the elderflower season

Words & Images: Camilla Jørvad-

The warm quiet mornings have returned, and I can once again enjoy my morning tasks: morning training and walk with the puppy, feeding and letting out the chickens and weeding the veggie garden without having to dodge the rain or wrap myself up in warm layers. When you have a property the size of ours, there is a never-ending list of ongoing projects weaving in and out of eachother. One of these projects have been on my dream list since I first set foot on the farm 15 years ago when my parents in law were living here: to close off the tiny front courtyard/parking space by the road and make a new longer, more private driveway on the backside of the house. I want to “hide” the property from the road. I want to feel like you are entering a magical place, a private haven. I not only want this to be our guests’ first impression of Sigridsminde when they arrive, I also want this feeling for myself every time I come home.

While the delicate beauty of flowers and the meditative work in the cottage garden soothes my soul, my favourite part of “gardening” is planting trees. I am also a lover of hard physical labour, of getting my hands dirty and getting a few bruises and cuts here and there and the incredibly fulfilling calm that runs through my tired muscles as my head hits the pillow at night. In many ways hard physical labour feels more slow to me than sitting in front of the computer. In many ways the huge part of my life I spend in front of a computer working is so opposite of what my personality and body needs. I am so looking forward to one of the planting tasks awaiting me this autumn. I have been waiting for that moment/project for 15 years since I first set foot at Sigridsminde.

My nursery is still full of shoots and seedlings that need to be planted out into their “permanent” spot. I’m using the word permanently lightly, as a garden is never really finished, and all these plants will probably be moved at least 10 times over the next few years and be divided at least as many times. My husband really hates all this moving about. He likes to do things and do them once and be done with it. He doesn’t get it and seems to think I ‘change my mind’ only to annoy him. But like one of my great garden-crushes @themontydon writes in Gardening at Longmeadow: “I never think of it as finished – just where it happens to be now”. And I couldn’t agree more.

© all pics with kind permission Camilla Jørvad

I have no interest in trying to convince everyone that living in the country is the only right way to live. But I do believe in my heart that many – if not most – aspects of country life are simply healthier for humans at the very core of our being, both physically and psychologically. Closeness to nature and a more clear impact by the changing seasons, less noise and air polution, daily contact with the soil you grow your food in and the animals you eat. All of this is just a few things on a neverending list of benefits I have found to be true, at least in my own life. I passionately believe that we all deserve to live a life that is slower and more intentional than what society, politics and economy shape us to do today. Our farmhouse Sigridsminde is on Aeroe island in Denmark, there we do our best to live slow, simple and seasonal. My goal is to give you moments of beauty, connection and tranquility in a busy everyday life.

Dear readers, take care & have a relaxed week! Read more about Camilla and her beautiful country and slow living journal here and on Instagram here.

Yours, Melanie Kettner

connecting with whales

Words & Images: Bernodus Oli Einarsson-

I was only 15 years old when I had the first chance to work with whales at a company called Whales Hauganes, that was the point where I started feeling a deep connection to nature and wildlife and wanted to spend every minute out there exploring and seeing different aspects of my own surrounding. Working as a tour guide on a whale watching ship was a great chance to get to spend more time outside and watch the majestic whales when they spend their feeding season in Eyjafjörður. I’ve seen most of their behavior on feeding grounds, everything from sleeping to breaching for a whole hour nonstop, the quiet moment when they lift their back and smoothly proceed to a deep dive by lifting their tail and disappearing to the deep blue ocean never ceases to amaze me.

Of all the whales I’ve seen the humpbacks remain my favourite because of their unpredictable behaviour and their mysterious presence. Sometimes they will be curious about the boats and will do some spyhopping (eyes out of the ocean with the whale laying straight up in the water with a 90 degree angle on the surface) as well as coming very close to the boat, but sometimes they will just mind their own business and keep on going their way with occasional and unexpected breaching sessions that ranged from 1-100 jumps. Getting so close to the majestic humpback whales was an enlightening experience and I now have a better understanding of how giant they really are. The humpbacks are moving a lot searching for food and I hope they find some clean and nice krill to eat. Recently beached whales have been found with their stomachs full of plastic, so please make an effort to reduce your usage of single use plastics.

