As I take a walk down the abandoned road toward Själand, about a twenty-minute slooow walk from our rented house in Haffsta, I spot this small group of trees huddling in the the snow covered field… waiting for spring. Exactly like I have been doing now for quite some time. My body is tired of the cold and I am longing for some warmer weather. I think everybody is feeling this way up here, even the trees. Spring is just around the corner, but sometimes it can seem like a long way off. Still, the spring will come, on time, as it always does!
The first Sunday we had moved to the north of Sweden, I was invited to shoot a baby dedication at a church in Billsta.. uhm, I mean, ‘the’ church in Billsta, coz there’s only one of em! Afterwards, I had some free time, so I stopped to take some photos of these two barns that stand at the entrance to the kingdom of Billsta. I got cold feet, literally, but they remained, standing guard of this tiny community, once a farming meka, I imagine.
I was on a drive, one day, with a fellow photographer, and we stopped to take a photo of this barn lieing alone on top of a shallow hilltop, bearing the cold Swedish winter winds. I imagine if I were wandering about in the wilderness whilst trying to escape death by freezing, I might find this humble structure a piece of heaven. It’s amazing how a photo’s frame (I’m talking edges here, not an actual frame like you might buy at IKEA ) can tell a different story. Just to the left of this cabin is a cluster of homes, some new, some old, but not very compatible alongside this cabin. Imagine if I decided to push them into the frame? Hmmm. I think it would ruin the idea of aloneness and quiet I was trying to convey.
The first ting you need to do is to find a church that will work on a postcard, one that is worthy of postcard status. They say that you can make anybody or anything look good if you work the lighting and other elements of a photo just right. And Photoshop certainly helps with the subtle adjustments. But isn’t it obvious that some subjects simply look great no matter what you ‘don’t’ do the photo? Such is the case with Själevads church in Själevad, Sweden. This church was voted the most beautiful church in Sweden. then again there are lots of beautiful churches in Sweden.
I thought for sure the sky would be too dark to get this sort of photo, but I was wrong. Actually, the best light in this case was after the sun had already gone down. And the glow from the sky came over the top and around the other side of the frozen fjord to bounce against this snow-and-frost-covered forest. I did some post editing in Photoshop, cooling the temperature and then dodging and burning the lights and darks. What you see here is a more accurate representation of what I saw in reality. It looks so fake! Doesn’t it?
I happened to remember this deep thought by Jack Handey and I was in tears. I thought I would share it with you 🙂
“I remember I was hammering on a fence in the backyard when Dad approached. He was carrying a letter or something in his hand, and he looked worried. I continued to hammer as he came toward me. “Son,” he said, “why are you hammering on that fence? It already has plenty of nails in it.” “Oh, I’m not using nails,” I replied. “I’m just hammering.” With that, I returned to my hammering. Dad asked me to stop hammering, as he had some news. I did stop hammering, but first I got a couple more hammers in, and this seemed to make Dad mad. “I said, stop hammering!” he yelled. I think he felt bad for yelling at me, especially since it looked like he had bad news. “Look,” he said, “you can hammer later, but first-” Well, I didn’t even wait to hear the rest. As soon as I heard “You can hammer,” that’s what I started doing. Hammering away, happy as an old hammer dog. Dad tried to physically stop me from hammering by inserting a small log of some sort between my hammer and the fence. But I just kept on hammering, ’cause that’s the way I am when I get that hammer going. Then, he just grabbed my arm and made me stop. “I’m afraid I have some news for you,” he said. I swear, what I did next was not hammering. I was just letting the hammer swing lazily at arm’s length, and maybe it tapped the fence once or twice, but that’s all. That apparently didn’t make any difference whatsoever to Dad, because he just grabbed my hammer out of my hand and flung it across the field. And when I saw my hammer flying helplessly through the air like that, I just couldn’t take it. I burst out crying, I admit it. And I ran to the house, as fast as my legs could take me. “Son, come back!” yelled Dad. “What about your hammer?!” But I could not have cared less about hammering at that point. I ran into the house and flung myself onto my bed, pounding the bed with my fists. I pounded and pounded, until finally, behind me, I heard a voice. “As long as you’re pounding, why not use this?” I turned, and it was Dad, holding a brand-new solid-gold hammer. I quickly wiped the tears from my eyes and ran to Dad’s outstretched arms. But suddenly, he jumped out of the way, and I went sailing through the second-story window behind him. Whenever I hear about a kid getting in trouble with drugs, I like to tell him this story.”
One of the reasons we’re living in the icy north is to help me improve my Swedish. Before that my Swedish education would go something like this:
- I would try to say a sentence in Swedish..
- I would get stuck on a word meaning.
- I would ask my wife for help.
- She would then attempt to explain for me.
- I would not be satisfied with her explanation. (I guess it’s because I’m a ‘headline first, details second’ kind of guy.)
- She would get bummed out!
When we moved up here last month, we decided to get a 3G mobile surfing subscription for my mobile telephone so I can check emails, skype people, etc. Fortunately, one of the apps on my phone is Google Translate. So, now, whenever I need to translate a word in mid-flight, I no longer need ask my beautiful wife what it means. I simply ask my phone. And you know what? It works pretty darned well. The best part: Veronica no longer feels that undue pressure from me that she has to explain it ‘just right’ 🙂
3G didn’t really save our marriage, because it wasn’t even in trouble in the first place.. our marriage that is! But what a nice benefit to be able to lighten the load on our communication!
My friend David, who was with us is also a photographer, looked at me and asked, “Hmm! Why not try?” So we kicked our photographic attitudes up a notch and started looking for good Swedish-national-day-looking shots. When we came back to our home at Restenäs, David and I edited our best three photos in my office while Veronica and his wife hung out and had some girl time together. We sent in our photos and voila! I won first and sixth places, while David won second, third and fourth places. First prize is a digital photo frame. Oooh.. Cool! I’ve always wanted one of those!! Well, not really. but it’s fun to win first place anyhow.
David is, in my opinion, a very good photographer. He has a website if you want to see his work. He had been in Cambodia just two days after I left Cambodia. So together we will be showing our Cambodia photos in a few small cafés around Bohuslän.