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Where Are The Cows?

Took the drone for a short flight yeasterday in an attempt to caputre the calm. clear and crisp day. Cows are gone. All that is left is their drying dung. I wonder about their fate.


In and Out of the Fog

Yeah, I know. More cows. But I’ve always loved cows. Not only do they symbolize a kind of universal motherhood, but cows are also animals that radiate timeless serenity.

After an intense period of work and emotional turmoil, more than ever, I need serenity in my life right now.

I shot this about a week ago when a thick, coastal fog rolled in and settled over Vejbystrand for much of the morning.

I went for a long walk along the meadow with a camera at my side, hoping to capture something uniquely foggy.

The cows instinctively huddled together in an effort to feel safer. Even if it was completely windless and soundless on the meadow, the dense fog visually impaired the herd’s ability to see where potential threats would be coming from. They didn’t seem particularly nervous, but I did get a sense of heightened awareness as I passed them. While my trajectory was clearly unthreatening, most of the cows followed my every step, making sure I wasn’t going to leave my chosen path.

Time for some preaching.

It’s been five years since I stopped eating meat and poultry on the advice of our wise daughter Elle, who started the family’s boycott. This for three reasons:

1. Ethically
Most animals raised for consumption are bred and treated in a horrific and completely unacceptable way. Millions of animals suffer for most of their short lives just so people can eat cheap, often unhealthy amounts of meat and chicken.

2. Climate

It’s utterly unreasonable to clear gigantic areas of primeval forest in the Amazon and elsewhere in the world just in order to acquire land to grow soy and corn on as feed for the animals. If we instead grew vegetables directly for our own consumption, we’d both save the earth’s resources and eat healthier!

In a few years, we will be 8 billion people on this blue planet. Since we know that climate change is already causing devastating problems today, it’s easy to see that we have enormous challenges ahead of us when additional billions of people in developing countries start demanding the same unsound habits we in the industrial world have had for decades. A simple approach (but of course not a solitary solution alone) is, for example, to stop eating meat and poultry.

3. Health

Even though we in Sweden eat slightly less meat today than before, it’s still far more than what many researchers consider to be healthy. Eating meat and poultry, in whole or processed form, undoubtedly increases the risk of getting cancer.

So if you don’t give a hoot about how the animals you eat experience their lives and how the earth feels from raising them, maybe you can start thinking about how your body feels before you eat the next slice of ham, grilled chicken, or steak.


Summer Studio

When I moved into this little cabin back in February, it was a mess. Unfinished walls and packed from floor to ceiling with all kinds of stuff n’ junk. Most of the cabin’s contents went to our local charity and whatever was left has been archived in boxes and stored away.

After giving the place a coat of paint, new furniture, wall decor, and both elephant grass and giant bamboo, my little summer studio has been a great place to work. At least until the late afternoon when the sun is out and pointed straight at my front window and the place gets sauna hot. On these rare afternoons, I’m usually ready to quit anyway, so no harm is done.

We’ll be heading back to Malmö in a while and I’m looking forward to enjoying additional indoor space – especially now that autumn is almost upon us. Still, I can see how I’ll be back here later in the fall to work on my new book of short stories.


Summer Setting

Back in Vejbystrand again where the days are slowly getting shorter and the nights seem darker, somehow.

It’s only a matter of time now before fall is upon us with shifting colors, cooler winds and less gardening. I hand-mowed the giant lawn here this afternoon and finished just minutes before it started pouring.

The cows are still here. Don’t know for how long, though. Will we ever see them again? Sadly, the next time might be in the meat section at our local supermarket.

I have an art show in Malmö in less than a month. Thinking of showings some of my most amusing “cowtraits”. Like the one above.


Swedish Championships in Vejbystrand: 505

Yesterday, I was offered a boat ride but since the seas were high, I declined. Instead, I stood firmly on the cement pier in the morning and captured a few exciting moments from the Swedish Championship in the 505 class sailboats that are competing in the waters just off the coast here in Vejbystrand. All footage shot with the XT3 set to 4k, 59fps, and 200Mb/s. That generates a ton of data, but on the other hand, it provides me with a ton of flexibility in post-production. I practice, the amount of information each frame contains, allows me to zoom in to about 200% without much loss in quality or the final render being pixelated.


Dung & Seaweed vs QAnon

Apparently, Sjömantorp, the house where we live nowadays, has an age-old right to retrieve seaweed from the beach. Only a few houses along the meadow here have this agreement in place with a click of local villagers (a group of vigilant farmers with a monopoly on most of the seaweed here).

So in an effort to add an injection of powerful nutrients to the property’s many new, young plants, mainly elephant grass, and bamboo, I took our old rustbucket of a wheelbarrow down to the shoreline yesterday and picked me a nice big batch of dried seaweed. On my way up from the sea, I also piled up a couple of dried cow chips on top of the natural manure.

