Tag Archives: travel

Festival Survival Guide pt 1 – Preparations

This is how happy you become if you are well prepared for a festival. Photo: Janne Wass

This is how happy you become if you are well prepared for a festival. Photo: Janne Wass, Tuska 2010.

I post a lot of pictures and text from different festivals, but they mostly have to do with the music and less the overall festival experience. So I thought, now that I’m doing a real camping festival a long way from home, why not make a little Festival Survival Guide.

I am heading off to Ilosaarirock in Joensuu in Eastern Finland tomorrow (Saturday), with headliners like Mustasch, Portishead and Alice in Chains. I did a quick headcount and came to the conclusion that it is probably around my 50th or 60th festival, depending a bit on what you consider a festival. So at this stage, I should have some idea of what I’m talking about.

I will be updating this blog out in the field, so stay tuned for more, but let’s start with covering the basics.

Get your tickets in advance. Thet may be sold out by the time you get to the entrance. Photo: Janne Wass, Baltic Jazz 2011.

Get your tickets in advance. Thet may be sold out by the time you get to the entrance. Photo: Janne Wass, Baltic Jazz 2011.

Preparations

The key to a good festival experience is preparation. The better prepared you are for all eventualities, the smoother everything will go.
1. Tickets. Don’t rely on buying a ticket at the entrance. They are often sold out.
2. Travel. Where is the festival? How will I get there? How will I get back home? Good to know this stuff in advance, don’t you think? The festival websites usually have good information on transportation. It’s worth checking out if there are special festival transports, some organisations rent special buses that you can book yourself onto, and it’s usually cheaper than regular public transport. If you are travelling by car, make sure to check out where you can park. And if possible, book your return ticket before you go partying – that bus money has a funny way of disapperaring once the fun begins …
3. Accommodation. There are usually a few different options. If you want the full hotel experience, start booking as soon as the festival dates are announced. Hotels (and most hostels) are filled rapidly if it’s a big festival, especially if it’s a small town. Most festivals have some sort of school or public hall sleeping arrangements – more info is usually found on the festival’s website. A good idea is also to check out different couchsurfing and airbn’b-sites. A lot of people like to make a little exra buck by renting out rooms for the duration of the festival. If there is decent public transportation or you can get someone to drive you, it might also be a neat idea to try and get accommodation somewhere outside the city where the festival is taking place, It’s usually cheaper, too. If you decide on camping, we’ll cover that later.
4. Timetables. Don’t do minute-by-minute timetables for yourself, they only stress you out, but it’s nice to have some idea of when to be where and see which band. It’s a bummer to pay 100-150 euros and then realise that you missed your favourite band because you were playing strip poker in the tent area (not that I would ever).
5. Documents. Plane, bus, train tickets, festival tickets, ID card – all these are naturally essential to have in advance. But I also recommend printing out a festival area map, a city map if the city is not familiar and a concert program – these are not always available on the festival. Just in case, the local taxi number can be handy. Today there are naturally all sorts of festival apps and stuff, but you never know what the reception is like at these gatherings.
6. Packing. Oh this is a science all of its own, we’ll get to that later …

It's the small things that matter. Photo: Janne Wass, going to Ilosaarirock 2014.

It’s the small things that matter. Photo: Janne Wass, going to Ilosaarirock 2014.

Packing

One of the most crucial parts of getting the most out of your festival experience is knowing what to bring with you and what not to bring. Of course this varies depending on the person and the festival, but I have come to learn that there are some basic truths.
1. How to pack. As a general rule – keep it light and portable. When it comes to clothes and stuff – keep it to bare minimum. This is a festival, not fashion week. If your bag is so heavy you can barely lift it, you are officially moving – not travelling. I recommend an old school backpack. Unless you are going straight from the station to the hotel, don’t bring a roller suitcase. Especially not if camping. The general rule for packing backpacks is: heavy stuff on top, light stuff in the bottom. Strap all you can to the backpack, it leaves your arms free and lets your hips take the strain, if properly packed and strapped.
2. Sleeping gear. As covered above, there are many different varieties of festival sleeping. If you’re not sleeping at some sort of hotel/hostel, I recommend bringing a sleeping bag/blanket, a bed sheet and one of those rock hard camping ”mattresses” made out of foam plastic – sleeping pads I think they’re called in English. Pillow is optional. They take up lots of packing space, but you can sleep almost anywhere as long as you have a pillow. If you have a vacuum packer – you are awesome. Some people use blow-up mattresses and pillows, personally I’ve never really gotten used to them.
3. Footwear. Girls – leave the heels at home. There will be mud and gore. You only need one pair of comfy, durable shoes – be it doc martens or sneakers or some other type of footwear. If the weather forecast says rain, rubber boots are nice – although they are heavy to pack and not very comfortable to walk in. An extra pair of lightweight sandals can be nice. Don’t bring your best fancy shoes, they’ll be ruined.
4. Clothes. As aforementioned – this is not fashion week. Everyone will be dusty and muddy and sweaty. One set of change in basic clothes per day should cut it – that is underwear, socks, t-shirt/top/sweater/dress/whatever your taste is in these matters. Bring a warm sweater/coat and an extra pair of pants for cold nights. And a rain coat. Swimwear if there’s a beach nearby. And that’s it, really. A hat, if you must. Because hats are cool. Not fedoras, though. Go nude, release your inner hippie. Go commando. Swing that thing. Release the milk factories. It’s the summer of love. (No, don’t, really. Woodstock is gone. It’s just bad taste. Unless you are really, really hot. Then go for it. But beware the consequenses.)

