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.

The Foam of Days

Lets start with the heavy shit first. Just to throw up some frustration and clean up my thoughts.

This photo was taken as a kind of manifestation over my hateful relationship with my headache (migraine). This was shot when just released from its prison. So, there you are.

One day almost in heaven, next back to hell. But lets stay in heaven where my head almost was in yesterday. First I made a spontaneous Vlog in the morning. A very strange idea indeed that came unexpected from nowhere. Soon thereafter I took my bike and went to Mölndal, my own little hometown for a walk with my camera.

Mölndal is a city in big change. Not only that it grows intensively a little big bit everywhere. The whole city centre is undergoing a huge remake and the epicentre is erased from scratch. Not a day to late because the city core of Mölndal have been a joke, a bad joke all too long – ridiculous boring not worth the effort to visit.

Even if I’m not actively look for views to make photographic documentation of this remake, I think it’s fun to caught some glimpses of the transformation in my photography while I’m here. And it’s fascinating to see how traces of the ongoing construction areas often sneaks in the periphery of photos made here.

Otherwise my mission for the day was just to see if I could find something along the way to shoot. My intuition decided what to make my day. I was not excepting making street portraits, but it just happened to be some.

I got about 50/50 no/yes when asking. That’s good, in two ways. It’s good to learn how to deal with the situation when you get a no and nice knowing that a lot of people out there actually have nothing against it.

Nowadays I have become very confident in asking for permission and a no is nothing that hits my self esteem. But only when I’m in the mood. When not I still find it hard to empower the self esteem I need to just do it. It’s something that comes and goes.

As usual I cannot withstand a visit to the public transportation centre, known as Mölndals Bro (bridge). The bridge that connects the divided city in two halves between the highway and the railway.

This have become one of my favourite spots. Much because it comes naturally in my way when going away or going home, either by bus or bicycle. So I always ends up here sooner or later. Again and again and seems to never get bored of doing it.

The city of Mölndal itself is after all still a quite slow sleepy and unexciting town. But in a strange way, in small doses and with the right mindset, interesting to observe. A nice place to be when your head is still not fully recovered, but can’t resist the lust to get out making some street photography.

Reclaim the speed of life

Still not attracted to the big over humanised streets. I’m not in the mood for that kind of street photography at all for the moment. Not trying to force it to be liked either. Just waiting, doing other meanwhile. It will come when it comes.

I really like the mindful sleepy slow urban backstreet life behind the big scene of million faces. So much more satisfying. And so much better for my over sensitivity head being where life is going on in more natural speed.

Reclaim the speed of life.

Not many people here but few on the way back home or away. Some very few have found the peace in being here and seems to feel calm and satisfied. Sunbathing, just sitting on a bench, the balconies, taking care of their small green spots.

Beside some workers around, there’s probably not many visitors who doesn’t live here or happens to know someone in those hidden backstreets. I believe outsiders rarely take their path to places like these.

It’s actually sad. It’s really fascinating and exciting walking around totally unaware of what to be found, just a few blocks behind the common paths. Walking forward intuitively in any direction. Not that you probably will find anything fabulous fantastic behind any corner. But the excitement of never been there makes you curious.

It’s like being an adventure tourist beyond the mainstream. Nothing is served, no attractions to numb your lack of imagination, nothing superfluous, simply same but a different everyday life behind the scene that makes you think from different point of views. Giving you perspective and distance to yourself and your own life.

I often use to imagine – what if I lived here, that I do. Sometimes I use to imagine that I don’t live where I live. What do I see, what do I feel. It may sound stupid ridiculous, but I find it very pleasing and fun to imagine like this. Especially when I feel a boring mood. It’s like injecting new life.

In many ways my mindset on photography have started to change somewhat. It have been going on for some time now but I haven’t really understood what I feel. Today I think I have found it and what to do with it.

I’m not supposed to make photo walks – I’m supposed to get out and discover the simple world and make photography whenever my intuition feel a photography. Not going out to make some photos.

Same, same but different you may think. But for me this is a big difference. It’s more a relation to my camera as an imaginary friend with who I share my experience with. Not just a thing around my neck that make pictures.

But of course, a camera is a very good companion and a reason while moving around. It makes you see more and the moments you catch will never be alone in the depths of your own fading memory.

A sunny summer day that ended with some nice simple barbecue and ice cold beer in our simple little backyard garden. Somewhere behind the regular streets where others dwell and never see.

