Venice Beach

WHERE DID THE COLORS GO?

This is one of my last shots from Venice Beach. I took it just a few days ago, after a 3 hour surf session just to the left of these rocks in what is called, Backwater.

Now that I’m back in Scandinavia, it’s ever so gloomy. I seem to consistently negate how important color is to my well-being. After so many years, one would think that I’d be used to this grey and distressful, colorless environment. I don’t think I ever will. Today’s weather is what I’ve for years referred to as “classic DDR” – essentially, when the sky and sea are seamlessly joined and everything looks more or less lifeless. Erich Honecker is surely smiling from wherever Marxists go after they dematerialize.

Sad to hear about David Bowie. He was almost a generation older than me, but I certainly connected with his music during the early 1980s. Saw him live in concert once at Ullevi in Göteborg during the Let’s Dance tour. I think it was 1983.

According to an old NPR interview I listened to this morning, David Bowie enjoyed more of the creative process – writing music, drumming up events, designing alter egos – than he did standing on a stage performing the same songs over and over again. One tends to think of all musicians and performers as being pathologically extroverted and manic about wowing their audience to keep their egos afloat. The interview shone some well-needed light on this convention.

LAX Airport

FROM A DIRE HOTEL ROOM AT LAX

Kastrup – Los Angeles – Hawaii – Los Angeles – San Francisco – Los Angeles – Las Vegas – Los Angeles.

Arrived earlier today at LAX after a short but somewhat bumpy ride on a Southwest Boeing 737 from the neighboring state of Nevada where I partook in meetings at the massive CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas.

I’m not a gambler in the sense that I play poker, Lotto or any other game of chance where the odds are inherently  low. But at the airport, mostly to kill some time prior to my flight, I actually sat down, inserted a twenty into one of hundreds of slot machines and on my very last dollar, won $75. Perhaps a sign that during 2016, I may need to roll the dice more often…

I’ve been to the consistently idiosyncratic Las Vegas several times, but never experienced a trade show there. And certainly not one as sprawling or intense as CES. On some anthropological level, it was certainly interesting to experience first hand one of the world’s largest trade shows and all the folks that participate in such a spectacle, i.e. upper echelon executives, sales reps (in various stages of exhaustion), presenters trying to lure visitors into their booths with loud music and young female hosts in hot pants, sparkly skirts and towering high heels.

Stayed once again at Mandalay Bay at the head of the Strip. This time with a nondescript view of the resort’s closed, but nonetheless gigantic pool. If you stay there, make sure to stay high up and ask for windows towards Luxor and the Strip.

Sadly, I did not get a chance to ask someone at the front desk of Cesar’s Palace if it was the real Cesar’s Palace.

It’s soon time to return to the Swedish winter’s meteorological doldrums after many weeks with mostly sunshine, balmy weather and lots of surfing. Charlotte and Elle are home already, hopefully recovering from the horrid trans-continental, multi-timezone induced jetlag and ever so slowly sliding into everyday life.

As per usual, I’ve worked far more than I had anticipated. It’s still so hard to relax and let myself go numb and forget about work. When you enjoy what you do as much as I do, it feels darn close to being a curse.

Surfing Vencie

FINAL SURF FOR 2015

While Charlotte and Elle were out and about doing whatever they were doing, I retrieved my surfboard from the hotel’s storage room, screwed on the blue fin, waxed the board, slipped on my wetsuit and headed down to the ocean.

It’s hard to explain in a way that does the feeling justice, but after three hours and dozens of 2-3 ft sets, I left beach with a huge grin on my face a few minutes before sunset. I left behind me twenty or so surfers, still hoping to catch a few more waves.

Ironically, the surf in Venice was, if not better, than at least equally good and certainly more consistent to what was served up off the north shore of Kauai in Hawaii.

In the shower back at the hotel, It took me a good ten minutes to peel off my wetsuit. That’s how tired I was. But rest assured, it was a good tired.

I met a German couple among the folks in the water. They were stoked about the whole SoCal surfing experience and were seriously considering a move here. At least during the European winter. I sympathize entirely.

I can’t think of a better way to end the year than in the Pacific. And if I’m not too tired tomorrow morning, I may even start the new year the same way!

Happy New Year!

surfer girl

BACKING UP FROM HAWAII

As per usual during visits to beautiful places, we’ve now fallen madly in love with Kauaʻi. It feels downright sad that we have to leave today. Particularly Hanalei Bay where we spent many hours surfing in the friendly waves. Fortunately for me, we’ll be traveling to one of my all-time favorites; the crusty and salty L.A. neighborhood,  Venice Beach. Already looking forward to both surfing in Venice and adding new surf shots to my collection as well as producing what I hope will be a most inspiring video essay on the merits of winter surfing in Southern California for a client.

During our ten days here on Hawaii, I’ve shot many hours of HD footage and several hundred stills from all over the island. And for the first time ever, I’ve been able to successfully backup every clip and image to the cloud, in this case, my Dropbox account. I can’t give the folks  at Dropbox enough praise. There are many “free” alternatives, but none that can match the ease of use and reliability that Dropbox provides at a most reasonable fee. It’s really become a ubiquitous part of my workflow.

As an extra precaution whenever I’m afoot, after offloading each card to my computer, uploading the roughly sorted material to Dropbox, I’ll let all the video and RAW files remain undeleted on the SD/CF cards – until I get back to the studio (where everything gets backed up once more to my Backblaze account).