Camping is fun, but it requires a few extra necessities. As - well at tent, for example. Like the one I had last year at Ilosaarirock, that I still haven't got back. Photo: Janne Wass, Ilosaarirock 2013.

Camping is fun, but it requires a few extra necessities. As – well at tent, for example. Like the one I had last year at Ilosaarirock, that I still haven’t got back. Photo: Janne Wass, Ilosaarirock 2013.

5. Camping gear. So, we are going camping? Then number one is the tent (unless you are sporting a trailer, in which case you are one lucky guy/girl/person). There are cheap ”festival tents” you can get at departments stores. I got mine at Clas Ohlsson for 36 euros. And apart from sleeping gear, that should really be all you need for camping. Bringing grills and gas stoves and stuff like that is just overkill and unnessecery junk to pack. Festival camping areas usually have some sort of grill area and food stands. Some dry groceries or canned food may come in handy for breakfast or nighttime snack, and a bottle for water is essential. Don’t bring a bloody jerry can, though, there are water posts at the festival. A camping chair can be nice if the ground is wet, but a plastic sheet of some sort can sort that out.
6. Sanitizing and medicating. Bring your basic toiletries. There is usually a designated shower area, water posts and porta-loos at the camping area, other accommodations usually have the whole works. Paper towels or toilet paper is a festival goer’s best friend. Always keep a bunch with you. Wet sanitizing napkins are awesome for post-festival-day-cleanup. Important: if you are on any kind of medication, or have any sort of allergies, bring your drugs. Other: a) pain killers are absolutely essential for hangovers, sore feet and backs, blisters, headaches etc. b) sunscreen. You will be outside all day in the middle of the summer. c) Diarrhea pills. I cannot tell you how many times my festival companions have been happy I’ve had these with me. Between the dubiously cooked festival grub, all that alcohol and all those dirty porta-loos, you are almost guaranteed to get the runs at one out of three festivals. It’s ugly but true. d) Contraceptives. If you want to get laid – go festival camping. It even works for me, and that’s saying a lot. And by contraceptives I mean condoms. You don’t want to get those nasty festival crabs. e) band-aids. Good for blisters, scratches and I once repaired a pair of pants with band-aids and a safety pin. True story.
7. Other stuff. a) a small mag-lite. Handy when camping. b) needle and thread, safety pins. Takes up almost no space, but you are so happy to have them when you rip a pair of pants or a top strap. c) a piece of string, rubber bands, duct tape. Will repair absolutely everything. d) scissors or a pocket knife. You can’t bring it to the festival area, but might come in handy when camping. e) a couple of plastic bags. Good to keep things dry, to collect trash or sit on when it is wet. f) phone charger. It’s a bummer when your phone dies and you can’t find your friends. Nearby cafes or bars can usually charge them – some festivals even have charging services.

A trusty old backpack, a cheap festival tent, a sleeping pad, a disposable duvet cover for hot summer nighs and a pair of comfy shoes, and you're all set for camping. Photo: Janne Wass, going to Ilosaarirock 2014.

A trusty old backpack, a cheap festival tent, a sleeping pad, a disposable duvet cover for hot summer nighs and a pair of comfy shoes, and you’re all set for camping. Photo: Janne Wass, going to Ilosaarirock 2014.

8. Don’t bring: a) umbrella. They are forbidden at most festivals: you can poke people’s eyes out with them and they block the view of the bands. b) spiky stuff. All sorts of bracelets and collars and such made of spikes and nails will be confiscated at the entrance. c) professional cameras. Only accredited photographers can use professional cameras at festivals. Professional basically means any camera that has removable lenses. Pocket cameras are usually fine. d) your own booze. This varies from festival to festival – but generally you have to leave your own alcohol at the camping area. e) any valuables. Festivals are great places to either lose stuff or get pickpocketes at – and don’t ever leave anything of value in your tent.

Well, that’s about it. You are now ready to go pogoing. See you in the moshpit. Stay tuned for more festival secrets in later posts!

