The Arctic Road Trip

As soon as I decided to move to Northern Finland last year, my plan for the summer holidays was to go on an Adventure in Northern Norway. After two recent short road trips to the Lofoten Islands and to Tromsø and the Island of Senja at the end of the winter, I had a better idea of what my summer plan would look like. I wanted to visit new locations, but also go back to the ones I saw in the winter so I could see how different they are in the summer.

4200 km across Finland, Norway and Sweden

Most of those places are in Norway: Magerøya in Finnmark, Tromsø and Senja in Troms and the Lofoten Islands in Nordland. But I also wanted to stop in Finnish Lapland, and go back to Swedish Lapland to do some hiking in Abisko National Park.

My own crew gathered for the trip, ready to work hard on our secret summer project. Here a behind the scenes of a failed photo session, towards the end of the trip, in Abisko National Park.

But now that I’m back in Oulu it feels like a photographic failure.

Don’t get me wrong, the trip was great. Despite the less than ideal weather conditions I had a blast in the land of the midnight sun. The weather has been particularly terrible while I was camping on the Lofoten Islands, but even with barely 10ºC, wind and rain, the place was still epic. And although the other places (even the island of Senja) can’t match the level of epicness of Lofoten, they’re among the most amazing places I’ve visited in Europe. But two things were a let down for me…

Playing in the Lofoten with a new friend acquired in the northernmost Toys R Us

First there were too many places to visit in a too limited amount of time. Too much driving. While I could drive all day along the Norwegian roads, it wasn’t compatible with working on my summer project.

Plundering the northernmost Burger King (between two showers).

Secondly the areas I visited previously were not as inspiring as they were in the winter. Don’t get me wrong, summer has its own charm. The absence of snow allows easier hiking in the mountains, it’s never dark and the nature is so abundant everywhere that it’s a paradise for toy photography. But there was something missing in the colors and the light that I found deeply inspiring during the winter and wasn’t there anymore.

Back in April when mountains were covered with snow…

The initial plan was to be done with shooting photos for the summer project once the trip would be over, in order to focus on post-processing now. But while I had a great time in the Far North, I didn’t made as much progress as I wanted.

T-Rap ready to photograph the midnight sun.

Overall I had one good photo session while enjoying the midnight sun, a few kilometers away from the northernmost point of Europe. But as I’m writing this I still haven’t really had time to sort the 800 pictures of minifigs I took there. (Plus the few other hundreds still waiting on my camera to be transferred on my hard drive.)

Enjoying the only opportunity to photograph the midnight sun at 71º07’18”N

While I should have enough material for at least the beginning of my story, I’m scared that I could have missed something… What if I need to go back to go back to a specific location to reshoot a photo? Or worse have to wait for a specific time of the year? Like next summer when the midnight sun will be visible again…

Only time will tell whether I’ll able able to complete the project before the deadline, or if it will require more time to mature for me too (pun intended).

Now it’s time to sort the photos and see which ones are usable and which ones are not. The next step will be about where (and when) to go to take the missing photos, but this is probably another story.

I believe I can fly…

Last month was the Paris Air Show.
You may have read my article on the subject. It was a great experience. I had so much fun taking pictures with LEGO minifigures in the middle of airplanes.

And because last month’s word was craftsmanship, I thought it would be a good idea to take one of those picture and describe the crafts I used to achieve the initial vision. Let me drive fly you through the whole process Continue reading “I believe I can fly…”

Forget. Relearn. Repeat.

Initially this blog post was intended to be a successful report about my approach to the topic of last month´s word, craftsmanship.

Many moons ago in an earlier life I used to be carpenter, so the idea of craft is nothing new to me. To master a craft one has to be curious; eager to learn new things; (sometimes) willing to release the inner child and let it push all the buttons there are just to see what happens. Easy as pie. Or at least that´s what it should be. Especially when you´re an AFOL playing  working with a toy that proverbially screams for being played and explored with and bending the rules (Rules? What rules?) : the LEGO brick.

Continue reading “Forget. Relearn. Repeat.”