The whales affected my view of nature in such a deep way, before I didn’t really understand all the changes that are occurring right now. I didn’t understand the effect the rising temperatures were having on living creatures. Monitoring the travels of humpback whales and minke whales I realised that they were moving further up north every year to colder temperatures because the temperature of the sea is rising. For example, 25 years ago there were almost only minke whales in the fjord where I worked. Now the numbers of minke whales hasn’t decreased, but they have moved towards Greenland and colder oceans while the humpback whales are moving into the fjords in the north. Just to be clear, there could be other explanations of these movements, but this is the one that I saw the strongest connection to.

While that was my life on sea, I spent endless time exploring the country as well. I’ve been living in Iceland my whole life or the last 19 years and that definitely shaped me to who I am today. It’s not the culture or the people, but much rather the nature and the wilderness. The culture has for sure had some impact but living amongst glaciers, volcanoes and wild animals built me and my goals and dreams to what they are now. I think it’s hard to find a country with such extremes to both ends when it comes to landscapes. A part of the highlands is just a big desert with nothing else than sand everywhere, but when the conditions are good you might be able to spot a glacier. There are other parts of the highlands with massive mountains, valleys, glaciers and waterfalls. And that’s just the highlands.

The coast is a whole another issue, there are huge waterfalls, massive cliffs, long fjords and glacial views from far away. All of this has attracted a lot of travelers from around the world that want to experience Iceland and I understand them so well. Luckily I have gathered information and knowledge for some years now and I’m still able to find spots where I’m alone and still have all the things I counted above. Having the quietness and only the sounds of nature around me is a very important factor to me when I’m out exploring new areas, so being able to find these spots is amazing.

 

My way of traveling Iceland is partly in my 4×4 camper van and then hiking to the spots that I can’t reach with a car and I really like mixing it up this way because doing only one or the other wouldn’t get me as far and I would only reach half of the spots I reach by doing it this way. Me and Donal Boyd named my car Gandalf with help from some of his Instagram followers, the explanation is that it’s old, white and helps me going anywhere and it’s pretty accurate. I’ve been on all kinds of roads with this car and so far it’s doing pretty good, well I don’t want to lie…I’ve had to do a lot more maintenance than I would need to if I just stuck to paved roads but it’s all worth it.

 

© all pictures with kind permission Bernodus Oli Einarsson

Dear readers, hope you are all well! Just to keep in mind: Benni is just 19 years old! Follow him here and more about the Hálendið Iceland National Park here,  a campaign advocating for the protection of the Central highland of Iceland. Hálendið covers 40.000 km2 of the island (103.000 km2), and forms one of the largest territories in Europe which has never been inhabited. Hálendið is one of the last great wilderness areas in Europe.

Take good care, Melanie Kettner!

 

 

 

 

a place where I feel complete

Images & Words: Fran Mart-

Miles and miles have passed since I decided to move to the UK, and so many wonderful things have happened. I found the right path, the right guy to walk it with, and we’re making a home out of our dreams and kindness. Today I want to encourage you to take that first step you’ve been thinking about for a long time. Maybe it’s moving to a new country, or starting a new project, asking someone to walk beside you or just allowing yourself to find more quiet. So many beautiful horizons are waiting for you if you’re just willing to take the wheel. Life is a matter of choice. I’m thinking about how different my life was before. Visiting Ibiza and Formentera has made me remember how much I love the sea and how much it has always been present in my life. But I always knew that my soul belonged to another place and this is the highlands of Scotland. I left my whole life behind and chose to go out and find my place, my inner home, the place where I feel complete.