If you're lucky you might even get to meet your idols. Photo: Janne Wass, Sauna Open Air 2013.

If you’re lucky you might even get to meet your idols. Photo: Janne Wass, Sauna Open Air 2013.

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Janne learns to shoot pt4 – Festivals

Summer is now officially over, and so is the festival season. Continuing my annual posts on how I’m learning to take decent pictures, I thought I might share some thoughts on festival photography. If you want to read my previous text on my process of learning how to shoot, please check out my posts on your first camera, club shooting and my rambling on outdoors night shooting with flash. But to the festival shooting [DISCLAIMER: This post is “as long as a year of famine” as we say in Swedish, so proceed at your own risk]:

1. How to get a photo pass?

Getting a photo pass is step number one, and might be tricky if you are new in the game.

Getting a photo pass is step number one, and might be tricky if you are new in the game.

If you are new to the game, this is the first and biggest hurdle. Without a big name in festival photography or the right connections, this may be tricky. Here are the steps and tricks you might take.

Get a system camera. Without one, you probably will not get access to the photo pit.

Find an outlet. Most festivals require you to register via a media outlet. If you don’t have one, check with these: local papers, student papers, music magazines, culture magazines, e-zines and websites. There are also dozens of festival photography websites around today.

Start a music blog. This is what I did. It might not get you access to the big ones, though, and it also requires a bit of journalism.

Get accreditation. Sometimes your newspaper/magazine/media will take care of this, but often it is up to you. Most festivals have an accred/media link on their websites, where you apply for a photo pass. Remember to check it out at least a month before the festival, some tend to close media accreditation quite early.

Start small. If you work on your own, don’t just try to get into the biggest festivals, seek out small ones that might accept small blogs and zines.

2. Preparations

Make a detailed list of what bands you are going to shoot. Here I have even used colour coding to mark out the different stages they play on. Might seem silly, but it's surprisingly helpful.

Make a detailed list of what bands you are going to shoot. Here I have even used colour coding to mark out the different stages they play on. Might seem silly, but it’s surprisingly helpful.

Good planning is half the work. If you show up out of the blue, it will be a mess. Plan everything in advance, all from when to arrive, what to shoot, when to take a break, when to do interviews, how to travel and sleep, what gear to bring, what clothes to wear and what additional props to bring.

Planning. On most festivals with multiple stages you won’t be able to shoot all bands, and you want to keep a lunch and coffee break at some point. Check out what you want to shoot in advance. Make a minute-by-minute timetable so you know when to be where. This makes life so much easier.

Clothing and stuff. Wear comfortable clothes. It’s well and nice to look cool in leather and stilettos, but it will take its toll on your feet, back and legs in the long run. Pack a rain poncho even if it looks sunny. Sandals are nice, but you might hurt your toes if someone steps on you in the photo pit. I always bring a small medical kit for headaches, blisters, rashes, cuts and undesired bowel reactions to festival grub, as well as some toilet paper, you never know with those portable loos. On small one-stage-festivals, I recommends some good reading material, like, you know, a book.

Transport and accommodation. Plan how you move about. Buy train or bus tickets early, and check out the layout of the city or area the festival is located in. If you decide to book a hotel, do so very early, they tend to fill up quickly. Jot down the local taxi number and keep an emergency cash stash somewhere on your person in case of pick-pockets. You don’t wanna get stranded.

3. Gear

My kit at Down By the Laituri 2012. Two cameras, four cheap lenses, and stuff.

My kit at Down By the Laituri 2012. Two cameras, four cheap lenses, and stuff.

Camera & lenses. You don’t need a full frame 6000 euro camera and top of the line lenses (although they do take better pictures). You will do fine for example with the Nikon 3000 series or the Canon 600 or 700 series. As for lenses I currently go with a three or four lens combo: 1: A good low light lens (I use a Canon 50 mm f/ 1.8, cheap and reliable). 2: A wide angle lens, great for dramatic close-ups. A fisheye can give wonderful shots, but a really wide fisheye can be very limiting in a concert situation. 3: A good tele zoom with a minimum range of 200 mm. Crucial for big stages and crowded photo pits. Currently I use two zoom lenses, one short (17-85) and one long (50-200). The shorter one I sometimes leave at home. All of the lenses I use are very affordable.

Other gear: Proper batteries, the ones that come with the cameras are often second grade. Keep spares. A battery grip is handy. Bring a battery charger. Also buy some heavy duty memory cards, you won’t get very far with 2 or 4 gigas. Always have camera cleaning and drying equipment with you; if it isn’t rainy, it will be dusty and sometimes the bands will throw or squirt or blow shit at you.

