Fingers and wind instruments

Earlier this year I had a chance to photograph Juvenalia Wind Orchestra of Juvenalia Music Institute is one of the many music schools in Finland offering high-quality teaching for varied instruments, orchestras, choirs and music theatre in Espoo. During 2014-2015 Juvenalia had more the 1600 students.

I took the pictures mainly for promotional purposes. Here are close-ups of some instruments in the hands of their players.

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The first portable studio session

I took these two pictures yesterday with a relatively cheap and easy studio setup (Falcon Eyes): two flashes with softbox, one flash with a snoot and a white and black backdrop (need to iron those!).

The trickiest things were

  • to adjust the lights so that there were no sharp shadows
  • to balance the flash power
  • to find the right exposure values by trial-and-error (I don’t have a separate flash light meter)
  • to keep the model(s) active and interested while making the technical adjustments

This was the first real studio shooting session I’ve ever done, so plenty of things to learn! And that’s also the fun part.




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Blow flies – Raatokärpäset

The Finnish name – raatokärpäset = “corpse flies” – is much less alluring than Blow flies. So  let’s use the family name “Calliphoridae – much more neutral.

I know nothing about the flies, but they look great. All pictures taken in Mäntsälä. Finland, the first two in June 2007 and the rest in September 2015.

(Click to open the gallery.)
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Silk weaving in Thailand

When Thai silk is mentioned, many of us can instantly imagine tasteful, beautiful textiles. It is produced year round in Thailand. Most production is after the rice harvest in the southern and northeastern parts of the country.

Wikipedia tells: Women traditionally weave silk on hand looms and pass the skill on to their daughters, as weaving is considered to be a sign of maturity and eligibility for marriage. Thai silk textiles often use complicated patterns in various colours and styles. Most regions of Thailand have their own typical silks. A single thread filament is too thin to use on its own so women combine many threads to produce a thicker, usable fiber. They do this by hand-reeling the threads onto a wooden spindle to produce a uniform strand of raw silk. The process takes around 40 hours to produce a half kilogram of silk. Many local operations use a reeling machine for this task, but some silk threads are still hand-reeled. The difference is that hand-reeled threads produce three grades of silk: two fine grades that are ideal for lightweight fabrics, and a thick grade for heavier material.

I took these pictures in a silk production showroom in Thai Silk Village in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. Very educating visit.


Sericulture: from silkmoths to silk cocoons (click to enlarge the images).

Skillful hands are needed to weave the silk into fabrics (click to enlarge the images).

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Leopard tortoise

I met these Leopard tortoises (Stigmochelys pardalis) in Karoo National Park, South Africa. They are big beautiful animals, can weigh over 50 kg, and the shell can be up to 60 cm in diameter. Wikipedia says they can move fast, but these were very cooperating and let take several close-ups.

(I’m slow in processing the pictures: took these in September 2008.)


Click any image to open the gallery.
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European Peacock – Neitoperhonen

European Peacock (Aglais io, in Finnish neitoperhonen) is one of the most beautiful and biggest butterflies we can see in Finland.  It is also one of the few ones which hibernates as an adult. It is easy to recognize due to the four distinctive ‘eyes’ on the wings, and almost black underside of the wings.

Neitoperhonen eri vuodenaikoina, tiloissa ja kunnossa. Kaikki kuvat otettu Mäntsälässä.

[Sometimes I wonder why some butterflies have so different names in English and in Finnish: Peacock (Finnish: riikinkukko) – Neito (English: maiden). I’m sure there is an explanation. But this is only a side note of this post.]

This butterfly has two generations during the summer. We can see the first flying late spring and early summer, they are those who hibernated. Late summer to early autumn are flying those who have grown during the summer (I haven’t got a picture of the caterpillar of Aglais io, but here you can see one.)

These first pictures are taken this September (with Canon 100 mm macro).


Some days ago I noticed one Aglais io flying inside our house. Like many butterflies it was attracted by the light of the lamp, so I was able to take some shots with Canon G3 X (hand-held, zoomed to the max 600 mm [equivalent to 35 mm sensor]).

And finally a shot taken in June 2007 (with Canon 70-200/4 zoom), showing a very worn out early summer Peacock. It’s quite amazing it could still fly.


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Fine Mexican Pottery in Helsinki, Arabia – Hienoa meksikolaista keramiikka

Surprisingly interesting exhibition in Design Museum’s Gallery Arabia, Helsinki: Fire and Clay The art of soft pottery in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Design Museon Galleria Arabiassa on tammikuun 22. päivään asti mielenkiintoinen näyttely “Tuli ja savi – Mexicon Oaxacan haurasta keramiikkaa”. Se kertoo monipuolisesti tämän eteläisen osavaltion keramiikasta sekä käyttö- että koriste-esineinä.

I admit: I didn’t have very high expectations about the exhibition in advance (and I’m far from being a pottery expert), but I was truly positively surprised in many ways. There are good variety of exhibits. The historical span is long. There is a lot of good information available.

The tradition of Mexican ceramics and pottery is thousands year long. This exhibition tells about the pottery in Oaxaca and mainly about the functional use of ceramics, somewhat less about the artistic works.

The opening event today was a bit packed, but I manage to get some pictures which I hope will tease you to see the exhibition yourself. There is still good time for that, it is open until 22 January. During the same visit you can see also Design Museum Arabia’s permanent exhibition.

Click any image to open the photo gallery.
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