Cows

No Number Cows

I always remove the bright, yellow number tags from the ears of cows, sheep, and goats that I photograph. The tags are not only ugly, but they also remind me of how much easier it must be for their keepers to not have to think of them as living creatures – which in turn I associate with the mindset the Nazis had when they tattooed numbers on prisoners in the labor and death camps. Why not insert a discreet RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip somewhere on the cows/sheep/goats instead?

shophouse

Editing Stills and Film

Still editing and composing a collection of short films from last week’s shoot in Svedala and Malmö. As much as possible, I follow my storyboard chronologically while filming. But much of the “story” I am trying to convey ends up coming together on the timeline – the spot within the editing software where all the individual film clips are placed in chronological order. The thing with editing film (as when compared to editing still images) is that you need to take a break from it in order to fine-tune your story and minimize excessive (boring) sequences. It’s a reductive process, much like cooking a sauce or a soup. You know from the start that you’ll end up with something much closer to your vision but that it’ll take a while to get there.

I am still impressed by the high-resolution film clips produced by the Fujifilm XT-3. At 4K, 25 fps, 10-bit color depth, and 400Mbits/s video, each and every second represents 25 individual images that provide more than enough information to be used as a standalone, printable still photo.

Since the vast majority of my film projects are delivered at 1080p (HD), the abundance of recorded video information allows for generous re-framing options and exposure/color tweaking. So handy.

The shophouse above is from somewhere along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. Shot with the Fuji last year sometime and edited in Lightroom and Photoshop. A lot of folks are opting to move to Capture One as their preferred photo editing software. I’m sure it’s a capable editor. But I don’t see how leaving my current workflow would grant me any creative or time-saving advantages. I know of only one (older) photographer that somewhat strangely uses Adobe Bridge instead of Lightroom’s superior organizational features. Adobe Bridge seems archaic, one of those Swiss Army Knife applications: lots of tools, none of which are implemented very well.

I suppose that’s the way it is. Once you try a piece of software and it gets the job done without getting too much in the way, it becomes hard to abandon. I suppose I’ll be sticking with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Final Cut Pro for a long time yet. Definitely going to dig into Logic, or, at least Garageband sometime over the summer. Really yearning to dip my toes in the music creation universe.

Hard as a rock

Stoicism vs Zen

During a conversation with an old friend in Los Angeles this morning, the ancient philosophy of Stoicism came up. In a nutshell: The ancient philosophy of Stoicism teaches that keeping a calm and rational mind – no matter what happens – will allow you to understand and focus on what you can control and not worry about stuff you can’t.

While I full-heartedly subscribe to Stoicism, I sometimes have the opposite approach. Worry about stuff you have absolutely no way of impacting and leave the stuff you can actually change unchanged.

In this era’s pandemonium, I find myself gravitating towards a zen-like philosophy where I try to apply a meditative vibe to much of what I do. Which isn’t easy and far from smooth, but having this mindset helps me get through some of my mundane obligations and day-to-day trivialities.

We’re living in paradise right now. It’s sunny and warm. Every garden, meadow, and grove is lushly green and brightly colorful. It’s undeniably beautiful this time of year, but also a little overwhelming. Having “off days” are hard-managed when everything outside screams picture-postcard-pretty at you. I don’t know for sure where these cobblestones come from. Possibly Göteborg.

Juneteeth

Juneteenth

Just read this article in the New York Times. I don’t know which is worse – that I had never heard of Juneteenth, that the school system I was enrolled in didn’t consider the historic event important enough to educate me about, or, the shameful fact that the day isn’t a national/public holiday.

For those of you that like me are ignorant about Juneteenth, it’s an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States and an event African-Americans have celebrated since the late 1800s. While it feels messed up to not ever having heard of Juneteeth, it’s emblematic of how lopsided the whole holiday/celebration calendar is in favor of Anglo-Saxon Christians. Not to mention the lackluster curriculum on the topic of slavery and the emancipation of hundreds of thousands of African Americans. Fortunately, we now finally have a president totally focused on this and healing the nation’s cataclysmic divide, socio-economic equality, and global peace.

I don’t remember exactly where I shot this young woman. But I sincerely hope she has a better life than her parents, grandparents, and ancestors likely did her. More importantly, I hope her children don’t have to deal with the rampant racism still so prevalent in our time and age.

