Wednesday, October 31, 2007

PASTA WITH SPINACH AND CHERRY TOMATOES


I think it's a while now since I posted something that can be cooked quickly. Well I'm making up for it now with this pasta dish that can be rustled up in about 20 minutes.
If only pasta will do, time is short, you need to feed the children plus yourselves with something that is nutritious, filling and colourful then this ticks all of the boxes.
In an ideal world you would need warm sunshine, colourful garden, table and chairs and eat this outside in a large pasta bowl - but Autumn has arrived. This recipe is guaranteed to brighten up a grey day and the good thing is you haven't had to slave over a hot stove!

This is a slightly adapted recipe:

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING - THE COOK'S CLASSIC COMPANION

ISBN 009186366 - Page 291

Serves: 4

400g dried pasta, such as orecchiette or shells, salt and pepper, 45ml olive oil, 2tbsp pine nuts (obviously omit this for very small children), 450g very ripe cherry tomatoes, different coloured ones would be good(halved), 75g spinach or rocket leaves, 50g Parmesan cheese, freshly pared (to serve).

1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente.
2. A few minutes before the pasta will be ready, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan. Add the pine nuts and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for barely 1 minute until only just heated through, not disintegrated. (Although I cook mine until they start to break down a little).
3. Save a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta thoroughly and toss with the remaining olive oil. Add the pasta to the tomatoes, then add the rocket. Carefully stir to mix and heat through. If the pan ingredients seem a little dry add some of the pasta water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve immediately topped with plenty of Parmesan shavings.

G M B Akash: Gordon Parks Center

Image Copyright © G M B Akash-All Rights Reserved

I was pleased to learn that G M B Akash has won first place in the 2007 Gordon Parks International Photo Competition with the above remarkable photograph of a young girl on a train in Bangladesh. Akash tells us that because of Bangladesh’s large population, inadequate number of seats on trains, and inherent poverty, many people are stowaways. This often results in terrible accidents.

I've posted about Akash's photographic talents on TTP here, where in contrast to other mindless agenda-driven blogs, I chose to adopt a less venomous approach to his photograph of a chained Muslim child in a Bangladeshi madrasa.

The Gordon Parks International Photo Competition has been conducted by Fort Scott Community College since 1990. More than 3,100 individuals from around the world have participated in this annual program that, inspired by the photography of Gordon Parks, reflects important themes in life such as social injustice, the suffering of others, and family values.

G M B Akash's Website

Gordon Parks Center's Contest Results

Michael Robinson Chavez: India

Image Copyright © Chris Ramirez -All Rights Reserved

Michael Robinson Chavez is a staff photographer at the the Los Angeles Times after many years at the Washington Post and Boston Globe. In addition to domestic stories, he covered wide-ranging international assignments in over 45 countries. He was twice named Photographer of the Year (in 2004 and 2007) by the White House News Photographers' Association, and his work has been exhibited in his native California, the Visa Pour l'Image festival in southern France, Washington DC's Corcoran Gallery, and many other galleries around the world.

I chose Michael's remarkable work on the Jain festival of Mahamasthakabhisheka. This is an important Jain festival held once every 12 years in the town of Shravanabelagola (between Mysore and Bangalore) in Karnataka state, India. The festival is held in veneration of an immense 18 meter high statue of the Bhagwan (or Saint) Gomateshwara Bahubali. The anointing last took place in February 2006 where at least 1.2 million Jains attended, and the next ceremony will occur in 2018. I visited the sacred site, however it wasn't at the time of the festival.

As the Mahamasthakabhisheka begins, consecrated water is sprinkled onto the participants by devotees carrying 1008 specially prepared vessels. The statue is then bathed and anointed with libations such as milk, sugarcane juice, and saffron paste, and sprinkled with powders of sandalwood, turmeric, and vermilion. Offerings are made of petals, gold and silver coins, and precious stones. Most recently, the ceremony's finale has included an enormous shower of flowers from a waiting helicopter.

In my view, the above photograph perfectly illustrates the devotional submission by this Jain pilgrim to the saint. Incidentally, the Jain pilgrim is a Digambar or sky-clad...who wear no clothes following the practice of the Jain saint Mahavira. The Digambar believe that this practice represents a refusal to give in to the body's demands for comfort and private property. Digambara ascetics have only two possessions: a peacock feather broom and a water gourd.

Michael Robinson Chavez's India Gallery

NYC: No Photography Permits!

Image Copyright ©Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

New York City has now given up on its ill-thought out attempt to to rein in street photographers, videographers, and independent filmmakers by dropping regulations that would have regulated capturing public images of the city. New York will now allow photographers and filmmakers to operate without a permit as long as they don't prevent use of public spaces or obstruct more than half of pedestrian walkways.

The original (ludicrous) permit plan called for a required $1 million insurance bond for photographers who planned on using a tripod in a single spot for 30 minutes, or ten minutes if filming involved five people or more.

So back to the streets...and photograph away! The weather in New York City is forecasted to be beautiful for a few days...so what are we waiting for?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mirjam Evers: Global Beat

Image Copyright © Mirjam Evers-All Rights Reserved

Based in New York City, Mirjam Evers is a Dutch freelance photographer specializing in environmental portraits, travel, documentary and adventure photography. During the course of her career she traveled to over 50 countries capturing the diversity of people and cultures in some of the most exotic places in the world.

Her photographs were published in American Photo Magazine, Popular Photography Magazine, Hamptons Magazine, Photographer's Forum "Best of Photography Annual" and International Expeditions. Her corporate clients include Epson and Visa Card.