Lux Umbra :: Gallery

I am the extrovert introvert. The shadows in the sun and the air in between. The stars in the sky and the darkness in between. I am birth and death and the moments in between.

Lux Umbra – an album from flickr – click and go >>

Lux Umbra
I’m going to make more of these in the future. Categoriesed under Gallery. Feel a need to collect my photography into a more easy just view mode as an alternative. This may be a way to do it.

Backstage

I felt a bit anti social today. No attraction what so ever to hit the big rivers of bodies. And oh my so many there was of them out there today. Crazy

I already knew when I got onto the bus that I probably wouldn’t do my ordinary walkabout today. My intuition told me so. I made a try at the end of the trip and got fucked up in my head almost immediately. Sorry, but you fit better at distance in my world today.

I went backstage instead. Walked along the roads and pathways between the buildings in other directions. Places where I probably once in a lifetime have been before but don’t remember.

I used to live and be here and around occasionally once upon a time. A strange mixed feeling. But I think I kind of like it better now when I have distance to the crazy chaos of happiness, melancholy and depression back in the eighties. Today those memories of my life feels unreal, more like a strange movie.

Good and bad side by side instantly, live fast and die young – life is a crazy party and then you die. My future was no further away then the next second.

But I don’t regret a second. Not even things I regret and could have done different. After all, everything happens for a reason – the making of who you are.

I really enjoyed my walk in silence today. Watching people at distance, like a shadow of my past, a nostalgic ghost in the sunlight of the future.

So simple, yet so powerful way to achieve satisfaction. Just walking around with my camera catching moments of life through my mood of mind. No expectations whatsoever, no searching, no waiting, just feel and snap a shot along my way whenever my intuition told me to.

But along my way I eventually happened to walk upon one and later on a second person I wanted to make a street portrait of. They just was there in my way to be made.

The highlight of the day was probably my ego floating above my body and this woman who really liked being photographed and began to pose for me. Unfortunately I’m not very comfortable in this game play. I could probably go on shooting loads. She seemed to have no problems letting me do it. But I just made some few.

A lovely day backstage. For sure something I’ll do more of in the future. It felt so much more giving than bathing in the crowds collecting people on my memory card.

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

17.864 street steps at the end of April

Last day of April, and probably maybe the most spring feeling day so far. Nice day for a photo walk. Wherever guided by intuition. That’s how I like it best. Know what but don’t really what.

I have divided this into two posts. Same walk but part 2 contains more personal thoughts in general and thoughts about camera settings. So if in only for the photography, keep on and continue.

It went a quite long walk around the city of Gothenburg. It started with a distinct No! when I wanted to make shot of a cool elder couple. I haven’t got a no so far but I think it’s important to learn to deal with those moments. Getting a No – check \/

No mood killer. But a little later on when walking on a quite broad enough sidewalk for two, three, even four people. This woman just felt some craving need to bump me even if I was walking on the edge of the sidewalk. Then I got a short bad feeling in my head of this day.

Luckily things changed quite quickly to the better. First I decided to take command of who’s driving – I am. How do I want to feel – good. I met no more of this kind for the rest of this day. No no’s either.

Always one or more highlights (so far). And the one who made my day today was he who is featuring this post. So it feels good to call him “the poster boy”. Very nice and contagious positive guy. I really like those quick meetings and short chats with happy strangers.

The other one was the woman with the stroller. She actually asked me if I could make a snap of them with her smartphone. In return I asked if I could do it again with my camera. Fun short and uplifting meetings with totally strangers. I love it.

I tend to be a constantly walker. I once hade my thoughts if scouting interesting spots could be a better approach for me. But it seems not to be so. I get restless quite quickly or start daydreaming. None work very well for street photography. When walking you can at least channeling a restless mind. So walk on works best for me. And making street photography while daydreaming – I don’t think I have to say anything about that combination.

Walking is good for both your body and mind. So I walk. I work best that way.

I’m very changeable in my mind and as you may have seen I have been making a lot more street photography in colour lately. I haven’t thought so much about why. I just want to explore how to use colour I assume. And I have learned to begin like it more and more.

And sometimes I just like this straightforward simple ordinary look of a documented moment without too much need for artistic drama. And if I get a feeling to add a more moody look, colours sometimes work as an excellent extender to achieve it with even more impact than monochrome.

I can’t describe when, what or why. That’s just something I feel. Some photos just look and feel better in colour and vice verse (in my mind).

