Mesmerized by Clouds

Under the Storm

Specialty Coffee at Budhas Roastery

Experiencing something totally new is especially exciting and I’m the first to admit of being a junkie of almost anything that tickles my curiosity.

So, when the opportunity to gain some rudimentary insight and subsequently produce an article about the amazing story of a former Balinese DJ and his wife/partner running a popular specialty coffee café in the far north of Sweden arrived, I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

For about half a day, I hung around one of the country’s foremost experts on the subject, the Master Coffee Roaster, and long-time protector of the Coffee Galaxy’s Light Side, Budha Sutedja (pictured above) and his wife, Katarina Johansson at their extremely popular café in Lycksele, Lapland, Sweden.

During my short visit, Budha guided me gently through some of the fundamentals of the intricate – some would even say scientific – roasting process, all the while hammering in the importance of being mindful about the symbiosis of mouth and nose when reporting and recounting some of specialty coffee’s amazing plethora of flavors and smells.

Stay tuned for more on this percolating topic. 


10k Norrland Run: Umeå River

The weather here in Umeå is spectacular. Much warmer and dryer than in Malmö right now, I’m told. I headed out early this morning for what turned out to be a most refreshing and rejuvenating run along Umeåälven, a river that is approximately 400km long and is connected with smaller waterways and river veins that originate as far west as Norway.


Lycksele, Lapland

Short trip to Lycksele in the southern reaches of Lappland Province. First time here but I feel the same blissful calmness as when in Rikgränsen. Budhas Kafferosteri, Vindel River and the rapids of Vormforsen are included in my assignment to convey what I still think is one of the most beautiful and exotic regions in Scandinavia. I took the above shot last night after an excellent char and mash potato dinner at Hotell Lappland on the Umeå River, where I’m staying.


Today’s Wedding Anniversary

The 15 of August is special. Very special. It marks Charlotte’s and my wedding anniversary. We were married 19 years ago today at Brunnby Church between Arild’s chapel – where we got engaged exactly a year earlier – and where both Charlotte and our daughter Elle were baptized. Our wedding dinner was celebrated royally with about 100 good friends and relatives at Mölle by the Sea. A spectacularly joyous event, by any definition.

So here we are a year before celebrating our “Porcelain Anniversary. It’s long been clear to us how unique our relationship is. Fact is, we only have but a few friends who can honestly say the same about their marriage. Many seem to live together for convenience and seem almost to embrace every opportunity to quibble and fight.

Not that we haven’t seen our fair share of challenges along the way. But because our love grew out of genuine friendship and has always been based on respect for each other, we are able to shield ourselves from whatever obstacles life throws at us.

If you ask me, what characterizes our marriage most though, is that we always have fun together. That’s how it’s been since we met for the very first time back in 1996. In our lives, laughter is never far away, and although we don’t have the exact same sense of humor, we can always find common topics and situations that make us laugh hysterically. Fortunately, our amazing daughter Elle has inherited our ability to laugh at ourselves and the weird stuff that just seems to happen once in a while. That’s an magnificent inheritance, indeed.

Tonight, somewhere in Copenhagen, we’ll lift our Champagne glasses, smile at each other and rejoice for yet another great year together.


A Momentary Lapse of Time

Shot today, Sunday the 13th using an old iPhone 6s and my constant pocket companion, the ever-so versatile iPhone 7+.


Crayfish Commie Critters

Historically, I don’t think this has ever happened before. Probably won’t be a sequel, either. Consequentially, I’m feeling some physical fatigue after two back-to-back crayfish parties. Combined, Charlotte (pictured blurrely above) and I likely chewed and sucked my way through a hundred of them lil’ red Chinese and Turkish critters.


Form today’s FarEast 28R World Championships 2017

Reviewed: Tallldungens Gårdshotell

Though only about 1.5 hours from Copenhagen International Airport (a little less from Malmö across the border), once you arrive at Talldungens Gårdshotell, the contrast couldn’t be more visually profound.

Just a few clicks from the gorgeous east coast of Sweden to where softly rolling hills and lush green valleys of Österlen take over the landscape, is where you’ll find a uniquely picturesque farmstead called, Talldungen Gårdshotell.

This bright yellow hotel is neatly nestled in a small grove of towering, ancient pine trees just outside the tiny village of Brösarp.

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Flower Power in Västra Hamnen

In da Woods

Shot this beautiful house last night sometime in between the third and fourth course of a fabulous dinner at Talldungen – a rural hotel just outside of Brösarp in Österlen, the that stretches along the eastern seaboard of Skåne County in southern Sweden. Talldungen will be part of an upcoming “Sweden Weekend Getaway” story.


The Motto

The other day I remembered that I’d once had a postcard sized framed text hanging just above the light switch in the bathroom of my old bachelor pad in Göteborg. It had a single statement that read,

“Never do nothing.”.

