Enigmative: Crossroads & Personality Test

Here’s another piece for the Enigmative series captured in Porto just a few days ago.

Last night, after watching the first episode of a new and wildly popular Swedish television show about what traits our personalities consist of and how they are formed (genetically and/or environmentally), I downloaded an app and did a personality test connected to the series. Of the Five Big (aka OCEAN), I received the following “score”:

Openness: 102
Conscientiousness: 99
Extraversion: 97
Agreeableness: 92
Neuroticism: 59

The test itself reminded me of those that Scientology offers people that walk by their “churches”. I’ve done a couple of those written tests, at least once in Sweden and definitely, one at their celebrity center on Hollywood Boulevard in L.A. Both took place sometime in the 1980s – but I don’t remember what the incentive was or, even if there was one other than the invitation from a female Scientologist.
The results from yesterday’s test didn’t exactly surprise me. But it would be interesting to take it again in say, 5 or 10 years to see if and how I’ve changed.

Sweden & NATO
Monday. Malmö. Militarily.

After a long day of traveling yesterday, we’re back in Malmö again. I so prefer trains to planes. As efficient as air travel is, the amount of wasted time at airports is mind-numbing and body-crunching. Not to mention how ass-flattening the seats are on low-fare carriers.

When we left about a month ago, Sweden was still formally a neutral country. Now, we’re explicitly part of an expansive military alliance with an enormous nuclear arsenal. Just like when I moved here in 1978, the threat is still the ‘Russian Bear.’ But now I have two citizenships, both of which include me in the NATO club. So now the bear can hate me twice as much…

Sweden’s hypocritical neutrality has always disturbed me, so the country’s NATO membership and the inherent compulsory alignment that comes with joining the club will invariably add a more defined foreign policy. Will joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization be an efficient deterrent to stifle future imperialistic ambitions that the 72-year-old Putin might be pondering? Probably.

But since the Russian president has already threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons several times over (some of which are possibly already stored with his buddy Lukashenko in Belarus), I don’t see how even Article 5 can do anything other than trigger an escalation to the point where Putin feels so cornered that he actually uses a nuke.

The mere threat of a nuclear war in Europe is, in my opinion, still a pretty persuasive deterrent against NATO’s ‘musketeer policy’ should Vlad one day decide to repatriate the Baltic nations and other former USSR satellite states.

Article 5 provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.

The numbers and letters visible in the Enigmative image above reminded me of launch codes. Maybe it’s time to watch War Games again.


Enigmative: Lunch at Olivera

Captured this during yesterday’s long lunch at Olivera. More and more, I’m finding how these handheld, long-exposure moments unveil the unseen, the felt, the lived experiences of my life and look upon the everyday with new eyes.


Enigmative: Life

It’s been about a month since we began traveling around Portugal and to say that we’re now even more spellbound by this country’s beauty and relaxed vibe would be nothing short of a flagrant understatement.

When not writing on the ever-expansive aging book, I’ve been keeping myself occupied by documenting new destinations prior to the launch of Charlotte’s new Algarve website as well as for my forthcoming photography book, “Portugal, Serendipitously”.

Until earlier today between two rain storms, there’s not been much time (or, energy) left over for the “Enigmative” series.

I never have a timeline for any of my personal projects. How could I? You just know when it’s time to finish and move on to the next challenge. So, just as with the Re:Surfaced project, there’s something refreshingly liberating about Enigmative.


Porto & Selina Coworking

This is the gorgeous facade of Selina Coworking aka Charlotte’s office for our week in Porto. The loft apartment a few blocks from Selina that we’ve rented (and from where I do my writing) is nice and roomy but won’t hold a candle to Charlotte’s beautiful working space. We’ve become fans of Selina’s laidback hotel/hostel/coworking concept after staying and/or working at their properties in Thailand (Phuket), Austria (Bad Gastein), and Portugal (Lisbon/Porto).

