Category Archives: Photography

When in China

Last Christmas, I gave my parents a trip to China (and back!) as a Christmas gift. We couldn’t afford going abroad when I was a child (except for that one time in 1991 when we had saved up enough to go to Spain for a week, by bus) so I wanted to take them now instead along with my lovely wife.

About a month ago it was time for the actual trip. We mostly stayed in Xi’an, the first capital of China, but took day trips to other places.

Here, it’s easier if I just show you…

Cable management in China
Muslim Quarter in Xi’an
Candy crush live!
Candy crush live!
Xi’an Drum Tower
Moon over Xi’an Drum Tower
Birds, now on cable
Nice hooters!
On our way to Xi’an Terracotta museum
Terracotta Army, Hall 1
Me at the Terracotta Army puzzle ward
Terracotta warriors in a different perspective
Terracotta warrior details, face
Terracotta warrior details, body
Terracotta warrior details, horse
Horses, wagon and driver all made in bronze
Huge Emperor Qin statue on the Terracotta Army museum parking lot
At the Shaolin temple
This tree has been used for hundreds of years by Shaolin monks to train finger punching
Details on a Shaolin temple roof. That guy sure has a lot of pets!
Main Shaolin temple training hall. Thousands of monks has for hundreds of years trained kicks, jumps and stomps, making pits in the floor.
Tower at the Shaolin Temple
Martial arts performance at the Shaolin Temple
Every Shaolin abbot has since the year 791 had their ashes buried in a pagoda on the holy Song mountain. The area is now called the Pagoda Forest, containing 228 pagodas, one for each master. This pagoda was raised for the previous abbot when he passed away 2010. Note that aside from martial arts, the inscriptions also depict a video camera and a laptop.
Mom & Dad at the Pagoda Forest
Me and my wife Marianne at the river Yi
Xiangshan Monastery
The 17 meter tall Lu She Na Buddha
Buddha’s buddies
The river Yi
Lóngmén shíkū – The Dragon Gate Caves, a.k.a Longmen grottoes. 2345 man-made caves on both sides of the river Yi, housing around 100’000 stone statues – all carved directly from the mountain.
In the streets of Xi’an
Almost all scooters in Xi’an are electric. This was an exception.
Me sniffing flowers and stuff. Neat.
Small Wild Goose Pagoda, completed year 709. After a violent earthquake in the 1500’s, the top two floors collapsed and only 13 stories remain. It has otherwise survived more than 70 earthquakes.
Playing Peek-a-boo behind a 1300 year old tree
Scenic area outside the Small Wild Goose Pagoda
We found Barad-dûr in China!
We also found the Chinese Princess Leia
Guangren Lama Temple, a Tibetan buddhist monastery, seen from the Xi’an city wall
Shopping sunglasses with my dad

All in all, it was a very interesting trip. There is a radical difference in cleanliness, culture and people’s behavior compared to e.g. Japan.

For one thing, we were constantly photographed by strangers. Some additional facts may have contributed to this though. This will take some explaining, so please bear with me;

We went to several places where we didn’t see any other westerners, or only very few – the ones we did see were pretty much all in their 20-30’s, carrying backpacks and cameras. We stood out from the crowd even in the cities for several reasons:

  1. We didn’t see any older westerners (40+).
  2. We hardly saw any people with white, or even gray hair.
  3. We hardly saw anybody with facial hair other than a thin mustache, and nobody with a full beard.
  4. We didn’t see anyone with visible tattoos – 75% of our group had very visible tattoos on our arms.

We also went to China during the Qingming Festival, a holiday for honoring the dead, but also a time where many are traveling. A lot of people from the countryside go to visit their friends and relatives in other cities, this can be the only time of year where they leave the immediate surroundings of their villages. It appeared as if many of them had never seen westerners before, at least not like us. Some days perhaps 20 people came up and wanted to take selfies with us, but mostly people just took pictures or started filming us without asking for permission. It even happened that while we were sitting on a bench, parents came up and put their children in our laps to take pictures of us together as if we were a tourist attraction. I don’t mind people taking the occasional picture of me, but that was a bit much. This behavior was much more visible when going outside the cities to more distant areas such as on Song Mountain, Shaolin and Lóngmén shíkū. Though it did become more amusing when I started playing a game – when I saw someone take a picture of me or anyone in my company, I pulled out my camera an took a picture of them as well. Often I only had a second or so to take the photo before the people started reacting and sometimes hiding their faces. People who wanted to take selfies with me using their phones  & cameras seemed absolutely puzzled when I instead took a picture with mine (though I always did let them take one as well). But it gave us all a few laughs.

