Friday, June 29, 2007

Short Hiatus

The Travel Photographer Blog will enjoy a brief respite from daily blogging....probably a week or so.

Frequent readers know that I'm leading a two-week photo-expedition to Bali starting July 15, so I'll be busy with its last minute arrangements, travel and will sneak in a few days of downtime.

See you soon!

Tewfic

Gilles Perrin: Tibet

Copyright © Zone Zero/Photography by Gilles Perrin

Gilles Perrin was born in Paris, and has a master in photography. Since 1972 he works as an author-photographer, specializing in large format photography (4x5" and 8x10"), and in panoramic and panoscopic cameras. He also works in commercial photography in the fields of still life, portraits, industrial reportage. He taught photography at Paris VIII University for over 20 years.

Gilles traveled to Tibet in 2004 and 2006. He tells us that he witnessed the impact of Chinese and western tourism in many ways, particularly with the introduction of the train Beijing-Lhasa, on the Tibetan culture. The Chinese colonization is evident in both cities and countryside, bringing with it the development of increasing transit infrastructure.

The traditional ways of Tibet so cherished in the western psyche will eventually die out. The economic and tourist exploitation of Tibet will obliterate its ancestral cultures, and will impose a new political and cultural order. These social, artistic and religious traditions will degenerate into folkloric shows organized for Chinese and “western foreigners”.

It is for these reasons that Gilles Perrin wanted to record the Tibetans' way of life before it disappeared altogether. For this series, he used a 4”x5” folding camera on a tripod and had his subjects pose for him. All photographs were taken at a low shutter speed (from one second to 1/8 of a second).

A remarkable and a timeless piece of work, the photographs of Tibet are part of an attractive flash-based slideshow produced by the incomparable Zone Zero.

Gilles Perrin's Tibet

NY Times: Bali

Image Copyright © Frank Pinckers for The New York Times

The New York Times decided to publish this mini-feature on Bali in a slideshow, presumably because it's currently high season for tourism. Quite a few photographers believe that the newspaper's weekly Travel Section is aimed at consumer photography, ie. how to take better vacation snaps of sunsets, etc. I don't go that far, since it also publishes wonderful incisive travel photo essays with remarkable work from first-class creative photographers...but I suppose features like this one are designed to sell space for travel ads.

Unfortunately, this feature on Bali doesn't qualify as anything much. The only reason I'm posting it here is to show what photography without soul and direction looks like. I can't blame the photographer at all...it seems that this is an editorial decision. This feature is aimed at individuals who join package tours, stay in luxury hotels and like shopping.

To each his own....

Bali

POV: Quick Tip

Popular Photography magazine (the web editions) usually has a plethora of reheated tips and techniques...but in light of my forthcoming Bali Photo Expedition, I though this one was both timely and relevant.

In the article Conquer the World (How to bring home pictures the way top travel photographers do), Jad Davenport writes:

"The greatest peril in travel photography is also the easiest to avoid -- the cliche. When asked adventure photographer Cory Rich how he freshens up familiar subjects, he said, "I shoot 360 degrees around my subjects, and then I hold the camera up overhead and shoot down. When I'm done with that, I lie on my back and shoot up at them."

Peter Guttman has another trick. I watched him set his battered Nikon on autofocus and self-timer, then clip it to a rickety tripod. He extended it out over the bow of the ship as it crunched through ice for a shot of the ship that only a puffin could take.


As I expect to photograph numerous religious festivals and celebrations in Bali, the "360 degrees" tip is very relevant. The frenetic activities at such events will surround me, and the most interesting action may not always be the one that's happening in front of me, but along the peripheries.

Susana Raab: Mongolia

Image Copyright © Susana Raab- All Rights Reserved

Susana Raab is a photojournalist based in Washington DC whose work regularly appears on the pages of the New York Times. Her work has received recognition from PDN, the Camera Club of New York, the White House News Association, the Ernst Haas/Golden Light Awards as well as the Sante Fe Center.

Her latest work, a feature on Aveiro (a village in Portugal) appeared on the pages of the New York Times, however having visited her website, I chose her feature on Mongolia. It's a mix of travel and editorial style photographs...as Susana chose not to add captions to her photographs, I can only guess that some of the latter images must have been made in orphanages and hospitals.

Susana Raab

LA Times: A Step Back In Time, Cuba

Gail Fisher for The Los Angeles Times-All Rights Reserved

Here's another multimedia feature from The Los Angeles Times. This one is on Cuba, and the photographs and narration are by Gail Fisher, who's the Senior Photo Editor for the newspaper.

Gail has spent the past twenty years of her career traveling extensively throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South and Central America covering social issues, and has won numerous awards.

I expected much more from such a renowned photographer/editor, but the feature verges on a 'ho-hum' collection of photographs of Cuba that any photographer without Gail's experience and access could have easily captured. A few photographs stand out (like the one above), but the large majority are pedestrian. Although Cuba receives over 2,000,000 tourists a year, only 40,000 are from the United States and are generally not tourists but journalists and human rights staff, so who is the target of this consumer-oriented travel feature...our Canadian neighbors?

As Gail says, Cuba has a legendary mystique which makes it a great tourist destination. Yes, we know and most of us want to go! As I wrote in an earlier post, how can anyone justify political isolation, impose economic sanctions and literally prevent its citizens to visit this enchanting island because of trumped up political ideology is beyond comprehension.

Here's Gail Fisher's A Step Back In Time, Cuba

Thursday, June 28, 2007

LA Times: Uganda

Francine Orr for The Los Angeles Times-All Times Reserved

I don't read The Los Angeles Times often, but it is rapidly joining the ranks of the daily newspapers that offer multimedia slideshows from top photojournalists on a variety of topics. This post features Horror In Uganda, a four part slideshow photographed and narrated by Francine Orr.

Francine is a photographer at the Los Angeles Times since 1999. She traveled and worked extensively in Asia and the Pacific, and in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Angola, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She has received numerous awards for her photography and writing.

