Thursday, 12 January 2012

Accidental Abstracts

Accidental AbstractEverybody has them. Little "accidents". The sort of "accidents" that turn out to be pretty interesting, even if they don't quite fit in with the main theme of a shoot. In the movies, they call them outtakes. In the case of American television, bloopers. I call mine Accidental Abstracts.

Sometimes I tripped the shutter accidentally when I took a camera off of the tripod. Sometimes I tripped it by mistake when I was checking a lens. Sometimes I forgot the camera was set to a time delay.

In most of these cases, the images recorded were junk. In a very few cases, the images look good enough that I thought I should claim that they were planned. You know, that they are "the product of my genius"!

I wish.

In any case, here are eight images that caught my eye.


Accidental Abstract


Accidental Abstract


Accidental Abstract


Accidental Abstract


Accidental Abstract


Accidental Abstract


Accidental Abstract


Accidental Abstract


While this next image is not accidental, it didn't really fit anywhere else, so I parked it in this post. It is a shot of a bootleg firework set off on New Year's Eve. I saw what was going on and managed to quickly get my camera up to my eye in time to make the capture. Luckly, the composition worked.

Accidental Abstracts


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Here is a quick index of my Postcard blog articles for this trip:

My post about some Accidental Abstracts I made during this trip is here.

My post about skiing in Oslo and some Postcards taken with my phone's camera is here.

My post about a side trip I made to Uppsala, Sweden and some early morning streetscapes I made is here.

My post about a fabulous stay I had at Brumma, a cabin above the tree line in Brummastølen, is here.

My post about the wonderful Norwegian Christmas Eve tradition of lighting a candle at the grave of family is here.

My post about my adventure in a hut up in the boreal forest canopy is here.

My post about a wonderful little church I discovered while up above the Arctic Circle is here.

My post about the commonality of fishing between Norway and Newfoundland is here.

My post about being above the Arctic Circle during the polar night is here.

My post about the Nobel Peace Prize fakkeltog is here.



Read more...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Skiing in Oslo

Skiing in Oslo 6There are times when I am out for a run, a ski, or some other activity and lugging around 20 kg of camera gear just isn't practical. Yet there are still Postcards to be made, so I turn to my phone's camera to capture the moment. While a camera phone is not technically the best camera to create images, it certainly is better than not having any camera at all.

I went to Oslo to ski, but in my opinion there wasn't enough snow there to ski. There were still plenty of rocks peeking through the snow, waiting to destroy the bottom of any ski passing over them. When people ski on such snow, they usually use old skis that we call "rock skis".

I didn't bring my rock skis, so was stuck with running. There is a very nice system of trails just north of Oslo (although I suspect it is technically still in the city area). Within walking distance from the train, the trails are accessible by almost all who live in Oslo. I would often see people on the train with their rock skis going to or from the trail system.

Oslo is fairly far north, so the sun at this time of year doesn't come above the horizon until about 9:15. It is down again at 3:30, so it is a fairly short day. This meant I was often running in the dark, which was still quite nice.


Skiing in Oslo 4


In keeping with the festive season, I put on my Santa hat and draped Christmas lights on my reflective vest. This brought a few smiles out from passers-by and the occasional "God Jul" (Merry Christmas).

Skiing in Oslo 3


The running trail I preferred took me past a farm. One morning after a light snowfall, I came across these kids out practicing in one of fields.

Skiing in Oslo 1

Skiing in Oslo 2


Besides being addicted to snow, the Norwegians have a fondness for dogs. I saw many out with their peeps as they ran or skied.

Skiing in Oslo 5


One of my last runs in Oslo was just after a nice snowfall (which was just my luck!). I always enjoy being out after a snowfall, especially if there has been no wind. I love the way snow sits on trees and I am quite pleased with this photo. It is pretty good for an image from a phone's camera.

Skiing in Oslo 6


Just down from this tree is the farm I mentioned. The farmer has a stable and the horses were out feeding. A red blanket on one of the horses really caught my eye.

Skiing in Oslo 7


Unhappy with the amount of skiing I was able to do in Oslo, I decided to compensate the best I could with an outing to the Ski Museum at Holmenkollen.

I said in an earlier post that the word ski comes from an early Norwegian word for “plank”. Looking at the skis in the museum, I could certainly see why.