If you haven’t been to Porto yet, I humbly suggest you put this amazing city at the very top of your bucket list. From now until May is arguably the best time of year for a weeklong visit. Not too hot, not too crowded, and easy to get a table for decent dining.


Views of Porto’s Soul

All three of these views were captured within about two hours during one of our long walks in Porto. There are many photogenic cities in Europe, but I still can’t think of one more visually pleasing than Porto.

Soul – that’s the word that seems to capture the entire essence of Porto in a way that other descriptions I’ve tried to use just don’t manage.

It’s not just the city’s beautiful architecture, cozy alleys, sprawling squares, or vast views that define Porto; it’s the tangible feeling of soulfulness that envelops all the narrow cobblestone streets and echoes between the beautifully tiled houses.

Porto doesn’t just exist; it thrives with a life force so ancient that it never worries about the future. An attitude makes me a bit envious.

The soulfulness here is like an invitation to slow down, to savor every instant and appreciate the details of life and its fleeting moments.

The city encourages me to explore, to connect, and document, so that maybe, just maybe, I can take home a little bit of the city’s restless soul for my next visit. And the next.


Porto’s Art Deco

Returning to Porto is beginning to feel like coming home, a sentiment I share with Lisbon and a handful of other remarkable cities where I’ve had the privilege of staying for extended periods. Among these, Porto stands out as one of the most vibrant and visually intriguing. Like the Portuguese capital, Porto’s terrain is super hilly. And though I’m ignorant in the fields of engineering, construction, and architecture, I can still appreciate the challenges that had to be overcome in this city’s undulating, urban landscape.

The construction of thousands of tall, stone buildings along the city’s steep roads, many leading steeply up from the Rio Douro river and adorned with intricately designed, colorful ceramic tiles – is nothing short of astonishing and what makes Porto so uniquely visit-worthy.

During the 1920s and 1930s, local architects in Porto, much like their counterparts in New York City and Miami, embraced the Art Deco movement with enthusiasm, which explains the numerous stunning facades, and entrances like the one above, so tastefully decorated with design elements from that aesthetically pleasing era.


Leaving Lagos

This is the tiny bridge that you walk over to get to the harbor and beyond that, the beach in Lagos. Leaving the Algarve yesterday felt fine. As beautiful as the nature experiences are in and around Lagos, the city itself is a bit boring and geriatric for my taste. We don’t need more reminders of how old we are, on contraire.

Renting a house next to a cemetery was interesting. The house itself wasn’t much to write home about, though. For what we paid, I found it a bit too dark and surprisingly impractical in many ways. But it still offered us a level of functionality that sufficed for a couple of weeks. It’s obvious to me that I’m getting pickier and pickier as I get older…

I did get a lot of writing done while we were in Lagos, so that’s good. And I’ve now complemented my collection of images from Algarve for the new book, which I am tentatively calling “Portugal Serendipitously” or, “Serendipitously Portugal”  and which should be out within a month.


Surfing Arrifana Beach

From yesterday’s amazing visit to Arrifana Beach near the village of Aljezur. Taking the train today from Faro to Porto and enjoying gorgeous landscapes as they fly by from my seat window.


Our Lagos Neighbors

                                                       Lagos. Saturday. Neighbors.

“Think about death.” That’s what the sign at one of the entrances to Stampen’s cemetery in Gothenburg in Sweden reads. During my youth, I passed this serious reminder daily while taking the tram to have coffee at either two of our favorite cafés, Jungans or Evas Paley, in downtown Göteborg.

In those teenage years, death was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I felt immortal. Today, more than 40 years later, the presence of death is much more tangible, especially now that we live next to a beautiful, old cemetery.

I’m moderately superstitious. I indeed avoid walking under ladders, always handle mirrors with extra care, prefer not to stay on the thirteenth floor of hotels, and I’m reluctant to open umbrellas indoors, even though deep down, I know that superstition is as irrational as believing in ghosts, Santa Claus, or Donald Trump.

