Lagos

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 to Lagos from Lisabon's Oriente Station designed by Santiago Calatrava.

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 Libon

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: Self Healing

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: Sex

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

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.

Chamonix

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.

Beautiful old buildings in Porto Portugal

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.

Dream Big

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.

Swedish Swan

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 and Icicles

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

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

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 in Malmö

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

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

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.

almonds and olives

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 in southern Spain

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

Traveller

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.