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Santa’s Workshop

Each year, Santa gathers his helpers and together, they work day and night to prepare for Christmas. Here’s a short behind the scenes video of the workshop 2017.


Vegan Dogs & Mash

Once a week, often on Tuesdays for no particular reason at all, the Raboff’s side-step the usual cuisine and splurge like there’s no tomorrow.

See, a couple of months ago, we discovered a package of smoke vegan hot dogs at our local grocery store and life on Tuesdays hasn’t been the same ever since. I know, technically, hot dogs have to be made of some kind of meat. But as most smoked foods taste decent regardless really of what they’re made from or of, I knew these dogs were going to be pretty tasty. At least when compared with ordinary vegan sausuges – which taste slightly better than wet wool socks (as if I actually know how wet wool socks taste like…), the smoked dogs are absolutely delicious.

The sausages we eat are organic as is the potatoes, mustard, ketchup and dry roasted onions. My recipe for delicious mashed potatoes? A squeezed clove of garlic, a few generous pinches of salt flakes, teaspoon of finely ground black peppar, a dash of nutmeg and a cup or so of almond milk and finally, a few tablespoons of organic olive oil.


Froggies
Shot these poor froggies at an open-air market somewhere. I’ve eaten grilled frog legs a couple of times and, yes, they do taste like chicken. I will likely never eat any amphibian creature again.

I’ve always felt compassionate about all living creatures. Even those that are displeasurable to look at, that pose some kind of threat or that don’t seem to contribute anything meaningful to our habitat. Which they probably do, but I’m ignorant about exactly what.

Though I as late as last night enjoyed a hearty sushi/sashimi meal before going to a movie, I feel an increasing urge to take the plunge and delve into a fully plant based diet.


Yogaism

These silhouettes are part of a series of studio shots I took of the extremely elastic model and yoga enthusiast Tora about a year ago.

I was intrigued by the beauty of yoga and had started brooding with the idea that practising yoga and Qi Gong together regularly might actually prove to provide me with physical flexibility (and energize my mind) without overstraining my body in the process. The ultimate equilibrium.

I’m nowhere where I want to be, hope to be, someday. And needless to say my poses aren’t nearly as refined and visually appealing as Tora’s. But I’m now at a point where only a few of the basic poses are still really hard to achieve.

So it’s unequivocally clear to me that I’m heading in the right direction.


Bangkok’s Chinatown

Like most mega metropolis, Bangkok packs a huge punch. Many first-time visitors become so daunted and overwhelmed by the cacophony of jarring sounds, blazing heat, intense traffic and the millions of people that live, work and play here, they vow to never return.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn how to parse the good from the bad areas and where to avoid going altogether. I’ve also grasped how to appreciate the plethora of interesting, non-tourist focused neighborhoods in Bangkok, like Rattanakosin, Aria, Bangrak and Chinatown.

The narrow side streets and alleyways of Chinatown, where I spent some time yesterday capturing street life, textures, patterns and compositions of old automotive parts, is definitely one of my favorite hoods.

Chinatown, and particularly Soi Nana (not to be confused with the infamously seedy Soi Nana in the Sukhumvit district) has of recent years been one of the capital’s most popular spots to hang out at. Several of the street’s old shophouses (previously mostly used as warehouses) are being cleaned up and recast as cocktail bars, gallery-cafés and boutique hostels. According to a few owners we spoke with last night, Soi Nana’s guests are primarily younger expats, the trendsetting HiSo crowd (Bangkok’s affluent high society troupe) and a few middle-aged travel junkies, like Charlotte and myself.

Easiest way to get here is via subway (MRT) to Bangkok’s Central Train Station – Hua Lamphong Station. From there it’s only a few minutes walk to Soi Nana.


Splash on the Job

Admittedly, there are a few assignments now and again when I become cognizant that working as a photographer is as fun as some folks seem to think it is all the time.

Not that I don’t still appreciate how much freedom I have compared to many other occupations – even when I have to deal with repetitive tasks that are often physically tough on the limbs and leave my eyes tired and dry.

The video above is as good an example as any. It’ll eventually be distributed online as part of larger marketing push for a relatively new hotel in Bangkok. It was shot on an iPhone 6s, 7+ and a GoPro 4 (silver).


