Category Archives: Laos

Children of Laos

Over a series of nights for the past couple of weeks I used video editing as a fun stress relief project. Teaching myself the very basics of cutting a movie, I used some of my amateurish footage from Laos. I shot this for fun handheld, never thinking I would use it but for mere memorabilia. I then thought it might make a good atmosphere for my stills and had great fun cutting this. Shot on Canon 5D Mk II, edited in Adobe Premiere. This is ‘Children of Laos’ from the very eastern part of Laos, hmong villages in the mountains close to the borders of Vietnam. I was fortunate to tag along with a journalist friend of mine on a job. Do watch this in HD and full screen, and if you like, read the story below after watching the movie.

Laos Stories

The temperature hovers around freezing. We are in the town of Nong Hat in the mountains of East Laos. Outside my window a rooster desperately tries to rise the sun at 3am. Some dogs bark and join in. I feel like doing the same as sleep is impossible. I am so cold. We are in a stone guest house with no windows only wooden shutters and it is colder inside than outside. Like the rooster I long for the sun to wake up.

When the sun finally rises we are treated to a beautiful morning. Our hostess at the guest house has the fire going in the kitchen, smoke fills the air and our nostrils. Nescafé gets my heart going again and a brisk walk on the street defrosts my bones. We are ready.

nong hat - blog

A few hours later after driving through the most splendorous mountains we arrive at our first village and school. Now, had we landed in a flying saucer, walked up with green skin, two heads and six arms and said "take us to your leader" I doubt we would have caused more commotion. These are very remote and poor villages, some of the children had never seen white fellas like us before.

I sit on the ground surrounded by children. Completely stunned by our appearance, very raw emotions from fright to thrilled flicker across their beautiful and very curious faces. My camera is the perfect ice breaker as the results shown on the back screen causes huge surprises and ecstatic joy. This repeats itself at every village, every school and I manage to capture some portraits while the children totally capture my heart.

hmong kids - blog

View many more images in my Laos gallery, here: FlemmingBoJensen.com/gallery/laos/

Liftoff! My new website is in orbit

website-200At times it seemed like a mountain too steep to climb, a rock too heavy to push. Five hundred hours of design, programming, developing, adding images, redeveloping old images, writing content, typing meta data, etc., have paid dividends and I am now very happy, relieved and proud to present and launch my entirely new website. FlemmingBoJensen.com Mk III is now live!
NB! If you get the old site, reboot your computer, try again.

I cannot convey how sweet it is to finally launch this ‘ship’ and I am very pleased with the result. Before you head over there, take a few minutes to read about the site.  I have so much to tell, I must try to be brief though.

Features

  • Innovative design by Jesse Speer of WideRange Galleries, read more below.
  • Programming and brilliant CMS by Jack Brauer of WideRange Galleries.
  • More than 300 of my very best fine art images have been carefully selected for the galleries.
  • Large preview images. I want my wide open spaces to really bring you to my world, so most images are 1000 pixels wide.
  • The much-fabled Southwest USA gallery is launched.
  • More than 75 new fine art images from USA, Laos, Thailand and Australia from my November 2009 to June 2010 life on the road have been developed and are launching today with the new site.
  • Nearly half of the existing images have been reworked and reprocessed in Photoshop to meet my current standards and processing techniques.
  • New profile, artist statement and bio on the About page.
  • Search index, browse images by search tags, location, themes, colours and still to come, moods.
  • Integrated shopping cart.
  • Still much to come in the following months: New images. Integrated WP blog (this blog will move), large stock image archive, wallpapers, calendars and if I can get 30 hours in the day, books!

Design

Jesse Speer of WideRange Galleries created the design. Jesse blew my mind with his draft one, he truly captured my vision. Here are some of the words I gave Jesse: Wide Open Space, minimalistic, uncluttered, otherworldly magic look, hyperreality, earth tones, red soil, blue sky, orange sunlight, desert, ocean, waves, dunes, grandscapes, view to infinity, elements that float free, weightless, no limits, no boxes, no lines.

Website-background blog His design and the background are created from my images and I love it much and feel it is a work of art in itself so I want to present it here for you to enjoy. This is the otherworldly view to infinity, to a horizon that is not there, to a world you float freely above that draws you in but has no borders, no confinements.

