Safari @ Masai Mara

So this 60 second video represents some of the highlights from our phenomenal safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve. It was our third safari to date and I sincerely hope there will be plenty more.

It was an abstract, somewhat religious experience to be on the very planes of the African savanna where we all originate from – with an incredible diversity of creatures and humans that have roamed and lived out their lives there for millions of years.


Kronprinsen

From last night: at 87 meters, the high rise to the right is called Kronprinsen (the Crown Prince). It was once Sweden’s tallest building, replaced in 2005 by the 190 meter skyscraper, Turning Torso – the silhouette in the background. To the right is Malmö Live.


Malmö Live Night

From last night above a small bridge near Malmö Live, the hotel,conference and concert hall of Malmö’s Symphony Orchestra.

It’s all about finding the sweet spot between light and dark. That’s what I keep telling myself each time I head out after sunset with the drone to capture a few photographs that are within the dynamic range and light sensitivity of its relatively small camera sensor. With just a little tweaking in Lightroom, only to remove some slight graininess, most images turn out to be very clean and usable.


Last Night in Västra Hamnen

Shot this last night at about 10:30 p.m just after getting off the train from Kastrup and off the plane from Spain. Smooth flight and gorgeous weather as we crossed Ibiza and the Swiss Alps. According to Apple Maps, we flew above (or, at least near) the Matterhorn.

Pilar de la Horadada near Alicante is definitely a travel-worthy, recommendable destination. Very laid-back and charming. Almost ghostly calm this time of year. Food was good, too. Mostly tapas, of course. But they did have a decent Mexican bodega run by an Argentenian that looked like a young Gino Vanelli.

One of my three days was spent biking roughly 40k along the coast. Fell in love with an ancient spa hotel called Encarnacion Los Alcazares – which was where rested before turning around during the ride.

Meanwhile, amazingly, the southern California-esque weather persists here in Malmö. A meteorological blessing I hope will last for at least another two more months. Because, we’re worth it!


In Spain again. This time near Alicante where I’m checking out a small, picturesque, seaside village called, Pilar de la Horadada.

Whilst here, I joined the dynamic duo, Ankan Östberg and Katti Johansson and a huge posse of roughly 20 friends – mostly old colleagues and buddies from my days up in Riksgränsen (northernmost Swedish province of Lapland) and on the island of Gotland – to royally celebrate our sweet friend, Anki Jansson’s 50th birthday.


Görel Day-Wilson 1939-2018

Sad news arrived yesterday from Nairobi, Kenya. Charlotte’s aunt, Görel Day-Wilson had passed away hastily. Raised and educated in Sweden, Görel moved to Kenya over 45 years ago where together with her husband David, she owned a tea farm. Görel worked as a jouranlist and in later years, as an administrator and coordinator for Rotary Doctors in Kenya. She is survived by daughter Victoria, siblings Agneta and Hans and grandchildren Baringo and Maria. Rest in Peace, Görel. You will certainly be missed by the family and by friends around the world.


Swedish Midsommar in Vejbystrand

Swedish Midsommar in Vejbystrand from some reshuffled material I found deep down in the archives…one of the rare Swedish Midsummer (sommar solstice) celebrations that didn’t require umbrellas, boots and raincoats. Shot in Vejbystrand, an idyllic, yet off-the-radar ancient village along the northern coast of western Skåne in southern Sweden. A place we love to visit.


Bangkok Hypperlapse

Bangkok Hyperlapse is a collection of video clips for one of my favorite megacities, Bangkok, Thailand. With all the film material I have from the Thai capital, I could possibly produce a dozen more just like it.

We lived in Bangkok for about six months five years ago. Though the heat and humidity started taking its toll on us towards the end of our stay, the sheer variety and diversity of cultural happenings, range of architecture and cushy expat lifestyle was hard to leave behind.

