Friday, 17 November 2017

Beach Country - The North Of Denmark

Denmark is well known for its sandy beaches, much appreciated by summer tourists. During the cooler seasons - especially in the north - the crowds have dispersed and the beaches invite to solitary walks and - at times - rather rugged nature experiences. Tastes of harsh gusts, salty spray, horizontal rain can give you a bit of a challenge, especially when you are out with a camera. But not so seldom glorious sunlight and majestic clouds will enact an impressive interplay with surf and sand for you.
These images are from different locations near the fishing- and ferry-hub of Hirtshals.

The soundtrack music is composed and produced by an old favorite of mine, Klaus Schønning. Especially his musical portrait of Copenhagen stands out as a masterpiece in the genré loosely defined as "New Age/Electronic". One track from this album I used for another image show: Making It Home On Friday.

Hirtshals Harbor

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Wondrous Days - Roaming About The Snasa Heights, Jämtland

September is a good time to visit "our" Jämtland cottage, owned by close relatives. Autumn with all its colors comes early here. And all mosquitos, horse flies and gnats that usually make summer visits an unnerving and painful experience: all dead and gone by now.

Our place lies half way up in Sweden, which means a solid 1000 road km from Gothenburg, 700 km from Stockholm (see map below). Naturally, you don't drive up there every second weekend...

Cabin in the making, logs are windfall from the Gudrun storm in 2005
Besides recreation, there was a purpose for our visit. For years the space in the cottage has been insufficient to accomodate all interested relatives during popular times, mostly around Easter when the skiing is at its best. Thats why construction of a separate cabin has been going on for more than a year now. This fall the goal was to get the grass-roof in place before winter strikes. And we did it.

For me, not an expert builder, there were plenty of opportunities to get up into the Snasa Heights, barely a 10 min drive from our place. One morning I tuned in our classical station while driving. Some kind of modern piece was heard, a lot of strings, not exactly easy listening material, not very romantic either. But very vibrant and assertive. At the same time, the first glimpses of the landscape were stunning, partly shrouded in drifting veils of mist. Suddenly the music jelled into something like nature's own voice for me. Not one voice: many voices, neither in harmony nor in disharmony. Goose bumps.

At the parking area I grabbed the camera and was to dash off for pictures, yet for a while I couldn't tear myself from the radio and the music. It was still going and no announcement of title and composer had been made yet. I couldn't stay long enough to find out. Later I went up and down and sideways through Youtube for String Quartets and such. I listened to Shostakovich, Stenhammar, Schoenberg, Webern, Philip Glass, Alban Berg, Schnittke, Dvořák, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Philippe Manoury, Mieczysław Weinberg. Learned a lot, but never found the exact piece for my planned image show. I finally chose Salonen, an outstanding Scandinavian composer/conductor. He is also someone drawn to experimentation, like blending classic instruments with electronic techniques. Some of that can be heard in the soundtrack.
After selecting excerpts from Salonen's Cello Concerto Nr.2, I learned that the piece was very recent, receiving its premiere in Chicago, March 2017. This version was recorded by YLE, the finnish Radio and TV system, in Helsinki in August 2017. You might find it on Youtube.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Frauke: Yama-Three Bodies - Dance Performance at “Skansen Lejonet” Fortress, Gothenburg, Sweden

Skansen Lejonet 1692
The "Skansen Lejonet" Fortress was built at the end of the 17th century as a defence against belligerent Danes and Norwegians. At this time, the Swedish west coast amounted to a rather narrow strip of land along the Göta river, with Gothenburg as a newly founded harbour and town. Historic buildings of this type are rare in Western Sweden. Luckily Skansen Lejon is in good repair and in active use as a conference and event site.
Skansen Lejonet
Sept 30 2017
In September 2017 the upper floor just under the roof was the site of a very special dance performance. The attending public had to climb steep and tight spiral stairs to get there. Frauke has established a firm reputation in Sweden as a dancer within the Japanese Butoh genre. At this night, a seamless interaction of the historic architecture, superb lighting effects, electronic sounds and unusually mellow and harmonious dancing made for an extraordinary experience.
Note: The event's music was composed and performed by Andreas Tilliander. The image show features a different composition by the same composer.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Slow Life - Stockholm, Ingarö

There are literally hundreds of miles of shoreline in the Stockholm area. No wonder that summer cottages close to the water abound. Since the island of Ingarö is very large and easily accessible by bridge, full-fledged civilization makes inroads in leaps and bounds. Many cottages are replaced by permanent homes. Living at the end of a dirt road, we are lucky not to be completely engulfed by "civilization" yet. For the time being we can go on with "slow living", whatever that means. To us it means hauling drinking water from a well 100 meters away, capturing and utilizing rain water for washing and dish washing, gaze at the stars, enjoy the sunshine, the many facets of rain, watch foxes, deer and the occasional moose. Our acceptance of insects, spiders, moths increases steadily. We are surrounded by bizarre pines, even Bonzai-like fledgling ones. Patches of lichen and moss are all around.
The outhouse we visit has to be emptied occasionally. There is a recycling station that has use for the stuff we leave there.
Some years blueberries abound, right now we are in a lean streak. Personally, I adore walking around barefoot, rain or shine, provided it's reasonably warm outside. To feel the different types of ground under your feet is great, bare rock, mosses, leaves and needles, gravel, grass, swampy spots. Touching the earth this way is sensual and spiritual. Of course, every year there are incidents when I regret it all bitterly, stepping on nasty roots or sharp pebbles, slimy slugs or taggy cones. So far I had no encounter with venomous vipers, which are seen sometimes.
Some priceless "slow" moments cannot be caught in pictures, like a scene a short while ago. We were having breakfast on the patio under a clear blue sky. Suddenly raindrops fell abundantly. On us. On our breakfasts. What the... how is this possible? It took a while before we realized that the wetness came from a plugged-up rain gutter overhead. A tiny white-brested nuthatch (a bird) was having a lively and extended bath up there. Very splashy. Very cute.
(All pictures taken on our lot.)