All I have achieved so far has been with the help of people around me, my persistence, my love of adventure, nature and the desire to inspire people to travel and explore in themselves. Follow the path ahead, be patience, believe in this and go your own way. Originally from Andalucía, Spain, the colors, landscapes and textures offered by the British countryside continue to inspire me today. Having discovered photography through my good friend (and tattoo artist), it very quickly became my passion and adventure. Obsessed by light and simple, natural beauty, I always seek to capture something beyond what we see – the emotion, feelings, memories that exist in the moment. For me, photography is akin to sitting by the fire, sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee or dram of whisky, and sharing stories with good friends. My photography has taken me on an incredible journey. A journey that takes you to the unexplored space of your own being. One of the meanings of photography for me. What started with exploring my own feelings through self-portraiture has turned into capturing the lives of others in a variety of styles. Photography gave me a reason to fall in love with life again.

For two years now I’ve been living with the frustration of not being able to express myself with the right words. This is because it is not my mother tongue.
I want to connect with you in a deeper way, sharing thoughts and experiences which is why I’m making the decision to write more.  Photography helped me to express myself when the words where scarce but it’s just one of many ways. Writing, painting, dancing, whatever is inside you, let it come out. Free yourself. Art is a way to release feelings and thoughts, a way to be honest with ourselves.Think big about our world and your mind will expand, we know very little of it. We live in our bubble of desires stopping us from growing. Be authentic, rare, strange, you are unique when you are really you. Stay true to your own nature. Mine is the slow living, the quietness, the explorer, the enthusiastic, the dreamer.

I was catching up with another photographer the other day and he asked me why an adventure account from Scotland hasn’t featured my work on their page yet. I’ve been doing some thinking on these “big accounts” and so wanted to share a little something on what motivates my work. I love taking pictures. I love being out there, exploring, noticing and connecting with what is in front of me. I love getting back home and sitting in front of the computer seeing the beauty that’s captured on my camera. I love to read your messages saying how you find inspiration in those images too. These and a thousand more are the reasons for what I do. 
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t like it when big communities on IG feature my work; this brings me a little bit of happiness and itself feels rewarding (maybe stroking that universal need for recognition) but I’m very clear that it does not make you a better photographer. What helps you grow as a photographer is believing in yourself, having the courage to get out there and explore, to see with your own eyes and feel in your own self the world where we live and all the beauty that lies waiting for you. I feel grateful for the journey that photography is taking me on, traveling to so many places, meeting incredible people, being more present. With photography I discovered parts of myself that have been hidden, releasing my sensibilities, and allowing more beauty into my life.

“For me and for thousands with similar inclinations, the most important passion of life is the overpowering desire to escape periodically from the clutches of a mechanistic civilization. To us the enjoyment of solitude, complete independence, and the beauty of undefined panoramas is absolutely essential to happiness…”- Bob Marshall. I couldn’t agree more with him, there is no better place than nature to listen to your inner soul. Nature is full of wonder. I didn’t realize the very importance of nature in life until a few years ago. Distracted by fantasies of a life I thought I wanted, I didn’t allow space to develop a vision beyond myself. It was in front of the sea where I first came face to face to the feeling that I’d been building a life I did not actually belong to, a life outside myself. Let yourself be part of nature and allow its stillness to speak into who you are.We spend much of our life traveling between thoughts. We forget to appreciate everything around us, the moment of here and now. Nature transports us to the natural state of the present and to calm our loudest mind.

© all pictures Fran Mart with kind permission

Follow Fran and his lovely dog James here and here.

Take care dear followers! So happy to share Fran`s wonderful and honest words and beautiful images with you! Thanks so much for all your kind messages and support! Yours, Melanie Kettner

just north of summer

Words & Images Norbert von Niman-

It is those days when you’re walking on a glacier, everything around you in full black and white except your friends yellow raincoat, wearing three layers and still getting cold. You are still waiting for the heat waves, beach days and tropical showers when you realise it’s already August and this is as good as summer will get in Iceland. This is a fully different climate, fully different experience and an astonishing landscape to back it all up.


Getting used to a landscape like this is something that will never happen. Every time you revisit a place it’s a different light, different colours of the grass, different clouds, weather and season. In summer there are signs of lush, green life while in winter those four hours of sunlight bounces off the snow colouring everything with an orange hue, or pink, purple blue and then black. It’s like a massive colouring book, sometimes filled out but sometimes just left empty.