Having a few hundred graves as neighbors still affects me. I suppose it serves as a reminder of life’s transience and the end of oour mysteriously undefined timeline here on Earth.

It’s like the ultimate cliffhanger.

We can see most of the cemetery from the house’s three small terraces, and we’ve also walked among the graves a couple of times. There are several impressive mini-mausoleums, and even the simpler graves are adorned with colorful plastic flowers. When we were walking around the cemetery the other day, I was reminded that my mother and grandparents no longer have a dedicated gravesite at the cemetery outside Trollhättan.

Several years ago, my now-dead uncle stopped paying for the grave care, and the Swedish Church has then the right to remove and destroy the gravestone, despite the family having paid for it and the grave’s upkeep for over 30 years.

In 2020, the Swedish Church reported assets of approximately 42 billion kronor. Their refusal to allow the gravestones of Agnes, Eskil, and Solveig Andersson to remain is sufficient proof that the Swedish Church (and all other religious institutions) operate just as ruthlessly profit-driven as any other corporation (or mafia family).

But the significant difference is that the church uses emotional blackmail and threats of going to hell as its primary selling points. When I occasionally choose to eat at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut, at least I know I’m eating bad food and that the advertising is heavily skewed and retouched. No one has yet been able to prove that the church’s lofty promises hold an ounce of truth (no one can disprove their claims either).

I understand why people still cling to religion, especially as we reach a more fragile age. Religion offers a kind of insurance for life’s final journey but without a deductible. Imagine if it turns out there is an all-knowing, all-powerful patriarch/matriarch in a gigantic, heavenly control tower, managing everything in secret, like some kind of Oz? And that death means you do get everything promised in the “brochure,” including semi-opaque angels playing heavenly snippets on sparkling harps.

In the new book I’m working on, among many other things, I touch on death and how we men can handle thoughts about the inevitable without becoming too depressed.

Charlotte suggested that I include the concept of “Swedish Death Cleaning,” which she read about in a book with the same name by author Margareta Magnusson. So now that’s in the book too.

One of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever visited is on the outskirts of Havana, which is ironic considering that the Castro brothers’ version of Marxism doesn’t leave much room for hymns and religion.

Inside the cemetery that has been our neighbor for a few weeks, some of the area’s stately cypresses might be older than the cemetery itself. I wonder if their root systems penetrate the graves and draw nourishment from the bodies of the dead. Maybe the trees are so stately precisely because of the local food chain.

About ten years ago, my friend Jan Axel Olsen died. He and I got to know each other in Gothenburg’s commercial harbor back in the summer of 1988 when we unloaded banana boxes labeled Uncle Tuca, Del Monte, and Chiquita from rusty Russian cargo ships registered in Panama. After that summer, Janne and I kept in touch until his sudden passing.

Janne had previously worked at the large Kviberg cemetery in Gothenburg. When I asked what he did there, whether he dug graves, he replied as usual with quick wit: “Yes, but we called ourselves ‘departure assistants.’”

Long after Kviberg and the banana gig in the harbor, Janne became a lawyer and during his relatively short career, represented, among several other odd clients, the infamous Swedish rap artist Leila K.

About once a week, I visited his office next to the cathedral in Gothenburg, usually before we went out to have lunch. He often talked about his assignments and legal cases, probably more than he should have, and the lunches could sometimes drag on. Just as I now realize this post has done…


Sheltered

I saw this beautiful Art Deco sign during yesterday’s walk in the old town here in Lagos. The Portuguese word Abrigado means “sheltered” or “protected” and is not to be confused with “obrigado” which means thank you. Why the sleek iron sign was placed on that particular wall? I have no idea. But it served as an appropriate reminder that since the dawn of time, we all need to feel sheltered and safe to function in society. At least according to Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs which I’ve condensed below:

• Physiological, basic human survival, including air, water, food, shelter, and sleep.
• Safety, security, income, health, and property.
• Love, belonging, friendship, and deep, meaningful relationships
• Self-esteem, status, recognition, strength, and freedom
• Self-actualization, realizing potential, self-fulfillment, personal growth, and peak experiences

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lagos Morning Beach Jog

We woke up bright and early this morning and headed down to the beach for a long run. The beach here in Lagos (just like most we’ve been to in Portugal) is so beautiful. The way the ocean smells, the sound of the waves, and the color and texture of the sand all remind me of the beaches in Southern California.

