Infrared experiments

Infrared Flora

As I am about to board another flight to the US it only seems fitting that the defining image for today is from the US and marks perhaps not the beginning, but certainly my favourite from my infrared experimentations.

The image above was capturedin Shenandoah National Park on the US East Coast about 10 years ago.

Infraread photography was for me very much part of a learning experience and a wish to create a series of images with a distinct look different from my other work.
The way flora tend to explode in shades of pristine white when hit by sunlight is other worldly and extremely beautiful I think it.
It helps transform and challenge perception of what the world around us should really look like.
Its most traditional use is landscape and architectural work, but when I came across these gorgeous long stemmed It seemed an obvious way to challenge our natural representation of such a subject.

This image with it almost translucent whites and vertical lines is on the of the images from my infrared series of images from Shenandoah National Park I  truly value and an image that in retrospect have help shape how I approach all monochromatic work, even 10 years later.

Thanks for looking.


Corsica in 36 hours

Ready for take-off
 What do one do when faced with a tightly packed early morning to midnight programme in the city of Ajaccio and at best 36 hours to explore the Island before going home.

Well there is no single solid answer to that, but here is what I did based on my interest in nature and photography, not to mention the fact that 80-90% of the Corsica seemed shut down for winter.
Corsica certainly struggles with well know effects of a very seasonal tourism sector.

My stay in Ajaccio was fixed, in the sense that my hotel was booked well in advance, before this chance opportunity of spending about two half days on the road. Thus, I needed to return to my base in Ajaccio for the night.

A rental car is a must, I fixed myself up with an almost new Peugeot 108. Short of a Suzuki Jimmy it is a perfect match for up to two persons rocking the tiny mountain roads of Corsica. You will read plenty of warnings in plenty of travel magazines on how passionate, fast and reckless Corsicans drive.
I am happy to tell you it is over stated, Corsicans are certainly passionate drivers, but no more so than many other Europeans. The mountains roads are no worse than in Northern Norway, Sweden, France or Italy for that matter.
Not once did the tiny Peugeot come out short in terms of speed and acceleration on the narrow winding roads, sure I had to work the transmission to get the most from it, but it performed surprisingly well.

Ajaccio beach
Ajaccio itself is an almost ordinary southern European beachy tourist city.
In the sense that it is saturated with the same unimaginative tourist traps as everywhere else, but there are upsides to Ajaccio.
The Secret Gallery
A multitude of narrow and charming alleys to explore for one and a genuinely rustic and almost scenic quality to at least part of the beach-side of the city.
It happens to be the birth city of Napoleon Bonaparte too if one have such interests.
Mountain Runners
 The back country from Ajaccio is hilly and generally amazing. It makes for some excellent mountain running experiences. I had a great morning run, with the guys (and gals) from Corsica Run Extrem, pure bliss :)

Knowing I would have to be very selective in terms of what to see and how far to venture.
UNESCO World Heritage listed "Calanche de Piana" was very high on my list and since "Pointe de la Parata" was on the way it seemed a very nice stop along the way and since I have a thing for waterfalls I wanted to find one of those too, "Cascade du Voile de la Mariée" sounded like a promising one given the season and distance from Ajaccio, so it went on the list too and then of course intermitted stops in between as I would pass interesting stuff. All in all a decent game plan for two half days or so.

Genoese Towers of Corsica
The short hop to Pointe de la Parata was not super remarkable, it was short though.
The view from the hilltop just before the Genoese tower is perfect for the classic view of the small isles and the towers.
I found a secluded spot and enjoyed a brief moment of silence taking in the view and a sip of water.
The image from my pitstop will hardly qualify for a price for original thinking, but it was a very nice moment and will serve great as a pleasant memory.
Rural Corsica #3
From there I set out on my drive towards Calanche de Piana, an entertaining mountain drive in its own right and with plenty of interesting vistas and more intimate rural scenes of beauty.
The village of Piana marks the Southern entrance to this gorgeous area. Piana though, as the rest of Corsica was more or less closed thanks to my way off season visit, but it is a very scenically located village none the less.
1st floor on the left
Calanche de Piana itself is a truly gorgeous region of deep red rock formations and a very scenic drive. I truly regretted not having packed a couple of rolls of colour film for this part of my trip. A roll of Ektar, Velvia or Provia would have been a blessing and it represent one of a handful moments in life where I have longed for a roll of colour film.
Red Rock #5
Thanks for my limited time to explore, I stayed along the scenic drive and did not venture too far on foot, even though I would have loved to. This area is much more beautiful than my images display and I would love to go back with some colour film and much more time.

I arrived very late at the hotel that night and slipped into bed right away, after repacking for a few hours of exploring and my flight home the following day.

A very early breakfast and then off on another drive, this time heading East and towards Cascade du Voile de la Mariée. An easy and relaxed drive taking me to a tiny roadside stop. Already at the stop i could hear the muted roar of the waterfall, a promising sound. I grabbed my bag and walked through a small gate before the short walk to the waterfall.

Cacade du Voile de la Mariée
It was stunning, Amazing actually and I thoroughly enjoyed a quiet time, a sip of water and just appreciating the gorgeous nature around me. Took the time to capture a few images and stroll for a bit along the powerful stream leading water away from the waterfall, before walking back to the car and save for a stop at a scenic rural scene I spotted on my way out, drove straight to the Airport for check in.
Rural Corsica #5
All in all, Corsica was an amazing experience and I would certainly love to come back with more time on my hands and i would probably choose to go way off season again too, simply to get to enjoy the gorgeous nature in almost complete solitude. Ohh and I would bring colour film with me.


A toddler in Paris

Paris is among my favourite European Cities.
Christina giving birth to our first child 14 month ago, have not change that one bit. It has changed how I perceive the city and present itself with a new set of joys and challenges.

This blogpost is an attempt to share a few helpful piece of advice to others travelling to Paris with a toddler, based on our experiences. It may be parenting 101, but hey, some may find it useful :)
family time

Parisians in general are amazing and very open towards families and kids. I know we were an involuntary nuisance on a couple of occasions, but staff, employees and locals seemed totally at ease with it and on top of us and the situation.

A cup of coffee
One of the things we like about Paris is the food, sidewalk cafes and the coffee.
Did I mention the coffee?
Unlike in Northern Europe where a good coffee is a massive jug with half a liter of milk, a bit of coffee and if possible massive amount of syrup or sugar.
Paris is like most of France and Italy a place where a normal coffee is an espresso and most places seem to be passionate about providing a quality cup of coffee.
I am not hating on people preferring coffee the Scandinavian or American or what it might actually be, way. My preferences are just different and more in sync with the French/Italian style of coffee.
What is not to love about it :)

Gotta start them early

Toddler chairs:
Now as Scandinavians we expect every restaurant and café to be armed to the teeth with toddler seats and toddler chairs. We may have to leave our stroller outside, but a seat for our toddlers are expected. Paris is the exact opposite, they almost always have room for your stroller, but toddler seats or chairs are a very rare occurrence. Probably down to cultural differences, but if you still like a chair or seat for your toddler then we found these 4 places fabulous.
I'm a straw

Le Sancerre
Toddler seat, excellent service, excellent food, the risotto with whiskey flambéed Prawns were to die for and stroller friendly to boot
Trattoria Rim Café
Toddler seat, stroller friendly, excellent pizza, Tieramisu to die for (It literally tasted like Italy) and great service
Le Paul Bert
Toddler seat, stroller friendly, decent burgers, friendly staff, and good selection of red wines
Le Voltaire
Stroller friendly, not sure about toddler seat, but coffee was amazing and the waiter a star
Morning ride

Toddler priorities:
Travelling with a Toddler also means a shift in priorities, having been to Paris a lot the Eifel Tower, Triumph Arch and other basic sightings are a little less important. Centre Georges Pompidou and to some extend Louvre are still places I aim to go whenever in Paris though.

For a toddler, being in Paris is very little about exhibitions and more about travelling in their pace and make sure they have a great time.
Chasing Pigeons

A few toddler friendly things to do:
Square Louis Michel (just below Sacre-Ceour)
Super turisty, but a really beautiful place and it has a really nice playground at the lowest level
Parvis Notre Dame – Place Jean-Paul II
Square just in front of Notre dame, heaps of tourist friendly pigeons and a heaven for our toddler to just chase pigeons for a while. Probably his best experience in Paris
Les Halles
A construction site nightmare at first sight, but a massive shopping mall below grounds and towards Rue de Viarmes is a really nice playground area, not sure when it reopens to the public though..
Marche aux Puces
Not really a toddler destination per se, but while browsing the various markets, we had nothing but stellar service and total toddler friendliness. Most importantly our little one had a ball.
Skip metro and trains and walk everywhere
It is a lot of time on your feet, toddle paced and no rush. In our case around 20K per day.
But it allow plenty of time to investigate that really interesting twig in the park, or that totally exciting fence or whatever grabs your little ones attention or just a stop at that random playground you walk by

Random playground in Montmartre

Other helpful things to know:
Public transportation is great and mostly reliable, but do not expect to see a lift and if you find one expect it to be out of order, so be prepared to negotiate a lot of stairs and escalators.

We travelled as a couple and were on our feet +12 hours a day and averaged around 20K of walking daily, so a good stroller and the fact we were two to carry it when negotiating stairs and escalators ,made it perhaps the most useful piece of kit we had with us.

France is great food country in general and the super markets carry a great organic selection, thus a good selection of toddler friendly snacks and in between meals are available, you do not need to really bring anything, most things can be bought while there.

If you travel alone with a toddler you want the smallest and lightest stroller you can find and a backpack for all your stuff, because there is a good chance you will be negotiating a massive amount of stairs with your toddler on one arm and the stroller in the other.
A stroll along the Seine

The terror threat thing:
Now there is no doubt that the terror attacks in Paris has changed Paris. Armed forces were visible in pretty much any part of the city, it does not make for an unsafe Paris at all, just a changed one.

The soldiers we met were all very friendly and tried staying out of the way as much as possible, but having your son chasing pigeons in front of Notre Dame Cathedral just does not feel as relaxed when it is under supervision of four heavily armed soldiers.

I remember Paris as a different place, at the same time it is perfectly understandable why it has changed and why precautions are being taken.

Overall Paris is an amazing destination with and without a toddler. Go see it soon!