Smogranch Redux

As many of you have noticed, Smogranch is living under a redesign. A new paint job so to speak. This came about for several reasons. First, I was somewhat bored with the old look, but I get bored with such things pretty darn easy. Second, that pesky combo of Flemming Bo Jensen and Charlene Winfred pitched me on doing something new. You see, this power couple has embarked on a new adventure in web design housed under the moniker “Coffee and Magic.”
New Mexico 201209. Una Pura Verdad
Both of these folks have serious backgrounds in tech. You know, those jobs for Coneheads, or those who did really well in math and science. I was clearly lacking in these skills, and at 45, realize there is no hope for me ever being able to comprehend how any of this stuff works. Flemming’s only flaw is his inability to judge the condition of automobiles. He always gets suckered into buying something promised as “convertible” or “low miles.” He’s Danish.
Charlene in Arches
Charlene is also a full time traveler, writer, photographer and budding filmmaker in addition to knowing this web…stuff. She is prone to standing in places with no buildings. The idea of the new Smogranch was “simple as humanly possible.” Black on white. Minimal to the point of being non existent. How people consume content has changed dramatically over the past few years, and will continue to change. I remember when Flash was the king of the hill. Sites moved around, spun, twirled and zoomed in and out for no apparent reason. Now if you did that you would get angry emails and digital death threats. Now it’s about ease and simplicity.
Fred-example
One of their first endeavors was to create the site for The Fred Roberts Photoraphy Workshops, a site they managed to pull together in a VERY short amount of time. What you can’t see is the behind-the-scenes connections for PR folks, NGO staff and the actual students. And it’s only just begun. This site will continue to adapt and expand, with the ebb and flow of the actual project.
The entire Smogranch redesign was complete in less than two days. Yes, it was that fast. I put some currency in an online spot, the currency disappeared and my site was done. Easy as that.

“Beyond” a film by Charlene Winfred

Okay Smogranch slackers, it’s film time. The players in this little skit will be all too familiar if you have spent any amount of time on this site. Flemming Bo Jensen is a friend, fellow photographer and Danish Star Wars expert. He is also prone to walking shoeless around deadly spiders and sleeping at global monuments most people spend their lives attempting to reach and explore. He would sell his family for a lone bottle of frosty Coke Zero. Flemming and I did a short film together. Well, he did the film. I walked around and made pictures, drove a lot and fed him a constant stream of Blake’s Lotaburger to keep his creativity churning.

Beyond from Charlene Winfred on Vimeo.

Flemming, although the subject of this film, takes a back seat to the filmmaker Charlene Winfred. Charlene is also a friend, but I don’t know her well enough to know her secrets. She does however snap a limb,tendon or vertebra at least once a week. I’ve never seen her NOT on crutches. How she managed to navigate the world long enough to make this film I will never know. This is her first time around the filmmaking block and I think you will agree she did a bang up job…get it…”bang up job.” I’m giving comedy lessons later if anyone is interested.

On a serious note, if you can push aside this pair’s filmmaking, the photographs and the other beautiful visuals, there is a more important morsel at the bottom of all this. Flemming, once a well respected member of the Danish working class, the IT world to be exact, decided that the life he was told to lead was in fact not the life he wanted to lead. So he changed. He sold off, kicked out, rebooted and set sail for unknown parts, and in fact is still roaming our little planet some FIVE YEARS later. This world is not for everyone, but it’s for more people than we imagine. There is a downside to nomadic life, both for the nomad (isolation, loneliness, money) and also for those of us who are still cemented to day jobs and mortgages. Remember, Flemming slept on my couch more than once, and hearing Yoda noises in the night will put the fear of God in just about anyone, and I’m still paying off his Lotaburger quota.
I actually know a fair number of people who have chosen life on the road, each have their reasons and their methods for surviving. It shouldn’t be a big deal to do this but it really is, at least in the minds of the mainstream. Nomads have the ability to inspire jealousy and rage, both good things in my mind. Personally, I live in a society which seems bent on little more than material gain, so running into someone whose entire life fits in one bag, a bag I’ve had to lift, move and transport more than once, is refreshing. I know for some there is an almost distrust of those who leave the bounds of tradition, but I will ask you this. How do we know someones real calling until they are set free? I always wonder about why our society forces us to conform. Return from college, “get serious” and then get a job where in some cases people are donating their forty most productive years to something they may or may not love. What if we set them free instead?
On the same note, I do hold people like Flemming and Charlene accountable. They must not conform or surrender, at least not while out in the world. They hold the torch for a lot more than themselves.