Extra: If you have a spare camera, bring it. My camera suddenly malfunctioned at Ilosaarirock this summer and I was very, very happy to have my old D400 as a backup. You can also use double cameras while shooting, so you don’t have to stop to change lenses. Don’t bring a laptop if you’re not sure you’re gonna need it. It’s a lot to carry around and internet reception is usually poor. Many festivals have computers you can use in the media area.

4. Arriving

Look up the media area. There you can usually do interviews, rest and have a cup of coffee. This picture is from Baltic Jazz Festival.

Look up the media area. There you can usually do interviews, rest and have a cup of coffee. This picture is from Baltic Jazz Festival, Radio Vega interviewing the board chairman and the festival director.

Try to check out the festival area as soon as you arrive. If you don’t have to shoot the first band, skip it. You’re here on duty, so take advantage of everything the festival provides you with. Seek out the media center and check if you’re allowed in the VIP section. There will usually be a workspace, some sort of lounge, sometimes computers, internet access, coffee (for free if you’re lucky) and sometimes even free snacks. It also tends to mean shorter toilet and bar lines. Seek out the person responsible for media at the festival and get this person’s phone number and e-mail. Check out the layout of the festival area, where photo pit entrances are, is there an interview area, a media entrance and so on.

5. The photo pit

It's not always easy being a festival photographer. When Ozzy doesn't foam you, The Flaming Lips smother you with ballons, as here at Pitkä Kuuma Kesä in Helsinki 2009.

It’s not always easy being a festival photographer. When Ozzy doesn’t foam you, The Flaming Lips smother you with ballons, as here at Pitkä Kuuma Kesä in Helsinki 2009.

As a rule, photographers are allowed to shoot the three first songs of a gig from the pit. But there may be exceptions, so seek out the photo pit entrance at least five minutes before the shows starts. The entrance is usually on either side of the stage. Keep your photo pass and wristband visible for the security guards. If there are special rules, the security personnel will let you know. Obey the rules, they are often for your own safety, as some bands use pyros and other dangerous stuff.

6. Mind your manners!

There are some unwritten rules and good manners to go by in the photo pit. It can sometimes be crowded, but try and keep it civilized. 

No flash. Flash photography is usually forbidden.

No climbing. Without special permission, don’t climb the stage or scaffolding. It may be OK to step onto the crowd fence at the back of the pit.

Don’t push and shove. It may be crowded and you may lose the money shot because someone stands in your way, but pushing will ruin the shot for the other guy, may be dangerous, and it is simply rude. A gentle tap on the shoulder will do the trick.

DON'T DO THAT! Keep your elbows below your head when you shoot, or you'll block the view.

DON’T DO THAT! Keep your elbows below your head when you shoot, or you’ll block the view. This is Finntroll at Tuska in Helsinki, by the way, probably 2009 or 2010.

Keep your hands and elbows down. When standing in front of other photographers, don’t lift the camera above your head, and keep your elbows tucked in and pointing downwards. Otherwise you block everyone behind you (and it is actually better for your back and shoulders). If you need to shoot from above your head, do it from the back of the pit.

Crouch when moving. When walking sideways in the pit, crouch down so your head isn’t in the way of the other photographers.

Remove your photo bag. If it is crowded, please leave your photo bag beside the stage.

Don’t occupy the best space. If there is a very good space to shoot, don’t stay there for too long. A couple of minutes will do, then give other people a chance to get a good shot.

It’s not a competition. Yes, we all want to get the killer shot. But a nice, polite rotation will give everyone the chance to check out the best angles. We’re in this together.

7. You are the newbie

tuska_kid

You might feel small in the beginning, but watch and learn from the old guys and girls, they are usually sweet people. This one from Tuska Festival in Helsinki.

Showing up for your first festival with your cheap camera and lenses can be very intimidating. Trust me, I know, I still feel like the awkward cousin from the country with too short trousers. Everyone’s got cameras the size of footballs and lenses longer than your arm. They all know each other and chat away in little groups and look like this is just another day at the office. Someone asks about your camera and you feel a little ashamed of your small Canon 600 and don’t quite know the tech stuff, umm, it’s the … uh, the lens that came with the camera? Like 55 something?

Don’t worry. They all started out somewhere, too, and most of them tend to be pretty nice and helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice if you need it, people like to be able to show off their knowledge a bit. Then there are those who like too make you feel small by pointing out that the lens you’re using really isn’t any good, but don’t mind them. Remember that it is the photographer that takes the pictures, not the gear. I have seen photographers with kits worth five times more than mine who take really boring pictures. Nice and sharp, yes, but really boring and unimaginative.

Talk to the bouncer! He is nice.

Talk to the bouncer! He is nice. From Flow Festival in Helsinki.

If you’re not sure of the drill, ask the other photographers or the personnel at the stage. Watch the other guys and learn, that’s what I still do to this day.