By the way: Not everything is slow around our house: We sport a high speed fibre internet connection... But: only in theory, it is not activated yet.

Friday, 21 July 2017

A Swedish Marvel: Varamon Beach on Lake Vättern

Lake Vättern is one of the bigger bodies of water in Sweden. It is believed to be a leftover from a former water connection between North Sea and Baltic Sea. It reaches its greatest width at the city of Motala, mostly known for its eminent role in the development of the Swedish national broadcast system. Not far from the center lies the suburb of Varamon with its wellknown shoreline. On the whole, Sweden does not sport very many sandy beaches, unlike its neighbor Denmark. So the ones found enjoy high popularity, especially if the natural setting is appealing as well.
Lake Vättern's water is on the cooler side, often markedly colder than in bays and inlets of the nearby Baltic Sea. Luckily, there is a sizable stretch of shallow waters at Varamon where the water temperature is higher than in the deeper parts of the lake. And deep it is, up to 120 meters.
On this midweek summer day high winds kept most bathers away and drew forth kitesurfers. Looked like they had a real field day out there.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Summer Evenings at Ingarö

Summer 2017 on the Baltic Coast around Stockholm has been largely sunny, dry - and cool! As soon as the sun glides behind clouds and some breeze is going, you feel the coolness. Frequent changes between T-shirt only and fleece jacket  are called for. Bathers are unusually few, beaches only sparsely populated.

The Evenings though have been very nice, the final image I took at 1 AM.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Långviksträsk Nature Reserve

The Långviksträsk Nature Reserve lies on the Island of Ingarö, east of Stockholm city. After penetrating an old and undisturbed forest you enter an area of bogs and mires, larger and smaller ones, with a fair amount of rocky terrain in between, at times rather steep and uninviting.
These images are from my first incursion into the reserve. I was expected home for dinner and had barely two hours on my hand. So I didn't see so very much. Luckily, the reserve is not more than forty minutes by bycicle from our cabin, so there will be more visits in due time. A moderately foggy day in fall would probably give a strong experience and good picture opportunities.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

An Evergreen In My Heart: The Azalea Valley

Despite ongoing landscaping work: the Azalea Valley in full bloom fascinates and inspires Gothenburgers as always.

All life is a mystery. A mystery that deepens with every step we take trying to delve into it, wanting to experience and understand more. Getting close to these flowers gives a glimpse of a process we all take part in - and all depend upon. It is a quiet dignity. A benign, friendly strength. Flexible and fragile at the same time. Gloriously filling its measured time to the brim.

More videos with the Azalea Valley as theme you find here:

Monday, 23 January 2017

Swedish High School Students In Two Memorable Photography Projects

Project 1: Flowering Diversity - Slideshow and Posters

From the early-90s on I worked at Swedish Senior Secondary schools, teaching mainly Graphics Communication, Photography and "Moving Images". Parallel to regular classroom instruction, it was not uncommon that special student-projects were arranged, usually to some degree integrated with classroom work, but with a large portion "outside" as extracurricular activity. In 1998 a project came about mostly on my own initiative involving (analogue) photography, modelling, slide scanning, image processing and graphic design. My project was rooted though in a larger, externally financed project, initiated by other teachers.
This larger project had just been completed with a travelling student art exhibition and fashion shows at a major Swedish Museum. Since not all funds had been used up, it was possible for me to hitch up with a spin-off project.
The motivation was this: Some staff members at our school were in contact with an organization called INEPS, International Network of Productive Learning Projects and Schools. INEPS had many activities, and one of them at the time was to call for and select student-art work for display at the UN Headquarters in New York. This exhibition was to be a part of the 50th anniversity of the Declaration Of Human Rights, to be opened by Kofi Annan himself.

Kofi Annan  UN General Secretary 97 -06
The theme of the exhibition was Human Rights and the Equal Value Of All Human Beings. If we succeeded in convincing imagery we could be part of the New York exhibition!
Doing some homework with soundtrack design
As an afficionado of multi-projector slide/sound shows using programmed cross-fade transitions, my primary aim was set! However, it became pretty clear that a show of this type only had some promise in our vicinity, where we ourselves could be in control of the laborious projection technology. But images are flexible, we decided to create two large posters alongside. These would be entered for the NY exhibition.
For some time I had privately taken pictures at the so-called Azalea Valley, a small part of central Gothenburg's largest park. The narrow valley provides shelter from three sides which the Azalea bushes seem to like. In the month of May the valley is in full bloom and offers an amazing sight. The idea to use this enticing setting for a type of portraiture occurred to me before, now was a chance to act upon it. The guiding motif during the photography/modelling phase was a suggested analogy between the Azalea's variety of form and color and the variety of humans according to their different origins on this planet. On top, blooming and youthful beauty is something to be cherished and celebrated with all its amazing strands and facets.
Flowering Diversity became the English project title, derived from the Swedish Mångfalden blomstrar.
The original art/fashion project had attracted mostly female students, due to the extensive fashion design and catwalk component. It felt thus natural that only girls joined my new and much smaller project group, but there was some criticism of the gender-imbalance (to be rectified in the next project!).
The actual project-work was an amazing experience, opening new perspectives for my own development and leaving a strong impression on the participants.
"Diversity"-posters at a drive in Central Gothenburg for our suburban school
The idea to arrange images on posters proved fruitful even in our local environment. Our school had a tradition with public relation events in order to get some positive media attention, vital for a school placed in an immigrant-rich suburb. The choice of school is free in Sweden, even within the Public system. So new students have to be attracted to a school. Our poster material came in handy at info stands and wall displays. Many variations were made, much material found its way into the school's promotional brochures and websites.
In Sweden it is not politically correct to use female "attractiveness" in promotional material, at least not in the Public Service field.  But I believe that our concept had more advantages than disadvantages. Traditionally, the public's image of an immigrant suburb heavily builds on tense and dangerous looking male youngsters. One does not readily think of relaxed and sensitive females, seemingly comfortably settled in an harmonious world. We are talking about two different cliches here, but a shift from an agressive to a more alluring one had a noticable effect on the attention we received. We who worked in the suburbs knew that our reality was made up of a wide range of experiences. For many outsiders though suburbia was a coin with only one face. With our project at least we tried to suggest another side.

