Mall Meditation / tw0

The mall meditation continues. In a way, it’s actually part three. The first began outside the mall, where my original plan was supposed to happen.

At shopping centers, I definitely feel uncomfortable in making photos of people. It’s a very unnatural place for street style photography. In general, people seem to react more skeptical when they suspect that you are making photos. Probably more my feelings than theirs. My problem.

Except when you find natural open spots and look like you just want to catch a nice view or an interesting object that happens to be there.

This was definitely not one of the greatest moments in the history of street photography. But I like what I got in its own way, as I usually do. No matter how vanishing small of insignificant importance. Every little moment is a piece of life as it occurred once in a lifetime in our spacetime with a unique little story hidden inside.

I’m not trying to defend my work. I just say what I think and what I believe strengthens your life with less is one of more and the rest of it all.

How did my mall meditation work? Beyond my expectations actually, in a strange odd way. The mall was packed with humans, impossible to ignore. Still, I found myself surprisingly calm inside. Like diving in a coral reef full of life.

I can’t remind me that I have ever managed to withstand such a pressure of impressions for so long time without feeling drained and exhausted. Tired on my way back home, of course, always (my circadian pattern is very curvy). But not that crazy tired as I usually become.

.

This is part three of two, part one, the third, is an outsider…

Hit the tag Kungsbacka and you’ll find the others

When it rains in Kungsbacka

Is it possible to meditate while walking around in a mall? You will get an idea about how it went in my next post.

I said “see ya” to my wife and daughter who went inside the big mall, while I headed to the small but nice little city center of Kungsbacka in the rain.

With my ridiculous beloved pink and white dotted umbrella.

 

This was kind of dead space. Seems that the habitats of this town don’t like rain very much. Ok, I actually like calmer and laid back places in general, but this was little too much of it.

Bad choice of day apparently. Those few I saw was either inside one of the very many cafes and restaurants or at the food store. I just wonder where they came from or where they went when done.

The citizens of Kungsbacka must love to get out to eat and drink. For such a small town you find a surprising amount of restaurants in every corner, side by side. I wonder if they use their kitchens.

So you probably have to eat to meet people here. At least when it rains.

The rain was moody anyway. And I actually got some nice observations during my short and simple walk about. Most of those insignificant everyday things and moments I see around me but most people never think that much about.

Fortunately, I happen to love those almost invisible insignificant moments in life. And I love making candid photographs of it. Some, many… would probably say boring about my point of view. Well. Life isn’t a Hollywood movie.

And when they find out it isn’t. They consume.

 

.

This is a part of part one and two of an ordinary day

Hit the tag Kungsbacka and you’ll find the others

Follow the invisible rabbit

Local walk to watch the day

One of the more warmer days today. Too hot in my ordinary shoes and flip flops are not made for long walks. So I put on my favorite shoes – my Vibram Fivefingers. Yay, that’s it. Feels like heaven also for my feet now.

Fivefingers

Ok, and now where to go? Follow the invisible rabbit.

Actually not very much happening anywhere this day in Mölndal. Sleepy slow. Days like these many people either take a trip to Gothenburg or the coastline, maybe one of the lakes or just hanging around in their garden or balcony.

I never bothered finding any specific reason what to shoot. Just anything and walk anywhere. Probably my favorite mood and way of making photos, not getting locked up inside thinking what and the need of must find something.

I like the idea of just get out and look around and crossbreed my thoughts with the view. No matter how well you know and many times you have seen your own little town. You will always find a new layer of thoughts upon the same old view, making it slightly different.

And you never know when something unexpected appears. Either inside your head or in front of you.

I love those simple laid back everyday adventures.

Live Today, Die Tomorrow

Live today, die tomorrow
Life is time, time is life
Life is changing, changing is time

Life between yesterday and tomorrow
A lifetime before tomorrow

Today we live as long there is time
Tomorrow we die as long as we live

Be there and don’t miss the road trip
Live today, die tomorrow

Born to be alive, not die

A walk, some shots, a meal, some coffee, some sleep. In the air. Looking at the sky, the sun and the passing clouds. Life unlimited as long as you are. The wind made a song of air in my head, whispering. This is what I heard, or felt, I’m not sure.

It will never be any better than you make it

It’s the most simple truth and fact. Boring is about nothing but making it so. Not the most fun may be true, but it will definitely never ever be more fun than you make it. Strangely it’s very easy to make it worse.