I chose Mirjam's Global Beat gallery on her website, but do explore her other galleries as well. Her portraits in the Global Beat gallery are luminous...her portrait photograph of an Egyptian man above is exactly that....radiant, but I think that using Lensbabies on close up portraits -as Mirjam did in some samples- is somewhat disconcerting...maybe I'm old-fashioned.

Mirjam Evers' Global Beat Gallery

Chris Ramirez: Trinidad

Image Copyright © Chris Ramirez -All Rights Reserved

Chris Ramirez is a New York-based photographer whose pictures are seen on the pages of The New York Times, most notably the Travel section where Chris has done over 15 cover stories in the past 5 years. He has traveled extensively, from the northernmost points in United States to Europe and throughout the Caribbean, which has become one of his favorite corners of the globe. He has been a faculty member at the Eddie Adams Photography Workshop since 1999, where as a team producer, he produces 10 stories annually to be photographed by students and presented at the workshops final slide show.

He recently photographed in Trinidad and, along with reporter Sam Sifton, experienced one of the great eating towns in the Caribbean, the greatest of the Lesser Antilles, and the fount of some of the finest rum in the world. This multimedia reportage is about culinary tourism: combining photography with the food and wine industry...and is a rapidly expanding genre in the travel photography industry.

NY Times' Multimedia on Tasting Trinidad

NY Times' Article on A Culinary Pilgrimage on an Island of Contrasts

Chris Ramirez's website

The Pod


The Pod is a bean bag with a bolt attachment, which is claimed to offer a platform for cameras and camcorders that is compact, strong, flexible, portable and simple. It can be taken anywhere and set up on virtually any surface. The manufacturer claims that it has the stability that small tripods lack, and that it can be used by anyone, even the non technically minded.

The pod uses the industry standard ¼" x 20 mounting bolt which comes standard on all makes and models of consumer cameras, and is customizable by removing an amount of stuffing (plastic pellets) in it, to conform with surfaces and cameras.

Having a pathological hatred for tripods, I am certainly intrigued by the pod, and wonder whether it really lives up to its claims. Nothing can replace a really sturdy tripod, but it may be do in a pinch. The website has sunny testimonials, but nothing is like testing it oneself. In the meantime, if any TTP readers has used it, drop me an email and tell us of your experience.

The Pod

Monday, October 29, 2007

One Shot: Tatiana Cardeal

Image Copyright ©Tatiana Cardeal -All Rights Reserved

Tatiana Cardeal is a Brazilian independent photographer based in Sao Paulo, who spent her early career as an art director and graphic designer for international magazines. She decided to shift her focus to photography and document social, cultural and human right issues in 2003.

Her particular interest in South American indigenous people started at an early age, when she studied indigenous traditions and cultures. She calls her photography "social photography" because of the consequences and possible social changes that evolve from it. Her photographs can be interpreted as a denunciation, a call for action or a petition to help indigenous people by respecting them, respecting their land, their economy, their needs and their culture.

Tatiana says that her projects are long term in nature...some take at least 4 years to complete...but despite the difficulties, the lack of funding and the skepticism and frequent bureaucratic obstacles, she perseveres in documenting the various South American indigenous people. With the quality of her photography and her tenacity, I hope she is successful in her noble objectives.

Tatiana Cardeal's Blog

Micro Track II Audio Recorder

M-Audio has redesigned its popular MicroTrack digital recorder, and dubbed it the MicroTrack II. The company says the redesigned version brings even more professional features to the original high-fidelity mobile digital recorder that’s used by audio and film professionals.

The new recorder has an extended input gain range, analog input limiter, 48V phantom power, faster file transfer rate, seamless recording of files beyond 2GB in size and other enhancements. It allows the recording of WAV (BWF) and MP3 files to CompactFlash or Microdrives through balanced line inputs or built-in microphone preamps—which can be dragged and dropped to computers via high-speed USB 2.0 for immediate editing or Web posting. Its MSRP is $299 and it's expected to be available in the stores in November.

I have used the older MicroTrack for about 2 years, and while I can't complain about its performance and operations, I wish it had a built-in microphone like its Samson Zoom competitor. The MicroTrack and its successor are sold with a small separate removable microphone. Sooner or later, I will lose this dinky microphone and I'll be stuck. An alternative is to get an Audio Technica ATR25 microphone to use with the recorder instead of the supplied mike.

M-Audio MicroTrack II

B&H's M-Audio MicroTrack II

Sunday, October 28, 2007

ICED LEMON CURD LAYER CAKE


Andrew over at SpittoonExtra is hosting
'Waiter There's Something...In My Layered Cake'. All of the 'Waiter' roundups have made wonderful reading, not forgetting the drooling over the photographs.
One of my all time favourite cakes is the Iced Lemon Curd Layer Cake by the trusted Delia Smith - she certainly knows how to bake a good cake and I've enjoyed cooking and eating many of her cakes in the past.


I've got her original Book of Cakes, a paperback, and its literally falling to pieces. Now, that's the sign of a good book!
Perhaps you might think this cake is more suited to Easter time? Well sorry, this is a cake to lift the spirits at any time of the year, perhaps not Christmas though!
To quote Delia 'You couldn't get a more lemony recipe than this; layers of lemon-flavoured sponge, filled with home-made lemon curd and then a lemon icing for the finishing touch. Its wonderful'.
I couldn't have described this cake any better.
If you pop over to her website you will be able to see the recipe.
The only thing I altered was that I made double the quantity of icing for the top of the cake. The quantity given on the original recipe is a little sparse for me.

