Sirens and early autumn

It’s been a busy September and I haven’t really had much time for photography. It is a shame since there have been many nice days, however I hope I will have a chance to take some lovely photos with autumn foliage before the dark and wet autumn really hits.

The biggest photo-shoot I had in September was the album release concert for the female chamber choir Sireen. They presented their new album “Terra Incognita” in the House of the Blackheads hall in Tallinn and asked me to take pictures of the event.

The concert itself was amazing. The sound was perfect, they had good choreography and an amazing light show. The only problem for me was the lighting. While everything looked impressive, it was relatively dark so I had to bump up the ISO. Using the flash would have ruined the concert for the audience and I also had to be careful with moving around. The concert was acoustic so every sound I made was audible.

In the end I got some really nice pictures, albeit a little noisy. The members of the choir seemed happy though and that’s what really matters.

Choir Sireen performing

Interesting light show during the concert
Members of the choir next to the walls

I have been thinking a lot about how I approach photography and what would make me better at taking photos of people. It is not an obvious thing. It takes a lot of practice and you really need to be able to connect with your subjects.

I tend to overanalyse (as is evident in this post) and worry too much about preparing. When the session starts I find I am too much stuck in my head and this takes it’s toll on my communication with the model. Understanding the problems helps but I’ve fount that talking to other photographers is really good as well.

I had a conversation about photographing people with Liisa from the wonderful Mellow and understood that I need to be more oriented on the person I am photographing and understand what they are feeling in the moment. Work with what the experience brings. Sounds simple enough but it is easy to forget it when you prepare things before the shoot and have too many things in your head.

I think I want to try to connect more with my models before each shoot and try to understand how the clothes they wear make them feel. What are they thinking about themselves in the outfit and how the background will play into it? A conversation that goes deeper than the basic “what will you wear and where will we shoot” may help bring more depth to the images and make things more interesting for me too.

I’ll end this post with a picture I took at an art exhibition called “Luminescent Art and Digital Sounds at Researchers Night” that I visited during the Researchers Night in Tartu. The artist is my friend Macey Muse who make a lot of amazing paintings.  I didn’t get many other images of the event as my sensor got some odd dust on it but this one I like.

Macey Muse talking to a visitor at her art exhibition

Stockholm in August

Picture of Nordens Ljus in Stockholm

We had our vacation near the end of August this year and decided to go to Stockholm for a few days. We moved from Sweden back to Estonia close to a year ago and it seemed like a good time to head back to see our friends and eat our favorite morotsmuffins.

Eva sitting on a staircase
Ivo checking his phone

The trip was incredible fun. The weather was very good (especially our first day in Stockholm) and we managed to go through most of the places we wanted to see. We’d seen most of the sights in Stockholm during the four years we’d lived in Västerås so we were more interested in the many lovely shops that we had started to miss. My favorite is the always fun Sci-Fi Bokhandeln, which is a bookstore dedicated to everything geeky.

We had arranged to meet a bunch of our friends in the evening at Mälarpaviljongen which is a lovely garden/bar/cafe/shop on the shore of Lake Mäleren. Part of the place was actually ON Lake Mälaren floating on barges connected by bridges. It was very lovely and everyone seemed to have fun.

View towards Lake Mälaren
The green queen flyer

After a few drinks we headed to a burger restaurant called Gnarly. The burgers were very tasty and we chatted until late in the evening when most had to take the bus to Västerås. We had a nice walk through Stockholm at night and stayed with our friend Mehmet, who had helped organize the evening.

All in all it was a great trip. Both me and Eva took many pictures with our phones and the Sony NEX 5n and enjoyed every minute.

It was quite sad to leave again as Sweden still has a special place in our hearts but the trip was definitely what we needed this summer. Thank you to all the friends who met us in Stockholm and we hope to see you all again soon.

Ivo looking at Hulk

Mastering Spotify

Although playlists are undoubtedly a very large part of listening to music today, I’m not a big fan of them. The idea of a bunch of songs arranged together by some specific genre or emotion makes sense but I tend to prefer listening to full albums. Very rarely do I want to listen to just one specific song from an artists.

Playlists are of course useful but every time I have started to make playlists in Spotify they turn out horrid. Sometimes my playlists only have a few songs in them as I forget to add new ones. Then there are some with a bunch of seemingly random songs and a few albums in there for good measure. Plus they are not built up in a way that makes sense – there is no logical transition from one song to the next. There is no thought put into which song should follow the other.