We lived in a large serviced apartment just off Sukhumvit where both cleaning and laundry were  included in our rent and dinner was just a phone call away. It was wonderful to have most of the practical, mundane chores taken care of – which in turn allowed us a lot of creative freedom.

Bangkok is still a destination we return to regularly and benchmark against other cities. So far, we’ve not come even close to finding a city that can compete.


Los Angeles International Airport

I’ve been flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport for most of my life. At least far back as 1967. For the last couple of years, I’ve tried to spend some time shooting and filming planes as they land from the small park next to the In n Out Burger restaurant adjacent to one of the main runways.

If you face eastwards and have a fairly long zoon lens, you’ll easily capture several commercial jets as they approach the airport. I’ve even gotten a couple of shots where you can actually see the cockpit crew. And if the weather’s good at sunset, which it usually is except during “June Gloom” (when the whole city seems engulfed in a dreary cloud of grey), there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to get a few shots like those at the end of the above video.


Swedish Rapsody

From a recent visit to Österlen on Sweden’s east coast where the yellow canola fields are just absolutely stunning. We spent a couple of days in the region, enjoying amazing weather, good food and beverages at local BnB, Karnelunds.


Göteborg
Man, this spring has been one endless travel tour. Just back from Göteborg (after Berlin and Palma) where the weather was phenomenally good and traffic horrendously bad. I feel sorry for the locals that have to put up with it. Like Palma, I have mixed feelings about Göteborg. Love the positive mindset most folks have there yet don’t feel inspired once the train pulls out of the station and heads south to Malmö again. Much has obviously changed since I lived in Göteborg off and on in the 1980s and 1990s but not enough good stuff for me to even consider a move back. At least not in this stage of my life. I’ve been known to change my mind from time to time, though.
The shot is from on top of a hill (Johannesberg) overlooking the amusement park Liseberg in Göteborg yesterday afternoon.

Palma de Mallorca: Pee & Poo
In all honesty, I’m a bit conflicted as to what I feel about Palma de Mallorca. On the one hand, I full-heartidely appreciate the old part of the city’s ancient architecture and the patina of Sants Catalina and some areas in Terreno. Palma is both charming and leisurely – laid back, even.

Walking along the narrow winding cobblestone lanes in the old town, preferably in the early evening as the scorching sun is just about to retreat and the humidity begins to taper off, is nothing short of a privilege. With all its art galleries, small shops, tapas bars and beautiful courtyards, La Lonja is by far my favorite Palma neighborhood.

Palma Pee Pee & Poo Poo

On the other hand, while my eyes are preoccupied with taking in the immense beauty that is the labyrinth of ancient churches, forts and towering residential buildings, the smell of urine dominates just about every breath I take and step I make.

I want to think it’s the visitors – as opposed to residents – who are the main culprits. Yet even in less touristy areas of Palma, one’s nostrils are permeated with the stench from both freshly exuded as well as more vintage pee pee.

So I am not convinced this isn’t a socially accepted behavior among locals as well. And when I think about how often one sees dog poo on the sidewalks and park lawns, that theory might not be too far-fetched.

Maybe folks here feel strongly about this smelly yet for them important expression of personal freedom. To pee or not to pee. That is the question.

With a helicopter’s perspective, as in the short clip above, where you take in Palma’s amazing beauty as the light shifts from stark to subtle, it’s hard not to look passed and smell beyond the pee pee and poo poo and just enjoy the view.


La Perla on Majorca

Currently in Palma de Majorca – where we lived for a winter some 12 years ago. I haven’t been back since about four years and the last time was to shoot for a story about a hotel called Palm Suites that was inaugurated by the always fun-loving Swedish party princess and sister to the Swedish king, Birgitta.

In addition to a write-up about a hotel in Palma’s old town, La Lonja, we’re here to celebrate a good friend’s 50th birthday. Which we did ever-so thoroughly yesterday evening together with a group other pals, some of which had flown in specifically for the occasion, at one of the island’s most popular restaurants, La Perla by Emilio Ingrosso – a Swedish fellow from Stockholm with Italian roots.