Sunday Rant

Since this is my blog, and I can pretty much write about anything I like, here's a rant for this Sunday morning.

Whenever I visit London, I always try to spend a weekend there so I can read the Saturday and Sunday newspapers...or the broadsheets as they're called over there. Early morning, on both weekend days, I walk to my newsagent and buy the Times and the Independent....and quickly return home carrying an armful of newsprint and the accompanying magazines.

My next hours are spent reading and absorbing the news and editorials written by true professionals...in-depth, intensive and intelligent analysis of current events and foreign news. Every time I do this, I come to the same conclusion: our mainstream print media is superficial and naive. In London, I read the Times and the Independent from cover to cover, both politically distinct from each other... one more in keeping with my political alignment than the other...but I read each newspaper's point of view with equal relish and respect. Back in New York, I avoid reading the op-eds from the like of Brooks and Friedman because they're vacuous, predictable, repetitive and full of cliches. The only op-ed contributor I have time for is Frank Rich...and even he goes overboard on occasions. If forgot to name other columnists, it's on purpose.

But my rant this morning is not really about the superficiality of our news...but about the long disappearance of solid serious photojournalism from our printed press. Last weekend, the Sunday Times of London had a magnificent feature on the tragedy of Africa with the powerful black & white photographs of Sebastiao Salgado...in the style of LIFE magazine...12 pages of African scenes. I kept it because it's a wonderful issue on so many levels.

In comparison, this morning's New York Times' Sunday Magazine has 8 glossy pages of fashion titled The Others...showing overpriced clothes and diamond necklaces hanging on sickly-looking models made up to look like Halloween ghouls.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

New York Times: Khmer Torture House

Image Courtesy Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide

The New York Times brings us an article on a Cambodian photographer Nhem En, who was on the staff of the Tuol Sleng prison, the most notorious torture house of the Khmer Rouge regime, which caused the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979. Nhem En was called to be a witness at a coming trial of Khmer Rouge leaders, including his commandant at the prison, Kaing Geuk Eav, known as Duch, who has been arrested and charged with crimes against humanity.

Mr. Nhem En’s career in the Khmer Rouge began in 1970 at age 9 when he was recruited as a village boy to be a drummer in a touring revolutionary band. When he was 16, he said, he was sent to China for a seven-month course in photography. He became the chief of six photographers at Tuol Sleng, where at least 14,000 people were tortured to death or sent to killing fields. Only a half dozen inmates were known to have survived.

A chiiling must-read. The article is by Seth Mydans.

The article: Out From Behind a Camera at a Khmer Torture House

The podcast: Back Story

External link: Photos at Tuol Seng Prison

Beyond The Frame: Orang Asli

It's been a while since I've written up a Beyond The Frame post for TTP, so here's one.

On my way to the Cameron Highlands in the heart of peninsular Malaysia, I chanced upon an orang asli, an aborigine, who was quite amenable to my photographing him near his hut. He was a hunter, showed off his traditional blowpipe, and demonstrated his skills by blowing a dart at a small target about 50 feet away. Although he wasn't far from the main road, he gave me the impression that he had little contact with the modern world... it may have been an act and he actually went to his real home at the end of the day to watch television...but we communicated in sign language during our encounter.

The term "orang asli" signifies "original people" or "first people" in Malaysia, where there are about about 60.000 orang asli , most of whom still live in the rain forest. Some of the northern orang asli groups speak languages suggestimg a links with the indigenous peoples in Burma, Thailand and Indo-China.

The aborigine I met is in all probability a member of the Negrito group or possibly a Senoi. They live in the jungle and rain forests of the Malaysian peninsula, and are thought to have arrived some 8000 years ago. They hunt with bamboo blowpipes for birds and little monkeys. The darts which I saw are made from the leaf-stalks of palm cones, and are coated with a lethal concoction made from the sap of toxic trees. Fear of the spirits of dead ancestors and hunted animals is very strong among them, and it is an unwritten law that all animals caught in the forests suffer no pain.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Canon 24mm 1.4L USM Lens


Following the highly scientific results of the poll recently conducted on TTP, I am happy to report that I'm now the proud owner of a Canon 24mm 1.4L USM lens. This is my first prime lens (I've always used the Canon f2.8mm L zooms) , and one that I hope will serve me well in the years to come.

New York Times: Another Kurdish Front

Image Copyright © Warzer Jaff/New York Times -All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us a slideshow feature about a less publicized Kurdish militant group, which is engaged in guerilla warfare against Iranian forces. This is separate than the deadly raids into Turkey by Kurdish militants holed up in northern Iraq. The latter is the focus of urgent diplomacy, with the United States begging Turkey for restraint.

As the accompanying article states: "Yet out of the public eye, a chillingly similar battle has been under way on the Iraqi border with Iran. Kurdish guerrillas ambush and kill Iranian forces and retreat to their hide-outs in Iraq. The Americans offer Iran little sympathy. Tehran even says Washington aids the Iranian guerrillas, a charge the United States denies. True or not, that conflict, like the Turkish one, has explosive potential.

