Leonard Knight of Salvation Mountain

"I really love it here. I think the freedom of this place is just so beautiful.
To me, I wouldn’t move for $10 million, unless I had to.
So I’m contented here in the desert, and I’m living where I want to live.
And I think good gets better.
And I think those great big tanks there were the sewer plant for the Marine base in World War II"

Some may recognize the words of Leonard Knight from the movie Into The Wild where Chris and Tracy take a walk to Salvation Mountain and meet him. In March I had the pleasure of taking my own walk to Salvation Mountain and meet the legend.

Salvation Mountain -blog

Leonard Knight

Leonard Knight is a joy and an inspiration, just as passionate and quirky in real life as on screen. I spoke with him for a while and his passion for his Salvation Mountain and for his God are very infectious. His work, life, passion and mission is a never ending process of creating Salvation Mountain as a tribute to his God. It’s really just a lot of paint on a mountain built of everything from clay to car doors and telephone poles but his dedication and passion lifts it to something special.

It was a slow hot day with few visitors, Leonard tells of days with hundreds of people. The desert sun was scorching, the clouds were spectacular and the wind a warm companion. The air tasted hot and dusty as I ate my lunch sandwich sitting on top of Salvation. Leonard then took me on a tour and gave me a handful of postcards telling me to "spread the love in Denmark, tell people about my work, about love and my mountain". He is a weathered old desert dweller who has seen his fair share of the desert sun. Here’s my portrait of Leonard and part of his desert home.

Leonard Knight - blog

Leonards Home - blog

Slab City

Salvation mountain resides at Slab City, also of Into The Wild fame. Slab City is just a bunch of caravans out in the desert on concrete slabs, leftovers from a Marine base. There is not much to it but I can see what Leonard mean by stating"the freedom of this place is so beautiful". I was there on a Thursday and wish I had stayed for the Friday outdoor concert as seen in the movie. With a little more guts for shooting people I would have liked to do portraits of the characters living here. Instead, some awesome clouds offered the chance of a wide Slab City panorama:

Slab City pano - blog

Into The Wild

into_the_wild_movie_poster I tend to get somewhat obsessive about my…obsessions one could say. I have over the past two years watched the beautiful movie Into The Wild twenty times, read the moving book ten times and listened to the great Eddie Vedder and Michael Brook soundtracks a million times over. Christopher McCandless’ quest, passion and great adventure somewhat mirrors mine and my feelings, and he completely changed my life post-mortem.

Chris, his story, the book, the movie, the soundtrack still means very much to me and there is great strength, comfort and inspiration for me in passionate people like Chris and Leonard. Attempting to slightly moderate my spectacularism (Douglas Coupland’s word for loving extreme situations) I am now attempting to create and live my nomad story, not a copy of the Alexander Supertramp story.  Still, I had to visit Slab City and Salvation Mountain when I passed by the Salton Sea back in March. Some elements and arcs of a story came together for me and it was special for me, somewhat moving to be standing there. As if several versions of me caught up and merged into one.

– ∞ –

Tech: All images including the portrait shot using my Canon 17-40mm L lens, it does actually work as a portrait lens in a pinch and my copy is razor sharp (except for the corners of course). The panorama is stitched. All images have received my ‘harsh desert’ Photoshop process but they needed very little, the conditions here are already very harsh desert!

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Coming soon to a galaxy near you

Houston, start the countdown. We are almost ready for launch:

Coming soon new www.flemmingbojensen.com

My entirely new website is nearing launch. New design, new images and new features. The very best of my fine art fine art landscape work, at least half of the collection has been re-processed and featuring new images from Thailand, Australia, Laos and 50+ stunning images from Southwest USA. Stay tuned, we launch for the stars within 1-2 weeks if all goes well!

This Desert Life

The Southwest of USA had a tendency to take my breath away every day. No I was not crossing the continent in Forrest Gump style. I am not so much a running fool more a walk in the desert fool. Rather, I was short on breath from the incredible landscapes leaving me speechless and awestruck in the presence of ancient dramatic masterpieces by Mother Nature. One such masterpiece named Death Valley is a complete otherworldly experience where the expression "wide open space" falls short and new words are needed.