After a few tasty starters, I enjoyed a classic yet still excellently sumptuous dish consisting of garlic and wine sautéed scampi on homemade penne pasta bathed in a cream sauce. Despite the full house and it being Saturday night, we received insightful recommendations and both attentive and entertaining service.

When the bill arrived some four hours after we we’re seated, it turned out that La Perla was surprisingly affordable – despite the ten of us doing our outmost best to empty the restaurant’s wine celler.


Cheap Berlin Hotel

Just got back from an intense, albeit inspiring three day art focused trip to Germany where I stayed at one serioulsy cheap Berlin hotel. Of all the things I saw during the many hours I spent walking around Berlin, for some odd reason, the hotel Sickinger Hof stands out like a sore thumb. Let me explain…

As much as I enjoy guesting swanky boutique hotels with their thoughtfully decorated rooms and stylish, loungable public spaces, once in a while, I’ll actively choose to stay at a real dump. I do this mostly so I’ll appreciate my humble beginnings – and be reminded of when I spent months on end backpacking around Europe, the US and across Southeast Asia and couldn’t care less about where I slept – as long as the room rate didn’t exceed my frugally planned budget.

If I had to guess, I would wager that I’ve stayed in 350 different hotels, motels, guest houses and B & Bs around the world. I’ve spent a night in a rat infested dorm room in Penang (Malaysia), at a rundown, dustbin of a motel in the middle of Death Valley(Mojave, California) and, rented rooms with paper thin walls and crusty mattresses in one of Khao San Road’s (Bangkok. Thailand) many cheap guesthouses.

On a recent trip to Berlin, my third ever visit to the German capital, I opted to stay at one of the city’s cheapest hotels – a bare bones, bottom of the barrel place called the Sickinger Hof.

Here’s my take.

The Sickinger Hof won’t please most people. The opposite is much more likely. The hotel is located on the corner of a really noisy intersection, just off a highway, a huge bus terminal and a busy train station in one of Berlin’s most boring neighborhoods. Those are some pretty tough environmental issues to counter, I know. But given the circumstances, one would therefore think that a hotel in that location would at least try do something to offset the less-than-pleasant miljeu.

The drab building where the Sickinger Hof is located is so nondescript, that if you didn’t see the hotel sign above the entrance, you would easily think it was a small storage facility, an old laundromat or maybe a 24hr convenience store in a part of town you don’t want to be caught in after nightfall.

The hotel’s interior decor – from the dark, dreary reception and dining area to the stairway’s flimsy carpets, red drapes and robust pinewood furniture, made it clear to me that the owner of the Sickinger Hof either has a complete lack of taste. or, even worse, zero interest in creating anything resembling an atmosphere that is pleasing to look at – let alone be a guest in.

I had booked a room with a double bed and was therefore disappointed when I opened my door and saw only two twin beds next to each other.To remedy what I hoped was an honest error, I immediately returned to the reception and asked for the room I had reserved online. Surprisingly, the owner actually went ballistic on me – I mean, clearly visually upset for me bringing this up with him. And when I pointed out the details of my booking, he simply admitted that the hotel didn’t have anything but single beds. To be fair, though, he did offer to come up to my room and push the twin beds together – as of that would of instantly solved my little problem. Realizing there wasn’t much I could do about the situation, I schlepped my bag back up to my room, knowing I would survive and possibly live to write about the ordeal.

Though really small (circa 8 sqm), room 16 was reasonably bright but I’d be generous to claim that the ensuite bathroom was anything but comically tiny. You know those little plastic rectangular soaps packed in clear plastic? Well, at the Sickinger Hof you got two them! It’s probably just me, but each time I opened one the packages with my teeth, I inadvertently bit into a soap.