Photographing the photographers

Rome – The good, the bad and the ugly

The last week I’ve been in Rome, Italy. Monday to Friday I’ve lived in Frascati and worked in Morena, and during the weekend I’ve stayed near Termini in central Rome together with M.

Frascati was okay, I guess. Small, worn down but not completely without charm. We found one good restaurant there with both good food and nice staff.

Work went well and the clients appeared very happy with my part, so no worries there.

The bad and the ugly
Going into central Rome, I realized that the worn down thing was not specific to the suburbs but the city core as well. The streets were very dirty and we often came by areas that smelled very bad. The traffic was horrible, and the subway stations felt like nobody has bothered to renovate or otherwise improve them since 1986.
Everywhere on the streets people were trying to sell us cheap imitation bags and various crap with a very intrusive attitude. This was worst when eating at outdoor seatings, we often had to tell the peddlers at  least 3-4 times that we were not interested before they gave up. And came back again 30 minutes later.

Speaking of eating; I don’t know if we just had bad luck, or if the italian restaurants really are very bad. About 3/4 of all meals we had were a major disappointment. Service was most of the time terrible, and even though we always tried to be friendly and start the conversations in Italian, we were often treated with arrogance and not the smallest of smiles.

The good
The ice cream/gelato was good and the wine was cheap.

Sure, Colosseum was impressive and there were a lot of ruins, fountains and statues that would probably be reason enough for some people to go there, but after a while things start to look the same everywhere.

For us, Rome was all together quite a bad experience.

I hope I don’t have to go here again very soon. It will be really good to go home tomorrow.

Hat Party!

Last weekend me and M went to our friend Yosabeth’s 25th birthday party. The theme was “Hat”, where accompanying clothes were encouraged.

Jolly good fun!

Thunder and Lightning

Yesterday there was a real thunderstorm here. The biggest one I’ve ever seen, I think. Sometimes you could see something like 10 flashes within 5 seconds, and hear some really loud cracks just a kilometer away or so.

Anyway, me and M went out to the balcony to watch, and after a while I got out my tripod and camera and started shooting in hope to get some good photos. Most of the time the clouds were so thick that you couldn’t see the actual flashes, but rather that all the clouds got immensely lit up.

What surprised me was that most of the actual lightnings that we could see went sideways instead of up and down. Is that normal?

No image manipulation at all was involved in these pictures, I just had the shutter open for a few seconds at a time.

Top right corner shows some of the lightning. The sky is lit up almost as in the daytime, even though it is around midnight.
Top right corner shows some of the lightning. The sky is lit up almost as in the daytime, even though it is around midnight.

The clouds were nicely lit up, and sometimes they even looked like Aurora Borealis.
The clouds were nicely lit up, and sometimes they even looked like Aurora Borealis.

Lucky shot of a lightning that goes almost completely sideways.
Lucky shot of a lightning that goes almost completely sideways.

4000 kilometers in 3 weeks

So, what have happened since last time?
I’ve been riding. And riding. And riding.

First off, two days after passing my driver’s exam and buying my bike, I went upp to Strömsund in Swedish Jämtland, around 700 km from Stockholm by bike. From there we went to Finnish Lapland by car, to a town called Ranua about 80 km from Rovaniemi. After close to a week we went back, and I took the bike back to Stockholm via a night in Mora.
Back home I took a few days to wash, repack and plan,and also to install my first modification to the bike: A 12 volt power outlet (cigarette plug) hidden inside the toolbox compartment. This is in turn connected to a relay that I installed, so that it only gives power when the bike is started to prevent the battery from discharging in case I forget the power adapter to the GPS plugged in.

