Exercise in creativity

A few weeks ago I purchased Eric Kim’s “eternal return to creative every day”. It’s a fun little booklet with creative ideas and exercises, and I finally printed it and started with the first task yesterday.

Photograph everything that interests you during one day. Go through the images, see what you like.

I did. These are the ones I chose (from a trip to Copenhagen):

web-0664web-0666web-0676web-0680web-0681web-0682web-0687web-0689web-0696web-0697web-0702web-0705web-0707web-0708

I am pleased with the result, Every one of the photos tells a story – at least to me. From the moment we left (Midori says “Huh! You leaving?”) to waiting in traffic five minutes from home at a roadblock.

Christina and Fant the Fant-astic!

I’ ve known Christina on the web since she took one of my online classes, and I’ve admired her work. She and her beautiful cocker Fant lives in Paris at the moment (enjoy her insta! ), and as they were passing by Sweden she asked for a private session. Some new ideas on street photography, and how to pose Fant in order to not make him look posed, was on the wish list.

We met in Västra Hamnen in Malmö (a beautiful part of the city, do not miss when passing by!). I know the area fairly well, and as Christina wanted to work with the composition of lines and shapes with her 16mm wide-angle, I added the idea “dog goes on an adventure in town” to give a bit of backstory.

And then we got to work. For me, one of the keys is to really “work through” an area. Different angles, compositions distances, poses…Little by little that makes me realise what I want from this scene, and I often end up with something completely different than my original idea. So that’s what I had Christina doing.

_DSF7220-w

Fant is a very well trained model, and seemed to really enjoy himself! Lots of treats were involved 🙂

We deliberately chose poses that did NOT involve looking into the camera. The idea was to capture Fant’s view of the town – how would a dog explore? If he was a bit adventurous, and more about seeing than sniffing (I know, it’s not super realistic, but the images get better…)?

_DSF7237-w

This part of town has lots of big windows, and that means lots of reflections. So much fun to play with!

Of course, a dog visiting Malmö would want to look at the sea and the bridge to Copenhagen. We got him to look in the right direction with a little help from some strategically arranged treats.

I really liked the idea of him lying almost like a statue, overlooking the city with the Turning Torso behind him. Him – not so much…But hey, anything for Mom!

_DSF7246-w

And my last one of a very warm and tired Fant. He did not actually seek that shadow by himself, we put him there. It still tells the story 🙂

_DSF7251-w

My shots are a bit haphazard, I wasn’t there to shoot but to teach and give feedback and suggestions. I know Christina got some really good ones, and can’t wait to see them!

So. Lesson learned:

  • What’s the story?
  • Try, try, try!
  • Change something in every shot
  • Leading lines
  • Diagonals
  • Rule of thirds
  • Play with reflections
  • Avoid poses that look posed
  • Work with the light, make the subject stand out
  • Don’t be afraid to go close
  • Don’t be afraid to back up
  • Keep the dog happy!

And to finish: keep your eyes open. What happens around you?

_DSF7201-w_DSF7248-w

Behind the scenes

My work as a photographer sometimes brings me to new and interesting places, to do new and interesting things. Two weeks ago I went to Gothenburg, to work with Svenska Terapihundskolan (Swedish school for therapy dogs). My assignment was to take photos for their coming book about therapy dogs and their handlers – so much fun!

Sara made me extra happy because she took photos of me working! So you can see what the scene looks like, and then my photo 🙂

It was amazing to see the different dogs and handlers do their magic. Because it’s really magic! The way people relax, smile, open up…

And it’s not only the clients that smile – both the dogs and their handlers really love their work. The dogs are work colleagues and respected as such, never a “tool” to use. The dogs love their work, they may be trained in certain tricks or moves, but I think that what really moves the clients is that the dogs are having a really good time.

As a dog trainer, I also loved the nice and neat training that took place. All training is 100% reward-based. The clients love giving the dogs treats, and the handlers make sure that all clients know how to treat a dog nicely. No matter the age of the client.

