Stockholm – Day 3 – Last Impressions

[…Rear Window…]

Hotel Room, 3:43 a.m.

I woke up at 2 this morning and can’t get back to sleep. I’m blaming it on the café mocha I just had a few hours ago at the coffee house.

I stood up from my bed and opened the curtains, and since I could not get back to sleep anyway, I decided to watch the light from my hotel window. Yesterday morning, I set the alarm at 3:30 a.m. to do the same but was baffled to see no usual morning blue hour. So I wanted to figure out what’s going on.

The light is unusually bright outside – the sky is a blanket of white. While I lay down watching the light from my bed, I did see the light change. For a short period it turned blue, although somewhat pale, not the usual deep blue I get from a clear day. It did not take me long to decide that it was not worth getting dressed for and heading out for a morning twilight shoot. I did think about it for a few seconds, but after an episode late last night at Sergels Torg when I was approached by 3 men while I was in the middle of exposure, I decided to stay in bed. That episode wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and the hotel is just around the corner. I simply ignored them, packed up and left.

For the second morning in a row, when I looked out my window, I see a woman right across from my room. The hotel is designed like an empty square, so that there’s a courtyard in the middle, and there are hotel rooms across from you. It’s not that close together, but just enough to see through the window when your neighbor’s lights are on. Anyway, I’m looking at this woman, she turns on her bedside lamp at 3 in the morning, stands by her window and looks out. I don’t think she sees me because I have my lights off. She goes back to her bed, turns the lights off only for a few minutes, and turns it back on. She sits on her bed, back to the wall, and grabs a book to read. After a short period, she looks like she’s crying. She puts the book down, reaches for a tissue on her bedside and wipes her eyes. Lights are off again.

Yesterday morning, around the same time, she was up – just like I was – and was pacing around the room, smoking a cigarette. I was not aware they had smoking rooms in this hotel; not that I was interested, but I thought I’d mention that. I merely dismissed the thought as her being a traveler stricken with jetlag, nothing more. And that’s probably all there is to it.

I wish I could tell you that my story ends with a man dragging a body bag out the door and hurling  it over the trunk of his car like a scene from Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but that did not happen.  I don’t have much of a story actually, just thought I’d mention about this mystery woman. I’m just bored that’s all, and a little bit of voyeurism could be fun once in a while.

[…Nothing More Swedish…]

The Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace. Shot with my trusty 50mm f/1.8.

Hotel Room, 3:33 p.m.

I was a tourist today. I watched the changing of the guards at 1 p.m. and I actually enjoyed it. It was the longest ceremony of this kind that I’ve watched – almost an hour long. In fact, when I got there, I could not get a good spot because of the crowd, but after about half an hour, the crowd thinned out – they got bored, I think – so I finally got close enough to the guards. I took my 50mm lens with me and shot with it. I think I might have come up with some good enough photos for stock.

Today in Stockholm, the skies are still overcast but at least it’s not raining. The sky actually looks promising, some hint of blue behind the clouds and the sun teasing to make an appearance. Wishful thinking on my part.

[…Last Night…]

Gamla Stan, Coffee House, 7:02 p.m.

I’m getting attached to these two nice gentlemen at the counter in this coffee house. I think they’ve gotten used to my face because I’ve been coming here for the past three days. Tonight I’m having chicken salad over baked potato, served with salad and a cup of hot chocolate.

My impression of Stockholm is mixed. On a photographer’s point of view… Let me rephrase that… On a night photographer’s point of view, it wasn’t satisfying. There isn’t sufficient light in the city to justify a good cityscape at night. Even their famous landmarks are not well lit. You have to suck every little bit of light by taking long exposures. There is also a lot of construction work going on and some scaffolding on buildings that I would have wanted to take a picture of.

All that water around it makes it beautiful during the day, and I would probably enjoy it as a tourist taking snapshots. But at night, the city left me with a little bit of a void, and I found myself working extra hard just to fill that in. That said, I think I still came up with good photos inspite of the weather and the lack of lights. I figured I just had to work around what little is given to me.

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