I was going to use some of the seaweed for my small vegetable garden but read somewhere that because of how polluted most of the country’s coastal waters are these days, it could potentially contain dangerous amounts of Cadmium and other heavy metals.

I don’t know if this pertains to seaweed on our beaches, but it feels better not to take a chance and risk poisoning my homegrown ruccola and spinach. There’s enough scientific evidence out there for me to just assume that even the sea here Skälderviken and beaches that surround Bjäre, unfortunately, contain a fair share of toxicities.

I am fascinated by conspiracy theories. It’s not what is claimed that I find intriguing but rather how they develop from fringe ideas to mainstream opinions. There are a ton of conspiracy theories bouncing around the Internet on any given day of the week. Some gain a surprisingly disproportionate amount of followers and become popularized among millions of people.

There can’t have been a more fruitful time throughout all of human history for spreading irrational explanations about all kinds of stuff. And Trump has done his share by spreading some really crazy theories to his most gullible supporters. The more intelligent followers are just as opportunistic as Trump is and while they hopefully don’t really believe in the crap his many tweetstorms and rally speeches contain, they’re savvy enough/conditioned enough to know when to just shut up, nod and continue wagging their tales.

When trying to decipher what some of the later years’ conspiracy theories represent and how they get traction, I think it’s important to understand that the vast majority of people that subscribe to them do so more for the value of participation than because they care or, at least have seen even a speck of solid evidence that provides a particular theory’s validity. Such is the case with the outlandish, right-wing Qanon theorists explained here. Ignorance is bliss.


How Now Brown Cow

Shot this yesterday on the meadow here in Vejbystrand. I must admit, I’ve been having a hard time getting this year’s cow collective’s attention. So I came up with a plan. I googled “cow sounds”, clicked my way to a Youtube video that promised a bunch of farm sounds, including cows, pigs and I think sheep, and then cranked up my iPhone’s volume as loud as it would go (11) and zimzalabim, I got the attention of at least one of these beautiful creatures. At least for a few seconds. Like most people today, the attention span of cows seems also to be getting shorter and shorter.


Tyko Blake Eskil Raboff 1967-2003

This photo is probably one of the first I’d ever taken. It was likely shot on a simple Kodak Instamatic. The moment was captured in my parent’s bedroom on 849 North Alfred Street in West Hollywood, California.

My father is holding my brother Tyko who was probably 2 years old at the time. The year would then be 1969. I have no idea what time of year I took the photo at – but because of the pajamas my mother Ina (Solveig) and father Ernest (Ernie) are wearing, it was likely winter. Within a year, my father would leave us, move out and eventually start a whole new family with Adeline, a young, troubled woman from Alaska more than half his age. She was a tenant living in the upstairs apartment of our house at the time they met.

I don’t remember much of the actual divorce other than the yelling. I can only assume my father one day packed a few things and just left. Unfortunately, the aftermath of my parent’s divorce, more than 50 years ago, still impacts me. Especially today.

Where I somehow managed to compartmentalize much of the trauma that ensued and live a relatively normal life, my brother Tyko was unable to. The accumulative impact from those formative years would eventually overpower him emotionally to the point where all he wanted was for the pain and suffering to stop. And so, in January 2003, he took his life in a hotel room in Paris.

I write something about my brother Tyko every year on his birthday. I do it to honor him, to remember him, to share my thoughts about him. Still, after all these years, I feel so sad that I never got a chance to talk to him out of his decision. On this day, more so than on the day he died, I feel a little sorry for myself. I feel so alone in my sorrow. Some sadness can be shared. Not this kind.

I had a dream about Tyko last week. The scope of the dream was a bit absurd, but in it, he was crying. I want to think it was a cry of regret.


Born to Run – Part Deux

Here’s the latest installment in the ongoing series with Lennart, the Raboff family’s mini dachshund puppy (and a presumptive breadwinner).

All of the footage was shot using a simple Manfrotto monopod and a Gopro Hero 7 Black Edition set to 4k/50fps. While the files are huge and at times make my 2017 iMac want to barf from exhaustion, they do give me an immense amount of post-production leeway when added to a 1080p timeline within FCPX.

Miss “Born to Run” Part Un? Have no fear. The link is here.


Early Crayfish Fest

From yesterday evening’s crayfish festivities here in Vejbystrand.


Back in Vejby Baby

Feels good to be back in Vejbystrand. Especially now when we are alone again. The consequences of precautionary safety measures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic made living together (multi-generationally) increasingly challenging.

Now that Charlotte’s parents generously retreated back to Göteborg, the serene calmness I’ve always associated with being here on our own has once again returned. We already have plenty of demands on our shoulders. Not having to compromise with our time and space makes carrying them a little less laborious.