And as there is a wide variety of clients, from children’s hospitals to elderly care facilities, the dog (and handler) get to work with the type of humans they love the most. Some are really calm and cuddly and love to just hang out and get cuddled with. Others like a bit more action, and work well with school children. There’s a place for everyone!

The book will be released in December. Worth waiting for!

Thursday – going south

Thursday our plans was to go to the south. As long as we could! Fuerteventura isn’t a large Island, so it’s a nice field trip for a day.

First stop: Morro Jable. We wanted a cup of coffee. The city wasn’t awake yet…No coffee, but I got some history instead!

Stella Canaris was an enormous hotel/resort/zoo. 2013 they stopped paying the people working there. Everything was left from one day to another – keys in the rooms, chairs by the pool, glasses and plates in the cafés. The animals were rescued or let out of their cages (I really hope the large snake and the Crocodile that can be seen on the posters were rehomed), the staff either left or stayed to live in the abandoned hotelrooms.

There was a guard watching us so I couldn’t try to get inside the fences…that’s an adventure for next time!

I Think abandoned places are fascinating, I can imagine whole stories about how it was and what happened then. Mostly ghoststories, I love horror litterature and creepypasta…

Anyway, as coffee in the morning is a must-have, we continued to the harbour. There we found the waiting hall for the ferry. And coffee!

In the harbour we also visited a sea-turtle nursery. As you are well aware of we humans tend to destroy the world around us. Sea-turtles eat plastic bags or get stuck in garbage, and get really sick and die. In this nursery they are getting help, and they are released from Cofete beach when they are fully recovered.

It made me really sad to see these majestic animals sort of flying through the water in the small pool, round and round, with their feet scraping the walls. They are so beautiful and full of grace, and I really hope they will be let out in the ocean soon! At the same time it was very effective to show the gentle seaturtles to the tourists, my first thought was “how do I donate money to this?”

We moved on – to the south, to the south!

From Morro Jable there’s a dirt road leading South. After about 8 km you can choose the Mountains and Cofete, but this time we stayed with the shoreline and headed for a lighthouse. On the way we passed a viewpoint and stopped to look at the scenery.

Down here you can see far without any company except for the goats. Our car looked deserted…

web-5844

At the lighthouse we were surprised by rain. But that doesn’t stop us!

We continued on the road to the last viewpoint.

If we could get there, that was! All of a sudden a large group of goats decided they wanted to go from one place to another. We were in their way…

After about ten minutes they left us alone, and we were on our way again.

Here there was nothing to break the wind, and I got wet as the waves crashed against the rock I stood on. Luckily my camera is made to endure bad weather, because the Beauty!

And right there, in the middle of nowhere: a door. As a Dark Tower fan I felt chills…

web-

On the way back we passed the most peculiar camping site I have ever seen. I guess you could call it Caravan city?

web-6007

Back in Morro Jable we got wet in the rain, walked the beachpromenade all the way, watched flowers and squirrels, and had a terrible late lunch at a chinese restuarant. Morro Jable is nice, but the north is really more our thing…

One last stop before we got home: the beaches of Jandia are famous. We had to stop!

If the beaches of Corralejo are for kiters and the beaches at El Cotillo for surfers, the beaches of Jandia seems to belong to the windsurfers. Especially the ones that are new to windsurfing.

(Sorry about the blown-out highlights in the clouds, I accidentally changed my settings…)

Tired and on our way home, we just had one more question:

Is this camper van for sale…?

web-6083

 

 

 

Tuesday – roadtrip and The Beach Beyond The Caves

We normally get up att six (seven if I work from home), so we had an early start! We and our little Citroen started on the road from Corralejo to El Cotillo. Not the asphalt road – the road next to the sea! We didn’t really care about the goal, it’s the road that matters (a bumpy, dusty, wash-board-like road…) The plan was to stop and snorkel, but it was really cold and windy…

We passed Majanichu, said hello to a sea gurkin (hope he still lives, he was out of the water and we didn’t dare touch him…or maybe her…) and enjoyed the waves and the wind.

web-5593

The colour palet for Fuerteventura has to be sea-blue, terra cotta, graphite, sand-yellow, the green of the succulents that grow here and the deep lilac in the mountains. And maybe a light off white, from the foam on the waves.

