Janne Mankila - Photogråphy


"Before I speak, I have something important to say."  - Groucho Marx 

Looking for a site that has it all: photogråphs, talk about photographs, news about photography and links to other photography sites mixed with healthy dose of random rants, musical sidenotes and talk about stuff that should've won the Nobel Peace-of-mind prize for inspiring the author of this particular site? Oh well.. Look no further!


  • 25.4.2009 -Light at the End of the Tunnel-

   It's been quite a few whiles since my last entry. I lost count a couple of months ago, actually... But I think I'm about to come back and continue doing what I enjoyed the most - writing short, opinionated essays on interesting topics while trying my best to stay at least as uninformative and unreliable as Top Gear. At least that's my official benchmark.

There's an abundance of reasons for my silence lately. First of them being a major rework of my social life - you see, I'm not single, anymore. :~)  Second, the plan to write more often and subsequently with less substance was a total failure. Zero entries. Third, my spring semester has been unprecedentedly busy, taking too much of my time. But the semester lasts only so long. What's more, my motivation for keeping up with interesting things (motorcycles, cars, photography etc.) has been magically and instantly recovered when I heard that we will be employed for the summer after all!

I thank you for your patience, but I will need
a lot more than that in the future...
Stay tuned.  :~)

 

  • 2.1.2009 -The Worst Bassist Joke-

   How low can you get? And let's be serious, here, for once. 

I think it was Karma himself who said that below insects there are not many forms of life to choose from and that one of the very few is a bassist. Now, I haven't the slightest clue as to the actual truth and I can't really say that I know Karma personally, so let's assume that he/she was joking. But then you hear all the bassist jokes and think again... Besides, other than Lemmy Kilminster, you don't really know that many bassists. And let's be straight, Motörhead is not a very good band - maybe even *because* they have a bassist as their leading man. The White Stripes were succesful simply because they didn't have a bass player, at all!

Today I found the definitive answer to my uncertainty. It all became clear. Here's Michael Manring playing one of his own songs, Selene.

Either there is no such thing as Karma,
or he/she has an incredibly poor sense of humour.

 

  • 8.11.2008 -It's Snow Time!-

   Against all odds, the winter is here again. Puddles are freezing and snow is falling - aren't those some of the better wonders of the world? For many years I've had the pervasive urge to photograph the first snow and even though one might think I get accustomed to seeing snowfalls, I haven't. It seemed hard-pressed to describe the feeling until I looked a bit below... Yes, the first snowfall is just like a new Enya record being released. Exactly the same thing.

Here's the first one. That's my Chrysler Neon on the right and a cracking (not literally, no, but like 'smashing') old Saab next to it. You don't really see much of the snow falling, though...

Well, there are downsides to having slippery roads as well. First, I can't ride my motorcycle any more... Wait, I just mentioned I had a motorcycle? But of course I have! It's not the Beemer, mind you, and not the Triumph Scrambler either. I chose one of the Japanese bikes. Not Yamaha nor Suzuki. And not Honda either. I'm tempted to leave you guessing and I think I'll just save it for some other day.  =0)

Well, back to the snowfall photos! Here's the next one. I realised the best way to get the snowflakes to show in the photos was to twist the truth a bit. You see, those are real snow flakes, nothing fake there. And I haven't made any manipulation on the photo, nor have I stacked multiple images. I'm tempted again to leave you guessing, but I'm not quite that foul. The truth is that I'm actually sitting in my car and looking through the side window. That alone won't create illusions of anything more than sitting in a car, but the trick is to take advantage of the low light... The camera lowers the shutter speed in order to gather more light and you simply move the camera during the exposure. If you do it unintentionally, you'll probably end up with camera shake and a funny mess, but if you know what's happening, you can make your own blizzard!

Two is not much, I know, but I was in a hurry when I shot them. Alas, the weather has been appalling for a few days now and it could take a while to get a chance at shooting another snowfall.

Next time we'll have a bit of doom and gloom. Beware!
(Or a bit later, depending mostly on my mood. :~)


 

  • 30.10.2008 -Women Can Sing and Write, Too-

   I feel like I'm really asking for it! Rest assured, I'm not. It's a bad joke, yes, but does tell you what I'm discussing today. You see, I'm getting warmed up for the cold and snow of wintertime, and my Enya records have always been some of the key guiding lights for me when struggling through the inevitable autumn depressions. Good news unveiled when I heard that a new Enya album is on its way and will be released in November. The title - And Winter Came. Quite fitting, is it not!