Interestingly, even the local Parksboard in charge of the Azalea Valley had noticed our "Diversity" posters and contacted the school. They liked our material that had elevated their "child" alongside our students. According to them, much love and labor goes into the Azalea area, constantly replacing plants that died through severe cold or other causes.
The original image show used 35mm Kodachrome slides. For work with posters and brochures these slides had to be scanned. At the time ('98), only the commercial Kodak Photo-CD  process yielded the necessary high quality digital images. Much of our funding was eaten up by this very expensive way to go.
The pictures to be actually used in slide show and poster had to be selected from a much larger  total yield. Each participant would clearly mark the slides that were ok to use. Even more clearly marked were those not to be used under any circumstances. In some cases the selection did not conform with my own preferences. But that both students and staff could stand behind the production 100 % was an absolute requirement and gave the project the strength it needed.
The digital version of the slide/sound show presented here is almost identical with the analogue original and uses only images from the original slides. Since zooming and panning was not really possible in analogue slide shows, the digital version does not use them either.
Nobody from our school could be present at the UN exhibition in New York City, but several reports that reached us were positive, even enthusiastic.  Needless to say that our confidence for conducting similar photo-projects grew considerably. Whether the exhibition really was opened by Kofi Annan himself never became quite clear to us. He was certainly a popular person in Sweden and spent much time in the country, since his wife is from Stockholm.
(For a later show on the Azalea Valley dedicated to George Harrison click on this link.)

Project 2: Magic Alive - Photography Under The Wings Of History

Fort Bohus Today
In the schoolyear 98-99 I taught in two different High Schools, about 16 km apart. Halfway in between these schools was the small town of Kungälv with its famous landmark, the remains of Bohus Fortress. Ever since witnessing an extensive Medieval Festival at the fortress in the early 90's, I realized the ruin's value as a photographic backdrop. Going back to the year 1308, the site is one of the few genuinly medieval leftovers in our area, offering unique opportunities for creating images with historic associations.
Encouraged by the positive experience of the ”Flowering Diversity” Photography project in the previous spring, I planned a project at Fort Bohus with students from both my schools participating.
Just as in the previous project, there was no script for an eventual slide show, just a tentative guiding principle: to "relocate" a very contemporary and real situation in Swedish schools to the Middle Ages, namely the meeting of the ”Children of the Vikings” with ”Freedom Seekers from Around the World”. In contemporary terms: the high influx of refugees from war-torn countries, dictatorships, failed-states, poverty ridden peoples and repressed minorities. Most teachers and students at the time experienced this type of meeting and blending in our schools as something positive, hopeful and trail-blazing.
Historic Fort Bohus
This guideline was discussed with the interested students, plus ideas for possible individual or group posings. We also talked about clothes, necklaces, trinkets, hairdos etc. plus other helpful articles with ”period” associations. These points I put down in writing and distributed the notes to interested students. For more detailed planning - like detailed location scouting - there was no time. Almost everything was left to chance and spur of the moment decisions.
Nine students participated as models, including three young men. Two other male students joined as independant photographers, working with black and white film. My cameras were loaded with Kodachrome 64 and Ektachrome 160.
The image show made extensive use of graphics, image manipulation and digital typesetting, all part of our regular course specifications. But it was not possible to leave the graphic work of ”Magic Alive” - as the project came to be called - to students.
William Turner 1775-1851
Working on my own with these segments taught me a lot, e.g. turning many images into fake night shots, scanning and manipulation of William Turner's famous watercolors and the conversion of regular typeface into multicolored versions. To then transmit my newly acquired
know-how to the students was easy: they embraced these techniques fast and energetically.
Generally, it was not easy in those days for a middle-aged teacher to be ahead of the students in digital knowledge. But the edge in vision as to how to employ the new techniques for defined goals and purposes was crucial in project work.
The "Magic Alive" project was a big challenge in many ways. The groups from the two schools met at the fortress for the first time. Besides individual portraits I also wanted group pictures. These were more demanding to arrange and required a lot of directive instructions on my part, with all my non-existing experience in this matter... But the spirit of the event was phantastic, the performance inspired. A lot of the impulses for images came from the students, exploring and testing all the time, on and off camera. They continously pointed out new locations, new constellations, new angles, also in their work with the assistant B/W photographers.
It rarely happens today, almost twenty years later, that I meet a participating student. But inevitably they will mention our photo-project as a memorable experience.
Even this project generated some posters. Esthetically they were pleasing, but neither the posters nor the image material as such proved to be overly valuable for the schools' promotional publications. Viewed out of context, the images' historical associations were not as easily understandable as the flowery results from the previous project.