PS: Here is Flemming sleeping at some pesky little monument in Peru.
MP_Peru_B&W_2011_106

Una Pura Verdad: a film by Flemming Bo Jensen

Several years ago, while I was still working as a photographer, I received a call from the marketing director at Blurb who asked what I was working on. She explained that Blurb had a film crew and was looking for a photographer who was mid project. I gave a quick explanation of my New Mexico Project and film crew said, “Yes, yes, yes.” Several weeks later I met up with the team in Southern New Mexico and we spend three days together. It was a great experience, and the resulting film really took on a life of its own.
New Mexico 201209. Una Pura Verdad
Fast forward to 2012. Early in the year I taught a workshop in Peru and one of the students was this photo-Jedi from of all places Denmark. I’m a product of the public education system here in the good old US of A so I was VERY well acquainted with Denmark. A red and white flag of some sort, reindeer and people who live in mud huts, but what was puzzling to me was the photo-Jedi himself. He went by the name Flemming Bo Jensen, which in itself was complicated and confusing but nothing compared to the language he spoke when he we first met. If you haven’t heard Danish please look it up online. It turns out the perpetually traveling Dane was an encyclopedia of anything Star Wars and would often times reenact entire scenes, playing all characters and reciting dialogue to perfection. Talk about a great skill to have. He was also an accomplished photographer and technology dude of the highest of levels. After the workshop we remained in contact and ultimately made plans to connect when his travels aimed him toward the American Southwest.
New Mexico 201209. Una Pura Verdad
I was continuing to work on my New Mexico Project and began to realize how advantageous it would be if I had another film to play with. Blurb had plans to release their rich-media platform, so I knew I would have a home for both the original film and as many other motion pieces I could create. I mentioned this to Flemming and asked if he would be up for working together. He was.
New Mexico 201209. Una Pura Verdad
So, we formed a plan, lit some candles, sacrificed a few, small woodland creatures(kidding) and set out into the Land of Enchantment. As with all things in my life, I didn’t have much time. I took a week off from work and we did what we could. Some things worked really well and others not so much, but what I can state with absolute certainty is that we both learned a lot. I did audio recordings of text I had already written, and tried to wrap my head around an edit that might be interesting. Flemming was buzzing around our tiny house like an angry bee, shouting instructions in Danish and waving his arms in a figure eight pattern as he talked about growing up on a farm in Degobah. At the end of the week I departed for California and Flemming rented a supercharged Dodge and continued his travels.
New Mexico 201209. Una Pura Verdad
Over the past few months the film began to take shape. Flemming approached a local friend and guitar player, David Goldberg, who agreed to do a soundtrack. I processed the film and made my selects. Flemming, through his Danish music scene connections, began to polish the sound and edit. Ultimately what was born is the film you see below; Una Pura Verdad(A Simple Truth). If you want to know the technical details and read Flemming’s take on the matter you can read his post HERE. When the film was finished Flemming and I made the instant decision that the finished film was more of a opening than a closing. We both know that filmmaking is going to be a big part of our future, probably more for Flemming than me, just based on time, but we already have plans for a future meeting in Santa Fe with more films on the visual horizon. This film was a tremendous amount of work, and I wish I could say it will repay us with fortunes in lost gold and invitations to late night parties in Hollywood, but the reality is this film was a labor of love that will, chances are, end up costing us several thousand dollars to produce, more if you count the time and travel. It’s something we did because we felt we needed to do it. It’s a personal project down to the DNA. Many thanks to Flemming, my wife Amy, David Goldberg, the Copenhagen crew and also photographer Arthur Drooker who led this horse to water. Siempre junto.

Una Pura Verdad from Flemming Bo Jensen on Vimeo.