The desolation is sometimes imminent which makes the small details, that one perceivable object or the only feature, ever so much more important to show that this is actually reality. It’s difficult to comprehend the scale and the distance, and an anchor point for that sense of reality is important.
Same thing applies to life living in such a hostile environment. With cold around every corner and a darkness that takes everything there needs to be something to bring back some hope. Hot springs can provide warmth for body, good friends and all the open hearted locals provide warmth for the soul, and northern lights shine up the darkness. This makes even the coldest winter days survivable.


It’s not supposed to be easy to live on an extreme piece of volcano surrounded by the wild sea. You can hide in Reykjavik and pretend to live a normal life with normal problems but as soon as you get out in the wilderness the weather can be the greatest of challenges. Pictures are best taken when there is a good story to follow behind it, or a struggle to get it. That is most certainly the case when facing gale force winds, freezing temperatures and isolation from civilisation. The weather suits the landscape though.


Many times there can be hours of howling wind tearing through even the most windproof layers of clothing, until you come to the sudden realisation that everything has gone perfectly quiet. All noise is gone, water flat, nothing is moving. The wind has stopped and so does the world with it. It is these moments of clarity when the feeling of truly being alone in the middle of nowhere creeps up. The shutter makes a quick sound that echoes in the vast emptiness. The wind is back.

© all images Norbert von Niman with kind permission

Norbert is a photographer and guide based in Iceland. Follow his journey here. Norbert’s words and images reflect so perfectly well my current state of mind, while being close with nature on a northern sea island, with a stormy wind hauling around the thatched house. It’s nothing more nourishing for me than living with nordic nature and the sea. Have a relaxed time my dear readers! Take care, Melanie Kettner

a world full of untold stories

Words & Images Frederique Peckelsen-

Not all summers are the same. Whilst most people use summers to lay in the sun and typically relax, for me summer is a time to explore and discover. I have the freedom to visit places far away from home, far away from the big known cities and the Western world. There are so many untold stories on our earth, so many unseen places, and I have this insatiable urge to go out and find them and share these stories with the world. I used to love the warm weather. My grandma always asked me when I was going to move to Spain. But then Iceland changed something. I want to be outside in the cold.

The white North has a treasurable silence, that I have found nowhere else in the world. It is the only place that never distracts me from my own thoughts and feelings, but rather confronts me with it. The endless white landscapes brings clarity to my mind. The rough but silent nature is so perfectly aligned with what I feel on the inside. There is hope, in the desolate landscape – as contradicting as it may sound. Its beauty strikes you in your core, as there is no distraction of any kind. Only a very pure feeling remains.

 

But then again, the North can be as mysterious as the night. The hidden and covered landscapes, and the mystery of what lies beneath and beyond makes way for untold stories. The invisible or the things out of sight fuel my imagination, and make way for a sense of freedom, away from the familiar and the obvious. The North is like home, but it is always far away from today, here and now. And in this way, with both clarity and imagination, the North unites me with my creativity that mostly gets smothered in the more crowded places. It taps into a world of the lost, the hidden, the untold and the forgotten. The North feels like the abandoned lands of epic battles fought in children books. Battles between higher Gods and invisible creatures.

I grew up in a very small town up in the North. I had a childhood full of fantasy, and played in the woods that surrounded our house for days on end. I imagined every tree was a spirit, and that the woods would talk to each other, but they talked in a language unknown to mankind. I played at a little wooden church, close to home. The church was built by Vikings, according to old folk tales. Folk tales and fairytales were not just stories that were made up, there had to be more to them. Since then I have always been on a quest to find most distant and forgotten places, locked between the most majestic mountains. Isolated houses awake my fantasy. Who lives there? What would a cold night, full of storm be like in there? Have you ever wondered? Every time I go back to Iceland, I secretly hope for these colors. There is so much that awestrucks me, but these colors make everything even more magical.

