Yoga in a Black Box

Shot this with model and yogi, Tora Rosenkjaer a couple of weeks ago in Skanska’s Studio building here in Malmö. It was project aimed to help Altitude Meetings visualize how excellently their Black Box is for filming and still shoots.

Most of the footage was shot on a Canon DSLR using Canon’s brilliant 35mm f1.4L glass which was wide open pushed to ISO 640. The smoke, spotlight rays and most movements were achieved in post (FCPX).


Chinese Pharmacy in Bangkok

Speaking of Bangkok and old and new norms, here’s a short video I created for Thailand Living a few years ago. Shot handheld on an iPhone 5 in the Thai capital’s bustling Chinatown.

military weapons

Norm Shifts, NRA & Florida

Though a life-long proponent of peaceful solutions and a firm believer in diplomacy, reluctantly, I still have to be rational about that weapons, in one shape or another, will always be a part of human history.

The photo above is from the political unrest in Bangkok, Thailand in 2009. I was there on a press trip and instead of traveling to the far north in accordance with our busy itinerary, the government agency responsible for our safety determined it was unsafe to leave the capital. We were told that the risk for military action to bridle the increasingly violent demonstrators was imminent. And so, they checked us back in at the Intercontinental, a most comfortable detention center, I might add.

A while back, I wrote about how bewildered I was with all the norm shifts I notice each time I visit the United States. That I often feel that the country I grew up has changed more drastically than those living there seem to grasp. Obviously, some changes are evolutionary and stem from cultural, financial, scientific and technological development in society. But some of the new behaviors and opinions represent truly dramatic shifts. Yet they have permeated the collective consciousness so subtly, almost sneakily across years or decades, that few seem to take notice. Instead, many unabashedly subscribe to these new norms so wholeheartedly, that everything preceding them instantly becomes unrecognizable and even weird. That’s happening right here in Sweden with cash being displaced by Swish and other phone payements and the popular credit card swipe. Today I rarely see any cash, let alone pay with it.

One of the most current and dramatic norm shifts in the US is how increasingly normal it has become for Americans to not only buy weapons, but to also openly carry handguns (like in Texas, where it’s perfectly legal). How has this norm shift come about? Is it “smart” and persistent marketing from gun manufacturers? The National Rifle Association’s tireless campaigning to seduce their members into thinking that only when a Glock G19, S & W 38 Special or an Uzi is in the hands of all red-blooded Americans from age 9, can we secure the country’s long-term existens? Or, is it perhaps the media that through sensationalistic/exploitive reporting has managed to hypnotize folks into thinking that they really do need an AK-47 under their bed and an advanced alarm and CCTV system installed in their homes to feel safe and sleep well at night?

While the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms, the right to buy military grade rifles and other weapons clearly designed for shooting en masse, was surely not what the founding fathers had in mind back in 1791.

I can’t wrap my head around how so many folks in the US feel so strongly about their right to own military grade firearms at home yet don’t make the connection to the country’s increasing mass killings. Have these shootings become the new norm and with them the tolerance to buy and own such powerful weaponry?

In my opinion, it’s still too easy to a) sell these types of weapons to consumers and b) to let anyone with a valid driver’s license walk into a hardware store, a gun and ammo shop, or, even a Walmart, and literelly within minutes, leave with a weapon so powerful, they could use it to kill dozens if not hundreds of people in a matter of minutes.

And this boggles my mind even more: if you’re at one of the many, many gun shows spread across the US in the course of a year, a background check isn’t even required!

To add insult to injury, here’s a few of the questions someone looking to leave the gun store with an assault rifle under his or her arm needs to answer:

• Have you ever been convicted of a felony?• Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?
• Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any other depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
• Are you a fugitive from justice?
• Have you ever been committed to a mental institution?

How can questions like these possibly be intended to smoke out and prevent consumers with nefarious intentions from buying a seriously potent firearm?

I’m both sad and bewildered. As a father and a human being, I feel so much empathy for the many parents and families that have lost loved ones in the recent Florida school shooting. How many more massacres before the NRA, Congress and interest groups sponsor a bill that to begin with removes military grade weapons from consumer store shelves?

Here’s a list of all members of the US Congress that took campaign money from the gun and weapons lobby and then tweeted that their prayers were with the victims and their famililes in Florida. Appauling.

Mumsfilibabba Caramel

Mumsfilibabba

There is no fair way to translate the Swedish expression, “Mumsfilibabba”. At least I can’t find one that does it justice. Mumsfilibabba is used as a playful way to verbally pronounce when something tastes extraordinarily great. Usually confectionery.

When Nina, a fellow freelancer and long-time friend of the family, decided to commercially pursue one of her many passions, developing and marketing homemade, naturally flavored caramel, both Charlotte and I applauded her entrepreneurship and decided to support the project. The photo above, shot with the “Q” on our dining room table with LED lights from Rotolight, is just one of the many available flavors.

As you, tender reader, might of guessed, after the shoot, I tossed back a few of these tasty temptations. And yes, they taste absolutely wonderful.

I’m not much for sweets these days, but as a child, I endulged in all kinds of sugary candies, including, but not limited to the ubiquitous Tootsie Roll. Especially during the fall and leading up to Halloween where Tootsie Rolls were among the most popular treats neighbors would offer us kids when being “trick or treated”. And while Tootsie Rolls are a peculiar hybrid of taffy and caramel, Nina’s Mumsfilibabba are made from a secret recipe with ingredients that result in unapologetically bonafide caramels. She’s already soft-launched Mumsfilibabba, so check it out here.

