Monday, April 30, 2007

Jonathan Torgovnik: Bollywood

Image Copyright © Jonathan Torgovnik-All Rights Reserved

Jonathan Torgovnik began his photographic career as a combat photographer in the Israeli army. During that period, he was assigned to photograph a wide range of military activities and operations in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon. In 1992, after traveling in the Far East, he arrived in New York and entered the photography department at the School of Visual Arts, graduated with a BFA degree and received an award for outstanding achievement in photography at graduation.

Torgovnik is now a New York based photographer, working for various American and European magazines. His images from diverse projects and assignments have appeared in numerous U.S. and international publications.

For TTP, I chose his Bollywood gallery, which propelled him into the limelight. Bollywood of course, is the informal name given to the popular Mumbai-based Hindi language film industry in India.

Jonathan Togovnik's website

Sunday, April 29, 2007


A very easy recipe, so come on have a go at this one. The apples both taste and look wonderful. The sauce in which they are cooked has a hint of toffee.
I must confess, I didn't make the lemon brown butter because there was plenty of sauce in the dish in which the apples were cooked. The recipe calls for red apples, but as you can see in the photograph mine were green, as these were the only ones I had in the house!!


ISBN 0864119925 - PAGE 50


4 sweet red apples, halved
60g butter, chopped
50g demerara sugar

lemon brown butter:
125g butter
2fl oz lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/(350ºF)/Gas 4. Place the apples in a baking dish, cut-side up, and top with butter and demerara sugar. Bake for 30 minutes, basting frequently until the apples are soft.
To make the lemon brown butter, place the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Allow the butter to slowly simmer until it smells nutty and has turned golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and sugar. Return to the heat and stir for 2 minutes.

Place the apples on a plate and spoon over the lemon brown butter. Serve warm with ice cream or Greek yoghurt.

Everyone will love these!

Beyond The Frame: Balian Tenung

From A Balinese Canang-Copyright Tewfic El-Sawy

One of my assignments in Bali was documenting balians, the traditional healers. Before resorting to Western medicine, the Balinese consult a balian, a traditional healer. These men and women work in different ways: some mix herbal remedies; some create drawings of magical symbols to protect the wearer; and some, while in trance, communicate messages from the Balinese Hindu deities and ancestors. The best known balians heal by limb manipulation and massage, while others request the help of divinities.

One such healer is Betty Jan-Paul, who is a balian tenung, or a diviner faith healer. I met her at her modest home near Denpasar, at the suggestion of my fixer. Betty was amenable to being photographed and interviewed, provided that I had a pack or two of Marlboro cigarettes for her. Local cigarettes or any other brand would not do, my fixer assured me. She only accepted Marlboros.

The daughter of a Dutch soldier and a Balinese woman, Betty was a nondescript housewife until she had a life-altering dream in which Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Ghandi came by her bedside and commanded her to become a healer. Her husband being ill at the time, she took this dream to mean that she could heal him...which she did. She's well-known in the Denpasar area, and she had quite a number of patients waiting for her. One of these patients was an Indian gentleman who worked in the hotel industry in Rajasthan, and who had come here on vacation and was waiting for her advice.

Betty graciously allowed me to stay while she administered her craft to her patients, including this woman with her young child. I couldn't tell what was the particular ailment or affliction, but Betty eventually gave the woman a small plastic bag filled with water, in which she had puffed smoke.

During all her sessions, she went into a trance for a few moments, presumably to communicate with the spirits as to the condition of her patients. She used an altar (to the left of the above photograph) where she placed small offerings of fruit and water.

Before we dismiss these rituals offhand, here's something which may change our minds. A photographer, staying at the same hotel as I did, suffered considerable trauma to his shoulder in a motorcycle accident during his stay in Bali. He had gone to the hospital for treatment, and was all bandaged...and in considerable pain. He visited a nearby well-known balian for massages and manipulation, and was amazed at the resulting improvement.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

American Photo: NGOs To The Rescue

Is American Photography magazine finally getting serious and useful? I don't know if that's really the case but its website published another interesting article this month (yes, two in the same issue!) on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their growing influence and relationship with photographers. A similar article was published by PDN a year or so ago, but it was only available to subscribers.

My experience working for NGOs has been limited to a joint effort in Vietnam, and a handful of times photographing eye-clinics in India, so this article has given me a lot of information and guidance should I ever want to re-enter the field of NGO photography.

Social-documentary photographers interested in having a career working with NGOs will find this article a good starting point. As the article says, new opportunities have recently opened up, allowing photographers to make, exhibit, and publish work that has little chance of being seen in magazines. NGOs have increased in numbers during the past 20 years, and the internet enables NGOs to form coalitions easily and cheaply, enhancing their reach and providing photographers with a potentially vast audience.

Here's something I wasn't clued in to...the article advises photographers to explore the viability of establishing their own NGO: "Rather than partnering with an already existing NGO, many photographers create their own, which they target to a specific cause such as empowering poor communities through photography. When you create your own not-for-profit, you keep all the money you raise -- and it's tax-free."

Here's another interesting tidbit in the article: Phil Borges has found generosity within the photo industry: Getty Images donates office space to Borges's NGO Bridges to Understanding, while Hewlett Packard has printed an entire UN exhibition of his work for free. HP printing Phil's work for free makes a lot of commercial sense, since it probably gained publicity from the UN exhibition.

Click on NGOs To The Rescue for the full article.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dana Romaroff: Wife of the God

Image Copyright © Dana Romaroff - All Rights Reserved

Since starting TTP blog, I've researched many photographers' projects and as a result, have learnt of new and intriguing practices, cultures and rituals. This is one of such projects.

Dana Romanoff's background in cultural studies is evident in her work. Her recent series, "Wife of the God", addresses a controversial religious practice among the Ewe people in West Africa. Families suffering misfortune bring their young girls to traditional shrines to "marry the god" in order to reconcile for crimes committed by ancestors. The women are called "Fiashidi," which means "wife of the god", The shrine serves as a moral and educational institution in the town that helps prevent premarital sex and crime.

These women are also known as Trokosi, and this religious practice involves a period of servitude lasting up to 3 years. A virgin girl, sometimes under the age of 10, but often in her teens, is given by her family to work and be trained in traditional religion at a fetish shrine for a period lasting between several weeks and 3 years as a means of atonement for an allegedly heinous crime committed by a member of the girl's family. The girl becomes the property of the shrine god, and undergoes instruction in the traditional indigenous religion. She helps with the upkeep of the shrine. The practice explicitly forbids a Trokosi or Fiashidi to engage in sexual activity or contact during her atonement period. In the past, there were reports that the priests subjected the girls to sexual abuse; however, while instances of abuse may occur on a case-by-case basis, there is no evidence that sexual or physical abuse is an ingrained or systematic part of the practice.