There seems to be a great deal of Americans here in Algarve. The few I’ve spoken with have been elated about Portugal, and how gorgeous, affordable, and peaceful it is here. At least this time of year.

As I am spending most days here writing and don’t have the option of standing while doing so, starting off this workweek with an invigorating jog will make sitting on my tushy for the rest of the day feel pretty ok.

Shot a few clips of Charlotte jogging this morning. Viewable on Instagram.


Round Trip To Portimão

Yesterday, we visited Portimão, a nearby seaside resort town with a cute train station, a few gorgeous Art Deco-era buildings (one of which is pictured above), and not much more. Most cafés and restaurants in Portimao, a much bigger city than Lagos – the town we are living in during our time here in the Algarve – were closed for the winter, which is one of the few drawbacks of traveling off-seasonally. Somewhat disappointed, we only stayed in Portimão for a couple of hours and took the train back to Lagos. The rest of Saturday afternoon we spent hiking along the dramatic coast.

After 20km, 25.000 steps, and 29 floors, we limped our way to a cozy harbor restaurant where we ordered a couple of beers, a plate of crispy fish n’ chips, and a juicy cheeseburger with fries. Needless to say, especially after our long walk and eating salads for a week straight, our meal was spectacularly delicious.


Lagos: Boardwalk Run

Back from a nice 5k run in optimal jogging weather. The beautiful coast of Lagos is lined with wooden boardwalks, which have become more abundant since our first visit in 2021. These boardwalks are sturdy, and sufficiently wide to accommodate both runners and walkers comfortably. Moreover, they provide an excellent means of accessing the beach without harming the local flora. Being elevated about a meter or so above the ground, they also offer great views of the sea and the gorgeous coastal landscape.


Lagos of Portugal
We’re in Lagos again and thankfully it’s nowhere near as busy/crowded as Lisbon was. The small house we’ve rented for a couple of weeks is perfect for our needs. Two bathrooms, a full kitchen, outdoor patios and a comfy bed. The house itself is literally sandwiched between a tiny local Portuguese BBQ restaurant and a beautiful old cemetery.

After a long morning run along the beach and then about five hours of focused writing yesterday, Charlotte and I ate leftovers for lunch before heading out for a hike along Lagos’s dramatic coastline in gorgeous weather.

The year’s first book has just gone live on the Swedish Amazon site. It will be available internationally in another week, hence my hesitation to link to it just yet.


Southbound: Lagos

Settled in the thirty-third and thirty-fourth seats of this train’s eleventh car,  we find ourselves en route to Lagos in the Algarve, embarking from the decidedly futuristic—albeit obsessively concrete—confines of Lisbon’s Oriente station. This enormous structure, a brainchild of the Spanish architect and sculptor Santiago Calatrava (the very same individual responsible for the Turning Torso in Malmö), serves as our departure point.

There exists, as is often the case, a certain melancholia in bidding adieu to the congenial environs of the Portuguese capital. Yet, with habitual optimism, we have pledged a soon return.

Our departure from the hotel in Principe Real was marked by wide smiles from yet another splendid breakfast courtesy of the dining hall’s Brazilian matron. Her ebullience, coupled with an inexhaustible reserve of laughter and warmth, stood in stark contrast to the previous night’s escapade—a foray into the maw of a classic tourist trap, where a Herculean waiter demanded (but received neither) cash nor gratuity for service that was as graceless as it was curt. One is reminded, somewhat painfully, that age offers no immunity to such pitfalls. Nevertheless, the adept Fado performers and the delightful company of Maria and Lars-Vidar salvaged the evening from utter ruin.