I care less nowadays about finding any style to identify me with. I feel no need to streamline my photography and I feel happily free to post process my photos as they come in mind without any glue to make them look alike.

I still prefer to make my monochrome straight from the camera and only convert those in colour when I feel that colours doesn’t add anything of interest. Sometimes monochrome just looks better.

But I think it’s good to learn to separate your imagination of seeing and thinking in monochrome versus colour. Therefore I prefer changing between colour and monochrome in camera rather than rely on that I can make it b/w later if.

That also make one decision less to care about instantly in the post process. Monochrome is monochrome and can never be in colour again. I always shoot jpeg if anyone have missed that.

I have never regret a monochrome shot. But I often find that a colour photography sometimes looks much better in monochrome afterwards.

Part two continues right here >>

Shooting the streets and ask for permission

At last. Ok, not that long time ago, but long enough since I took a photo walk in the streets full of life.

Still a little bit empty in my head after all this headache I have had lately, but my cravings to get out was too strong to hold me back today. Free fall is the best way to try when you not sure.

I was fiddling with my camera settings for a reason I’m not really sure of why, but I did. When I saw a man who was also fiddling with something on the ground. We were both in the same fiddling world. I took a shot, and missed. Everything out of focus. Bulls eye nice conclusion. This is my head. So I really like it bad…

But I can’t make photos like this for the rest of the day (hell yeah! I sure can if I want, but I don’t, not today).

As usually when I want people I go to Gothenburg. But it seems that I have made a routine of to make my last shots in my own backyard on my way home. Wherever I am or go I usually start warming up shooting objects and slowly sneak into aiming for people. Sometimes I shock-treat myself with a stoic confrontation.

And shit how I wish for warmth, and that I didn’t care. But I do. Six, seven months of chilly shit is more than I need. Spring is annoying late.

I made a little project for the day. More or less not so very well thought through, more a spontaneous idea because it felt just right timing in my mood today. But based on something old I have been waiting for a while to make use of. This fucking hesitation is annoying.

Trying to catch the courage to ask for permission to make a photography, more often. I have succeeded doing it before, but very sporadically. So it doesn’t comes naturally. I would like to change that and make it feel just as natural and comfortable as shooting a tree.

I also think that asking strangers for permission is a great way to empower your courage and evolve your street photography in general.

After all, being photographed by a stranger however it occurs, is not a very normal situation. That’s just facts. Getting a strange look or a comment is rather a natural reaction.

Make photography of strangers, but don’t make their thoughts.

People with dogs seems to be very easy to get a yes for permission to make a photography of. They seems to feel proud over the attention together with their beloved.

And I have a feeling of that it’s almost the same with human couples, or friends.

Actually, I have realised that asking is far more less scary. It feels a lot more easy and comfortable than silent but obvious shooting chosen strangers. Even revealing yourself openly with your camera instead of trying to hide and sneak is much more comfortable.

Some people just smile and say yes. Others wonder with a kind and curious attitude. Whatever what reaction I get I immediately usually follow up my request with a why. I’m quite sure they want to know even if they don’t say anything.

But sometimes it happens that I just ask and say thanks with a smile and a thumb up. That works really good too. I always do this when I shoot people without asking. A smile and a thank you is the less you should do when making unexpected photography of strangers.

My most common phrase is based on my true reason. And I would never lie about why. I’m a terrible liar and they would probably see straight thorough me if I lied. If I see someone special I actually tell them that I just happened love people like them and would like to make a photography.

This man really made my day. After I got my shot and was about to walk back in the other direction, he turned around and said thank you ver much. That made my heart beat with a warm smile on my face.

I’m considering of making visit cards to give my strangers I meet and make photos of.

My second highlight was a couple back home in Mölndal. They were friendly but a little suspicious and curious about my intentions, with all rights, I don’t blame them. So I told them my story, in very short terms. It ended in asking if I had a gallery of some kind on the web, so I gladly gave them my blog address. Which was not easy because suddenly I couldn’t remember it and had to pick up my phone.

This was a very nice end of the day.

Next step in asking is to get even closer and maybe do a bunch of shots instead of single shots. But at the same time I like the thrill of only get one shot and try to nail it in only one shot. That gives the photography an unique feeling – the one and only, and I got it. Maybe not perfect, but good enough.

And I would like to try remember using the flash when doing my street portraits. A flash blended with the ambient daylight makes a very nice touch.