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.

 


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

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.

 


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

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

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 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.


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.


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.


Visby in January

After yesterday’s workshop in Visby and before dinner, I went for a long walk along the coast carrying a backpack with my camera and a lightweight tripod. It was windy and cold, but bearable. Refreshing, even.

I haven’t been on the island wintertime for about 25 years but remember vividly how much I love this time of year here. And though a little sad that I didn’t get to photograph the snow that fell a couple of weeks ago, the barren trees, rough sea and beautiful moon light was enough to inspire me throughout my evening promenade.


Shibuya Crossing

From my last visit to Tokyo where I spent a few good hours figuring out how best to visually convey the intensity of Shibuya Crossing. I used a monopod for some of the shots and a Gopro for the ground level angles. The top level viewpoint was shot from a hotel that I managed to get into using some “American style” social engineering.


The Yoga Factor

This is yet another yoga pose with Tora Rosenkjaer – probably the most flexible individual I will ever photograph.

Speaking of yoga (as a Padawan Learner, it’s a subject I am delighted talking and writing often about), I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning just so I could attend a yoga class at 06:30-07:00. I had a meeting at 08:30 and after these last two days of intense restaurant shoots, I  needed a little extra boost to get me (and my bones) into gear.

Hardly unexpected, the remedy worked perfectly and I can once again attributed much of my current well-being to a few upward facing dogs, humble warriors and camel and pigeon poses.


Travel Spontaneously

Here’s some of the travel guides and articles we’ve produced so far. I don’t have time or the drive to keep up the necessary pace that working full time as a travel photographer demands. I still travel a lot compared to most folks and I maintain two valid Swedish passports (and a US passport), just in case two trips overlap and each requires a separate visa application.

It might be easy to conclude that someone that’s on the road as much as I am would have much of the year’s trips planned out by now. Not so much. In actuality, we don’t usually plan further than 1-2 months in advance.

It might sound a bit whimsical and yes, we often lose out on cheaper flights and have fewer hotels to choose from. But on the other hand, we feel that this level of spontaneity offers more wiggle room if, for whatever reason, we decide to switch destinations.


Turning Torso in a Meteorological Anomaly

I shot this earlier today during what I consider a meteorological anomaly – a trifecta of sort which only happens a few times a year when the sun is shining, the wind is hiding and a wonderous fog rolls in over the coast of southern Sweden. I love when the Turning Torso gets swept in by a white blanket.


Launched: Kickstarter Project

For several years now, I’ve been yearning to share my images from over 2 decades of visiting the ancient fishing and farming village of Vejbystrand. So this week, I finally got my ass in gear, joined Kickstarter and started working on the project description and a video presenting some of the images I’ll use for the book.

So…if you share a love for books, quaint villages that barely anyone outside of Skåne/Sweden has ever heard of, you should seriously consider investing in this lil’ project.

If you can’t read Swedish, get in touch with me and I’ll let you know the ins and outs of the project. Bottom line though is that you won’t pay anything at all if the book doesn’t get funded. And if it does, you’ll be the proud owner of yet another one of my super-niched photography books.


Yoga by Louise

I shot this for Health & Training Academy and Kockum Fritid in December. I’ve been a fan of Louise Hedberg’s yoga classes since day one. She’s soft spoken and has a really smart pedagogical way of getting you to challenge yourself. I’m still struggling with some of the tougher poses, cow face and I will likely never be BFF, but I’m still hopeful for the crow pose.


Midwinter Morning in Malmö

It’s the middle of January and we’re in a pocket of gray and cold right now. On mornings like today’s, I need four cups of industrial strength coffee to bolt me into production mode.

Once there, however, creatively, for all intents and purposes, this is a really good time of the year. And since returning to Malmö from Costa Rica, I’ve set in motion a few new audacious goals – which always feels supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, in a Mary Poppins, carefree sort of way. ÷


Instagram

Using a really old handle, Kim Raboff, I recently joined the legions of hyper active patrons on Instagram. Not exactly sure how to make the best use of this photo centric social media channel, but so far, I enjoy sharing some of my imagery there. Like this shot from Paris. You can follow me by clicking here.


Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

A selection of scenes from our recent trip to Costa Rica. Produced for Charlotte’s extremely popular site for folks in the airline industry, www.airlinestaffrates.com Most of the footage was shot on my iPhone 7+ and for the aerial shots, we used the DJI Spark minidrone. For the beach, surf and sand scenes, I used the now almost ancient GoPro 4 Silver which I’m finding increasly hard to color grade. Time to buy the new GoPro 6 as they’ve lowered the price by close to a €100.


Back in Malmö

Santa Teresa – San José – Newark – Zürich – Copenhagen

We were a little uneasy about flying in the same type of small aircraft (Cessna Caravan) after the Nature Air mountain crash a few days before we left Santa Teresa. But to be totally upfront, I felt slightly more trepidatious when we boarded United’s vintage 737/800. After the captain pulled us up over the clouds and we hit our cruising altitude, I calmed down. At least until we landed at the always inspiring Newark Airport where chilling cold weather and the usual chaos welcomed us. Like New York City’s subway system, the state’s airports (I’m including New Jersey’s Newark here) are in really, really bad shape. I don’t get how you can let three airports and one of the world’s greatest city’s subway systems just fall apart until their current state of dilapidation.

Come to think of it, I actually do understand how that can happen – and anybody that knows me well enough will also get what I’m talking about here. Nudge, nudge. Anyway, it’s called neglect and its pathology stems from an unwillingness to recognize or acknowledge that action must be taken for things to get better and not worse.

The flight with Swiss to Zürich and then with Lufthansa to Kastrup were both uneventful. I slept through latter and watched and really enjoyed the latest Tom Cruise flick, “American Made” during the cross over the North Atlantic. Maybe it wasn’t the best movie to watch whilst on a plane as there were a ton of daredevil scenes (performed by Cruise himself?) in a small turboprop.

So, we’re back in Malmö now. It’s been amazing weather since the taxi pulled up here Sunday afternoon. Foggy at night, though. A prerequisite for fog is however that there’s barely any wind – which is unusual here where the Baltic Sea and the North Atlantic converge.

Speaking of the Baltic Sea…

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be visiting an old friend and revisiting one of my favorite islands in the world, Gotland. I think Gotland is nothing short of magical. Yes, even this time of year. I lived, worked and studied there off and on for 5 years. So I’m obviously biased. Hope they have some snow when I get there. A snow covered Visby is about as pretty as can be.

I shot the above photo of our neighborhood yesterday, Monday afternoon with the help of a little flying friend we call Sparky. Want to see more images from Västra Hamnen here in Malmö? Then click on over here.


Travel Photography with the “Q”
This visit to Costa Rica is my first serious travel assignment with the Leica Q as my main camera. I’m impressed with just about everything; dynamic range, focus speed and battery usage.
I’ve tried to use it as a film camera and make every shutter release count. I would of preferred a 35 mm lens for portraits, but the 28mm is so versatile in other situations that I didn’t really miss any other focal length. Only a handful of times did I miss having a longer lens or the convenience of more megapixels. The Leica Q will likely be my go-to camera for a long time.

A long flight home

Shot the above image through the window of a Cessna Caravan as we flew past the airport here in San José on our merry way to the coast.

Three weeks have passed by in what seems like light speed. Time to leave Costa Rica behind and fly back through time and space to catch up with reality. Our reality, anyway.

Yes, we’re impressed by this country. For sure. Would love to see more of Costa Rica’s rain forests and perhaps test the surf on the Caribbean side.

Though much of the roads outside of the capital are in desperate need of repair and pavement, the country as a whole seems to work just fine. In 1948, Costa Rica dismantled their armed forces and has since invested heavily in education (96% literacy rate, about 10% higher than the US), in healthcare and environmental protection.

It’s cool in San José this time of year – cold even – and we’ve been wearing sweaters for a few days now. Though after my workout at the hotel’s gym this afternoon, I went for a swim in the heated pool and thoroughly enjoyed a few laps.

Our flight home will be somewhat masochistic. All told, it’ll take about 27 hours from door to door – with plane swapping in both New York and Zürich.

In the future, airline staff at the airport will gently put passengers – whom will be lying down in full-length sleeper capsules – into a medically induced coma. After their flight, each passenger will be awaken as soon as they’ve arrived at their hotel. Everyone will feel relaxed and rested. And probably really, really hungry.

As I write this from a comfy king sized bed in our hotel room, just a few minutes from Costa Rica’s International Airport, I can’t wait to climb out of the taxi on Sundspromenaden in Västra Hamnen/Malmö, take a long, hot shower, unpack my dirty laundry, brush off my sandy camera gear, back up my media files, eat a crunchy, homemade salad and then, finally, jump into bed and hope the jet lag won’t be too bad.


Sloths

Photographed my very first sloth earlier today at the Toucan Rescue Ranch outside of San José. The ranch’s 40 some specimen are either rescued from poachers, traffic accident survivors or orphaned baby sloths. Apparently these distant relatives to anteaters and armadillos move much faster in captivity than in the wild and I was a little surprised at how agile they were. And yes, they’re extremely cute, too.

During the afternoon visit, we we’re given an extensive tour around the ranch and saw several two and three fingered sloths as well as spider monkeys, parrots, owls and a few other animals in various stages of recovery.

According to Wikipedia, “…sloths are so named because of their very low metabolism and deliberate movements. This is an evolutionary adaptation to their low-energy diet of leaves, and to avoid detection by predatory hawks and cats who hunt by sight”.

San José

So, now were in San José. A place I have some mixed feelings about. I like it here. But it’s not really that likable.

San José is livelier [yet much, much safer] than Guatemala City. It’s quieter than Havana and architecturally speaking, an almost unfathomable patchwork of pleasing and displeasing styles, materials and hues. Come to think of it, the Costa Rican capital’s almost comically wide array of architectural styles isn’t too dissimilar from that of Malmö. Aside from the mostly well-kept Art Deco buildings on display here.

Barrio Amon, a few blocks with the epitet “old town” was interesting but took some time to find. During our quest, we almost got ourselves into a precarious situation with some shady dudes whom wouldn’t have been entirely misplaced if transplanted to a street corner in L.A.’s South Central.

Like on the coast, folks here are extremely polite and genuinely friendly. And it’s certainly not hard to find interesting subject matter.

Tomorrow we’re going to visit a sloth or two.