Anyway, me and three friends went back on the road again.
First stop was Tibro, where I lived between I was 5 and 16. Of course we went straight to Tibro Bar & Grill, and then off to our respective friends and family to sleep (3 of 4 were raised in Tibro). The next day it was more or less pouring down the entire time, so we took the shorter route to Hökerum, Ulricehamn, where my parents live. After spending the evening and night there we went on to Linköping, still in the rain. We split up again, and met the next day, when the sun finally came through. Onward to Västervik where MC-dagarna, the largest bike event in northern Europe, was held. Lots and lots of awesome bikes, both at the exhibition and in the camping area. We camped there for a night, and then the rest of the guys went back to Stockholm while I continued on to Öland where my parents had rented a house. After 5 days there, I went back to spend another night in Linköping before going back to Stockholm. Besides that I’ve been cruising around a lot in between, both in Stockholm and on Öland.

Pictures have been requested so pictures are produced:

Wishful thinking: Canon EOS 550D

Me and Marianne has applied for testing my current dream camera, Canon EOS 550D. We have been talking for quite some time now to buy a new one, preferably one with more manual settings and better at taking pictures in low-light situations without using flash, and the EOS series has always been my favorite. This camera has an incredible 12’800 ISO, and it would be very interesting to see how dark you can go without having too much noise. Hopefully this would mean more night photography! Back in school when I studied photography, we used the Canon EOS 500 (analog), and it would be fun to see how much of the functionality that has remained or improved since then.

Other highlights from the spec that I find myself smiling for when I read:

  • Sensor: CMOS, 18 Megapixel (APS-C)
  • File format: JPG, RAW
  • Movie:  1080p

Judging from how much you get from the camera the prize of around 7000 SEK is not that high, but unfortunately that is more that I can afford right now. Smartson does however have the possibility for four test teams to evaluate the camera for a month, and where you then get to keep it afterwards. The chances of being selected are quite slim, but here’s to hoping! Sign up here if you are also interested in applying. 🙂

Bang Bang!

Yesterday me and M went to The Target, a shooting range in Stockholm and tried a bunch of handguns.

Jolly fun!

I’m not sure about the model for one of the Magnums, but I think it’s a Smith & Wesson – let me know if you have more info!

Sliced finger

Yesterday my brother and his fiancee were over at our place for dinner with wine. Afterwards we were going out and thought that we should take the empty bottles with us since we were passing the recycling cabin anyway. While there my brother threw a bottle hard into the glass bin to make it crash. Unfortunately, part of the bottle ricocheted back up and came straight for me. Instinctive I put up my hand to protect my body from the whirring glass, and it hit my right ring finger.

And there were blood – lots of it. In fact, I even had an arch of blood across my face, going all the way into my right ear. The floor in the recycling cabin had blood splattered on an area about two meters wide.

We rushed back into the apartment, pressing the finger together, putting three compresses and a makeshift tourniquet made of tape while M called for a taxi.

After arriving at the emergency room at the hospital, I only had to wait for about 5 minutes before getting my hand looked at. After removing the bloody compresses and cleaning the wound with salt water they cut off the blood flow with a rubber tube and a peang. Prodding the finger with what looked like toothpicks, the conclusion was that I had lost feeling in about half my finger. After two anesthesia shots in the finger (that really hurt), I soon didn’t feel anything at all.

Despite the nerve damage they had to close the finger to stop the bleeding, so they started to sew. It was a really odd sensation to see them doing it and not feel any pain. After 10 stitches they released the peang to let the blood through the finger, but immediately had to put another two stitches due to leakage.

The people who closed up my finger were really nice, and we even had a few laughs together.

After getting my stitches it was time to  x-ray the finger to look for skeletal damage (since the cut was so deep). For some reason this was considered a really high prio case, I got to go before people who had been waiting for several hours. Anyway, the x-ray turned out fine and the glass hadn’t damaged the bone.

A quick bandage and a tetanus shot later and I was on my way home again. Total time in the hospital was just above three hours, which was probably a new record for me.

Today the finger hurts quite a bit, and I will soon go the pharmacy to get the pain killers and antibiotics that I got prescriptions for.

Tomorrow I will have to go to another hospital, where a specialist in hand surgery will assess the damage and possibly open the finger up again to try to repair the damaged nerve(s).

Now, time for some (quite gory) pictures:

Pumpkin Carving

Today me and Marianne are having a pre-halloween evening, pumpkin carving and stuff. Tomorrow we will have a horror movie marathon, eating sandwich layer cake and other goodies, some of which needs preparing.

In a couple of hours we will go out with Fredde, Ester and possibly Moa to a Japanese-Korean-Monglian restaurant, so I have time to post a few pics from the evening so far: