Tag Archives: bruce chatwin

Nomad. Photographer. Traveler. Wanderer. Dreams become reality.

Nomad. Basically means either a pastoral nomad, moving his herd every day in search of food, or a hunter gatherer nomad moving with the wildlife. Bruce Chatwin was forever fascinated by nomadic life and once spent years and years writing a book about his own thesis on ‘the nomadic alternative’. This brick of a book was according to his publisher almost unreadable and Chatwin ended up instead traveling Patagonia and writing ‘In Patagonia’. The rest is history.

I have spent the past 4 months attempting to realise my own Nomadic Alternative. On Monday the 23rd of November dreams become reality as I board my plane to freely travel the world, photograph, experience, write and live! New life. The road is the home. Nomadic Alternative.

I now own basically what I can carry. Well, carry with some help as there is an awful lot of camera gear, laptop, books and clothes. Still, my life and possessions is reduced to a mobile state and I have no home but the world, the road. Nomadic alternative. These are truly exciting times! Complete freedom and total liberation! I do know how lucky people consider me to be and I will live up to it.  But I have basically created this situation myself and I believe everyone can do this or parts of this. Most of what tie us down are in our minds!

While I do call it my Nomadic Alternative, like Bruce Chatwin would say, that is a truth and a half. Chatwin liked to say he was travelling with just a notebook and a backpack. In reality he carried a whole home with him, including a ton of books. In reality I will be jumping from base to base as a place to sleep is always quite nice! My first base will be with friends in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. A dear friend from Copenhagen will also join me in Chiang Mai and together we will explore Asia for the next 4 months. Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, perhaps Burma, Laos and a little gday to Australia as well could be on the menu. No plans, except to live! photograph, experience, travel and be free, free!

Not all those who wander are lost.” – Tolkien

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun." -Chris McCandless

The road is home

Let us conclude with the road, in this case a lovely red dirt road from Karijini, Australia. Red and blue dawn at it’s finest. Into the Wild.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Karijini Red and Blue Dawn
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

If you know some great photography locations in Thailand – and Asia – I would love to hear about them! See you on the road.

Sands of Time. Turn the hourglass and next stop Malaysia and Borneo

“The principal joy of human life comes from encounters with new experiences. Hence there is no greater joy than having a new horizon every day”.

The words are Christopher McCandless but are also very Chatwin-esque. I wholeheartedly agree. It is why I love travelling and photographing so much. The promise of a new horizon, new photos, new experiences.

Sands of time has once again run through the hourglass as I bid goodbye to Australia and head for new horizons in Malaysia and Borneo. The downside to these constant new experiences is they also constantly end. It is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. After leaving what quickly felt as a home in Namibia in early May, I now leave what feels like home in Broome, Western Australia. As always feel a little sad having encountered yet another end. But new horizons, new photographs, new experiences await. Would not want it any other way. Rather the highest of highs and lowest of lows than never-ending mediocrity!

In Malaysia and Borneo I am shooting landscapes for United Plantations in and around their palm oil plantations. A visit to see the orangutans are also planned, promises to be rather magical. I do not know if I will have internet access but hope to post a report or two.

I illustrate the Sands of Time with this image from Namibia. A very strong wind is fiercely whipping the sand dunes in the setting sun, creating a magic moment in time on a Wednesday afternoon:

Namibia. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Randomness

  • Camel Man! You must read Rod’s super funny CAKE09 blog post about Camel Man & yours truly. I was planning to write the story as well but Rod’s tells it better than anyone. “Albert” is my CAKE09 nickname, something to do with Albert Namatjira (famous aboriginal artist).
    Casey has also posted some great CAKE09 shots on his blog.
  • Still on CAKE09 expedition, in Karijini we had to one day do a re-fuel and shopping trip to the mining town of Tom Price. Now, in Tom Price they were setting up a large fair with carousels, rides, etc. As Rod and I pay for our food at the Coles Supermarket the Coles Woman says excited “oooooh are you guys from the fair?”. “Ehhhh…what?” I say and laugh. “We look like we’re from a fair?”.
  • I spent a day working for Beaches of Broome backpackers (my home in Broome) shooting new photos for their website. With little preparation, no budget, no models, no props, no flash or light of any kind and me, the landscape photographer, the conditions were challenging. Necessity being the mother of all inventions, Michael (staff from Beaches) and I simply hi-jacked 3 backpackers who agreed to model and posed them in rooms, having breakfast, riding scooters, at the bar etc. and I fired away hoping for something useable. Was lots of fun and a few of the photos are even halfway ok. Joe McNally need not worry though! Will let you know when some of our work is online at the Beaches website.

Namib Desert. Desert is home.

Man was born in the desert. Desert is home. The words are Bruce Chatwin, I heartily agree with him. No landscape could be more alien to a Danish farm boy like yours truly and yet at the same time be so fascinating and possess a strange power. Desert is home.

I have just spent 4 days in the Namib desert. I am lost for words. To say it’s magical does not come close. I have never seen nor experienced anything like this. Even the vast outback of Australia seems a little smaller, a little less empty. The Namib desert is the oldest in the world with the largest sand dunes, up to 400 meters tall and it does truly boggle the mind to see these. But as spectacular as the dunes are, they are just one part of the whole Namib desert experience. 

