Boundary line

There is a boundary line between what a photographer feels should be documented, shown or told, and what he feels should remain private.

These two photos below are from a project I just did about that boundary line, about the boundary between life and death.

And these are the only two photos from that project that will ever be displayed on this blog. The other photos need to mature. They may never see the light or may one day be shown in a more appropriate way than on a blog.

If you want to share a thought on where your boundary line goes, as a photographer, or about these shots I shared, please feel free to comment.

Forest of thoughts (pinhole)

Unclear tangle of plants, and thoughts. Kodak Tri-X and modified Sharan pinhole camera, as usual.

By the fjord (pinhole)

February 2014, Trondheim’s fjord, central Norway (probably the first snow free winter in Norwegian history). Kodak Tri-X in modified Sharan pinhole camera.

Johnnie stalker

Sharan pinhole camera, Kodak Tri-X.

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House (pinhole)

Faceless city

Oslo. Half a million people, but no one to communicate with. What are you all afraid of? Why don’t you show your face? Why is it so that the tighter we people are packed, the greater the distance between us? Nothing else in nature behaves like that. We are a paradox, an exception, a monster.

Well, fine, keep hiding, and reveal your real selves only for your beloved, as long as you have some. Then we’ll see.

I’ll go back to yet another sleepless night in yet another shabby hotel room. The faces on TV aren’t any faker than the ones in the street, anyway.

A pigeon’s point of view (pinhole)

Irkutsk, Siberia, November 2013. Sharan pinhole camera & Tri-X.

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Trondheim 31.12.13. Tri-X.

Friends on new year’s eve

Kodak Tri-X in Rodinal 1:50. Shaken, not stirred.

Dust stars

No, not star dust spelled wrong. Just stars created by dust on a negative. Tri-X.

Milan, pinhole

Milan, Italy, 19.12.2013. Modified Sharan pinhole camera & Kodak Tri-X.

Emilia, Italy (pinhole)

Countryside near Ferrara, Italy, 18.12.2013. Sharan pinhole camera, Tri-X 400.

Minimalism

Snow.

” ? “

Tokyo, 23rd November 2013.

Trans-Siberian IV: Encounters

Fellow passengers, strangers met in the street, encounters that lasted minutes, hours, few days at the most. Regardless, encounters that made my day and my journey. Here are some of them.

Trans-Siberian III: Train of thoughts

Since I was a child, I’ve always had a tremendous fascination for trains and stations.

We used to travel between the south and the north of Italy a couple of times a year, usually on a night train that would take almost 12 hours. Each and every evening during the weeks prior to our travels, my brother and I spent hours fantasizing about the coming adventure. We could recall details of each station from our previous travels. The lights, the signs, the technical stuff along the tracks, everything had a mysterious charm. When the night of our train adventure came, we couldn’t sleep a minute. Instead, we stood in the aisle and admired the night passing by and becoming a new day. Even the thought of the typical smell of the stations still gives me the goosebumps.

I guess that has something to do with my love for trains. No train journey is too long. And the Trans-Siberian is surely worth repeating.

Trans-Siberian II: Slow motion

9289 km on a train are and definitely feel like a huge distance. Landscapes pass by like in slow motion. Repetitive and monotonous yet ever changing. Days become nights, and the nights days.

Trans-Siberian I: pinhole

First post of a coming series from my Trans-Siberian journey. This with a few pinhole shots.

Why I do this? It’s the closest I get to producing suggestive images from nothing. If I could draw, I’d use charcoal. But I can’t, so I use Tri-X.

Røros (pinhole)

Røros. Norway, 30.11.2013. Home made pinhole camera & Kodak Tri-X (1 – 4 sec exposures, handheld camera).

See you

The geese and I share an inextinguishable, almost compulsory need to cover great distances, never settling down completely, commuting between opposite corners of the world.

These days they’re flying southwards. In 36 hours, I’ll be heading eastwards, leaving for THE train journey. See you.

“O”

War

Street art, Oslo, 30.10.2013

Carousel

Copenhagen, 25.10.2013.

