Venice Pier

I + Won@Venice Pier

Venice Pier, early yesterday evening. I was out shooting surfers, which were few, and as the sun set in the Pacific, I found myself once again mesmerized, nay, hypnotized by the wide palette of hues and how smooth the in-between gradients joined them together. The clarity is amazing and though I haven’t yet looked at my shots and footage, I’ve surely captured some pretty good stuff.

The shot of me above was taken by Noah Youhee Won, a local photographer and graphic artist that couldn’t help but get a couple of images of me and the pier as silhouettes.

Hotel California

Some sun for Son of L.A.

Slightly nippy but still absolutely gorgeous SoCal sunshine welcomed us back to Los Angeles this mid December afternoon. Weather-wise, it feels just about the same as when I was here in February. That’s California for ya.

The sun really lifts my soul.

Staying in Santa Monica for a few nights before flying westward to the Hawaiian Islands. Both surfboard and camera gear survived the transatlantic flight with Norwegian. Brother Nick was kind to pick us up with his ginormous new truck at the unusually busy Tom Bradley Terminal.

I’m writing this literally a block away from the Santa Monica Pier, not far from where I’ll be filming local surfers these next couple of days. Excited to see what the new camera can accomplish.

Elvis in the building

Elvis is in the Building

For more than a year now, I’ve been contracted to shoot PR and marketing photos of Scandinavia’s most spectacular hotel, Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live. I’ve shot food, drinks, rooms, suites, bars and a whole bunch of other particulars – both throughout the final months before the grand opening and for the first six months afterwards.

One of many individual projects was to help market the hotel’s very first Christmas show. So, I scripted, filmed and produced the broadcast commercial and shot a slew of Press and PR images to help the marketing team generate interest and help sell tickets. The show has been sold out for quite some time now and I saw the first of four shows the other night. It’s certainly one of the most spectacular shows I’ve ever seen and surely one of the biggest productions ever produced in Malmö. I was invited as a guest, but after eating a belly full of sumptuous American and Swedish inspired Christmas food, I just couldn’t sit still. Above is one of the shots I got with my phone. Couldn’t make up my mind which I was more impressed with; my camera phone’s ability to shoot decently in such relative low light or the show’s Vegas level production.


Paris

In Paris for a weekend of travel photography. Enjoying both surprisingly good (warm, sunny) weather and seeing my sister (and her family) who’s here from Alaska as a delegate during the climate conference.

Haven’t been in the French capital for about 5 years and it’s probably twice as long ago since I was here wintertime.

There’s been a tectonic shift in the way Parisians interact with non-French speakers. I ascribe the change to both how today’s younger generation has more to lose by not learning at least a basic understanding of the language most visitors speak and that English, is the de facto lingua franca.

We’re staying in the 10th arrondissement, not far from Gare du Nord and where Canal Saint-Martin links the northeastern area of Paris with the River Seine. It’s a truly eclectic neighborhood with lots of Middle Eastern grocery stores but plenty of classic Parisian brasseries.

pintxos

Veggieisms

About a half a year ago, our daughter Elle saw a documentary on YouTube (where else, right?) that disclosed some extremely discomforting facts about the food industry in general and more specifically about how horrifically bad farm animals are treated throughout their miserable lives.

Right there and then, Elle decided to remove meat – all forms of animal meat – from her diet. Shortly thereafter, her mother Charlotte joined in and about a month or so later, I too took the plunge and removed chicken, pork, beef and all other forms of meat from my list of edibles.

Charlotte and I still eat seafood and shellfish, though. I mean, I completely concur with Elle in not financially supporting the food industry’s unacceptable methods and gut-wrenching practices. But to stop eating shrimp and sushi? That’s taking it a little too far. and probably ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

Recently, Elle’s taken her self-imposed dietary constraints even further by insisting that we eat less dairy products – and to thereby extend our moral stance against the often unhealthy production processes used to produce stuff like milk, yoghurt, butter, cream, and cheese.

As I’m sure some of you can imagine, this is by no means an uninteresting culinary challenge we’re in the midst of. And though I often feel I fall short in concocting and serving meals to the girls that look nice, taste good but are unquestionably healthy, I’m slowly learning about all kinds of new fascinating ways to create food that caries health benefits way beyond the dinner table.

The above photos is from a recent food session focused on so-called pintxos.

Amazon nuts

Nuts for Nuts

As a nation, Sweden is decidedly at the forefront on many important environmental and human rights issues. But when it comes to food, however, this country is sadly pretty much slave to a few dominating corporations that dictate the relatively slim range (and contents) available in grocery stores.

Exceptions exist – and we’re lucky to both work and live near one of the country’s only Whole Foods inspired stores. And despite having a really good selection of organic, locally sourced products, I still order many of our kitchen’s basic ingredients via Amazon UK, including organic cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, pistachios, sun dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and a bunch of other specialty foods.

Ordering weighty stuff from Great Britain isn’t cheap and sometimes, my purchases are unreasonably expensive. Admittedly, a few times, when I haven’t been paying attention, the shipping charge has even exceeded what the products themselves cost. And one might rightfully question how environmentally friendly it is to order food from the UK.

Fortunately, my qualms are usually quite literally quieted by our loud, two horse power monster blender while it mashes, crushes and whirls nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, kale and almond milk into my breakfast smoothie…

Star Wars Premiere 1977

Star Wars

Though I’m not a hardcore Star Wars nerd, I’d lie if I didn’t admit to having a childish level of excitment about J.J. Abrams take on George Lucas space opera, arriving in (US) theaters in about two weeks.

The faux Sci-Fi tech is certainly intriguing, but more importantly – at least to me – are the over-the-top, incredulously bombastic visuals. Escapism at its best.

Buddy Ken Wegas sent me the above photo this morning from the premiere of the very first Star Wars film at Mann’s Chinese Theatre on May 25, 1977. I’m there, somewhere in that crowd, together with Marcos and his father, director and writer, Antonio Santean. I’d been babysitting his son Marcos for a few months, and as a bonus, Antonio kindly invited me to see the premiere showing of a movie starring mostly unknowns – but that had been generating so much buzz and that almost instantly created fans all over the world. Photo credit: unknown.

trip advisor travel map raboff

Still circumnavigating

The other day I was interviewed for a Swedish lifestyle magazine about my work and life as a photographer. And though my dedication to Västra Hamnen was the general theme of the piece, I’ve read the journalist’s first draft and it also gives an nuanced and factually accurate account of who I am and what’s important to me.

I put some extra emphasis on how I feel about traveling as compared with, say, spending a third of my life being entertained by what’s shown on an ever-so flat or gigantically wide television (and other viewing mechanisms).

During the interview, I realized and felt obliged to  vocalized how sad I felt about how there still are so many places, cultures and people that are difficult – if not life threatening – to experience.

The map above is generated by Google via TripAdvisor which then generates the absolutely absurd statement that I’ve visited 33% of our planet. I should only be so lucky to have covered that much in my life. It’s probably a single digit percentage, if even that. Still, I feel infinitely lucky to have a career that takes me to so many fascinating places.

One could easily presuppose that because I travel so much, I am not happy at home. That my need to constantly keep moving derives from a rootlessness of sorts. This may very well be the case as I’ve been traveling since I was very young and have had many, many “homes”. And perhaps I’m retrofitting the narrative of my yet-to-be-written autobiography here, but when I dig back into my memories or flip through some of my oldest photographs, I still feel mostly intrigued and inspired when I see how interesting my life has been thus far.

drinks malmö live

Sky bar Drinks & Dishes

Last Friday, I spent a couple of late afternoon hours high above the sea shooting cocktails and scrumptious meals in the sky bar and Kitchen & Table dining room at Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live.This is one of their signature cocktails, “John Doe”. Don’t recall all the particulars, but bourbon and chocolate was definitely in the recipe. Chocolate and whiskey. You just can’t go wrong with that combo.

Multipass

LED Panels to the rescue!

This shot is from Sunday’s mega-multi-class-workout-photo-session. Twenty or so models of all ages and sizes participated. Everything went super smooth and I have a whole slew of inspiring photos of folks in various stages of exercise.

Instead of traditional strobes/flashes, I opted for a fairly new solution: several high-powered LED bicolor panels on stands. I knew from previous projects in the same hall, that the wide spectrum of color (yellow floors, green walls, white ceilings and various coloured clothes) was going to be tough to deal with in post. But thanks to the extra exposure strength and relatively low ISO provided by the LED panels, I was provided with enough latitude in the images dynamic range to make all kinds of relevant adjustments.