New company name, we "Escape in Landscapes"

FBJ logo

No, I did not change my name to Luke Skywalker. Rather, I have changed my company name to "Flemming Bo Jensen – Escape in Landscapes". The Escape in Landscapes slogan elegantly describes what I am all about and offer. My vision and my otherworldly boundless wide open spaces ensures there is nothing familiar to collapse the dream, allowing you to Escape in Landscapes. Thanks to a dear friend for the words.

Southwest USA gallery launched

USA thumb Yes, the wait is over. The much fabled, much hyped release is reality. Fifty new fine art images from the ethereally beautiful Southwest USA, and still a few to come. Possibly the best work I have ever done. Enjoy this 12,000 km ride through the magnificent southwest.

WideRange Galleries

My new website is a WideRange Galleries website using their custom built CMS for photographers. It has been a great, fruitful and creative project working with Jack and Jesse, and I highly recommend WideRange Galleries if you’re looking for a new website. My sincerest thanks to Jack and Jesse for building and designing such a superb website for me.

Enjoy!

I have gone on for far too long, switch your browser to full screen browsing, head over to FlemmingBoJensen.com and enjoy and escape. I hope you spend some time browsing, then come back here and let me know your thoughts. If you spot any problems, spelling errors, etc. I would also be much obliged if you would inform me. Enjoy!

All systems go. Liftoff. Approaching orbit. Escape in Landscapes.

www.FlemmingBoJensen.comwww.EscapeInLandscapes.com

FBJ-signature-black

Reflections of a Nomad Photographer Part I

nomad-edge-flemming-blog In November 2009 having sold my flat and most of my belongings I left Copenhagen and embarked on my present great journey as a Nomad Photographer. No home, no base, no strings, complete freedom. After six months, three continents, five countries, thousands of images and having been around the world I returned to Copenhagen for a Summer break. “I need sleep” was one of my first sentences.

I felt jetlagged for 4 weeks as I attempted to re-charge and archive thousands of experiences, images, people and emotions inside my messy head. I am now able to reflect on the first chapter of my life as a nomad photographer. If you are not familiar with the beginning of this tale I suggest reading my Dreams become reality post and perhaps my profile. To make sense, my reflections are intimate but of course I have chosen to leave many things out for my public blog.

So…what was it like?

Continue reading

No More Stories Are Told Today I’m Sorry They Washed Away

It is the latest album from one of my favourite bands, Mew. It is also somewhat fitting as I love to tell stories on this blog but I just don’t have a story today. Instead I have just a few images from my past weeks of work. Possibly not a bad trade, this is a photography blog after all.

What have I been up to? Well, I am saving all the images and stories for my new upcoming website. I am adding image files in the hundreds to my new site and typing in metadata till my fingers bleed. I am also processing all shots from the past 6 months of travel, including previously developed images from Thailand and Laos as I was unhappy with the stuff I developed on the road. Working 7-10 hours every day in Lightroom and Photoshop is a nice way to hone one’s post-processing skill. I have been toying with many new techniques and managed everything from awesome to plain weird results. Here’s a few images from Thailand and Laos, re-developed and different from my normal wide open spaces:

Thailand - Cosy Streetlife - copy - blog 

Laos Studying - web copy - blog

The street scenes in Thailand has awful colours from wildly different light sources at night. But once converted to duotone I felt the atmosphere come alive again. It is a great experience to eat at the street kitchens in the suburbs. Second image is from Laos, where I now have developed a lot more of the hmong children portraits. I re-discovered these images having not looked at them for long and am now loving them. Soft light blending of layers and high pass filtering with a healthy does of luminosity layers are Photoshop techniques that really shine on these sort of images I find.

That is all we have in the story book today. Much much more to come….launch approaching!

Recess

My life as a travelling ‘nomadic’ photographer is having a recess after 6 months of adventures through Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Australia and USA with great images, people, experiences and ups and downs. ‘Nomad’ traveling is a large magnifying glass. Perhaps I will write a more detailed report later. Now; rest and non-travelling.

I am now back in Copenhagen for a Summer siesta and work. I do not know what happens after that. Making this up as I go along. Once I catch up on sleep and seeing dear friends there are two big tasks ahead – completely new website and developing all the new images. Stay tuned, I shall continue blogging of course, new images will be posted.

