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Sunny Welcome & Duncan’s Mute

This beautiful scene welcomed us back when the taxi pulled up outside of our place from Kastrup International Airport yesterday afternoon.

The journey from Chamonix started super early, yet there wasn’t much time for anything than a quick bite to eat at GVA before boarding the northbound SAS flight. I slept most of the way.

I have plenty of gigabytes of footage and stills for an inspiring film and an article from the week in the alps. Most of the footage was filmed handheld using only DJI’s Osmo Mobile stabilizer and in some cases, just one of my ungloved hands. During one of my runs down the mountain, I strapped my old Gopro Hero 4 to my ski boot – just to get a really low-level perspective. All stills (and a few clips) were shot with the Leica Q which with its 28mm focal length turned to be perfectly apt for the location.

Feel very inspired right now. Especially after listening to an interview with director Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son) and then watching his latest project, a film he’s been trying to get made for over 16 years, the very bizarre, noir-esque movie, “Mute” starring Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux. It’s available on Netflix. But be forwarned, as the story unfolds, the level of un-comfortability is at times almost unbearable.

Even if the reviews on IMDB weren’t even merciful, and despite the relatively low score and that it’s not intended to be a mainstream commercial film, I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually attains cult status. If for no other reason, I recommend Mute for the gorgeous cinematography – shot in Berlin – with plenty of visual cues and references to some other favorites, including Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (Mute was partially filmed in the same studio), Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and, yes, Robert Altman’s M.A.S.H.

 


Sunset in Chamonix

While the sun leaves the Chamonix valley in a shivering, cold shade at around 5:30pm this time of year, the day’s last light still illuminates the peaks for at least another hour.

Charlotte and I walked around the village for a few hours after returning from a magnificent day on the slopes today, discussing what we really like about Chamonix and compared our notes from last year’s trip to the considerably smaller village of Zermatt below the Matterhorn.

Though an unfair comparison when measuring sheer volume and size, both destinations still obviously have plenty of commonalities. Where Zermatt caters to a more exclusive group of patrons willing to spend more time getting there and budgeting a bit more for accommodations, dining and just about everything else connected to a Swiss ski resort, Chamonix is much more accessible (an hour and change from Geneva), socially relaxed and dare I say, charter-esque.

Don’t get me wrong, Chamonix is a picturesque village in a surreally beautiful alpine environment. A destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited both resorts twice in the last five years and hope to return some day. After checking off a few other ski resorts from my list…


Flégère & Brevent & Bergerie

Another glorious day on the slopes with mostly fabulous weather. After checking out the pists in Flégère for a few hours, we headed over to Le Brevent and ate a hearty (vegetarian/vegan) lunch at one of Chamonix’s most popular hillside bistros, the rustic Bergerie de Planpraz. It was a bit too cold to sit outside when we arrived, but after lunch, the sun had heated up the outdoor patio (above) rather nicely. With the Mont Blanc massive as a dramatic backdrop, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a more scenic setting.


Aiguille du Midi

From today’s excursion to the very top of Aiguille du Midi and the glass bottom terrace at 3,842m aptly dubbed, “Step Into The Void”.
With views of some of the tallest peaks in Switzerland, Italy and France – including Mont Blanc (above left) from one single place, this has to be the ultimate alp spotting venue.

Despite sunny weather, the air at this altitude was thin and cold (-18C/-0,4F) which made it a little challenging to film and shoot stills. At one point, I thought my left index finger had gotten frost bitten. After returning to Chamonix, we spent the rest of the day exploring the many excellent pists at Grands Montets.


On the slopes

The weather today provided a mix bag with patches of sunshine, a light snowfall and a generous amount of fog or mist. Not that stopped us from skiing and thoroughly enjoying about a half dozen pists.


Return to Chamonix

Back in the alps again. And this year, we chose to produce a story about the classic French ski destination Chamonix. It’s been five years since my last visit to Chamonix.

As the driver pulled up to the hotel shortly after lunch, the clouds hovering above parted and let the valley bathe in bright sunshine. After renting ski gear, I spent most of the afternoon shooting stills and getting some footage around the village.

Tomorrow we hit the slopes of Le Brévent with cameras, a small ski friendly stabilizer and a small drone.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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”.

Morning View: the Pacific Ocean

My morning view from just outside our hotel as 2017 comes to a close. The Pacific Ocean has always and will likely always hypnotize me. It’s the combo of salinity, color and smell that puts me into some kind of spell.

As much as we’ve unreservedly savored our visit to this stunningly beautiful beach, and I think I can speak for the entire family here, we are now yearning for a less sandy existence.

A day after 2018 arrives we’ll depart this unforgettable coastline and fly back to San José where we’ll stay for a few days. On the agenda in the capital is a visit to a famous coffee plantation and a much anticipated tour at a sanctuary for sloths.


Tropical Yoga

Shot this during yesterday’s yin yoga class here in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Amazing weather and the perfect location for yoga.


Koh Samui & Costa Rica

We’re almost a week into our first expedition to Costa Rica and I’m flabbergasted at how under-developed the beach communities along the coast are. No large resorts, high rise hotels or a single fast food restaurant or convenient store. That’s right, no 7Eleven or burger joint by the clown or king.

I find myself being reminded of Koh Samui, circa 1988, a few years before the airport was built and when both Chaweng and Lamai beaches were still dusty fishing villages which were mostly populated by transient backpackers. There might have been maybe two hotels on the entire island back then and only a few dozen dodgy bungalow resorts. I worked at one of them, the Golden Sand.

I remember how hard it was to find a restaurant on Koh Samui that served decent western food and that you had to drive a motorcycle or take a flatbed truck taxi ride to the ferry town Nathon and there wait patiently in line at Koh Samui’s only post office to make a collect call to wherever.

That was thirty years ago.

Santa Teresa is similar in a few ways and undeniably different in others.

Like on Samui three decades ago, we mostly have the beach here to ourselves. You pass maybe 20 people during an hour’s long walk up and down the coast. Half of them are surfers. This despite it being absolute peak season.

There are perhaps a dozen hotels scattered along the beach and a few bungalow places located on either side of narrow, unpaved lanes just above the main road.

Unlike Samui ´88, there are a plethora of really good restaurants here. We’ve enjoyed very tasty Japanese, Lebanese, Thai, Mexican and some seafood during our week.

We’re a little surprised at how expensive it is, though. So far, we haven’t been able to spend much less than $70-80  for a dinner for three. Which is almost as expensive as in Europe or even the US.

Then again, Costa Rica has been popular among affluent American families and well-to-do college kids for decades. So the high prices are likely a reflection of an upper middle class tourist demographic.

The thick, unmistakable smell of ganja is prevalent almost everywhere – especially on the beach just before and after sunset. Just as it was on Samui wayback when.

For a photographer and travel writer, there’s plentiful of things to be inspired by here. Including the dense jungle just a few steps beyond the beach and the large flocks of pelicans that soar majestically in fluid arrow formations just above the tree tops.

The weather has been great so far. Cool mornings with temperatures in the lower 20s and middays in the mid 30s. It’s a dry heat, though. Nowhere nearly as humid as in Thailand but significantly hotter than on the Hawaiian islands.

Finally, I think one of the main reasons why Costa Rica is enjoying increasing popularity is in no small way thanks to the friendly atmosphere among locals and guest workers alike.

It’s pura vida all the time.


Morning Surfride

Since arriving and renting a couple of surfboards, Elle and I have been catching the early morning breaks before breakfast. There’s a narrow surf spot just outside the hotel, but we usually opt to walk towards Playa Carmen where there’s less current and more importantly, less rocks.