Where does happiness comes from?

All you need is to be aware and accept the rules of life and how life affects you. And how your own attitude to life affects yourself and your surrounding.

What goes around comes around.

Curiosity never killed the cat. It made it experienced and stronger. Failure is for pessimists. Optimists see it as a challenge to make it better. Boredom is for pessimists. Optimists see it as time to be mindful.

Either we find a solution, or we make a solution.

We need to be curious of what will happen next and what will happen if we do this or that. We need to love what we do, and not just do what we love.

We need to create our life.

My guardian angel in life is made of sarcasm, the good in the bad, mysteries, loads of cheap humour and inexhaustible curiosity. I like to cope to infiltrate the ordinary and make it mine.

Make my day

I’m bored from time to time, just like everybody else. I’m not immune to boredom. And I’m often restless. You won’t need what you don’t have to create and make things better than worse.

Don’t play dead to ignore life.

17.864 street steps at the end of April : part 2

Same day, same procedures as in last post. Too many photos in one post I thought and to many words. So I decided to divide them in two.

Just like I am from time to time.

Part one of this one in two post is here >> 

From now and then I can be more or less introvert from time to time. It changes very suddenly within any moment of time. But lasts no longer than just a few minutes up to some hours.

During these moments I feel no attraction what so ever to act very social or participate more than less needed to be present. This goes for my street photography as well. And when in this mood – I barely see the life around me. I don’t want to see and I’m not in the mood to make any photography of people at all.

It’s during those moment I begin to focus on other things instead. Shapes, structures, reflections, shadows and so. This is my basecamp and the origin of my photography.

I have found a quite nice collaboration between my two personalities when I’m out in the streets and how to make them both satisfied. Otherwise I’m generally actually the very shy guy, and I mean really shy.

Street photography have been the most effects way to deal with my shyness I ever experienced. This is practical in action therapy that really works.

My split confused mind and my restless changeability is probably a natural cause to how I deal with things.

Like that I have been fiddling a lot with my settings lately. I don’t like it, otherwise but nice way to get to know you well – my camera.

But I think it’s time to find my settings, and stay there. Most of my tweaking of how I want it at the end are made in the post process anyway. So I think I would like everything quite neutral from the beginning, just slightly tweaked.

Still I just had to try some new settings today after all. With a quite split decisions between just ok and naaa, or, maybe and… I’m already confused enough by nature so I don’t need more options. Hopefully this was my last attempt on trying to find something I really don’t know.

I didn’t like the settings I tried today. I’ll come back to what setting I prefer in a later post.

But what I do like, so far, is to use the back focus technique. This was a really nice discovery. Setting focus on manual locks out the function of focusing with half pressed shutter release. Instead you use the AEL/AFL button on the back when you want to refocus (the auto focus kicks in when you press). But pressing the shutter release halfway still works as auto exposure according to your P settings. If in any P mode.

This works much faster than letting the shutter release doing both. If you aim for smaller aperture and hitting within a particular zone of focus range, then this makes the shooting much more intuitively. Probably the closest you can get the feeling of traditional old school focus control.

Controlling the focus ring on the X100_  cameras in old style fashion feels quite awkward . It actually sucks, at least when shooting in the streets (in my opinion).

One more last note here about my settings for the day. According to me, dynamic range on auto was no big hit. It screwed up my flow in the post process and made to much difference between the shots depending on circumstances. I didn’t like that.

I prefer a more consistent result and adapt to the scene instead. You can always tweak the photo quite a lot in the post processing if you need, even with jpegs. I will let the dynamic range setting stay still at 100% 99% of my shooting.

I went back and forth in circles, eights and other directions until I came back where I started the day with a no. Terrible, but happily tired. My head felt like an empty hole. So it never was any end if the tour shots back home as I usually do. I just wanted to come home, drink ridiculous much coffee and take a nap.

Over and out – have a wonderful life
Mikael “Smike” Stenström

Migraine

Still hate it even if I know it’s totally useless. In some awkward ways it have probably made good things in the making of me. Like being humble to life and appreciate life for the most simple reasons.

But migraine is a cruel teacher and I don’t think the lessons are worth it at the end. The time you have to spend at migraine university steal incredible much time of your life.

There’s a reason why haven’t been so active in making street photography in the centre of it all. Where all the people walk around.