Marcel’s Blue Gate

The idea and reasoning of Marcel Duchamp’s “readymade” art has intrigued me since I first learned about it in art school almost 30 years ago. And for the last several years, I’ve been fascinated by how much of what surrounds us – stuff that we mostly consider to be just utilitarian objects or tools, can actually offer me a level of lasting aesthetic pleasure.

Exhibit A: The design of the blue shophouse gate above provided me with an appealing pattern, the foreground and background layers offered interesting dimensionality and the chipped paint itself created an intriguing texture. It was like a beacon and I just could not resist spending some time figuring out how to photograph it.

The gate itself obviously has symbolic implications in the context of, say, protection or incarceration. But more importantly, for me anyway, is to hone in on the readymades that cross my path, define what make them so fascinating and then figure out a way to convey the composition that pulled me in to begin with.

New Galleri Västra Hamnen

Just relaunched Galleri Västra Hamnen, probably the world’s largest online galleri entirely focused on our small neighborhood and a chosen few other fine places.

I’ve been documenting Västra Hamnen for at least a decade in books, videos and still images.

What’s new with the site? I’ve finally returned to WordPress after struggling for years with Smugmug’s mostly quirky backend-admin UI. I’ve also streamlined my pricing model, added my artwork and some of the most popular videos. The overhaul and migration have been long over due…but better late than never…right?


An amazing lunch guest

This spectacular shot is from an elephant sanctuary in Botswana called Living with Elephants. It was taken by my daughter, Elle Raboff during what I consider to be one of my life’s best lunch experiences. The bull I’m hugging came up to me quite graciously mid-lunch and poked around with his big-ass trunk until I gave up and gave him some attention (the hug). Read on to understand why I chose this particular favorite to illustrate some somewhat scattered thoughts.

Last night, an American friend and I had dinner at one of our local eateries. As per usual, the evening’s conversation hovered over a wide gamut of topics – most notably norm shifts and things that have changed since we lived in the US. I’m particularly mesmerized by some of the new “normals” and how impactful yet seemingly unquestioned they are.

One solid example is how totally reasonable it is today for tens of millions of Americans to finance their lifestyle, much of which they can’t really afford, by taking on huge debts and financial obligations that put them at the very brink of personal bankruptcy. The norm shift here is plainly that it’s perfectly okay to juggle a dozen or so credit cards and/or refinance your home in order to maintain a lifestyle that a lot of folks firmly believe they’re entitled to – just by virtue of being American. That it’s like a birth right to live way beyond your means – not to mention actual needs. And I have a hard time wrapping my head around that if you question any of this, some will instinctively consider you a commie. A socialist, at the very least.

Another interesting norm shift is how it’s become perfectly fine to spend more time shopping and television watching than any other non-work or sleep related activity. The most popular pastime in the US – after watching television has to be shopping. I would bet a pretty penny that the most common family activity isn’t enjoying time together during a communal dinner, playing a board game, a park picnic, a day at the beach or going for a weekend bike ride or a hike. Instead, it’s more likely, at least in urban America, that you take two separate, oversized cars and drive a few blocks to your local mall and spend several hours and a credit institution’s money on clothes, food, shiny gadgets and other stuff. And I just read here that the average American watches close to 5 hours of TV per day. Five hours? Really? How do you fit that in to a mere 24 hour life-cycle when there’s already a plethora of addictions like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the aforementioned shopping mall – all competing for your attention (and wallet)?

There’s so much that has changed since I left the US. Of course, not all of it’s bad. But I fret that much of the country’s population is unaware of these shifts and in such a deep comatose state, that they just don’t see where the ship is sailing and that the current captain/commadner-in-chief is really just a simple pirate out to pillage and plunder as much as he can.

So, there’s no question in my mind that the current administration doesn’t see things through the lens of what was previously considered ethically acceptable, financially viable or emotionally reasonable. Trump and his trumpians have no moral compass nor do they choose to see nuances. It’s pretty much a black and white, off and on, stop or go, win or lose value system. Your either with me or against me. There is no genuine interest in fixing what’s broken – unless, of course, it coincides with a lucrative or strategically favorable deal.

Though obviously not communicated publicly, there is no doubt in my mind that the president and his cohorts have a distinct Darwinistic approach to every single decision they make. This a fundamental strategy that more or less all politicians live by regardless of where in the world they are. But in the US, it’s become more blatant and painfully obvious than ever before.

