When nothing else grabs my attention, I can easily inject inspiration by focusing – sometimes for several hours at a time – by photographing textures and patterns. Like this wood covered wall I discovered somewhere here in Singapore’s Bugis neighborhood the other day. Some of these abstracts will subsequently be incorporated in my collages. Textures and patterns tell tales in a subtle way. When I find delapitated wall with an interesting texture, or, a repetitive pattern that I feel inclined to capture, if only for a few moment, I’ll thinkabout how it came to be.
I’m humbled by all the friendly smiles from everyday folks I meet in South East Asia. I tend to forget about that aspect once I leave the continent. It’s not just those working in the service sector and hospitality industry that smile – which in all fairness is more or less part of their job description.
Practically everyone’s default facial expression here in Singapore leans towards smiling rather than frowning. Which I’m convinced has a lot to do with the warm climate and relatively comfortable humidity level. Especially when compared to the cold and dry air we have in northern Europe this time of year – which tends to keep smiles away and eyes turned down.
It’s hard not to put on a smile when you interact with folks with a pleasant expression. A gleaming exception to this is observation is, however, when several of my fellow guests and I are waiting for one of our hotel’s stupid elevators to show up. Though I admit to having this weird thing for OTIS elevators, I’m completely oblivious to these amazing contraptions inner workings. But ignorant as I may be, my unwavering view is that there is something terribly wrong with the four elevators at this particular hotel (supplied by Hitachi). Not only do they take forever to arrive at whatever floor you’re on, the tell-tale lights and audible indicators beep and chime unsynchronized and entirely without relevance to where in the shaft they might be. And when the elevators do finally appear, you have about 2.5 seconds to jump in before the doors close – brutally fast and irreversibly. So if you hesitate the slightest, you might have to wait another 10 minutes before the next lift arrives.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered a nifty solution to my vertical travel woes. Turns out that right next to the elevator space – on each of the hotel’s 19 floors – is a door that leads to a room where the hotel’s two staff elevators are located. One of them is broken, but the other runs super fast and reliably without a hint of glitch. That’s the silver lining of this little report from Singapore.
I shot this orchard in a nearby garden yesterday.
Currently visiting Singapore for a few days of research on autonomous vehicles (AV:s). Flew in late yesterday afternoon on a Airbus 319 from Copenhagen. It’s been 16 years since my latest visit, so obviously much has changed. Especially the cityscape which now has probably 10 times as many skyscrapers as when I was here in 2002.
I’m staying in the Bugis neighborhood, an artsy, culinary and rustic areas named after the Buginese people from the Indonesian island of Surawese. Apparently, the Buginese were seafarers/pirates/traders that roamed the Singapore Straits before the arrival of the British. Won’t have much time to explore much of Bugis during my short sstay, but I do hope to be able to enjoy at least a meal there.
Yet another storm front is sweeping through southern Sweden today. I’m heading eastwards for an assignment. Hope for some better weather by my return on Saturday. Maybe we’ll even get some serious snowfall to lighten things up a bit.
Shot this short swan film a while back – just after the winter’s first snow and stabilizing cold front had arrived.
You know that weird feeling of being watched? That’s what I felt last night here in Malmö while having sushi with a friend. After a few rolls, I panned up to my left and saw this big red tropical fish staring down at me. It was totally fixated and clearly focused on giving me a huge guilt trip. Maybe it’s time to give up sushi? Shots were taken with my phone in pretty horrible lighting conditions.
There’s always an anti-climax after a really fun trip. Especially when returning home this time of year. Precipitously exchanging sunny southern California for the frigid and mostly achromatic southern Sweden takes time readjust to. I keep forgetting this.
I used to think that the older I became, the more enlightened I would get. That all those dense tree rings packed with collated experiences are somehow neurally inter-connected, providing an arsenal of shiny insights, a subtle form of clairvoyance, to help me navigate through the maze of life.
I’m increasingly skeptical to this line of thought.
Unless you somehow remain in a perpetually motionless state (which may actually be the hidden key here), it seems that much of one’s acquired experiences are more or less inapplicable. At least when trying to figure out the really important stuff.