We took a detour to the lighthouse next to El Cotillo, and followed the walk from sign to sign and learned a bit more about the beach and the island. In my opinion a bit cold to sit and meditate, but hey – whatever works for you!

A quick stop in El Cotillo for some lunch (obviously a mistake to order burgers and fries at a fish-restaurant, it tasted like the chef really hated burgers…But at least we weren’t hungry anymore!). El Cotillo is always nice!

web-5598

We were in the mood for more road-trips, so we set course for Ajuy! We were going to look for The Beach Beyond The Caves.

I love to bring my camera to Ajuy, it’s one of the most beautiful places I know and I always find new views.

We started our walk by leaving the common trail to the caves, and going through a broken fence into the great wide open (yes, I could hear Tom Petty in my head…).

And we walked. And walked. All alone. I could see the caves from the backside, and asked “Are you sure you know where we’re going…?” “Yes. Maybe. Ithink so…Let’s try one more hill!”

And there it was.

web-5650

We didn’t continue the walk down the cliff, but just stood in awe and enjoyed the sight.

Then all of a sudden we weren’t alone anymore! Three youngsters and a drone appeared.

web-5623

The sun disappeared, and we headed home. On the way back we passed the warning sign for dangerous drop…

web-5664

…and I took a closer look at the fence…

web-5666

Security? More like “at your own risk”. It’s a great walk and well worth the effort, but keep dogs and small children on a leash!

On our way back we were instantly reminded that Fuerteventura is a tourist island.

I don’t see that as a problem, as I’m starting to learn when and where to go to avoid the big busloads and still see the interesting stuff!

web-5668

And one last photo of the day. Kitesufrefs under a rainbow.

web-5675

Only on Fuerteventura.

 

Back in Fuerteventura!

I’m back on my favourite island – Fuerteventura!

This time I’m not only accompanied by my husband but also by my Fujifilm x-t2. Last year I had my big Sony, and my shoulders and back hurt and I sometimes left the camera in the car. Fujifilm and a 35 mm lens has walked with me all day yesterday and all day today – and I hardly know it’s there! Except for when I need it of course 🙂 I keep it in a wrist-strap, so easy to change hands if necessary and no big strap that gets in the way or constrict my movements.

Enough about my equipment…

We arrived yesterday. We left at sunrise, and I got some shots through the window of the plane (sorry about the poor quality, the window wasn’t exactly clean…)

The light at sunrise is kind of fantastic!

Almost nine hours later we checked in at Surfing Colors – we came back this year as we really like the relaxed atmosphere here. A stroll around town, see what’s changed since we were here last year, a pizza at one place, a coffee at another. Relaxation starting to spread.

Before dinner we took a short walk in one of my favourite parts of the island, the “badlands” between Corralejo and El Cotillo. We didn’t go far, but the rough feeling of the wind, the sea and the lavastones always make me feel att peace with myself.

The sun was setting, so we got some really nice light!

When I turned the other way I could see the town:

And as it got darker I turned to the mountains and the hills of lava-stone.

See why I love it here? This is raw nature, untamed, not bending to anyone or anything.

I’m so happy to be back!

 

How to take better photos with your mobile

I’m travelling this week, and is currently in an RV using my phone for internet.

I use my phone for a lot of things! Blogging. Facebook. E-mail. Filming. And photographing!

Yep, that’s right. I really believe that there is no better camera than the one you have with you. I ALWAYS have my phone!

I remember the first camera-phone I bought. It had the camera as an extra accessoir, and it screwed on the top. The photos were…barely recognisable. At best. A lot has happened since then! Today’s cameraphones are generally really good. Some of them you can even set to RAW, if you want to edit a bit more. (I don’t, I’m short on space as it is…And if I want to do something “extra” with my photos, I use my DSLR.)