It’s all about making deals and coming out on top and Trump is prepared to say or do whatever needs to be done or said to get there. Even if it means reversing, back-tracking and conveniently forgetting past agreements. Each deal resides in an echo-chamber and all peripheral and long-term consequences are, of course, completely ignored as they are considered irrelevant to the deal at hand.

So when the Trump Administration is now considering lifting the ban on importing stuffed elephants as hunting trophies, it’s not for any other reason than to make a deal with the lobby group that has successfully persuaded The United States Fish and Wildlife Service that, yes, it’s perfectly okay to start hunting elephants for game again. To begin with in two unamed African countries. And to make things even crazier, this deal, should it go through, is being made – with all likelihood – with the president of one of the Africa countries who is arguably even more mentally challenged than the dude with the crazy hairdo currently in our oval office.

I think you’re strange to begin with if you think shooting an elephant is fun and exciting. I don’t really understand the thrill of hunting in general and especially not killing animals for shear amusement. That’s sick however you slice it.

In closing, I think we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Yup, we be in for some really rough tough times, Bubba. This is an era that looks to be defined by a freeforall or better yet a most deadly game of musical chairs. So the question is where are we and the planet when the music finally stops?


Beauty in the Details

As those of you that have stopped by here regularly over the years know well, I’ve had an aruguably absurd appetite for grand landscapes – irrespective of whether it’s a chaotic-mega-metropolis like Bangkok (above) or a hidden, ever-so picturesque sunset on an island in the Maldives.

Though soothing to the eye and thus easy on the brain, I’ve gotten really, really tired of looking at most of the many thousands of landscapes I’ve shot over the years. Generally speaking, landscape photography is just too easy, too unchallenging, hence too damn boring. Unless, of course, you count the physical effort and financial investment necessary to get to that perfect spot at the right time – a challenge. Which it often is in retrospect.

Aside from the wide variety of images I post here on the blog, the majority of my creative prowess is currently being poured into producing multidimensional pictorials or photographic “stories” that cover a wide-range of topics and themes. The one currently on the top section of this page is titled, “Collect Call from Lincoln” and consists of some of my favorite images from what might possibly be my favorite street, the extremely ecelectic Lincoln Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Anyway, this new phase is probably the most challenging thing I have ever pursued in my creative life. But it’s simultaneously incredibly liberating. I feel as free as when I painted with oils, acrylics, crayons, charcoal and aerosol sprays back in the 1990s.

So, now when I’m traveling or just out and about, I force myself to look at things a bit differently. I focus more on surfaces, textures, materials, shapes, layers and depth. I research, take my time and don’t worry at all about the big picture, the landscape. For now, beauty is in the details, the patterns, the patina. And soon, very soon, I’ll be in a place where a plethora or buffet of all of these newfound “ingredients” to my work are available in seemingly inexhaustible quantities. Stay tuned!


Nobis Hotel Copenhagen
So, here it is albeit in Swedish, my review of Nobis Hotel Copenhagen. The above shot is from the stairwell where a beautiful light installation hangs from the top floor downwards.
It was a short but sweet stay at one of Scandinavia’s newest design hotels. The Nobis is comfortable visually appealing and staffed by some really good folks. Interestingly the building next to where we live in Malmö was designed by the same architect that oversaw the renovations designed and decorated the Nobis Gert Wingårdh at Wingårds – one of the regions leading firms and one of my clients.

Avocadoism

Of all the hotels I’ve ever stayed at across the globe, the very first one to offer avocados as part of a breakfast buffé was yesterday at Nobis Hotel in Copenhagen. They were perfectly ripe and together with the salmon-cream cheese on toasted sourdough pastiche I had assembled, the avocado truly topped off my breakfast experience. You just can’t go wrong by serving avocados. More about this extraordinary hotel in a bit….


November Sun

Filmed during yesterday’s amazing weather. Mostly shot on my iPhone 7+ with a little stabilization in post.


Flamingos a la Camargue

Just by virtue of how their anatomy and color scheme, flamingos are certainly one the most extravagant looking creatures on our planet.

Whoever or whatever designed them must of had a sense of humor. I’m not saying that flamingos are comedic looking. But they do almost have the look of a caricature or a cliché. Looks and colors apart, from an evolutionarily perspective flamingos seem to be perfected for their specific ecology.