Skiing in Oslo 9


These early skis were something else. Wide and heavy, I’m not sure how people skied on them. Repairs were made with bolts.

Skiing in Oslo 8


For grip, furs were attached to the bottom of the ski.

Skiing in Oslo 10


Some of the skis used ropes to steer.

Skiing in Oslo 14


Back in the very early days, skiers used only one, long pole

Skiing in Oslo 13


The bindings were often just straps or ropes looped around both the ski and the boot.

Skiing in Oslo 15


I will say one thing, though. They sure knew how to decorate the skis.

Skiing in Oslo 11

Skiing in Oslo 12


Fortunately we have come a long way. Today, gear is pretty advanced and we can even provide equipment that enables disabled people to ski.

Skiing in Oslo 17


While at the ski museum, I swallowed my fear of heights and went up to the top of the ski jump and looked down.

Skiing in Oslo 16

It had an awesome view of the city, and at some point I will have to return with my regular camera to see about making a panorama photograph.



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Here is a quick index of my Postcard blog articles for this trip:

My post about some Accidental Abstracts I made during this trip is here.

My post about skiing in Oslo and some Postcards taken with my phone's camera is here.

My post about a side trip I made to Uppsala, Sweden and some early morning streetscapes I made is here.

My post about a fabulous stay I had at Brumma, a cabin above the tree line in Brummastølen, is here.

My post about the wonderful Norwegian Christmas Eve tradition of lighting a candle at the grave of family is here.

My post about my adventure in a hut up in the boreal forest canopy is here.

My post about a wonderful little church I discovered while up above the Arctic Circle is here.

My post about the commonality of fishing between Norway and Newfoundland is here.

My post about being above the Arctic Circle during the polar night is here.

My post about the Nobel Peace Prize fakkeltog is here.


Read more...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Streets of Uppsala

2011_Uppsala_18 copyDuring my ski vacation to Norway, I made a brief business trip to Uppsala, Sweden. I had a couple of free hours early in the morning and I spent it on the streets with my camera.

What says "Sweden in the winter" better than snow on an old Volvo, even if the snow is hanging off the roof like a lopsided old cap?

Uppsala Streets 9


The city government found a neat way to cost-effectively decorate this overpass: they simply projected an image of snowflakes onto the side of it!

Uppsala Streets 8


I also liked the way they used white cobblestones to mark the crosswalks: there is no paint to fade here! They also make for a striking composition, as in the case of the Woman Waiting For A Bus.

2011_Uppsala_18 copy


I wonder if this is the bus she was waiting for?

2011_Uppsala_27 copy


There was a bit of a frost on the ground and it was beginning to snow. I was walking along the street looking for a streetscape to add to my European Streets folio, when I noticed how trucks driving over the streets would leave tracks. In this case, the tracks reflected back with the bright light of the overhead Christmas lights.

2011_Uppsala_38 copy


The further I walked from the city center, the more snow there was on the streets and sidewalks. I also saw racks and racks of bikes. By itself, this is not unusual for Europe. I certainly have seen more bikes in The Netherlands, but even from a distance I could see what looked like bike tire tracks in the snow. Now this was unusual: cycling in the snow and ice?

Uppsala Streets 3


Getting closer, it was obvious they were being used; there was nowhere near as much snow on them as there was on the old Volvo, so they couldn't have been in the rack all that long.

Uppsala Streets 1


Could it be that the people here actually ride their bicycles in the snow? I didn't have long to ponder on this when a woman rode in on her bike, locked it up, and scurried off (presumably to work). Not only did she manage to ride a bike in the snow, she did so with that long coat on!

Uppsala Streets 5


I understand that these bikes almost certainly have studs in their tires, but even so, would you ride a bike on this street?

Uppsala Streets 4



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Here is a quick index of my Postcard blog articles for this trip:

My post about some Accidental Abstracts I made during this trip is here.

My post about skiing in Oslo and some Postcards taken with my phone's camera is here.

My post about a side trip I made to Uppsala, Sweden and some early morning streetscapes I made is here.

My post about a fabulous stay I had at Brumma, a cabin above the tree line in Brummastølen, is here.

My post about the wonderful Norwegian Christmas Eve tradition of lighting a candle at the grave of family is here.

My post about my adventure in a hut up in the boreal forest canopy is here.

