October 2012

Weekend in Norway

A bit more than a month ago we finally travelled to Norway to meet with a couple of friends from back in Paris who moved to Trondheim about a year ago. The plan was to go during summer but we didn’t managed to find the time – perhaps luckily though, as I doubt Nature could have been more beautiful than it was during early autumn.

Because the return flight did not match well with the trains we decided to drive by car to Kastrup Airport. Price-wise it more or less equalled out. As this was the first time to not go by train we left well in advance to account for delays on the motorway. But of course we missed the flight anyway, due to a truck catching fire and blocking the motorway for two hours, at a place where with no chance of taking a different route. The misfortune was shared though, as a lady next to us had already been stuck for several hours waiting for her husband to come and bring her to her own birthday party.

When we finally started moving again we had missed the last flight. My sweet mother came to the rescue and found directions to a cheap hotel near the airport. She had reported a price of 600 DKK a night, yet when we arrived the price was 700 DKK with the explanation that to get the cheaper price we would have to book through Hotels.com. With the prospects of not getting a refund from neither the missed flight nor the hotel in Norway we excused ourself and went outside to use their wifi to make an online reservation. Midnight dinner we enjoyed at McDonald’s among a bunch of teenagers dressed in pyjamas. Let me advertise for Hotels.com a bit here though as they offered excellent service: we called them the next day and they managed to talk the Norwegian hotel into giving us a full refund.

When we arrived at Trondheim airport the next day two things testified that we were now in Norway. Firstly, the beautiful view, even from the landing strip. Secondly, that we received strange looks when we didn’t go to the tax-free shopping. Our friends picked us up at the airport and we drove to a cabin they had rented in the mountains about two hours away. And what a cabin! No electricity, no running water, but plenty of wood, rivers, and astonishing landscape. We took a walk in the surroundings but had to go back and prepare for evening shortly after. What a native feeling when all of a sudden you have to factor sunset into most things you do!

While we managed to make a decent dinner (using the gas stove), it took longer to make a proper fire in the fireplace, to the point where the masculine honour had to suffer a bit and accept advice from the female companions. That this advice came sooner than needed may perhaps be attributed to the fact that a light snow had started to fall outside and no other means of helping us keep warm were present. Personally I was more excited about whether or not the baby the couple had brought would allow me to get my full beauty sleep.

After a good day and a half in the wilderness we had to go back to reality. I use reality here because at this point I had started to get crazy ideas of signing out of civilisation to go live with nature instead. One day soon I will watch Into The Wild again.

Sunday we spent in Trondheim before catching a late plane home. The city seemed cute, and to some extend reminded me of Aalborg with a northern twist.

All in all we had a splendid weekend. One thing in particular struck me: I’m fascinated by the way the Norwegians seem to be in contact with Nature. One thing is that it is apparently common to at least have access to a cabin, if not owning one. Another thing is that they also seem to be able to understand and use nature in a much more integrated way than the average Dane. I wouldn’t be surprised if surviving one year in the mountains on your own is still part of becoming an adult there.

I imagine this also concluded our scandinavian summer. During early summer we managed to see a fair part of Denmark through Margueritruten. During mid-summer we saw the Swedish lowlands, including Stockholm and sailing. Now, during early autumn we’ve seen the Norwegian mountains as well. Which was best? The Danish countryside of course.

First Analogue Prints

We’ve spent a great weekend doing an introductory course on developing and printing analogue film — and it’s been nothing short of amazing! I’ve been wanting to do it for quite a while and finally the opportunity was there.

It was organised by the photographic society at Godsbanen and since it had not made it to our consciousness that we were supposed to bring an exposed black & white film, the first step was to quickly go and shoot 36+ photos of the architecture of this new place with the Diana Mini that I had brought (I had in fact also brought an exposed colour film but it turns out that developing such a bastard is a very different process).

Shooting with my Fish-Eye over the last year I’ve noticed the truth of spending more time on each photo when shooting analogue as opposed to digital: is the composition good, is it interesting, is it worth the 1/36th of a film? And during the weekend I noticed that developing a good print from a negative let me to be critical about it to an extend that would often not be matched in the digital setting: I spent more time picking which negatives to develop, how to frame them, how much contrast their needed, and so on. The slower process of waiting 5min between seeing the result of each new try-out might be part of the reason. So may the general atmosphere in the dark room without distractions to take away your focus. Time stops a bit and leads to an anticipation and excitement every time a print magically appears in the developer bath.

I was actually a bit surprised by how involved the process is. First off, the process involves more steps than I imagined. But perhaps more interesting was that the technique and tricks that one need to master to make good prints seems hard to teach but have to be discovered over time; a lot more hand-waving and good old experience. Naturally, you appreciate the printing even more afterwards, to the extend where it seems you can admire the print without liking the photo.

Finally, the result of a weekend’s work:

I’ve heard before that digital cameras even today have a hard time matching the dynamic range of film, and while it’s perhaps not clear from the digital reproductions above, the prints impressed me in terms of how much details there seems to be in the sky and shadows at the same time.