Let me show you a few from these last three days (click on them to see full size):

 

What do you think? Some of them are straight out of my phone (Samsung s7) and some of them are edited in the app Snapseed that is my absolute favourite editing-app (and as usual the people at Snapseed don’t even know I’m writing this).

Some advice to improve your phone-photos:

  • Look at the background. It’s even more important with your phone, because it’s very wide-angle.
  • Don’t zoom, it will pixelate your photo. Move closer instead.
  • Use the wide angle affect, and put something in the foreground to create depth.
  • Always think about composition. Rule of thirds apply very well!
  • My phone have a great function, it takes a photo when I say “cheese” or “shoot”. Perfect when you have two leashes in one hand and try to handle the phose with the other!
  • Try to keep the horizon straight (easier said than done for some reason…)
  • Keep your thumb away from the lense! Seems obvious, yet I still struggle…
  • And take LOTS of photos. Keep the ones you like. Trash the rest. Share on facebook, instagram, blog, or anywhere else.

Happy shooting! Go for it!

Dreams of future pasts

“What do you want to remember in five years time?”

A friend of mine asked me that question, as we spoke about my new puppy and what I wanted to do with her. Competition, what sport, etc. That is four years ago.

I thought it was an odd question, so I began thinking about it. Now, four years later, I think it’s a great question! What are my most cherished memories with her? Well…a lot of fun training. A few competitions. But mostly…life together. When she snuggles up in the middle of the night, with a sock in her mouth, just glad to see me. How she sleeps in my lap as we watch TV. That she loves toys, and treats, and jumping up in my arms, and lick my face. How she found a bag of fruit and vegetables and played with it whe she was home alone, and we came home to a sofa covered in grapes, zucchini arranged on the table, lettuce leafs all over the floor, and one happy pup (we laughed. What can you do?).

SONY DSC

Cutest pup ever!

So, as I thought about what I thought I wanted to remember, and how it differed from my actual favourite memories, I learned about myself and what is really important to me. Self-insight. Really useful 🙂

And I expanded the concept. What do I want to remember, not only from my time with my dog but from my life, in five years time?

“Well…I worked a lot. Fun? Yes, sometimes. Not what I really wanted to do though, but…you know…got to pay the bills. Travel? Yes, some. Funny, I always thought I would travel more. See the world, you know? But there was really never the time, with the house and all.”

No. That is so not me. I won’t let it be. If you want something, work for it!

And right now, I truly believe that in five years time I really want to remember that I left my teaching job, made it as an online teacher and photographer and can work from anywhere, and live part time in an RV with my husband and dogs.

This is my future home (or something like this, we won’t buy one until next year):

 

That’s the plan right now. Let’s see what happens. Sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes you just change your mind for whatever reason, but right now – this is the start of getting to a life that I don’t want to take a vacation from 🙂

Sunday: Windy! and Monday: last day…

_DSC5451

We really, really wanted our last days to be beach-weather. But nope…even though the sun was shining there was an “orange wind-alert” on the weather-app in my phone. How bad can it be? you ask. Weeeell…when the wind blows on Fuerteventura, it really blows!

First thought: find a nice spot on Flag beach, sheltered from the wind. How hard can it be?

Try impossible. And the wind made the sand fly. Flying sand is NOT nice when it hits your naked skin. Peeling de luxe…

_DSC5459

The water was wild, the waves wanted to go right, but the wind blew left, and they crashed in the middle. The water was soooo far out.

_DSC5464

_DSC5462

So we struggled back to the car, and left the sand. In sweden we have snow that blows on the road and makes it slippery. Here it was sand!

A few km away the sand ended, and the cliffs don’t fly in the wind as easily…New try!

_DSC5470_DSC5477

I could feel the car move as we parked, but further down we were well protected and stayed for a few hours.

What to do next?

We went to La Oliva. There was even windier. We came back home, and placed our butts at a café in town. Much nicer! A bit of shopping, feeling a bit down because it was our last day, gift-shopping for the dog-sitters at home (and for me). And more coffee, and more just looking at people and enjoying the atmosphere.