Focus Stacking

I wrote before about the dilemma I easily experience when selecting photos with the appropriate depth of field and bokeh while post-processing them. But the craftsmanship technique I’ve really been experimenting as of lately is focus stacking and compositing.

I’m usually not interested in a very short depth of field. What I’m rather looking for is a strongly blurred background and this never works without a short depth of field. Most of the time it’s not a problem as just having the face of my subject in focus is enough. But this can be difficult to achieve when working with multiple figures. Continue reading “Focus Stacking”

Holidays

The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). The word originally referred only to special religious days. Today it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school.

In Sweden we just finished the midsummer celebrations, and in the Northern hemisphere most people are looking forward to a smaller summer break, also called summer holidays (at least in the commonwealth nations, while the US may just call it vacation – although today is a holiday. Happy 4th July !).

A new month. A new word. A new challenge. And the first half of the year completed. Continue reading “Holidays”

Airplanes and LEGO

If you like airplanes (and I am not talking about this really funny movie), you may know that every two years the Paris Air Show is organized at the Le Bourget Airport, just outside Paris,  It’s one of the biggest events of its kind. It’s basically a trade exhibition for the aerospace and defense industries with a public airshow.  Like every edition there is a lot of money at stake during those 7 days, with aircraft manufacturers announcing new products and airlines buying airplanes,.. And guess what.  The 2017 edition of the Paris Air Show took place a couple of weeks ago.

Paris Air Show 2017

You could ask , why would we talk about that in a toy photography blog? Continue reading “Airplanes and LEGO”

Aperture, depth of field and bokeh

The place where I’ve practiced the most Craftmanship during the past year is definitely in front of my computer rather than in front of my camera.

I’ve reached a point where I don’t think too much about technique when I take pictures. I’ve learned a few things about how light and exposure work and that’s usually enough. For the rest I let my camera do its magic. For that, I often rely on bracketing. Automatic exposure bracketing, so I can choose which exposure works best later, or even go to HDR if none works. But I also use manual bracketing for the aperture setting so I can choose later which depth of field works best for me. Continue reading “Aperture, depth of field and bokeh”

And I Think It´s Gonna Be A Long, Long Time…

(I´m seriously wondering how many of you can sing along with this article´s headline. Seems as if Reginald Kenneth Dwight chose a famous topic for that certain song back in the days.)

 

About two weeks ago, on the day of its release, I was kindly given a long awaited set from the LEGO Ideas theme, specifically the 21309 LEGO NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket. In case you didn´t know all things space are my most favourite LEGO sets. I can´t explain in words what specifically attracted me to this set. Was it the fact that it reminded me of one of the earliest sets I remember in my family, the #367 Moon Landing from 1976? Was it the size of it (1,01 m)? Was it the brand new astronaut nano figures? Or simply the fact that it´s another fan designers´ (Felix Stiessen and Valérie Roche) set?

 

The LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket

 

You´ve probably all read a dozen reviews about the rocket so far so I´m not going to bore you with the same details and facts like that this set contains 1969 parts (wait, what year did they land on the moon?); or that it consists of the original three single stages that can be taken apart and put back together easily; that it comes with a LunarModule (you know, the tin can that actually landed on the surface of the moon) and the control/service module that took the astronauts safely back to Earth at the end of their mission; that the building instructions are 184 pages thick…!

Continue reading “And I Think It´s Gonna Be A Long, Long Time…”

Wonder Woman’s Lipstick

This month’s word is craftsmanship and the crew is having some great discussions behind the screen on where to take the craftsmanship.

When selecting this month’s word one of the influences came from Maelick comment or should I say “ask” in one of the social channels on how much you clean up your images, and I can tell you it is one of my basic skills I almost always apply. I use the lipstick to clean up the major flaws of LEGO prints, dust and the non-authentic scars of age. I do post correct, and I can tell you, the one single reason why I cannot abandon Adobe Photoshop for just Lightroom is the magic properties of the Healing Brush and it’s Hogwarts magical properties of healing. It is subtle, yet so amazingly powerful. Continue reading “Wonder Woman’s Lipstick”