Italian gelato from Bar Italia

Bar Italia’s Artisan Gelato

I was increasingly yearning for ice cream yesterday while editing the latest shoot for Bar Italia and their handcrafted, artisan gelato. But since no reasonably good ice cream could be found here in Hyllie (just outside of Malmö), I opted for a bag of popcorn instead.

In addition to an uncompromising position when it comes to the quality of their products ingredients, which I can corroborate is best-in-class from filming the process in the factory a couple of weeks ago, the main difference between mainstream ice cream and Italian gelato is that the former’s base is made from air-filled cream while the latter is created from pure milk.

Bar Italia’s gelato base is made with organic milk from Skåne – which not only makes for a more dense eating experience (there’s comparatively very little air in milk), the creaminess in ice cream also tends to “steal” some of the oomph from the flavorings.

I’ve tasted most of the variants seen above and they were all heavenly sumptuous.


Soft Artisan Gelato

Created this advertisement the other week for Bar Italia and their artisan soft gelato (pistachio flavor). Apparently, it’s generating quite a bit of viewership on both Facebook and Instagram.


Exclusive Wine Tasting at Vejby Vingård (Winery)

I’ve been working on this assignment for a while now and delivered the final edit yesterday to loud cheers from the client, Vigneron Jeppe Appelin at Vejbystrand’s beautiful winery, Vejby Vingård.

As per usual, it was a shoot with all kinds of lighting conditions; morning, midday, and late afternoon sunlight. Most of the closeup scenes (on the ground) were shot with the Fujinon 56mm f1.2, a lens I just can’t get enough of. Indoors, the Fujinon XF 10-24 f4 proved to be the most useful, at least when I cranked up the ISO to 800.

The Mavic’s tiny drone sensor is still after two years impressing me and the aerial shots are by far the most spectacular of this project.

black hole blues

Black Hole Blues

This post is inside baseball for the unitiated and will only be fully appreciated by those that know me well.

I’m usually good at focusing on something interesting about people I socialize with. And I enjoy seeking out a bridge, a common thread, some shared experiences – be it leisure or professional – with just about everyone I meet. At my age, it’s not too difficult to identify commonalities with folks I interact with and I’ll build our short or long relationship from there. While some might call this social engineering, and, to a degree, at least occupationally speaking, it is, but being professionally friendly and a “smooth operator” is in my opinion part of the gig in almost every kind of business, including mine.

Even if I prefer the creative process over the formal and financial aspects of being a freelance artist, there is just no denying that putting on a smile and a little obsequious behavior will often lead to something beneficial – for all involved. It’s the lubrication that keeps the machine wheels turning and essentially what being human is all about. Everyone wants something.

Conversely, when I have to interact intensely – over long periods of time – together with people that I have zero in common with or what we do share is no longer able to bridge the wide gaps between us, I get easily bored and ultimately, irritated and frustrated.

With folks that I have so little in common with – people so superficial and lacking depth or substance, I end up feeling like I’m being sucked into an event horizon and eventually their soulless, eternal black hole of nothingness – a place so empty, every breath feels like it could be the last. After a while, my cortisol levels seem to shoot through my veins like fiery lava, causing stress and anxiety. These interactions inevitably break the creative spell which will soon put me in a fight or flight mode. And as we are living in this singularly peculiar times, neither of those choices is very simple to make. But, as so aptly put in The Big Lebowski; the Dude abides. I’m on top of it, figuring out my next moves. Literally and figuratively.

Not sure where I discovered this wall. It’s definitely going to be part of my Resurfaced series. I call it “Black Hole Blues”.

Midsummer

Happy Midsummer

Happy Midsummer Everybody! Here in Sweden, Midsummer is the start of the summer and for a lot of folks, yet another Swedish holiday where we to get together, eat herring, fresh potatoes, and perhaps a chilled schnapps or two. This year, there’s no dancing around the Midsummer pole like above (from Styrsjö where we were with the recently COVID-19 deceased friend Lars Fransson, Åsa, and Lars Olemyr) and social distancing will be certainly be upheld as a few of our close friends celebrate this ancient holiday with us.

LBJ vs DJT

LBJ vs DJT

A friend sent this link yesterday. It led to an article about LBJ the initials for Lyndon B. Johnson, the southerner that took over after the JFK’s assignation in Dallas.

I highly recommend reading the piece as it shines a bright light on the lesser known, shadowy side of the 36th president. Though mostly remembered for his progressive civil rights agenda, LBJ also widened and deepened US involvement in the Vietnam war. And, according to the article, it turns out Lyndon was pretty much a chauvinistic bigot whom once he became president, had no problem sharing his less politically correct thoughts and ideas along with bodily functions (and fluids) with his staff.

I’m sure several of Trump’s closest underlings will be writing books about working under his presidency and that a plethora of more or less interesting idiosyncrasies will be disclosed. But while LBJ was arguably a bit of a hillbilly, he was certainly no numbskull. And unlike Trump, his legacy will largely be one that pushed the envelope and nudged American society forward.

home grown veggies

Home Grown

Here’s what tonight’s harvest looked like from green box to salad bowl. Crunchy fresh and organically grown – from seed to the earth it grew in. Nothing beats a salad made from your own veggies.

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.