Todays image is recess from one of the hmong village schools I visited in Laos, one of the highlights. These children were so raw, un-spoiled, curious and very charming, felt like adopting a few of them.

laos - recess - blog

Laos village children portraits

Avid readers of my blog know that my big love is landscapes, the amount of images I post with humans in them can be counted on…one finger I reckon! Some people consider any image without humans boring and the standard “there are no humans” is a too-well known statement. I always say it is merely whatever floats your boat photography wise. Some like macro insects, some like sports, some like portraits, some like landscapes! I have however always liked studying the good travel- and ethno-photographers and Laos gave me an opportunity to practice.

We visited extremely remote hmong hilltribe villages and schools for my friend’s research and here I had the chance to capture some of these gorgeous children. I shot hundreds of shots, mostly because the children were of course very interested (also slightly scared) of the camera and the magic lcd screen showing them an image or video of themselves. The boys were noticeably much more shy and of course being boys, playing it detached and cool, while the girls took to the camera quite fast. I present a couple of images that I shot after the first wauv factor had worn off allowing me to get some portraits where they were unaware of the camera. Meeting the children at the schools were a mindblowing experience. These are kids who live in remote villages, some of them had never seen white people before, they have nothing, they go to school but have no text books, no pencils etc. But they are incredibly strong and gorgeous survivors full of spirit, happiness and life. They have to be strong here to live, to survive. Given the right opportunities these tough strong kids can do absolutely anything as they are used to fighting for survival everyday.

First is this gorgeous girl who absolutely loved the camera. She is not hmong, I forget the name of the tribe. She has an incredible face.

laos village girl - blog

I also attempted to catch the children playing with the amazing mountains of East Laos as backdrops. Some of these villages and schools enjoy views that are out of this world! This is a couple of hmong girls playing.

hmong girls playing - blog

My primary love will always be wide open landscapes but I really enjoyed capturing these images. For this sort of work, the versatile 24-105mm Canon L lens proved very handy. I have much to learn and would like to hear your opinion on this little venture into ethno-photography.

Layers of gold

I learned many things during our Laos trip and one of them was to really appreciate gorgeous mountains. As every reader knows by now I tend to go on (and on) about wide open dimensionless desolate flat spaces. But driving around the incredible gorgeous mountains of East Laos blew my mind. Everywhere, absolutely everywhere my eyes darted, majestic mountainscapes were present. Another added bonus of mountains and the air in these altitudes were the incredibly blue sky and simply stunning cloudscapes masterly painted onto the big big sky.

The mountains pose a challenge though, finding somewhere to shoot! Driving on a small path in a 4WD, most of the time there are bushes, trees and all sorts of stuff in front. To get a clear shot requires testing gravity or towing a really tall ladder! Or just the patience to wait for a spot to pull over where the view is unimpeded. One afternoon as the sun was low and setting we were treated to some ethereal rays of lights shining through the clouds and I created this image:

Laos mountainscape golden hour blog

This is just a single image slightly cropped. There was not always time to setup tripod and shoot stitched panos etc. The important lesson here is take what you can get. I have warmed the colours some, in the original it has a more cold cast to it but I feel perfectly fine about altering the look of a scene like this. I am attempting to create art, this is not a documentary nor photojournalism. I was able to capture the dynamic range in one raw file and then worked the image in Lightroom and Photoshop to bring out the deep in shade foreground slight and warm the colours. What do you think of the result?

Merry Christmas to all

Christmas comes in many different forms for many different people, cultures and religions. Whichever way you spend the upcoming holidays I want to extend my best wishes for a great and merry Christmas for you and your family and loved ones!

laos merry xmas I am posting the weirdest and most surreal Xmas decoration ever. This is from the entrance in a guesthouse in Phonsavan in Laos. Now; Laos being the most heavily bombed country in the world with a lot of unexploded ordnance still not cleared – you would think that bombs on display would be the last thing you would see. But no, they seem to display them as a sort of tourist attraction or…I don’t know. We all just stood there staring at this and just, it just does not compute. This is some large bomb with a lot of small cluster bombs (particularly evil) as decorations. And a Merry Xmas sign. So surreal!

My Christmas

I am spending Christmas in the tropics this year with dear friends, in my present home of Chiang Mai, Thailand. This being a buddhist country there is little in the way of Christmas decorations and I am quite thankful for that. Except in the large shopping mall where the "farrangs" (foreigners) get to enjoy a gigantic plastic tree and Thai versions of White Christmas so truly awful your ears bleed! I hate shopping malls with a passion but just when you think they could not get any worse! Copenhagen is covered in snow experiencing truly arctic temperatures, but we have a nice 30 degrees during the day and a big bright sun to go with it!

Outback Laos

Quick, have a look at this image, do not look at my post title. Where would you guess this image was captured? Oh bugger, I put the country in the image title as well. But, would you ever guess this was Laos and not outback Australia or Namibia? Also reminds me of some images from Chile I have seen.

Driving around the town of Phonsavan in Laos for about half an hour we suddenly find us in this amazing arid area completely covered in deep orange coloured dust. I mean covered. Every hut was orange, every tree was orange. The clouds were magnificent and it all added up to a classic (cliché?) me shot – outback dusty road, this time in Laos! I will do a book on Wide Open Spaces someday when I have enough material, I cannot get enough of these dimensionless magic open spaces!

IMG_8125 Panorama -blog

This image is 7 or 8 images stitched in PTgui. Composition is extremely important to me and I sometimes struggle with it in stitched panoramas. Simply because one cannot see the end result in the viewfinder. But here I feel I came reasonably close to achieving that envisioned. I want a composition where the road runs into infinity, where the viewpoint is low, where all leading lines start at the corners and pull you into the image, where the sky itself is also leading lines pulling you into the magic (getting carried away here). Only thing I am unhappy with is the lower right corner, that curved line is from stitching with a very wide view. Should be straighter. I always shoot a single image 17mm wide angle shot as well in case I do not like my stitched composition. I have often thrown away the stitch and gone for the single image as composition is king for me. There’s a big difference between a good photo and a detailed photo. Stitch may have more details, but it may not be the better image.

If possible, I always have to get myself a road / driving shot. It says movement to me, travel, new opportunities, new horizon. This orange dusty outback road in Laos is already one of my favourite road to infinity images!

A book on My Wide Open Spaces – would you be interested?

Field of Dreams in Laos

Clichéd title. Probably even used it before. No matter! My writing will not make me rich and famous anyway, might as well recycle my own clichés! Anyway to become a cliché it has to be extremely good. Or popular. Wish I could become a cliché!

This particular Field of Dreams is a rice field in the mountains of East Laos, driving towards the village of Nonghat close to the Vietnam border. After one day in the capital Vientiane – awful touristy place, more on that later, whoever rebuilt this city ruined it – we flew to the remote town of Phonsavan and met our car, driver and guide. We drive up the mountains on curvy small roads snaking their way through gorgeous landscapes and charming villages with nothing but wooden huts, smiling villagers and simple country living. I never want to leave. As the sun starts setting and golden hour is upon us we start scouting for a nice location. Being me I want a big wide open space, not easy to find in mountains. But suddenly this beautiful flat dry brown rice field appears as if someone heard my request. Perfect timing, perfect location. Perfect colours as the dry orange rice crops really pick up the colour of the setting sun. Perfect moment that I captured this way:

Laos Field of Dreams. Flemming Bo Jensen

You are not really supposed to walk off road or off path. Laos is still home to so many unexploded bombs dropped by USA during the Vietnam war. US Airforce used Laos as a garbage bin, you don’t want to land with bombs on your plane so if the pilots had any leftovers returning from raids in Vietnam, it was dumped unexploded on Laos before returning to base. Thanks USA! So any step off track could be your last. Here, it is a rice field though so plenty of footsteps before me and I was careful to only walk on the paths.

This is a stitched panorama of 7 or 8 images, developed in Lightroom and stitched in PTgui. Images like these are easy. Nature is the artist. I merely composed, shot stitched, colour balanced and also painted a bit with light to enhance the hut. But Mother Nature is the artist here, love her to bits!

Field of Dreams in Laos was truly beautiful. Stay tuned for the sequels, Solitary Tree in Laos and Outback Road in Laos. I warned you I am a cliché!