Semlor

Creamy Buns

If you live in Sweden long enough, eventually you’ll bite into one of these creamy buns, called “Semla”. According to legend, the not-so-onomatopoetically dubbed bun was mentioned as far back as when the bible was first translated to Swedish by Gustav Vasa in 1541.

I’m not a huge fan of dense marzipan, suger infused whipped cream or ever-so fluffy bread. But after all these years, I have to concede that once a year I’ll surrender to any health concerns associated with this obvious calorie bomb. And while some prefer to fork and knife them, I literally inhale my yearly intake. Shot the one above for a local café about a year ago. Need a recipe, here’s one.

Wine Radical Schneider

Wine Radical Schneider

I’ve known Erik Schneider, his wife Mia and their family for as long as we’ve been living in Malmö. Like myself, Erik has an ethnically eclectic background. His interest and knowledge about all things wine has not only earned him a respected reputation among colleagues, peers and restauranteurs, late last year, it also awarded him the prestigious title of “Sweden’s Sommelier of the Year”.

So, when Erik called to hire me for a conceptual shoot on the ice covered shores of Ribersborg with Västra Hamnen in the background, I put everything else aside and headed out into the cold but sunny afternoon to execute his concept.

Erik’s day-to-day gig is managing his extremely popular wine bar, l’enoteca in Malmö’s old town.

Yuu Kitchen London

Yuu Kitchen, London

We’re in the unusually sunny British capital for a couple of days. While Charlotte attends an affiliate conference, I’m here to shoot for a story about the super trendy neighborhood Shoreditch in East London. It was such excellent weather yesterday, that I went for a long walk along the embankment down to Tower Bridge. Hence the slideshow above (shot with the Leica Q).

We’re staying at a relatively new chic hotel called Leman Locke. Impressed by the generous room size here and more importantly, the thought-through, light hued, modern (and functional) decor. A diametrical opposite to the decrepit Strand where Elle and I stayed during last year’s visit.

Last night, Charlotte and I ate an amazing dinner at a wonderfully funky eatery called Yuu Kitchen in Spitalfields. We sat in the restaurant’s bar just in front of the open kitchen and enjoyed watching the chefs prepare a bunch of small albeit incredibly flavorful Asian-Mexican fusion treats for us. We left full and happy and mused all the way back to the hotel at how much we love popping over for a few days of work in London.

Tora-Splits-Studio-Black-Box

Tora in a Black Box

A composition from today’s test shoot in Altitude Meetings’ Black Box Studio here in Malmö with the always reliable model and yoga practitioner extraordinaire, Tora Rosenkjaer.

winston churchill

Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill

These images are from last night’s inspiring movie, “The Darkest Hour” with the always excellent, Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.  in his rise from First Lord of the Admiralty to Prime Ministor and the political turmoil and emotional struggles he went through days before WWII.

We saw the movie at Spegeln/Mirror here in Malmö – a beautifully decorated and well-kept boutique theatre with a currated repertoire focused on an adult clientel and where they among many tasty treats – including homemade popcorn – also serve beer, wine and cava.

The whole family has been glued our screens watching “The Crown” for the last several weeks and though John Lithgow’s Churchill is arguably more entertaining, Gary Oldman’s enactment is possibly more realistic. I think it’s his career’s finest work – so far.

Aside from the phenomenal prosthetics and makeup that provide a stunning resemblance that help augment his brilliant portrayal of WC, no actor I know of is capable of commanding as much rage as Oldman. Like in “Léon: The Professional” with another favorite actor, Jean Reno) from 1994, in this his latest role, Oldman’s given several opportunities to show us what being genuinely unbridled anger looks and sounds like.

The film’s cinematography, together with wardrobe and set design make this film a fabulous feast for the eyes. Every frame looks like a masterfully composed painting. And regardless of whether or not you’re interested in the historical aspect, the film is worth seeing for it’s homage to cinema as a form of creative expression.

I’m heading to London for an extremely short & sweet gig next week, and after seeing “The Darkest Hour” I can’t wait to be at least in the general vicinity of where it all took place, almost 80 years ago.

jiro-dreams-of-sushi

Dreaming of (good) Sushi

Just added a new slideshow that merges my impressions from visits to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market – where much of the country’s high end fish and seafood is sold and from where much is exported to the rest of the world – as well as photos in the forefront that I shot for a now defunct take-away sushi shop here in Malmö.

As I was putting the slideshow together, I couldn’t help but ponder that over the years, I have eaten much more take-away sushi than I should have. At best, it’s been a barely palatable, albeit visually acceptable, experience. At worst, it’s made me want to regurgitate every sliver of fish, wafer of nori and bite of rice. I feel like a knucklehead every time I find myself being disappointed! Yet amazingly, I keep giving these subpar sushi places and their disinterested owners yet another chance. The lust for sushi is obviously much stronger than my ability to refrain from what will ineviteably dissatisfy me.

Like most other raw dishes from Japan, sushi and sashimi should be served “a la minute” by a passtionate chef that not only knows what he or she is doing, but that also takes great pride in serving a truly quality eating experience. Come to think of it, I think it should be manditory for anybody considering opening a sushi bar to watch someone like the sushi master, Jiro in the excellent documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi.