Lens-Artists Challenge #180 – Favourite Images of 2021

Our team is back and we wish you welcome to 2022. This New Year comes, again, with much hope for the future –

It was as if the land opened its lips and breathed again, and was made anew.
― Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Our “Favorite Images of the Year ” challenge will be a bit different this year too. For me, this year meant continously living in my bubble, but a bit more freedom than 2020. Still much less camera…and much less energy – but, here’s my year through lens and sense. Sometimes maybe not the best image, but the one that stirs up feelings of joy and happiness.

I begin with my absolute favourite image for 2021 – the fabulous, snowy landscape a late evening in February. the opener though, is from yesterday – the frosty landscape we had the last days of December.

We were lucky to get some ”real winter” this year – and vivid memories of my childhood came back.

The feeling of Spring and early Summer is always the highlight of the year – and my backlit tulips represents that to me.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Cicero

Macro moments and surprising views are also much appreciated. A walk by the brook in a special light,

– and a close look at one of the last insects seen outdoors this year – too slow to get away from my curious lens…

My husband turned 70 and we celebrated all summer…one of the highlights was a visit to ARoS museum in Aarhus, Denmark.

Another one was the fact that the biggest wandering sand dune in Europe is to be found – in Denmark.

The beginning is always today.—Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

A visit to Tjolöholm Castle was a real treat this summer. A Tudor castle in Sweden! And the most modern things in those days – unknown to ordinary people – were brought here from England. Showers that sprinkled you all around, and Roman baths on every floor.

Every moment is a fresh beginning. —T.S. Eliot

My daughter’s exam, and the most beautiful Lotus flower.

Autumn now just around the corner, but the colours were slow to arrive this year.

It was a joy when they finally fired away and had me using the camera again.

And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.
—Rainer Maria Rilke

And lovely new things were revealed and enhanced by the late autumn fog – the delicacy of the leaves and trees, and the little things that inhabit the forest floor.

Yesterday’s captures were frosty sheep in -12 degrees C, sticking together despite their thick coats…

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
― Oprah Winfrey

The low sun and the soft light this winter makes it such a joy to walk with Milo. He loves the snow just as much as I do. And, as not many photographs are taken or images made in this cold weather – he is content not having to wait for me…

The Lens-Artists team is excited to announce that we’ll be welcoming several new members beginning in 2022. In addition to those of us with whom you are all familiar, we’ll be joined this year by


Sofia Alves of  Photographias 

Anne Sandler of Slow Shutter Speed

John Steiner of Journeys with Johnbo 


Those of you who have followed us for some time will be familiar with all of them as they have all been regular participants and each has Guest-Hosted for us in the past. We know they will bring their marvelous photography, extensive travel experiences, close-to-home adventures, and fresh insight to our weekly challenges. We are very much looking forward to having them with us. Please be sure to follow their blogs to be certain you don’t miss any of our upcoming Lens-Artists challenges. 

Finally – may 2022 bring peace, health, and happy moments to us all. We look forward to seeing Your favorite images of 2021 and understanding why you’ve chosen them. Please use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. As always, we greatly appreciate your continued support of our challenge and the inventive creativity of your responses.

Thursday Thoughts – The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

I have been to the cinema…first time since covid started. I knew there had been made a documentary of Björn Andrésen – once a young boy who was called the most beautiful boy in the world. I was his age, back then in the 70’s, and how I loved him. Like a teenager can…His face, the serenity, sensitivity and the vulnerability in his eyes. But little did I know what really happened to him, how he was used and abused.

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World is a 2021 documentary film about Björn Andrésen and the effects of fame thrust upon him when he appeared in Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film, Death in Venice. The movie was built on a novel by Thomas Mann. Andrésen was just 16 when the film was released, and he was an innocent and very shy boy, totally unprepared for instantly becoming an international celebrity. So, a timely documentary theme, because these things happen – over and over again.

The title of the film came from a remark that Visconti made about Andrésen at the premiere of Death in Venice in London, and that shadow still weighs upon Björn Andrésen’s life.