I chose the above photograph (all photographs are by Warzer Jaff) for this post for a purpose. It shows a purported Iranian soldier captured by the Kurdish guerillas. The photograph's caption tell us that the prisoner sits under "a picture of Abdullah Ocalan, a Kurdish guerrilla imprisoned in Turkey. "

No, Mr Caption Person at the NY Times....you need to be more accurate than that. Mr Ocalan is not just a "Kurdish guerilla"...he's the founding leader of the Kurdish militant group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and is currently imprisoned in Turkey where he is considered a child murderer and a terrorist, directly responsible for countless terrorism acts in Turkey. Another of Mr Ocalan's attributes is that he's a Marxist, and espouses a socialist agenda as do his followers. The PKK is branded a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union as well as Turkey.

So why are we applying pressure on Iraq to prevent the Kurds in the north from attacking Turkey, and we're not asking the same from the southern Kurdish front?

The slideshow: A Second Kurdish Front

The article: A Second Kurdish Front

Per-Anders Pettersson: South Africa

Image Copyright © Per-Anders Pettersson -All Rights Reserved

Per-Anders Pettersson is a Swedish photojournalist, who tells us that he's a a photojournalist of the old generation and that he was never been just interested in photography or photography as an art, and that his main aim is not about capturing the most outstanding or award-winning images but to understand the story and to capture it fairly and with respect.

He started his career by covering major stories around the world for the likes of Stern, Geo and Newsweek, and now lives in Cape Town and New York where he is contracted to Getty Images. He has gained several international awards for his work. His desire to document the survival of people in hardship zones has taken him to more than 50 countries over the past 16 years.

His most well-known work, In Transition, is a 10-year project to capture life in South Africa, has won him awards and been exhibited at Perpignan’s Visa Pour L’image.

Per-Anders Pettersson's In Transition

Thursday, October 25, 2007

National Geographic: Alexandra Boulat

Image Copyright © Jerome Delay/AP-All Rights Reserved

The National Geographic Magazine is featuring a tribute to Alexandra Boulat who passed away Ocober 5, 2007. Touching eulogies from fellow photographers Alexandra Avakian, Jose Azel, Pascal Maitre, Jodi Cobb and colleague John Stanmeyer as well as many others, underscore and reaffirm how much she will be missed.

Alexandra's tribute includes some galleries of her great work with National Geographic Magazine.

(My thanks to Marilyn Terrell)

NGM's Tribute to Alexandra Boulat

New York Times: Burma, Uneasy Days

Image Copyright © The New York Times-All Rights Reserved

A recent article by Choe Sang-Hun in the New York Times reports that as the lunch gong chimed through the tree-shaded Mahagandhayon Monastery in Mandalay , several hundred monks in burgundy robes lined up on a mid-October day, all holding alms bowls, returning after seeking donations. It is a common scene in Myanmar, formerly Burma, where one out of every 100 people, many of them children, are monks. But the lunch line at the Mahagandhayon Monastery, the country’s largest, used to be much longer.

A senior monk told the NY Times reporter: “We usually have 1,400 monks here,” said a senior monk. “Because of the situation, parents took 1,000 of them home.”

The article ends with this: "In mid-October at Mahagandhayon, the monks were going about their daily routine. The senior monk said he hoped that the rest of the students would return in a month or so. One young monk who had remained said, “Please go out and tell the world exactly what really has happened in this country.” He added, “I am scared just talking to you about this.”

I've been asked by many TTP's readers if I would travel to Burma under the present circumstances. A difficult question to answer...on one hand, traveling to Burma invariably channels some funds to the military junta, and gives it a veneer of legitimacy...but on the other hand, not traveling threatens the livelihood of many Burmese who rely on tourism for their very survival. Naturally, the foreign travel agencies -because of commercial justifications- use the latter as a reason not to cancel their tours.

Personally, I would wait to see whether the international mediation efforts between the junta and the opposition result in an improved political climate. For those who are still going, I think you'll find less populated monasteries, and certainly desperate vendors. Please donate generously to the monasteries and monks, and be expansive in your tangible and moral support to the common people you'll meet. The gentle people of Burma need help.

Uneasy Days for Monks in Myanmar

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tewfic El-Sawy : The People of Druk Yul

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

During the October 2006 photo-expedition which I led in Bhutan, we crossed the kingdom to reach its eastern central spiritual regions. These are some of the people I encountered along the way. The People of Druk Yul is a multimedia slideshow using Soundslides, I embedded an audio track recorded during the festival in Prakhar.

To receive advance notice of my 2008 photo expeditions, join my mailing list (the box on the right hand side of this page). Itineraries of past photo expeditions can be found here.

The multimedia slideshow: The People of Druk Yul

What The Duck

New York Times: Burma, Ominously Calm

Image Copyright © The New York Times -All Rights Reserved

The New York Times brings us a cluster of updated reports on the situation in Burma...an article, a slideshow, and a podcast.

Distressingly, the article carries this paragraph:

“It’s not peace you see here, it’s silence; it’s a forced silence,” said a 46-year-old writer who joined last month’s protests in Yangon and was now on the run, carrying with him a worn copy of his favorite book, George Orwell’s “1984.” “We are the military’s slaves. We want democracy. We want to wait no longer. But we are afraid of their guns.”

The whole article is here.

The slideshow's photographs don't carry a photographer's by-line...only the copyright by the New York Times...presumably to protect the photographer who may still be in the country. Incidentally, I'm surprised that the newspaper still insists in using Myanmar as the country's name....the name that was chosen by the military junta. Most British newspapers here use the name of Burma.

The slideshow is here.

The podcast is here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Poll: Which Lens?