The tension is tangible when I'm presenting you the first single from the new album, Trains and Winter Rains... You simply must enjoy.


Next time it's something else. I'm thinking of PJ Harvey and one of her new songs. The new material is creepy, believe me, but intriguing nonetheless. Therefore it deserved its own space and time.  :~)

 

  • 14.9.2008 -Heroes for the boys-

   Wow! Someone's either getting lazy or has been extremely busy... I've been neither of those, frankly. I simply have a fear of letting you down after writing such complete essays on serious issues (e.g. motorcycling, music, Life On Mars). The bar is raised every time and even though it's been only too gratifying, perhaps it's time to lower it. I promise I'll start next time, because today's topic is of grand scale - our own heroes, idols and examples. Well, mine, at least.

I've presented many, many cute, intelligent or beautiful women here before, but never have I seen it apt to make a scene about men whom I admire. Another way of putting it would be that I've never revealed to you my, shall we say, spiritual mentors. Now I will. Again, they are but fictional characters. Only one of them is half real.

It's small wonder that I happen to love the Harry Potter books. Okay, so not many boys of my age (currently I'm 25 years young) dare to read stories for children - and neither do I. But frankly, Harry Potter isn't for the young ones alone, for it has a great deal to offer to oldies as well (in my family I've already found ample proof of that). Many of the themes and topics are perhaps more suited to people in specific points and stages of life. One of the stronger sub-plots is built between Harry and his godfather, Sirius Black. (In the movie he's played by none other than Gary Oldman, one of my favourite actors. And oh, if you've yet to read the books, you should skip to the next character...)  The first signs of him in the book leads you to believe that he's an evil, cold and hardened killer. The Prisoner of Azkaban, which incidentally is my favourite part of the series, slowly reveals how the two people's lives are entwined. From the person Harry fears the most Sirius transforms almost into a father figure for the small boy. Why exactly does the idea of this scary-looking boogeyman taking care of an orphan child suddenly feel so natural and heart-warming, I don't know. But with his presence alone he creates a home to Harry, who's always felt vulnerable and isolated. It's more than enough to make Sirius Black probably the most important role model for me.

If today's England teeming with all sorts of witches and wizards isn't far-fetched enough, let's take an alternative approach. Let's go back to the seventies Manchester, and... you guessed it... It's all about Life On Mars - and Sam Tyler in particular.

Come to think of it, to call him a role model would be quite silly, indeed. It's just that during the series fairly quickly I noticed that I didn't have to guess what Sam was up to next... I only asked what I would do in his situation, and he did that. Everything he said and did felt like I could be the one standing there instead. Definitely another part of the reason why I became so attached to the series, but furthermore an interesting look at myself - how I can be such a sissy in real life situations compared to the majority of my friends but then do things that others can't or won't - that is, they don't dare. If someone's been the helping hand in figuring out my own personality, it's Sam (...along a bunch of my real life friends, of course.  :~)

The last one is two, actually, if you catch my drift. First one is Greg House from the TV-series named after himself. Now, I presume you all know the self-centered, pathological cynic who lacks most forms of sympathy towards his friends and patients, which, interestingly enough, makes for quite an unwanted set of personality features. But there lies the beauty of it all.

Wouldn't we all want to be a bit like him? We'd all want to mock the social etiquette and get away with it, wouldn't we? Or truly act the way we want without coming across as dilettante of a rebel?

And yet we see the instant results brought upon House for being what he is. Most often he's lonely, which is something even I can't put into positive words. At the same time he needs people around him. That's a difficult state of affairs, to put it mildly. In a way House is an embodiment of so many interesting and contradictory emotions and ambitions that you've simply got to find him fascinating. I think Greg House was the first "person" to make me sit and really contemplate about what actions I wanted to make and, by acting that way, what reactions I craved from others. He is an idol for me, I'd say, undoubtedly. It's so effortless to be better than him - but it is hard to be as bad.