We are all looking for something, chasing it, sometimes even without knowing what it is. I always tend to find ‘it’ in desolate places, because of this ongoing confrontation with my own mind, and the beauty that I’m surrounded by while contemplating it all. As we grow older, we should realize that our option broaden, they do not limit. Learn, practice, put in every extra hour you have. Because if this is that little voice talking, it will guide you toward your final path. I’m looking for sacred places in nature, perhaps because I’m looking for that place within myself. Somewhere where nature is harsh and rules over everything, instead of everything seemingly ruling over nature. There is something so magical about the ever changing but rough and pure landscape of the North. It feels like an untouched piece of the earth, whereas a lot of other places are all altered to serve humans and make life easier. I believe that where we go or what we long for defines who we are, or and least says something about us.

Everyone has that one thing that keeps on calling. But mostly it is very silently. When we are children it is so much louder, and so much clearer. As kids we know exactly what we want, and we are not afraid to say these desires out loud. But then, when we get older, dreams change, although dreaming never changes. But the one thing is, that we don’t take our dreams as serious as we did before. When I was young, I always wanted to be an Egyptologist, an areologist. Of course my options where limited, but as a child I didn’t know what possibilities the world had in store. But I did know I was intrigued by forgotten and untold stories, by undiscovered kingdoms and that I wanted to explore what hadn’t been explored. I wanted to show the world the treasures earth possesses.

But weirdly enough, as we grow older, our dreams aren’t as big as they were – even though we are more aware of all its possibilities. We think about what would be the most sensible choice, what brings us most money. All of a sudden our options are limited, and we are scared to even say out loud what we desire. I am not saying that everybody should give up their jobs, and build a cabin in the woods (isn’t that what we all would love?). But what I am saying is, listen to that little voice inside. That dream you are scared off. That one thing you fear you will be ridiculed for, or seems impossible to achieve. Has one ever regretted trying to follow their dream?

I could stand here for hours.These colours are more magical than anything. Ever mountain, every part of the water reflects the same color as the sky. Sometimes, on the most unexpected moments, a sort of melancholic feeling seems to get the best of me. It always brings me back to these roads, these mountains, this land. In a world where we try to control all and everything, or try to explain and understand it, fight against nature instead of abiding it, the North seems to be one of the last places that keeps its mystery with its ever changing weather, non visible landscapes, covered mountains and days of darkness.

© all pictures Frederique Peckelsen with kind permission

More about Frederique’s wonderfully magic world here.

silently transforming the landscape

Images Ewan Thompson – Text Ewan Thompson & Melanie Kettner

Ewan: There is nothing everyday about Namibia. The purpose of my trip to Southern Africa was primarily to visit the Okavango Delta in Botswana, but I was able to add a few days in Namibia before hand and had absolutely no idea what to expect. What a surprise I was in for. The sheer majesty of the scenery was breathtaking, along with the colossal scale of the landscapes. I had the unforgettable (and rather bumpy) experience of flying into our camp from Windhoek in a little 4-seater propellor plane, allowing the desert to unfold beneath us and offer extraordinary aerial views.

Once landed we rose early the next day to visit Sossusvlei for an opportunity to explore the sand dunes. Other than the size of the dunes, the first thing that struck me was the extraordinary perfection of the curves in the sand – that the abstract, motiveless wind could unconsciously shift such vast quantities of tiny specks of sand into such wonderfully beautiful and consistent patterns. Moreover the stark lines and ridges offer such beautiful opportunities to explore light and shadow, with the sun moving slowly overhead and silently transforming the landscape hour by hour. The other worldly sight of the huge dunes, dwarfing the plucky trees brave enough to take root by their side, as well as the black silhouettes of the dead branches of their long-dead forebears once fed by ancient lakes was utterly extraordinary, providing the perfect opportunity to find abstract shapes and natural geometry amid the alien landscapes offered up by the dessert.

Away from the dunes the plains extend endlessly, long-grassed savannahs punctuated by brutal black-ridged mountains, and of course the vast expanse of the sky. Having arrived with no expectations whatsoever, I left utterly enchanted and inspired.