My post about a wonderful little church I discovered while up above the Arctic Circle is here.

My post about the commonality of fishing between Norway and Newfoundland is here.

My post about being above the Arctic Circle during the polar night is here.

My post about the Nobel Peace Prize fakkeltog is here.




Read more...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Postcards from Above the Tree Line

BrummaBrumma, the Gorrissen family cabin, is in Brummastølen. Brummastølen is a very small summer farm community about 200 kilometres north-west of Oslo. It sits above the tree line on Brummaknatten (which translates as Brumma crag).

The Gorrissens were pretty confident that there would be snow there, if anywhere. Would there be enough snow to ski on? Probably. If not, then Beitostølen, a stop on the World Cup XC tour and only a short drive away, would almost certainly have groomed and track set trails to ski on.

Confident I would get in some good tracks either at Brummastølen or in Beitostølen, I packed up my skis and drove north.

Despite a four hour drive in high winds on an icy road, I was feeling more upbeat and positive than on either of my two previous trips north. This was in no small part due to the fact that I was finally going skiing. That the sun was out and I could see the countryside for a change also helped.

Brumma


Brumma is well off the beaten track. While you can drive in to it during the summer, the only way in during the winter is to either ski in or take a snowmobile in. Since we had more provisions than was practical to carry on our backs, we opted for a snowmobile.

Brumma

Brumma


As you can see, the weather upon our arrival was pretty frightful. A heavy wind was blowing. I couldn’t tell if there was new snow coming down or if the wind was just blowing around what was already down. It was also quite cold. When we opened the doors to Brumma, it was -11 inside. It took a full day of heating from three wood stoves, one fireplace, one kerosene heater, and two propane heaters for the place to warm up to the point where I could take my fleece off!

Brumma dates back to 1943 when Willy and Magdalene Gorrissen purchased an ancient farm house (built in 1682) and put it up in Brummastølen next to some other cabins / summer farm houses. These summer farms were (and some still are) used for dairy pastures.

Brumma


A massive, central fireplace was installed and a supplementary wood stove was added (just to the left).

Brumma


The Gorrissens added to the cabin over the years. It is now a fairly large structure that includes a small, detatched "guest" hut, which is where I stayed.

Brumma


Not surprisingly for a place this old and remote, it is very rustic: there is no running water and only a small amount of electricity is available from a solar powered battery system. That’s not to say it was a hardship being there. With plenty of wood on hand, we could melt snow to get water for washing. For drinking, we had packed in a large supply of bottled water. Also, there were plenty of candles and kerosene lamps to brighten the inside.

Brumma

I’m starting to get hooked on photographing stars, so when the sky cleared, out I went with my camera. The snow may have stopped, but the wind hadn’t let up. I had to stand in the lun of the cabin to prevent my camera from being blown over in order to make this shot.

Brumma


There is a simple mathematical equation:

FUN = SNOW + KIDS


Brumma

Brumma


The kids were not the only ones happy to see good weather and lots of fresh snow. I was ecstatic because I was able to get out and make some photographs.

The mountain light was incredible. Sunrises are usually pretty special, but come this far north and then go up a mountain and sunrise is pure magic. There were incredible pinks and reds everywhere I looked. For other photographers reading this post, I actually had to desaturate these images!

These colours lasted for about 30 minutes, enabling me to make many captures. I'll start with a wide shot of some of the cabins immediately north of Brumma.


Brumma

Brumma

Brumma


Moving in for a closer composition on some of the cabins:

Brumma

Brumma


In the above shot in the top left-hand corner you can see a far-off mountaintop in the background. It really stands out because it is much lighter than the clouds. When I reframed to get a shot of the rolling mountains, I noticed that one peak looked like a wave about to crash on top of the other peak.

Brumma


I then zoomed in on the cabin in front of the mountain (yes, that black dot is actually a cabin, not a rock), just as a jellyfish-shaped cloud swam over it.

Brumma


To the north-west, the mountain tops were a little craggier. This gave a little more tone and structure to my images.

Brumma


During this magical time, the sun continues to rise and the pinks start to give way to the yellows and blues, as you can see in these two shots. They are of the same mountain and taken only a few minutes apart.

Brumma


Brumma


Eventually, the cooler pinks fully gave way to the warmer yellows. Here you can see a sapling struggling to move the tree line just a little bit higher up the mountain.