And then there's the actor, Hugh Laurie. Of all my idols, he's the only one tangible and not purely of fictional origin. I've enjoyed reading about his life and for once I have realistic goals to aspire after. Perhaps it's best to let Wikipedia do the talking for once... Hugh Laurie on Wikipedia


I'd wager you wouldn't think of
the scene of the first meeting between Jeeves and Wooster
when you look at this photo...

I say!

 

  • 4.8.2008 -What's punk and whatnot-

Just like the title says, I'll be discussing motorcycles and music - and get this - at the same time! I hope you remember my earlier topic on the emotional undercurrents regarding motorcycling... If you don't, you should read the 14.1.2008 entry 'Girly Motorcyclist' before you continue. But if you're in a hurry, don't - it's not essential. Let's focus on today's subject: what's punk and what's plain old predictable pop.

The inspiration for this writing emerged from a debate with my brother, who's now been studiously contemplating whether or not to remove the muffler from the after market exhaust he bought for his Suzuki SV650 (that's him in the photo). Right... A trivial subject for a layman - and even that is a massive understatement. Not for the bikers, it isn't. Only they can truly appreciate the low, mind-blowing hum or alternatively roaring four-cylinder whining thunder that erupts from the exhaust. And I mean it - incidentally they're the only folk who do appreciate it. I've yet to see a non-biker bystander who falls in love with those exhaust notes. Mostly they hate the noise.

The most regular of readers might know by now that I've decided to buy a motorcycle. And you should've heard already that it's going to be a BMW. Now, you'd think the maker was a triviality as well. But it isn't. Oh, no, it's everything but! I've learned that many times at my workplace. During one single shift, my superior or my workmates remind me, say, three to four times that BMW is for oldies and not for the goodies. They come to me asking, some in earnest while others purely tongue-in-cheek, why is it that a young lad would ever choose BMW voluntarily. See, the photo above shows you exactly what they think about when they hear those three letters - nothing else. Talk about lack of imagination! Again, I'd love to be the young rebel, here, enjoying the unwanted attention... But to tell you the truth, it does bug me.

Oh, and by the way, that one on the left is the one I'm going for. It does look a bit like a bike for the elderly, no? Well, no.

This all begs for one serious question... Why are they making fun of "the youth who chose to go BMW"? Now, I know they're mostly light-hearted jests, but nonetheless it goes to show just how deep those stereotypes lie.

Isn't it curious that all my young co-workers as well as school mates who are "in the know" think just like the old ones? They all think alike. All! No one dares to stick out. And now we've come to the crux of the matter. Think twice of the traditional belief (or legend) of the young rebels who are supposed to think outside the box and do things differently - those who make you ask "You can do that?"

Yeah, I know!!

You don't see them anymore. Everyone's bound to belong to a group that already exists. Here's a prime example: one group of drivers are hell-bent on riding beyond the law. They do think they're the real bunch of misfits and rebels... Really. For what, breaking the law? For arousing public anger? Causing real danger? Gimme a break...

Well, here's what I love to do - comparing these groups to music. These rioters are obviously the worst, generic, run-of-the-mill heavy metal bands. You know, those whose only artistic ambition is to be the loudest, fastest, toughest band on the planet. When they want to out-heavy the others, they play harder. Some of them try to play even faster, now closing in on the sound barrier. Then the others start to play even harder, faster and stronger. And it all becomes a bit inconsequential. The art becomes a race. When they have nothing to say, they make a huge number of themself. Think about what's happened to mainstream rap! While you're at it, ask yourself how cool is that. :~)

Now, I'm skipping the others and jumping right into the newlyfound territory, the adventure tourers. They're not into impressing fellow bikers with their bikes, exhaust notes or apparel. Sure, their bikes look ugly, but the reason is that function rules over fashion. Well, sort of, anyway, since the functional design has become the new fashion... What can you do...

So, what music are they? I mean, they look hideous, do what they want and desire to put a meaning to what they do... Maybe they even dream about making a difference? It's simple, really... They are the first punk rockers! No-nonsense is the key! Take a fresh look at what we've got, make your statement and change the world! Of course, I know I'm being a bit more than just a romantic, but you get the point, I hope.