Maybe life’s just too fluid. Like floating downstream on a feisty river. Each set of rocks you managed to flow over or survive through are so unique, that what you’ve learned from previous encounters has marginal value. Which on the other hand keeps life unpredictably exciting. As long as there’s a reasonably long stretch of calmness in-between the string of rapids.
I can only deduce that the aforementioned river metaphor stems from the horror movie Bird Box which I saw last week.
At best we can admire their architecture, engineering, and longevity.
But fundamentally, walls intended to separate people because of opposing beliefs, opinions and economic differences are nothing but proof of failure. Failure to focus on our commonality, and, ultimately our humanity. They are at best a quick fix but inevitably doomed to fall.
No trip to L.A. would feel complete without a visit to Palisades Park where I shot this aloe plant at. The park’s north end is on the border between Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades and it stretches thinly along the bluff above the Pacific Coast Highway and all the way down to the Santa Monica Pier sign. The park is meticulously maintained yet never, ever crowded. There are plenty of places for picnics, playing chess or shuffleboard. There’s even a camera obscura somewhere in the middle of the park.
When we were living in Santa Monica during the fall and winter of 2013-2014, Charlotte and I would either together or separately run the park’s entire length, then jog down to the end of the pier, cross over to the bike path and run up the stairs, take the bridge over PCH and then run up the walkway to Idaho Avenue where are apartment was. Can’t remember the distance, but it may be around 5k.
I didn’t run in the park during this last visit, but I did walk up and down its length all the while admiring the season’s spectacular flora. Though I’ve not seen any winter flowers here in Malmö, it’s still unusually green for January. #hopingforanearlyspring
Back in Sweden again after an uneventful flight over the Atlantic and a short ride from Gatwick to Copenhagen. Saw a couple of pretty bad films on the way over, but one classic and seemingly always current, All the President’s Men with a very young Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.
Shot this from the rooftop at H Hotel where we stayed our last night near the entrance to LAX.
Here’s what I’ve been eating for breakfast during the last week. The Breakfast Bagel they serve at Coffee Coffee in Leucadia/Encinitas is among the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. It comes with avocado, scrambled eggs, cream cheese, onions, tomatoes and is perfectly salted and peppered.
It’s almost time to leave Southern California. The sun was out again this morning, but it rained heavily here in Encinitas last night and I heard L.A. received a torrential downpour with some flash flooding, even.
I’ve already packed my stuff, including the yoga mat, wetsuit, camera gear and drone. Not looking forward to leaving. Like my heart, the suitcase now feels heavier somehow. Could be all the sand residue from pretty much every beach we’ve surfed on since arriving almost three weeks ago.
With the amazing family gatherings, great surfing, plenty of sunshine, friendly smiles and all the sumptuous breakfasts, lunches and dinners, how could leaving California feel anything but a bit melancholic? That said, I feel there’s now more than ever an incentive to return soon again.
I’ve surfed on beaches of Maui, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Miami, Malibu and probably a half dozen other places – including some dubious spots in Sweden. Though I’m by no means a great surfer, at best I could pass for an enthusiastic novice, for years I have been in love – addicted even – to the idea of becoming one with the waves. I used to dive a lot, but today I find that it’s too complicated.
Yesterday afternoon, while in the water waiting for the right lefty to appear, I thought about how similar surfing is to skiing. At least insofar that both provide an epic, adrenalin injecting nature experiences.
At this point in life, carving my way down a steep mountain slope or riding a tall wave to shore, are two amazing ways to keep me young in mind, body, and heart.
Here’s a truly unique group photo from last night’s Raboff Family Gathering. We took it after dinner at the taco shop I wrote about in a previous post and then continued the evening in the cozy outdoor garden of a nearby bar here in Leucadia.
My father Ernest Raboff was married four times and as far as we know, he fathered a total of six children. Through their mother Adeline, my three youngest siblings belong to the ancient Native American Indian Gwich’in people.