Friday, 13 January 2017

A Blast From The Past (not just for a nostalgic teacher)

Sometimes it happens to us that "something" sends us nosediving into the past. Suddenly we find ourselves in an intensive spin into the realm of memories. For me, mid-winter is a likely time for this to happen. Recently, it started with a phonecall from a former student. In the late 1990s he had been an ardent participant in our schoolshows, also taking part in the organizing nitty-gritties. The shows ran three times a year: at Grad-time before the summer break, at United Nations Day in fall and at the Christmas break. We talked for quite a while about those days at school, which he as a refugee from the Middle East experienced as valuable and formative. Even for me this time period is precious, rich in new experiences from my unexpected re-entry of teaching  at a Senior Secondary level.
Our school was housed in a complex acting as a center for several Gothenburg suburbs, all with a high percentage of recently arrived immigrants and refugees. The school had an explicit constitution-like policy with emphasis on the equal rights of all humans, regardless of origin, color and creed.
Teacher Kenneth "Kexan" Eriksson, the
driving force behind the Schoolshows
The schoolshows as mostly extracurricular activity reflected these values in an assertive and exuberant way. But not at the expense of aiming at good quality in song and dance.
Swedes and students with foreign roots joined to practice and perform together. This could not have happened without the guidance of an exceptionally dedicated and music-crazy teacher. This in itself worked small wonders of "integration" and at the same time radiated strong and positive vibes into the student audiences.
 The phonecall made me go through my video archive and dig up vintage schoolshow footage for publication on Youtube, in recognition of a phenomenon that has meant a lot to the active performers and thousands of students attending throughout the years.
In the mid-90s I filmed shows myself with a small camcorder. This inevitably produced videos of doubtful image and sound quality, probably limiting the videos' value, to be appreciated mostly by those who were there at the time. Generally, the live sound at the performances was a lot better than what could be caught by a small camcorder. From the early 2000s on it student teams at times produced videos of much higher quality, tapping sound right from the mixer board.

The example film here from the graduation show 1996 was a sort of "debut" for me in live-event filming. It was a challenging task, finding myself wedged-in most of the time in a lively crowd. And I loved every minute of it. Catching some of the better headbanging-closeups I've seen. Well-rehearsed and surprisingly focussed performances met a spirited audience. Sure, a fair number of the white-capped graduates had a glass of champagne that morning, as is sort of tradition. But the good-naturedness of the event is all over the place and makes me smile after all these years. And I know that many of the performers still speak enthusiastically of these days. And they would have all the right in the world to join in with John Lennon shouting out and singing "Yeah, we'll all shine on..."

For more Schoolshow films from other years and seasons  go here.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Leonard Cohen 1934 - 2016

A skillful poet and singer/songwriter has passed away. Leonard Cohen has been a source of inspiration for a long time. His appearance in Gothenburg in 2012 was the fifth and last concert for me. At the later part of that performance people moved steadily towards the stage, which seemed to be welcomed by Cohen and the musicians. And it met no resistance from the guards. The crowd was a gentle one, and a sense of elated intimacy evolved immediately. I can't remember ever to "float" around with a greater sense of comfort amongst a crowd of strangers.
The song ”Who By Fire” starkly addresses death and dying, but ultimately aims at the palette of different courses of life, twists of fate and conscious desires and decisions.
The photographs in the image-show are my own, with the exception of the title and the final image.The song "Who By Fire" was in Cohen's repertoire in Gothenburg, but this particular sound recording was made a few days earlier at a different concert from the same tour.

Despite much positive resonance throughout the world, Cohen also had a reputation as being somber and depressive. For my part, I have thrived on his voice, guitar picking, and his highly original verbal imagery, often leading to lucid insights about various human experiences, not shying away from ”darker” aspects.
This is not to say that all his ideas, statements and implicit attitudes are easily acceptable for everyone. Part of my ”inspiration” grows out of a precarious balance between Cohen's crossing over into the questionable and his basic humility and respectful attitude.
I treasure a brief encounter with Cohen, when I was one in a group of maybe thirty people. At the end of a concert we had waited for about an hour at the hall's performer-exit. I wanted him to sign my copy of his ”Book Of Mercy” and a Cohen T-shirt. When the large felt-pen I had brought failed miserably half way through his attempt to sign the shirt, a humorous exchange started. People tried to pitch in with equally inadequate writing tools. Eventually we succeeded, but with an ink that was not waterproof, raising questions about "The Future" of my garment. We talked a few moments about Canada, then he turned to others who had waited. I noticed Cohen's rare ability to focus on one person at a time with an attentive friendliness. Nobody left before he did.

Here are the lyrics for the featured song:

Who By Fire
And who by fire, who by water,
Who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
Who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
Who in your merry merry month of may,
Who by very slow decay,
And who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,
Who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,
And who by avalanche, who by powder,
Who for his greed, who for his hunger,
And who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,
Who in solitude, who in this mirror,
Who by his lady's command, who by his own hand,
Who in mortal chains, who in power,
And who shall I say is calling?