On a more serious note, what turned out to be an inexcusable issue with my room was the unmistakable stench of old nicotine from the walls, drapes and mattresses. The hotel must of had many years of cigarr and cigarette smoking guests in room 16. Or, maybe the owner just hadn’t bothered to clean the walls properly before painting over them. I didn’t bother to complain about this, though. What would be the point, right?

I stayed at the Sickinger Hof for three balmy days in June (2018) and the only way to keep cool after sunset, was to leave the window ajar all night and just deal with the amount of noise from the passing trains, the exhaust fumes coming from the highway below and the reeking walls inside.

The Sickinger Hof’s signature breakfast is extremely basic, even for German standards; two bread rolls, a thermos of coffee, a tall glass of concentrated. sugary orange juice, a plate with industrial sliced cheese and salami, a cold boiled egg and a bowl filled with small packs of jams, butter and honey. Nothing to write home about there, either. The coffee was pretty good, though.

The staff at this hotel were really friendly and helpful. That said, they seemed tired and not particularly happy with their work. Which is understandable. It’s not like the owners seem to have any ambitions whatsoever of improving their hotel. And the likelihood management would hire an external consultant for an analysis and then make suggestions of how to increase the level of hospitality at the Sickinger Hof is, well, highly unlikely.

Honestly, the only thing Sickinger Hof has going for it is the low room rate. There is just no other reason to stay there. No, I don’t regret my three nights. It was certainly interesting to see what €70/night will get you in a cheap Berlin hotel. Now I know. 


Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the main train station in the capital of Germany yesterday afternoon before meeting up with friends Doris and Peter – former Västra Hamnen neighbors. I was able to walk around the giant train station and collect footage undisturbed for about two hours. Didn’t even see a single police or security rep and noone seemed particularily bothered by my filming – which wasn’t too surprising, considering I was shooting with an iPhone 7+ and not a RED Monstro.

Apps used: Instagram’s Hyperlapse, Apple’s Timelapse and Slow Motion and Apple Final Cut Pro.


National Pride

It’s certainly interesting being a Swedish American and writing about the National Day of Sweden while in Berlin, Germany.

Maybe not so much as a kid growing up in the US, but as an adult, I’ve always felt skeptical about celebrating either of my home countries national day. It’s just so absurdly self-congratulatory, unreflective and fake.

Being proud about being born in Sweden or any other country is just silly and fuels more of the tribalism, nationalism and intolerance that’s sweeping across our planet these days.

Being proud means, at least to me, that you’ve achieved something significant or strived to reach a personal goal and succeeded. Like being a good role model for your children and seeing them grow up to become good people.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel genuinely fortunate to have lived most of my life in Sweden and it’s certainly a beautiful country with many wonderful traditions.

But I’m not proud about being a Swedish citizen. Because, inevitably, patriotism leads to people becoming seduced by the hype of their own superiority and often end up electing bigots and dictators. Look at Hungary, Polen, Turkey, the US and soon maybe even Sweden if the forthcoming election polls are an indication of how well the fascist party SD will actually do.


Back in Berlin

It’s been about five years since I was last back in Berlin and what has arguably been the world’s quintessential cultural capital since at least the 1920s.

Berlin is certainly a melting pot – a relentless, seemingly untamed urban jungle where much of everything happens all at once. An epic center where the high and the low, the new and the old are intertwined in an incredibly fluid, seemingly frictionless, organic symbiosis.

I walked 15k around the Mitte area yesterday afternoon and evening from my hotel to Potsdamer Platz – mostly through residential neighborhoods, parks and along the beautifully sunlit Spree canal. Somewhere during that trek, I met the fellow above whom happily posed for me – without even the slightest utterance about GDPR compliance.

Today’s focus is on the art scene and I hope to visit at least a dozen galleies.

Scaniabadet – a birdseye view

The heatwave continues…thankfully. Shot this one yesterday with a birdseye view of Scaniabadet, a super-popular tanning and swimming area here in Västra Hamnen. I shot it while hovering at approximately 100 meters above the unsuspecting sun worshipers below.