In addition to seeing my brother Evon D’Angeles for the first time since he was two or three years old, and my sister Princess Bethany whom I’ve not hung out with since Paris in 2015, the “Swedish Raboff’s” got to spend the evening with the amazing “Alaskan Raboff’s«. The evening could only have gotten better if brothers Nick and Odin with their respective families could have joined us. And Tyko, of course.
I’m really pleased that Elle got to meet and spend time with her cousins and hope she enjoyed hearing at least some of the evening’s many historical accounts and peculiar anecdotes our father Ernest so generously left behind.
Given that we live in Sweden, a part of the world where sunshine is a rarity, at least this time of year, the Raboff’s are currently stocking up on natural vitamin D while here in southern California. And aside from a bit dreary weather in Joshua Tree on the 31st of December last year, we’ve enjoyed nothing but beautiful, albeit somewhat chilly weather, during our visit.
After Elle’s an my morning surf at Moonlight Beach and then breakfast, I spent an hour or so just laying on the rocks at Beacon’s Beach, straight up the road from Surfhouse, the place where we’re staying while in Encinitas.
Whenever I watch surfers, after a while I tend to get twitchy and yearn to get in the waves myself. Which is exactly what I did after this timelapse was completed.
At the beach again. I don’t think the year could have started much better. We woke up yesterday in the frosty desert at Joshua Tree and drove west towards the sun – as far as the highway would take us. At the small surf community of Encinitas, just north of San Diego and south of Carlsbad, we checked into a motel located just a few hundred yards from what looks like a decent beach break.
No matter how much you disagree with the country’s current pathologically deranged leadership, the food frenzy, entitlement madness or shopoholism, there’s just no denying that the US of A offers some of the most astonishing nature experiences in the world. Which is primarily why I enjoy returning again and again.
I am in awe of California. With its forests, deserts, coastline, and mountains – all in close proximity to each other, visitors and locals alike have an amazing buffet of goodness to enjoy in the “Golden State”.
My very first visit to Joshua Tree was 15 years ago and my brother Nick and I camped out there for a few nights. I think it was near the park’s Hidden Valley. I was awestruck by how vast and unworldly the landscape was.
I’ve returned a couple of times since then with Elle and Charlotte and all three of us are just as mesmerized as I first was.
We’re celebrating New Year’s in the alwasy beautiful Joshua Tree National Park where, eventually, an inspiring travel story will emerge. This is my third visit and I’m still in awe of the scenery. Wish everone of you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year! Let’s also hope that 2019 will bring an end to at least some of the world’s madness and the madmen that create it.
I love cycling, rollerblading and skateboarding along the Venice Bike Path here in Southern California. The bike path stretches from the south end below the base of the hills at Palos Verdes Peninsula all the way up north to Will Rogers State Beach in the Pacific Palisades area.
There’s something inherently democratic about the Venice Bike Path. It welcomes everybody and is such a great way to exercise, get some sun and, of course, street photography. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Los Angeles without spending at least some time along the bike path.
From earlier this morning.
Went to Cow’s End for a hearty Christmas Day breakfast: an everything on it bagel with salmon, cream cheese, capers, onions and a tall double-shot latte made with unsweetened coconut milk. With my hunger assuaged and half my cup still full, I strolled down to the Venice Pier to see if anybody I knew was out surfing. Nobody was. But it was gorgeous nonetheless.
The morning air today was suitably crisp for Christmas Day. Chilly but not cold. Warm enough for shorts but not quite ample for just a tee. It’s sunny with blue skies and that seems to bring out the smiles in folks anywhere I’ve ever travelled. And Venice Beach is certainly no exception.
While it used to amuse me as a stage for both edgy and creative characters, today I don’t much appreciate the freak show part of Venice Beach Boardwalk anymore. It seems as if there’s more emphasis on freaks than on showmanship and real talent these days. Or, maybe I’m just being a curmudgeon. So, I tend to mostly hang around the area that has the pier as its epic center.The sound of the ocean has always had a hypnotic effect on me. Especially here. At night, when traffic dies down on Pacific Avenue, I can hear the ocean ever-so vaguely from our apartment. Or, maybe someone is just heavy-handed on their vaping pipe.