Santa Monica Beach

Santa Monica Images

From Santa Monica Beach, somewhere north of the Santa Monica Pier and not far from where I used to surf in the mornings. In the fall of 2013, I often spent whole afternoons walking around the beach, photographing people on the bike path, and in the waves. It felt purposeful, somehow. But above all, these long, daily walks were a meditative, zen-like routine that I enjoyed. I rarely returned to our apartment on 2nd Street without at least a couple of good shots to include in my collection at Santa Monica Images. Like the lady above – one of many colorful people riding up and down the coast.

dumbass cow

Proof: Trump Is A Lot Dumber Than a Cow

That the world is steered by a fair amount of dumb-ass, dimwits with anger management and father issues, has never been more apparent than right now. When Trump recently got on top of his wiggly soapbox (aka twitter feed) and once again made a complete fool of himself, I thought of this operatic cow and how suitable she would be to illustrate Donald’s latest fuckup. While cows tend to be content with staying within their ecosystem and rarely veering off into territory where they just don’t possess enough brain power to function or add value, some humans (mostly men) don’t recognize their mental limitations, yet manage somehow to ascend to dangerously powerful and influential positions.

Here’s Trump’s latest moronic quip:

“It has been suggested that we should rename as many as 10 of our Legendary Military Bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Benning in Georgia, etc. These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.”

Yes, once again, the president of the United States of Ameria has so generously provided us all with a formidable example of his famous, world-class ignorance by not knowing that Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, and Fort Benning were all named after generals who commanded Confederate forces, an army that fought for slavery and against the United States Army and subsequently lost! lost! lost! the Civil War.

Seriously. How the fuck can you not bother to check your facts before making such a bold, dumb-ass statement to the world?
How is it possible? Where are all the speechwriters? Why is Trump allowed to go off-script so often?

I suppose Trump has surrounded himself with even dumber dumb-asses than himself, staffers that don’t know better than to think that because the man somehow managed to finagle his way to the presidency, well, shucks and golly gee, he must be pretty damn sharp. And if the people he hired are in actuality much smarter than he, they must be horrified by his erratic, whimsical behavior and that he is pathologically vengeful. A shut-up-and-keep-the-job-and-worry-about-the-botched-CV-later, situation.

Trump’s presidency is a farce and a tragedy all at once.


Born To Run – Lennart af Lejontass

This is Lennart. The Raboff family’s third dog. After Mini Schnauzer Torsten (rest his soul) and Standard Schnauzer Palma (happily relocated to Göteborg), Lennart af Lejontass is our first Mini Dachshund. He’s cute, cuddly and slowly acclimatizing to life in Vejbystrand.

While Lennart is Charlotte’s long-awaited dream dog, I find the uninhibited love and compassion, not to mention  the enthusiasm dogs so generously and spontaneously provide, is quite frankly irresistible. I melt every time he looks at me with those beautiful puppy eyes. Follow Lennart’s adventures: @lennartminidachshund

IN MEMORY OF LARS (part II)

IN MEMORY OF LARS (part III)

Shot this yesterday morning near our local winery, Vejby Vingård. I’m keeping busy but thoughts of Lars Fransson’s recent passing linger on my mind from time to time. As if there wasn’t already enough to think about.

I can only imagine how complicated life has become for Lars’s family. From experience, I know that the practicalities that inevitably follow death, at least in the beginning, are intertwined with an emotional maelstrom. Which can be a blessing in disguise, as having to deal with both significant and mundane interruptions can help distribute the sorrow over time.

I managed to run 4.3k today. It was a sloooow run, but an energizing accomplishment nonetheless. I hope to someday be back up to my regular 10k runs sometime this summer. Running along the beach and pathways here in Vejbystrand has a soothing effect on body and mind.

I’ve been making organic fruit salad bowls for our breakfasts these past couple of weeks. To add a little protein, I’ll sling the salad with organic peanut butter and a generous pinch of organic coconut flakes.

I’ll be digging into the artisan gelato project now.

Lars-Fransson-1969-2020

IN MEMORY OF LARS (part II)

Though Lars was Swedish, I always experienced his persona to embody the American spirit. The outgoingness, self-confidence, and competitive attitude – regardless of genre – felt somehow akin to my own approach to life. We also shared a love for cooking and would make delicious meals for our families whenever and wherever we got together.

Though Charlotte and Lars’s fiancé Åsa are childhood friends and in touch regularly, Lars and I didn’t see each other that often. Up until Elle’s graduation party early last June, we hadn’t met in a few years. Yet the two of us still maintained some kind of connection through our respective partners.

In the early days, before Elle arrived and their son Oscar was born, the four of us got together all the more often – at least 4 or 5 times a year. Either on the island of Styrsjö near Göteborg where Åsa’s mother lives, or, somewhere else in Sweden. Together with another good friend, Lars Olemyr, we had an amazing week on Ibiza. And Lars and Åsa visited us twice while we were living in Thailand, once in Karon Beach on Phuket and then again on Lamai Beach on Koh Samui. I also remember a fantastic New Year’s celebration with them at the makeshift night club at Triple Two Hotel in Bangkok.

