities of the lens, the fact that I’m spoilt with the perfect technical quality of Fujinon lenses (they just deliver without any thought process from me), makes me feel like a beginner.

And I like it! I’m learning to see things differently, to use my camera differently. The images, of course, come out differently, and I edit them differently – realism is boring. Sane is boring.

I guess it’s a phase that gets old soon, but some of it will linger in my future work – that I’m sure of. But for now I experiment like crazy.

Click on the images to see a bigger size

My camera join me at every walk. I find Little things to try to focus on. I try different apertures, and play with light and colors.

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My husbands birthday tulips in front of my window. The short dof is interesting to work with, and the fact that the edges will be unsharp is an invitation to compose differently.

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Playing with shapes and structure. This session, the sweet spot of the lens was at f/4. I find that it varies with the light.

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Love the falling snow in this one…

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And with a smaller aperture (this one f/5,6) it’s really sharp – when I get the focus where I want it.

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I love the soft effect, but not in every shot. In this one…perfect!

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Is I mentioned, the editing of these photos sometimes gets a little…different. I love the matte retro-effect, and I allow myself to play as much as I like 🙂

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And I look at photos from other lensbaby-photographers, especially with the velvet 56, and OMG, the beautiful images! This lens will probably live on my camera for a few more weeks, Before I feel that I kind of master it.

I even tried some action shots…Interesting with only manual focus!

I think a slightly smaller aperture will be better…:D The photos are sharp, but the soft glow is a bit much.

So. I’ll continue to reject your reality and substitute my own! At least until it gets boring 😉

Lensbaby velvet 56 + Fujifilm x-t2

A few weeks ago I chatted with a friend about different lenses to the x-t2, and she dropped “you should get a lensbaby. I think you would like it!”.

Hmmm…I had looked at lensababy before, but only manual focus…seems difficult! But when I start thinking about something I often have a hard time letting it go. I wonder how much they cost? Where can I get them? Ooops…kind of ordered one…

It arrived yesterday. And I’m hooked.

A lensbaby is a toy, a lens that gives a velvety feel to the images. It’s sharp in the middle, and makes the highlights bleed a bit, like a glow. With a small aperture the effect is very subtle, with a big aperture the dof gets very narrow and the soft effect is very clear. It’s not for every image, but I’m learning as I go…

First of all, when I put the lens on I couldn’t take a single photo. Thank god for Youtube, where I quickly learned that I needed to enable shooting without a lens. Problem solved.

The tulips above are the first two photos I took. Then I brought the camera for my dog walk, and tried it on different motivs, with different apertures:

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I love the effect on the bokeh, it almost looks like under water. The lens is sharp and I can get really close to my motivs.

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I was a bit nervous about the manual focus, but it was a lot easier than I thought. As you can see I missed it a couple of times, but with a little training it will be fine. I set my camera to focus-peaking, it made it a lot easier to see where focus is (it’s outlined in white or red).

I also tried some wider shots. You can clearly see the difference the size of aperture makes.

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I Think I need some more experimenting here, to know what works and what doesn’t work for me. My learning curve is pretty steep, but it’s far from done!

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I really like this one, the softness works really well with the small feather.

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As this feather is a bit more textured, I chose a slightly smaller aperture.

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Here you can clearly see the effect of blur all around the edges. I have to think a bit differently to make it work to my advantage (not sure about this one…)

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My favorite of the day. I love everything about this photo, the difference between soft and sharp, the colors, the composition.

So pleased with my lensbaby! Yes, it’s a “one trick pony”, but what a trick!

Speedlight for dummies: part one

One of the things that I could see everywhere at Fotomässan was light.

Not strange, as a photographer is totally dependant on light! As I am outdoors most of the time, I use the sun as my lightsource, and if I need to I bounce the light in a reflector. (Wait, that’s a lie…I bring my reflector, and think I will use it, but never do. I just…forget…)

But sometimes I have felt the need for a second source of light. To brighten shadows on location, and save me some time in Photoshop. Something small and easy to carry. I know what you are all thinking: “you need a flash!”. But me and flashes don’t really work well together. I hate being photographed with a flash, and I have seen in my four-legged models that many of them feel the same way. Plus I don’t like how it looks. And the eyes get red or green.

Or maybe, just maybe, I don’t know how to use it properly…

Luckily for me, I could listen to no less than three seminars on how to use flash. Speedlight, Prophotos A1 (a speedlight/studioflash hybrid), and studioflash with softbox.