I really love falling asleep to the sound of waves as they reach the shore and gently crepitate into silence. I’ll typically doze off somewhere between two waves rolling in.
In my childhood, a few years before my parents broke up, they rented the bottom floor of a two story wooden house right on Malibu Beach. This is back in the late 1960s – long before Malibu became a reservation for today’s abundantly/astronomically wealthy. Anyway, the beach house had a small porch four or five feet above the sand. At high tide, I would sit on the very edge with my feet dangling over, watching the ocean sweep under the house, give the sand a dark hue and leave golden strands of sparkling seaweed wrapped around the porch’s stilts. What a care-free time it was, indeed.
Despite being a metropolis with millions of mostly struggling urbanites, Los Angeles’ beaches tend to be amazingly empty this time of year. Which is just fine by me. Less is more, as the saying goes.
Stumbled onto to this little critter yesterday afternoon while walking along Pacific Avenue on my way to meet Elle at a surf shop (ZJ’s).
I’ve shot a fair amount of animals in the wild, so I know that it takes timing, having the right settings and some luck to get a good photo. Especially when you know how fleeting the moment is.
That said, this particular squirrel was not only patient with me. It looked almost eager to pose for me and wasn’t at all disturbed or distracted while I fidgeted with the camera’s dials. The only concern it seemed to have was to discern whether or not I was going to be a threat to the nut it had found.
Merry Christmas, everybody!
Here’s what it looked like a few hours ago as we descended on Runway 24L at LAX. Just as soon as the Dreamliner’s wheels touched down on the brightly lit tarmac, did the familiar sense of coming home arrive. It’s hard to explain, let alone convey in writing. I can feel like this in other places, too. Such is the constant traveler’s dilemma. Where is home?
After an extremely smooth immigration process, at least for Elle and myself with our shiny new US passports, the family entered a comfy ÜberX and thereafter the Sri Lankan driver took us straight to our Airbnb apartment on Pacific Avenue. It’s got this perfect address just north of Washington Boulevard near the Venice Beach Pier, a mere block west of the popular Venice Canals (made even more famous by the tv show Californication).
I’ve been a big fan of Airbnb for a half dozen years now and all three of us were positively surprised at how spacious and well-equipped the flat we’ve rented turned out to be. In addition to a large living room, we’ve also got two reasonably big bedrooms, each with ensuite bathrooms, and a kitchen with pretty much everything we need to cook during our week-long stay here.
After unpacking and getting somewhat organized, Elle and I took another Über up to Lincoln and Rose where “our” Whole Foods store is located – just to get something for a late and light evening meal and, more importantly, essentials for tomorrow’s breakfast. Of course, once we got there, the Whole Foods seduction process effectively set in and before we knew it, our cart was overflowing with a bounty of deliciousness. Always a pleasure to contribute to the bustling US economy.
Like with most folks, how I feel about my old hometown is a mixed bag of emotions. Growing up here was often tumultuous, to say the least, and I wish that at least some of my most vivid memories, nightmares really, could forever be forgotten. With age, I’m sure they increasingly will. One of few benefits of growing older. As bad as it often was, there were still some highlights. But in all honesty, I’ve had considerably more fun here as an adult than as a kid. Such is life.
Obviously, much has changed in LA. since the mid to late 70s. Especially in West Hollywood where I grew up. Tower Records on Sunset is gone and the Bowling Alley on Santa Monica where friends and I used to hang after school, has long, long been replaced. As is the amusement park Kiddyland and Ponyland off La Cienega and Beverly. Heck, those places were torn down probably 40 years ago. The famously seedy Barney’s Beanery on Santa Monica continues to do business near the old IHOP – and my old elementary schools Saint Victor’s and Rosewood are still around. Sadly though, most of my old buddies have either moved away or fallen into obscurity. At least in my universe.
We’re heading to Fairfax High School’s weekend flea market later today and through the classic Farmer’s Market was mostly absorbed by flashy strip mall The Grove several decades ago, I can still walk around parts of the old market and recognize myself. And as far as I know, Canter’s Deli is still around just up the street.