I have posted a few images from the Valley of Death previously and today I present a vast view of the valley. Well, it is only part of the valley actually as it is some incredible 150 kilometers long. It is a hazy view during a sand storm just before sunset. Tell me if this view makes me feel as I do, that you are visiting something else than Earth as we know it.

vast valley of death - blog 

Whilst I love this view and the memories of Death Valley that it triggers I must admit to not being quite sure what to do with it. Is it an image or more a memorabilia? Is it a fine art image I want in my collection? Is it something anyone would wish to purchase? What do you think? It is awfully wide, more than 5 to 1 in width height ratio making it rather unpractical. This is of course a stitched panorama, around 19-20 vertical images from my 100-400mm Canon L lens set at 300mm. The final file is 27,000 pixels wide, quite detailed although fine details suffer from the dust storm. It will support prints almost as big as the real thing. Actually; with a few cheesy titles this is the intro to some 70s sci-fi show!

Even if it is just a memory, I may print this one at many meters wide and stick it on the wall of whatever future home I settle in. It will be my window to my home planet. Vast Valley of Death for some, home for me and I can escape here. In the words of Guilliaume Nery, into "one pure instant of eternity" where the vastness and emptiness draws and humbles me. This Desert Life and we shall take it Further and Further.

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

Further and Further: Flemming’s Edge of the World

 

PRESS RELEASE, July 2010

Further and Further blog-new

Further and Further: Flemming’s Edge of the World

“It’s Earth but not as you know it”

A mind-blowing photography and travel documentary featuring otherworldly ethereally beautiful landscapes from the Edge of our World presented in awe-inspiring HD video, still images, time lapse and raw emotional documentary sequences. Hosted by your favourite nomad Flemming Bo Jensen and created by renowned documentary filmmaker Charlene Winfred of C Productions. Watch this space for further updates.

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!

Wide Open Space in the Valley of Death

W i d e   O p e n   S p a c e s

It is surely the most used phrase in my writings. Many words and places come to me in a vain effort to describe these. Endless Entity. Dimensionless Deserts. The gramadulas of Namibia, unbeaten King of all wide open spaces. The outback of Australia. Plains of New Mexico. Into the nothing.

I still search for adequate words to describe what happens to me in these magical places of the world. It goes beyond loving exploring these as photographic locations. I experience a deep emotional over-reaction to any large remote and desolate wide open space. Perhaps it simply reminds me of my home planet. The unrestrained dimensionless spaces takes my breath away. With no dimensions, no borders nor constraints of my vision, it is close to ultimate freedom and escapism. I look to books like Terre des Hommes (Wind, Sand and Stars) from French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry for a wonderful description of this particular feeling and state of mind.

Death Valley in USA, hottest place on Earth and one of my favourite American locations. It was my home for 6 days and I have only scratched the surface of this enormous valley, I must return. On my first day I was rewarded with exceptional dusk light and I am currently toying with several of the images, searching for the perfect image, crop and post processing. Here is a work in progress of Badwater salt flats which in this very late dusk light turns into an otherworldly magical place. I am still deciding on the crop and the variations of this image, the use of black space is of course Ansel inspired.

death valley-blog

Creating a good image of a wide open space is a challenge. You are shooting ‘nothing’ but must make ‘nothing’ look beautiful, moving, disturbing and interesting somehow. You must also convey just how wide open the space is. You also as always need some sort of compositional anchor in the image and you are highly dependent on Mother Nature’s clouds and light. I get it right once in a blue moon but learn from every attempt.

Mother Nature has brought me home. Welcome to my world. Perhaps that’s a way to describe what I experience in these places. I shall keep exploring them, creating images and attempting to describe them.

PS. Please do not tell Wide Open Spaces that I am also having a love affair with Ocean.