8. The glamour, the parties!

Sometimes you do drink beer with the artists in the VIP areas, but unless you are as well connected as Kjell Hell, that tends to be the exception rather than the rule. Warlord Nygård of Turisas, Carolus Aminoff (aka Kjell Hell) from Bob Malmström and some drum tech whose name I've forgotten at Tuska VIP area.

Sometimes you do drink beer with the artists in the VIP areas, but unless you are as well connected as Kjell Hell, that tends to be the exception rather than the rule. Warlord Nygård of Turisas, Carolus Aminoff (aka Kjell Hell) from Bob Malmström and some drum tech whose name I’ve forgotten at Tuska VIP area.

I’ve been shooting festivals for six years now, and there are a few reoccurring beliefs that I always have to debunk.

You do it to get free entrance to festivals. Wrong. I do it to get good photographs. Sure it’s nice to see great bands, but the truth is that I barely get to see more than the three songs I shoot, and when I shoot I don’t really concentrate on the music. When it comes to festivals that are not in Helsinki, I have to pay for train or bus tickets and accommodation, which sometimes means hotels. This is sometimes far more expensive than the festival ticket to some small festival in Kotka, that I would never ever go to see if it wasn’t for some band that is interesting for my blog.

You get to meet all the bands backstage and drink free booze. Wrong. With a few exceptions, the media is not allowed backstage. Sometimes there is a VIP section, but drinks are mostly the same price as any other bar at the festival. You can sometimes hook up with some artists there (Tuska is one example), but it is mostly other media types and VIP:s such as sponsors, music biz employees and minor celebrities who get freebies.

You just take some pictures and have a good time. Wrong. I am mostly on my own at small festivals that none of my friends go to. It can be tedious as hell. I’m overweight, have bad ankles and flat feet, which means sore feet, blisters and an aching back – it can be grueling sometimes. Sometimes it is blazingly hot and I get sweaty and gooey and sun-burnt, other times freezing, windy, muddy and rainy. And extremely boring at small festivals with only one stage – listening to one bland metal band after the other, just waiting and waiting for the next one to start. On big festivals I mostly run from stage to stage, as the concerts tend to start 15 or 30 minutes apart. Since there is seldom any place to sit, it is a lot of just walking and standing.

8. The good part.

The photographs. That is what it is all about. Like this one of LCMDF at Spot Festival at Aarhus,, Denmark in 2012.

The photographs. That is what it is all about. Like this one of LCMDF at Spot Festival at Aarhus,, Denmark in 2012.

Of course it isn’t just all pain, or I wouldn’t do it. Music and photography are two of my passions, and music photography maybe my number one passion. It is all about the pictures and the process. It is exciting to try and find new ways to shoot bands, to try and capture the energy of the artists onstage and hopefully be able to convey the feeling of the festival situation. It is magical to me. And for me in particular, it is about following the bands I write about in my blog – that is why I started taking music pics in the first place.

It is always nice too hook up with colleagues. Like these people from YLE at Spot Festival in Aarhus, Denmark.

It is always nice too hook up with colleagues. Like these people from YLE at Spot Festival in Aarhus, Denmark.

And of course it is nice to see friends and colleagues from time to time. The festival photography circle is a pretty closely knit one, and there are photographers I have gotten to know quite well over the years. It’s always nice to catch up and have a chat. I sometimes bump into other colleagues from the world of media or music, and we might have a beer or two – and it might even lead to wet after parties or backstage boozing, but that is certainly the exception rather than the rule. It is fun when it happens, though. But these are people I drink with anyway, so I don’t really need to go to a festival to do it.

9. The pictures

Capture the passion of the artist, like I've attempted to in this picture of Chisu at Kivenlahti Rock 2012 in Espoo, Finland.

Capture the passion of the artist, like I’ve attempted to in this picture of Chisu at Kivenlahti Rock 2012 in Espoo, Finland.

I haven’t written much about the actual photography, since it is pretty well covered in my previous blog posts. But the festival situation is a bit different from club shooting, due to the three song limit. So a few words on that as well.

Don’t shoot at random. It is tempting to try to use every single second of the three song slot. But firing off like a machine gun at everything that moves means you don’t have time to think the shots through, and will leave you with tons of bad pics to go through. Be patient with the trigger.

Catch the moments. A guy and a guitar or a head with a microphone isn’t really that fun. Watch the lights, wait for that moment when an artist does something unusual or powerful, and that’s when you pull the trigger. Explosions, energy, laughter, rage, impressive stances, facial expressions, dramatic lights, interesting angles, all these are stuff to look for.