In addition to my primary backup – a five year old 17” Macbook Pro – I’ve also copied everything to a 1TB external HD. After all this, I sleep pretty well at night.

The new Canon EOS 5Ds has performed well. I absolutely love Canon’s new, rather dampened shutter sound, the handy intervolometer (finally!) and the focus tracking feature in the otherwise somewhat featureless film mode. In reality, the Canon 5Ds is basically a Canon EOS 5D Mk III with double the resolution, crammed into a full frame sensor.

As each RAW file is a whopping 50MB large, I’ll probably delegate the 5Ds to studio work and use the forthcoming 5D Mk IV (rumored to arrive next spring) for travel work.I’ve not even tried editing any of the hires video or time-lapse clips on my  almost vintage laptop. Just viewing a single RAW file in Lightroom takes far too long – even with the new 1TB SSD I added a few months ago.

The day is just about to break here on the south coast of Kauaʻi. I can here my young daughter breathing, almost in sync with the lapping Pacific waves below us. It’s time to make a cup of java and get ready for the year’s last journey – towards California!

Waimea-Canyon-Kauai-Hawaii

WAIMEA CANYON

From today’s excursion to Waimea Canyon here on Kauai, Hawaii. Shot this mystic view on the way down from from one of the wettest places on earth, Mount Waiʻaleʻale – a mountain with an elevation of 1,569 m and an average of 11,500 mm rain per year. Noticed that NASA has an observatory and what also may be a lab facility in the area.

For lunch, we thoroughly enjoyed succulent, seared Ahi (tuna) tacos with mango avocado salsa at the unassumingly styled yet ever-so aptly named, Island Taco in Waimea village. Can highly recommend a lunch there.

Got some really good footage today with a GoPro mounted on the front end of the hood of our Wrangler (jeep),

It’s raining several times a day – mostly short showers with light drizzles before and after. Lots of little fluffy clouds making for dramatic sunsets.

Morning on Hawaii

Morning of the Eve

Recently, I was quoted in a local Swedish magazine as saying that I’m “damn bad at being bored” – a quote that in itself defines me as a somewhat erratic, unruly and maybe even a bit of a whimsical dude. All true. I am all those things. And then some.

Basically, I’ve improvised just about every moment of my entire life. I know no other way, have no master plan, definitely no mission nor any kind of long term vision. Aside from staying alive and keeping life as interesting as I can, that is.

My loosely assembled philosophy is to actively take advantage of the ad hoc, unscripted and unpredictable moments that life serves up. Inherently, this perspective steers most of my everyday choices and for good or bad, the vast majority of my decisions as a photographer, business owner, father and husband. Seize the moment. Don’t be a victim of circumstance. Use it to your advantage. Turn the page. Shove off. There’s nothing to see here – move along!

I’m rambling. On Christmas Eve, no less. Just needed to give the magazine quote some context.

Anyway, I started this most auspicious morning with a invigorating run along the Pacific Ocean just as the sun was on the rise. And yes, it was a spontaneous decision to slip on my joggers and hit the road…

Kauai

Hawaiian Santa?

Shot this with my iPhone during yesterday’s excellent trail trek along the bluffs that outline the dramatic southwest coast of Kauai. Used the Pano mode and some post production trickery to get the most out of that small, but oh so sensitive sensor.

It’s soon Christmas Eve here in the North Pacific. Surreal. No Santa, but many of the locals are wearing his helpers hats. We’ll celebrate Hawaiian style with no Santa – but at a luau with dinner at a beachfront restaurant we stumbled onto and made reservations at yesterday afternoon. Of course there will be a few holiday, well-wishing calls to both immediate and extended families and friends.

Wish you and your family happy holidays – however and wherever you celebrate.

Kauaʻi

Kauaʻi

First visit to the Garden Island, Kauaʻi. Fifth visit to the Hawaiian islands – when you include a week long stay back in the mid 1990s when I traveled around the world for 3 months with a remarkably small backpack and a lightweight mountain bike. Boy, was that a trip to remember. Flew -> Stockholm -> New York -> Los Angles -> Honolulu -> Fiji -> Auckland -> Denpasar -> Singapore -> Stockholm with a bunch of shorter domestic trips at each destination of which Kaikura on the south island of New Zealand was the most memorable.

It’s pretty breezy this time of year on Kauaʻi – so the waves on the south coast are fairly choppy and less than perfect to surf in. Elle and I still hope to enjoy a few good sets. And I would love to add a few good shots of local surfers to my portfolio during our visit. If not, then I’ll just focus on the amazing nature that quite literally encapsulates this garden island.

abbot kinney

Today on Abbot Kinney Blvd

While Elle and I walked from Santa Monica Beach to Venice Beach early-ish this morning, I reflected on how little has changed in Venice. At least along the Boardwalk. Of course, they didn’t sell medical marijuana licenses back in my day – but in the grand scheme of things, for better or worse, very little has changed since I was Elle’s age. That’s almost forty years with the same mix of ramshackle storefronts, homeless, musicians, artists, skaters, surfers and street hawkers.

After a hefty breakfast near the beach, we walked eastward to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, arguably the trendiest/chicest/hippest shopping strip in Southern California. The above scene was from outside one of many cafes around lunch time today.


Hanging around HoH

The video is from a recent afternoon visit to the studio of our favorite charity, Hang on Hangers, founded by the always thoughtful generous and kind friend, Annika Jonasson in Bangkok, Thailand.

Shot on an iPhone and edited in Final Cut Pro X.