Uganda has been home to some of the more gruesome atrocities in modern African history since its independence in 1962, particularly under Idi Amin, but since 1987 things have consistently improved. A major concern in the northern part of the country, is the Lord's Resistance Army, which although now appears to consist of less than two thousand combatants, the government has been unable to end the insurgency to date. The LRA have been known to kidnap children, and forced to become child soldiers, porters and sex slaves.

I found the last part of the series, The LRA's Victims, to have the most powerful and compelling, but disturbing, imagery.

Here's Francine Orr's Horror In Uganda

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

David duChemin: Kashmir

Image Copyright © David duChemin -All Rights Reserved

I chanced upon the glorious travel photography website of David duChemin, who has travelled and photographed in Russia, Peru, Ecuador, France, the U.K., Haiti, Ethiopia, DRC, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, India, Nepal, and across North America.

Specializing in travel photography and photographing children, the vulnerable and oppressed, David has a bachelor's degree in children and youth leadership and a lifetime of working with children and families in education, social work and recreational settings. A multiple award winner, he has photographed for a growing list of commercial and non-profit groups.

David's statement on his website says: "Anyone can take a picture of poverty; it's easy to focus on the dirt and hurt of the poor. It's much harder - and much more needful - to pry under that dirt and reveal the beauty and dignity of people that, but for their birth into a place and circumstance different from our own, are just like ourselves.

Have a look at David's Kashmir gallery, which I found to the best among his other excellent galleries.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What The Duck


Courtesy of What The Duck

Crusades?

Image Copyright Scott Nelson/World Picture Network, for the New York Times

From the New York Times' feature of today, Baquba's Deadly Houses

The caption reads:

During the operation, Specialist Paul Goodyear wore a headband bearing a passage from Psalm 91: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust."

This reminds me of the green headband with Qura'nic script worn by some of the Islamic fighters-insurgents as a religious talisman.

It also brings to mind what Georges Bush said on September 16, 2001:

"And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."

SnapVillage: Microstock

SnapVillage, empowered by Corbis, announced the beta opening of a fresh, interactive and innovative online marketplace for user-generated photography at www.snapvillage.com. The new website has no membership fees and is now accepting submissions from photographers anywhere in the world and offering image licensing in the United States.

SnapVillage’s pricing structure claims to give photographers greater control and flexibility in managing and maximizing their photography and income. "The SnapVillage ‘Pick Your Own Price’ model gives photographers the ability to set image price levels at five increments of $1, $5, $10, $25 and $50. Photographers are able to change prices on their pictures at any time. SnapVillage does not have any type of exclusivity agreements and pays a royalty rate of 30 percent across the board for all flat price image sales, and 30 cents a download on all subscriptions sales. All photographer payments are made via PayPal."

Working photographers will see this as further evidence that their livelihood is under threat.

For further details: SnapVillage

Aina Photo

From Aina Photo:

Aina Photo, the first Afghan photojournalism school, is currently is in the stage of creating a world class photo-agency for Afghan photojournalists to be presented in Perpignan festival in September.

Aina Photo is in need of assistance from the international community to help its Afghan photographers with image editing, caption and keyword correction. It would like to have the international volunteers work in Kabul. While it doesn't provide a salary or airfares, it will provide the volunteers accommodation and food for as long as they stay. In return, volunteers will get experience with a internationally recognised photo agency, and will have an opportunity to help out Afghan photojournalists.

Another option is to have volunteers work from home. Aina can provide them with access to its database and they can edit and correct from their own country. Since the current security situation and lack of financial support from Aina may lead some people to choose not to travel to Afghanistan that option may be favored by some.

Either way Aina Photo is in great need of assistance, so if anyone in the industry is interested in coming to Kabul to work at the school, or work some hours per week from their own country, please get in contact with Travis Beard Chief Editor at the earliest. The school wants to raise Afghan photojournalist up to international standards, but cannot do this without help from the global community.

If interested, contact: Travis Beard Chief Editor Aina Photo, Aina Media Centre Malik Asghar (Crossroads Next to Ministry of Economy), Kabul, Afghanistan.

Aina Photo

Monday, June 25, 2007

FISH AND CHIPS


Fish and chips are a popular takeaway food, particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings. I know a lot of people go to their local 'chippy' (fish and chip shop) and take them home wrapped up in paper.

The problem with doing this, is that by the time you get them home, the steam trapped inside the paper has done a splendid job of making the fish batter and chips soggy. Then to top it all they are lukewarm!

Do you put the fish and chip paper onto a plate and eat them with your fingers, or do you tip them out of the paper onto a plate and eat them with a knife and fork? Either way, I'll pass on that one thank you.

There's a time and place to eat fish and chips from the 'chippy', and that time for me, is either walking along the seafront, taking in the sea air, or sitting on the wall looking out to sea. The chips at the bottom of the paper are going slightly soggy from the wonderful, golden, crispy fish lying on top of the chips (mine have got salt and vinegar on!). This is my idea of fish and chip heaven.

Occasionally I make battered fish, chips and mushy peas (the recipe for the mushy peas belongs to Nigella Lawson and I have posted this below). Oh! and don't forget to serve them with good pickled onions and white bread and butter.


BATTER

This batter is wonderfully crisp and golden.

Makes enough batter mixture to coat four average size pieces of fish.

6 oz self-raising flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt.
(For a very crispy batter you can add 3 teaspoons of malt vinegar to the batter).

1. Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and pour in enough water to make a thick gloopy batter. Leave for 1 hour to rest.
2. Dry the fish well. Coat with seasoned flour. Dip into the gloopy batter.
3. Heat a deep fat fryer to 180°c and cook the fish on both sides until golden brown.

I always acknowledge the source of my recipes, but in this instance, I don't have a reference. The recipe came from a television programme, more years ago than I care to remember!

UPMARKET MUSHY PEAS

Nigella's original recipe for the peas (which includes a head of garlic and creme fraiche) is to go with roast cod for a more formal fish dinner.

I have adapted this recipe to go with the fish and chip dinner above.

HOW TO EAT - NIGELLA LAWSON

ISBN 0701165766 - PAGE 194

800g frozen petits pois, 100g butter.