Get to know the artists. If you have never seen the band before, take a few minutes at the beginning of the first song and try to work out what you should be focusing on. How do they move, which one of them has the charisma that registers on camera? What are the stances and mannerisms you want to catch? What makes this artist special? How does this artist make you feel? That is what you should ultimately try to capture.

Capture that right moment, like here with PMMP at Ilosaari Rock in Joensuu, Finland.

Capture that right moment, like here with PMMP at Ilosaari Rock in Joensuu, Finland.

Be systematic. Although you should always keep an open eye to what is happening, it is good to have a certain pattern to what you do. I tend to try and start out with the wide shots, since it gives me time to observe the artists, the stage and the lighting. That’s about half of the first song. Then I focus on the individual artists to see how they render in the shots. Now we’re halfway through. During the second half I try to catch the most interesting one of the artists on stage and really squeeze out that killer shot. Of course this system never works one hundred percent. Crowded pits and tall stages that obscures much of the band leaves you shooting whatever you can get – and so you try and make the best of the situation. But at least it is good to have some sort of system in the back of your mind.

10. Publishing.

Find the pics that really stand out from the mass, like when Michael Monroe lies down in front of you and looks straight into the camera at Kivenlahti Rock in Espoo, Finland.

Choose the pics that really stand out from the mass, like when Michael Monroe lies down in front of you and looks straight into the camera at Kivenlahti Rock in Espoo, Finland.

Don’t spam. If you shoot for a magazine or newspaper, you probably get one or two shots published. But most of us tend to publish online. And here the rule of thumb is (sorry Krista Siegfrids): less is more. Whether you post to Facebook, a webzine, a photo page like Flickr or Tumblr, a blog or something else, choose a few good ones. Otherwise the good pics will drown in all the mediocre ones.

No identical doubles. If you have the guitar player in whole figure on five good shots: choose one and discard the rest. You have nine good face shots of the singer? Choose the best.

Don’t publish. You haven’t a single good picture of a certain band? Don’t publish any. You have no good pictures of a band, and that band is Metallica? Well … choose the least bad one and do some cropping and editing magic and publish that one. But really, no picture is better than a bad picture, unless you are especially assigned to shoot that band.  

When you get a cool angle, beautiful lighting and a good looking artist, things just fall into place like magic.

When you get a cool angle, beautiful lighting and a good looking artist, things just fall into place like magic. Here’s Night by Night at Trash Fest in Helsinki.

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Mina favoritbloggar

Jag är egentligen en ganska urusel bloggläsare, jag läser blogginlägg nästan bara då nån postar dem på facebook eller twitter. Men det finns några jag försöker följa med aktivt. Här är topp 7-lista på mina favoriter (inte i någon rangordning).

1. Approximation
Svensk bloggare som skriver insatt om samhälle och politik ur ett rödgrönt och lite svenskt perspektiv. Ibland blir det lite onödigt långt och högtflygande, men killen har mycket sakkunskap och en klar analytisk hjärna.

2. Jukka Relander
Journalisten och skribenten Jukka Relanders blogg på Uusi Suomi är kanske Finlands bästa politiska blogg. Klartänkt, tydligt, insiktsfullt och ibland ganska roligt.

3. Kapten Shrimpi
Den här uppdateras alldeles för sällan, men det är troligtvis den roligaste bloggen jag vet. Karln är galen. Och ironisk.

4. The Bloggess
Egentligen en ganska meningslös blogg, men den här kvinnan (professionell bloggare) har ett fantastiskt sinne för svart humor och sarkasm och en fantasi som inte tycks ha några gränser. Allt är inte guld, men då och då vrider jag mig dubbel av skratt.

5. Valfeber
Toffe Gröhn skriver som en av få finlandssvenska journalister en regelbunden politisk blogg. Ibland korta infoflashs, ibland mer analytiskt. Ursprungligen en valblogg, men jag hoppas att han fortsätter kommentera den finländska politiken också efter att vi fått en regering.

6. Jens Finnäs
Jens är frilansjournalist och egentligen är det här en samling av hans publicerade texter, men hans kolumner och artiklar är för det mesta så bra att de lönar sig att läsa i bloggform om man inte kommer över tidningarna.

7. ZXC Music
Så måste jag ju ännu göra reklam för min musikblogg som följer med finlandssvenska artister, med tyngdpunkt på skräpig rock och metal.

Bubbling under:

Några andra bloggar jag gillar; Poppe – finlandssvensk, kort & koncist om media, politik och annat, On a ramble – Sara ute i världen; sol, dykning, ditt och datt och alldeles härliga bilder, Li Andersson – Vänsterungas klipska ordförande, Helen Korpak – fina bilder in a hipster kind of way, Basses bästa – Basse Nybergs serier.

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It’s a jungle in here!