In periods I’m extremely sensitive to migraine and need to try to avoid more intensive impressions as much as possible. Sometimes I do it anyway, always ends in punishment. Sometimes worth it. But I prefer to avoid it. The pain and the nausea is ridiculous naughty.

I have my migraine killers. Luckily they do the job most of the time, sometimes they don’t. But even if the medicine work, it only kills the effect of the migraine. The cause is actually still active in the background.

Feeling better is unfortunately only temporarily when I’m in my worst periods of attacks.

In between you sometimes feel so exhausted and tired that you wish you could sleep for a days.

That’s hard when you almost shiver of abstinence in the need to be creative and want to create. So I create.

But not more than I need to make satisfaction. The crowded hordes of people in the streets won’t disappear. But I can. The streets can wait.

Be humble to your pain. To hate it won’t make it disappear- it makes it stronger. Be patience and wait, wait, wait. One day it will be good enough again. So use your freedom while you are free, even if it’s just for a moment before you fall again.

Fall seven times, rise eight.

Never let the disturbing distractions guide you. Aim for the open space between what stands in your way. Look for the openings and things that distract the bad, instead of being distracted by the bad. It’s the only way if you are surrounded by something that you cannot make disappear.

As this blog actually is a photography blog, a personal photography blog. Everything I write about also have connections to photography, in one or another way. Probably not obvious all the time, cause I also refer to life itself (from a personal view, not as a common truth). For me the philosophy of life and photography is very tight connected in my mindset.

Soul

I like to look around where I live for things to make photography. To walk or take the bicycle and randomly go wherever I feel to and explore. You always find something to shoot and having fun with back home when post processing what you’ve got.

Thats two in one for free. Travel and exploring inside out.

Exploring your local area where you live can if you want to, be more interesting than you think. But if you expect awesome moments and exotic scenery you will probably be disappointed. At least if you live in a smaller place where everything is more or less average.

But if you were a visitor from another place you would probably think it was a little more exciting. Maybe not fancy, but different enough to catch your curiosity. As soon things around you becomes different it suddenly gets a lot more exciting to explore and look around.

Pretending to be a tourist in your own hometown is an excellent way to widen the same old shit into more than the same old shit that you almost have made invisible.

Next step is even more exciting. Pretending to be an adventure tourist and go to places you normally never or rarely visit. Then, take it to the next level – pretend to be someone else. Someone from another culture for whom everything is new and exotic.

I remember once when I used to work in a big restaurant and when I got bored. I started to pretend that I was on a huge spaceship in deep space. Half of the crew and guests were either humans or aliens from different worlds that came to eat. This actually worked very well to withstand the more heavy levels of boredom. Totally crazy stupid but better than digging holes.

All to often we tend to shrink our daily life we live in. Moving in the same patterns day after day. Not strange that things easily becomes like same shit as yesterday. After a while you will not see the trees for all the trees.

After a while the soul in things decay and make you feel dissatisfied. You are the killer and the world around you is the victim. You want to escape and search for satisfaction in expensive travels and consumption. If you get stuck in lack of possibilities you may fade to grey or get struck by destructive anger.

But the soul never was in the things you killed. They were a reflection of yourself.

 

Sun, Glass and Shadows

What if and not much to do about it

As lust for shooting

And time is not filled with the space

I was actually in the middle of vacuum cleaning the apartment and preparing other stuff of need before time to go to work.

Lately I have been electrified by lust of just shoot whatever and care less of what. Just do it and see what I get and what can be done what I got. The post process itself is half the fun.

It’s no secret that this results in lots of crap. And honestly not even those I choose to make it is any of my most wanted. But what I like is the doing and the process. And sometimes I really like what I have managed to achieve.

It’s the creative process itself, The making. I love it and feel like a happy imaginary kid fooling around. I can really disappear deep into myself when this happens.

Sometimes I easily become mesmerised of the most ridiculous things I may find around me. In my head it becomes of great importance to explore.

I have always had a strong attraction to reflections, shadows, structures, shapes, patterns and details. And I find a lot of pleasure in playing with my mood in what I see.

For others, maybe just a wtf and not much more. But I don’t do it for others who think like that. I do it for myself and others who understand what I see, and why I’m doing it.

For you who may feel a touch of understanding but don’t see the reason. Apply this play on your regular more seriously photography…

What do you think? I think seeing beyond the ordinary make your subconscious mind more active, making your work more intuitive, reacting more instinctively of what you see around and how you compose your shots.