In an earlier blog entry I relate the story of my first "encounter" with Leonard Cohen on radio back in 1968, plus presenting a slightly enhanced version of his most famous song, "Suzanne". Click here to go there!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Exploring Mount Sharp

A visual exploration oft the starkly beautiful area of Mount Sharp. Right now it is not possible to visit the place. I understand though that ticket-vouchers are already being sold. If you have a few million Dollars to spare you could get into the queue. Sounds like a joke, but it isn't.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Top Of Denmark - The North Sea Coast At Hirtshals-Kjul

Visiting northern Denmark in late fall, you might as well expect "poor" weather, strong gusty winds and a continuous rainfall. All you can hope for are certain variations in rain-intensity! A walk on the beach with the desire to take some pictures turns to a bit of a challenge then. To be be crudely exposed to the elements, to fight them, holding on to that umbrella that keeps the camera from harm, it's quite an experience!
These images are from Kjul Beach, just outside the town of Hirtshals, known for its fishing harbour, oil rig services and plenty of ferry connections to Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
(And yes, even in fall nicer weather can occur, at times. Times though, when I'm not around it seems...)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Autumn Days In Mid-Sweden

The Swedish province of Jämtland is usually regarded as part of "Northern" Sweden, even though it lies at the center. Sweden's geographical mid point (north-south-east-west) is in Jämtland. Along a major road the point is marked out with a sign and an info panel.
Nevertheless, the entire province is a bit off the beaten track and lies far north of the major cities. From Gothenburg it is almost a 1000 km drive to Handöl, where "our" cottage is situated, owned within the extended family since the 1960s. (At 2:17 you can see it as a distant greyish building, third from the left).
Handöl is part of the district of Åre, Swedens skiing capital, hosting many international Alpine competitions. But there are 75 km between central Åre and Handöl. Along the way are other small settlements, lacking both groceries and virtually all other services as well. So, what you find here is a thinly populated stripe surrounded by pure wilderness.
During our working life we hardly had a chance to come here during fall. To our mutual surprise we realized that this indeed was the first time we saw Handöl in autumn color. Weatherwise we were lucky too, half a day of rain during our week-long stay is not bad at all. Some Indian summer days, some with cold winds blowing. Sudden weather changes with high winds or storms are common here. Snowfall and treacherous whiteouts occur at times even in summer. This time we saw only slight hints of that.

Years ago I left unbeatably scenic Western Canada for life in Sweden. During my first stay in Jämtland I reportedly complained about the unspectacular shapes of the Jämtland mountains, reminiscent of giant molehills and gravel mounds. And I decried these unsightly heaps as the pitiful leftover of the grandeur the mountain range must have possessed prior to the havoc wrought by mile-thick ice sheets scraping and grinding at them. I have long since forgotten my complaints - but the family reminds me on occasion. Fact is, already during my first visit it took little time for me to come around. I warmed up quickly to our surroundings, the bare mountains, wide open spaces, lakes, broad meandering rivers, rapids, falls, the intriguing blend of leaf and needle trees, often ornated with a variety of lichen and moss types, many of which are unique to this area.

For a glimpse of this area at Easter time - the winter period with ample daylight - you may want to watch this show:  Whiter Than Snow

Saturday, 17 September 2016

A Foggy Day In Summer - Stockholm - Ingarö

The summer of 2016 along the Stockholm coastline will go down in history as one of the finest, warmest and driest. So it was a unique occurence when suddenly there was a day with rather dense fog and hardly any people populating beaches and rocky headlands. And a blessing for a photographer tired of dark green vegetation and blue skies! It seemed like all the veins and strata of this rocky shore at Björkvik on Ingarö came to life and "rejoiced" in this shadowless white light.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Carnival In Gothenburg - 2016

May 2016, the annual carnival. Finally nice weather again, after some years of so-so conditions. For more than forty years the carnival has happened in the streets of immigrant-rich Hammarkullen, a Gothenburg suburb. Hammarkullen and the surrounding suburbs of Hjällbo, Eriksbo and Angered form a peculiar mix of pure nature, idyllic houses, town houses and lots of drab concrete blocks.
Much has happened in the world lately. Tragedy is all around and ever closer to home. Bombs go off, people are gunned down, run over by trucks. It can happen anywhere. More likely where many gather. It can happen here too.
Yet, getting into the carnival, the fear dissipates. The spirit of the festival is as strong as ever. Heartwarming and brightening. Maybe it's only in my mind, but never before did this strength rise so clear, so defiant in its determination:
It is here we gather
It is here we mingle and meet 
It is here we enjoy and excite each other, no matter from which corner of the world we come!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Lake Vättern: A Stop-Over At The Brahe House Ruin

It was a breathtaking moment when I caught my first glimpse of Lake Vättern on this particular solo car trip from Stockholm to Gothenburg: The lake was smothered by a virtual witches' brew of clouds of different shades and restless puffs and strands of fog. And absolutely no water to be seen, at first. By the time I had rushed over from a nearby parking lot to the prime viewpoints around the Brahe House ruin, the spectacular atmospheric display had – unfortunately – calmed down somewhat. Much of the fog had risen, revealing widening blankets of steely water. But what was left to record with the camera was interesting enough: The amazing pastoral lakeshore, toy-like villages, the small town of Gränna, the shifting light over Visingsön, the lake's largest island.
The ruin of Brahe House – a minor castle from the 1650s - towers on a cliff nearly 200 meters above Lake Vättern's water level. It was not the first time I got some fine pictures here – and hopefully not the last time either...

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Vancouver, Canada: Seen In A Rear-view Mirror

Soon after coming to Canada from his native Germany, Fred Herzog must have fallen in love with the city of Vancouver. Not only with the mountains, the ocean, the beaches, like everybody else. But with the core, the city itself. Starting early in the 1950s, he took literally thousands of color slides in Canada's Pacific Coast hub.
With a good photographic eye, technical skill and his warm, appreciative perception, Herzog created a unique record of the changes in Vancouver´s appearance and character. Largely unnoticed and unpublished for decades, he seems to have had no problems to tenaciously pursue his own goal. A crucial choice early on ensured that we today are able to appreciate these photographs: Herzog persistently used Kodachrome film as his material, already at that time ascribed to possess outstanding color fidelity and archival stability. Herzog's Kodachrome slides were dormant for years and decades, when finally the evolution of digital scanning and printing gave him new chances to produce exhibitable pictures. Had he used other film brands and processing types, he would likely have been faced with badly degraded and faded colors. Herzog's foresight is one factor behind these images' power to convey the vibrancy of bygone days.

