Tag: Life

Melting snow

It’s been a very, very long winter, and I suppose it’s not over yet, but today we’ve had 3 degrees C and the snow is melting a bit. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy about slushy melting snow. I had to go out for a walk. πŸ™‚

These are the first photos I’ve taken for a long time, not counting a few shots of whiskeys for my whiskey blog. I know that spring won’t come for some time yet (at least not according to the meteorologists) but today has been lovely – despite extremely dull and grey weather. Other than plus degrees and melting snow I could also hear birds singing. So I’m happy for today!

My baby Ester came with me for the walk, at least for a bit. πŸ™‚

I photographed a wedding

When I started getting into more focused photography, I was browsing the internet for photography blogs and photographer websites to get inspiration, and found that maybe 90% (if not more) were wedding photographers. And I said to myself that “I will never shoot weddings. Everyone else does it – how boring!”. And in addition, wedding photography requires so much of you. It’s that particular moment in people’s lives that just has to be perfect, you can’t fail on that one. And if that wasn’t all – weddings are almost always indoors with poor lighting. Sure, usually wedding photographers do a nice photoshoot outside in some pretty spot, alone with the couple. But – in my country you can NEVER trust the weather. Not even in June. It could be a brilliant day with sunshine and 20+ degrees, but it can also happens that it rains all day and the temperature goes down to 11 C.

Despite all this, last spring I was asked by a friend and lovely co-worker if I wanted to be her wedding photographer.
I wanted to say no because I didn’t feel competent enough, but at the same time it would be a private wedding with only the two of them, the priest and two witnesses. And the couple are both people I know and they are very nice, straightforward people. She also said that they would be so happy if particularly I did it. Who can say no to that?

I was very nervous and especially for the indoor photos and for the potential that I’d have to do the planned outdoor shots inside because of bad weather. The good thing with this was that I finally bought an external flash, which has been one of the best investments ever (except my Olympus camera, of course). Not that it’s a very fancy or expensive flash, but it does its job and is helping me a lot with taking good indoor photos. However, I had very little experience with flash photography, so many of the photos inside the church were not good at all. But we were lucky with good enough weather and could do the outdoor shots. The sun was very indecisive but hid behind clouds most of the time, except during lunch, and it was very windy. However, this was fantastic weather for being early June in Sweden!!

The couple had chosen a lovely location at the Vara plains, by a castle that is perhaps more like a mansion than like a castle but it has large surroundings with lots of greenery, and a beautiful garden.

Now afterwards I can see that there are many similar shots and that there are other different types of shots that I planned to take but didn’t because of nerves, my composition weren’t great, and many other things. But you know what? You have to start somewhere. This was my first ever on-request photoshoot, in a genre I don’t normally do, these people are friends of mine and I really had a good time doing this. And as long as they are happy, I am happy.

2017 in pictures

Although 2017 wasn’t a great year, it was an interesting year from a photography point of view. I upgraded big time to a very nice camera and I’ve been to many interesting places and have taken lots of photos. So take a deep breath and see my 2017 photo journey…

In the winter I usually don’t take a lot of photos because everything is dark and dull, and 2017 followed the same pattern. I actually joined an online photography course, but I quit after a month or so because every other homework task was about taking a photo “in a well lit place”, and surprise, in Northern Europe well lit places don’t exist between November and March. However, January is the month of the Burns supper, which is everything but dull. Good food, good whiskey, good music and nice people.

February must have been an incredibly boring month, because I can’t find one single photo taken then!! I’ve posted one on Instagram, and that is also from a whiskey tasting.. I don’t even have it anywhere else than on Instagram.
In March I must have still been in the photography class, because I’ve taken this picture that I know was for that class. I don’t remember what the theme or lesson was. But these are some wonderful instruments..

March is also the month of the local whisk(e)y fair, and it was there I fell in love with SmΓΆgen whisky, so much that now we’ve bought a private cask from them. We’re still waiting to get news that they’ve filled it with new make. But at least we have the certificate that we own one!

April is when things are getting more interesting also outside.

And in 2017 in April I went to Ireland to attend a whiskey workshop at the Midleton distillery. I’m very sad that I can’t found any photos from the coopering lesson, and there’s a risk I may have thrown them away by mistake when cleaning my photo collection..
However, the workshop was brilliant, and I got to taste the Midleton Dair Ghaelach for the first time, visited the enormous Midleton distillery warehouse area, and learned lots of interesting things about whiskey making.

In May we did something we had wanted to do for a long long time. Rather spontaneously we had decided to join a group trip to the isle of Islay, Scotland, the Mecca for lovers of peated whisky. It’s the home of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig, to name a few. The trip included distillery visits and lovely cask tastings in the warehouses. The only thing I wish we could have had more time for was visit out to see more of the scenery, but it was a whisky trip, after all. πŸ™‚

June is the month when Swedish people celebrate Midsummer. There are lots of different traditions but the only one that really interests me is the one of playing fiddle tunes in local traditional costumes. After the celebration some of us have a party at my aunt’s house, and continue the music there.

In June we also visited some of Orsa finnmark, the most interesting and beautiful area of Sweden. I’ll write more about it in a separate post eventually.

In June I also bought my new camera, and found my first zebra spider.

July is the month of photographing flowers.

In the beginning of August we went to a concert with the Swedish country singer Jill Johnson, very nice indeed! And what a surprise that I managed to get such good photos. It was such fun to take them.

In August we also went to Ireland. You’ve seen lots of photos already (and there are more to come!). This is from Oliver Plunkett street, Cork city.

In September I found the first spider since a long time, because for once, there was almost no wind.

I went to see friends out by the sea.

This year we didn’t go to Italy in the summer, but in October instead. We experienced everything from 1 degree C and snow..

..to nice autumn

..to around 25 degrees C or even more.

And we had the opportunity to join the family in harvesting olives.

We had the privelege to taste the brand new oil, which was absolutely fabulous. πŸ™‚

In November we had the first snow, and I did a Dingle whiskey batch 1 photoshoot, while waiting for two bottles of batch 2 to arrive.

And finally december. We had a fabulous whiskey themed New Year’s party.

I wish you all a very happy 2018!!

Christmas 2017

I hope you all had a nice Christmas!

Christmas 2017 was kind of special, but good. This is a very personal post, the type of post I didn’t plan to publish on this blog. But it’s an important post.

The autumn has been very intense with lots of big projects, tons of e-mails showering over me while I tried to focus and finish off things, I’m in a stage of my life where lots of energy goes to thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my life (aka midlife crisis), and when I have many things that I need/want to accomplish, I tend to not look after myself. I just want to go on working to get things done.
While I’m able to stop doing my paid job at around 6 pm, after that I want to continue working on my other plans, but find that I’m too tired to get anything done. I forget that a human being also needs to eat, sleep and relax sometimes.

In early December I started suffering from tinnitus (imagine what a nightmare for someone who loves silence as much as I do) and I never slowed down or was able to relax. My heart was always on full speed, and so was my brain. I slept very little, didn’t eat much, and never spent time on hobby things, such as playing music, going for walks, reading, photography (other than quick shots on special occasions) or anything else that I usually do just because I enjoy it. Blogs and website management has always been a nice hobby and stress reliever but now it had become a burden, and my brain wasn’t able to focus enough to produce anything decent anymore.

During the autumn I had a scary situation when I suddenly couldn’t see, because of weird dark spots dancing before my eyes. That was my first serious warning sign, but I slowed down for a few days only, until later one night in mid December when I worked in the hospital we found that my heart was up to 100 bpm while sitting on the couch having a cup of tea.
Then I decided that I’d had enough and that my life had to change.

In my country, there is the concept of “hitting the wall”, and exhaustion syndrome (not the same as chronic fatigue) is now a medical diagnosis. In all other countries they call it burnout syndrome, which is a quite good description of it, but it’s not good enough, because it’s so much more than work-related stress.

It’s an illness caused by – very simply put – an imbalance between long term stress and recovery from the same. After a long period of stress where you never relax and let yourself recover, the body starts shutting down. Some people get total shutdowns, I know people who drove around without finding the way to their own house. Or people who sleep for days after performing simple tasks – even after doing nice things such as having coffee with friends, or they are unable to do that sort of thing at all. Other people still seem to function ok, but get these “lighter” symtoms that I have – that still are serious warning signs that should make you realise that this is it, this has to stop, you can’t go on like this.

I decided to take January off work. I will only finish some small jobs I was working on before Christmas. I won’t work in the hospital for several weeks, will take time to slow down and do things for the sake of enjoyment, and make a plan on how to make time for these things when I start working again.

I will take time to create photos – but without great ambitions – and find beauty even in the simplest of situations, and in the worst of weathers. I’ve learned that while you can take amazing photos by being super ambitious and making exact plans on how to create them and even waiting for the perfect light to appear, my most beautiful photos have been the spontaneous shots of situations I just run into. My favourite shot on Christmas wasn’t a pretty bokeh shot of Christmas tree decorations, but this one of my nephew and the Christmas tree. It was one of those unplanned moments where I just happened to have the camera close enough to take a picture.

But the total focus for me now is recovery and learning how to enjoy life again. Spending time on the right things, the things that give energy and enjoyment.

I’ve been looking for some articles on this in English, but didn’t have any great success with it. Most of them simplify it down to specific aspects of work-related stress. But I eventually found one article that is the closest to a decent definition and that goes through some different studies on the topic, and is a very interesting read.

Burnout syndrome

Snow – I love it, I hate it

In recent years, our Christmas weather has been about the same as our Midsummer weather – about 10 degrees C and rain – and this year seems to follow that tradition. πŸ˜€

I have a love/hate relationship with snow. I really LOVE when it snows – but only while snow is actually falling, and only if it falls rather heavily. Afterwards I want it to disappear. Snow is too inconvenient, and it never stays pretty more than a day or two anyway.
Around the 10th of December, a snow loving friend was visiting, and we went out for a walk after some snow had fallen during the night. It it quite photogenic, I can’t deny that.

If we want a Christmas tree, we only need to stick the head outside the house, because this is our neighbour selling trees. πŸ™‚

And a week later, we had a much more serious snowfall. Way too late – and dark – for good photos, but who can resist going out in this?

Now this is the closest I get:

And that’s not bad – hey, it’s colour!!! πŸ™‚