Stockholm Pride 2017

I’ve been shooting the Stockholm Pride Parade every year (with one exception) since 2012, I think. To me, it’s loads of fun, people are awesome and there’s a great atmosphere. It’s also one of the things where I can clearly see my own progress as a photographer. My gear has improved every year, and for every year I can clearly see my improvement.

All previous years I’ve felt hampered by gear compromises, but this year I went all-in, with two bodies, shooting both ultrawide and using my great 70-200 tele. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do this, and having two bodies makes no compromises. I also invested in a very nice leather-strap system to allow me to comfortably haul around both bodies with lenses for several hours, and it didn’t disappoint. The only frustration was that the lens-hood on my IRIX 15mm came off twice and it was only through the kindness of strangers I didn’t lose it completely. Next year, it will be taped on. Apart from that, it was loads of fun.

These photos are unsorted. Also, there are some female nipples so if that offends you don’t come crying to me.

This year when editing I decided to make the photos of “Marching for those who can’t” a stark black-and-white edit, to highlight the seriousness of that section. That section of the parade is a reminder that around the world there are people who cannot live openly due to persecution and threat.

The trip to Norway, Part 2: Dead cars

On our way home from Norway we decided to stop by a place I’ve read about online. It’s the old wrecking yard of Båstnäs. It’s located in Sweden close to the border of Norway and was originally run by two brothers. They collected numerous cars from the 1950s and on, and ran the whole dang thing as a scrap-yard. Post-war Norway had a lack of spare parts and easy money was to be made. The brothers grew old and the site started to deteriorate as they didn’t reclaim parts from the cars. Both brothers have since died and the only memory of their business is the hundreds of old wrecks, now slowly being reclaimed by nature.

It’s free to visit the site but you’re expected to be respectful. This is after all private property, so don’t go plucking parts off the cars. I personally feel the site should be treated as you would a cemetery. Watch, enjoy but don’t mess with anything. This is a place of remembrance and reflection. Like elephant graveyards, these cars came here to die in peace/pieces.

The trip to Norway, Part 1: Nature

This will be a two-part since it’s just too dang much to fit into one post. Me and girlfriend went on a roadtrip to Norway. The plan was vague – basically end up in Bergen at some point and then make it home. How we got there was up in the air since we decided to take every day as it came. Thus, we made no bookings for lodging, no plans for driving each day. Just roadtrippin’ it. I brought cameras and it was spectacular.

First leg of the journey went from our home in Södertälje to Oslo. Apart from a short stop to say hi to friends and stopping at KFC (one of only two KFC’s in Sweden) to eat chicken, we motored to Oslo pretty much non-stop. We arrived at the hotel we had booked during the drive and were mostly too tired to take in Oslo except for a short walk around the blocks.

The next leg of the trip was from Oslo up along the E6, final goal was to be Ålesund but as usual nothing was decided. We passed Lillehammer, and since the E6 goes in some wildly scenic country, the drive was often interrupted in order to let us jump out of the car and shout “AMAZING!” at the scenery. What should’ve been a 6-7 hour drive quickly turned into a 9+ hour drive. We pulled into Vestnes for dinner and on the spot decided to make camp there rather than drive another hourplus to Ålesund, which would have compeltely drained our energy and mood. This was a smart move.

Next day we headed into Ålesund. First off to the Alnes-lighthouse. The lighthouse itself was interesting, but the drive out was even more so. Loads of tunnels literally going under the seabed between the island. Weather was gray but it was nice and warm and the scenery as usual was spectacular. After we got tired of hanging out in near the ocean, we drove back into Ålesund and walked around town for a while. When we felt satiated with the city, the car was pointed south. The final stop wasn’t decided but around Geiranger we decided to find lodging. We rented a room from a local and enjoyed sleeping to the sound of Geirangers sound and numerous waterfalls.

When we awoke, we quickly loaded our gear into the car and took off south. The final stop was decided to be Bergen-ish, or somewhere around there. Energy was good and we got an early start, so most of the day was spent on the road. We made numerous stops, especially in the highlands to take in scenery, and had fun driving up and down the serpentine roads. Since our energy was good, we got all the way to Bergen where we arrived at a hotel we’d scouted during the trip down.

Next day we drove into Bergen proper and walked around the city. We were a bit overwhelmed by the noise and crowds, so we didn’t spend more than a few hours in Bergen.

When we felt finished with Bergen, we loaded our car and headed south. The original plan was to return to Oslo and take in some sights, but we realized that cities wasn’t really what we wanted. Museums and pavement didn’t hold our interest, and instead we aimed for Drammen, a smaller city south of Oslo. We found art on walls there, and a very relaxing and cozy hotel room.

With Drammen done, we decided to head back home and set the GPS for Sweden…

The Roadtrip

Recently me and Richard (my friend and fellow photographer whom I shot burnt trees and holes with) went on a roadtrip north. The primary mission was two-fold: to shoot family and pregnancy photos of wonderful Lea and her family, and for me to replace my server in the co-lo.

Both of these missions were successes, and you’re reading this served from the new machine.