In recent years, Lars and Åsa made several efforts to get together with us and for whatever reasons, it didn’t happen – which now makes me feel an equal measure of regret and guilt. And the worse kind of guilt is that which you can never wipe completely clean.

While the loss of Lars to Covid-19 is tragic, the abiding sorrow his teenage son Oscar will now have to carry in his heart is, well, unfathomable.

Even if the circumstances were entirely different, I can still after 42 years vividly recall when my mother died and how devastated I was. Not so much because of her death per ce, after three weeks in a coma, I was prepared by her doctor that it was only a matter of time before her lungs and heart gave up. No, it was the ensuing abysmal emptiness and emotional confusion that made it so hard to realize what had happened. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to fairly soon distance myself – at least geographically – from the trauma and drama on Croft Avenue in Los Angeles, by moving to Björcksgatan in Göteborg, Sweden where I eventually started a whole new life.

It’s been harder than I expected to process Lars’s passing. At first, I thought it was my own mortality and the lingering threat of the virus that made it so difficult to accept. But no, it’s the emotional distress that Oscar must be going through right now that I can both relate to and feel somehow. I want to hug him and tell him it will be okay. Not today. Not tomorrow. But someday. Someday.


IN MEMORY OF LARS (part 1)

A friend passed away yesterday. I don’t know if it’s too early to write about it. Maybe it is. But since Lars died from complications related to Covid-19, at least part of my inclination to post about this today is to remind you, dear reader, that we still need to be careful and accept that the pandemic is still lingering and is still a threat. Please be careful.

This is the view from my room (1401) at Quality Hotel View in Hyllie, Malmö.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter in Malmö

I’m in Malmö again. Filming Bar Italia’s artisan gelato and sorbetto manufacturing process. Yes, I got to try several flavors and yes, it’s another one of those assignments with great perks.

The day concluded with a demonstration for the Black Lives Matter Movement against racism and to show solidarity with the tens of thousands of American protesters. After the gathering in Ribersborg, near Västra Hamnen, I had a couple of beers with a couple of friends, UK Thomas and US Michael, where we discussed our disgust with populists [un]leaders like Dumass Donald and Blundering Boris and if Elon Musk really is a genius and if so, why isn’t he even trying to help solve some of the more concerning issues, technically solvable problems that we have right here on Earth? As cool it may be, is rocketing to Mars really ever going to solve climate change (a lifestyle problem) or world hunger (a distribution problem)?

The cultural and financial structures and institutions that most of today’s societies are built upon are way too rigid to allow for change through peaceful protests and demonstrations. I’m not supporting violence and certainly not looting. But for those in power to take serious notice, we all need to stop supporting the system. Take it down by not participating within it. Only then will those in charge understand that it’s either shape up or ship out.

above and beyond Vejbystrand

Above and Beyond Vejbystrand

Much of drone flying, at least technically, resides in my muscle memory. I don’t actively think about what controls do what. I just decide on a manoeuver and my fingers instantly execute the thought. Though perhaps unremarkable because it’s so obvious and natural, I still find it interesting how easily and nimbly we humans interface with machines. How adaptable we are and how fast we take things for granted.

Anyhow… I shot this over Vejbystrand last night at about 9 pm. In the center of the photo, you should be able to see a herd of tiny cows.

Cows of Vejbystrand

Cows of Vejbystrand

I haven’t eaten beef, pork, bird, or any other kind of meat or land animal for five years – and I’m now warming up to the idea of going full-on vegetarian. I shot this Saturday night at about 09:00 pm on my way home from Strandhugget, the village’s local seaside restaurant. I love cows and don’t see how I can ever enjoy eating veal or beef again.


Looting & Protesting in L.A.

The current demonstrations, protests, looting and civil unrest spreading across the US are both tragic and symptomatic for an unwell society. George Floyd’s brutal murder is just another example of the rampant racism that still prevails in America.

It saddens me to see so many police and National Guards on the streets of Santa Monica and Los Angeles. There is absolutely no justifying the looting going on in L.A. or anyplace else. These people should no doubt be thrown in jail and left there for a decade. But the fact that the looters are so many and that they even exist is no less interesting from a sociological perspective.

I get the cynical side of taking advantage of an unruly, confusing time in history and that these lawless assholes, at least theoretically, think they have much better odds at getting away with stealing than if they tried shoplifting or burgling a store. But who are these people? What’s their story? Are they all criminally minded, past felons, and recently released convicts? Or, is it in actuality also more normal folks – hypnotized by the group or mob mentality that the protests inadvertently propagate? Can these people be otherwise civilized citizens that just feel hopeless and somehow entitled to do what they want, now when there’s very little to lose?

