On day 6 the wind suddenly comes to life and challenges us. Headwind is the biggest adversary of a stand up paddler. From one paddle stroke to the next, everything is questioned. The effort of each stroke is now not just a means to an end but an immediate goal. To keep on moving forward, we must put everything into our paddle, one stroke after the other. The waves make us rise and fall like a cork. Despite the bad conditions, the SUP’s fully packed are handling the ocean swell with conviction and our bodies feel at one with the board.
A stillness in the Arctic air warns summer’s long days will soon end and the cold northern breezes will call the winter in. But for the moment is endless light, and if fortunate, a midnight sun dancing with the horizon.
It all started with a daydream in the shower. Stand-Up Paddling in pure, untouched nature with unpredictable weather, no cruise-liners plying nearby waters, no wellness retreats or smashed avocado on toast; the only suite a tent with outdoor toilet. We would camp wild, fish for food and explore some of the regions beautiful mountains and lakes. Why not? The chance to experience the midnight sun was what drew us to undertake a self-supported 15-day, 250-kilometer Stand-Up Paddle journey in Norway, north of Tromsø, well within the Arctic Circle, around the islands of Rebbenesoya, Grotoya and Nordkvaløya.
The sun is low on the horizon, the sea is calm. Soon the village of Uummannaq with its heart shaped mountain disappears behind us. Our sea kayaks point towards the massive island of Storøen, 8 km away. Its fiery-red lighted cliff drops 1,000 meters vertically into the sea and attracts us like a magnet. We are at latitude 70° 40’, far north of the Arctic Circle. Here, far away from the rush of human civilization, we have all the time in the world to observe the magical spectacle of nature. Under the midnight sun the sea changes colour to crimson-blue, and its surface becomes so glassy that everything is reflected as in a mirror. Mountain sides light up in powerful reds, shadows lengthen, and the icebergs seem to be under a giant spotlight.
In search of pristine snowy landscapes and perfect wind conditions, last winter, outdoor photographer Jean-Luc Grossmann and his brother Sylvain explored with kites and sledges during a three-day micro adventure the region of the imposing San Bernardino Pass.
Spending time outdoors is a humbling and inspiring experience. From the adventurer embarking on a daredevil expedition mastering the greatest physical challenges, to a group of friends sitting around the blazing warmth of a campfire on a cold night, there are countless opportunities to enjoy our expanses.
It feels like we are paddling through a Swiss fairy tale; the Alps tower overhead and little villages cling to the cliffs as the lake presses in from all sides. However, it is the castle that demands all of our attention. It sits alone on the shore no more than a kilometer away. With each paddle stroke, the distance between us remains, as if the castle lies suspended on a gigantic canvas. One of the luxuries of Stand Up Paddling is that nothing moves fast. Everything slows down; there is time to look around, to feel nature and count one’s blessings.
A mammoth skeleton blocks our path around the next bend. As we paddle a few cautious strokes closer, the bony frame of the primitive beast constantly tumbling around in the burbling water reveals itself to be the remnants of a huge spruce that has fallen across the Holjeån River.
This river, in the north-east of the southern Swedish province of Skåne, also known as Scania, flows in broad loops from Östafors Bruk, through lush meadows and pristine nature before finally disgorging its waters into the lake of Ivösjön. With its wild riverbanks and huge tree trunks, it feels as though we are exploring a prehistoric land. The river is the first of three disciplines in our personal triathlon on the waters of Skåne. Jean-Luc, Justin and I have set ourselves the goal of paddling across the region from east to west on three waterways: the Holjeån River, the lake of Ivösjön and around the imposing peninsula of Kullaberg that juts out into the ocean channel known as the Kattegat. Our aim is to discover the original wilderness of Skåne and understand how this was shaped by natural forces, evolution and traditions.
We’ve been a week on the water off the Norwegian islands of Rebbenesøya, Sandøya, Grøtøya and Nordkvaløya. It’s been a mixed bag of weather conditions but overall we have been paddling some good distances.
It’s been months in the planning, lots of training in freezing rainy weather, a weekend expedition to the mountains, much equipment testing, but now we are ready.
How ready? Well, back in January this year PlanetVisible was looking for a new kind of adventure. It needed to be a beautiful place with a particular feel and physically challenging with a touch of danger.
There is haze on the horizon. Dry sand dust swirling up. The burning heat takes away your breath. The ground underneath your feet, a dry salt lake. There’s nothing there. Nothing except drought. Nothing except never-ending desert. Wasteland. We find ourselves in the nowhere, in the northwest of Nevada. No one would ever come to this place voluntarily. That’s what one would think. As a matter of fact, exactly that is tradition for some and a dream for many. On the last Monday of August, from one day to the other, this monotone landscape changes completely into something else. About 70 000 people build a city of tents, aligned in a circle. There, united in the desert, every year one of the biggest and craziest parties of the world takes place. Burning Man. An alternative festival for artists, idealists, hipsters, eccentrics, party lions and rubbernecks.
Through the beauty of portraiture, photographer Justin Hession hopes to spotlight the human ambiguities and complexities of the Kumbh and bring attention to the incredible spiritual dedication of the Indian people.
Having spent two weeks in a makeshift tent studio at the 2013 Kumbh Mela, Justin captured some extraordinary portraits of the pilgrims who are drawn to the Ganges every 12 years in the largest human gathering on Earth. He decided to created studio style portraits against a plain black backdrop to strip away the Kumbh’s colourful, intense circus like environment to focus and highlight the gracefulness of the individual pilgrim. The Kumbh Mela project contains over a 100 portraits of ‘the real pilgrims of the Kumbh’ who are drawn to the unimaginably large, loud and chaotic event in search of a pure life and seeks to show the personal dignity of the great spiritual event of the Kumbh Mela.
We are proud to be part of photo17, Switzerland’s largest showcase of photography.
The children of Cape Verde are an epitome of ‘zest for life’. At Salamansa Bay on the island of Sao Vicente, a large sand dune and a few old tires are enough to delight a whole horde of children. “Um, dois, três,” shouts the elder, and soon everyone is whizzing down the slope at a blinding pace. Tirelessly, they climb the dune again and again with the tire over their shoulders. And every time they have the same happy smile on their faces.
Photographer Jean-Luc Grossmann traveled three times to the archipelago. His story about the children, fishermen and landscape of Cape Verde has been published in the german magazine SCHWARZWEISS and others. This photo was under the winners of the Life Framer Photography Award 2018 in the category ‘AN INSTANT‘. The theme was judged by Clément Saccomani, Managing Director of the highly-revered photographer-owned agency NOOR.
We found it nice to be part of a team instead of the singular world of freelancing back home. It offered a platform where we could support and encourage each other as there were many tough times.
It’s a question we have been asked many times since returning from our project in the Nevada desert and we are still not sure how to answer it.