Although the "Wife of the God" project has the most riveting photographs, Dana's website has other interesting projects, which I encourage you to visit.

Here's Dana Romaroff website.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Palaces of Calcutta

Image Copyright Stuart Isett/New York Times-All Rights Reserved

Here's an interesting feature from the New York Times on the decaying palaces of Kolkata by the Seattle-based photographer Stuart Isett, who also narrates.

Many of these palaces and regal mansions have been built at the zenith of Calcutta's (now Kolkata) golden age in the second half of the 1700s, when it became the administrative center of the famed East India Company, and was subsequently named the capital of Bengal. During Queen Victoria's reign as Empress of India, it became its imperial capital. It evolved in the following years into a beautiful city of palaces, with an accompanying period of wealth and culture. Once the opium trade (the center of Calcutta's economy) ended, the city went into an irreversible slow decline especially when the capital of India was moved to Delhi.

Most of the Calcutta's palaces are decaying and crumbling beyond repair. With countless of heirs quarreling over these properties, it's virtually impossible to save these structures. Others are sub-let to a variety of tenants, who resist being moved elsewhere by all means. With the chaotic state of the Calcutta's legal system and procedures, they are successful in remaining in these palaces over many generations.

Here's The Palaces of Calcutta. (you may need to resize your browser window.)

More of Stuart's photographs of Calcutta's palaces are here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

American Photo: Heroes of Photography

American Photography has just published its Heroes of Photography feature on its website (link below). I was never a fan of this magazine, since it tries to imitate the French photography magazines (probably because it's owned by Hachette Filpacchi) in its features and layout, however on this occasion it attracted my attention.

This feature (which includes a mini-gallery of each photographer's work) is what American Photo subtitled " a tribute to ten photographers who inspire us", and I agree with that. Among the ten photographers are the incomparable Phil Borges, Fazal Sheikh (who inspired me with his work on Indian widows to work on my own project: White Shadows), Chris Hondros, and others. Surprisingly, James Nachtwey, John Stanmeyer and Gary Knight for example are not included in this list...and by the way, the list is mostly made up of American photographers.

Here's an excerpt of the accompanying article which explains why the American Photo staff chose them to be 'heroes':

Some photographers are heroes simply because they show us how to overcome obstacles that would seem to be insurmountable. Fine-art photographer John Dugdale has continued to work at the highest level despite progressively losing his eyesight due to an HIV-related illness. Joseph Rodriguez, who rebuilt his life after getting into drugs and being arrested at a young age, is documenting the lives shattered by Hurricane Katrina. Phil Borges has been unshakable in his conviction that his fine-art portraiture can be a vital force for good in the world.

These ten photographers have and are still creating outstanding work, and certainly are among many leaders in the field of photography, but I wouldn't describe them as 'heroes'. Perhaps semantics but to me, heroism is more than being a trailblazer in the photography industry, or even for overcoming an adversity. Yes, these ten photographers are leaders, perhaps even role models to some, and to me (in the case of Phil Borges and Fazal Sheikh) inspirations...but I just wouldn't call them heroes.

Notwithstanding semantics and my strong antipathy for 'lists', the American Photo magazine's Heroes of Photography is a worthwhile feature.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What The Duck

POV: Clever Framing?

Image Copyright © 2006 Oded Balilty/Associated Press - All Rights Reserved

My POV post last week on digital alteration aroused the interest of some readers of TTP who shared with me their own views. Confirming what I wrote in the post, the general consensus is that removing or adding elements from/to the photograph is considered as unacceptable.

To illustrate my point that all photographs are in some way 'fixed', I chose this photograph by Oded Balilty of The Associated Press. It won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for best Breaking News Photography, and its caption reads:

"A lone Jewish settler challenges Israeli security officers during clashes that erupted as authorities cleared the West Bank settlement of Amona, east of the Palestinian town of Ramallah."

A really excellent 'decisive moment' photograph, which perfectly encapsulates the drama of the event. However, let's examine it with a more clinical eye. It appears at first glance that the woman is holding off a whole mass of security officers, but is she? Was there anyone behind her, but because of the photographer's clever framing, appears to be on her own? Is she pushing back or is she on the verge of giving up and fleeing the scene? Is she being pushed back down the slope, or is she pushing back? And all these questions...are they even relevant...or does this snapshot in time unequivocally convey the story that the photographer seeks to tell us?

Frankly, I don't know the answer. My gut tells me that the caption describing the settler as "A lone Jewish..." is editorializing. I -nor presumably anyone else but Mr. Balilty who took the photograph- can say if she's really alone or not...the frame's in-camera cropping makes it appear that she is. What I take from this photograph is that many illegal settlers were forcibly removed by the Israeli security forces, and this woman was of the many who resisted.

Is this photograph manipulated in the real sense of the word? The answer is of course not...but through camera positioning and careful framing, the photograph conveys its intended message that the woman settler was alone.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Luciana Cavalcanti: Brazil

Images Copyright © Luciana Cavalcanti - All Rights Reserved

Based in Sao Paulo, Brazilian photographer Luciana Cavalcanti, has an unusal style which is showcased in her Colors of Figures project, and which I'm happy to bring to the pages of TTP. Luciana worked as a freelance photographer, as well as working with Brazilian newspapers.

Her colorful, cropped and blurred images explore the popular traditional (a lot of dancing as befits Brazil) festivals of Recife and Olinda, using saturated color and long exposures. There are a number of superb images here, and while some are -in my opinion- perhaps too blurry, it's an interesting style designed to focus on the colors and movements rather than on details.

I read that Luciana is working on a Colors of Figures video project, which presumably will be available as a multimedia website when completed. It will be an interesting watch, since her photographs are so full of frenetic motion. I wish her photographs had a soundtrack of the festivals' music, and hope her video project gets to completion quickly...perhaps a flash-based multimedia slideshow?!

Although Luciana's website would benefit from a facelift, her photography is well worth visiting. Here it is: Colors of Figures

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Canon EOS-1D Mark III: First Look

Rob Galbraith's website just posted a review of the Canon EOS-1D Mark III based on their experience of shooting a preproduction body, which includes several samples of reduced and full resolution image files.

Here's the link.

