A portrait of my friend Anna. She’s very crafty and has sown an anachronistic rococo-dress in camouflage-pattern. This is probably my favorite shot.
I’ve been shooting the Stockholm Pride Parade every year (with one exception) since 2012, I think. To me, it’s loads of fun, people are awesome and there’s a great atmosphere. It’s also one of the things where I can clearly see my own progress as a photographer. My gear has improved every year, and for every year I can clearly see my improvement.
All previous years I’ve felt hampered by gear compromises, but this year I went all-in, with two bodies, shooting both ultrawide and using my great 70-200 tele. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do this, and having two bodies makes no compromises. I also invested in a very nice leather-strap system to allow me to comfortably haul around both bodies with lenses for several hours, and it didn’t disappoint. The only frustration was that the lens-hood on my IRIX 15mm came off twice and it was only through the kindness of strangers I didn’t lose it completely. Next year, it will be taped on. Apart from that, it was loads of fun.
These photos are unsorted. Also, there are some female nipples so if that offends you don’t come crying to me.
This year when editing I decided to make the photos of “Marching for those who can’t” a stark black-and-white edit, to highlight the seriousness of that section. That section of the parade is a reminder that around the world there are people who cannot live openly due to persecution and threat.
Recently me and Richard (my friend and fellow photographer whom I shot burnt trees and holes with) went on a roadtrip north. The primary mission was two-fold: to shoot family and pregnancy photos of wonderful Lea and her family, and for me to replace my server in the co-lo.
Both of these missions were successes, and you’re reading this served from the new machine.
Here’s some photos from the trip:
Back in mid-september, me and a friend (and fellow photographer) had lunch together. During this lunch we lamented the fact that as a photographer, there’s just not a whole lot of good photos of yourself. We jokingly concluded that the best way to achieve this would be to gather a bunch of photographers in one site and simply shoot each other. Lightbulbs were lit above our heads, aha-moments were had and when we introduced the idea to a third photographer-friend the metaphorical wheels were set in motion.
Long story short, ten people gathered in a countryside-house about an hour or so outside Stockholm to have fun with photography. We brought everything we could carry and fit into the cars. Everything from large-format cameras to digital stuff, flashes and whatever we figured we might need.
A lot of fun was had. Below are a sampling of photos I took.
Sorry, couldn’t keep myself from punning in the title of this post.
I recently bought a new lens and the best way to try it out is to shoot something. In my case, I shot tanks. There’s a museum in Strängnäs called Arsenalen (“The Arsenal”) which is the swedish museum for armored vehicles past and present. It’s one of the largest collections of armor in europe, displaying armored vehicles used in the swedish army as well as others. If you have the opportunity you should really check it out. It doesn’t really matter if you’re into armored vehicles or not – this museum is cool. I cannot stress it enough, go there! It has tanks, vehicles, loads of history both about armored and warfare in general, as well as a very interesting exhibition of tin soldiers.
During the summers they have a few days they refer to as “vehicles in motion” and during these days you can ride an APC or a “funtrak” (essentially a small toy tank you can drive) as well as enjoy some demonstrations where the volunteers drive around and display various armor as well as common tactics in armored warfare. Saturday was one of those days and I took a drive there and enjoyed it immensely. It’s a very special experience standing next to a 50 ton Centurion when it roars past, the massive V12 blowing plumes of smoke, ground trembling from the rumble.
Here’s a gallery in no special order.
This tank below is a little special. As in, it’s quite little. It’s actually an R/C scale model, built to 1/15 scale. I always enjoy people who find some odd hobby and go completely all-in with it.
I asked the owner about it and he told me it weighs about 170kg. It’s completely electric but has a smoke-system which simulates exhaust surprisingly well, as well as being fitted with a soundsystem which adds the diesel-noise. This too worked impressively. The detailing on the tank is massively intricate, with shovels, helmets and everything built to scale. It’s a replica of an actual german Tiger from WW2 and the owner said he built his R/C model as close as possible, with photos of the real thing as a reference.
Not only does it drive around, it has a fully motorized turret and cannon. The cannon is fully functional and fires small rounds which are loaded into a magazine in the turret. Even the ball-machinegun has LEDs which light up and simulate gunfire!
Nothing short of amazing.
As a car nut, I also enjoy that Arsenalen has a gorgeously restored Ford Model T in their display. It’s actually a running example and is registered for traffic in sweden (as the license plate shows) but has been in mothballs for a few years now.
Last but not least, this uparmored Humvee was parked in the museum. As is obvious, this is also a running car (as evidenced by the mud on it) and is currently owned by the museum. It saw action in Afghanistan in 2010. I can’t quite remember how it ended up in swedish ownership though, but it’s a nice ride. Very manly.
Self-portraits are something of an achilles-heel with me. I find it very difficult to be both photographer and subject, and when acting as the subject I get deeply mired in a strange desire to reflect my inner self in some kind of semi-idealized way which further confuses my process.
I try to move away from this, but it’s difficult. I’ve learned that I might manage to take a somewhat decent self-shot when I’m not stressed, but it’s difficult.
Earlier this evening I had an hour with nothing special planned and I decided to attempt some impromptu experimentation with high-key lighting. This is a technique I desire to have at least some grasp of, and so far my attempts have (in my own admittedly very biased opinion) failed miserably. Strobes were already setup so I just slapped my camera on a tripod and used my bedroom door as a white background.
It was surprisingly fun and meditative. I was originally going to just use some inanimate object as a subject but ended up using myself and doing a fair bit of running back-and-forth between the back and the forth of the camera. I opted on using my 35-70 since I just wasn’t in the mood to fiddle about with the manual focus 105 despite it being my preferred lens for this type of business.
End results were better than expected. I learned a bit more on how to not pose myself. I now feel more confident in attempting this style in the future. I learned that my version of Spock-lifting-one-eyebrow looks like crap.
Not bad for just an hour of goofing around with some flashes, a camera and a bedroom door.
Just the other day I published a new naked portrait. I’m very pleased with this one, and very pleased with several other things as well. I’m very happy that my father showed me an interesting way to light subjects, which I used in this session. I’m also very pleased with the simple fact that I get better at doing this, and each time I take a portrait not only do I get more keepers but also I get more in sync with my own artistic visions and my confidence as a photographer become better.
There is some debate regarding editing. Me, I’m very candid with my own opinion that I consider editing my photos just as important as taking them. I often jokingly claim that I’m actually better at editing photographs than taking them. But occasionally I encounter photographers who have a somewhat snobbish attitude that editing is “cheating” and that “real” photographers do it in camera and “get it right” the first time. Ken Rockwell is famous for this attitude.
Me, I think it’s a load of bullshit. Even back in the days of film, most photographers worth their salt spent more or less time in the darkroom. Some photographers less, and some more. The darkroom, just like the camera, is a tool in the process of creating an image. Digital technology have enabled us to do the same things much easier, quicker and with more grace and power, but the underlying framework is essentially the same as in the darkroom filled with paper, chemicals and the photographers vision.
I draw a strict line between editing and retouching. Editing is the same thing as done in the darkroom – correcting levels, adding a bit of saturation here and there, dodging and burning. Retouching on the other hand is manipulation.
Again, I’m very candid about what I retouch in my photos: I remove temporary blemishes such as a pimple or a bruise but I never, never remove scars, cellulites or anything that is permanent. Editing a photo is important to my creative process. Without editing, I would not reach my photographic and creative visions. With that said, I dislike over-edited and plastic-looking photographs. I don’t like when overzealous editors or retouchers have turned people into botox-looking plastic zombies, or when editing is used to wildly manipulate an image into something it wasn’t from the start.
Finally, let me show a comparison. It’s the same image but on the left is how it looked straight out of the camera. To the right, after some basic editing in Lightroom. What has been changed? Exposure has been adjusted, levels have been adjusted and I added a slight vignetting around the image to enhance the face. Some other very minor tweaks. Is it too much? I think not.