Our current companions on this journey south include a medley of garrulous North Americans—indistinguishable as Canadians or citizens of the United States—and German speakers, possibly Germans or Austrians, along with a reticent couple, possibly hailing from Asia, burdened with an inordinate amount of luggage. The majority of our fellow passengers seem to share our chronological vintage, though my perception—possibly a form of denial—casts them as decidedly more senior.

Adjacent to me sits the charming Charlotte Attenborough, who, with a zeal bordering on the fanatical, narrates the unfolding panorama beyond her large window seat.

There’s an air of the surreal in commencing a workweek this February by descending to the southern reaches of Portugal, where, if the digital oracle that is the weather app on my phone proves accurate, we shall be greeted by sunny skies and a temperate 18°C (64°F).

Nearly a decade has passed since my first visit to Portugal, making today’s journey a seminal train voyage for us as a duo. Each lengthy rail ride evokes memories of the exhilarating days spent backpacking across Europe in the early ’80s, adventures that eventually emboldened me to traverse the diverse landscapes of Southeast Asia and the Southwest USA in subsequent years.

Now, with Charlotte succumbed to slumber and the landscape blurring unnoticed into obscurity, save for the intermittent outbursts of a German baritone voice several rows ahead, tranquility descends upon car number eleven. I intend to recline further in my seat and catch up with some much-needed sleep.


Return to Lisbon

Portugal. Sunday. Sunny. Saúde.

As happy as ever to see Lisbon again. This city is easily Europe’s most photogenic capital and even though it doesn’t offer any of the bombastic sights that have made Paris, Rome, London, or even Madrid famous (and claustrophobically overcrowded), Lisbon’s gorgeous patina, ancient architecture, colorful tiled facades, and laid-back ambiance continue to keep it securely in the top five of my favorite cities in the world.

This visit, we’re staying in a hotel housed in a stone building more than 200 years old along the steepest stretch of Principe Real, opposite Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, arguably one of the best viewpoints of Lisbon’s seven hills.

Taking a long train runnin’ tomorrow morning. Heading south to the Algarve to finish the aging book, work on a new website about the region’s coolest hotels, surf and absorb some natural Vitamin D

More of my images from Lisbon can be viewed here:

#lisbonlovers #lisbonportugal #saúde #portugal #soulful #principereal #alafama #graça


Enigmative: The Self Healer

I find myself increasingly enthused about abstract photography, primarily because of the challenge it presents in letting go of compositional rules and aesthetic boundaries. This process is exhilarating; it pushes me to explore beyond the conventional and delve into a realm of pure creativity. Just like in abstract painting and fiction writing, there’s a thrilling sense of freedom and unpredictability involved in this new “Enigmative” series.

Each click of the shutter button is like a portal into the unknown, where colors, shapes, and textures intertwine in totally unexpected ways. Not only is my artistic elasticity put to the test, but the process also allows me to express emotions and invite unconventional ideas in a way that’s unrestricted by the rigid frameworks of traditional landscape, architectural, and portrait photography. Not that I can’t find enjoyment in these genres of photography, but being able to let go and be independent of the typical subject matters that “demand” to be captured and inherently need some technical considerations before being immortalized, is wonderfully liberating.


Enigmative: Sextalk

So the book about aging is moving along and should be completed by mid to late February. So far the hardest chapters to finish are about male health and sexuality from both a physiological,  emotional and cultural perspective.

Let’s not kid ourselves too much; aging can have a tremendous impact on our sex life, one of the most pleasurable benefits of being human and arguably one of just a handful of experiences that make life’s lesser fun stuff endurable.

I’m fascinated that we men don’t talk about how aging impacts our sexlife and other health related topics. And believe me, I’ve tried and tried and tried. What are we so anxious about? That we’ll jinx ourselves and wind up with more crap than what’s already written in the stars?

