Coffee Cor…: Coffee corner in the snow. Corona notices in the window. Closed for business. The bench outside on a leash. Graffiti on the letterbox.
On 10 February 2021, on the spur of the moment in a locked-down Copenhagen, I began this little photo project. The main idea was to get out of the apartment and take a photograph each day of the week, somewhere other than the local supermarkets or taking or fetching my daughter from kindergarten. Something that would force me to get out from behind my screens and re-connect with the physical world around me, half-deserted as it was.
A short while after I started my project, Craig Mod announced a new newsletter in which he, as he often does, teases something delightful out of everyday technology. The idea with Huh was to share twenty images over the course of twenty weeks, with the catch that the newsletter itself only includes the ‘alt text’ – that (for most of us) hidden portion of images on the web intended for visually impaired users. A description of the image for those that can’t see it.
The idea flowed on from an interview (in podcast form, over 2 episodes) that Craig held with the writer Sam Anderson, who enthused on how ‘simply’ describing what you see can profoundly alter what it is that you see. The alt texts could provide a stepping stone to viewing the photographs.
Enthusiatic, I started adding my own alt text descriptions to the pictures I’d been posting. Not always strictly speaking descriptions, but certainly on and around the images in question – there was something fun about writing texts that were strictly speaking public, but at the same time somewhat hidden.
Here, instead of the usual collection of thumbnails as an overview, is a version with the alt texts as points of departure. Tapping/clicking on them will take you through to the photographs.
School: The restaurant school. A blue chimney ascending into the grey. “At our schools it’s about food & service. Come in & see, taste, smell, serve.”
Bauhaus: This (workshop?) window on Vesterfælledvej has always stuck me as having a strong Dada/Bauhaus quality
Dada: – even more so in this picture I took of it last September.
STRONGER: STRONGER – in deep neon blue, echoed in a purer framing sky. On a building that’s somewhat challenged, cordoned off with red and white-striped tape.
Business Strategy: The interior of the ‘Is It a Bird– Insights for better decision making’ office. I was going to follow their Instagram but when I read that they were a “strategic innovation agency turning human understanding into new business opportunities” I decided not to. When are we going to turn business understanding into human opportunities?
G: Circular windows, a swirl, a spiral on the ground. A neon ‘G’ in the centre of it all.
Snow Avenue: A cleared pathway. Snow. Curves where the bicycles have been. Two adults and three children approaching. Like in a movie. Three sledges – two blue and one green.
Misty: View from the bridge with snow on the tracks. Headlights from the light traffic on the road behind them. Mist in the air. pale colours and the thin blue chimney of the restaurant school reaching up in the distance.
On a Misty Path: A Janáček title for this one. (Also thinking of Yuri Norstein's ‘Hedgehog in the Fog’.) Snow and the outline of a tree looming through the mist. Listen.
View from the Bridge: Train tracks, in shadow, from Valby bridge. The Carlsberg tower, slightly shrouded in the haze in the distance. Naked trees against an otherwise clear sky.
Old & New: “Gamle Carlsberg” (Old Carlsberg) in reverse. Circles and curves in brown and gold, against the (blue) rectangles of the new.
Klondike Future: Out cycling to take a look at a possible school. Still under construction. Organic shop in one of the Klondike buildings. Under renovation – soon it will all be new.
Grønttorvet: The old grønttorvet wholesale farmer’s market now rebuilt as fancy apartments and for young urbanites. A village within the city. Neatly lined up. Good for families with children.
Boring: A nice residential area. Speed bumps. Quiet, peaceful. Afternoon sun against a darkish sky. The curves of the creeper that’s consumed half of the dragon tree echoed in the graffiti that’s nevertheless found it’s way onto the electricity box.
Shadows: Black and white shadows today. Shadows against shadows. Curvy lines against the straightness of the architectures.
Still Life with Trees and Buildings.: A delicate network of vein-like branches against the sift blue of the evening sky. Bronchial. Dried grasses in their rectangles. A strange blue metal tent to the left. For smokers, I think. And a grid of vanishing perspective to place it all.
Misty Morning: A view I know all too well, looking different in the morning mist. A long and winding road, fading away. Deserted. No entry sign on the Metro construction wall. Otherworldly construction cranes – something for Fellini.