Which Lens Would You Buy?
Canon EF35mm f1.4L ($1099)
Canon EF24mm f1.4L ($1089)
  
pollcode.com free polls


If you had the choice between these two lenses, which would you buy? The lens will go with a Canon Mark II with a 1.3 field of view crop factor...and used for people photography largely in dim interiors.

Gary Knight: EOS-1D Mark III

In June, VII Photo photographer Gary Knight travelled to Israel, Jordan and northern Iraq on assignment for Newsweek magazine. He used an EOS-1D Mark III throughout and spoke to Canon Professional Network about his experiences.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Gary in Indonesia a couple of years back, so I wasn't surprised to read his conclusion on the EOS-1D Mark III was succint and to the point... "This camera just works.” I'm pretty certain that if the camera "works" for Gary it'll "work" for everyone. Since it's a Canon marketing blurb, there's no mention of the auto-focus issue...but other than that, it works.

I much prefer reading reviews on cameras or lenses from working photographers, rather than lenghty techo-heavy reviews that magazines and websites seem to relish. I was somewhat surprised that Gary wasn't that thrilled by the fast frame per second (10 fps) of the Mark III.

Read Part 1 of Gary's take on the EOS-1D Mark III

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Kenro Izu: Rubin Museum of Art

After years of pilgrimage to sacred landscapes and spiritual monuments, the photographer Kenro Izu has turned his masterful lens to the sacred within. Bhutan, the Sacred Within is his final work in a trilogy on this theme, and the second to be premiered at the Rubin Museum of Art. Izu takes the people of Bhutan and their particular blending of an indigenous religion and Buddhist thought as his subject. The meticulously crafted portraits he has made express the purity of those beliefs and their resonance in the larger world of today. These photographs were made during the period of 2002-2007. The photograph which illustrates this post was made at the Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang (Bhutan), one of the destinations of my photo expedition in October 2006.

So mark your calendars for Kenro Izu's photographic exhibition, Bhutan, the Sacred Within, from November 2, 2007–Spring 2008 at the aesthetically perfect Rubin Museum of Art at 150 West 17th Street New York, NY 10011. I hope to attend it as soon as it opens, and will post a report on TTP. I met Mr Izu during a previous exhibition at the Rubin, and he struck me as an incredibly humble and humane artist. It's no surprise that he built Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in January 1999, of which he has been responsible for its operation since then.

It'll be very interesting to see how a master of the large format...a superb photographer of sacred architectural structures and temples...applies his artistry over portraits. Bhutan, the Sacred Within promises to be an event to be savored and remembered by photographers and non-photographers alike.

Mr Izu will also be giving a PhotoTalk at the Rubin Museum on Saturday, November 3, 2007. Tim McHenry is the Director of Programming, who is widely credited for setting up incredible programs at the Museum.

For details, visit Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art

Angkor Photo Festival: Nov 17-28, 2007


A reminder that the third annual Angkor Photography Festival is to be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, for 12 days of photographic events and celebrations from November 17 to 28, 2007.

The festival brings together well-known and passionate photographers from across the world in a spirit of creativity and sharing. It showcases exhibitions and outdoor projections about Asia by renowned artists and photojournalists, while differentiating itself from other events with its strong educational goals.

Participants share their art by leading free workshops for young Asian photographers, and give their time to outreach projects for street children, landmine victims and HIV+ women .

The free workshops run from the 17th to the 24th of November. This year again Philip Jones Griffiths, Patrick de Noirmont, Suthep Kritsanavarin, Antoine d'Agata and Roland Neveu have volunteered to tutor. Marc Brincourt, chief photo editor of Paris-Match, Benoit Gysembergh and Tengku Bahar of AFP will also participate.

For any questions, contact Francoise Callier, Curator of the Angkor Photography Festival at frcallier989(at)gmail(dot)com

Angkor Photo Festival

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tracy Hallett: Outdoor Photography

Being in London for a few days, I was immensely pleased to learn that Tracy Hallett was promoted to Editor of Outdoor Photography magazine. Tracy was Deputy Editor for two years, and will be replacing Keith Wilson who will be moving to a new job at the magazine's holding company.

Congratulations to you Tracy....a well deserved promotion!

It's fitting that Tracy's talents extend to being an excellent photographer herself...she has recently exhibited images images from Thailand, Guatemala, Prague in Brighton, has had an image exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and has work published in 18 consumer titles including The Independent on Sunday, British Journal of Photography, Photography Monthly, Travel Photography and Black & White Photography.

Outdoor Photography is one of the better photography magazines published in Great Britain, and is known for its informative balance of features, tests, techniques, travel and environmental stories. Each issue features an array of landscape, wildlife and travel features, with regular contributions (including some of mine) by Britain's leading photographers, and tests of digital and film equipment by photographers for photographers.

Canon 5D II Rumors


The photo-related blogsphere is abuzzing with rumors that Canon will soon announce an upgraded version of its phenomenally successful 5D camera. It seems that the price for current 5D model is dropping "like a stone" which, to some, means that Canon is clearing its inventory before announcing the new model.

The rumor mill has it that the new 5D will have a 16MP DIGIC III sensor, a 3″ LCD, Live View, a Refined AF (similar to 40D), Semi Weather Sealing and 4-5 fps. The timing is expected to be late fall or early winter 2007.