Brumma


With brighter light you can see the far-off cabins much better.

Brumma


Since the area is used as summer pasture for milk cows, the milk produced needs to be brought down the mountain. In the "old days", farmers used to store milk in this old shed. The containers stood in a stream which runs under it, keeping the milk cool until it was picked up and taken to the village below.

Brumma


As I skied by it, I couldn't resist capturing the graphic composition created by the yellow light on the wood-planked door and wall, the lines of which are interrupted by my dark shadow.

Brumma


The amount of yellow in the light depends upon a couple of things. Here are two very different shots of the farm to the south of Brumma. They are taken at different times into the sunrise, and, there is a different amount of cloud in the sky to reflect the light.

Brumma

Brumma


As the sun asserts itself even more, the yellows and blues brighten and the contrast is much higher. This is a good time to shoot black and white images.

Brumma

Brumma

Brumma


Here you can see how the clouds roll over the mountain peaks as if they were water flowing over rocks in a stream. You may need to go here to see a larger version.

Brumma


As I was processing the above images afterwards, I was inspired to go back and try converting a few of the "pink" shots into black and white.

Brumma

Brumma


After only a few short days of skiing and shooting at Brumma, it was time to head back down the mountain. To save expenses, the journey out was by ski instead of snowmobile, which was fine by me.

Skiing in these mountains brought me back to when I was a kid and started skiing. We (me, Bonnie, Mom, and Ron) would often ski in Terra Nova National Park and would usually ski up to the Blue Mountain Lookout. I remember the wonderful feeling of sitting at the lookout with a cup of hot chocolate, munching on some treat, while looking out at the fabulous view. That same feeling came back as I skied around Brummastølen, and I was very much reminded of why I started skiing in the first place.

Brumma


I had an extra pack to bring out and since he was going for a ski with his son Vilhelm anyway, Fredrik agreed to carry it out for me. I skied on ahead so I could take photographs along the way, including this shot of them with Brumma in the background.

Brumma


I was in the parking lot waiting for them when another skier came off the trail with a dog hooked on to his pole.

Brumma


This dog immediately caught the attention of other dogs that were waiting in the parking lot to go sledding. I have never seen a dog with brighter, bluer eyes than the dog in the bottom photo. They were so blue, they were freaky.

Brumma

Brumma


The skier had found the dog wandering around. The dog, who was missing an eye, was called “Lucky”. Lucky had an “if found” phone number on his collar, and the skier (whose name I didn't catch) called the number and talked to the owner. While he was talking on the phone, I gave Lucky a good ear rub. They then headed on down the road to meet up with Lucky’s owners who, it seems, were staying nearby and could come straight away to get him.

In the meantime, Fredrik and Vilhelm arrived with my other pack.

Brumma


With all my packs now in the truck, I set off down the road. Not two minutes into the drive, I met an oncoming truck. This stretch of road was quite narrow and only one of us could drive on it. We both pulled slightly over to one side in order to size up how we were going to get by each other. Besides being narrow, the road also had a camber to it. With 10 cm of fresh snow on top of a solid layer of ice, neither vehicle could hold the road and both slid sideways into their respective ditches.

I got out and went over to the other truck, only to find Lucky inside with his owners! Fortunately, Lucky spread around some of his luck and it wasn’t long before we had both trucks out of the ditches and back on the road. The rest of the journey back to Oslo was happily uneventful.

This is my final post about my trip to Norway and a great way to end my trip. You may want to enjoy these photos in a larger format, and can do so here.


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Here is a quick index of my Postcard blog articles for this trip:

My post about some Accidental Abstracts I made during this trip is here.

My post about skiing in Oslo and some Postcards taken with my phone's camera is here.

My post about a side trip I made to Uppsala, Sweden and some early morning streetscapes I made is here.

My post about a fabulous stay I had at Brumma, a cabin above the tree line in Brummastølen, is here.

My post about the wonderful Norwegian Christmas Eve tradition of lighting a candle at the grave of family is here.

My post about my adventure in a hut up in the boreal forest canopy is here.

My post about a wonderful little church I discovered while up above the Arctic Circle is here.

My post about the commonality of fishing between Norway and Newfoundland is here.

My post about being above the Arctic Circle during the polar night is here.

My post about the Nobel Peace Prize fakkeltog is here.


Read more...