Jag tror att den egentliga orsaken till Centralparkens existens är att den ska skapa en ogenomtränglig barriär mellan Granvägen och Yle. Fågelvägen är det inte mer än ungefär en och en halv kilometer mellan de båda. Men däremellan har nån jävel gått och satt upp en massa hus, stängslen, brinkar, berg och en herrans bunt med träd!

Den enda vägen jag på kartor hittat som man kan på nåt vettigt sätt kan promenera mellan dem är via Brunakärrs invalidstiftelse, vilket med alla krökar blir ungefär dubbelt så långt i promenadväg, det brukar ta mig ungefär 35 minuter att promenera.

Nå, i natt tänkte jag kolla om det nu verkligen inte finns nåt rakare sätt att ta sig genom skogfan hem från jobbet. Hopplöst. Stället är planerat som en jävla labyrint! Så fort du tror att du hittat en stig som tar dig till andra sidan, svänger den och tar motsatt riktning, eller så slutar den i en korsning som går åt norr eller söder, då jag vill västerut. Man förlorar all uppfattning om vädersträck och riktning till slut. Djungel!

Det röda indikerar fågelvägen, det blå den vägen jag brukar tar och det lila den väg jag troligtvis tog i natt.

Först kom jag ut vid Dals sjukhus. Men fan ta den som ger sig, tänkte jag och stoppade näsan in i bushen igen. Efter lite lallande lyckades jag med hjälp av nån sorts instinkt ta mig till Tölö tull. Close enough liksom, men det var ju helt på fel sida av Granvägen.

Så om nån nu vet om nån vettig stig därinne (det är på riktigt ett jävla myller!) så får man gärna tipsa.

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Filed under Misc diary entries, Out there

Janne learns to shoot pt1

Ok folks, I’m going to write this in English, in case some of my photographing friends who don’t speak Swedish might want to read it. And if you’re just google-stumbling in on it: This is not a tutorial blog on shooting, just a few thoughts and experiences from an amateur, but maybe someone picking up photography as a hobby might find something useful. Now, here’s a first advice for someone who wants to take up photography: Your first camera should be a fairly cheap one. And I’ll get to the reason later.

The first thing my mom did was teach me how to pose.

People often ask me how long I’ve been taking pictures and I tend to answer ”a couple of years”, since photographing started as an active hobby of mine as recently as 2009. That’s when I started the ZXC website and realized I had to get a proper digital camera. But actually, that’s a lot of bullshit.

My first camera was one of those all automatic plastic little pocket cameras that everyone had before the digital era. And I took hundreds and hundreds of pictures with that one. Mostly your standard holiday pics and things like that, but looking back now I’m amazed at how nicely some of them turned out.

Kim in Lapland. Taken with my plastic pocket thingy.

I suppose photography has always been in my blood somehow. My grandfather, who recently passed away, was a great photographer, he had his own darkroom kit and all, but sadly had to give up the hobby before I was old enough share it with him. But he passed on the passion to my mother, who I suppose must have gotten me interested in pictures and graphics. She has sadly more or less stopped shooting now because of her fear of the digital world, but if there is anything good in my eye, I suppose I have her to thank for that. She is my harshest critic and I value all feedback she gives me.

Well, anyway, some fifteen years back, or so, she bought one of these semi-digital pocket cameras that were around for a while. Real film, but the cameras were sort of half digital. It took great pictures and I borrowed it whenever I could. I still used it some 4-5 years ago. Then I got my grandfather’s old camera, but the leap from pocket to system camera was to big for me at the time and I never really got the hang of it. It also had a few kinks that I never came to master.

This pic of hungover photographer Timo Kirves would have been taken with that semi-digital cam.

 

My real school of photography was my summer job at Åbo Underrättelser, the local newspaper for the Turku region, where I worked four summers. When I first arrived they had these strange half static, half system cameras. Later they upgraded themselves to real Nikons, I think. But that was where I really got my first lessons in photography. The standard at the place was not that high, though. There was no photographer working for the paper, so the journalists had to do all of the shooting themselves. The rule was mostly ”If it’s not out of focus, we’ll use it on the front page”. Later they started taking in trainees from the local school of photography during summers and I learned a lot from watching them work. And then I bought my own system film camera, a Canon 300, from my friend Mats who sold it along with a couple of lenses and other stuff for a bargain price. I still use the Tamron zoom lense he sold me. In journalism school I also got in contact with both film and digital cameras, did the short course in press photography and then landed positions as editor of a couple of student magazines, where I started to learn the mysteries of digital images and photoshop. My first digital system camera of my own was the now obsolete Canon EOS 400D, a camera with which I have taken some of my greatest pictures. I recently upgraded that to an EOS 50D – mostly because it shoots better picturs in dim lighting.

Venice. Taken with my film camera Canon 300 (which I still have).