Monday morning we woke early, and went to the badlands for one last walk. The wind had increased even more during the night, now it was much calmer and we saw evidence of the high waves only as traces all the way up on the pavement. Incredible! Forces of nature are not to play with…

Now the wind was minimal and the sun warm. We kept seeing more traces of the nights storm: a lot of water where there was dry the day before!

And the plantlife. One night of rain, and the plants really enjoy themselves!

Surfschools were out looking for the best places, keeping in touch and telling eachother what works and what doesn’t.

_DSC5485

And some furniture ended up in a new place…

_DSC5490

One last view, and then off we went to the airport.

_DSC5483

Goodbye Fuerteventura! See you soon!

And like that, our vacation/escape/adventure was over. At least for now. Time to deal with real life again…

Coming up: So…what do I really do then? When I’m not on vacation?

 

 

Saturday: Cofete Beach

Saturday we went on our last, and longest, adventure of the week. From Corralejo way up north, to Cofete Beach down south! We started at 9, and the GPS said 3 hours to drive 140km. That couldn´t be right? The roads are surprisingly good over the whole island, and surely we would be there before that time? Anyway, the GPS has been proven wrong before, and we started.

The weather was warm, but cloudy and rain was in the air. A good day to drive! We passed Morro Jable at 10.30. 20 more km, and we would be there!

We followed the signs to Cofete, to a small dirtroad. Bumpy is an understatement, the road resembled an old washboard! We were a bit worried about the car, and when the turns started we understood why the GPS said 3 hours…

That road still gives me nightmares. Literally. Yes, two cars can pass, but just. On one side: the mountain. On the other: well…the mountain still, but kind of going down into the sea…without even the smallest fence…and a bit eroded at places…The road torned over 90 degrees left and right, so there wasn´t the slightest chance of seeing oncoming traffic until they were right in front of you. Steep uphill, steep downhill. And what happens with 10 km left? Our car starts screeching and screaming like a cat in agony! The brakes? The steering wheel? The wheels? Could we even go on? And more importantly: did we have a choice?

We decided to keep going at snailspeed, and take a closer look at the car and rest at Cofete beach.

OMG. That place. It’s totally worth the nightmares!

Cloudy and foggy, and we parked our car and took a coca cola and a sandwich to get in a better mood. It helped some. Ola examined the car – nothing obvious wrong. We decided to just put it out of our minds for now, and enjoy the place we had fought to get to.

_DSC6447

Here lives a few people, in houses that looks like they are about to fall down and with sturdy cars that can drive anywhere.  Around us: mountains. And a beach, that goes on forever and is almost empty.

_DSC6482

Tourists come here, of course. We followed a caravan of tourist cars to a cemetary that is located down by the beach.

And the we just kept on walking…about 30 minutes, and we didn’ t seem to get any closer to the end of the beach.

When we looked to the right, we saw Villa Winter. Built by a german nazi officer during WW2, now abandoned, and the subject of lots of speculation…Why here? Why so closely guarded? Why are there tiled rooms in the cellar? (If you want to read more, look HERE).

_DSC6489

On the other side, more mountains. Cofete is well protected on all sides!

_DSC6456

A few years ago there was a film made here (partially), “Exodus, Gods and Kings“, and they left a bus behind. That bus now drives tourists to Cofete, and is a fun element!

_DSC6492

And of course here are goats.

_DSC6493

We decided to get to Morro Jable and see about the car there. So…we started the journey back. Slowly (and loudly).

_DSC6527

We got 10 km, and suddenly…the car went quiet. (OK, not quiet, the motor was running.) No more screeching. No more tortured cat-sounds. We stopped to pet some goats just to celebrate!

The goats had an abondened house as a shelter, and there was written in graffiti: “Freedom is not defined by safety”. Then and there, that felt very true!

_DSC6529

So, we headed home, after a brief stop at Morro Jable. That seems like a really nice town, we have to come back and spend a day there! The roads felt even wider and nicer now that I had the dirt road to Cofete fresh in my mind, and the rest of the evening was uneventful. We had had enough adventure for one day!

But I still recommend Cofete. It is worth it.

Coming up: warning for strong winds!