Man on a Rooftop: I was thinking of René Burri’s ‘‘Men on a Rooftop’’ taken in São Paulo in 1960, and Teju Cole's recreation of it. My picture is much more modest, but I like the little (easily overlooked) detail of the guy looking at his phone. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/magazine/shadows-in-sao-paulo.html
The Streets: This view got me thinking of some English scene in classic black & white photography. Buildings and cars disappearing in the rainy mist. A single figure on the sidewalk. Wires for the streetlights dividing the space above.
Later in the Day: A follow up on the ‘Burri’ roof photo that I took the day before. Wasn’t sure if I should post two photos in a single day, but enjoyed the quality of the mist suddenly lifting in the afternoon and the sun streaming in from above – which had gotten me thinking of something along the lines of a Ghibli animation.
Old Architecture: I was going for the coloured gable on the library building (I think it is), but you have to zoom in quite a lot to see it – and then the jpeg artefacts begin to show. Otherwise a tree and some shadows, an empty street and some old architecture sandwiched between two newer buildings. The one on the left very 30s-ish – not that one can tell from the side (which is all you can see of it in the photo). It’s the building in which Anneberg is now the café where I collect our Birkemosegård torsdagskasse from each week.
Station to Station: Valby Station – after dropping in to Impact Roasters to pick up some lightly roasted Saba. A bright, but cold afternoon.
Wish You Were Here: Gnarly trees alongside a suburban street on a grey afternoon. Two figures greet. There's another approaching on a motorised tricycle.
EGO TRIP: Spyo graffiti on a gable. Clear blue sky on a crisp sunny Sunday afternoon. Tree branches to the top right, a pale yellow building to the left.
Bring on the Night: Another Carlsberg tower. Half-clad. Iron-clad. Framed by a bronchial network of tree branches, bare against the evening sky. The dried out leaves of a hedge in the front. A wooden house with a light on, to the left.
What the Trees Said.: Tree branches, shadows. The square across from the bakery. A wagon for distributing pamphlets, light lime-green cover, tied to the pole of a traffic sign. Plastic. One way.
The Backyard: I like that this one’s somewhat boring. Well, of course it’s not. A humble building quietly at the back. Trees. A hedge. The angle of the shadows.
Balloons on a Rainy Day: The rain-splashed window of a second hand store.
Backyard: Bicycles. Brick patterns. Bricks. Bricked. Old factory buildings – now out to other purposes. Sky reflected in the window on the left. Below it, an entrance. And a container for the disposal of bottles.
Suddenly: It rained in the morning and snowed around midday, but then in the afternoon the clouds cleared away and the sun made an appearance. After spending a good deal of the day working on an updated Partch Sensel layout (now with colours) I got out and took a bunch of photographs in the late afternoon sun. I thought that was all done, but then on the way back from the supermarket suddenly noticed this view with the tree in the center appearing as if held in the vase of the surrounding buildings. It’s interesting how the best things often appear when you’re no longer trying, but have been primed by your previous efforts.
Mirror Mirror: A cautious trip into the center of the city to buy some shoes. Too many people. But looking up, the blue of the sky in the shop window and the curves of an old lamp holder making a mirror face.
Old & New: View of Valby from the bridge over to Carlsberg. Traffic on the left. (Soft yellow and red, the blue of the chimney.) A building with Nordic extensions (elephant-trunk-like) to its roof on the right.
Straight Up: Through the trees, across the road, a view of the three-quarter-clad tower. Crisp blue sky. A bridge. Old stone holding old metal pathway railing pipes.
Stationary: Valby station. A yellow building. Bicycles. Clouds. Had to dig into the RAW file to get the exposure of the clouds to work.
Outdoor Hammershøi: Hammershøi colours. Hammershøi shapes. Hammershøi mood. An alleyway.
Tree Sound: An alley of trees in the cemetery on a very crisp morning. The wind in the trees got the tops of the branches bumping into each other, making strange sounds. I wished I’d had my audio recorder with me. I'll have to go back at some point. It was so good to be out for bit.
Reach: Another angle on the Carlsberg tower-in-progress. Wires suspending the old street lamp like music staff lines. Three circles of excess wire like an amputated Olympics logo.
Skeleton: Golden scaffolding (or is it better described as a frame?) in the late afternoon sun, on the way to the supermarket after having spent an exhausting day writing about NFTs. There were some skateboarders filming their tricks. Were they speaking German to each other? They looked a little skeptical as I took my photographs – but it wasn't about them!
Flowers: I didn’t have much time to find an interesting location, but then suddenly there was this view from inside the courtyard of the building that houses Bjarke Engels’ B.I.G. Grey skies, brick. Flowers in the window. After posting it I was very much in doubt that I perhaps should rather have posted another slightly different view that showed a bigger area of the brick wall foremost in the picture. I wasn’t so sure about that alternative when looking at it on my iPad, but seeing a smaller version of it on my phone I suddenly preferred it. In the end I decided to stick with what I had chosen. Still wondering about it though.
Circles – Wheels: I didn't get to go anywhere fancy today – was planning to make a little trip later on in the day, but then, while waiting for my daughter at the playground, suddenly saw these bikes that I see everyday, in a different way. A meeting of different types – all kinds of circles. From on top of the trampoline.
Reve de Rena: City center. Flowers framing a shop window. Colours. An interesting graphic with lines and circle-points. And a bench to sit on.
Reaching Out: Graphic on the wooden wall cordoning off the New Carlsberg construction site. A double girl reaching out to hold a french fry box of pencils. Just across the road from the fancy art/stationary store.
The Outback: View onto the other side of the Valby tracks. Allotment garden houses. Grey sky. Bauhaus in the background.
Clouds: Rising clouds. Shadows. A bit of sun. A dried out hedge. A plank on the path. Rocks. Trees waiting for spring. Clouds rising in the distance.
A Walk in the Park: The composition of the broad path, curving into the distance. Leaves on the grass. Tress placed at appropriate intervals. A Sunday afternoon outing.
The Tunnel – The Bridge: Tunnel under the tracks on a grey Monday morning. A bicycle. Chain fence. Smiling face on the restriction thingy. Graffiti. Dented pipe on the ground. Red outline of the no cars or motorcycles sign.
PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT: ”MENNESKET FØR PROFIT”, “PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT” – Amazon in the headlines today, so this is for them.
The Drill: This is a picture of a drill in the Lundbeck parking lot close to where I live. God knows what they’re up to. A grid of holes and more going down. For some reason got me thinking of Craig Mod's “Postcards from the Baikonur Cosmodrome”.
ANGST: SPYO graffiti on the way to getting a Corona test. Not that I was worried. Brush. Derelict buildings. A chimney.
Antikvariat: One doesn’t often see old book stores like this anymore.
Another Walk in the Park: Two paths leading up to a tree on top of a little hill, with its hair stretched up in the sun against a clear blue sky. Next to it another – curtailed.
Grey/gray: Grey on grey. Moire patterns from the building across the street. In the foreground almost ochre trees reaching up. In the background, peeking up over the moire building, towers and construction cranes in the distance.
Snow Falls: Snow, like static etchings recorded on some kind of radioactive plate. Down at the bottom an iron fence against the frame, and behind it brick patterns made clear by the snow.
Big Sky: Looking up, a dramatic sky. Clouds after a rainy day in front of the computer. The criss-cross of the wires holding up the old copper dome street lamps, held up by slender metal, almost pyramid stretched-out, pylons. Very Danish.
Our Daily Bread: Looking through the window of ‘Vores Brød’, our local bakery, as we waited our turn (only two allowed in at a time). The sun a little behind the clouds as I took the picture, so there's not too much of my reflection in the window, but still managed to catch the van driving by. Fully organic, all sourdough. Very nice people. It’s actually not our daily bread, but at least once a week it’s great to get some of their goodies (the pastries are wonderful too).
EAT THE RICH: SPYO at it again with his graffiti. And some nature to keep it all in perspective.
Stained Glass: Stained glass windows on an otherwise unassuming building. Worth zooming in. Wonder how they got there? What’s the history?
Birds in the Backyard: This little backyard scene caught my eye as I was cycling past. It’s one of the images where the sounds of the moment were an integral part of the experience – so I’ve included a little audio recording, quickly made on my phone, on my site.
Light: At the end of a rainy Sunday afternoon. Brick patterns on the apartment building to the right. Red and blue construction stuff to the left. The grey of the sky mirrored in the wet of the pavement and the road. At the end of a rainy Sunday afternoon. Brick patterns on the apartment building to the right. Red and blue construction stuff to the left. The grey of the sky mirrored in the wet of the pavement and the road.
Unexpected Moment: I had actually decided that I would take today’s photograph later in the day, but then this was suddenly there. I did take another picture later in the day, but I think this one, for all its unassumingness, is better.
Fifteen: The courtyard of the old factory buildings that house the B.I.G architect offices. Number 15 to the left. A circled 15km speed limit sign in the middle. A coat in the little entrance room. Lots of coat hangers to spare. Warm interior light on the inside. Cooler turquoise sky reflected in the upper windows.
Ripples: The park alongside the new Carlsberg developments. A nice little oasis that one wouldn’t guess was there just looking from the outside. As I was taking the picture two young guys suddenly appeared behind me. Had to remove one of my AirPods out to hear what they were saying: “Nice picture”.
Twenty Nine Thirteen: An old (external) elevator on the building across from where the Bjarke Ingels Group have their offices. Reflections from the windows on the building behind me cast down like inverted shadows in the afternoon sun.
GRETA THUNBERG: GRETA THUNBERG in SYPO’s typical ALL CAPS painted over a wall mural. The mural itself quite dark in its theme. Grey wolves pin down a dark man with a red nose on a forest path. In the lower part of the mural sits a girl, her skin likewise black, her long orange hair covering her and flowing out behind her. What she once had in front of her, now covered with graffiti, is no longer possible to discern.
Thinking of Monet: Thinking of Monet while photographing spring blossoms in a nearby park. After taking the photograph I did some searching for what the specific image could be that I was vaguely remembering – it turns out that it was a painting in the collection of the Johannesburg Art Gallery – so that’s where I’d seen it!
Cat in the Sun: A cat (Leo) sleeping in a window in the sun. Apparently a favourite spot and activity since there’s a sign in the window asking please not to tap.
Tracks: Train tracks, grass in the afternoon sun, a tree in blossom, a white building in the background. The angles of the train pylons and the roof of the building.
Evening Light: Subtle evening colours softening up an otherwise hard concrete building. In the foreground a step up to a little covered entrance, paint peeling off, also on the green pillars supporting the little roof, with the adjacent garage, the same. And in front of it green tarp over a trailer hitched up behind a strange little vehicle.
Parabol: A slightly different picture for today. Looking up for a change, while waiting for my daughter. This is one of those cases where there’s a marked difference between how you perceive a scene in real life, and how it turns out in a photo. In this case it was the parabol (satellite dish) antenna on one of the balconies that caught my eye and would have featured much more prominently had this been a drawing. In the photograph you almost don’t notice it at the bottom. But the clouds have a nice flowing quality and there’s a seagull up in the middle of the picture which I only noticed when looking at the photograph now.
Corner of the World: Not so many words today – just a tree in a little corner of the world and a play of shadows on the wall.
Home Icon: Could be a weird home icon. With a door to enter into. And an antenna on the top that gets me thinking of Ratatouille getting his chanterelles smoked by lightning.
Gable: A building, with a shadow, mirrored in the triangular form of the gable. Pointing upwards. The same with a building alongside. Actually it’s that one that’s casting the shadow. Small trees with pink blossoms in front of a lower wall joining the two. The light blossoms in contrast to the shadowed wall. An arched entranced at the one end of said wall. And another, small one, towards the right.
Sunday Afternoon in the Park: Sunday afternoon in the park. Grasses, an expanse of water. On the other side of it, grasses too. Trees. The sounds of birds singing. A wonderfully clear sky (the blue of the photograph not entirely true to life, but beautiful nonetheless) and a crisp wind.
Fifty Two: (Auto &) Pladeværksted: Car mechanic courtyard with the concrete of the Lundbeck building looming up behind it – mechanics for the human body. With strange hairy Van Gogh trees in the whatever-mans-land between them.
Brick Patterns: The shadows from the brick pattern were what initially drew me to this view. It’s one that I’ve tried to photograph before, but discarded because of some exposure blow out on clouds in the sky. This time round nothing to complicate the photograph. My only wish is that there was a little more clarity on the tree in the distance, but it’s fine as long as you don’t zoom in.
Curve: Skateboard ramp. Under a tree. Shadows from the tree. Hopscotch on the asphalt in front of it. Afternoon sun.
Blue Tree: The blue of the wall and the blue of the sky. Melting together. And the tree. Center of it all. Apartments on the other side of the road. There was a lot of noise from a machine the three workers were busy with. Not sure what it is they were doing.
Culture Arrows: An arrow up and an arrow down. Blue and orange. The best pictures are the ones that suddenly appear at the end of a walk (and with many others taken before them) without you having looked for them too cleverly.
Rainbows & Ice-cream: Rainbows, flowers, and ice-cream. My daughter pointed this one out to me. She’d noticed the bead plates on this flower wooden flower bed with a yellow seat around it.
Squares & Rectangles: Various stages of completion: New Carlsberg rising alongside the old. A lot of straight lines adjacent a curvy park. With some flowing graffiti on the other side of the road to loosen it all up a bit. Babies crying. Birds singing. Families with fancy espresso machines having just moved in.
Holes in the Sky: A dramatic sky in between showers this morning. As if it was a flare from the pylon.
Three Steps to Heaven: This was one of the photographs that I ‘tried’ with less today, but the one that spoke to me the most. The flag in the wind flowing over the modernistic church tower, grey skies behind it all. With freshly painted white windows and flagpole to give it all some extra definition. And a blue door.
Materials: Materials, Wednesday, thanks for help. A house shedding its shell in the process of being renovated. Classical columns with grey bricks filling the gaps. Fascinating in its ugliness.
Sunlight & Shadow: Sunlight suddenly catching one side of the building on the other side of the crossing as I cycle over the bridge. Dramatic clouds in the sky. For some reason I imagine that it could be Chris Watson walking towards me.
Elevator Pitch: A seldom seen external elevator on the outside of the old factory building that now houses the Bjarke Ingels Group offices. Afternoon sun. A few moments of blue sky and patchy clouds on what was an otherwise rainy day.
Buildings From Another Time: Suddenly noticed the juxtaposition of this building from the thirties (?) against the otherwise very ugly building across the road behind it. Ended up in this alley trying to get a closer view. It somehow ended up having a particular atmosphere, perhaps also due to the evening sky.
Waffle Focus: A large ice cream waffle thing outside the new place that’s selling wonderful organic ice cream. Had lots of time to look at it up close while waiting in the rather long queue (only 4 people inside at a time). So nice to hang around outside a bit and enjoy everyone enjoying the simple pleasure of ice-cream on a sunny Sunday afternoon – especially so after the restrictions (and weather!) of the past months.
Threshold: Another close-up. This time a dusty doorway while waiting in line at the bakery. An empty shop that once sold (and rented) bridal dresses and the like. Confirmations and so on. The sign (in Arabic) still there as a reminder of what once was. As dusty and somewhat ugly as the doorstep is, it’s also intriguing – especially when abstracted a little: The rectangular shapes of the alarm wires (I guess that’s what they are). The reflections in the window. The hole in the blue foundation block at the bottom. The texture of the sidewalk in front of it. The little blue paint blob (and dribble) halfway up the door.
Muster Point: Still close up today, although not completely. “A muster point is a designated place or an area where all employees, guests or visitors to the work site, or a large crowd can assemble in case of an emergency.”
Colour Stack: An unexpected explosion of colour while walking past some Valby Maskinefabrik renovations – looking more and more chic by the day. Wonder what they’re going to use those very ‘cool’ looking spaces for.
Lookout: Noticed this unusual little watchman (looking to one side) above the door of an older Valby house that, at least in relation to its neighbours, doesn’t otherwise stick it’s head out too much.
Holiday: An old Ford holiday camper parked on Jægersborggade on a relaxed, sunny, holiday-mood Friday afternoon. Stickers in the back window: Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix, Skagen, Dinitrol, Hamburg.
Twist: My daughter exclaimed after noticing the twisty shape of the air vent on the (not so often seen on this area) sub-terrain garage door as we cycled by a few weeks ago. It reminded her of a boiled sweet (bolsje). Today we happened to pass by again and stopped to take some photographs.
Shiny & New: A few weeks ago, when passing, this building was covered in scaffolding. Today it suddenly stood there, gleaming in the afternoon sun, shiny and new, across the parking lot.
Stained Glass – Unexpected: A little stained glass window, unexpected in the doorway of an old factory building, peeking out from behind the grime. Shadow play on the surrounding brick – one of them missing. An off-yellow door light. A ventilation hole. An expressionist angle after all my straightness.
Yellow Grey Blue: If it wasn’t for the bronze-yellow of the car bringing out the yellow of SPYO’s graffiti in contrast to the two blue chimneys reaching up against the grey-blue of the sky, I perhaps wouldn’t have taken this photograph of what is otherwise a generally drab corner of Valby.
Rorschach: A little Rorschach test with this pavilion, the remains of the West Chapel, converted as part of the Crossroads Project (Stjernevejsprojektet) in the middle of Vestre Kirkegaard. A fresh morning, blossoms sprinkled on the ground. Birds singing. The sounds of nature. And some SPYO graffiti if you look closely.
The beginning and the end: And so we come to the end of this lockdown photo project – the coffee corner where it all started 100 days ago – now open to the public, chairs ready, sun shining, ice cream sandwich-sign out on the pavement. Flowers, trees, cushions. The same old graffiti on the letterbox.