I can’t remember whether I coined that phrase – or just stole it. In any case, the three words worked well for me then – and I still try to live by them today.

The objective of hanging the motto was to remind me to stop avoiding challenges. It gave me a well-needed shout-out to take a driver’s seat approach to life and steer forcefully towards my goals – however lofty or banal they were.

The motto also inspired me to start making mental to-do lists and then consciously rank them in accordance with what I thought could be reasonably accomplished each day.

As a consequence, I started competing with myself. A habit I’ve continued with ever since.

Admittedly, at that stage of my life, in the mid 1980s, I certainly needed something to get me to stop procrastinating. Back then, I was dividing my days between painting canvases in my kitchen studio, working part-time as a substitute teacher in (Philosophy, English and Art) and spending weekends either working for or patronizing several of Göteborg’s most popular bars and restaurants.

It was both a creative period (in which I produced some 200 paintings), but also an undeniably self-destructive era where I indulged in way too much of pretty much everything.

I remember often feeling guilty for not working harder at my burgeoning career as a painter of abstract art and eventually taking the plunge to work full-time as an artist. And to make matters worse, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle I led back then really took its toll on my ability to focus. There were just too many distractions and diversions. And because I’ve periodically had a hard time making decisions, I’d often end up doing absolutely nothing. Nothing meaningful, anyway.

I won’t go as far as to say that thanks to the framed motto, everything turned around for me. But it certainly helped remind me to never do nothing.


Rebecca Reflection

As I was working on this image, I was ever-so lightly reminded of David Hockney’s iconic painting, “Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool” which is part of a themed series from his very first visit to L.A in the 1960s. The model in my piece is Rebecca, a former elite level competitive swimmer. We spent a couple of hours in shooting in the pool at Kockum Fritid here in Malmö as part of a commercial assignment to document their various activities.


Quality of life

Earlier this morning, here in Västra Hamnen, Malmö. First a strengthening session at Kockum Fritid’s gym just a few hundred meters from our condo and then a dip in the chilly but refreshing Öresund Sound. Priceless quality of life.


Mini portrait: Anna Eriksmo

I shot this mini portrait with triathlon competitor, Anna Eriksmo a while back. This is a new and tighter edit of a lengthier version. Anna’s so amazingly focused at whatever she does.


Compared to What?

If you don’t dig this, well, then we have one less thing in common. Cool cats, Les McCann and Eddie Harris classic, Compared to What, recorded live for their album, Swiss Movement, at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1969. Aside from the tune’s great grooves, listen to the lyrics. So apt.

 


Nuclear Dusk

The Organic Forecast

Beau Vallon Beach, Seychelles

Last Night’s Plane

King of Palms

The Strawman’s Hut, Seychelles

Tyko Blake Eskil Raboff

Fifty years old. That’s what my younger brother Tyko would have been today, on the 21st of July.

It’s been a while since he quietly slipped away, alone and without hope in a dreary hotel room in Paris. And honestly, these days, I don’t think of Tyko that much. It feels good that I can admit that without feeling guilt. But even though he’s not nearly as present as during those first years after his death, the memory of him isn’t buried so deep or has become too compartmentalized that I can’t still easily recollect how devastated I felt when I received the call from the gendarme in Paris.

Since his and my birthdays are just one day apart, I’ll of course always be reminded of Tyko’s tragic passing. And though today marks one of the year’s sadder days (the other being the date of his death), I still try to spend some of it reminiscing about our old times and remembering the sound of his contagious laugh, boundless, often off-the-charts sick sense of humor and perhaps above all, my brother’s unique ability to be brutally honest about how he felt. Which I intend to do more of going forward…

Rest in peace, Toddles.


Tiki Puka Puka at Trader Vic’s Seychelles

I haven’t been to a Trader Vic’s in probably 45 years. The last time was somewhere in West Hollywood in Los Angeles (on Robertson or San Vincente Blvd?) and it was likely with my mother and one or more of her friends.

I remember being a little freaked out/excited about the Polynesian sculptures, totem poles, warrior masks, ornately carved shields, wooden spears and the restaurant’s huge fire pit.

Tonight we enjoyed a sumptuous three course dinner at Trader Vic’s here in the Seychelles. Like I remembered from my previous visit, almost half a century ago, both the interior and exterior of this Trader Vic’s was richly decorated with the similarly, somewhat sinister looking busts and heads stemming from Maori, Hawaiian and Tahitian mythology as well as a whole lot of other less serious props and trimmings.

Before our meal, we enjoyed two classic Trader Vic cocktails at one of the most well-stocked bars I’ve been served at in a long, long time: Mai Tai and Tiki Puka Puka. The friendly bartender above was literally and physically behind our tasty beverages.