Here's what I wish to be in the future when I get a hold of my BMW F650GS... I'm only too glad Arcade Fire and Bowie played this song so I can get it all out of my system. This is exactly what I want to say to the motorcycling community and why not the rest of you: Wake Up!


  • 24.7.2008 -There is Life On Mars!-

SPOILER WARNING! If you've watching Life on Mars, the TV-series, please stop reading NOW! Following write-up could expose you to secrets of the storyline. And I'm sure you don't want to know just yet. So stop. Now!

But if you do choose to continue reading, you'll need to put this on first. It's David Bowie and Moonage Daydream (from the '73 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars). Now we're set.

So, the show... It was great. Wonderful!! Simply astonishing! Heartfelt... Oh, and awe-inspiring, too! Warm and fuzzy... What's more, the final episode was so thrilling, I just had to down a pint of Karhu along the way (that's a Finnish beer, perhaps the only one in the world worth consuming, at that). Oh, and a curious thing happened! I thought I'd celebrate the event by pouring meself a proper dram of malt whisky (a pint lasts only so long)... Then, while sipping my Talisker, Sam Tyler gets into a pub and asks for a bottle of... get this, whisky! Now, what are the odds?! Oh, I know. They're British, after all. Anyway, let's see if I can make up something sensible...

Come to think of it, now, the last episode is over. It just hit me. The funny thing is that I'm actually very, very happy about it. Sounds silly, perhaps, but there's a good reason. See, the ending was just so perfect. The right time, right place and right way. It's like hearing Mick Ronson's guitar solo at the end of Moonage Daydream. There's something almost simplistic about it and yet you can't hold it against it. Both were surprising and endlessly daring - I didn't expect this to happen.

It wasn't too long a series, but what an impact it made! First, the moment Sam Tyler finds himself in the year 1973, I fell in love with the setting. At the same time it's escapist and still we all know it's exactly what has happened - quite possibly during the lives of ourselves or our parents, anyway. Having said that, a nice milieu alone won't carry a storyline, that's for sure, so Life On Mars had to do more.

And it did. For the first time in my life did an imaginary tale get me so thoroughly immersed. From the get-go it's quite obvious that the main character, Sam, is unwillingly becoming attached to one of his new colleagues, a Woman Detective Constable - you guessed it - Annie Cartwright. It's hard even to begin to say how much more enjoyable and lively the story gets when you actually grow fond of her, as well. I certainly did. What makes it more interesting is the fact that Sam already has a girlfriend "back at home", in the 21th century, and he doesn't want to let go of her.

**If you don't want to know what happens in the end, stop reading now. This is the last warning. :~) **

The ending is something that'll make your eyes water, let me tell you, at least if you have the same kind of feelings towards Annie as Sam and I have. But I don't think it's all about love, in the end. What I think are equally important themes in the series are chance and change. Chance in a sense that Sam is brought into another time period purely by accident - a car accident, at that - and against his own will. He wants to go back - escape the time of racism, sexism and, shall we say, generosity in the legal system which he so firmly believes in - and because he can't, ends up seeing his way of life and outlook on his career as Detective Chief Inspector in a whole new light.

Change seems to be difficult for Sam, even thought his earlier life in 2006 wasn't going quite the way he'd wanted. He still wanted to go back - and he does, during the final moments. He wakes up from his coma and everything seems like a bittersweet dream. Just as he sees today in a different light, so did I. It's a cold place with little of the spontaneity, kindly anarchy or passion for life of the old times. So Sam decides to throw off his life. By doing that he finds out which one of the times was the reality. And no, I won't be telling you that. :~)

The world is a better place now that we have Life On Mars. Really, I mean it!
You can imagine that I'm eagerly awaiting for the sequel, Ashes to Ashes.


It's thus perfectly fitting that we hear another song from Bowie... Curiously enough, the song 'Life On Mars' wasn't the first single from the '71 album Hunky Dory. It was 'Changes'. Reinforcing my interpretation on one the inherent messages in the series, this particular song plays right at the very end, at a comfy pub...

Here I am at work dreaming about going to
the nearest (comfy) pub, ordering a pint and changing my life.
Yeah, forget all the ramble about comfort zones and all that
and change my life - that I'll do.



Any previous writings you'll find
at the 'old news' -section...