1. Cook the peas for longer than you would do if you were eating them normally.
2. Drain, then tip into the bowl of a food processor, add the butter and process.
3. Place the peas back into the saucepan and reheat.

These mushy peas are a doddle to make and so why not give them a go?

Miami Herald: Latin American Hip Hop

Image Copyright © Noelle Theard-All Rights Reserved

The Miami Herald just produced a brilliant multimedia feature on the hip-hop culture in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The feature is part of a larger many-layered and equally brilliant feature titled A Rising Voice: Afro-Latin Americans which examines social and racial tensions in Nicaragua, Cuba, Honduras (just listen to the beat of the Garifuna music!), Dominican Republic and Brazil.

The Latin American Hip Hop feature is a Soundslides production, with the photographs of Noelle Theard, a Miami-based photojournalist, whose talented lenswork and great sense of color/movement allows us to enter the hip hop world in these Latin American countries. The able narration is by Alvaro Cuello who describes for us how hip-hop creates a cultural bond above race and social class.

A highly recommended multimedia feature, here's Miami Herald's Latin American Hip Hop.

Noelle Theard's website is here

Sunday, June 24, 2007

POV: Full Time vs Part Time

Much has been written and said on what constitutes a professional photographer (in contrast to an amateur). The common definition of a “professional photographer” is someone who makes most of his income from photography, be it sales of photographs in print or in digital form.

Although this definition may sound sensible, I disagree with it on many levels. For one thing, it's a minority of photographers (especially at this time of flux in the industry) who derive all or most of their income from the profession of photography. The majority have jobs or careers that pay for their photography. Another reason is that many people consider 'professional' and 'amateur' to be synonymous with 'serious photographer' and 'photographer for fun'. The former implies quality work, while the second doesn't...and is often not the case. I also abhor the term 'hobbyist' which I hear being used in Britain.

I much prefer the terms 'full time photographer' (or 'working photographer') and 'part time photographer' which are more precise definitions. The quality of the work also matters a lot, and we all have seen work by so-called 'pros' that doesn't hold a candle to what an 'amateur' produces. The advent of photo sharing websites such as Flickr proves this very point. The amount of top quality photography on Flickr is nothing short of astounding, and these images are not all generated by working photographers, but by part-timers.

One of the gripes that I hear from working photographers is that while many part timers are good enough to make income from their work, they either sell it at below market prices, or even give it out for free....and that destroys the photography market. The part timers, on the other hand, make the point that they need to publish their photographs at whatever price (or none) to get recognition....especially since they feel shut out by long established full time photographers who have the contacts, the marketing, the track record, etc.

It is a dilemma...and many full timers will disagree with this, but the part timers are justified provided they get paid something, whatever that is. Since I believe in free market forces, I accept that I may lose a sale because another photographer (whether a full timer or part timer or beginner) has similar imagery at a lower price.

Oh, and why did I choose this photograph of this elderly Rajasthani in Jaipur for this week's POV? Well, it was photographed about 9 years ago as I started to take photography seriously, and using a Canon Elan IIe and a cheap Canon zoom...the hallmarks of an "beginner". It sold for various travel catalogs and brochures, and that gave me the start I needed.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Alexandra Boulat

PDN reports that conflict photojournalist Alexandra Boulat (and member of the collective VII) suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and was in a medically induced coma Friday, according to her agency.

Alexandra, who was in Israel working on assignments, is being treated at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Frank Evers, managing director of VII, said those wishing to help should contact VII through its Los Angeles office: 920 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA, 90291, or (310) 452-3600. Additional contact information is on the VII web site. Evers said VII will collect money to help with Boulat's medical expenses.

She spent years throughout the 1990s covering ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia for Sipa. In 2001, she became one of the founding members of the VII cooperative. She has covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, and elsewhere. Alexandra was born in Paris in 1962 and is the daughter of Life staff photographer Pierre Boulat and Cosmos photo agency founder Annie Boulat.

May she recover quickly.

Update:( Information via Frank Evers): If anyone would like to help Alex and her family deal with the medical costs involved, contributions can be sent to VII Photo, 920 Abbott Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. Please make the check out to VII Photo with the words “Alex Boulat Fund” in the memo. Contributions can also be sent to us via paypal to frank@viiphoto.com (again, indicate that the money is for the Alex Boulat Fund).

MSNBC: Kingsley's Crossing

Courtesy MSNBC-All Rights Reserved

MSNBC bring us Kingsley's Crossing, a multimedia production featuring the desperate migration of a man from the Cameroon (Kingsely) to France. The photography is by Olivier Jobard, who eventually sponsored Kingsley's residence permit in France, and found him a job.

A sober and sensitive depiction of migration in contrast to our own media's (and politicians) histrionic convulsions about illegal immigration.

Watch it here

Friday, June 22, 2007

WNYC: Photographing Conflict

WNYC's The Leonard Lopate Show (well, a stand-in for Lopate) interviewed photographers Jonas Bendikson, Alec Soth and Magnum's director Mark Lubell. Although the interview is primarily aimed at a general audience, it's an interesting listen (click on small arrow on the left of the player).

Wendell Phillips: Xinjiang

Image Copyright © Wendell Phillips- All Rights Reserved

Wendell Phillips is based in Vancouver, and started his career as a staff news photographer in Manitoba, Canada. He was voted Canada's News Photographer of the Year in 1988. He documents environmental stories, social issues, international development images for numerous agencies that include United Nations Canadian International Development Agency and the Canadian Red Cross. His images have been featured by hundreds of publications and networks to include the South China Morning Post, McLean 's Magazine, Time magazine, Los Angeles Times, London Times, Toronto Star, Photo Life Magazine, National Post, Globe and Mail, and BBC World News.

He covered stories in war zones, and produced documentaries in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, Latin America and Europe. He also raised funds for human development agencies, food banks, HIV AIDS, Cancer research and women's shelters.

Although his portfolio on his website has numerous photographic gems (just take a look at his black & white portrait of Maria Famosa in the Cuba section), I chose his images from Xinjiang, China for this post.

