Sweden in Monochrome

This past few weeks in Sweden I’ve been using my Fujifilm X100F exclusively. It always takes me a while to adjust to new light and compositions and the switch from late winter in South Africa to late summer in Sweden is quite drastic. That’s one reason why I’ve been using monochrome – it’s helped me to capture the light.

When we arrived I opened up my parcel from Fuji with the wide and tele conversion lenses I’d also bought. We went out berry picking on the first weekend to a beautiful location called Karlsbo – it’s about a half hour drive from Falun in Dalarna. I was keen to use the wide angle converter and so I screwed it on to the standard lens and took a lot of pictures that day – this is one of them. It is a vertical panorama of two images one stacked above the other.

Karlsbo Dalarna Fujifilm F100X Monochrome Sweden

Karsbo Panorama, Dalarna

This second picture was taken on the beautiful Bohuslän coast at Ramsvikslandet. It was a stunningly clear day after a major storm had passed through. Everything I was seeing was swept clean. The granite rocks and islands were scraped bare by glaciers and the sky was a clear blue with hardly a cloud. For this picture I used the tele converter so as to zoom in on the cottages at Fykan across the close cropped grass in the foreground.

Fykan Smögen Fujifilm X100F Monochrome Sweden

Fykan, Ramsvikslandet

You couldn’t get much more of a contrast than with this next image. It’s taken late one evening after sunset and it’s a view of the Bäveån that flows through Uddevalla. The river has a series of old mills along its course and this one hunches above a broad sweeping curve with the rapids in the background.

Uddevalla Bäveån Bohuslän Fujifilm F100X Monochrome Sweden

Bäveån Mill Pond, Uddevalla

The last couple of pictures were taken from the outlook above Gustafsberg – it’s has a lovely outlook west over the fjord to the Uddevalla Bron and east to the harbour entrance.

Uddevalla Bohuslän E6 Fujifilm F100X Monochrome Sweden

Uddevalla Bron from Gustafsberg

Uddevalla Gustafsberg Bohuslän Fujifilm F100X Monochrome Sweden

Uddevalla from Gustafsberg

I’m really pleased with the results I’ve got and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them.

 

 

 

 

The many shades of Falu Red – Falu Rödfärg – Sweden’s favourite colour.

Think of rural Sweden and forests, lakes, fields and fells spring to mind – wonderfully green in summer and white in winter. The houses, farms and barns will almost all be painted in Sweden’s favourite colour – Falu Red or Falu Rödfärg – that comes from the 1000 year old copper mine in Falun, Dalarna.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Riverside houses in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

I’ve always found the red to be very attractive – not least because it changes shades depending on the light and the season. When it’s cloudy in summer then it is matte and has a clay-like texture and appearance. I’ve chosen this picture of the doorway to Sundborn church steeple because it shows this – there’s also beautiful wood work in the overlapping tiles of wood. The colour is very similar to the red-brown laterite soils where we lived in Ruiri, Kenya. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons that I like it so much.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn steeple doorway in Falu Rödfärg

In dappled summer light it’s still soft but with brighter and darker red patches where there’s light and shade. You can see this on the main church building at Sunburn that has a large oak tree spreading shade across the roof and walls. Sundborn church is a beautiful village just outside Falun with a lovely heritage walk that features the locales of Carl Larsson’s famous paintings. The church is part way round the walk.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn church in Falu Rödfärg

You also go past this lovely old barn on the riverbank.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Old riverside barn in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

The real richness of Falu Red comes out in this next picture. It’s almost orange-red on the main wall of the church in the foreground. Falu Red, white and green are a really common summer colour mix.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Sundborn Dalarna Sweden

Sundborn church tower in Falu Rödfärg, Sundborn

Winter is a different story. All of the green will be gone and replaced with white when there’s been snow. Falu Red is particularly striking when there are cold blue skies behind bare tree branches.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Falun Dalarna Sweden Elsborg

Falu Rödfärg in winter, Elsborg, Falun

These two pictures were taken in Elsborg – the beautifully preserved historic quarter of Falun – during the particularly long, cold winter this year.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Elsborg Dalarna

Winter street scene of Falu Rödfärg, Elsborg, Falun

I had to use a very wide angle lens to capture the sky and clouds in these scenes. Even with the sun at a low angle the Falu Red is vibrant. If you are lucky and there are no clouds then you can get red reflections in the snow.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Dalarna Sweden Stångtjärn, Falun

Reflection of Falu Rödfärg on snow, Stångtjärn, Falun

The wall in this picture shows the yellow-orange colour that you can get when the clear winter light hits the paint horizontally. It’s almost mirror-like. This last picture was taken at Romme Alpin, it’s mostly blue and white, with just a little Falu Red to hint at summer’s warmth.

Falu Rödfärg Falun Red Dalarna Sweden Romme Alpin

Falu Rödfärg on the ski slopes, Romme Alpin, Falun

 

The Sweden Affect

The same thing happens to my photography whenever I come to Sweden. I think it’s either the impact of all that Scandinavian design on my artistic sense or maybe its all of the conformity and regularity of life here. Here’s a great example.

Sweden Black and White Monochrome Design Falun

Sensommar i Sverige

Since I arrived in Falun a couple of days ago It’s been raining a bit and so the summer furniture was stacked up (neatly of course) on the altan just outside the kitchen window. It looked so typically ‘sensommar’ – late summer – that I went out to get the picture. The composition just jumped out at me. Here’s another.

I was out on the balcony trying out new settings on the Fujifilm X100F and, once again, the shapes and lines drew me in. This time the light was changing as I took the picture (the sun came out!!) and so I could experiment with different compositions.

For the next six weeks I’ll be working only with the Fujifilm. I’ve found that’s the best way to learn what a camera will do. In the end I will be using it without thinking at all about the settings. Also it means that I can use the two new lens extensions I have just bought for it!

The Three Green Men: Symmetry Exhibition, National Arts Festival 2017

My solo exhibition – Symmetry – is at the Carinus Arts Centre for the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 9 July 2017. I’ve decided to write a series of posts about the images that are in it so that you can see what it is about.  When you walk into the exhibition you’ll immediately pass by the three green men.  One of them is so striking that I chose it for the poster and advertising.  Here he is.

Äsperöd Green Man Final

It’s an image of a Scots Pine tree (tal in Swedish) deep in the forest near our apartment in Äsperöd, Sweden.  I’ve mirrored it into two and also overlaid the image on itself.  This is the original.

Äsperöd Green Man Original

I took the picture one evening last September (early autumn in Sweden) when the light was soft and diffuse.  That meant I got an image with lots of detail and I could increase the contrast and saturation in post production to give the final picture more impact.

The Green Man is thought to be a pagan symbol of rebirth – that’s according to Wikipedia anyway – and found in architectural motifs right across Europe.  It’s usually a face made of branches, leaves, fruit and vines.  That’s certainly the case with the second green man too.

Göta Green Man Final

This image’s of an oak (ek) tree showing the first autumn colours and I’ve used the identical processes of mirroring and overlay on it.  The foliage is far more dense and so the image is much more richly textured.

Göta Green Man Original

I took the original at lunchtime whilst walking in the nature reserve above the Göta River in Trollhättan.  Once again I made sure that the light was soft and diffuse.  The third green man is a little different.  He’s an artefact made of driftwood in Lars Vilk’s amazing construction called Nimis  located in Skåne.

Nimis Green Man Final

I like the way he just stands there with his arms on his hips.  There’s something oriental, almost samurai-like, about his presence as though he’s covered in armour. Here’s the original picture.  It’s taken with a fish-eye lens from the walkway that tunnels between the towers.

Nimis Green Man Original

It was an overcast, drizzly October day so I managed to get all three images to complement each other nicely in terms of light conditions.

Valla Gård – a walk with the fisheye lens

One of the nice things about staying in Valla Folkhögskola is that it’s right next to lovely walks through Valla Gård – with all of its historic treasures of rural life in Sweden – and into the forest beyond. Of course, it’s also handy for going to conferences on the Valla campus of Linköping University which is why I was there last week.

I’ve been taking lots of pictures lately using the body cap fish eye lens for my Olympus.  I find that taking just one lens with me means I get used to what it will, or will not, do and here’s a range of the pictures I took with it.  The students were doing a group project and I bumped into them one lunchtime and asked if they minded me taking their picture.  As you can see, some of them had to be dressed as fictional characters.  The rest of the pictures were taken one evening and I experimented with different foregrounds beneath the interesting cloud formations.

 

Fantasy trees

A couple of weeks ago I posted this picture on Facebook.  It’s one of my favourite trees catching the warm sunshine: full of twisty arching shapes. At the time my good friend Harry Owen said he could see an artwork coming on …. he was right.

Äsperöd Gnarly

Äsperöd Gnarly

I’ve managed to find some time to work with it and I’m pretty happy with these two images. They’re full of mirroring and overlay and to me they’re fantasy works.  This first one overlays an image of the forest floor to give a warm rich texture.

Äsperöd Mushroom Fantasy

Äsperöd Mushroom Fantasy

The second one rotates the trees and the cross processing of the overlaid images gives some amazing blue and red tints.  There’s a completely different feel to it.

Äsperöd Fantasy

Äsperöd Fantasy

This is still a work in progress and hopefully I’ll be putting up more pictures as my ideas develop.