Manicure

Copenhagen, 25.10.2013. Kodak Tri-X.

Grenoble 8.10.2013

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Fog (pinhole)

Norway, September 2013. Sharan pinhole camera & Kodak Tri-X.

Grave visit (pinhole)

Lom, Norway. Tri-X 400.

“Image saving error”

No pixels, no SD cards, no batteries, no auto-focus lenses, no manual focus lenses. No lenses and no focusing at all.

The camera: a cardboard box. The “lens”: a 0.16mm pinhole on the front of the box. The shutter: a removable piece of cardboard covering the pinhole. And off you go: pinhole photography, where each exposure needs seconds in bright light, minutes in low light. A pain in the ass, you may say.

The truth is there is little as rewarding as creating a photo literally from scratch, from building your camera, to judging your exposure times, to developing your film.

In pinhole photography, it’s just the technique’s weaknesses and even your mistakes that result in rewarding and fascinating images. This is a double exposure I got at the end of the last roll: film couldn’t advance enough for a regular new exposure and the very last one partly overlapped the previous. An image saving error, if you will.

Pinhole roll n.I – Trondheim

First roll of Tri-X 400 exposed through a paper-made pinhole camera bought in Tokyo.

All images were shot handheld, in some cases holding the camera against walls or so. Exposure times of 1 – 5 seconds.

Sofia’s love for pigeons

Bologna, Italy. T-Max 400 developed in Rodinal. Scanned, uncropped.

Mourn

Young owls. Kodak TMax 100.

“The Japan book” – now for sale

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Now you have the opportunity to buy a paper copy (or an iBook versjon for tablets) of my book “The Japan book”, featuring all photos from my post “The Tokyo post” and many more.

You can scroll through, preview and purchase the book for a modest price at: http://www.blurb.com/b/4477107-the-japan-book

Enjoy it!

The Tokyo post

My notes from a recent trip to Tokyo and Kyoto. Written on Kodak Tri-X.

(open the post for full-sized slideshow)

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A penny for your thoughts

Girl in a coffee shop, Kyoto, June 2013. Kodak Tri-X 400.

The blue of Afghanistan

A number of you, after seeing my previous series from Afghanistan, noticed (and commented on) the absence of women.

Well, with this post I focus exactly on the women of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, photographing women there is rather problematic. Just about everyone will strongly advise you against doing so: Photographing a woman (even one in a chador) out in the street may result in you being confronted by angry men or, worse, in her being beaten up. The sad reality is that there is barely worse place in the world to be born as a woman than Afghanistan, with the country’s rural areas being worst.

Here, a woman is a man’s property just like a donkey. Failing to accept a husband’s authority (even when imposed with violence) can result in jail, or in the worst case in a new, more terrible life begging in the street, stripped of all dignity.

Not many women in Afghanistan get married because they’re in love. Most of them are married off, meaning that at an age of 15 – 20 they are sold by their own parents to the best offeror, a man who not unusually is 20 or 30 years older. A more fortunate girl may stay home a little longer, study and even get herself a job, as long as each step is discussed with – read decided by – her parents. She may not exactly get married off, but will be engaged to and eventually marry the first man who proposed himself (to her parents) convincingly enough. Once engaged, she’ll even be allowed to date her fiancé, in her mother’s or aunt’s presence, of course.

Women here are generally not supposed to work, but I hear that an increasing number of men now allow their wives to do so, at least in the cities. However, a number of professions that require contact with male strangers or public exhibition (e.g. flight attendant or singer) may still give a woman a social status that’s barely better than a prostitute’s. Things are changing, however. Women condition is slowly improving, starting from the cities. But the process is slow, particularly in the most remote rural areas.

To foreign visitors, the women of Afghanistan are melancholic silhouettes of an intense blue moving along dusty road sides, alone or a few steps behind their husbands. I wish I had had the opportunity to talk to those women, to ask them about their lives and dreams or wish them a brighter future. I couldn’t. That chador of blue polyester, worn every single day from their puberty on, is an impenetrable barrier, and not only for the relieving breeze in the intense summer heat..

Fayzabad, Afghanistan (Tri-X 400)

Fayzabad, north-eastern province of Badakhshan, in president Karzai’s Afghanistan.

While men proudly walk the streets and pose for photographs, women hide behind their chador or stay confined to dedicated areas (like the women recreational park that I had the unique privilege to be admitted to).

More of my BW work in Afghanistan here: Streets and roads of Afghanistan

Dogs and owners..

Did anyone say that dogs and their owners often look alike? Anyway, Kodak TMax 400, just scanned.

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No photography (Karelian church)

Petrozavodsk, Russia, 20th March 2013.

Alas, photography is strictly forbidden in most Karelian churches. Well, here is a sin I made just in the eyes (and the house) of God. I just couldn’t help it. I like to believe that the fact no one realized I was photographing them means that all in all I wasn’t much of a disturb…

Karelia I

Rural district north of Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia, 19th March 2013.

The window

Murmansk, Russia, 17th March 2013. View from the staircase to my flat.

Pervomayskiy market (sequence I & II)

Murmansk (Russia), 16th March 2013. Temperature -25 C.

Oslo, end of February

Home sweet home: Tromsø

Home is where you heart is, they say. Heart or not, Tromsø is where I spent 7 years of my life and it’s the only place where, 2 years after my departure, every visit feels like coming home.

Tromsø is cold, windy and slippery, a not exactly clean architectural mess surrounded by some of the most stunning nature Norway has to offer.

Tromsø is perhaps not the pearl it could be, yet it’s impossible not to love.

Jonny, photo model

Oslo center, an evening about one month ago. I notice that a popular retail-clothing company is advertising their Christmas sales by using dummies wearing paper masks. The masks reproduce a man’s face, bearded, with dark sun glasses and a Santa Claus hat. Nothing special in fact, however I take a photo of the scene as a man stops to look at them (probably thinking “what the heck..?”).

An hour later I move to another part of town to see if I can get a shot or two there. As I walk by a pub, I notice a bearded man smoking a cigarette. He’s rather photogenic but I have no chance to take a photo of him while staying unnoticed. It’s so dark that I doubt I can get a sharp shot anyway, but I stop and ask if I may… Permission granted, a few shots taken. And it turns out he’s the model the retail-clothing company used for their mannequins!

A completely coincidental encounter in a city with over half a million inhabitants..

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Blissfully in love

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Milano, 17-12-2012

Only three or four days to the end of the world, some say. We’d better record as much of it as possible then.

Here are a few shots from the last couple of days shooting in Milan.

City scavenger

This is you, city scavenger, and your fate. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, garbage to garbage.

But I don’t laugh of your misery. I laugh of myself, for thinking that my fate is any better than yours.

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Harald

This is the short story of my encounter with Harald. It would never have happened if it wasn’t for the girl you see in this picture. She didn’t drop a coin by Harald’s feet, but stopped and gave him a few minutes of her time and attention. Only seconds before, I had passed by him giving him nothing but a smile. Seeing this girl do better made me return, after she had left.

I ask him first his name. “Harald, like our king”, he replies. Harald has sweet eyes and a warm smile. His face and hands bear all signs of years spent outside. Without me even asking, Harald tells me that he left his house many years ago, to see the world and experience life. He hasn’t slept inside since, he says. Houses are not meant for humans. Trees should be home. Pigeons know that. Houses and paper are bad, all paper: newspapers, documents, politics, bureaucracy.. nothing matters. Only trees, and pigeons.

I ask him if he’s cold (it’s 5 below freezing this evening) and if he eats enough. He’s used to the cold and every day manages to collect enough food, only vegetables though: animals should not be eaten. I ask if I can take a photo of him, to tell his story. He says he had a camera once, with film in it. He understands that I like to take photos, but photos are also paper and paper is bad. I respect that, no photo, Harald. I will remember you anyway.

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Rain

These are about the city in a rainy autumn evening, where just about everything resonates with your already low mood: All those strangers rushing home and bothering even less about you then they ever would, forced by their umbrellas to keep greater distances than ever from each other and from you. And all those drops..

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