I captured this particular specimen, whom belonged to a contingent of hundreds of flamingos, in the Camargue near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Arles in Provence, France.


Light Show on Turning Torso

The European Song Contest is an extremely well-packaged spectacle where questionaable talents get to “strut their stuff” for millions of beguiled viewers across Europe and elsewhere.

It’s like a talent show on steroids with one elaborate number after the other until finally, one of the least amateurish songs gets voted the winner.

On May 9th 2013, as part of the celebration of Malmö hosting the event, a beautiful and elaborate light show was projected directly on Turning Torso’s facade.

As I don’t listen to ESC music as a genre (unless it’s one of the few really good tunes from the 1970s), I instead enjoyed the entire evening walking around and  documenting our neighborhood’s amazing skyscraper being beamed with colorful patterns.


Ghost Town: Bodie

Originally, I had some pretty ambitious plans for this year’s Halloween. But for a variety of reasons, they didn’t materialize. Ce la vie. I did buy a pumpkin.

Somewhat fitting is therefore this photo from the old abandoned mining settlement, Bodie – likely the most popular ghost town in the United States. I was particularly fascinated by this classroom and the cracked globe. The patina is beautiful. Nature has reclaimed a lot of the town, but it’s still well worth a visit. Especially if you, like me, nerd out on weathered wood, rusty steel and more or less anything not made of plastic.

Bodie’s located in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, not far from Lake Tahoe. I was there with fellow photographer David P about 6 years ago on a whirlwind road trip that went from L.A. through Death Valley, Mono Lake, Bodie, Yosemite, San Francisco and then back to L.A. along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. If I remember correctly, the trip took about 72 hours and at one critical point, we were going to be heavily fined for speeding – if the Highway Patrol officer that stopped us hadn’t received a dispatch call that demanded he promptly scadoodle – and let us off the hook.


View of Göteborg

Here’s the (Leica’s) view from my hotel tonight. It’s an attic room and possibly the most asymmetric I’ve ever stayed in. The room has really tiny windows making it feel just a little claustrophobic. But the great view is a reasonable trade-off.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Göteborg. I feel at home here but I’m dubious about ever moving back. Folks are spontaneously friendly than anywhere else in the country. And I’d argue that the country’s most positive mindset will be found right here. In all, I lived in Göteborg for about 15 years, so I am somewhat of an insider and probably still know my way around here better than I do in Malmö. Yet the city has always felt stagnate somehow. And it hasn’t gotten any better since we moved.

Sure, there are plenty of new stores, cafés, restaurants and hotels, a few minor infrastructural changes and a couple of neighborhoods that have gone through gentrification (Gårda, for one). But that’s pretty much it.

Göteborg is suffering from an unhealthy level of complacency. And to make matters worse, nobody cares.

I suppose my perspective is slanted, since Malmö has seen so much positive change since we moved there twenty years ago. To a degree, even the notoriously pessimistic mindset of Malmöites has changed for the better and there’s clearly a more positive vibe in Malmö today. Which in part probably has to do with the city’s younger generation being more open-minded and extemporaneously outgoing – as well as an influx of companies and folks from other Swedish cities and countries relocating to Malmö.

There’s a tangible pioneering spirit in Malmö that’s really wonderful.

Not sure if I would ever consider moving back to Göteborg. If given the opportunity to live as close to the ocean as we do in Malmö, then maybe. Got to live by the sea, ya know.


In Gbg – quenching the thirst

I’m in Göteborg for a quickie. Took the fast but surprisingly rickety train up and after arriving – and instead of checking into the hotel – I instead walked briskly in the nippy but sunny Sunday afternoon weather to the city’s only photography museum, Hasselblad Center at the very top end of Gothenburg’s famous promenade, “Avenyn”. If for no other reason than to reaffirm the medium’s importance and perhaps to try to quench my seemingly insatiable thirst for inspiration. The shot above was taken with my iPhone, arguably a more precise photographic reproduction tool and certainly a more versatile camera.

Tomorrow morning, I’m visiting a potential supplier to check out their facilities, how they work and if what they have to offer will add value to my workflow and ultimately how my art is presented to clients.


Do Avocados Feel Pain?