Space. There is so much space. So much it does not really fit in my brain. The sky seems a million kilometres away. Horizon is always at infinity with perhaps the odd tree or mountain in the far far distance. So much space. Composing an image here, even on a 17mm wide angle, is like attempting to fit the universe in a shoebox. So much space. Not Into The Wild but Into The Nothing as seen here:

Namib Desert - Into The Nothing. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

We drove from Swakopmund to the sand dunes of Sossusvlei for a 3 night bush camp. On the map it does not look like much. In reality it is a 8 hour 360 kilometre road trip on bone rattling corrugated roads through the most incredible ever changing desert country. Sometimes a moon landscape, sometimes ancient mountains, sometimes wide open desert plains with perhaps a herd of springbok. So much space. Namibia is a huge country with a population of only 2 million. So much space. You could easily loose the entire country of Denmark in the desert and never find it again. You could also easily loose yourself. So much space!

Our mode of transport was a Nissan 4WD work pickup truck, no fancy frills, all performance. Our trusty truck had no air con, with the windows open we could truly feel and taste the desert, the dust and the hot wind adding to the experience. If Namibia the country has a flavour it is the warm dry dust of the desert. We named the car Nissi and she runs like a tractor. Bit rough, but tough (‘we breed ‘em tough here, Africa is not for sissies’ – a popular saying) and she never let us down (she did blow a tire and ran hot but not her fault!)

I really am lost for words and also time, so for now I’ll just leave you with a few very quickly developed jpeg previews from Namib Naukluft National Park. Shooting here was a fantastic experience and difficult, will be the topic of many a forthcoming blog post. The Canon 5D Mk II performed perfectly and I seem to just attract good light and interesting clouds at the moment!

Namib Dunes. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sunrise at one of the thousands of dunes; we were lucky to get clouds

Namib Dunes and Oryx. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

A lone oryx walks proudly in front of the dunes

Deadvlei. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Dead tree at Deadvlei on a morning with extraordinary cloudscapes. I was so lucky this morning, nice soft light, beautiful clouds where as the norm is boiling hot harsh light from a blue sky.

FBJ at Work in Namibia

And lastly, me & my shadow at work in the dunes. No I am not scratching my head!

Randomness

  • Spare batteries for the Canon 5D Mk II are impossible to find, so it’s fortunate that the battery performance is brilliant. Managed over 1000 shots on a single charge!
  • In the desert we were stopped by a Namibian police officer. He was lost. An accident had been reported, 150 km out of Swakopmund towards Windhoek (which was not the road we were on). Had we seen the accident he asked (no you’re on the wrong road). Oh and did we have mobile reception because he didn’t (no of course we didn’t either and I can’t believe he doesn’t have a sat phone). And had we seen his mate in another police car because he had lost him as well by outrunning him (no to that as well). My friend had to show him a map and really spell out directions for him. He thanked us and we drove on, a few minutes later we met his mate, the other police car, coming towards us, and a few minutes after that, the ambulance. I hope the people in the car crash were ok or dead or they’d be suffering for a long time. My friend tells me that was an insight into how the government can work here. Oh btw the amount of idiots doing 120 km/h on the corrugated dirt road are staggering. No wonder there are accidents!
  • Forgot my torch. I own 2 expensive torches and forgot them both. A torch is the essential item for camping, can’t believe I forgot them. Bloody city boy I am turning out to be!
  • Namibian mozzies are stealthy bastards. Don’t hear them. Don’t feel them. Until you wake up with 10 new bites! Promptly installed a mozzie net over my sleeping bag on day 2 but still slept outside under a million stars, the only way to camp!
  • Hospitality and friendliness of my Namibian friends, the family Eckleben is overwhelming. I can only offer a million thanks. I am now installed in my own house in Swakopmund and have my own bicycle to get around (incidentally also runs and feels like a tractor!). I truly am Bicycle Repair Man – a select few will know what I mean.

And sorry for lack of responses! I am online very little, so no emails etc. at the moment and few updates. Actually it’s nice to be offline for a while, kick the internet drug for a bit. Concentrate on photos and experiences. See ya!

Wannabe Bruce Chatwin with a Moleskine

I need to invent a fancy theme for posts like these, something like Off-Topic Wednesdays (it is Wednesday today isn’t it? Me and time have a weird relationship) but for now this’ll do:

It’s off-topic day, not about my photography for a change!

Bruce Chatwin from the cover of the biography by Nicholas ShakespeareI live, eat and breathe photography but also love writing and I write a lot when I travel. As I get ready to embark on another photo trip to Australia the travel bug gets me. I long for travel, long for doing photography all the time every day in new locations every day in an alien yet familiar outback landscape on the other side of the world. Eternal Restlessness.

The closer I get to travelling the more travel novels I read. I am somewhat strangely obsessed with everything Bruce Chatwin at the moment after having re-read his novel Songlines twice in one week. I forgot what a masterpiece of literature that book is and how good a writer he was. Also quite a fascinating character! I am presently reading the biography and a few of his other novels.

I love writing while travelling. I do write at other times but nowhere near as much. The first few times I travelled abroad I wrote in classic diary style, “I did this, I went there, I saw that” etc. Mind-numbingly boring to read now! But the last many notebooks are written travel story style with a mix of thoughts, reflections, observations, history, humour and anecdotes. Trying to put the reader inside my head (scary place!) Still boring probably but at least somewhat different! I now write in the gorgeous Moleskine notebooks of course, the sure sign of someone desperately trying to be creative. I’m no Bruce Chatwin but hey, I use the same notebooks he did!

Flemming Bo Jensen notebooks On the right is a photo of the travel notebooks I have written so far. After I began blogging not only do the notebooks have to suffer my words but so do the internet as my Travelog page demonstrates! Who knows, some of my old stories buried in the notebooks on the right might make it online someday. Or someday when my photography makes me rich and famous I can publish these! Maybe not, I reckon I should stick to photography!

PS.
Moleskine. It’s pronounced Mol-e-skin-a if you feel like attempting some Italian (the company is Italian).