Creepy Crawly Creatures

Senior Sikh Seychelles

Generally speaking, street portraiture is a 50-50 challenge. At least if you like me, prefer letting folks know a few seconds beforehand that they’re about to be digitally eternalized.

No matter where in the world I might be, half the time, my subjects agree wholeheartedly to letting me capture a candid shot of them. The other 50% either turn their heads, raise their hands to cover their faces or get a little pissed off by my audacious behaviour. A combo of all these reactions happens once in a while.

The gentlemen above, an elderly Sikh who was sitting on a park bench in Beau Vallon Beach here in the Seychelles – and whom I presume is a resident but might as well be a tourist, was more than forthcoming and even thankful that I wanted to photograph him. He looked so incredibly content while gazing into the Indian Ocean. Reminiscing memories of yesteryear? Coming to terms with the cycle of life? Feeling at peace with his existence? Or, was he perhaps yearning for the majestic temples of Punjab, hoping to once again stand on sacred ground and unite with friends and family?

In the shade

Slow Sailing Seychelles

Met these slow life specialists during today’s sail excursion to the once privately owned Moyenne Island off the coast of Mahé in the Seychelles.


At Victoria Market in Seychelles

Hot Creole Tuna and Pirates, oh My!

Creole, Indian, African, Chinese and Russian and all kinds of blends and cross pollinations. Yeah, the Seychellians represent a fascinating melting pot of cultures and ethnicities – a beautifully wide and colorful spectrum of folk spread across 115 tropical islands – way off the coast of east Africa in the Indian Ocean – and actually a popular pirate hangout – way before the Somalis started hijacking boats and ships.

Everyone we’ve met so far has been genuinely friendly and the vibe here is as about as easy-going as it is in most of South East Asia. It’s about as beautiful, too. Not quite up there with the Maldives, but pretty close.

A huge difference, on the other hand, is that the weather is considerably more agreeable on the Seychelles than in say, Laos, Burma or Thailand. It’s humid and hot, but with nowhere nearly as unbearably high temperatures or dense humidity. It reminds me of Hawaii’s singularly comfortable climate.

That said, I’ll admit that it was a bit hot and humid during this morning’s 5k jog and my paddle board session a few hours later. And I was literally drenched in sweat after our hour long evening walk along the narrow road to Treasure Cove Hotel & Restaurant. Then again, I was carrying a hefty bunch of camera gear on my back.

Speaking of restaurants, so far, we’ve had two formidable dinners: at the aforementioned Treasure Cove, where I enjoyed a cajun spiced, blackened tuna, and last night’s sumptuous red snapper in ginger and soy sauce at La Perle Noir near our hotel.

Speaking of our hotel…it’s nice and has a really sweet stretch of beach property right in front of our balcony. The staff is kind and helpful. I just wish they could hold off a little on the Karaoke serenading. Spoken like a true curmudgeon…


Meanwhile, in the Seychelles…

Smelly Health

In addition to choosing clothes, accessories and personal care stuff the vast majority of my packing time before a longer trip is dedicated to choosing what photography gear to bring along. Despite trying hard to minimize I still end up packing about 30% more than I end up using. That means if I pack 15kg of camera equipment 5 kilograms of it never actually gets used. Which is both a waste of space and a pain to schlep around.

One of the more crucial items I don’t comprise with is my invaluable stash of chopped oven-baked organic ginger. For about four years now ginger has been my prefereed snuff tobacco ersatz. This morning I made a huge batch for the forthcoming trip and dialed in an absolutely perfect oven temperature to get the little nuggets about 90% dry.

The smell during the drying process can be a bit pungent and the family certainly doesn’t waste any time complaining to me about it. Especially when I managed not to dial in the right temperature and end up charring a full tray of cut ginger. Still I’m pretty sure they’re okay with the occasional smell since the health benefits of my current root-munching habit easily out-way my old nicotine addiction – despite their nasal discomfort. Pros and Cons.


MANHOLE IN STOCKHOLM

Doors into the Future

Whilst in Stockholm, I’m thinking ahead. Not too far into the future. I had dinner with a buddy last night who’s going to be doing that…

No, my focus isn’t further down the road than September or October. As a freelancer, at least at my humble level, you’re never more successful than a few hours after your latest delivery. Which makes coming up with new projects that have commercial viability, a key ingredient to my survival.

Visited the capital’s and arguably Scandinavia’s premier photography mausoleum, Fotografiska, together with a couple of friends yesterday afternoon. Horses with celebs and a considerable collection of Irving Penn’s work is on display. Can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever have anything worthy of being shown there. Not that it really matters. I feel that I get a fair share of recognition through other venues and channels.

After Friday evening’s amazing summer weather with pit stops at Lydmar, East and Strandvägen 1, it’s mostly cloudy now. Hopefully Skåne will provide a couple of days of sunshine before it’s time to head south.