I hope I am wrong, but the current turmoil could worsen tenfold once we get into the election season. I can envision how regardless of whoever wins the presidential race, that there will be even more protests and civil unrest. And with the overhanging threat of a second wave of virus infections en mass, the fall could prove to be even more disastrous than the first outbreak – immunologically, and financially.

Shot the above photo from somewhere along Mullholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills.

Fred nicholas

Fred Nicholas’ Centennial Celebration

This is Fred Nicholas, by far the Raboff family’s oldest friend. When I took that photo, early last year, Fred was 99. And yesterday he turned 100. Think about that for a moment. Think about what it would be like to have been born 1920, just a few years after WWI and so close to the last global pandemic (Spanish Flu). To have experienced the Great Depression, WWII, the escalation of the Cold War – and so much else – and still be around to remember it all vividly. So many historic milestones.

While turning 100 is in itself an incredible achievement, the fact that Fred is still sharp as a knife has a great sense of humor and a memory that blows me away makes his centennial celebration all the more noteworthy and inspiring.

My father, Ernest Raboff, and Fred met as soldiers sometime during World War II and with a few gaps thereafter, maintained their friendship until my dad passed away in the fall of 1986.

We visit Fred and his family every time we’ve been back to L.A. and no trip feels complete without a long lunch or dinner with him and his son Tony or with Joan before she passed. Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t make it to what was going to be a huge birthday bash for Fred at the Hillcrest Country Club. But I did get to speak with him today, just after he’d swam his morning laps in the pool!

The mayor of Los Angeles was among the many of Fred’s friends to congratulate and thank him for all his tremendous work for the cultural scene in Los Angeles. His achievements are far too many to list here, so I highly recommend visiting this website dedicated to Fred and produced by his son, Anthony Nicholas of Lapis Press.

building a deck

An Honest Insight vs The Rectum Perspective

While Donald, frustrated and thirsty for Putin or Xi Jinping’s unbridled, undemocratic powers and once again managing to insert his giant orange head way, way up his rectum, making it unambiguously apparent that he has no clue of what the First Amendment represents, I’ve been busy building a small deck.

It’s an ongoing family joke about how impractical I am at just about anything that has to do with home improvement. I love the idea of fixing stuff, but I just don’t have the knowledge, patience, or eyesight to even come close to achieving the results I honestly think I am (theoretically) capable of. By now I certainly know my strengths and weaknesses. So for me, the key to successfully executing an idea where any kind of carpentry is involved is to hire someone for the job.

Yesterday, my buddy Thomas Hansson was the designer, foreman, and Master Carpenter and I was his clumsy, impatient apprentice. I’m sure that had I not been the employer, he would have fired me early in the day. Which would have been totally justified. As I said, I know my limitations and shortcomings. Which is something Donald J. Trump time and time again proves he does not. The millions that still don’t recognize his apparent ignorance and inability to serve the nation and heal the pain so many are going through right now are nothing more than halfwits. They might not even know they are, but such is the plight of ignorant folks. Not even when presented with an abundance of evidence do they let go of their trust in halfwittedness.


Old School Mowing

From earlier today. Charlotte and I usually divide mowing the lawn here in Vejbystrand. Our neighbors insist on using an old huffing and puffing, carbon fuel emitting machine called “Stig”. But we both prefer getting a little extra cardio exercise from pushing and pulling our old school, manual mower. It’s a Husqvarna and brand new, so the blades are still sharp and as long as we don’t let the grass grow too high, mowing is a breeze.


Birds of Vejbystrand

So this morning I woke up at an ungodly hour to pee. After struggling out of bed (my back is out of whack), I realized that it wasn’t my bladder that woke me. It was the cacophony of chirping birds in the garden and adjacent meadow. There was no wind whatsoever. I put on my shoes, strolled over to the studio, found my Zoom H6 recorder and dialed in the highest possible fidelity settings (96kHz/24bit), and began recording with the x/y capsule multidirectional microphones. I know nothing about birds, but have a decent collection of them here – including the one above. This is only a minute of a 3-hour long recording. For a hour’s immersive experience (with some distant cows to boot), feel free to click right here.

Bang! Bang!

Bang! Bang!

After living with so many months under the shadows of big, bold headlines conveying disaster, tragedy, and destitution related to the pandemic, you end up expecting nothing less when you log on to NYT, SVD, or LAT. Classic conditioning. Our unconscious friend is still unconscious and we are still hoping for a miraculous turnaround – but preparing, mostly subconsciously, for sadness.

Forty Five

Resurfaced in Vietnam

Keeping a lookout for exteriors to “resurface” has certainly added an investigative dimension to daily life. Not that I still don’t constantly compose scenes, that’s a hard habit to quit. But looking for interesting combinations of weathered and decayed surfaces to resurface makes even mundane strolls and chores a bit more purposeful and interesting. This wall is from Vietnam.