 

I live and work in London. My approach as a photographer is as simple as to carry around my cameras with me and take photographs of anything that catches my eye, be it architecture or landscapes. I think the constant between the two is a fascination with shapes, geometry and abstraction. There is nothing more delightful than finding a pleasing abstract pattern in the everyday world. When I was a boy I inherited a 35mm film camera from my grandfather. I used it very artlessly, but it did have the virtue of introducing me to the mechanics of photography and thinking about framing subjects. My father has been bought a Hasselblad camera as a wedding present by my mother. As I grew older and began to travel more I would borrow the Hasselblad and take it with me on my various foreign adventures. The camera – being medium format – takes pictures with a square frame, and with only 12 shots on a roll and requires the utmost care in composition. Looking back now, I feel this was the perfect way to learn to think about photography – make each shot count, with the unusual square frame forcing one to think hard about composition in particular. I am still using the Hasselblad today.

 

 

 

© all images Ewan Thompson with kind permission

Melanie: As my husband grew up in  Southafrica I have a special relationship to Namibia. When I saw Namibia for the first time I immediately fell in love with the African vegetation, the magic lines on the ground, the vastness, the air, the colours and the calmness due to the overall reduction. This country responds to some deeper parts of my soul. I miss the calm rhythm of Namibian daily life, no news on the radio as we know them, the news there deal with a lion seen near the ground of a farmer or a collection for a summer charity event. No politics, no trendy music of the international charts, rather the songs of the 80s. Time stands still. When you order a coffee on the way it is not served in a paper cup, but in an old fashioned tableware like that one your granny has. There is always time for having a break, a conversation while drinking your coffee with grace. When you go on a trip in Namibia, you probably won’t see anybody on the road. When you meet someone there is always a cheerful mutual greeting and waving. The people living in Namibia know how to come to terms with all the difficult circumstances of daily life in Namibia. I admire that independent and brave attitude.

Stay in touch with Ewan to learn more about his adventure trips and gifted photography on Instagram here.

Have a wonderful week my dear followers! Take good care of yourself! Yours, Melanie Kettner

after a while she talked to nature

Images: Eeva Mäkinen Words: Melanie Kettner & Eeva Mäkinen-

Eeva Mäkinen is a photographer and a professional wilderness guide from Finland. Her passion is the wilderness and for her happiness is all about freedom. It’s also about waking up in places where you start smiling as soon as you open your eyes. That’s where she would love to take us – either via her pictures or in real life. She is a slow living traveling guide with the focus on senses and stories.

Eeva: ” Yep, once again I left my comfy hotel room and escaped to the wilderness. I bet my laptop enjoyed the warm bed.The hike was pretty intense though. The path was icy and included some stairs, actually 300 of them. All covered with 1 meter of icy snow. Not my cup of tea to climb them with my 20kg heavy backpack on but there was no way to return. I just had to keep on going. The nights were well worth the pain. The bruises were nothing compared to the total silence and tranquility what I got when spending the nights over here.”

 

Eeva told me, that her strong connection with nature helps to create the images she dreams about. It’s difficult  for her to stay several days in the wilderness alone. Sometimes it’s very scary to feel this intense loneliness in wild nature, especially at night, she said. But she has become a stronger person after dealing with those feelings. I asked her what the word freedom means to her and she said, that freedom is the most important feeling in her life, she loves choosing the direction she wants to go, without schedules pushing her. Being alone gives her a sense of freedom. Eeva:”How often do you spend a night by yourself? And how often do you think about doing it? Nowadays I do this a lot. I really love it. Sometimes I get a bit scared of noises outside of my tent but I got used to it. I also got used to staying alone in the darkness.”

I was alway fascinated by the sky in the wild nature with all its stars, you hardly can see in the city with all its light pollution. Eeva said that for her it feels rewarding when you see how different the same nature looks during day and night. Especially exciting are the Northern Lights, Aurora borealis. This magic light scenery is one of the wonders of this amazing planet. It’s like a celestial dance with moving lights in different colours across the night sky.The dancing lights are due to collisions between electrically charged particles of the sun that enter earth’s atmosphere, they are seen above the northern and southern poles.