Interestingly, over the last several years, it’s become perfectly normal for women to talk about being in menopause and how that phase in a woman’s life manifests itself on multiple levels.

But since we men don’t talk about our health very much or barely at all, I’ve included this important topic in the aging book.

Turns out that as we get into our 50s and 60s, the production of the hormone testosterone decreases and the likelihood of having issues with our prostate gland increases.

The decline in testosterone production, a condition sometimes referred to as andropause or male menopause, can lead to several physiological, mental, and emotional changes in a man’s life.

Physiologically, reduced testosterone levels are commonly associated with decreased muscle mass and strength, increased body fat, and reduced bone density. And there can also be a decline in sexual performance, including “limp dick”, i.e. erectile dysfunction. Other physical symptoms might include feeling fatigued and a drop in overall energy levels.

As if that wasn’t enough, statistically, about 50% of men in their 50s have some form of prostate enlargement, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This number increases, reaching up to a whopping 90% in men in their 80s and 90s. Similarly, developing prostate cancer also increases with age.

As depressing as this all sounds, I’m still 100% convinced that by talking about it, we men would feel better knowing that we’re not alone.

Sharing is caring.

The photo above is part of the Enigmative series.


Enigmative: Confused Confucius

So for the time being, I’ll be calling the new art project “Enigmative” which is made up word from a concoction or amalgamation of the words enigmatic and imaginative. I’m enjoying the discovery phase of this new series. The haphazard nature of the process and the outcome’s unpredictability make each new long, handheld exposure exciting to view once the camera’s done rendering. Colors, shapes, and composition are always front and center, but now each image in the series must also represent a mere abstraction of the motif used to create it to even qualify for consideration.


Updated: My Google Map

I just updated my Google travel map with a few places that I’d forgotten to add, including Cornwall/UK, Saigon/Vietnam, Naha/Okinawa, and Ischia/Italy. Being able to visualize travels like this is pretty darn cool – not to mention that it reminds me of the privilege of having a profession that has taken me to all these amazing destinations.

If back in 1983 someone had forecasted that I would soon begin traveling far and wide to exotic lands, exploring bustling megacities in Africa and Asia, surfing on Hawaiin waves, and skiing below iconic mountains in Sweden and across the Alps, I would have probably said something along the lines of, “yeah, right, that’s going to happen”. This map serves as a reminder, a pinch to the arm, an injection of humble pie. The above photo is from my most recent skitrip to Chamonix/France.

 

 


Roadrunning & Wanderlust

Captured this in one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been lucky to have visited a couple of times, Porto, Portugal. As someone who has traveled extensively for decades, I find a kindred spirit in the late Anthony Bourdain, whose life and travels were poignantly captured in the documentary “Roadrunner”. I recently rewatched it as it not only highlighted Bourdain’s zeal for exploration, it also unveiled his labyrinthian pursuit of sustainable happiness, something I can easily relate to.

Like Bourdain, my journeys are also marked by an appreciation for taking part in the simplicity of everyday life and the serendipitous connections I make with people wherever I travel.

A cliché for sure, but traveling is a way of life. It’s an addiction to newness, challenges, and an unsatiable quest for meaning and understanding of the human experience. And yes, sometimes, traveling is nothing more than a fleeting remedy for boredom and inner restlessness.

As sad as Bourdain’s life ended, to me, the documentary’s takeaway is nevertheless a poignant explainer of the deeper, more intricate reasons behind chronic wanderlust. It’s a tale of a relentless search for connection and peace, a narrative that resonates with me and many others who find some weird kind of soul-soothing solace in the ever-changing milieus that our travels provide.


Big Book Dreams
Thankfully, January is almost over. In about a month, it’s adieu to February and that means we can say hello to March! I even noticed a hint of light on the horizon as I returned from the gym early this morning. Not much more than an inkling, but a sign nonetheless.