Beyond The Frame: Gondar Maiden

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy - All Rights Reserved

Having photographed the Timket festival and its processions in both Lalibela and Adwe, I stopped in the city of Gondar. Gondar was founded by the Ethiopian emperor Fasilidas around 1635, and is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches.

The car stopped at the outskirts of the city for a minor repair, and I took this opportunity to stretch my legs and walk around, exploring the surroundings. I came across this young woman outside her home, sifting through teff, the grain used to make injera, the bread of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Injera is a pancake-like bread made out of the teff flour, which is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for a few days. As a result of this process, injera has a sour taste to it.

The woman was quite happy to be photographed, but when her mother suddenly peeked out of their front door, I was lucky enough to have grabbed the wonderful look on her face, as well the young woman's unsuccessful attempt at suppressing her laugh. When I finished photographing her, she finally laughed covering her mouth, as so many people do when they're shy.

I framed this Gondar maiden so that the white background of the wall was just above her shoulders, giving better definition to her face. By the way, this is not the photograph of the Ethiopian woman with the errant fly of my earlier don't go hunting for traces of cloning! In fact, this photograph is 'pure' cropping, no cloning...just a touch of Level adjustments and Sharpening.

This photograph was published in The Digital Photographer, a British magazine.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


There is something wonderful about making your own bread and that 'thing' is talked about with passion in books dedicated to the art of breadmaking. Whatever that 'thing' is, it is individual to you, be it the kneading, watching the bread prove, the aroma from the bread cooking or a magnificent loaf of bread when it comes out of the oven.
Bread never fails to please, especially if it has been made by your goodself.

Andrew at SpittoonExtra is hosting the challenge Waiter there's something in my ............bread and this recipe is taken from the April 2007 Delicious Magazine.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/Gas 7.

1. Take a 240g tub SunBlush tomatoes, drain, reserving 1 tbs oil and 8 tomatoes. Chop the rest.
2. Make the dough by sifting 500g strong white bread flour and 1 tsp salt into a large bowl. Stir in a 7g sachet of fast action yeast. Make a well in the centre and gradually mix in 250ml warm water, the reserved 1 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary and the chopped tomatoes. Knead, then knead in 150g crumbled feta.
3. Shape into 8 balls and place into 7cm terracotta pots that have been oiled and floured, or cut out 9 inch squares of parchment and line the flowerpots. Prove for 30 minutes. Top with more feta and a reserved tomato, and push in a small, wet rosemary sprig. Bake for 25 minutes.

The advantage of using the parchment is twofold, firstly it makes removal of the bread from the pots easy and also the tomato doesn't slide off the dough onto the baking tray because the parchment stops this!!

These were very easy to make and tasted wonderful.

For further reading on bread I would recommend - Baking with Passion by Baker & Spice.

Alessandra Meniconzi: The Silk Road

Image Copyright © Alessandra Meniconzi - All Rights Reserved

A trip to India at the age of 21 sparked Swiss photographer Alessandra Meniconzi's 10-year exploration of the peoples of the ancient trade routes. She made several trips to Asia over a 10-year period to document the people and cultures of the "Silk Road", the 2,000-year-old trade route linking the Orient and the Occident.

On the newly updated Canon Europe website (link at bottom of post), Alessandra Meniconzi describes her journey from traveller to photographer, and her travels on the Silk Road, which began in the mid Nineties, and were made in more than one journey.

Her interview is illuminating for many reasons. She still uses a film Canon EOS 1N, and plans to switch to digital soon...and in that context, here's what she says about her photographic style:

"Each of my images is very considered so I find it strange when I see people shooting with a digital camera like a machine gun, only stopping to see if any images are any good and then deleting most of them. New technologies are important but the photographer has to manage them and not be mastered by them. If your eyes and brain become too lazy to think before you shoot I believe your photography will suffer. The camera is not the issue; the issue is who is doing the clicking."

Allessandra's keen eye and sense of composition are in evidence in her gallery of photographs. One of my favorite, apart from this portrait of a Miao woman, is the one of a Pakistani man asleep on a rope bed in a room...while his son(?) stands outside the door, about to enter.

Her Canon gallery is here.

Here is the updated Canon Professional Network. It has videos of the new Canon Mark III.

Friday, April 20, 2007

150 Country Adapter!

As photographers traveling to various countries, we are constantly faced with a growing array of electronic devices, gadgets and batteries....and a confusing international plug configuration, not to mention different voltage ratings. This device promises to make our life easier.

Hammacher-Schlemmer is offering a 150-Country Auto-Detecting Travel Adapter And Converter. This is a lightweight, compact device that automatically detects incoming voltage, converts it to 120-volt AC power, and provides plug adaptation for over 150 countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Caribbean, and Australia. The plug configures to fit a variety of international sockets, and it has a built-in USB port that allows you to leave chargers for cell phones, digital cameras, iPod®s, and other devices at home. The device allows simultaneous AC and USB connection to charge two devices at once. An integral surge protector protects electronics from potential power spikes.

The device is sold for $40. Not bad, eh?

Here's the link.

Adobe Media Player

Adobe Systems is expected to launch Adobe Media Player for playing Flash videos offline.

CNet reports that Adobe is expected to detail the new Adobe Media Player for downloaded media which will work with Windows or Mac desktops. Currently, Adobe provides no way for playing back Flash videos outside of the browser.

This product will allow users subscribe to and play video podcasts published with RSS. The application also allows users to comment on and share videos. Publishers who already use Flash for streaming Web video can reuse those same assets for downloadable content.

Here's CNet's article.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

POV: Is Cropping Kosher?

Potolo, Bolivia - Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy - All Rights Reserved

The photojournalism world is, once again, self-flagellating at the news that a Toledo Blade photographer published a photo on its March 31 front page that had been digitally altered to remove a distracting pair of legs. The photographer involved subsequently admitted that he had digitally altered other published photographs, and was fired.

This is not the first time that digital alteration of a news photograph makes it to the headlines. During the Israeli-Lebanon conflict in summer of last year, a photographer for Reuters was found to have cloned additional smoke plumes to a picture of Beirut buildings bombed by the Israeli airplanes. He too was promptly fired.

These seemingly isolated cases of photographic 'cheating' gave rise to a tide of photographers wondering where can the line be drawn on digital alteration...for instance, is cropping considered an alteration? Some purists would say yes. Is there a difference between cloning in and cloning out? Some say no, while others opt for a more open mind. Others go the extreme by saying that even flash should not be used as it adds an element that is not in the scene.

Of course, all photographs are in some way 'manipulated'. The angle from which a photographer chooses to frame his shot...the selection of the moment, the lighting, etc. are all legitimate techniques by which the photographer manipulates the images. Let's not forget that before the age of the digital camera and Photoshop, photographers used red filters to darken skies, used warming filters, polarizers to darken the sky and when in the darkroom, dodged and burned to their hearts' content...etc etc.

I tend to agree with Reuters' code of conduct for photographers, and that cloning (except for dust removal), healing or brush tools in Photoshop should not be used. Over darkening an area of the photograph is considered manipulation, while cropping should be left at the discretion of the photographer.

All this is understandable for photojournalists, editorial and news photographers, but what about travel photographers? Naturally, there are many types of travel photography...there's the imagery published in the glossy travel magazines which is largely manipulated and altered (aka "improved") and even airbrushed in the post processing phase....and there's the type of photography that I am interested in, which is akin to photojournalism in its self-imposed code of conduct.

I recall a recent moment of indecision when editing a well composed photograph of an Ethiopian woman who, unnoticed by me at the time of photographing her, had a fly on her cheek. Do I clone the fly out or do I keep it in? I opted for its removal, since it wouldn't change anything to the photograph. However, if the same woman had an unsightly mole instead of a fly, would I clone it out? The answer is no. I'm not in the fashion photography business, and the mole is part of her. I rarely crop in the post-processing phase of my photographs. If I crop, I do so in-camera while framing the image...however, there are some instances where an errant hand or branch does intrude in, and mar the resulting picture, so I have to. But happily in my case, these are rare instances.

By the way, Steve McCurry is reported to have said that he doesn't ask people in the Third World to smile for his photographs because they usually have bad teeth. I hope he only says that because his clients don't want to publish photographs of people with crooked or missing teeth in the travel glossies. Does it reflect reality? Of course not, but that's what the travel publication market, perhaps misguidedly, frequently requires and eventually always gets.

As for me, I am comfortable with my basic rule: don't alter reality.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Preserving Tibet

Image Copyright The New York Times

Here's a recent audio slideshow on Tibet featuring pictures by various New York Times' photographers, and narrated by a reporter, Joshua Kurlantzick.

I haven't been to Tibet, but have frequently visited Dharmasala in Northern India, which is the administrative and cultural center of the Tibetan diaspora, and the recipient of the ongoing stream of Tibetan refugees. Its refugee center is filled daily by Tibetans fleeing their homeland to find freedom, and it's a tribute to India to have maintained its hospitality for so long to Tibetans. While India's welcome is because of its historical rivalry with China, I don't think any other country could have been so generous.

For background: after the occupation by China in 1959, Tibet was divided into three parts. The eastern part - Kham, and the northern part - Amdo, were assimilated into Chinese provinces. What China now refers to as Tibet is the central part - The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). The Dalai Lama was not even born in this part of Tibet. Tibet is now less than half of its original size.

The total Tibetan population of TAR is now about six million, while the Chinese population is greater and increasing quickly under a policy known as sinofication. Tibet's schools are taught only in Chinese. This ongoing and concerted effort to eliminate its indigenous language endangers Tibet's culture.

One of the pictures of the slideshow that makes me cringe is of two women tourists in front of the Potola Palace, posing in traditional Tibetan garb. With the advent of the high altitude train linking Beijing and Lhasa, I'm sure the tourists influx will further increase. Whether this will preserve Lhasa and Tibetan culture is a matter of debate, but I suspect that it will "Disney-fy" the ancient culture and tradition of the region.

Here's Preserving Tibet (NYT registration may be required)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yann Arthus-Bertrand: 6 Billion Others

6 Billion Others is an immense visual and aural project started in 2003 by the renowned French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, which "aims to create a sensitive and human portrait of the planet's inhabitants, and attempts to reveal each person's universality and individuality."

I could write much more on this wonderful and inspiring project being created by an ingenious image maker, but it would waste your I urge you to quickly visit its website and relish the interview samples now available.

So hurry and click on 6 Billion Others

Monday, April 16, 2007

David Paul Carr: Benin

Image Copyright © David Paul Carr- All Rights Reserved

I start the week with David Paul Carr, an English photographer based in Paris, France. His work includes editorial, corporate, institutional and NGO photography projects. His website has galleries showcasing his work in Benin, Istanbul, Kashmir and Banda Aceh among others.

His photographs are extremely powerful and I am delighted by his work from Benin...remarkable sensitivity and, in my view, captivating environmental portraiture. I am working on a long-term project that involves similar portraiture, and I'm glad to have found David's portfolio of Benin, as it's an inspiration.

Unfortunately, there is no text nor are there captions to accompany his Benin photographs, but I did some research. Benin is a small West African country, formerly known as Dahomey. Its largest neighbor is Nigeria to its east. As Dahomey, the country was part of the French West Africa until independence in 1960.

David's portraits are of the Yoruba people. They are a large ethno-linguistic group in Benin, and whose diasporic communities exist in Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Trinidad, the Caribbean, and the United States. Moreover, it is believed that "Voodoo" originated in Benin and was introduced to these countries by slaves taken from this particular area. The indigenous religion of Benin is practiced by about 60% of the population. This is why you'll see images in the Benin gallery of religious artifacts and of women wearing masks.

I chose this lovely photograph of a Yoruba girl in front of a school's chalkboard for this post. The hand -presumably that of the teacher- writes the words "that the lazy fail surprises no one" in French. There are many other wonderful images on David's website, such as the one of the young Yoruba girl holding a white doll (also a favorite), but to's the girl at school that I prefer. Maybe it's her eyes, maybe it's her expression...I don't know.

David's Benin - Ketou Flash gallery.

David's Benin-Ketou Slideshow.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beyond The Frame: Adivasis of Chhattisgarh

I traveled to central India in October 2004 to photograph the Adivasis (tribals) in Chhattisgarh, a recently established state originally part of Madhya Pradesh. One of the more interesting tribal belts is in the Bastar region, and it is there that I photographed members of the Muria, Muria-Gond, Bison-Horn Maria,Halba, Dhurwa, Bhatra and Dorla tribes. I witnessed their ceremonial dances, and rubbed shoulders with them at their weekly markets, or 'haats', where they barter for products and produce. I sampled their delicacies, including a rather spicy concoction of red-ants. Their ceremonial dances are very similar in style to Native American dances.

This photograph is of two members of the Bison Horn Marias tribe, a major sub-caste of the Gonds, photographed after they had performed one of their ritualistic dances. These tribes prefer to live in isolation in forests, and generally shun the outside world. The majority of Bison Horn Marias speak various unintelligible dialects of Gondi, an unwritten language of the Dravidian family. They practice shifting cultivation method of agriculture and collect forest produce for survival.

Due to the presence of the separatist Naxalites, who attack police stations and government building, it is wise to hire guides that are of the area and knowledgeable of the situation. Chhattisgarh and its Bastar region is not for everyone, however I was impressed by the courage against adversity shown by these tribes, and by their desire to preserve
their identity. For the genuinely interested, this region offers an unparalleled glimpse into the lives of a fast disappearing way of life.
Photograph from The Adivasis of Chhattisgarh-Copyright Tewfic El-Sawy

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Marc Schultz: Thailand

Image Copyright © Marc Schultz -All Rights Reserved

Marc Schultz is a Bangkok-based commercial and fine-art travel photographer. His work includes various fields of photography; corporate, travel, advertising, food and interior.

His images are published in newspapers, books, magazines, web sites, print media greeting cards, calendars, corporate literature, and billboards. Marc is collaborating with a major European book publisher on a 200-page coffee table book about Thailand. He works with a full production team of lighting technicians, stylists, make-up artists, and has access to foreign and local models.

While Marc has his own website showcasing his excellent photography, I chose a separate website that has a slideshow with his narration and a soundtrack. The slideshow (Soundslides) is titled Thai Life Through The Lens. There are a number of great frames in this feature. My favorite is one of two elderly rural Thai women laughing their heads off ...this photograph, among others, deserves a standing ovation.

Having said that, I found the narrative to have a 'canned' feel to it. Marc chose not to use a 'fade-in/fade-out' technique, which means that there are no smooth transitions between the narrative and the traditional music. Notwithstanding this shortcoming, I found the photographs to be inspiring.

Marc's slideshow Thai Life Though The Lens

Marc's website


This challenge is to reassure Sam from becksposhnosh that English food is well worth consuming and that we have 'proper puddings' that are reassuringly comforting.
In the Cotswolds way back in 1985 The Pudding Club was set up for pudding lovers and is still going strong today. The Club meets at
The Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton, Chipping Campden.
The Club's philosophy is 'A little bit of what you fancy does you good'. Wonderful words of wisdom.
All of the puddings are served with lashings of Bird's Custard and apparently they have got through hundreds of gallons of this!
I have made individual puddings, no doubt the Pudding Club would go for the large pudding option.


ISBN 0747220492 - Page 96

Serves: 4 to 6 people

Take 120g each of butter and caster sugar, cream until light and fluffy. Sift 120g self-raising flour and add this to the creamed mixture along with 2 beaten eggs, a little at a time, beating well. Put 2 tablespoons of golden syrup into the base of a buttered 1.1 litre pudding basin, and pour the sponge mixture over the syrup. Cover securely and steam for 2 hours. For the individual puddings use four greased 175ml pudding basins and steam for 45 minutes.
Serve with Syrup Sauce and custard.

Syrup Sauce - 1 dessertspoon cornflour, 150ml water, 2 tablespoons golden syrup, juice of ½ lemon.
Mix the cornflour with a little of the water, then add all the other ingredients. Heat in a small pan, stirring all the time, until the sauce thickens. Serve hot.

For further reading see English Puddings, Sweet & Savoury by Mary Norwak.

Barbecue Cooking

Well, we had our first barbecue last weekend, on a glorious sunny day. The husband chose the menu and of course, it had to be beefburgers, sausage and chicken. We went to the beautiful market town of Bridgnorth in Shropshire, where they have excellent butchers shops and market stalls selling top quality produce. After a short coffee break we then headed home to sort out the salads, vegetables and meat for barbecuing. Everything was fabulous.
Today the weather is again very sunny and so another barbecue is lined up. This time we have moved on, to something more adventurous. We are cooking several recipes from Barbecue by Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath. The rosemary peppered pork chops look enticing, along with chargrilled garlic potato slices, barbecued courgettes, onions and chargrilled bread with garlic parsley butter.
Also a pasta salad from Food Fast by Donna Hay.

Now what shall we have for dessert?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Angkor Photography Festival

From Celestial Apsaras-Image Copyright © 2006 Tewfic El-Sawy

The third Angkor Photography Festival will be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from November 18th to 28th.

For the program of exhibitions and slide-shows, the organizers are looking for stories about South and South-East Asia, China, India and Far-East Asia. Especially welcome are recent projects, but older or even historical series are not excluded. The work must be accompanied by a clear description of the project plus a short bio (120 words) and complete contact details of the photographer.

The deadline for submitting work is June 15, 2007. The selected photographers will receive an answer during the month of July. To submit your work and for further details, contact Francoise Callier .

Francoise also requested that I add the following information:

The Angkor Photography Festivalis organizing two free workshops for young Asian photographers (under 28 years old), and who must be based in Asia. To apply, send your photographs, a short biography and a text on your work to: Angkor Workshop

The website is: Angkor Photo Festival

EOS-1D Mark III vs 5D

I'm extremely satisfied with my Canon Mark II's performance and durability, but I'm considering investing in another camera body. After a few months of indecisiveness, I'm still faced with a difficult choice between the Canon 5D and the just-announced Canon Mark III. Sifting through the mumbo-jumbo tech sheets, I've distilled the important (to me) differences to the following, with the advantage of each camera over the other in yellow, disadvantage in red, and neutral in regular. Again, these are my personal opinions but may serve you as well.

Canon 5D:

Cost: $2800
Buffers: 17 RAW frames
FOV crop: 1.0
Size: 6.0x4.4x3
Weight: 845gm with battery
Durability: magnesium-alloy body but not sealed
Frame Rate: 3 fps
AF points: 9TTL
Sensor Size: 36x24mm
Megapixels: 12.8
LCD size: 2.5" TFT

Canon Mark III:

Cost: $4500
Buffers: 30RAW frames
FOV: 1.3
Size: 6.1x6.2x3.2
Weight: 1335gm with battery
Durability: magnesium-alloy body and sealed
Frame Rate: 10 fps
AF points: 45TTL
Sensor Size: 28.7x18.7mm
Megapixels: 10.1
LCD size: 1.8" TFT but with Live View

Perhaps it's a simplistic comparison, but for me it boils down as to whether the high frame rate and the higher buffer rate of the Mark III is worth the price premium of $1700. Sure, the remainder of each camera's tech data is relevant...but what is really important to me are these two. I'm neither fussed about FOV crop difference, nor by the megapixel differential as I rarely, if ever, blow up my photographs to 18 x 24 and beyond. And yes, it would be nice to have the Mark III whose controls are similar to my Mark II, but is this and the higher buffer/fps rate worth the $1700?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yannis Kontos: North Korea

Image Copyright © Yannis Kontos - All Rights Reserved

Yannis Kontos studied photography in Greece and received his MA degree in Photographic Journalism at the University of Westminster in London. He gained international recognition in the field of photojournalism and collaborated with the French-based Sygma and Gamma international agencies, and with the U.S.-based Polaris Images from its inception. Over the last decade, Kontos has covered the recent wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as all the major stories around the globe. He has received 19 awards to date, including first prizes in the World Press Photo Competition, LIFE magazine's Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards, Pictures of the Year, NPPA's "The Best of Photojournalism" and was twice awarded as European Press Photographer of the Year.

He traveled in North Korea as a tourist, photographing surreptitiously during his trip.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was created by the Soviet Union in 1945 after WWII when the defeated Japanese lost control of the Korean Peninsula. The new country stood opposed to the other new country, South Korea, backed by the United States: two states manufactured during the Cold War.

I found it to be an interesting photo gallery, principally because it opens a window onto a country that most of us don't know. However, I found its editorial introduction on Digital Journalist to be rather thoughtless, with unecessary political overtones. North Koreans have suffered greatly under the Japanese occupation, have suffered from the North-South split, and are still suffering enormous hardships...another proof that economic sanctions/blockades are never effective and lead to nothing but hardship for those who least deserve it.

The Digital Journalist's gallery of Kontos' North Korea images.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Fez: The Soul of Morocco

Image Copyright Ed Alcock for the New York Times - All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us an article and slideshow on Fez in Morocco.

I've visited Fez (or Fes) a few years ago, and was taken by its medieval atmosphere...I refer to Fez el-Bali (or old Fez, since there's a 'new' Fez which was built during the French occupation of Morocco). The medina of Fez consists of more than 9,000 streets and a million residents, constituting a challenge to the best GPS systems. I recall walking up and down the two main arteries; one called Talaat Kebira ("big climb") and Talaat Seghira ("small climb"), which are so narrow that I frequently had to hug the side walls to let donkeys or mules laden with goods pass me by. I watched a traditional procession including a young boy with a broad smile, dressed in a whie suit and perched on a stallion. When I asked what the procession was all about, I was told that the boy was on his way to be circumcised! So this article brings back wonderful memories.

The NYT article also reminded me that Fez is a center of Sufism and that " The nooks of the medina are filled with Sufi sanctuaries known as 'zaouias', where brotherhoods meet, worship and sing. What I didn't know was that the city was built in concentric circles; the smaller one in the center holds the religious places, a larger one holds the souks, then another for the residential areas, then the city walls, then gardens and cemeteries.

I found it very difficult to photograph people in Morocco, and Fez was no exception. It is considered impolite to photograph women in Islamic Morocco, but even men did not relish being photographed. Candid photography is the only option, and in the narrow confines of the Fessian alleys, it's a very difficult proposition. Despite wily street photography techniques, I still got irate tirades.

The Soul of Morocco (Registration may be required by the NYT).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dennis Cox: Asia

Image Copyright © Dennis Cox - All Rights Reserved

Dennis Cox is an award-winning travel and location photographer for magazines, books, corporate publications, and advertising. He managed to photograph on all seven continents and has specialized in photographing China since 1976. His photographs have appeared in an eclectic range of publications in numerous countries worldwide.

Dennis' travel photography is aimed at stock sales, and he markets his images through his own stock agencies, maintaining full control of his output. He won an incredibly long list of awards, including SATW's Travel Photographer of the Year for many years.

A true professional in every sense of the word, his gallery of photographs on the Detroit Focus (an artists' alliance) website shows his talent and creativity. His photographs are studies in perfectionism, and ingenuity...I've been to Burma's Inle Lake twice and never thought to photograph the fisherman through the net as Dennis did! There are other photographs in this gallery which I'd like to mention, and which highlight Dennis' versatility....the first is that of the two Buddhist novices (#22) in a temple in Xishuangbanna (Yunnan) and the other is of a novice (#24) holding an alms bowl at the Schwezigon Pagoda. Dennis chose a wide-angle and photographed from both cases, I would've photographed from eye-level. His viewpoint is much more effective. The one photograph which doesn't do it for me is the photograph of the Burmese woman behind a bunch of parasols.

Here's Dennis Cox's gallery on Detroit Focus.

Books: Philip Marsden

For Philip Marsden it was love at first sight with Ethiopia, and he returned to this magnificent country 20 years after his initial visit. He read everything there is on Ethiopian Christianity and shows his eagerness to touch its mystic core in his book, The Chains of Heaven (now in paperback).

A book reviewer in the Telegraph writes this: "His exhilarating, sometimes burlesque narrative introduces several fascinating characters, including Tekla Haymanot, the holy man of the 13th century, said to be descended from Zadok the priest, who "once prayed without interval for 20 years. During that time he did not sit down and his right leg rotted and fell off. His praying though was unaffected, and he carried on for another seven years on his left leg."

I was amazed by the intensity of faith in this African country when I attended the Timket celebrations in Lalibela and Gonder. The devotion and spirituality expressed by Ethiopians rivals any that I've seen in my travels to the well known centers of faith, be it in India's Varanasi, at Morocco's shrine of Moulay Idriss or at the Shwedagon Paya in Rangoon, to name but a few. The story about Tekla Haymanot above mirrors the many stories told and retold about legendary sadhus in India.

An eye-opener of a book, and darn good yarn. If you're interested in Ethiopia, that's a book for you.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Ajmal Naqshbandi

The photojournalism world is outraged and in deep mourning following the murder of Ajmal Naqshbandi by the Taleban in Afghanistan. He was killed by a Taleban group who claimed that the Afghan government had refused to meet its demands to release senior figures from prison. Ajmal was the local journalist, guide, translator and fixer for the Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo who was released after 5 Taleban members were freed in exchange. Their Afghan driver was beheaded last month.

The BBC correspondent in Kabul reports that there is outrage in Afghanistan that the government would bow to the Taleban's demands, and that it saved a foreigner but not an Afghan.

International efforts, including from photojournalism organizations, were exerted to free Mr Naqshabandi, but to no avail.

I had written a post titled POV: Fixers on the day of Mastrogiacomo's release, and expressed my opinion that local fixers were not accorded the care, attention and recognition that international photographers receive. It is perhaps worth revisiting.

A prominent photojournalist, Gary Knight, wrote that photojournalists are responsible for the well being of the people they hire to help.

There'll be no other posts on TTP today.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Beyond The Frame: Shadows In Thimpu

Image Copyright © 2006 Tewfic El-Sawy - All Rights Reserved

My recent posts on photographs with super saturated colors and dark shadows made me choose this one for this week's Beyond The Frame. It was taken at the Memorial Chorten in the Bhutanese capital of Bhutan.

The scene is at the small building at the side of the Chorten where three large prayer wheels are virtually in constant motion, rotated by the numerous pilgrims that arrive here. This Chorten was built in 1974 honoring the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, known as the father of modern Bhutan.  It is built in a typical Tibetan style, and is a center of worship for the people living in Thimphu.

The three prayer wheels represent the three protective bodhisattvas: Avalokiteshvara, symbol of the compassion, Manjjusri, symbol of knowledge and Vajrapani, symbol of the power. The rotation of the wheels is meant to send prayers to the heavens. The prayer wheels are near the entrance gate, and all pilgrims and visitors stop by before continuing to circumbulate the Chorten itself. The pilgrims are usually very intent on their ritual of pulling the prayer wheels, and it's a great spot for candid photography.

What attracted me to this scene is the combination of the colors; the yellow ochre of the walls, the turquoise blue of the hat, in the design on the wheels and on the sleeves on the man on the far right, and the diagonal swath of black shadows on the wall and prayer wheel which cuts into the scene. The larger photograph (click on the one above) shows stronger saturation and better color rendition.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

James Nachtwey: Talk

James Nachtwey talks on being a documentary photojournalist, and about the the power of documentary photojournalism. He shows his work and discusses the world events he photographed in a superb-quality 24-minute QuickTime video of his acceptance speech for the 2007 TED Prize.

Be takes time for the QuickTime to load in full.
Courtesy of Rob Galbraith's web site, here's the link.


Over the years I have always made a large Simnel cake, but this year I was tempted by the pretty mini Simnel cakes in the April 2007 issue of Delicious magazine.

Julia over at A Slice of Cherry Pie is hosting an Easter Cake Bake and these little cakes seemed perfect, with the pretty little flowers as decoration, especially as we are now surrounded by spring flowers.

175g butter, softened, 175g caster sugar, 3 medium eggs, 225g plain flour sifted, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp mixed spice, 350g luxury mixed dried fruit, 100g chopped walnuts or almonds, grated zest and juice of 1 orange, 100g natural almond paste, cubed.
For the decoration: icing sugar to dust, 325g natural almond paste, yellow and green food paste colour.

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3 and grease a 12 x 125ml muffin tin or mould. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs and flour until smooth. Add the baking powder, spice, fruit and nuts, orange zest and juice, mix well. Divide between the 12 muffins and push in the almond paste pieces. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and firm. Cool for 20 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.
2. Thinly roll out 250g almond paste. Press out 12 rounds with a 7cm plain cutter. Press on each cake and crimp the edges. Colour any remaining almond paste to make flowers and leaves.

Next time I make these I will alter them slightly by omitting the nuts and also only using 50g of cubed marzipan and not the 100g as in the recipe, this is because I found the ratio of marzipan to cake was too much.
These cakes are delicious and I will definitely make them again.

Carsten Bockermann: Mexico

Image Copyright © Carsten Bockermann - All Rights Reserved

Carsten Bockermann is a German photographer who specializes in photographing everyday life in different cultures around the world using a combination of direct reportage and visually interpretative style. He favors strong saturated colors in his photographs, and he seems to relish shadows and silhouettes.

I've chosen his portfolio of images from Mexico for this post, but he has equally strong galleries for Cuba, India and Mauritius to name but a few.

I particularly like this image of the shadow of the Mexican man against the super saturated red and textured white wall. Super vivid colors appear to Carsten's hallmark...and these juxtaposed with such a dark shadow is what makes this photograph just 'pop'. I don't know if Carsten meant it, but I see the Mexican flag in this photograph...maybe it's only me.

An excellent photographer, Carsten's Mexican gallery is found here.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Smithsonian Photo Contest

Borobudur - Image Copyright © Gregory Shaw

The Smithsonian Magazine has announced the finalists in each category of their photo contest: Americana, The Natural World, People, Altered Images, and Travel.

The winners will be announced in summer, but for now you can take a look at the finalists' submissions on its website. I didn't think that any of the photographs selected were outstanding, but I did like the one above.

The Smithsonian Photo Contest

Latitudes Magazine

This month's gorgeous Italian-made Latitudes magazine is now on-line. It has a wonderful article on India titled "See God In Every Face", with black & white photographs by Stefano Barozzi. There are also other photo essays/articles on the US Virgin Islands.

Have a look at Latitudes

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Chinese Tea Houses

Image Copyright © Chang W. Lee for the New York Times

Here's an interesting feature from the New York Times on a traditional Chinese teahouse called Tai Ji. The photographer is Chang W. Lee, a photographer with the NYT.

The slideshow is well put together, however it's a shame that it's only the last frame that has ambient sound. The rest of the slideshow is all narrative by the photographer, describing what is already obvious from the photographs.

Here's some background information: Chinese traditional teahouses are still very popular, and their history goes back to Imperial Times. The practice of tea drinking is said to have started as early as the period of Three Kingdoms (220-265 A.D). Though teahouses appeared later in the history, the particular customs followed in these institutions took shape over long periods of time. People pay special attention to the teapots, tea leaves and water.

In Northern China, the teahouse was originally a meeting place for gentlemen of leisure. They brought their pet birds along, savored their favorite teas, and passed the time of day. Drinking tea was a serious business for them. Music and dancing were not allowed in the ancient teahouses, nor was food. Later on, teahouses were favored by businessmen. Deals would be discussed and sealed in the neutral, relaxed surroundings of a teahouse, rather than in offices.

The tea served in the teahouses generally vary from green tea to black tea, along with local delicacies and deserts. One may come in the early morning and order a pot of tea, chat and enjoy the warm sunshine at the same time, until it closes in twilight.

Oh, Refills are also free of charge as long as the cup is left open. Try that at your local Starbucks!

Here's the Chinese Tea House feature. (You may need to resize the window).

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Bill Hocker: China

Image Copyright © 2006 William Hocker - All Rights Reserved

I consider Bill Hocker to be one of the quintessential travel photographers. An insatiable globetrotter, he traveled (and still does) all over the planet to satisfy his passion for photography and his interest in new cultures. He is not a professional photographer, but is passionate about his avocation and makes no bones about it.

His formal background is in architecture, and he joined the Peace Corps in the early seventies. He says "from the Peace Corps experience, both travel and photography became important creative interests that would punctuate 12 more years of frustration in the architectural profession."

His website is a no-frills experience, with a plethora of wonderful galleries of his photographs. At least 21 galleries are there, out of which I chose China as the one to showcase in this post. Because of his professional training, I expected Bill to specialize in architectural photography, but he is multi-faceted and offers us all types of photographic styles. I favor those of people, but then I'm always biased. Be sure to view the photographs in the larger format ( to do so, you need to click on one the icons above the photograph).

A real travel photographer by any standard, and an extremely witty writer to boot...I warmly welcome Bill Hocker to the pages of TTP, and encourage my readers to explore his website.

Bill Hocker's website

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Canon EOS-1D Mark III: Price

The Canon EOS-1D Mark III has a price tag of $4495 at B&H, and will be available in May. Here's the link.

POV: Photographers' Web Sites

Guatemala- Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy - All Rights Reserved

Since starting blogging on TTP, I've had to look at a lot of photographers’ web sites, and found that there were some that are excellent, some are good, and others that are just hideous.

The main objective of a website for most photographers is to promote their work, as well as to expand the reach of their photography to new clients, and certainly to internationalize their work. When I initially started my own websites, I never imagined that I'd get visits from China, or Belarus...and that's a good thing for all of us. However, photographers need to remember that simplicity is always best in creating websites. Whether photo editors or just casual viewers, simple websites with killer images are always best.

Many photographers' websites have flash galleries, which can be visual treats. However, when these cross into the realm of the fantastical design and navigational labyrinths that remind me of the cult game 'Myst', it becomes ridiculous. It is one thing to have an effective and beautiful website...and quite another to have a 'state-of-the-art' website that is too complicated to be effective as a marketing tool. Don’t waste people’s (especially buyers/editors) time with fancy technology and/or weird navigation, and keep it simple and efficient.

Photographers are encouraged to accept fancy websites by their web designers, who have massive egos as well, and want to showcase their technical prowess. But, the websites belong to the photographers, and must be created around the photographers' work, not vice versa. People will remember powerful images...not flashy websites. Another thing about flashy websites...they get stale quickly.

Having said that, I've seen photographers' websites that seem to have been built in the early nineties...low resolution images, clunky and ugly buttons, thumbnails that don't work, etc. So updating websites is a must. And since I'm on this subject; photographers need to update their copyright statements every year. Another thing: photographers are well advised to avoid free website hosting since these come with adverts, which clutter the web pages and do not exhibit a professional image...and finally, photographers ought to get their personal domain name.

Color is critical for photography websites. My recommendation is to keep it simple...not necessarily monochromatic, but one basic color for the background which serves as complementary backdrop to the images. I personally think that white, grey or anthracite, black are the best colors for backgrounds. Let's remember that it's not about colorful backgrounds but about photographs. Incidentally, I wish I knew how to code my web pages in a way that viewers could choose between 2-3 basic colors. I've seen blogs with this option available, and I'd like to use it for my web site.

The size of the photographs on the web site is also critical. I recently started to use 9x6 inches at the (unprintable) resolution of 72 dpi for my photographs. This size allows the viewers to look at the photographs without straining their eyes, and I think allows them to better appreciate the photographs. Some of my own galleries need updating to that size.

Depending on the subject matter, I occasionally add sound to my photo essays. The sound adds aural texture to the photographs, and is often of recordings made at the same time as the photographs. However, I fully agree with those who advocate that sound (or music) should start at the discretion of the viewers, and not automatically...although I think slideshows are expected to have some sort of soundtrack.

Monday, April 2, 2007

IHG & NGS: Photography Contest

Image Copyright © Dave Edwards

The Intercontinental Hotel Group and the National Geographic are sponsoring a travel photography contest, which calls for a single color photograph that captures the sense of a destination anywhere in the world. The rules say that the photograph should be compelling, and can be of any subject. The contest ends July 1, 2007. The grand prize is a two person trip to Australia.

As usual in this kind of photography contests, entrants must grant a non-exclusive, royalty-free license through the entire world and for the duration of intellectual property rights pertaining thereto, to use and reproduce, in whole or in part, without any number limitation, in any form, by any mean or process, or any medium, whether now known or hereafter existing, the photograph for editorial, commercial, advertising, promotional, publicity or trade purposes, including commercially using and exploiting it to fullest extent possible.

Professional photographers (of course, with the condition above) may not enter. The definition of a professional photographer by the sponsors are individuals who derive more than 10% of their annual gross income from the sale of photographs and/or provision of photographic services.

If any non-professional travel photographer is interested, here's the link. While I don't encourage anyone to give away their rights to their photographs, some may see the grand prize as adequate compensation.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Beyond The Frame: El Fotografo Habanero

El Fotografo Habanero- Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy

A few years ago, I experienced the pleasure of spending almost two weeks in Old Havana (or La Habana Vieja, as the locals call it) for a workshop designed to improve my then non-existing skills in street photography. The workshop was taught by the Magnum legend, Costas Manos, who immediately made me realize that a travel photographer does not necessarily make a street photographer.

Setting this possible truism aside, I haunted the streets of Old Havana and photographed virtually anything that fit, to my eyes at least, the street photography parameters that were given to me by Costas. Naturally, to find a scene in which the protagonists did not look at me (one of Costas strict directives) was somewhat difficult in Old Havana, where it's hard for tourists for blend in.

Notwithstanding, I persevered and got to a point where I generated acceptable street photography results. This one (though not a 'street' photograph) of the Habanero photographer was taken near the steps of the Gran Teatro de la Habana. The fellow had a tidy little business going, photographimg tourists with his antique pin-hole camera, dropping the 4 x 3 negatives in a bucket-full of some sort of unusual developer solution. He went along his business with a cigarette dangling from his lips, and a world-weary look on his face. I tried to engage him in my uneven Spanish, but he was wasn't interested in small talk. All he cared about was the $2 he charged me. I hope he's still there...fussing about with his camera and bucket.

I toned the image to approximate the vintage photographs which I saw in the windows of portrait photographers in Havana.