Discover Weekly in Spotify

The problem has started to annoy me more over the past few months. The Discover Weekly function is the crown jewel of Spotify and I have found more and more new music that I like using it. I also listen to the new releases every week just to see if there’s anything I find interesting.

The question then comes up, how do I remember these new finds. Again, I am more interested in the full albums than just the songs. Ideally I would like to have separate lists for albums that I can categorize by genre. It would be a grid of albums much like the new releases section that I could sort by name, date added etc. I actually sent Spotify this as a request but I am not holding my breath that they’ll actually add this any time soon.

A twitter conversation with Spotify
While waiting, I came up with a system that I hope will work for me. The idea is that I have separate album and song playlists in addition to a few temporary playlists. The song ones are standard – just lists of songs for Christmas or that I played at our wedding etc. The temporary ones are for songs that I find on Discover Weekly or elsewhere. Once a week or so, I will go over the temporary lists and see if I just like the song or the whole album. If I just like the song it will go into a random favorites list. If the album is good, I will add it to one of my album lists. This way I start each week with a clean temporary list to hold new music.

I categorize the album lists somewhat by genre or feeling. The important thing is that it makes sense to me. While the albums don’t show up in a nice grid, the list kind of works and at least allows me to find an album that interested me a few weeks ago quite quickly.

My profile on Spotify showing my playlists

All the album playlists I make will be public on my profile so if anyone is interested in my favorites in any given genre, you can follow them. Hopefully Spotify will make the dream of album playlists a reality but until then, I hope this method will help me listen to more varied and interesting new music. Too often I feel like listening to music for a few hours and don’t know what to put on…

Summer full of pictures

This summer has been quite full of photography for me. I thought about making a separate post for each photo shoot but ended deciding against it. Most of the pictures I took were not really for me but for the people themselves and are memories of special moments. I was just able to help them out by giving them a digital representation of those moments.

It’s been a lovely summer and I l earned a lot about photography. Each shoot has been different and given me new challenges but I also learned something about myself during the whole thing. I figured out that I don’t want to work as a photographer.

Every time I have taken pictures for others it has been great and I love hearing that the people liked the pictures but it has also been quite stressful. Photography is difficult work and I am nowhere near the level of a professional who can deliver a consistently good product. I feel like I am in over my head most of the time and while I know that’s what learning is like, I don’t want to learn how to become a professional photographer. I just like to take pictures – especially of people.

I feel that it’s time that I take a little step back and figure out where I should take this skill from here on out. I have a few shoots that I have already planned to do with friends for the rest of the summer and I am looking forward to them. After that, I won’t be taking on much more projects until I have figured out where I want to go with my photography and how I want to get there.

Thank you to all of my friends who have given me a chance to take photos of them and have helped me work on my craft.

Vaiko Eplik singing

Vaiko Eplik with a guitar
Portrait of a woman

Portrait of a woman

Woman from the back

Paar seljatagant

Ivo laboratorium

(Virtual) moving day

For a while now I have been wondering what to do about my website. Until today it had been up on Squarespace, which is nice but since my website is not creating me any revenue, it is just too expensive to keep. Due to this indecisiveness I have refrained from posting any new things so I wanted to get it settled.

One option was to just let the contract run up and not do anything. I have a bunch of social media sites, do I even need a website? After a while, I figured I do. Mostly because I really like to have control over my virtual presence and I love owning my own domain (I actually have a few).

The other idea was to move everything to another hosting site and just run the website on WordPress. This seemed like the logical step as I have a lot of experience with it and while one of my older sites ran on Joomla, I really disliked it. WordPress is almost a no-brainer these days.

I started to do research on moving my website from Squarespace to WordPress and found it to be a bit more complex than I had initially thought. I got a lot of help from this post and Squarespace does have a way to export everything however I ran against many strange things. Importing the images was a huge issue. I finally figured out that the problem was in the theme I installed.

The scariest part was moving the domain from Squarespace to Luckily I had no problems with that and once I had confirmed the move on both sides, the domain directed to the new site. The best thing about this is that all the old links still work, so I guess it went as good as it could have gone.

There are many things I will miss about the old website. The main homescreen with the laboratorium image… Plus the post editor was really, really good in Squarespace. Nonetheless… I went from around 11 euros per month to two so no complaints here.