I’ve never been so mindful as right now when it comes to what I eat.  It’s actually quite interesting to discern and analyze what you put in your body.

About two years ago, I stopped eating beef, pork, poultry and anything on land that walked, flew, slithered or crawled. The transition wasn’t difficult at all and only occasionally – mostly when travelling abroad – do I miss sinking my teeth into a juicy beef burger, sucking on smoked baby back ribs, chewing on bbq pulled pork or stuffing my mouth with half a dozen salty strips of honey crisp bacon. None of the above can be bought at any restaurant I know of in Sweden. Well, at least not in Malmö. So, I’m not often tempted here.

I do eat all kinds of seafood and still can’t fathom how I would ever stop eating raw fish, tuna or any other kind of sushi. Not to mention crab and lobster (which I don’t eat more than once or twice a year to begin with). That said, when I took the shot above, I felt some kind of guilt. Maybe not so much while shooting the lobster, but definitely when we gathered round the table that evening to eat it and all the other shellfish I had photographed for an art project that afternoon.
Guilt can be such a powerful thing and I sincerely dread the day when some Nobel Prize winning researcher discovers that avocados can actually feel pain…

 


Nominated: Publishing Prize 2017

My opera book, “We are Malmö Opera”, has been nominated for the 2017 Publishing Prize. On Monday, October 23, the esteemed jury will divulge the winner in the Coffee Table Book category in which the book is competing.

I sincerely think the book deserves to win because it focuses on hard-working, talented and passionate folks that don’t get nearly as much recognition as they ought to. In a perfect world, each curtain call would see the full production crew taking a bow or two.

If nothing else, I hope the book wins the hearts and minds of other photographers, journalists and publishers and inspires them to shed some light on other workplaces filled with unsung heroes.


Eyeconic

Thanks to my buddy and code warrior Yigit Telyakar, I’ve now got a much more mobile and tablet friendly way to showcase my photographic efforts. Check out the new “Eyeconic” category in the menu up top. The Jumbo Jet? Shot last year in an abandoned yard on the outskirts of the sprawling Asian city of angels, Bnngkok.


The Rose according to Q

Shot with the Leica Q’s macro mode which is easy to switch to via a short twist on the lens barrel. The ease of use makes the Q such a great go-to camera for those spur-of-the-moment shots. Whereas the iPhone would suffice, the Leica frame’s dynamic range and file size offer much more versaitility – should I eventually decide to incorporate a photo in a future montage.


Turning Torso Timelapse

A timelapse video I shot the other day from Sky High Meetings on the 53rd floor of the skyscraper Turning Torso in Malmö Sweden. The Turning Torso was designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava and is owned and operated by HSB Malmö.


Leica Q at La Boqueria

Not much of a candy eater these days, but the artificial coloring of this chewy confectionary at Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueriain market in the El Raval district of Barcelona was just too tempting not to get a shot of. Yes, I’m impressed with how versatile the Leica Q is. The sensor is super sensitive in lowlight conditions – which is great when you like me hesitate to push ISO beyond 100-200. I’ve shot a few times at ISO 3200 and if I didn’t have any alternative, I think I could make use of that setting too. Even more striking and noteworthy is how well the optical stabilization system performs at speeds that I’d previously never even consider working with.

Over the weekend in Spain, I shot quite a few frames of static objects at 1/30th of a second with perfect focus. There’s obviously some battery drain when using OIS, but I always carry plenty of extra batteries with me, so that’s not an issue. Focusing is fast too. Not as fast as my Canon 5Ds, but not that much slower. And at 10 frames per second, the Leica Q is actually twice as fast when shooting moving subjects.

I’m adjusting nicely to the 28 mm field of view. It’s an allround size that’s been great in Barcelona’s El Born neighborhood where there are mostly narrow alleys. As a first time Leica owner, I’m starting to understand some of the hype surrounding the brand. And I can definitely see how I could use the Q in professional circumstances.

Pissorama in Barcelona

Shot this earlier today. I thoroughly enjoy visiting Barcelona. It’s a city we even would consider living in someday. Still, I’m unfortunately often reminded of a less positive reality here; the thick, pungent stench of both fresh and vintage urine that permeates Barcelona’s streets, alleys and boulevards. Sure, you get used to it after a while. But it’s nonetheless a really bad habit males have here – locals and visitors alike. And surely a few dogs.