I’m finally in the last phase of the year’s first book project. Late last night I handed over the digital inlay to David, my trusty Art Director, for touchups and tweaks. Last year I produced four separate books bringing the total amount up to twenty-two. If all goes as planned, by the end of 2024, I’ll have authored at least as many as in 2023. Half of which will consist of images from a specific place and half will be filled with my writing. Dream big, right?

Unsurprisingly, it’s been a lot less hard to compile 250 pages of my photographs than it has for me to compose prose for a book without any images whatsoever. Although I could argue that letters, words, and sentences are in themselves images and symbols that represent subjects, ideas and emotions.

There are so many different ways to express thoughts in words when compared with the relatively easy process of curating a limited collection of images and then choosing which to include in a book. I’m eternally thankful that I have the option to do both. Especially now that I’m at an age where filling my time with meaningfulness is becoming increasingly important on an existential level.


Friends & A Stored, Storied Swan

I don’t know exactly why, perhaps it’s the book about aging I’m working on that’s making me think about relationships and the shared history I have with so many people I’ve met and gotten to know throughout my life. I haven’t even tried counting, but at 60, it’s got to be a significant number of relationships of varying length and depth. Some were only hours long while others have lasted multiple decades. I reunited with one of my oldest friends from L.A. just last summer.

What makes these thoughts so interesting to me is that most of all of these relationships began with great enthusiasm and assertiveness that we’d always be friends and always keep in touch. This mindset was especially true in my younger years when it seemed so much easier to make new friends. I suppose with age, we become anxious, overly cautious, and guarded when a serendipitous opportunity to get to know someone new arrives at our doorstep.

Or, maybe as we age, we just don’t have time in our lives for new, superficial friendships that don’t appear to add something substantially positive to our journey.

The other evening at dinner, Charlotte and I talked about creating some kind of timeline to visualize our many travels and adventures. Thankfully, I’ve always maintained my photography and film archives and kept them organized and properly backed up (onsite and offsite). All of my trips are neatly sorted, stacked, and structured by continent, country, city, and year. And since the vast majority of all images are in a RAW file format (with EXIF date baked into each file), I can easily trace the month, date, and time of each exposure as well. So, one day, I’ll be able to create a timeline illustrated with my photographs that date back as far as at least late 1996.

I’m currently plowing my way through images I’ve got archived from 22 years of living in Malmö’s Västra Hamnen district. I’m doing this for a brand new 200+ page coffee table book with a curated, créme-de-la-créme collection of photographs from this ever-evolving, increasingly sprawling neighborhood.

It was while going through the year 2013 that I stumbled onto this fine feather friend.

#aging #friendship #thejourney


Winter & Icicles
Back in the cold – but kinda gorgeous hood – again. Even January has a day or two when icicles sparkle in the sun and our local birds line up for a quick shoot. More snow is apparently on the way. I much prefer snow to rain this time of year. If I have to choose, I mean.

Abstractica: Frayed & Fizzled

I saw this terrific Magnum exhibition last week at the bullfighting arena in Malaga and it reminded me of how much I used to love editorial photography and serendipitously captured street scenes.

I’m still figuring out this “Abstractica” concept and if it’s something I want to pursue and investigate on a deeper level. The above image was created one evening during the Three King weekend celebration in Spain.


ABSTRACTICA: FLOWERFUL

I created this “Abstractica” with an old camera from Japan while in Spain and I’m calling it “Flowerful” as it reminds me of blossoming tulip bulbs I saw early one morning at a Flower Market in Holland.


Winter Wishes

Captured this a while back while on a long walk along our nearest beach, Ribersborgsstrand. I would love for a huge snow dump to arrive and that it stayed until mid-March, as it did back in 2012. As long as it’s consistently cold, I’m okay with winters down here in the south of Sweden. It’s the inconsistency, the soul-crushing rain, cold, snow, slush, and bone-chilling wind that eventually gets to me.