Here’s some photos from the trip:

How I Spent My Weekend

Back in mid-september, me and a friend (and fellow photographer) had lunch together. During this lunch we lamented the fact that as a photographer, there’s just not a whole lot of good photos of yourself. We jokingly concluded that the best way to achieve this would be to gather a bunch of photographers in one site and simply shoot each other. Lightbulbs were lit above our heads, aha-moments were had and when we introduced the idea to a third photographer-friend the metaphorical wheels were set in motion.

Long story short, ten people gathered in a countryside-house about an hour or so outside Stockholm to have fun with photography. We brought everything we could carry and fit into the cars. Everything from large-format cameras to digital stuff, flashes and whatever we figured we might need.

A lot of fun was had. Below are a sampling of photos I took.

Fisheye or No fisheye?

Five years ago when I got back into photography and started being serious about it, I loved wide-angle lenses. I didn’t have a lot of money, but a superwide lens was on my wishlist. Back then I wasn’t quite as experienced and mature, and I’ve noticed how my compositions have grown and become better, as well as finding my own style.

Wide-angle lenses are a tricky breed and most photographers don’t understand how to (in my opinion) use them properly. Nothing applies to wide-angle lenses like that old Robert Capa quote.

“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

As my style developed (hurr durr, photography joke) I became less and less interested in superwide-angles. Since I became more and more interested in portraits and people, I became more interested in longer lenses.

But a while ago I bought a Samyang 12mm/f2.8 fisheye, and I think it’s absolutely hilarious. First, it’s so wonderfully wacky and secondly, it’s a pretty damn good lens overall. I’ve often said that it’s impossible to take a boring photo with this lens. Bad photo? Hell yeah. Boring? Nope, that can’t be done. With a crazy fisheye like this, everything is hilarious and interesting, even if the photo is crap.

To me, this is a fun, creative toy. It’s mostly useless for “serious” photography, but it’s a lot of fun shooting with it. Since the distortion is so crazy, you can abuse it to take bizarre portraits of your friends, as demonstrated below with the help of an old friend.

In the photo to the left, taken at closest focusing distance for this lens which is a little more than 20cm, his face is almost pressed against the camera. It is really shoved into his face, you can’t be shy with one of these lenses. The one on the right is a little more sane, but his face was maybe 30 cm from the lens.

If you treat a fisheye right, you can use it for a variety of less laughter-inducing purposes. Landscape photography is one, if you make sure the horizon is fairly vertical and don’t have a bunch of trees at the outer edges, no one will know you used a fisheye.

Another possible use is for interior photography. This is not optimal though, you need to perspective-correct the photos afterwards so the rooms don’t have that hobbit-y look. This unfortunately throws away a lot of the photo – but in a pinch it might do the trick.

Below are the same photos with the same editing. The difference between them is the one on the left has been perspective-corrected in Lightroom. Note how it cuts off the door on the right, as well as making the perspective so much more long. The hallway seems to be several miles long, but in reality I shot it about two meters from where my dad is sitting in his chair, chuckling.

To me, there’s no mystery why some photographers and filmmakers love extreme wide-angle lenses. It makes everything seem distorted and surreal, even when you use a rectilinear lens and not a fisheye.

Should you get a fisheye? If you like that wild, distorted look then hell yeah. Samyang makes a variety of fisheyes for all kinds of mounts and formats. The 12mm/f2.8 that I bought is excellent and blasts even Nikons own fisheye out of the water.

Review: Nikon Nikkor AF 35-70/f2.8

When I got my Nikon a few years ago, I bought it body-only. This was because I already had a decent midrange-zoom that would work with it. The lens is a bit of an heirloom, it used to belong to my father. He gave it to me (connected to his old Nikon F4, which he used a lot) and I figured it would be a good first-lens.

This is a late-1980s lens. As with most of Nikons autofocus-lenses from that era, this requires you to have a body with integrated focus-motor. Also, as with the 70-210, this is a push-pull contraption. I don’t mind it, and this lens is quite small anyways so it doesn’t grow too much.

Optically it’s excellent. This is a f2.8 and it was _the_ pro-midrange-zoom that Nikon made in the late 80s and it shows when you use it. Almost no vignetting, very little distortion and wildly sharp at any aperture. The 35-70 range is a little weird, but I rarely feel the need for anything wider than 35mm.

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It’s solidly built and will take a beating. I’m unsure of eventual weathersealing, but I know this one has seen a lot of action. I’ve literally taken almost 11.000 shots with it, and it was probably used for equal or more of that in my dads care. Mine has a few minor nicks and dents, but it’s still in great shape for a lens that’s over 25 years old and still gets used regularly.

UPDATE: While visually this lens is very similar to the 70-210 I also reviewed, this is way, way more tough. I just want to emphasize that. The 70-210 is decently built for a consumer lens from the late 1980s, but the 35-70/2.8 is a pro-lens and built to a much higher standard.

This lens also has a nice little trick where you can push down a little knob and enter into a kind of macro-mode. It only works in the 35mm-setting and also disables autofocus, but it’s surprisingly handy when you need to get a little closer to something.

Provided you can find one, expect to pay a little more than regular for it. This is a fairly coveted lens and I’ve seen prices for used specimens in good shape go all the way up to US$300-400. I didn’t pay anything for mine since it was a gift.

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