One night Eeva was on a shooting trip and she decided to hike up to see what she could get from there. The night started extremely windy and she get scared. Nonetheless she tried to keep her focus on taking pictures. But there was something that made her nervous of staying there. After a while she went outside from her tent and talked to nature and herself. Suddenly it was all calm, her feelings and the wind.

© all pictures with kind permission Eeva Mäkinen

In the past Eeva studied photojournalism and Traveling Management. At the moment Eeva works also a freelance writer and photography guide. She lived in USA and Mexico and visited over 60 countries so far. She dedicated 2017 to traveling in Finland and finding beauty there, at the moment she is in Norway. Next year she will get back to traveling the world – not forgetting home though. Learn more about her impressive work here and here.

What a courage Eeva has! Have a beautiful week my dear readers! Hope you are in a relaxed  mood! Take care! Melanie Kettner

 

 

 

the way we look on it

Images Jon West & Words Melanie Kettner-

Life challenges us all from time to time, some of us have to overcome harder defiances than others. In the end, changing perspective becomes the most important tool we can use to adjust to life changes, that we can not avoid. Jon’s breathtaking earth images are the perfect symbol for this attitude we can adopt. As I psychological coach I often changed the seat with my client, sometimes literally. It all depends on how we look on occurrences. We let them do us harm, because we loose control over our own habitual thinking. The seize of an incident is defined not by itself, but by the way we look on it and the way we reflect on it.

Our thinking mostly follows automatic patterns, it’s not easy to learn to make them conscious and to stay aware of these self-acting responses. Interestingly human beings all have the same thinking patterns often dictated by fear and insecurity. To control them gives us a device to value an event more objectively and to detect the real dimension of it.

From Jon Kabat Zinn I learned meditating. He often gives the advice to imagine ourselves sitting beneath a waterfall with its random noise. The “noise” modern society forces on us is difficult to bear at times. We often don’t notice it anymore. It’s the speed of our day, of the news  flashing by and the social media that overstrain us unnoticed. When we pause for a moment and step aside, we can sit in the nearness of the waterfall, but not right in the middle of it anymore. The noise will become more at distance and weaker.

“We all tend to fill up our days with things that just have to be done and then run around desperately trying to do them all, while in the process not really enjoying much of the doing because we are too pressed for time, too rushed, too busy, too anxious? We can feel overwhelmed by our schedules, our responsibilities, and our roles at times, even when everything we are doing is important, even when we have chosen to do them all. We live immersed in a world of constant doing. Rarely are we in touch with who is doing the doing.”

― Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living

Changing perspective moves problems away from us we cannot deal with at the moment. It enables us to approach the issue from a calm, peaceful state of mind, that will ensure that our decisions will be wise and our soul will not be tormented senselessly. Basically, mindful meditation means a state of being, rather than a state of doing.

© all images Jon West with kind permission

Jon owns a Vancouver based video production company. More about Jon’s beautiful work here and here.

Take good care of yourselves dear followers! Hope you keep in touch with us on Instagram! Yours, Melanie Kettner

moments that capture you

Words & Images Josh Kempinaire-

I’ve always been attracted by the North. I can’t really explain why, but I know that I like the cold, the snow, the soft light. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to got to Africa or South America, of course I do. But if you ask me to choose one destination for the rest of my life, I would on the spot say Norway, Iceland, Alaska or Greenland. That sounds weird for some people, but if you have ever experienced the peace you find up in the North, you definitely understand my point. Nature there never stops amazing me. From a small tree in a forest to a majestic rock in Norway, it always makes me realize how beautiful our planet is. We are maybe not living in the coolest world ever in terms of politics but that’s not the subject here. Nature is beautiful, nature nearly seems to be unreal and nature is what I’m living for.


I would not consider myself as a professional photographer, more as an adventurer. I don’t travel to take pictures, I take pictures because I’m traveling. I want to explore the world. While writing this I realize that it’s really hard to express how I feel about that, because I can actually not spend a long time without shooting. So, is it the feeling of having a camera in my hand that I miss? Or just the feeling of being in the mountains? I would say I need the mountains, but honestly I don’t know. I graduated from high school three years ago and I immediately had a yearning for traveling. So, I bought a van, actually an old delivery car that I turned into a van, and drove all the way from Switzerland to the North Cape in Norway. I’ve never felt so free since then. That’s why I’m now thinking about living for my two passions: Adventure and Photography, nothing more. I’m not interested in living a “normal life” that our society suggests us to live. I don’t want to make crazy money or to drive a fancy car. I don’t need it. And even if my future is still quite uncertain, I know what I want to do: I like challenges and I think I’m ready for this one.