It actually seemed easy. It actually seemed like it could work for me! All of a sudden I knew what I had been doing wrong, and – maybe – how to fix it!

Although a prophoto A1 seems kind of fantastic, it COSTs about 10.000 sek. That’s way over my budget for “fun things to test”. Instead I got a Godox TT350 to use on my camera, just to give it a go! Price: 1100 sek.

All the photos today are straight from my camera, no editing whatsoever, just to show you what I did:

 

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No flash.

 

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How it usually looks when I try to use a speedlight. Terrible!

So far so bad – but I knew how to fix this! I switched from TTL (that means that the camera and flash talk to each other and agree on the best exposure. In this case they are wrong.) to manual flash mode, and used my flash compensation to turn down the intensity of the flash…

 

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Much better, but still not really perfect…

…and all the way down…

 

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Yes! That’s it, the result I have been looking for! Just a touch of light.

One of my biggest concerns was if my model would find the flash scary or uncomfortable, but she didn’t seem to mind.

 

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The Godox speedlight comes with a “catchlight-card”, that reflects a bit extra in the eyes. Works really well!

This is the effect I wanted – photos that doesn’t look as if Ihave used a flash, they just…pop…a bit more. Switching from TTL to M gave me the possibility to set my cameras exposure as I wanted it, and then just use a tiny bit of flash to fill the shadows. Nice!

This was my first attempt, and I have a lot more that I want to try with that small speedlight. But there is hope!

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday – going south

Thursday our plans was to go to the south. As long as we could! Fuerteventura isn’t a large Island, so it’s a nice field trip for a day.

First stop: Morro Jable. We wanted a cup of coffee. The city wasn’t awake yet…No coffee, but I got some history instead!

Stella Canaris was an enormous hotel/resort/zoo. 2013 they stopped paying the people working there. Everything was left from one day to another – keys in the rooms, chairs by the pool, glasses and plates in the cafés. The animals were rescued or let out of their cages (I really hope the large snake and the Crocodile that can be seen on the posters were rehomed), the staff either left or stayed to live in the abandoned hotelrooms.

There was a guard watching us so I couldn’t try to get inside the fences…that’s an adventure for next time!

I Think abandoned places are fascinating, I can imagine whole stories about how it was and what happened then. Mostly ghoststories, I love horror litterature and creepypasta…

Anyway, as coffee in the morning is a must-have, we continued to the harbour. There we found the waiting hall for the ferry. And coffee!

In the harbour we also visited a sea-turtle nursery. As you are well aware of we humans tend to destroy the world around us. Sea-turtles eat plastic bags or get stuck in garbage, and get really sick and die. In this nursery they are getting help, and they are released from Cofete beach when they are fully recovered.

It made me really sad to see these majestic animals sort of flying through the water in the small pool, round and round, with their feet scraping the walls. They are so beautiful and full of grace, and I really hope they will be let out in the ocean soon! At the same time it was very effective to show the gentle seaturtles to the tourists, my first thought was “how do I donate money to this?”

We moved on – to the south, to the south!

From Morro Jable there’s a dirt road leading South. After about 8 km you can choose the Mountains and Cofete, but this time we stayed with the shoreline and headed for a lighthouse. On the way we passed a viewpoint and stopped to look at the scenery.

Down here you can see far without any company except for the goats. Our car looked deserted…

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At the lighthouse we were surprised by rain. But that doesn’t stop us!

We continued on the road to the last viewpoint.

If we could get there, that was! All of a sudden a large group of goats decided they wanted to go from one place to another. We were in their way…

After about ten minutes they left us alone, and we were on our way again.

Here there was nothing to break the wind, and I got wet as the waves crashed against the rock I stood on. Luckily my camera is made to endure bad weather, because the Beauty!

And right there, in the middle of nowhere: a door. As a Dark Tower fan I felt chills…

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On the way back we passed the most peculiar camping site I have ever seen. I guess you could call it Caravan city?

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Back in Morro Jable we got wet in the rain, walked the beachpromenade all the way, watched flowers and squirrels, and had a terrible late lunch at a chinese restuarant. Morro Jable is nice, but the north is really more our thing…

One last stop before we got home: the beaches of Jandia are famous. We had to stop!

If the beaches of Corralejo are for kiters and the beaches at El Cotillo for surfers, the beaches of Jandia seems to belong to the windsurfers. Especially the ones that are new to windsurfing.

(Sorry about the blown-out highlights in the clouds, I accidentally changed my settings…)

Tired and on our way home, we just had one more question:

Is this camper van for sale…?

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