The Nightfly

This is a shot I took earlier tonight from above Ribersborg – a nearby park – and I’m calling the photo, “The Nightfly”, hoping Steely Dan and Donald Fagen fans out there will get the namesake. I waited until the very last light (and for folks to have left the park) to fire up the drone and hope it would find a stable moment or two to capture the view at just the right altitude.

I am in awe of how powerful the little sensor is and how the camera and stabilizer work so well together to provide such usable, clean images. So, how stable is the gimbal, you ask? Well, had I shot this with my Leica at 1/8 of a second and ISO 400, not even with that camera’s built-in stabilizer and full-frame sensor would it have been adequate enough to counter the amount of motion blur those settings would of inevitably incurred. Oh, and did I mention how windy it was at the height the photo was shot? Very windy, indeed.


The Norrmans

Just back from a new 24hr weekend excursion. This time we travelled about an hour southeast of Copenhagen along Köge Bay where we stayed at a new rural BnB farmhouse, The Norrmans, owned and run by two Swedes, Anna and Lars Norrman.

Calling their place a Bed & Breakfast turned out to be a bit of a misnomer as we were able to enjoy both a sumptuous picnic sandwich for lunch, tasty plant-based BBQ burgers for dinner and a generous tray full of breads, spreads and treats as well as  french press coffee for breakfast in the Norrmans’ lush garden. I suppose the BnB epithet is more of a positioning statement, referring to their very reasonable room and dining rates.

While Lars is at the helm of all culinary experiences (including classic cocktails and other well-chosen adult beverages), his wife and partner Anna Norrman has used her professional talent as a a sought after interior designer to thoughtfully decorate all public spaces and each of the partially refurbished farm’s eight guest rooms.

As we arrived a bit early, I had an opportunity to check out a few of the other rooms where color schemes, furnishings and lighting instantly reminded me of a small Riad I was once hired to photograph deep in the ancient medina of Marrakech. Warm, earthy hues and textures, natural, woven materials and a few fun, quirky design details that added both character and coziness to the atmosphere and comfort.

What was once a small Danish farm made up of several adjacent buildings, has over the past six months been tastefully renovated, refurbished and retrofitted to accommodate the farm’s newborn functionality. A couple of the older structures are patiently waiting to be converted – some as guest rooms, others to be made useful for other activities.

I think the Norrman couple have struck a resonating chord with what some guests are looking for today; originality, personality and comfort all neatly and consciously bundled into one thoughtful experience in a relaxing setting.

Folks, this is about as far away from the mostly numbingly boring, big-chain hotel experience you can possibly get in Scandinavia. As soon as I got out of the car,  I started to wind down and was soon reminded of what is was like to just kick back for a spell in a comfy lounge chair, chat with other guests and eat all meals outdoors in a vast, green landscape accompanied by the occasional gentle hoot from a nearby owl or moo from a distant cow.

Though Denmark consists of a slew of small and large islands and is perhaps mostly known for popular destinations like, Copenhagen, Legoland, Louisiana, Skagen and the country’s picturesque coastline, two super talented Swedes smitten with tangible enthusiasm now offer visitors world-class hospitality and culinary experiences – right in the middle of a humbling and luxuriantly green Danish farmland. Highly recommend a stay at The Norrmans. More images from this lovely place can be enjoyed if you click here.


Tango Dancers

From last night at Scaniaplatsen here in Västra Hamnen where dozens of summer clad Tango dancers swung each other around rhythmically accompanied by another gorgeous sunset. We been enjoying outstanding weather for few weeks now and the forecast for the beginning of June looks promising.

While wading hip deep through a tsunami of emails from companies desperately trying to amend their future judicial liabilities to accommodate new requirements covering storage of customers and clients personal information before GDPR goes live today, I’m actually in the final stages of editing four short videos for a client. And this morning, I actually have a gig for a commercial. Not as a director or DP, though. I’ve been hired as an “actor”. As far as I can remember, I haven’t been in front of the camera since my days as a stand-in and extra on the sets of popular televsion shows, Moonlighting, Cagney & Lacey and Hunter. Yes, I’m a little psyched!


Sunny side of Västra Hamnen

Shot this calm sunny side of Västra Hamnen earlier this morning from the bank of a small manmade island called Saltimporten in Malmö harbor. I used this exact spot when I hired a drone pilot for the cover shoot of the book, Västra Hamnen 2014 and I’ve had an urge to return ever since buying my own a while back. It’s a bit tricky to get the right angle to capture the reflections of both the little lighthouse and buildings along the waterfront. The Mavic’s camera gimbal has been a bit finicky recently for some reason, so it takes some fiddeling before I found the sweetspot.

According to the photo’s EXIF data, it was shot at 1/800sec at f2,8 and ISO 106.


Österlen

For a bit more than 20 years, Charlotte and I have made excursions during the spring to Österlen, the beautiful agricultural region on Sweden’s south-east coast. Spring is the ultimate time of year for visits to Österlen. Most places are open on weekends and the hordes of tourists from Stockholm are thankfully nowhere to be seen.

It’s bit more remote than say, Vejbystrand on the opposite side of the country – and considerably further when driving to and from Malmö. But the extra road time is worth it nonetheless. Especially this time of year when the canola fields are in bloom and the air is clear and skies are blue.

I got a few shots from the ground and even more from above with the drone. Will eventually edit together a few of those clips.

Regardless really of the perspective, I think the yellow rapeseed fields offer a most hypnotic sight. And for the first time ever, I noticed that the flowers give off a really seductively intense fragrance. Almost too intense, for me.

This visit to Österlen, we spent the night at a cute, rural hotel called Karnelunds Krog & Rum in the tiny village of Ginslöv – not far from Brantevik and Skillinge, if you you’re familiar with that neck of the woods..

We enjoyed both excellent food, drink and the kind of personal service that we had heard they provide there. Österlen is often a bit of a hit and miss destination as far as service and food. Roughly 50% of the time we enjoy an awesome experience. The other half is filled with regret for picking the wrong place. Still, the region’s sheer beauty can’t be wronged.

Charlotte and I have over the years imagined ourselves owning and running a small hotel like Karnelunds one day. I doubt it will ever happen, but if it does, I’d like to have the same enthusiasm and positive engagement as our host, Janne did.

Turned out that Janne and I had actually worked at the same hotel in Göteborg, many, many years ago. Me in the bar and he in one of the hotel’s three restaurants. Our paths never crossed back then, at least as far as our memories would allow us to recall. But it was fun reminiscing about the wild n’ crazy 1980s and 90s working in the restaurant and hotel industry.

We ate super tasty, vegetarian, sour dough pizzas at Örum 119 before heading back home to Malmö with thankfully very light traffic most of the way.

I took this shot yesterday afternoon with the Leica Q in macro mode at f8 and 1/500sec near the Baltic Sea.


Sweden’s Sommelier 2017

Longtime friend/creative collaborator and Swedish Sommelier 2017, Erik Schneider and I spent an hour yesterday afternoon in the beautifully bright yellow canola fields outside of Malmö. Shot on the Sony A7III with the 18mm and 85mm. Aerial shots courtesy of the Mavic.


Chat with Restauranteur

This is from a casual chat I had with our neighborhood’s newest restauranteur, Eduardo Mondolfi of the Italian eatery, V.E.S.P.A. G.R.A.N.D.E.. I feel confident that Eduardo and his team will add both substantial culinary and atmospheric value to Västra Hamnen in a way that either of the previous owners of the restaurant were capable of

Aside from the drone footage somewhere in the midle of the segment, everything else in the intervju was shot on the new Sony A7III using just two prime lenses; a Zeiss 85mm (f1.8) and the Zeiss 18mm (f2.8) and recorded with a lavelier microphone wired to a Zoom H6. All edited in Final Cut Pro X.