Wendell's Xinjiang

American Photo: 2007 Best

If you're into this kind of thing, American Photo magazine just published its annual 2007 Editor's Choice of photograph's best new products. Utterly predictable and probably designed to 'play nice' with manufacturers (aka advertisers), you'll find everything but the kitchen sink in the exhaustive listing. I was amused when I saw that both Adobe's Lightroom 1.0 and Apple's Aperture 1.5 were listed.

Editors' Choice 2007

Thursday, June 21, 2007

NY Times: Steak Out In Paris

Ed Alcock for the New York Time-All Rights Reserved

This has little to do with travel photography, however I couldn't resist featuring it for many reasons. The first is that it's about the type of food I ate almost daily while I was growing up, the second is that it's narrated by Mark Bittman (more on him later), the third is that it's about Paris (one of my very favorite cities) and the fourth is that it's about brasseries and bistros (my favorite type of restaurants).

Mark Bittman is an interesting character...he's a celebrity cookbook author, appears on PBS and has a weekly culinary column in the New York Times, but what makes him unusual is that not only does he subscribe to the minimalist cookery school but he's as opinionated as they come....and that makes him interesting and a must-see on television.

His choices of the bistros in this piece are equally interesting...Le Severo, Chez Georges and Au Boeuf Courrone are traditional no-fuss eateries, and are quintessentially Parisian. These are the places I look for when I visit this eternal city.

The photographs are by Ed Alcock, a Paris-based photographer who shoots for the NY Times and The Guardian, who happens to hold a PhD in mathematics. That's interesting too.

An enjoyable multimedia slideshow, but I wish the producer (Emily Rueb) could've added a snippet or two of Parisian street singing, especially since the biopic movie of Edith Piaf is currently in theaters...that would've completed the circle nicely.

The New York Times' Steak Out In Paris

X-Drive: Free Storage

As most people, I'm always on the lookout for free but useful products such as X-Drive.com. It's an AOL-owned company that offers five gigabytes of free online storage. This can be useful for backing up files, images and movies. It can also be used to transfer large files to other people, and even has a feature that allows you to have slideshows backed with music.

You can check it out here

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scott Stulberg: Myanmar

Image Copyright © Scott Stulberg- All Rights Reserved

Scott Stulberg is a multi-faceted photographer, specializing in travel and editorial photography...along with a wide-ranging portfolio of other commercial disciplines. He teaches digital photography at the UCLA Extension in Los Angeles, and is represented by Corbis, Alamy and Superstock.

You'll find that Scott is generous with the number of his travel photographs on the Far Away Places gallery, and for once, I didn't skip a website's introductory flash movie which is just wonderful. I didn't like the movie's soundtrack (nor the fact that I wasn't able to turn it off except by muting my computer's speakers) but I found the images and the movie sequencing to be really excellent. Most of Scott's travel photographs in his Far Away Places gallery are of South East Asia (Myanmar, Angkor, Vietnam, etc) and also of Japan. Most of these photographs, as the one above of a young Burmese girl in Bagan (or Pagan)- seem to be posed, but some are spontaneous as well. They do not fall in the category of what I like to call "hard core travel documentary", but are quintessential travel photographs.

All in all, a delightful website from a promising and talented photographer.

Scott Stulberg

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Canon EOS-1D Mark III: Autofocus Problem?

Rob Galbraith analyses the Canon 1D Mark III autofocus capabilities and finds that, under certain conditions, it has a few problems.

Briefly, these are that the camera has difficulty acquiring focus initially in a multi-frame burst, it's sometimes unable to properly track a moving subject, focus can shift slightly but constantly at times when the subject isn't moving and tracking a subject that's moving somewhat erratically, and the camera is far too quick to shift focus elsewhere.

I always avoid buying the first batch of any electronic product, irrespective of the hype and the necessity, precisely because of teething problems. I hope these autofocus problems can be resolved quickly by Canon.

The full analysis can be found on Rob Galbraith's website

David Samuel Robbins: Himalaya Region

Image Copyright David Samuel Robbins-All Rights Reserved

David Samuel Robbins is a travel photographer based in Seattle, specializing in projects on indigenous cultures and adventure travel. He worked with major publications including the New York Times and National Geographic.

I share David's passion for the Himalaya regions, where he -as I do- worked as documentary photographer and photography tour leader. He has published a book 'Himalayan Odyssey", a culmination of many years of work and thousands of miles trekking in Tibet, Bhutan, India and Nepal. Since TTP is a non-commercial blog, I hesitated to feature his website since it publicises his book.

However, and although his website is primarily a commercial one, crafted to sell his book, it also features about 60 photographs of Nepal, Zanskar, Bhutan, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Mustang, etc. which are a treat to view. It's a real shame that his photographs are not much larger, but I guess he chose to show as many as possible.

Himalayan Odyssey

Monday, June 18, 2007

ORANGE POUND CAKE

Well - I don't think it's ever going to stop raining and this cake is just the thing to make for 'rainy day baking'.
The cake in the photograph looks very orange, but I promise you, it isn't food
colouring, I used only fresh orange juice.
Making this cake is a doddle, all the ingredients are mixed together for a couple of minutes in a bowl (easy!).
The butter cream is different from your usual creaming together of icing sugar and unsalted butter - there isn't any icing sugar in sight for this one. If you don't like butter cream, maybe you will enjoy this filling.

JAMES MARTIN COOKBOOK - THE GREAT BRITISH VILLAGE SHOW

ISBN 9781405320801 - PAGE 160

Serves 6-8

125g soft butter, 125g vanilla caster sugar, 125g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, grated zest of 1 large orange, juice of ½ large orange, 125g eggs (about 2 medium eggs), 1 rounded tbsp ground almonds (optional).

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C fan(170°C/Gas 3). Line the bottom and long sides of a 23cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
2. Put all the ingredients for the cake into a bowl and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and springy to touch.
3. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then take hold of the edges of the baking parchment and lift the cake onto a wire rack. Leave to cool.