I just heard of a guy who bought a Canon 7D as his first camera (with a standard lense, that’s 2000 euros). That is just plain stupidity. Your first camera is like your first car. It’s supposed to be cheap, simple and crappy. Because then you will get no technical help and just have to learn the dynamics of light, motion and timing. Because of its technical limits, it will lead you to experiment and take pictures from angles you would never have thought of, or play with the light to create small artworks instead of just a standard picture. When talking about system cameras, a ”lesser” camera will force you to use the manual controls ans step out of the boundaries of what would generally be looked upon as ”a good picture”. Shadows, motion blurs, searching for that one spot with decent light will render your pictures a personal feel. You have to learn the craft, instead of just letting the auto setting do it all for you.

If there is anything good in my pictures today, it’s all thanks to the journey I’ve had from my little plastic pocket camera through various semi-systematic cameras, film, semi-digital, digital pocket cameras and now to my mid-range 50D. And I’m still just a novice, I am currently starting to build up my first flash kit, tonight I’ll experiment some with multiple flashes down at Wäiski, taking new shots of Opaque Buff with their new drummer. It’s probably going to be a mess. But this is all a part of a journey I love. It’s exciting, fun, experimental. And that feeling you get when standing with a bunch of guys sporting equipment for 5000 euros, and you’re there with your 500 euro 400D kit, then reading the papers the next morning discovering you bested the lot with your pic.

Cats on Fire. Shot with my 400D.

So when people ask me what system camera they should get for their first equipment, I always say a Canon 1000D or 550D (which should be the equivalent of the obsolete 400D today). If you start off with the sportscar model, you’ll miss all the fun of getting your hands dirty beneath the hood. And you won’t know shit about how the engine works.

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My survival kit

I just finished prepping my tool kit. Now to you, it may look like your average medium sized camera bag, but I call it the I-can-now-pick-up-and-leave-anytime-I-want-kit. At the time I took this pic, the bag contains:

  1. One camera
  2. Two lenses
  3. An empty space for the camera + lense I used to take the picture
  4. A camera battery charger + cable
  5. A camera card reader + cable
  6. A USB-stick
  7. An extra camera battery
  8. A lense cleaner
  9. A portable sound recorder
  10. 6 standard alkaline batteries
  11. A notebook
  12. 4 pens
  13. A change of underwear + socks
  14. A clean t-shirt
  15. A towel
  16. Savett cleansing wipes
  17. Compresses
  18. Paper handkerchiefs
  19. Blister pads
  20. Band aid
  21. Gauze
  22. Hydrocortisone ointment
  23. Scissors
  24. Ear plugs
  25. A piece of soap
  26. A toothbrush
  27. Toothpaste
  28. Pain killers
  29. Diarrhea pills
  30. Indegestion pills
  31. A plastic bag
  32. A lighter
  33. Matches
  34. Sunglasses
  35. Bus money

UPDATE: Oh I forgot, there’s also a couple of rubber bands, a piece of string and a mobile phone charger in there.

Why? Well, there’s actually five reasons. The first one is that as a journalist, I can, if needed, go on a day-long assignment, or even over night without worriyng about clean clothes or getting clean. Second, I tend to end up in weird places after a night out, often having to do some more or less official business the day after. This way I don’t need to run around town – just take a shower, change and head off. And I’ve got all the hangover medication I need. Third, it’s a great festival kit. Four, it’s all the luggage I need for a weekend trip. Five, you just never fucking know what’s gonna happen. Now I’m always ready – down to getting cut or hurt or just needing bus money to get home from where ever I happen to be.

Only downside: It weighs a bit more than before. 😉

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Live från bokmässan

Nå inte riktigt, jag sitter nog hemma. Bokmässan i Helsingfors är lite som vappen om man jobbar inom kultur- och journalistbranschen. Vart än man vänder sig finns där nån som man måste säga morjens morjens åt. Och då finns Ny Tid ändå på den yttre kanten av det finlandssvenska klustret, i en korridor som inte är så tungt trafikerad som många andra. Man måste kolla lite för att hitta oss.

Vi har alldeles tydligt roadat för många tidningar till mässan och jag har avgett ett löfte om att äta upp min cigarrettask om vi lyckas bli av med alla.

I dag ska jag försöka hinna se Hencka Jansson på Tottiscenen kl 12, I kommer Gösta på Edith Södergran 13.00, samt Fredrik Lång och Nora Hämäläinen på Totti kl 13. Från och med 16 till 18 hittar ni mig i Ny Tids bås. Kom och plocka upp tidningar och köp en T-tröja!

Black is the new black, åtminstone om man är chefredaktör för en independent-tidskrift. Malin Nyqvist från Gorilla, Helen Korpak från Traum Noir och Josefin Almer från Presens.

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Filed under In the News, Non-military service, Photos