Exploring is not only about going to crazy remote and unknown places, it’s about going to places that you personally don’t know. I never mind if somebody tells me that a place is “too famous” or “so touristic”. If I guess it’s beautiful and I’ve never been there, I go. I would say that exploring is about leaving your comfort zone. Actually, I was afraid of being alone in a dark forest, when I first planned my tour in Norway, it was more than a exploration tour for me. I think people are just stuck in a vision that link the word “exploring” to “fame” and that’s why many people are not doing it. They just think that they are not good enough to climb the Everest, but they are probably brave enough to spend their first night under the stars in a dark, unfriendly forest next to their house. I’m passionate about mountains and my heart belongs to the ocean, so I had to leave.

The mountains are majestic, we owe them respect, they go through all kind of weather and millions years after, they are still there. You can’t conquer a mountain; maybe it allows you to climb it. When I’m hiking to the top, I realize that I’m only a small human being that is irrelevant in this nature. I’ve still never climbed a high peak until only a few months ago, I was really afraid of the height. I started to climb with friends to get rid of this fear and I have a new challenge now, I would like to do some alpinism in a near future. Then I will really be able to tell how I feel about mountains.

I can easily compare the ocean to the mountains: peaceful and powerful at the same time. They control everything, they are everywhere around us. But there is something more that I can’t really explain. I feel just so good when I swim inside salty water. And more than that, it’s the texture of the water that I like more than anything else. Every wave is unique, like every moment in life. They all looks the same but if you watch closely, they are all different, the power is different, the colours are different, the shades are different. Regarding life, every minute is different. Even if you think you are in a routine, there are still moments that will pop out of your life and these are the ones you have to enjoy.

© all pictures Josh Kempinaire with kind permission

Now you have an idea of why I choose to do my first major tour in Norway, because you can find sharp peaks next to the ocean and fjords that flood in the middle of the mountains. But there is something more that is really important for me: Not to be afraid and if we are, we should fight these fears, without avoiding them. Don’t think you are not adventurous enough, we all have a different perception and vision of life and we should all develop our own. Take pictures and just create new memories because there are moments that you should definitely capture and by the way, there are moments that will capture you. That’s what life is about.

More about Josh and his adventures and photography here.

Take care dear readers! Yours, Melanie Kettner

a visual slowdown

Images Mária Švarbová – Words Melanie Kettner- It’s already a while, that I’m in love with this series of Mária Švarbová . I’m happy to share it now- I like the hint of summer, the delicate colours and the surreal, yet clear atmosphere, the nearly graphical reflections. Mária : ““My photographs are a succession of short scenes in which the frontality and absence of contrasts remove any narrative dimension.” I always start dreaming while looking at these calm and positive images. Mária was born in 1988 in Slovakia. She studied conservation – restoration and archeology, however since 2010 she has been dedicated to photography as her main tool of artistic expression. She lives and works in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Symbolizing in some way the isolation of contemporary life, her work is both, cool and yet emotionally powerful. The “In the Swimming Pool” series is Mária’s largest series, originating in 2014 and still developping. Her fascination with the space of public swimming pools contributed to developing her visual style. The beauty of old pools set the tone for these photographs, in various locations in Slovakia. The swimmers seem to be frozen in their movement and the scenery has a dream-like atmosphere with a cinematographic quality. The detachment, Mária creates, allows a visual calmness, beneficial in this fast world with continuously stimulus satiation.

© all pictures with kind permission Mária Švarbová

By the way, this images remind me of the meditative influence regular swimming can have on our minds. It’s always worth a try. Have a relaxed summer week dear readers! Take care, Melanie Kettner

More about Mária ‘s work here and here.