BUTTER CREAM
125g granulated sugar, 3 tbsp orange juice, 2 egg yolks, beaten, 125g soft, unsalted butter.

1. Dissolve the sugar with the juice, then put a sugar thermometer in the pan and boil to 115°C or a fraction higher. Put the egg yolks in a bowl. Tip in the boiling syrup and beat vigorously with an electric mixer. Before the mixture is cold, add the soft butter and beat again until light, creamy and thickened. Chill in the fridge to firm up (this takes a while).
2. Cut the cake horizontally in half. Fill with the butter cream, keeping back a little to smooth on top (I found I didn't use all of the butter cream).

TO FINISH
A handful of flaked almonds, sifted icing sugar.
Scatter over the almonds and dust with icing sugar before serving.

This cake is definitely in my repertoire now, it not only looked fabulous, but tasted fabulous too.

SIMPLE SCONES


These scones are wonderfully soft and light textured. The unusual thing about this recipe is that you melt the butter, rather than rub the butter into the flour.
I love watching them through the oven door as they miraculously puff up and become golden!
Afternoon Tea has become popular again in hotels, and scones are one of the stars on the cake stand.
I was fortunate, on a recent trip to London, to have Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley, a real girlie treat. They were very accommodating too, with Nanna, Mummy, baby and pushchair in tow, and made us all very welcome (in fact, I think baby made their day!).

BILLS FOOD - BILL GRANGER

ISBN 174045085 - PAGE 94

Makes 8

310g plain flour, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 1½ tablespoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, 250ml milk, 30g butter, melted.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C(425°F/Gas 7). Sift the icing sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the melted butter and milk (you may not need all of the milk) and stir to combine. Knead quickly and lightly until smooth and then press out onto a floured surface.
2. Cut into rounds 5cm in diameter and 3cm deep and place them close together on a greased baking tray. Gather the scraps together, lightly knead again, then cut out more rounds.
3. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden.
4. Serve with jam and lightly whipped cream.

Yummy!

WP: Melting Glaciers Threaten Ganges

I have rarely seen an as badly-produced and photographed slideshow on a major national newspaper as Melting Glaciers Threaten Ganges. This one really takes gold for the worst I've seen so far.

The headline and lede were promising....I was interested to see what the editors of Camera Works at the Washington Post would offer on how the Ganges River, fed primarily by a receding glacier, could be the first place where global warming threatens religious ritual. I expected wonderful photographs of the Gangortri glacier and of the pilgrims who walk to heights of 11,000 feet to visit its source...but no, what I got was dull, lifeless 6 photographs of the banks of Varanasi. I could find infinitely more professional and powerful photographs on Flickr.

The Washington Post's Camera Works people really dropped the ball on this one, but if you're interested to see it, here's the slideshow. To add insult to injury, I had to endure a few seconds of a silly ad before the feature. If you're not interested in learning from the mistakes of others, do give this one a pass.

So that this post is not a total waste of time, here's some brief information: The Ganges originates in the Himalayas at the confluence of five headstreams – the Bhagirathi, Mandakini, Alaknanda, Dhauliganga, and Pindar at Devaprayag in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Out of the five, the Bhagirathi is held to be the source stream originating at the Gangotri Glacier at an elevation of 7,756 m (25,446 ft). The streams are fed by melting snow and ice from glaciers including glaciers from peaks surrounding it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Beyond The Frame: Bali Matriarch

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy- All Rights Reserved

I'm not exactly sure why, but I like this photograph a lot. It was taken near Canggu in Bali of an elderly woman walking to her house among the lush vegetation of her family's garden. In common with other Asian nationalities, Balinese families have considerable respect and affection for their elderly. Grandparents are cared for by their extended families, and this woman lives either with or near her children and grandchildren.

Traditional Balinese family compounds have a system of design that is in accordance with adat (traditional law and custom), and it is the norm to have three generations living together in one compound. Moreoever, the alignment of the 4-5 separate buildings and shrines within the family compound must follow strict rules involving the direction of Gunung Agung, the largest peak (the most sacred place on the island) and the ocean. Priests as well as master builders are consulted to pick the correct positions of each of these buildings....almost like feng shui.

For more photographs of Bali, check out my new multimedia gallery Bali: Odalans & Melastis....and details of my forthcoming Bali photo expedition.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

One Shot: Claude Renault

Image Copyright Claude Renault-All Rights Reserved

Claude Renault is a photographer originally hailing from Brittany (Bretagne) in France, and is now making Iceland his domicile. Incredibly "Indiaphile", he travels regularly to India, and based on what I've seen of his immense collection of photographs, has traversed the Indian subcontinent many times and in all and every directions.

He avoids mainstream India and its tourist circuits, but is seduced by the people of India...the regular people, the village and small town cultures. He followed the flow of India's many sacred rivers, from the sources of such rivers to the sea, immersing himself in the rituals along the Ganges, the Yamuna, the Narmada and the Cauvery. Inspired by the Gauguin and Vuillard, he uses India's commonplace to create potent scenes of humanity.

Claude tells us that he's not religious nor spiritual, but is fascinated by Hinduism covering every facet of life in India. I know precisely what he means by this statement, as I feel the same way....perhaps not about Hindusim per se, but about India's inherent spirituality which I've witnessed so personally during the Hindu pilgrimage of the Kumbh Mela, on the banks of Varanasi and Rishikesh, in the Sufi dargahs of Delhi and Ajmer and in the Buddhist enclaves of Dharmasala and Sikkim.

From his immense gallery of photographs, I chose this one of a woman giving water to a beggar. The photograph was made in the village of Badami in Karnataka. Claude says that the woman had fed the beggar before giving him water. A way of life in India. (Click on the photograph for a better resolution).

Claude's website/blog

Soundslides Plus: Out of Beta

The public beta period for Soundslides Plus has ended today, and its official release version is now available from its website for$69.95. This version offers new features to include the Ken Burns effect (ie )pan-and-zoom, individual transitions for each photograph, thumbnail menus, the ability of producing slideshows without audio...as well as all the features of the original Soundslides (which will still be available for $39.95). To upgrade from Soundslides to the new Soundslides Plus will cost you US$30.

I've tested Soundslides Plus in its free beta version, and found it to be a nice upgrade. What interest me most is its new feature to produce slideshows without audio. The remaining features are nice but are not terribly important to me. I fear that many users will overdo the Ken Burns effect in their Soundslides Plus slideshows, as it's easy to get heavy handed with this neat effect...so I'm bracing for the endless pan and zooms.

Soundslides

Friday, June 15, 2007

Angkor Photography Festival: Update

The Angkor Photography Festival is looking for more photojournalistic series about : Philippines, Sri lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Burma, Vietnam and Nepal. The deadline for submission is June 30st. You can find the requirements for submission on its website

What The Duck


Courtesy of What The Duck

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Travis Fox: China

Image Courtesy of The Washington Post

Travis Fox, the prolific videojournalist for the Washington Post , has produced another stunner for its website. He is an Emmy Award-winning video producer, and assignments have taken him to the war in Iraq and across the Middle East, Europe and Asia. His distinctive web video and panoramic photos are considered innovative in the field of Internet journalism

His latest production examines the redefinition of China's family, and how its staggering growth overshadows subtle shifts in Chinese society.

Redefining China's Family

NY Times: Mekong Fishermen

Image Copyright © Suthep Kristsanavarin-OnAsia-All Rights Reserved


The New York Times Travel editors have been busy this past week, and now bring us a photo slideshow of the Lao fishermen who work on the Mekong River as it flows into Cambodia.

The area is called Si Phan Don, and its largest island is Don Khong. I visited the area, and saw Khone Phapheng which is considered the largest waterfall (by volume) in Southeast Asia. The area is also home to the rare Irrawaddy dolphins, which can be seen at the southern tip of the island. There are many comfortable (but simple) lodgings available on the banks of the river, so spend some time there if Laos is on your itinerary. Time moves very slowly in Don Khong and it's an idyllic place.

I am surprised that Suthep of the OnAsia photo agency decided to use flash in so many of the photographs. I recall the light to be exquisite in the early morning and late afternoon...more like the golden light seen in the photograph above.

Fishermen of the Mekong (Registration may be required)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

M8 Leica Test Drive (UK Only)

According to a UK-based photo magazine, Leica is offering photographers across the British Isles the chance to test drive its M8 model, the company's first digital rangefinder. Until 30th September, participating stores will offer a three-hour test drive for the price of £45. Any fee paid is redeemable against purchases of the model – so long as they fall within three months of the test drive – with current M system owners entitled to a free trial. 

UK resident photographers really get no breaks...whether through this "offer" or through the exorbitant prices of cameras and accessories in the UK....add to this the dollar/sterling exchange rate....and it's even worse.

In my view, to pay the equivalent of $90 for a 3 hours test drive is absurd. Anyone can walk in B&H or Adorama here in NYC, ask to see the M8 and test it right there for as long as they want...or as long as the vendor's patience allows.

NY Times: Venezuela's Devil Dancers

Michael Stravato for The New York Times-All Rights Reserved

An interesting, but predictably produced, multimedia feature has just been published in the New York Times. It covers (rather superficially) an Afro-Venezuelan tradition in parishes near Venezuela’s Caribbean coast which has been practiced since the late 18th century. The tradition of the “Dancing Devils” has received support from President Hugo Ch├ívez’s government as it seeks to raise awareness about Venezuelan folklore and promote new forms of tourism.

In a small town south of Caracas called Yare, on the Roman Catholic feast day of Corpus Christi, the "devils" dance around the main plaza before resting at the entrance to the whitewashed church. After morning Mass, they succumb in an act of submission before the Eucharist, the representation of the body and blood of Christ in wafer and wine, before dancing throughout the town with stops for prayer at dozens of altars.

I liked the audio, but felt the photographs could've have focused much more on the dancers. I leave it to TTP readers to decide which is a better multimedia production: this one of Venezuela Dances to Devilish Beats or mine of the Dancing Monks of Prakhar. I know which is better.

Here's the background article by Simon Romero. (Registration may be required for The New York Times' features).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Andrea Bruce: Widows of Varanasi

Image Copyright © Andrea Bruce-All Rights Reserved

Andrea Bruce is a Washington Post photographer, who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has won innumerable awards, and was nominated for a Pulitzer prize as well as being chronicled by NPR, and appearing on PBS NewsHour.

For TTP, I chose her superlative work on the Widows of Varanasi...a subject matter after my own heart with my own work in Vrindavan and Varanasi. Her gallery is, unfortunately, too short...only 8 black & white photographs, but each is a piece of art. The one I chose for this post is absolutely breathtaking...the image of this skeletal widow drinking from the Ganges, the source of life for Hindus is one the best I've seen...its luminosity and its composition are just perfect.

I'm also providing a link to Andrea's piece on the widows which appeared in the Washington Post. These images are in color, but I found their black & white versions to be much more effective to impart the poignancy of the subject matter...inexplicably, my favorite one is absent from the color gallery.

I've photographed such widows in Varanasi in ashrams...living in penury and on charity and donations, waiting for the liberation of death. Little has affected me as much as the sadness of these lonely elderly women discarded from their families, and left to their solitude.

Andrea Bruce's website is here

The Washington Post featured Andrea's photographs (the color version) of the Widows of Varanasi in October 2005. You can see it here .

Digital Picture Converter?

This hard gear post is topical in a way because I've been busy scanning all my transparencies during the past 4 months or so, saving the resultant TIFFs on my LaCie drives, and burning copies unto DVDs. I'm justifiably sick of scanners, of scanning and have had my fill of digitizing.

While I used my reliable Canonscan to scan these slides, I was intrigued by a recent "no name" device which claims to easily convert old 35mm slides and film negatives into digital images. Slides and negatives are placed into a tray that aligns each properly; the touch of a button scans the image instantly. It has a 5MP CMOS sensor that provides 10 bits per color channel for data conversion, and uses fixed focus and automatic exposure control and color balance, resulting in clear digital images without loss of resolution. It can scan images up to 1829 dpi and uses three white LEDs as a back light source. It has a USB cable that plugs into a computer for photo transfers and power.

It sells for less than $100 and might be a viable answer to photographers who decide that it's time to digitize slides or negatives. I suspect that it's painfully slow (I don't buy the 'instantly' in its description) and that its 1829 dpi scans will not satisfy professional or advanced enthusiast. However for less demanding others, this device -which is called a digital picture converter- might be ideal. Why it's not called a scanner? I have no idea.

If it sounds interesting, click here

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dagmar Schwelle: Istanbul

Image Copyright © Dagmar Schwelle _ All Rights Reserved

Dagmar Schwelle is an Austrian photographer/photojournalist currently based in Germany. She recently produced her first multimedia gallery of her photographs of the wonderful city of Istanbul, entitled 'Metropolis-In Between'. Her interesting photographs are essentially of Istanbul's street life...some hint at the 'in-between' or the dichotmy of Istanbul. From these, I chose the above photograph taken on one of the city's public ferries. By the way, I admire any photographer who has the guts of beheading anyone like that!

Dagmar's multimedia gallery Istanbul

Sunday, June 10, 2007

POV: Better Travel Photography

Cambodia-Image Copyright ©Tewfic El-Sawy

I don't know the photographer Dale Neill, but I read his interview on an Australian website and most of his quotes are just spot on. Here's a couple that I wholeheartedly agree with:

"I have some grimacing stories of people who've spent 20 or 30 thousand dollars on their holiday, $10,000 on their camera and come back with a big, fat zero." and also this one, "The essential ingredient is, you have to befriend your subject."

The first quote reminds me of a photograph I've seen in the Times of London some years ago of a large gaggle of American (according to its caption) tourists clustered together, aiming their expensive digital cameras at a hapless solitary camel trader in Pushkar. A rather frightening spectacle from the camel trader's viewpoint, especially taking into consideration the number of gigantic telephoto zooms aimed straight at him.

The second quote also reminds me of this photograph, since it was quite clear from the tourists' body languages and the camel trader's facial expression that there was no relationship...no connection between the two...it was more of the "hey, here's a camel trader...let's photograph!"...the camel trader was the quarry, the prey, the "shot".

Perhaps basic, but the suggestions made by Dale are worth remembering when we're out in the field, photographing people of a different culture. On my solo photo travels, I always engage my subjects before and after I photograph them...well, maybe not always as in 100% of the time, but certainly 95%. The remaining 5% are either too far, busy doing something more important than talking to me, or I'm in the midst of a crowd, etc. When leading my photo expeditions to India and South East Asia, I noticed that most of the participating members generally make the effort of 'connecting' with whoever they photograph...but a few don't or can't. Invariably, those who do connect have much better photographs...realte better to these photographs...and also have better memories.

Here's the whole article (Courtesy Imaging Insider).

Latitudes Magazine

This month's gorgeous Italian-made Latitudes magazine is now on-line. It's Flash-based and emulates a real magazine with pages...and an accompanying audio. This month's issue has an photogenic article on Mongolia titled "Where Gengis Khan Roamed", with color photographs by Frederico Klausner.

Here's this month's issue of Latitudes

Kloie Picot: Exhibition


I've already written about Kloie Picot, a Canadian photojournalist and filmmaker specializing in documenting conflicts, critical social issues, cultural events and religious rituals from around the world, in this post. She has now compiled a collection of her photographs into an exhibition which she titled "In Conflict And In Crisis, Where Do The Children Play?".

The exhibition will be held on 12-30 August, 2007 at the Medicine Hat Cultural Centre, 299 College Drive SE, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada (403-502-8580).

Kloie's website is here

Saturday, June 9, 2007

NY Times: What's A Great Travel Picture?

Thomas Munita for The New York Times-All Rights Reserved

Michele McNally, assistant managing editor for photography at The Times, describes what she thinks makes a great travel picture, in a slideshow of photographs from the Travel section archives.

The above luminous photograph is by Thoma Munita of the cenotaphs in Orchha, India.

Here's What Makes A Great Travel Picture (Registration may be required)

Jehad Nga: Silk Road

Jehad Nga for The New York Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times features an audio slideshow by Jehad Nga, one of my favorite photographers. However, I found his photographs of Tajikistan, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan in this feature did not have his wonderful characteristic style; his use of shadows and dark spaces (as in his masterful work out of Ethiopia, for example) is not in evidence here.

As we know, the Silk Road is the popular name for a system of caravan trade routes that dates back more than 2,000 years, an important economic artery that stretched roughly 7,000 miles, from the Mediterranean to China’s Yellow River Valley. Earlier this year, Jehad Nga, on assignment for the New York Times' Travel section, spent three weeks retracing part of the historic route in central Asia, driving from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

I expected Nga's photographic mastery in this slideshow, so I was rather disappointed by the photographs in the Silk Road: Ancient Road, Timeless Trip feature as they are shot in a basic photojournalistic style. Notwithstanding, I enjoyed it because of Nga's calm and sensitive narration....but after it was done, I admit I had to go back to my earlier posts here and here to re-savor his images of Ethiopia and Africa.

The New York Times' Silk Road slideshow. (Registration may be required by New York Times).

Hogan's Compact Camera!

Image Copyright Thom Hogan-All Rights Reserved

Thom Hogan is a well known and respected figure among the photographic community, and a virtual legend to Nikon owners all over the world for his knowledge, and extensive reviews of anything and everything Nikon.

Here's a gem of an article he just wrote bemoaning the absence of decent compact digital cameras, and putting forth specifications needed in such cameras. I hope camera companies listen!

I've been studying every compact digital camera there is....tempted by the Leica models (too expensive), confused by Panasonic (is it a Leica or not?), repulsed by the latest Canon offering (no RAW),...etc. so what Thom says resonates with me, and will resonate with anyone with the same predicament: what compact digital camera can be a decent backup to a pro SLR system?

Here's the article on compact cameras from Thom Hogan's website.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Canon EOS-1D Mark III: Shock & Awe

The Canon-1D Mark III's burst mode is nothing short of phenomenal. What you are about to see (courtesy of TheDigitalPicture.com) is a series of Canon EOS 1D Mark III Digital SLR 10 frame-per-second shot bursts used to animate a JPG image. There are 86 images (3.24 MB) that must load before the playback becomes smooth. So wait for it to load.

Just phenomenal!

Here's the link.

Sara Heinrich: Myanmar

Image Copyright © Sara Heinrich - All Rights Reserved

Sara Heinrich's website is a commercial one through which, not only showcases her work, but also sells her photographic services (wedding, etc) and her photographs of Myanmar, or Burma.

She doesn't divulge much of her background on the website's biography section, and although she might not describe herself as being a travel photographer, her photographs of Myanmar are certainly worth featuring on TTP.

While many of the photographs are of Burmese children with thanaka on their tiny faces, there are others of landscapes, of Buddhist monks and of Bagan temples. The clarity of Sara's photographs is such that it's almost as if I am seeing the real thing rather than a photograph.

I don't really like galleries with both black & white and color photographs, but that's a personal view and some of Sara's B&W photographs are really good. I chose this color photograph of novices in Bagan. It must have been posed because of all the candles, but the contrasting expressions of the two novices are wonderfully natural and spontaneous. A talented and very capable photographer, perhaps Sara will continue her travel photography work. I certainly hope so.

Sara's gallery of Myanmar is here.

NY Times: John McDermott

Image Copyright © John McDermott-Courtesy New York Times

The New York Times' Cultured Traveller will publish an article on June 10 on John McDermott's photographic artistry. McDermott is known as the Angkor Wat photographer, because his iconic photographs have now become the definitive images of the temples.

While I already posted about McDermott's infrared artistry and his remarkable photographs on TTP (post), the NYT article provides more information and also predicts that, in a few years, we will be able to admire McDermott's photographs of Myanmar, as he has turned his camera to this enigmatic country's temples and tribal areas.

New York Times' article (registration may be required)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

One Shot: Penni Webb

Image Copyright © Penni Webb - All Rights Reserved

Penni is a photographer, photo stylist, photography teacher, and finds the time to run a business as an interior designer and as an organizer for businesses in San Francisco. She received Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona and worked on my Master’s degree in Photography at the city's Art Institute. She created etchings and monotypes at the Kala Institute in Berkeley, and her work traveled to several museums and art centers in Colorado and Arizona. She was the artist in residence at Magnolia Editions (Oakland) where she worked on lithographs from her own photographs.

Her Beauty of Aging series were taken on her travels. The collection is a look at old building, walls, cottages, windows, gates, and other structures from the past that still carry a sense of elegance from the effects of time and weather. She hand paints her photographs like the artists of the early 19th century. Describing her work, she says "Painting creates another dimension for the photograph, and the final result is a unique fusion of fact and fantasy, the world as it is and as it is imagined. I have worked on this series for a number of years, and it is a reflection of my own feelings about aging, a transition that can be beautiful."

Penni also worked as a mentor for “Bridges to Understanding” on the Navajo Reservation (Northern Arizona), in Ollantaytambo (Peru), and in Dharmasala (India) teaching children digital photography, a project for the Smithsonian and other American museums. In fall 2006, she joined me on my Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon photo expedition, photographing the culture and people.

Her hand painted image of a novice monk darting into his monastery was photographed at Wangdichholing Palace (converted to a monastery) near the town of Jakar. It was built in 1857 as the principal residence of Bhutan's first king and was used by the second and third, but it is now used a Buddhist school.

Here are Penni Webb's: The Beauty of Aging and Penni Webb Design websites.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Operation Azra



Operation AZRA banner


Photojournalists from prestigious organizations such as National Geographic, German GEO, the photo agency VII, TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times and more, are donating iconic works in an Exhibition and Online Print Auction to benefit victims of acid burning in Pakistan.

Stephanie Sinclair, a photojournalist, is behind the effort and says "Azra Latif, a Pakistani girl I met who was severely disfigured when her brother-in-law threw acid on her face during an argument. We are trying to raise money to pay for her and her husband’s transportation costs and three months of housing and living expenses in France, where she will receive several surgeries to help repair her significant injuries."

When Stephanie first asked to photograph her, Azra agreed but also said, “Everyone photographs me but no one helps.” Here is your chance to literally change a woman’s life while also owning some of the most compelling photojournalism of the modern era, so click on the photo to visit the Operation Azra website, and please donate what you can.

GOATS' CHEESE, PINENUT AND CHERRY TOMATO TARTS



Meeta over at 'What's for lunch, Honey?' is hosting 'Big Birthday Bang'. When I took a peek at her site to see what everyone else was taking, I thought maybe something on the light side would be a good idea.

The wonderful thing about this particular dish, is that it is light and tasty, and what's more you will have plenty of room left to sample something that everyone else has made. Crafty me!

This is my type of recipe where you can go to the fridge, freezer and store cupboard and have all the ingredients to hand, and then pop outside the kitchen door and pick some herbs.

My favourite ingredients make up this tart, goat's cheese, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and thyme. I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I do.

FAB FAST FOOD


ISBN 0600604683 - PAGE 36

SERVES: - 4 people (or mostly 2 I'm afraid to say!)

4 filo pastry sheets, each about 25cm square, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 20 cherry tomatoes, halved, 200g firm goat's cheese, cut into 1cm cubes, 20g pine nuts, 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper, rocket or spinach, to serve.

1. Lightly grease 4 individual tartlet tins, each about 10 cm in diameter. Brush a sheet of filo pastry with a little olive oil. Cut in half, then across into 4 equal-sized squares and use these to line one of the tins. Repeat with the remaining pastry. Brush any remaining oil over the pastry in the tins.
2. Place 5 tomato halves in the bottom of each tartlet. Top with the cheese, then add the remaining tomato halves and pine nuts. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves and season well.
3. Bake the tartlets in a preheated oven, 200°C(400°F) Gas Mark 6, for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve hot with a leafy green salad.