Out here on the coast, changes are much subtler and less visually disruptive. Which is probably why I insist on staying in this part of L.A. each time we’re here to work and play. Everything is just so comfortably, almost numbingly familiar. The fresh, salty breeze, wide, sandy beach, the busy bike path, a faint smokey smell of ancient tar coming from under Santa Monica pier, the light blue hues hovering gently just above the Pacific. It’s all the same – just as I remember it from way back when. It’s like a mental tattoo that has only faded a little.
– From a jetlagged Joakim
Here’s an ad I produced for Sky High Meetings on the 53rd and 54th floors of our neighboring skyscraper, the iconic Turning Torso.
From a sumptuous lunch at M. Seger in Stockholm this last week. The open-faced sandwich I chose was flush with avocado, shrimp, salmon and a couple of other indiscernible ingredients, was certainly one of the most tasty creations I’ve ever eaten. Shot with a slightly underperforming iPhone Xs Max – probably due to the poor lighting.
Enjoying a quick visit to the Swedish capital. Interestingly, I seem to make it up here more often during the winter season than any other time of the year. Regardless of when, it’s always a pleasure to visit. Especially when you get to stay at a hotel like Downtown Camper by Scandic.
Last night were invited by the Italian ambassador and the president of Liguria to experience a seven course dinner with specialties from the region that had been designed and cooked by seven of the country’s most renown chefs.
A few years ago, Charlotte and I were on assignment to Cinque Terre and we were impressed by just about everything. Especially the food.
Tonight we’ll join colleagues at the Swedish Association for Travel Journalists for the annual Christmas get-together where undoubtedly hundreds of gingerbread men await to be crunched on and washed down with a steady flow of warm and spicy glögg.
A third in and already December’s been a busy month. It’ll naturally taper off as we near the holidays. But so far, I’ve delivered a short n’ snazzy PR-film, helped redesign of client’s landing page, documented two hotels, worked on half dozen or so new paintings in the studio and written a couple posts here and elsewhere.
Most importantly, and quite frankly a prerequisite for anything and everything I do at this stage in life, is maintaining a reasonably healthy diet and a training regimen that is congruous with my workload and life situation.
Last week, I hit the yoga and qigong mat for a total of six hours and I’m convinced this helped offset some of the stiffness I usually experience this time of year when temperatures and humidity tend to fluctuate dramtically.
I can’t emphasize enough how happy I am for having yoga and qigong in my life. And for finally appreciating how important it is to keep a holistic perspective when making decisions about work, family, food and exercise.
I shot the selfie above on a scorching hot rooftop in Bangkok a few months back during Bikram yoga session.
For whatever reasons, it’s nonetheless been quite a while since I last flew the drone. So, when I noticed yesterday’s fog bank rolling in over Malmö, I persuaded myself to endure the cold, gusty wind and try and get a high altitude shot of the Turning Torso as the fog swept by.
Here’s a collection of footage shot over some of my favorite places in Malmö during the spring, summer and fall of 2018. Turned out that capturing decent, dare I say cinematic quality film from a drone wasn’t nearly as hard as I first thought.
Unsurprisingly, much of the same techniques and considerations apply as when filming on the ground. The biggest challenge, at least as I see it, is achieving useful compositions at heights of up to 120 meters within the time constraints of the batteries ability to keep the aircraft afloat.
Currently working on an editorial project for Hotell Addict about a couple of hotels, one of which just opened here in Helsingborg, The Vault. The shot is from our room’s view tonight.
I really like this town. It’s significantly smaller than Malmö but also more quaint and easier to move around in. The harbor area is just gorgeous and the H99 neighborhood just north of the ferry terminal was somewhat of a blueprint for what eventually became Västra Hamnen.
Back in the hey days of the early 1990s, I spent a half a year in Helsingborg working as a DJ at Sweden’s oldest hotel, Mollbergs. I’d take the train down from Göteborg (where I lived at the time) on Thursdays, check in to one of the hotel’s huge rooms and play soul and funk 9:00 pm until 01:00 am from Thursday to Saturday in the hotel’s dining room. I even had an art exhibit there during the last couple of weeks of my residency.