Björn Andrésen wanted to be a concert pianist – not a movie star at all. Throughout the movie we hear him playing the piano, his own compositions and pieces by famous composers such as Chopin and Rachmaninov.

He had no father, and his mother committed suicide before Björn reached his teens. So, he grew up with his grandparents, and as his grandmother wanted to have a movie star grandson, she had him listed for numerous auditions…Björn was a fragile and sweet boy, so of course he did what he was told. Then came the famous Visconti, to Stockholm – and found him. The casting process was filmed, and I cried when I saw how awkward the young boy was when told to take off his clothes and pose for the film director.

Nobody seemed to notice. Nobody helped him or looked after him – and he was just a child. He had no one to turn to. How does an innocent young boy handle screaming crowds and hysterical Japanese girls – without a parent or mentor? Nobody seemed to care. He was just pushed around, trapped in a written three – year contract on his face. In the documentary he silently says, that he just wanted to be somebody else and somewhere else.

It is a deeply moving film, a tragedy, a life not taken good care of, not given a chance. Björn is still today, at 66, in my eyes, strikingly and otherworldly beautiful, but as he says himself – what has that ever done to help him with his inner demons? Years of depression and drugs, a crashed marriage and a son dead. He has a daughter though, but he feels he failed her as well. ”Nothing matters”, he says… because he has lost so much that there is nothing left to lose. A broken man, but, he has got his faith – and he wouldn’t have been here today without it.

"Fun facts" - In the documentary we go with Björn to Italy and Japan to meet, among others,  the famous manga artist Riyoko Ikeda. She is most famous for her series The Rose of Versailles. And she reveals that her drawing of the hero (Oscar Francois de Jarjayes)  is totally built on Björn Andrésen. His visit to Japan after Death in Venice started an idol worship bigger than ever, and in fact he is supposed to be the model for most of the blonde manga heroes.

Fair use. By This is a screenshot taken from an optical disc, television broadcast, web page, computer software or streaming media broadcast. Copyright Riyoko Ikeda.

I recommend you to see this movie. Not because he was a great teenage ”love” of mine and many youngsters in those days, but because it is a serenely and honestly made documentary that maintains its grip on the audience throughout the 11/2 hours. It openly shows parts of Björn’s turbulent life, but just as much as he is willing to reveal, and he is never trampled on. I feel this documentary was made with love and dignity. Thank you to the directors, Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri who made this a film to remember, and thank you Björn, for saying yes to make it come true. It is an important document of our times. May we learn something about child abuse, use and misuse, how it can destroy their whole life. Instead we must support and help our young realize their own dreams – not somebody else’s.

29 January, 2021, World Premiere, Sundance Film Festival, USA

Lens Artists Challenge #168 – Seen Better Days

Tina’s challenge this week is – Seen Better Days. Old, worn and dilapidated …yes, but I’d like to think one of the reasons to why so many of us love these things, and even take photos of them, must be because ageing is unavoidable. Things around us have all seen better days, and so have many of us. We have to accept it and find the intrinsic, inner beauty in what remains of the former glory.

Because often we can find a different beauty now. Just like deep love grows from a stormy infatuation, other values can make things shine. Shapes and colours for example.

Or, like this dilapidated shed, softly dressed in a snowy winter gown.

But – sometimes everything appears to be just a sad story…

Sad, but not without beauty, is Kyrkö Mosse – a famous car graveyard some 200 kilometers from my home. Standing silently there in the forest, even I can feel them talking to me. Someone, somewhere, once found the car of his dreams, and now that car has found its final resting place here, in the middle of nature. (All toxic parts have been taken away from the cars.)

Well, what can I say…Thank you, Still Restless Jo, for giving me the idea to this post when she read this week’s title! Jo wrote: ”Things that have seen better days? Ha! Sounds like me,” Sorry my friends, but I just could not resist the coincidence! Because today happens to be my birthday, and here I am – seen in better days. The photo on the left was taken when I met the world’s oldest blogger, Dagny, in 2017. I had just turned 60 and Dagny was 106 years old. The last photo was taken for my teacher’s ID-card, and I had just turned 50. Those were the days, and life was easier then in so many ways.

Should I reach the same age as Dagny, ( who is now 109, going on 110 – and still blogging…) my qualified guess is I would never look as bright and alert as she does…and I would certainly not be blogging.

Thank you all for the beautiful Autumn colours for Amy’s challenge last week! You offered some really sparkling and fiery entries – no wonder so many of you declared Autumn as your favourite season!

We are looking forward to seeing your posts for this challenge, and please link to Tina’s beautiful original post and use the Lens-Artists tag. Next week we are delighted to welcome I J Khanewala of Don’t Hold Your Breath as our guest host. Until then, stay well and be kind.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #159 – Postcards

This week Ana invites us to the world of postcards! I am old enough to have received and sent hundreds of postcards, but I admit I haven’t kept them all. – Ana says: ”You can show us some of your pictures that you would send as postcards to someone you love. Or you can simply share with us images of your favorite places.

If you have a garden full of flowers, show us a beautiful and colorful collection of floral postcards. It doesn’t need to be your garden, It can also be your neighbour’s.

If you have some real postcards it would be great if you would like to share them with us, I’m sure they have a nice story behind them.”

I was so thrilled by this theme, that I immediately went looking for my box of postcards – even though I knew I had not kept but a fraction of all I got over the years. As we have rearranged everything in the cellar the last year, they were not easily found – but finally I did.

I will start though, with a couple of my own images, that I would have loved to send as postcards to my friends – from the Verzasca valley in Italy and from Reykjavik. They have something important to say about their place, with no words needed on the picture page – only on the other side of the picture. I used to write quite a lot when I sent my cards, loving to reveal details and experiences. Nowadays the joy is not the same – I agree with Ana – sending an mms is another story…

My box opened, I sat for hours today, in memories, reading messages from near and far, from people long since gone, old friends, collegues and relatives. Birthday greetings, words of wisdom…the upper card on the right saying:

Life is not about the days we have lived, but the days we remember.

I picked some different cards, from people I love and loved, and remember some places where I have been a visitor myself as well. The Acores I have been to several times – and always loved it. But this card comes from our neighbours who toured the world (in 2003 I think). Sometimes the cards are not dated, and the stamp not clear enough to read.

Tenerife and Teide was a yearly visit when the children grew up. Wonderful nature and not much snow wintertime…We often went with friends and children the same age as ours. The lovely Moomin valley in Finland was such a treat – for us grown-ups as well! Many Swedish families visited Finland when the Moomin series were on TV.

Bretagne shows a postcard in a postcard – rather beautiful I think. And then Kashmir, my cousin worked for many years in Pakistan and the area around there, as an ambulance nurse. He sent me cards to calm me down – showing he was still alive. So, the reason for sending cards vary!

The green, middle card, is from a painting made by a local artist – now dead since long. But I met him several times, a very special man. He had a nice pottery too. The forest motif was painted from my home forest.

The last two cards both came with encouraging messages from dear friends. One soft and sweet, the other one fiery – Cards And Senders… In fact I find it interesting to notice how different people pick so different cards to send. And handwriting – that is no more – was an amazing way of showing your personality. Times gone by…

As for the opener, I have featured a postcard from my daughter when I finally had set up my glass house – Oh, the joy! So, in my family, we still send handwritten messages to each other. Feeling the warmth!

Thank you, Beth, for taking us along so many lovely country roads! Please visit the excellent work done by all the previous guest hosts this month:

John Steiner of Journeys With Johnbo – “On the Water

Anne Sandler of Slow Shutter Speed – “Black and White

Rusha Sams of Oh The Places We See – “Getting Away

Beth Smith of Wandering Dawgs – “Along Back Country Roads

Remember to link to Ana’s post and use the Lens Artists tag. Next week, we will return to our regular schedule.  On Saturday, August 7, Patti will host LAPC #160 Your inspiration, which can be a place, a subject, a person, a book–just about anything that inspires you.

Until then – stay kind and safe.

Lens-Artists Challenge #158 – Along Back Country Roads

Beth is our guest host this week, and for this challenge she is asking us to show our interpretation of going along a back country road. It can be any road that’s off the beaten track.

My opener is a photo taken long ago, of one of my favourite roads ever. It was a late summer evening, and the last warm sun rays made the whole world golden. I can still feel the air that night.

Last week, as we finally went for a short trip to dear friends some 300 miles from home, we had to drive far out along lovely country roads. We had some trouble finding their house this time, because the world becomes so different when all the trees are cut down…

They live on a beautiful lake named Grecken, and luckily their window lights were easily discerned in the soft darkness falling. So, we found our way.

I have tried to assemble some of my favourite country roads, and I easily realise that almost all of them go through pure farmland. Not surprising at all… Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong…

The most lovable country road should be a gravel road, with grass in the middle. I am lucky to have some of those special roads close to me. As Beth mentioned – I would have wanted to follow every one of them to find out where they are leading to.

Last autumn we walked some new roads nearby. (There are always new old roads!) This one is said to be one of Skånes most beautiful country roads.

My forest in winter, and the tractor road.

I have to finish with a real winter road. The winter roads in powdery snow always make my heart beat extra hard – because we don’t have them every year anymore. And, they can be dangerous too. Careful driving!

Hope you are inspired to come along! If you do, in your post, please include a link to Beth’s original post and use the Lens-Artists tag so everyone can find your post in the WordPress reader. Be sure to check out the first three guest hosted challenges.

John Steiner of Journeys with JohnBo – On the Water

Anne Sandler of Slow Shutter Speed – Black and White

Bert and Rusha Sams of Oh the Places we see – Getting Away

Thank you, for letting us get away with Bert and Rusha last week! Next week on July 31, please visit Ana Campo of Anvica’s Gallery for her challenge – “Postcards.”

I’m looking forward to seeing where your back country roads have taken you!

Thursday Thoughts – Yesterday

Yesterday my beloved grandmother would have turned 110 years old. I brought her flowers from my garden. Her favourites were marguerites and cornflowers, and poppies among them. Only cornflowers are alive now that the marguerites and the poppies are gone. Those where the flowers she met in the fields as a young girl. And I am sure they were among the first flowers she ever layed her eyes upon.

She was a hard working woman – never lazy, up early and in bed late. She and my grandfather had an extensive orchard, growing currants (more than 200 bushes), but also plum trees, apple trees, pear trees, cherries. And potatoes, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, beans and sugar peas too. And rabbits. And flowers. Children and grandchildren all helped with the summer and autumn harvest.

I know that is where my love for the land and its fruits come. I know that is the reason why I love green, to see things grow and develop into the wonders they were meant to be.

I used to love growing people as well – young people developing the wings needed to fly free into the world.

When I think about Time, how much has passed and what might be left, I feel a bit sad in the midst of happy memories. But that is Life. As the Bible says, there is a time for everything.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #147 – Gardens

This week Amy has set a beautiful challenge – Gardens. Normally this would have meant so much joy for me to put together, but time and life is bringing too many changes and challenges right now.

Anyhow, here we go – I decided to once again visit my favourite garden – I call it the Garden of My Dreams – because it is, in more than one sense. For its abundant beauty, biodiversity and – for it being lost and is no more.

The old couple who owned it, travelled the world for rare plants and brought them home to their garden in the forest.
I used to visit now and then, and they always loved a quiet chat and a walk through their Paradise. The little old man was an avid birder as well, and he put up homes for the birds in his garden as well as in the forest. He also banded the birds and tracked them every year. So… whenever I post on such a little home, you can be almost sure it was made by his hard working hands.

Now, let’s enjoy a nostalgic walk from the past together. And remember, these wonders are just a few of what this amazing garden would offer!

Thank you for walking down memory lane with me.

Sincere thanks to all who responded to last week’s Focus on the Details challenge. We enjoyed every detail you offered and hope you will share more for this week’s challenge. Please be sure to link your response to Amy’s lovely original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you in our reader. Wishing all the moms a Happy Mothers’ Day filled with love and beauty.

Next week, I, Leya, will be your host. I wish you all a calm and peaceful weekend.

Lens-Artists Challenge #139 – Special Moments

This week, we will look beyond the life-changing events and share some other special moments and what they mean to us, Tina says. I think we all have so many of them…It will be hard to choose, but I will try to pick some unforgettable ones …

A moment of solitude and contemplation on this small crater island of the Azores. Walking up the mountain, we did not know what to expect when turning around the bend… but the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful – The feeling of floating free in this silent universe. Blue hydrangeas, blue sky and blue ocean – and us flying on a green, tiny spot in the middle of it all… Otherworldly.

The Pothala palace is representing the Dream-Come-True moments in my life. I have been so lucky as to have a few of those. So, I finally arrived in Tibet, after some 40 years since I read about Shangri-La in Lost Horizon, the 1933 novel by James Hilton, and saw the movie Lost Horizon from 1937. They represented the enigmatic and enchanting world out there…far away from my home and far away from any landscape I had ever been. I was lost for words – and breath – in the thin air.

April 2017, and I met Michael Lindnord and Arthur. The Swedish multi sport team were in Ecuador 2014, trying to win the world championships. Instead the team leader, Mikael Lindnord, found that in the middle of the jungle, his team of four had got a fifth member…Arthur. Mikael had never had a dog of his own and never thought of getting one – he was a tough athlete and a determined leader for his team. But, all it took was one meatball…

King Arthur. He owned the place from the first second he entered the room. I loved every minute of being close to him, touching him and listening to their story. Seeing the very special bond between Mikael and Arthur.

Mikael himself says that Arthur stands for Hope.  The Lindnord family have also started a fund for homeless dogs in Ecuador – There is hope for many ill treated and abused dogs with people like Mikael, who was prepared to even let go of his team’s victory to save this dog’s life. Mikael says he recognized himself in Arthur that very first day…they both stand tall, they never give up. So, how could he let Arthur down, when the dog put all his trust in him ?

December 9, 2020, Arthur passed away from an aggressive cancer, 13 years old. 2021 is the startup for shooting the Hollywood movie – ArthurThe King, with Mark Wahlberg starring together with a not yet chosen dog to play Arthur. I am looking forward to seeing it – hopefully cinemas will be open by then…

I can honestly say, that no other journey in my life gave me more special moments than the one to Arthur’s home country, Ecuador. Sailing along the Napo River in the Amazon and in the Galápagos Islands.

I could not stop watching them, all these little seabirds following our sailing boat in Ecuador. They could actually walk, run and stand still on the water! This is the smallest seabird in the world – an Elliot’s Storm-Petrel. Another enigmatic fact is that no nesting site for these birds has ever been found…

The stay at Sacha Lodge on a quiet lake – open to all the sounds of the jungle – still echoes in my mind today, 5 years later. Silent canoing through the tangled forest, watching swarms of monkeys foraging in the trees, jumping and playing. And the tiny Paradise Tanager – shooting veritable neon lightings in the trees – (I only managed to capture a couple of them in a photo) The first glimpse of the flock was very special – they moved faster than Chip ‘n’ Dale juggling around with the colourful Christmas baubles – and Pluto trying to handle the situation…

So, I will end with the late evening climb up in the Kapok tree, staying for the day’s last hours watching the sun set over the Amazon Basin. Imagine the sounds, the light, the soft warmth, the birds and the monkeys calling each other…I have never slept better in my entire life, than I did in the Amazon jungle.

Finally, a big Thank You for the inspirational set of Natural Lights, and hopefully you will join in for some special moments too! Please link to Tinas original post, and add the Lens-Artists tag.

Next week we’re excited to announce Beth of Wandering Dawgs as our Guest Host. Be sure to stop by and check out her always-interesting blog. Until then, stay safe and be kind.

Lens-Artists Challenge #129 – Favourite Photos of 2020

Our team is back and we wish you welcome to 2021. This New Year comes with much hope for the future. Maybe more than ever –

It was as if the land opened its lips and breathed again, and was made anew.
― Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Our “Favorite Images of the Year ” challenge will be a bit different – as this whole year, 2020, has been different. No visits to foreign lands or faraway places. Instead it opens for images that tell something of our own journey for 2020. For me, this year meant living in my bubble, struggling to stay reasonably sane. So much less camera…and so much less energy – but still, here’s my year through lens and sense.

I begin with my absolute favourite image for 2020 – the broken window with wine leaves and the last rays of sun. From here I will travel backwards in time, down to when it all started, somewhere in January/February.

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
― Oprah Winfrey

A friend of mine said to me, ”…this image is like a symbol of 2020: restriction and restraint for everything beautiful.” Maybe so, but, being a person who constantly seeks beauty, I will always try to find it, and to portray it – no matter what.
Letting ourselves and the dogs as free as possible – giving room and space for more uplifting thinking. We are fortunate to live near nature and the possibility to spend several hours a day in the great outdoors.
One of the few sunny minutes this autumn. For several years I have tried to catch this road in its Autumn glory – and finally, the golden moment arrived. Unfortunately this happened on one of my ”low” days, so, I felt… nothing of the expected joy. Still, here it is – the once much longed for image…
This year brought many opportunities for close-ups and macro photography – finding new worlds in small spaces. Never has William Blake’s words rung more true to me:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. —Lao Tzu

In September my mother left us. Unexpectedly and unforeseen. And Autumn darkness at the door. After the funeral I went from feeling low to feeling exhausted and powerless. No recharging at hand. Even on our hikes I seldom brought my camera.

And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke

A highlight in the autumn darkness was the visit to IFÖ center and the artists’ studios there. I brought my camera… Creativity is contagious – not dangerous.
If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Cicero

My garden was a special joy this summer. And I finally got my glasshouse – hopefully there will be new plants in spring!
The beginning is always today.—Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

New life is slowly growing where my forest once was. I clearly remember this uplifting day watching the clouds sailing low, like cottonballs dropped from the sky.
NO treat beats an outing with my daughter and son.
This year I discovered the swirl through some other bloggers – and loved juggling with it. I even made a none favourite animal look more handsome. (Still not a favourite though…) So, swirling became a distraction from the nightmare situation in the world.
Every moment is a fresh beginning. —T.S. Eliot

A new hiking area – we walked all familiar areas and even some new ones this Spring. Nothing compares to Mother Nature when it comes to healing. A sunny day, open fields, lovely old houses – the closest we could get to an ordinary day and a normal life.

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. – Khalil Gibran

In the sandy soil of southwestern Skåne…you will find the most beautiful of spring flowers – the Pasqueflower. Only about 7 centimeters high, but abundant here. It felt comforting to lie down and touch the earth, knowing it is still there…

I was fortunate to attend a spectacular event – letting two young Eurasian eagle-owls take off for freedom! And how I wished I could just fly away with them.
Waiting for the train in Stockholm. On that train home from Umeå, I learned about the new Corona virus’ arrival in the world. Everything turned sci-fi, and I was shivering to the bones. My husband was traveling somewhere in Asia, and I texted him to return home immediately.

A lovely winter’s morning before the world changed… before everything we knew as normal was … gone.

In retrospect, I realize I have made more images than I knew of… despite this invisible invader and its impact on all our lives. Now we can only wish the vaccine will help us come back to easier and brighter days. The wiser. The first thing I would do… is go to a café for a nice cup of coffee and a tasty piece of cake – and quietly sit down to watch smiling people passing by.

We are excited to announce that next week’s challenge will be guest hosted by Slow Shutter Speed’s Anne Sandler. Do stop by her blog this week to see her beautiful photography and don’t miss her post next Saturday at noon EST.

May 2021 bring peace, health, and happy moments to us all. We look forward to seeing Your favorite images of 2020 and understanding why you’ve chosen them. Please link them to Tina’s original post, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. As always, we greatly appreciate your continued support of our challenge and the inventive creativity of your responses.