I’ll be busy for most of the next few days with all the film and stills I’ve brought with me from the near weeklong “island-hopping” along Sweden’s west coast archipelago.

Above: “Storm Horse” captured a few summers ago on the meadow.


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.


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.


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.

 


Canola Fields Vejbystrand

Shot earlier today during an excursion around the village. We had to drive around a bit before finding a few adjacent fields. They seem to be fewer and further between here – when compared to deeper south and southeast in Skåne. Love how the flowers smell and on a nice warm day like this, with barely no wind, the rich yellow color is almost hypnotic.


2020 Vejby Baby Tees

Here’s our new Vejby Baby t-shirts. Until further notice, these Fruit of the Loom cotton tees can be purchased exclusively at Sandgårdens Skafferi in Vejbystrand. I delivered 27 t-shirts in various sizes and hues to Therese yesterday afternoon. So if you’re a fan of Vejbystrand and want share the love, get ‘em while they’re hot!


The Known and Unknown

From yesterday’s walk along the beach here in Vejbystrand. Cold, windy yet stunningly beautiful. So far, far away from the turmoil and chaos of many of the world’s great cities and many of my favorite destinations. Thankfully, neither Charlotte or I know of anybody that has caught the virus yet. I doubt that statistic will hold indefinitely. It’s kind of like with Trump supporters, you know they are out there, in droves, even. And one day, you might actually meet someone that has been infected with his venomous rhetoric. If and when that day arrives, I’m guessing it’s going to feel a lot like being in an episode of the original Twilight Zone.

I speak to a lot of Americans – wherever I am. I just can’t help myself. As soon as I hear an American accent (or, a Canadian), I’m in their face asking them where they come from, where they’ve been and where they are heading. Yet oddly, so far, I’ve not come across a real-life MAGA supporter in any of my travels. Not that I survey the political views of people I meet when abroad…but still.

I’m well aware that there are tens of millions of “normal” Americans among his base. Most seem to cherrypick the stuff that serves their personal narrative and agenda and just ignore much of what comes out of his chaotic, erratic and dysfunctional administration, and the endless flow of mostly degenerate, often racially charged, quips and tweets he heaves round the clock.

I doubt I’ll meet a Trump supporter in Vejbystrand. The locals here are way too sensible to bite into the pile of crap he’s trying to feed the rest of the world. No, to get someone that can coherently defend the blustering, self-congratulatory, master conman, I’d have to fly to the States. And that ain’t going to happen for quite a while. Hopefully, by the time it becomes doable, there’ll be a new president. An older dude, for sure. But at least one with the right stuff: decency, empathy, and intelligence.


South Sea Serenity in Vejbystrand

Here’s what it looked like just after I got back from Lund yesterday evening. I’m spoiled insofar that I’ve seen many a beautiful sunset. Formations like last night’s magnificent cumulonimbus clouds are still fairly unusual this far north. Reminded me more of the Maldives, Seychelles, and islands in southern Thailand than Vejbystrand. Thankfully, I had the wherewithal to look up from my computer screen, take notice, grab my camera, and perpetuate the unique scene. Later, just as we were trying to fall asleep, a hale storm passed overhead.


Qigong in Vejbystrand

From the other evening in the harbor of Vejbystrand where I found the perfect spot to practice a few of my Qigong moves.


Calmness in the Calamity

This is what it looked like last night when the gusty winds finally subsided and left behind a vacuum of placidity and tranquility. While standing there with my camera, I felt so far from the calamity and drama sweeping across the world right now.

If you look above to the right in the image, where the big tree is, you’ll see the silhouette of a small, wooden birdhouse that I hung up there a few weeks ago, hoping some fine feathered fowl would discover the place and find it so irresistibly attractive, they’d move in. Well, yesterday, I saw a potential tenant checking the place out. I want to remember that one of my first woodshop projects when I arrived in Sweden back in 1978, was a crudely made birdhouse of birch. The one I hung up on the tree was decidedly more stylish and well-built and probably made in a factory somewhere in China.


Sakura Flowers in Tokyo vs Vejbystrand

This morning, after her run, my Qigong/Yoga workout and our scrambled eggs on toast breakfast with Vietnamese coffee, Charlotte exclaimed, “the first place we’re going to travel to when all this is over, is Japan”.

I couldn’t have agreed more with her.

Our first visit to Tokyo was about this time of year. Elle was about 5 or six years old at the time and we fell in love with the Japanese capital. During our two week stay, Tokyo’s Sakura trees blossomed and because the flowers were not quite as pink as they are here in Vejbystrand (where the above shot was taken a few days ago), it kinda looked like the cherry trees were covered in a thick layer of snow.