Recent years brought Herzog well deserved attention through exhibitions, publications and awards.
Still active in his 80s, Herzog continues his work...digitally!
Vancouver today

Herzog's street photography brings to mind the work of Vivian Meyer in New York and Chicago. You find a little show on her here.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Way Out West - Revisited

My image show "Way Out West" on Vancouver Island  is an outtake from a longer one: "High In My Heart", which has Western Canada as theme. These shows have their origin entirely in Kodachrome-slides taken between the late 70s and early 90s.
Incidentally, I chose the title before there ever was a Swedish Rock Festival with the name "Way Out West". But neither the music people nor I were very creative: this phrase is often used in North America for assorted things westerly...
This is a new version and my first conversion of a former analogue slide show to a full web-playing 16:9 HD show (resolution 1920x1080 px). 16:9 format inevitably requires some cropping of the original slide-format on top, bottom or a bit of both of "landscape" (horizontally) oriented images. No problem to accomplish digitally, but no easy task since it involves tough sacrifices. A few tricks can help, like a bit of vertical panning. Sometimes even a slight manipulation of the image aspect ratio can be implemented discretely, stretching a picture a little, making it wider while maintaining the height. All this in order to fill the screen completely, not allowing black bars left and right.
Click on the title slide and you'll be taken to the blog post where you find the show plus some background info. If you prefer to start the show directly, click here.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Gothenburg Shores: Hängesten - April 2016

Until about fifteen years ago the small peninsula called Hängesten („hanging stone“) was a restricted military area with big antennas all over the place. The reclamation has been carried out quite well, there is no scrap or debris left as reminder of the past. The hanging stone actually exists and dangles rather precariously from a small cliff. Should it dislodge while standing underneath, you'd be as flat as a stamp...
On this late afternoon - first cloudy, then sunny - I roamed the area for almost two hours with no other human being in sight. This is strange since the parking is generous and the foot access short and easy. Probably okey even for some types of wheelchairs.
Having an entire area for oneself can instill a sense of timelessness. The music I selected is probably a touch too ethereal. But in some ways it connects to a solitary and timeless sensation, while the drumbeat alludes to the rock-hard reality. I'm grateful for those generous composers like the youthful Norwegian Peder Helland, allowing the free use of their music.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Riga In Four Minutes

Some years ago my wife and I spent a few days in and around the remarkable city of Riga, capital of Latvia. Since this country broke away from the former USSR in 1991, Riga's appearance and atmosphere has become more and more vibrant.
A cousin of mine recently visited there with some family members, making me think of an image show that I put together from my  own and my wife's photographs. I converted it now to 16 x 9 format and gave it a face-lift as far as image quality is concerned.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Gothenburg Shores: Sandy Stretches...

Shorelines in the Gothenburg area are predominantly rocky. Sandy beaches are rare and small in size. If one likes to stroll along a beach for hours, then it is off by ferry to Denmark, a country only three and a half hours away. From Denmarks northern tip at Skagen you could practically walk all the way down to Northern Germany on broad sandy beaches...
Nevertheless, it is not impossible to find beaches closer by that are worth a visit. Around the small towns of Åsa and Frillesås - about forty minutes by car from central Gothenburg - there are some inviting sandy stretches...

By the way, the composer of the music used in this show is a young Moscowite, Anton Fedchenko, using "Kai Engel" as pseudonym. He is one of these prolific young talents sharing music freely on the internet with no other expectation than being given credit for - and maybe a donation from users.

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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Gothenburg Shores: Lindås - Love At First Sight (Three Image Shows)

Some time ago I started to undertake virtual excursions with Google Earth along the Gothenburg shoreline. This in order to discover areas of natural (and photographic) interest that had escaped me so far. Very convenient to explore the minor roads leading to promising places beforehand, memorizing crucial landmarks and turning points. But this type of exploration tells very little about the views to expect and what the total experience might be like. That's why visiting the Lindås shore at the southern city limits of Gothenburg was such a revelation for me. I simply wasn't prepared for something as spectacular as the scenery unfolding before my eyes... This first encounter on February 17th 2016 meant love at first sight...  

Naturally I have been drawn to this area numerous times since the discovery. Lindås is the southernmost suburb within the Gothenburg city limits. By car it takes half an hour from our place, cycling will take about 70 minutes. It is not often I do more than one image show on a particular area, but here I can't resist to do more, even at the risk for certain repitition.
Lena hadn't been at the Lindås shore when we decided to go there together at the end of February, as one of our not too frequent joint photographic ventures. Early in the day boldly shaped clouds promised visual drama at the waterfront. But the clouds had pretty much receded into the distance by the time we arrived. This meant sunshine - an equally welcome and warming consolation on a very enjoyable afternoon.

Lindås Shore with Three Major Viewpoints

Early in March I meandered between three different viewpoints on treacherous and slippery rock. Luckily nothing worse than soiled pants was the price to pay for the pictures in this little show.
The Gothenburg area sports a fair number of nice seashore locations. But to me Lindås stands out. One feels a slight sense of magic at this place. The inner coastal archipelago lies nearer to the mainland and is more interestingly structured than when viewed from other places. An uplifting wideness of scope unfolds, an almost majestic vista, belying the fact that you are hardly more than fifty meters above sea level. And strangely, almost all traces of the hustle and bustle of Sweden's second largest city have vanished at the Lindås vantage points. And where are the people to enjoy all this? No tourist buses stop here, no guided walks take place, I am all alone here, most of the time. This will change during the warmer months, when small crafts buzz about and people will go for a swim at the few small stretches where it is possible at all on this very rocky shore.
The lighthouse in the closing picture is the famous Vinga fyr, known from tales and songs of Swedish folklore.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Gothenburg Shores - Nordrevik

Whenever I get a chance I continue my exploration of local seashores. The Nordrevik in the south of Gothenburg had eluded me so far. It was a bit hard to find. The usual story: Tucked away behind a fairly wealthy neighborhood, where the locals are not overly interested in advertising the areas highlites, publish information, putting up signs, or find other ways to aid easy access. But of course, this makes a location all the more attractive for a loner seeking quiet seclusion. Or at least the illusion of it. A nature photographer usually is a person of that type.
Google Maps and Streetview help to figure out the approach beforehand. And on this day I was richly rewarded with one of the more memorable sunsets. Can't get enough of them. Contrary to popular belief sunsets vary enormously. Not so seldom you may find yourself engulfed for some minutes in visual magic and a true cosmic sensation - the big mother caressing its little planet with an upsurge of red, orange and gold on a canvas of land, water and sky.

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Sunday, 7 February 2016

February - Late Afternoon

A short walk at Välen-Inlet in Gothenburg. Lately we had a lot of gusty and even stormy weather, mostly under a featureless grey ceiling way up. It was a welcome break when everything calmed down and the grey descended to envelop everything gently.

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Winter Walk III

This was one of these winter outings where the cold made me ignore the big "full format" gun in my daypack. I stuck to my little Lumix LX7 camera. Minus 10 degrees C doesn't seem to be so very severe in a country like ours, but in coastal areas the humidity brings in an extra chill effect which, believe me,  does not invite frequent glove removal for camera controls, lens changes and such. Nevertheless - so I learned again - if you take it nice and slow, enjoying the surroundings even aside the photographic efforts, you can muster, now and then, the energy the camera demands from you.

Adrian Von Ziegler
For the first time I use a music track by the young Swiss composer/performer Adrian Von Ziegler. Adrian posts a great deal of his production on Youtube, always encouraging people to use his music freely, even as part of a commercial project, if I got it right. All he wants is that it is properly credited to him. An amazing attitude. It seems to come natural to him, but it could well be an effective recipe to spread his name around - maybe all the way to Hollywood, where filmmakers are constantly on a lookout - or rather "listenout" - for soundtrack talent. Short of that, there are a lot of smaller film productions going on around the world which could provide a living. Hope something like this - or something else nice - happens to Adrian, also as a reward for his musical generosity!

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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Southern France: We Came Here For Something Different...

A few years ago Lena and I spent a marvellous summer in Southern France. Far from big cities we really enjoyed the country, people, food and good wine. But we had a special purpose of being there: What we found deep underneath the lovely countryside was most exciting...
This image show has been on my blog for some time, but is now posted in a reworked version. Very little has changed contentwise, but the image quality is much improved. Only now can I really enjoy the artwork in the web-version of this show.

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Saturday, 16 January 2016

Me and Photography (part 7) - Sony Mavica - Azalea-Images - 2001-2003

These images were taken during the years 2001 - 2003 in the so-called Azalea Valley in Gothenburg with a Sony Mavica FD95.
The Mavica certainly was an odd camera at the time. It was bulky, saved images in a time consuming way on floppy discs and did not exactly impress with its 1600 x 1200 pixel resolution. And it set you back by nearly 1000 Dollars.
Yet, it had some groundbreaking qualities that clearly pointed towards a bright future for digital photography. The image saving on a floppy disk opened up a freeway for instant image transfer to almost any type of computer. It was standard at the time to have 3.5'' floppy slots in all PCs and systems, even in the Apple World. This was a huge advantage if you wanted to distribute your images quickly and painlessly and without installing new software. Of course, this changed over time, the floppy did not live much longer. But it paved the way nonetheless.

The Mavica's autofocus worked flawlessly, autoexposure likewise. Spot metering at your fingertip was a blessing in complicated lighting situations. The steady shot function was phenomenal, at times unbelievable! Given the huge 10 x optical zoom, this meant an unprecedented possibility of zooming in to the brink and wind up with sharp images with a handheld camera. Pressing the tulip-button took you to a closeup setting with a nearest focus of 2 cm. The LCD display was large, bright and of high image quality, given these rather early days of digital photography. It was further complemented with a LCD viewfinder for those outdoor conditions where the larger display is overpowered by e.g. bright sunlight. The colors of the resulting JPGs were generally very pleasing and clearly superior to many other digicams at that time.

All in all, the versatility of the Mavica strongly boosted an enthusiasm for digital photography, both for myself, for my colleagues at school and for many students.

Friday, 15 January 2016

The Closer I Get To Myself

Elo-Mall Toomet is a poet/artist from Tartu, Estonia. She writes in both Estonian and English. We only met on the internet, but there we had stimulating exchanges of ideas. A while ago we worked together on a small project, with Elo-Mall providing one of her poems as a sound file, with me adding some of my pictures and the music. On her own blog Elo-Mall describes our contacts like this: 
"Wolfgang Roosch is a good internet friend. He happened to stumble upon this exhibition in a café in Tartu where he was visiting - an exhibition of  visuals that used quotes from my first English poetry book. Being deeply into poetry and visuals himself, Wolfgang liked it and contacted us. And has been a source of good advice and conversation and ideas ever since. This is the first little collaboration between us, hopefully not the last. Also, hopefully Arvo Pärt does not mind the use of his music here too much. 
I like how it all comes together and I like the gentle visuals of the quite harsh winter - I guess it is the same kind of work I try to do with words. To speak gently of the deep and dark."

Check out Elo-Mall 's blog , it's full of good reflections, poems and artistic work. And she digs up superb music clips from YouTube as well!

Actually, there's been one little project before "Sometimes...". It had Elo-Mall's poem "Yes" as its base. For a good reason I could not complete it. A first tentative soundtrack is as far as I got...

I worked with the sound first, based on Elo-Mall's sound recording, and a track by " Röyksopp ", a Norwegian electronic group. As imagery I had mostly press photographs in mind which I wanted to drift in and out in in bits and pieces, something like a constantly shifting collage.

I realized from the beginning that the telephone sound effects were a bit retro since they aren't heard so often anymore. But I liked the idea anyway. Around the same time a friend of Ello-Mall's - Chris Carlone, a New York filmmaker - had very similar sound ideas for a short film he and MargeNelk produced. It featured one of Elo Mall's poems as well, this time with her in the leading role! The music by Frieder Zimmermann of Dresden, Germany, also helps to make the film "To Beauty" a real marvel! It came out before I was done. After that I figured that a second production leaning heavily on the "telephone" idea wouldn't be so cool. But for myself the work with this soundtrack was an experience in itself.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Winter Afternoon at Amundön

Amundön is an island within Gothenburg city limits, seperated from the mainland only by a narrow channel. As a nature reserve and recreational area it is popular at all seasons. Yet, at winter time on a weekday you can set out on explorations without meeting many people. Early winter was extremely warm and wet, so when a much colder period surprised us with the arrival of 2016, it found everybody badly prepared and and somewhat disoriented. Seems like everybody has to learn again to dress for freezing temperatures, outfit oneself with scarf, cap and mitts, plus take along paper tissue for runny noses.
But a beautiful day it was at Amundön...

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Friday, 1 January 2016

Three Stops At Local Shores - December 2015

On three days between Christmas 2015 and New Year, I made short stops at local seashores here in Gothenburg as a break from other businesses. It was a relaxing experience, despite the limited time on hand, about an hour for each sojourn. I also enjoyed trying to be effective in these quick visual explorations. Stiff fingers and a runny nose had to be contended with, occasional drops smearing the LCD, but luckily missing the lens.

This is another make-shift show, with images basically in a random arrangement, more or less for private enjoyment with a bit of a musical background. I keep the volume low in this type of show.

Clicking on the HD mark lets you choose a resolution. “720p HD ”provides the best image quality. Please avoid “AUTO”, available for newer posts: Erratic jumps betwen high and low image quality can occur.
Unfortunately there is a problem with VIMEO at present. The jump between qualities can at times be observed at any resolution selected! Hopefully the situation will improve soon.

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Lake Axlemossen - December 15, 2015

The Axlemossen body of water whithin the Änggårdsbergen-Reserve is not really a lake. The Swedish "mosse" could be translated as "bog", "swamp" or maybe even as "pond" or "wetland". All these terms could to some degree be applied to the Axlemossen, especially since it changes character back and forth over the years. At times it seems to dry up and become overgrown, then the vegetation diminishes again and it becomes lake-like. According to experts this is due to a number of different factors, amount of rainfall obviously being one of them.
The small overgrown islets can make interesting subjects for a photographer at different times of the year, but I find them at their best in foggy conditions. So in the absence of more wintry scenery I did not hesitate to head up to the "lake" when that grey blanket came down, which for some reason has hardly happened this fall. Luckily the drizzle stopped just in time so that handling the camera was no problem.

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Aerial photograph of Axlemossen

Axlemossen's location in Gothenburg

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Many Cultures - One World

At my former place of work – a Senior Secondary School in Gothenburg – one week of the school year was set aside for special project work under a certain theme. In 2004 the theme was “Meeting Cultures“. As staff member I was involved in the planning of the event, e.g. the opening session, with all students present, introducing the theme to them. I decided to start the day with an image show That would give glimpses of cultures quite different from ours. Image search on the WWW was not quite as easy and widespread as it is now. Time was pressing and to be able to get lots of pictures to choose from I formed a little student task force to support me in the preparation. I left it to the group to decide which images should be used. Then we arranged it all into a PowerPoint show and selected Sina Vodjani's “Straight To The Heart“ as sound track.
After recent turmoil in the world and the ever louder voices urging us to give war a chance, I thought of this show again, with its scope on the many people, many languages, many religions, many cultures that form our world. 
I transposed it to film now, not changing any images.

Clicking on the HD mark lets you choose a resolution. “720p HD ”provides the best image quality. Please avoid “AUTO”, available for newer posts: Erratic jumps betwen high and low image quality can occur.
Unfortunately there is a problem with VIMEO at present. The jump between qualities can at times be observed at any resolution selected! Hopefully the situation will improve soon.

Important: To go back to the blog after full screen viewing just end the full screen option: Press "Esc" button on the keyboard or click on the "Exit full screen" symbol in the film's toolbar.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

High In My Heart - Images From Western Canada

Caution: Show runs for almost 25 minutes. But of course you can bail out anytime you like. Images are from Alberta and British Columbia - plus a few from the Montana side of the border area - set to (mostly) Canadian Music.

This image show has roots in the late 1970s when it started as a Kodachrome slide show, intended for European audiences. It was shown at lunch hours, school gatherings and similar events, usually with two or three projectors connected to a soft fade and a control unit. Pulses recorded on tape or cassette along with the music track sparked off loading, tray advance and crossfading between consecutive slides.

Some slides from the early 1990s were added in due course. The slide digitizing is not satisfactory and badly needs to be redone, if I ever get around to it...

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