Spirit of 24

As this is one of my first published images in what I think might be my next artistic endeavor, a series that I might call “Pictura Luminis” which means painting with light in Latin, I gave it the title “Spirit of 24”.

Like the image in the previous post, I created this too using the “Bulb” exposure function and “painted” with light by intentionally moving the camera for 2-3 seconds with the equivalent of f32.

2024 – A new hope. A new year. I know it’s just a number, but there is nonetheless something special about the start of each new year. It’s a meta opportunity to leave stuff (habits, behavior, dreams, demons) behind and begin afresh creatively, emotionally, and, yes, spiritually.

Spiritually?

Well, yes. Not in a religious sense. I mean more like lifting up one’s sense of being, our consciousness, and choosing to see the lighter side of life as opposed to the doldrums and drudgery. Discovering this (for me) new way of creating images the other day might prove to be a great start for the new year for me. At least creatively.


Abstract Photography

While in Spain and when not writing, I’ve been creating a series of abstract images using a fixed lens (35mm) camera which I’ve alternatively set to either one second’s exposure and “Bulb” exposure. “Bulb” predates the invention of flash photography and with this setting, as long as I press the shutter button, the shutter is kept open. To prevent overexposure (when too much light comes through the lens), I use a so-called Neutral Density filter that darkens the lens and allows for longer exposures, even when the light source is strong and intense. Such as with the above image which I captured during a sunset a few days ago. Instead of securing the camera on a tripod or increasing its sensitivity, abstract photography is all about embracing serendipity and allowing movement and shakes to “paint” an interesting image using the subject itself as a canvas.


Marinated Spanish Olives and Roasted Almonds

I am so addicted to marinated olives and roasted almonds, that it’s usually the first thing I buy as soon as I arrive in Spain. I often yearn to revisit some of my favorite places just because I want to eat something that has struck a resounding culinary chord with me. As deliciously succulent and wonderfully meaty as marinated Spanish olives certainly are, when compared with Greek and even Turkish olives, they rank in third place. On the other hand, much of the small-batch jamon here is just otherworldly tasty and has no real competition.


Nerja

It took only a few hours walking around in Nerja for me to grasp how beautiful the city is. The afternoon light is just spectacular. Nerja is definitely up there with seaside towns like Ericeira (Portugal) and Ibiza Old Town. Shot this scene last night.


In Memory of Tyko

In Memory of
Tyko Blake Eskil Raboff

July 21, 1967-January 3, 2003


Inner Travel

In retrospect, 2023 turned out to be yet another incredibly creative year. Four books, two exhibits, one pop-up gallery and about 12 new paintings. So I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Still, I didn’t feel like I was able to strike the right balance between being creative and sharing my creativity. What I am trying to say is that I spent a bit too much time creating stuff so that I could share it online instead of working on more substantive projects, like writing and painting.

What I shared on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp certainly did have value and I might integrate some of what I filmed, painted, and photographed throughout the year further down the road, in an exhibit or a book project.

But the engine, the driving force and my MO was still often just to feed the endlessly scrolling news feed. Not good. I recognize now that I will have to cut back, retreat, and seclude myself to get the really challenging and fulfilling stuff done. Traveling again soon. Mostly inwardly, but also toward the sun. Not far from where the above scene was captured.


New Year’s Eve

From yesterday’s magical New Year’s Eve that we will not soon forget. First, a delicious lunch with lobster soup, halibut, and tasty drinks at Mats and Ing-Marie Stadigh’s place. Then, Charlotte and I treated us all to a “French 75,” a pre-dinner cocktail accompanied by a slice of baguette topped with tuna tartare, wasabi, avocado, and roe from northern Sweden (Kalix). Following that, a New Year’s dinner continued with a focus on seafood, featuring crayfish, oysters, shrimp, and other delicacies. Champagne? Plenty!

There were many laughs, and despite the rain and gloomy weather, the old year was celebrated properly to make way for 2024, in the company of good friends and neighbors. The entire gallery of images can be viewed here.