Sjömantorp from above

I haven’t flown my old drone in about six months. Somewhat surprised how fast my muscle memory kicked in – making flying it feel easy peasy. I’m still fascinated by upside-down perspectives and this is from about 80 meters above Sjömantorp where we live.


Dualism

As I mentioned just before canceling my accounts on December 31st, 2019, I no longer participate in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform. Yet I have somehow managed to persuade a few fine friends and chosen family members to communicate with me via iMessage, email and WhatsApp. I don’t mind having to switch between the three. But if I had my way, we’d all use email. I love writing and receiving emails. Writing an email feels close to old school letter writing – which I did a lot of in my younger years. Which kind of makes me feel ancient.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted so many people’s lives, including ours. It’s hard to grasp the scope of it yet. I think we might just be seeing the very tip of an enormous iceberg – the beginning of a multi-year, planet-wide, chain of events that will have a seemingly endless ripple effect on most everyone. How folks in the developing world and the poorest are going to be able to cope is a question I keep asking myself. There’s no optimistic answer, I fear. So many countries around the world are run by a bunch of autocrats, dictators, and despots, men that are either suppressing virus facts and stats and/or just looking the other way, ignoring a problem they are incapable of addressing. Their biggest concern is not the health of the country they strongarm but rather how the crisis might affect the power they wield.

Shot the above image somewhere in Asia a few years ago.


Easter Week 2020

The eggs are obviously photoshopped, but the nest is authentic. I found it the other day while cleaning out one of our many storage rooms here in Vejbystrand.  Like none I’ve ever experienced before, this Easter will be unprecedentedly weird. Not sure yet if any of our traditional gatherings will occur. One pleasantry will definitely be revisited: Easter snaps. I mean, even if it is the end of the world as we know it, a chilled snaps (with mustard herring, potatoes, and dill) or two can’t possibly make it any worse..


Sheep Respite

It’s not without us feeling a little guilt and understanding that we are supremely privileged right now. Meeting spring in Vejbystrand is always wonderful – and especially so this year.

Within just a few weeks, the designation “rural” has metamorphosed into something positive and worth embracing. We’re whole-heartedly enjoying our current small-scale lifestyle.

It’s hard, but I’m trying to keep the news at a fair distance. All the dramatic headlines deplete my optimism.

The misery of miseries, as my old aunt Lillemor always said when a disaster occurred somewhere in the world – as in the world’s brimming refugee camps, where health care is limited and risk of contamination always imminent.

The earth’s population is currently living under the shadow of uncertainty. The future looks dire in almost every direction. I feel particularly for the many people that already had it tough before all this and who cannot comprehend how to cope with all the additional burdens the virus has brought with it.

Yesterday we took a long walk along the beach and on our way home stopped to greet three fluffy sheep living carefree in one of the village’s forest groves. The meeting gave some respite from the constant flow of reports about tragedies in Bergamo, Madrid and New York.

So far we are living relatively protected here in Vejbystrand and sincerely hope that this nightmare will soon be over.

Be safe!


The Meadow

Society seems to be unraveling. Which is a great opportunity to find comfort in simple things, like living in Vejbystrand. Like eating vegetarian spring rolls with a bowl of jasmine rice and topped off with homemade apple chutney and fried broccoli. Some may have seen the above collage film before. It’s a collection of scenes from our nearby meadow. I compiled dozens of clips a few years back for an exhibit of landscapes from southern Sweden at Malmö Live in 2017. A version of this film was also shown during my 2018 Easter Art Show at Vejby Vingård – the village’s local winery.


Vejbystrands Hamnen

Since we got here, I’ve  focused a good many hours on shooting for the forthcoming Vejbystrand book and today was no exception.

The afternoon light was just absolutely beautiful, possibly thanks to the cleaner atmosphere which I think came after last night’s well-needed rainfall. Aside from the aerial shots, I’m shooting mostly tight with either the 85mm or super wide with the 18mm. After last year’s hiatus, it feels genuinely good to be back in my favorite village.

One of the best things about Vejbystrand is that almost everyone here says hi when you meet along the meadow, by the beach or on the roads.  That may not be as unique as I think it is, but nonetheless a pleasantry in a typical small-town charming kind of way.


The Skeptic in Vejbystrand

How I spent this afternoon? Mostly enjoying a long overdue re-listen to Paul Simon’s album, Graceland while taking in the immensely beautiful coastal landscape here in summery Vejbystrand.

I’m not much impressed by ponies. Sure, they’re cute. But the full grown Nordic beauties grazing on the meadow in front of us during the summer, get me to pull out my camera and take a few shots.

And with the help of a few organic carrots, this evening I managed to persuade both horses up from munching on the grass below into several interesting upright poses. This particular shot is titled, “The Skeptic”.