The enemy of good

… is someone of yourself who think too much about you.

It happens to me all the time.

I really love my Fuji X100T. But honestly – this camera is much better than I need it to be. At the same time, ok… It’s nice to have a camera that is capable of more than you need. It gives you more space to play with possibilities.

The problem is not owning a camera that is better and more expensive than you need. The problem is your mindset. It’s way too easy to get caught in some kind of imaginary pro mode. Affected by an enforced feeling to level up the whole process to make things as perfect as possible.

The better the circumstances are, the more and better we want and the more distracted by flaws we get.

What is perfect? What makes one thing more perfect than another? And for whom?

Nowadays digital cameras generally produce image quality that is so close to perfect that it needs to be imperfect to feel alive.

The more you stare the more you dissect and get distracted by technical details. Obsessed with making Frankensteins monsters and forget the importance of soul. It looks well made technically, but the soul is dissected and disconnected.

It’s awful simple to get stuck in the hunt for technical perfection and almost feel guilty of a crime if you don’t make use of the maximum possible advantage that your hard and software is capable of to perform, and catch this perfection. Afraid of failure.

The technical maximum high quality preservation of the original information that the camera or the editing tool you are using are capable of. Is not the same as the quality within the photography itself.

But I have to admit. I often find myself being way to careful with my photos during the post process. I would actually like to challenge my thoughts about perfectly good enough more often than I do and screw things up a little more.

Alien drive

I think one major problem here is your imaginary thoughts of what other people think about your photography when you make them. – You have a superior camera and high end photo editor software, and this is what you get?

And that we compare ourselves with others too much.

I think we all to often deal with too much worries and doubts about what we are doing.

This is a ghost. Don’t try to please others – find out what pleases you to pleas others. If other people happens to like what you’re doing, then you have found a nice roadmap how to both express and attract. But don’t expect it.

Never give up. Do what you feel is you and continue to deliver, explore and develop your way.

This is a self exploring therapy journey we need to go through and accept if we want to do what we like and like what we do. A travel we do until we die. In one in another way.

A nice workaround to deal with this anxiety is to be more rough when shooting and make more experimental photography. Not purposely shitty photos, but with the same mindset just to make you less serious. Lower your guard and let the child in you enter the scene.

Don’t get stuck in feelings of lack of nice conditions. Make it a reason to conquer the conditions. Try to create fascination out of the ordinary, almost boring.

Don’t get stuck in boring results out of your camera. Make it a reason to find something. Your soul, not according to what you think other people think. The soul is everywhere but looks and feels different for everyone.

Many of those photos will probably give you a lot more fun while post precessing them than the more regular and better shots. This is a nice way to explore possibilities and develop personality in your photography. With photos like this you will be less careful and willing to experiment more without distraction of any level of technical quality. This is pure mood mode. This will crossbreed your attitude towards your photography. And make you more laid back.

Finding the beauty and the drama in the seemingly daily grey and boring around the corner is a satisfying challenge to aim at. To create something out of barely nothing where you are with what you have.

One of the best cameras to use for assignments like this is probably your smartphone (the majority of the photos in this post is made with an iPhone7 and post processed with Snapseed). For some reason we lower our guard when shooting with our smartphones, just snap and don’t think too much more than just catching the moment.

If you ever made photos as a kid, try to imagine and revive to be there again. Otherwise, just try to imagine and revive the uncomplicated conditions needed to make fun.

After I bought my Fuji X100T I rarely used my iPhone as camera any longer. Thats sad. So I decided to make use of it more often again. Much just because it’s effect on my mindset. It’s just so ridiculous easy to just shoot it. And you don’t care so much.

You have probably heard of the mantra cliche that the best camera is the one you have with you. That’s true. Any camera is best, the one you choose to almost always have at hand, not which brand or model.

When I bought my Fuji camera I decided to start bring it with me as often as possible just to make it an automatic behaviour. But soon I found that this was wrong choice. I was thinking too much photography for the sake of making photography.

It isn’t the need of your best camera at hand that is important. It is the most simple and easy mindset that triggers and make you shoot whenever whatever and develop your intuitive photographic behaviour.

If you want to explore and develop you intuitive photographic behaviour. I think you really need those moments in the making of photography when you care less and make the process almost unnoticeable simple. Just like breathing.

I’m quite sure that using your smartphone as camera more often makes you a more personal and better photographer. And not being so loyal to hi-tech quality regardless of what you use.