Yesterday afternoon, I had an hour long talk to seniors at a high school about what it is like to work as professional photographer. The talk was hosted by Transfer Öresund, a non-profit organizaton I’ve been part of for about a decade.
The venue was Sundsgymnasiet, a prominent high school in Vellinge near Malmö. Though I’m confident the class appreciated that I shared a few of my anecdotes, practical tips and philosophies, I sincerely hope that at least some were given an inspiring nudge forward.
I’ve been doing these talks for a number of years and I thoroughly enjoy sharing my experiences. Inspiration has always been a key factor in my life. I think I have a fairly unique ability to immerse into almost any subject and to a degree in which I get inspired.
2018 is slowly but surely coming to an end. A year much dominated by a machiavellian cluster-fucker with full access to nuclear launch codes and no moral compass whatsoever.
On a brighter note, 2018 has been filled with some incredible experiences. One of the most recent – and arguably most important – being our amazing daughter Elle’s eighteenth birthday. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around how fast time flies.
As per usual, the Raboff family has been guilty of deepening its carbon footprint with travels near and far. Much has been work related, which is by no means an excuse, but whatyagonnado?
One of my personal favorites for 2018 was producing a short film that encapsulated the essence of what Condé Nast Traveller Magazine voted India’s formost yoga destination, Bamboo Yoga Retreat in southern Goa. If you have the time, visit this place. The food alone will make the trip worthwhile. And the meditation and yoga classes in the bamboo shalas facing the Indian Ocean are a guaranteed stress reliever. The best part of that gig was that I got to participate in several classes. I shot the majority of this with the Sony A7III with Zeiss 35mm, 18mm and 85mm glass.
Nine Piece Sushi for Bengt-Göran, cried the chef. That was the name of the elderly gentleman that sat next to me during lunch today at Sushi & Salad, a restaurant a few hundred feet from my studio in Malmö’s latest square, Masttorget.
This is crazy. We will soon have six sushi restaurants here in little Västra Hamnen – an area similar in size to Vasastan in Gothenburg, Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm or half of what Santa Monica is in L.A.. Five sushi restaurants! And as opposed to hair salons, which often have cheeky names that range from Hairport, Hairley Davidsson and Hairoscope, the sushi joints here often bear boring names like, Sushibar, Sushi For You or Harbor Sushi. Such humdrum naming should be outlawed! Unfortunately, most of them also have really bad sushi. With the exception of Salad & Sushi, where I often eat lunch and which is exceptionally good for Malmö. Had I opened a place that served sushi, I would of called it, Salmonella & Lice, Raw n’ Ready, or Mouth Sticks.
Back to Bengt-Göran.
While I was drowning my rolls in the soy/wasabi concoction and wolfing them down as if it were the last supper, my neighbor BG sat calmly and cut his nigiri and maki pieces with surgical precision. Sure, he seemed a little misplaced wearing an old pullover and suspenders – but it was clearly visible that he was enjoying the moment more than I. Though I wonder if he really understood that it was raw fish he was eating
We were the restaurant’s first lunch guests today, and I’d barely just finished my last piece of sushi on the now soy-drenched wooden cutting board when a small army of hungry office workers formed a long line at the counter. That’s when Bengt-Göran turned to me and said, “It’s a good thing we arrived when we did, right? Otherwise, we probably would not have had any fish today. ” I nodded in agreement and added, “Yeah, cause you really want your fish on Wednesdays. To myself I thought, heck, I could eat fish every day of the week. The shot of BG was taken with an iPhone XMax and those to the right with a Canon 5Ds during a shoot with a client.
Earlier this week, I launched a new website entirely dedicated to my short film ventures. It covers my most recent commercial productions as well as personal projects, like the instalments in my time capsule series.
The site’s tongue is Swedish, but should stilll be easy enough for English speakers to get around/navigate through.
Now, mosey on over and take a peak: