© Martin Kull

Icy sunrise

Swedes are said to be obsessed with weather and at this time of year I think it comes from trying to stay prepared for the harsh days with occasional snow storms or maybe from the fact that the days are so short. Early January the sun rises at 08.40 AM and sets just after 3 PM. When the forecast is favorable you better catch the opportunity to see the sun before it vanishes again.

Twelfth day of Christmas was one such day. The night brought 15 cm of fresh snow and the forecast was sunny, albeit-16 Centigrade. South of Vaxholm is the sea inlet to Stockholm - Askrikefjärden. I hurried to make a short hike to meet the sun rise there. The huge ferries trafficking the Baltics make waves that create great ice formations. See a few more photos here.

Stockholm covered in snow

This year winter and darkness arrived abruptly, on November 9th we woke up to to the alarming news of the outcome of the US presidential election. Outside it was snowing heavily. During the night a 30 cm cover had built up. The temperature was around 0 deg C which made the snow really heavy and I had to use the snowblower to get the car out. When I headed to the city I realized that many roads, even main roads were blocked by trucks and buses stuck in the slippery road surface conditions. Luckily the tube was still in operation. The snow continued to fall the entire day and there was an odd atmosphere in Stockholm. People struggled walking in uncleared streets and sidewalks to get to and from work, cars stuck here and there, but overall the city felt deserted. The sentiment was a bit like in the movie "The day after tomorrow", where NYC is covered in snow after a dramatic climate change. I think the photo below reflects the feeling well. It is from Stockholm Hay market, usually a bustling place filled with market stalls and commerce. The blue building is the Stockholm Concert hall. 

Stockholm is beautiful in snow, but by March or April it is time to welcome the light and warmth again. Trump however will stay at least four years and I hope the damage to the climate will not be irreversible. 

See more photos from Stockholm on this snowy day here.

Stockholm Photo marathon 2016

For the third year in a row I entered this challenging photo competition. 24 defined themes in 24 hours. Four themes were given every forth hour in pit-stops spread out all over the great city of Stockholm. In the end, after a long day and night, a memory card with 24 photos in the right order was handed in. This years themes were: Photographer, Secret, Play, Fly (or Fad), Ugly fish, Through thick and thin, Congratulations, Role model, Guitar hero, Summer evening, Lonely, Wet, Glow, Couch potato, Hat, Earth, Illustrious, Dance, Chaos, Breadcrumbs, Neighbourhood centre, Contrasts, Almost there and My participation number.

Previous years I have taken rather strict/graphical black and white photos. Sometimes own superimposed restrictions could amplify creativity and this year I had decided for a different style. My photos would be in colour, show people and preferrably also feelings. The Stockholm cultural festival We Are Sthlm was gongoing and there was a lot of activity and a bustling street life during the photo competition. Photographing people means a lot of interaction and I met so many friendly and helpful people - both Stockholm natives as well as tourists - they all really made it all worth the effort.

Some 400 photographers entered the competition and we have been asked not to show our photos until they have come to a verdict, hence I will not show them her until later in November. In the meanwhile I can share a photo that did not make it to my final selection. The one below is on the theme Couch potato taken 00.30 at Skeppsholmen Stockholm.

Edit: See the my entire series with a story to each of the 24 photos here.

Diving in Bonaire

it is now some 30 years since we first took our scuba dive certificates in Cyprus. Shameful to say we have not dived since then! But that can be fixed - in the Dutch Antilles the island Bonaire is dedicated to diving with 50+ dive sites many easily accessed direct from the shore. The island is also surrounded by beautiful corral reefs and the entire underwater area is a protected nature park. To be on the safe side we decided to update our PADI Open water dive certificates in a 4 day course at Buddy Dive resort. During our stay we did 12 reef dives including one thrilling night dive. My Pentax K-3 lacks underwater housing so most o the photos are from above the surface. However I did rent a simple Canon camera for one of the dives - really challenging.

See the photos here

Buddy Dive resort

Glacier rescue training

After last years Glacier training at Jostedalsbren in Norway, we wanted more and we plan to do another glacier walk the coming summer. Better safe than sorry and we need practice. Hence we started the weekend on a nearby hill - Kvarnberget on the west side of Bogesund, Vaxholm overlloking the north side of Stockholm. Much fun, fantastic food and company and a very good reminder and rehersal.

The album is found here

Bed time

Randonnée in Sunnmöre alps

Are ski lifts overrated? Well not if you enjoy the down-part of downhill skiing, but for the richer experience of nature and the grandeur of the mountains randonnée is the way to go! One full week with back country skiing i Norwegian Sunnmöre alps with Stranda lodge as our base camp made a perfect finale of this years winter season. During the week we climbed and skied on Kvitegga 1489 m, Heimste Blåhornet 1336 m, Fremste Blåhornet 1478 m, Ystevasshornet 1330 m, Blaeja 1420 m, Auskjeret 1203 m, Slogen 1564 m and Grötdalstinden 1420 m. Hundreds more peaks to explore in Sunnmöre - life is too short.

See the photos here

Climbing Slogen looking into Ulvedalen

Offpiste in Les Arcs

This years week with French UCPA took us to Les Arcs, with perfect conditions. Half a meter of fresh cold snow and after the initial dump a full week with a clear sunny sky. The UCPA guide took us to places we could only dream of.

Skiing - the Swedish way

The family spent some days after New year in he Swedish ski resort Ramundberget. The days were short and gave lots of time to get-together. Even more so since the temperature did not invite us to spend the full days outdoors. Temperatures varied between -20 to -30 deg C - and nature's colors at sunrise or sunset (below) became dramatic.