As my friend Ralph Childs would say: I want one!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BLACKBERRY AND APPLE CRUMBLE TART


Blackberries from the hedgerows and Bramley apples kindly given to me were the stars of this tart.
Instead of making the usual blackberry and apple crumble I decided upon this recipe from the Woman&Home website.
If you haven't yet discovered their food section you are in for a nice surprise, all of the recipes I've tried are delicious.
You start this tart by making a shortcrust pastry base. A sweet shortcrust is suggested in the recipe, but I made a plain one because the crumble is quite sweet.
The apples and blackberries are cooked until a thick compote is achieved. This is then put onto the cooked pastry base and topped with crumble that has been scented with cinnamon.
Now, I have to confess, this tart was heaven.

Serves: 8 to 10 people.

You will need: A 26cm flan tin with a removable base.

For the pastry case: 200g plain flour, 50g butter, 50g lard, 3 tablespoons of cold water.

For the filling: 800g (about 3 large) Bramley apples, 300g blackberries (fresh or frozen), 50g caster sugar.

For the crumble topping: 150g plain flour, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 100g butter - chilled, 75g caster sugar.

To serve: clotted or softly whipped cream.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°CFan/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
2. Roll out the pastry and use to line the flan tin. Chill for 30 minutes.
3. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes until pale golden. Remove the beans, then return the tart to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to dry the base.
4. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 180°C/160°CFan/350°F/Gas 4.
5. For the filling, peel, core and slice the apples. Place in a saucepan with the blackberries and sugar. Cook over a moderate heat until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently to prevent the apples from sticking.
6. To make the crumble topping, sift the flour and ground cinnamon into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour. Stir in the caster sugar.
7. To assemble the tart, place the apple and blackberry filling in the pre-baked pastry case, spreading the mixture out evenly.
8. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top, but do not press down. Place the tart back in the oven and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the crumble is golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with a generous dollop of clotted or softly whipped fresh cream.

Anne Holmes: Pul-e-Charki Jail

Image Copyright © Anne Holmes -All Rights Reserved

Anne Holmes is German-born and took her first trip at the age of six weeks, to Crete. She describes herself as peripatetic, and that home is where the suitcase is. After a career in the world of fine arts and troubled by the war -and the daily images in the headlines- in Iraq, she decided to become a photojournalist.

I chose Anne's photographs of the women inmates of Pul-e-Charki prison for TTP. Pul-e-Charki is a notorious large prison in Afghanistan east of Kabul. The prison is notorious for the torture and other abuses after it came under the control of Afghanistan's communist government following the invasion by the Soviet Union.

There are 8 cell blocks but only 3 are being used, and that causes overcrowding. The prison is making room for 110 prisoners that were in Guantánamo Bay. There are also about 70 female prisoners who share the prison. In most cases, children of the female inmates live with them in the prison. Anne photographs document these women.

Anne Holmes' Women of Pul-e-Charki

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sebastião Salgado: Amazon Tribes

Image Copyright © Sebastião Salgado -All Rights Reserved

As a boy growing up on a ranch in Brazil, Sebastião Salgado witnessed firsthand the destruction of the native forest. As thousands of acres were cleared for herds of cattle that demanded more and more pasture for grazing, the landscape was inexorably transformed into a dust-filled plain. Because of this experience, Salgado decided to make the remote tribes of South America an essential element of "Genesis," his eight-year collaboration with Rolling Stone to document the planet as it looked at the dawn of time.

The first half of the Genesis project is on the Yanomami Indians, who are believed to be among the first inhabitants of South America. For the Yanomami, the forest is not just 'nature' but an all-important living entity that controls the destiny of the tribe.

Here's via Rolling Stone magazine, Sebastião Salgado's The Hidden Tribes of the Amazon

Inside Burma: Al Jazeera


Al Jazeera is one of the few international television networks that managed to get its correspondent inside Burma during the recent uprisings. The footage is now shown on YouTube, and parts of it are chilling.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Canon L Lenses

Image Copyright © Canon (via Rob Galbraith)-All Rights Reserved

Robert Galbraith's website reports that Canon announced the development of two all-new telephoto lenses for use with its EOS SLR cameras: the EF200mm f/2L IS USM and the EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM. Prototypes of the new lenses will be shown at PhotoPlus Expo, taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, October 18 to 20.

The new Canon EF200mm f/2L IS USM and EF800mm f/5.6L IS USM are L (luxury)-series lenses incorporating a high-performance Image Stabilizer, feature optical systems utilizing special optical materials such as fluorite to correct chromatic aberrations, making possible high-resolution, high-contrast shooting performance.

Here's Canon's Press Release via Rob Gallbraith

Vassi Koutsaftis: Mt Kailash

Image Copyright © Vassi Koutsaftis-All Rights Reserved

Greek-born Vassi Koutsaftis has prowled the globe for over 30 years, specializing in travel photography....of the extreme kind, especially in mountainous regions. He also works as a guide for Geographic Expeditions—and has a sideline as an importer of Asian art.

For today's post, I chose Vassi's gallery of photographs made near Mount Kailash. Mt Kailash is a peak in the Gangdisê mountains which is part of the Himalayas in Tibet, the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia—the Indus River, the Sutlej River, a tributary of the Indus River, and the Brahmaputra River—and is considered as a sacred place in four religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bön faith. In Hindu religion, it is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The mountain lies near Lake Manasarowar and Lake Rakshastal in Tibet.

There have been no recorded attempts to climb Mount Kailash; it is considered off limits to climbers, in deference to Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. It is the most significant peak in the world that has not seen any known climbing attempts.

Here's Vassi's Mt Kailash

Sunday, October 14, 2007

James Nachtwey: Burma Aftermath

Image Copyright © James Nachtwey-All Rights Reserved

Here's a gallery of photographs by James Nachtwey as published by Time magazine on its website. I'm not certain when these photographs were made, but the implication is that Nachtwey was photographing in Rangoon recently.

The latest from Burma is that its ruling junta has restored Internet service and relaxed a nighttime curfew, thus easing a crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Internet cafe owners around Myanmar's largest city, Rangoon, said they were looking forward to reopening after service was restored Sunday. Another sign of some relaxation is that the curfew was cut to four hours, 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., starting last night.

However, Amnesty International said that the security forces arrested four prominent political activists who had been hiding from a government manhunt, after they were involved in some of the first major marches against the government several weeks ago.

Here's James Nachtwey's Burma Aftermath

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FOUR SEED BREAD


I love bread and making my own with the help of my Panasonic breadmaker is very quick and easy. Often I just use it to make the dough and then shape the bread into rolls etc.
This particular bread is full of wonderful seeds without there being too much crunch.
I find the flour you buy can make a huge difference to the finished loaf and the white strong flour I use is Waitrose very strong Canadian flour and another favourite is Doves Farm organic mixed grain malthouse bread flour.
Obviously, if you are a seasoned breadmaker then perhaps a breadmaking machine may not be for you.


ULTIMATE BREAD MACHINE COOKBOOK by Jennie Shapter

ISBN 1843091844 - Page 90

Makes: 1 loaf

280ml water, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 400g white bread flour, 50g millet flour, 50g wholemeal bread flour (I used 100g mixed grain bread flour instead of the millet flour and the wholemeal flour), 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon easy-blend dried yeast, 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, 1½ tablespoons linseeds, 1½ tablespoons sesame seeds - lightly toasted.

For the Topping: 1 tablespoon milk, 2 tablespoons golden linseeds.
1. Put the yeast into the bread pan. Add the flours, sugar, salt, extra virgin olive oil and water. Or place the ingredients into the bread pan in the order specified for your particular bread machine.
2. Set the bread machine to the raisin dough setting. press start. Add the seeds when the machine beeps to add the extra ingredients or during the last 5 minutes of kneading.
3. When the dough cycle has finished, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knock back gently.
4. Lightly oil a baking sheet (a baking sheet liner placed on the baking sheet is best because the bread tends to stick).
5. Shape the dough into a round flat loaf. Make a hole in the centre with your finger. Gradually enlarge the cavity, turning the dough, until you have a ring.
6. Place the ring onto the baking sheet. Cover it with lightly oiled greaseproof paper and leave it to rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Brush the top of the bread with milk and sprinkle it with the golden linseeds. Make slashes around the loaf, radiating outwards.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

TOP TIP: Put the shaped dough on the prepared baking sheet into the oven. Turn the oven temperature to 50°C and put the timer on for 3 minutes (no longer), turn the oven off. Leave the dough in the oven until doubled in size and then cook as above.

Eid al-Fitr

Image Copyright © Reuters via New York Times-All Rights Reserved

Eid al-Fitr is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. The 2007 Eid al-Fitr took place, for some on Friday, October 12th and others Saturday, October 13th. For Muslims, the holiday is a joyous occasion with important religious significance, celebrating of the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory, peace of congregation, fellowship, brotherhood and unity.

To mark the occasion, the New York Times features the above photograph of Muslims attending prayers for Eid al-Fitr in Lanzhou, China, in the northwestern province of Gansu.

VII: War In Iraq

Here's a three-part feature of the war coverage in Iraq by the photographers of VII.



Here's Part 1

Here's Part 2

Here's Part 2

Friday, October 12, 2007

Gladia Budianto: Tibet

Image Copyright © Gladia Budianto-All Rights Reserved

Gladia Budianto lives in Singapore and is a self-described "photo enthusiast" who, inspired by the classic comic book "Tintin in Tibet", followed his dream of visiting Tibet in 2004. On this trip, he captured Tibet's vivid natural landscape and spiritual cultures in panoramic format. He's been using panoramic camera for years and still believes in the quality of films.

His equipment consists of Hasselblad XPAN, a Contax G1 and a Mamiya 7II.

Gladia's "Tibet: A Journey To Share" is in the popular Soundslides format, and is of both color and B&W photographs. I'm not particularly fond of mixing these two types, but many were made on panoramic cameras and are really very well composed and work very well with the subject matter. I would've preferred a larger size to appreciate them better, but that's how it is.

The photographs are of Yarula Pass, Sanye Monastery, Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery, etc. The delightful soundtrack is titled "Om Mani Padme Hum" and is by Song Huei Liou and Ya Ging Ging.

In my view, Gladia's is certainly much more that a "photo enthusiast", and his work attests to his professionalism.

ps. For those who don't know: Tintin is a journalist and an adventurer who travels around the world with his canine companion Milou, in The Adventures of Tintin, a series of comic books drawn and written by the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known as Hergé. The series is one of the most popular comic book series in Europe and the world, especially in Belgium, France, and The Netherlands. I grew up with Tintin comic books, so I understand how someone can be inspired by them.

Here's Gladia's Tibet

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New York Times: Georgian Warriors In Iraq

Image Copyright © Joao Silva/New York Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times featured photographs of Georgian troops being sent to Kut, an area near Iran, in a recent slideshow. Its accompanying article tells us that at a time when other countries (such as Great Britain) are pulling troops out as fast as they can, Georgia has more than doubled its troop levels in Iraq to 2,000 soldiers.

What's in it for Georgia, you ask? Ah, well...Georgia seeks NATO membership as a security guarantee against Russia, and by sending its troops to Iraq, its politicians hope that the United States will reciprocate by supporting Georgia's membership. This is what is defined as realpolitik.

But let's go back to photography....The slideshow has the above picture which shows Georgian soldiers kneeling and being sprinkled with holy water by their Eastern Orthodox priest during a ceremony in Iraq, marking the formal start of their mission a few days ago. I wonder what Iraqis feel when they see such photographs....do they see liberators or crusaders?

David Alan Harvey

Here's an interesting snippet of video showing the legendary David Alan Harvey mentoring a student photographer (Thanks for the heads-up, Eric)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Alex Sievers: China

Image Copyright © Alex Sievers-All Rights Reserved

Alex Sievers is from the Netherlands, and his interest in photography started during architectural studies. He's one of the first travel photographers who effectively harnessed the power of the internet to spread his work internationally, as he started his website in 1997.

He tells us that Namibia is one of the countries he prefers among the many he visited, especially its vastness and diverse landscapes. Notwithstanding, I chose Alex's work in China to feature on TTP. He also has interesting photographs of Burma on his website which I urge you to look at.

Here's Alex's China Collection

PDN Photo Annual 2008


It's time for the PDN Photo Annual photography contest, in which photographers can submit their entries in the following categories: Advertising, Magazine/Editorial, Photo Books, Photojournalism, Corporate Design, Personal, Stock Photography, Personal, Web Sites and Student Work.

As always, all those interested ought to read the terms and conditions of the contest very carefully before participating.

PDN Photo Annual Contest

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Geographic Expeditions: Simon Winchester


An invitation from Bridget Lackie of Geographic Expeditions landed in my email inbox a few weeks ago, announcing a literary event at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center, in which the incomparable Simon Winchester would talk about his upcoming book on China.

The event was held on the evening of Wednesday Sept 26th, and was extremely well attended by invitees who -to my mind at least- seemed to fit a certain profile: globetrotting travelers, Sinophiles and avid travel book readers. The talk was preceded by cocktails where everyone mingled and shared travel stories.

As background: Simon Winchester is a best-selling British author, and a journalist who spent a twenty-year career as a foreign correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, and who has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian Magazine, and National Geographic and book reviews for The New York Times. He occasionally lends his voice to the New York Times multimedia slideshows.

Interviewed by Don George, (Editor of Geographic Expeditions' Recce Literary Journeys for the Discerning Traveler ), the talk lasted an hour and was so enjoyable that it felt like a few moments. Both are pros at this sort of thing, and they immediately drew us into an intimate armchair conversation between two old friends.

While the conversation touched on Simon Winchester's experiences in China, it was mostly about his forthcoming biography about the British biochemist and Chinese science scholar Joseph Needham. Needham's exhaustive writings on China examined why it had been overshot by the West in science and technology, despite its earlier successes.

An exteremely enjoyable and enlightning evening, made so by an experienced storyteller and his interviewer who captivated their audience. Interestingly, Simon's forthcoming book on Joseph Needham is still title-less...and he asked the audience to suggest one to him, provided it didn't contain the words 'barbarian' or 'dragon'!

Julien Millet: India

Image Copyright © Julien Millet-All Rights Reserved

I know that Julien Millet is a French photographer, however I wasn't able to find his biography. He has colorful photographs of India (and other Asian countries) on his website, and also uses a web template similar to that of Foliolink, which I have posted about earlier. His website is simple but very effective...with lovely galleries of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Venice and Madagascar.

Julien Millet's India

Monday, October 8, 2007

FRUIT PASTRY CASES WITH COX'S APPLES



The theme for Sugar High Friday hosted by Andrew over at Spittoon Extra is Drunken Apples. My vine fruits and apples were very happy to have a couple of tablespoons of Calvados poured over them! I was even happier to be the lucky one to get to eat them.
Waitrose October Recipe cards were the inspiration for this event.
On the recipe card it says to use wholesome vine fruit mix, but I had some Waitrose luxury dried fruit left and so used this instead. The 'Wholesome' area in Waitrose is fairly new and the vine fruit mix they suggest looked wonderful, as indeed did all the other goodies on the shelf.
This recipe would be appropriate for the Christmas season, in fact, it felt that I was making and eating it a few weeks too early!

Serves: 4

You will need: A large pot of pouring cream to drizzle over the cases.
125g Waitrose Wholesome Vine Fruit Mix, 2 tablespoons of brandy or Calvados, half a 375g pack chilled ready rolled puff pastry, 25g flaked almonds, 2 Cox's apples, 25g butter, 2 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar, ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 2 tablespoons double cream.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F/Gas 6. Place the dried fruit in a bowl, add the brandy or Calvados and set aside.
2. Unroll the pastry and cut into 4 rectangles. Put on a baking sheet then score a line 1cm in from the edges of each piece, without pressing all the way through. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the top layer of loose pastry to make a lid, leaving some on the base. Place on the side of the baking sheet and cook for a further 10 minutes until golden.
3. In a small frying pan, dry-fry the almonds for about a minute until golden, remove from the pan and reserve.
4. Cut the apples into quarters, discard the cores, then thinly slice. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the apple and sprinkle with the sugar and nutmeg. Saute for 4-5 minutes until golden on both sides. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple to a plate.
5. Return the pan to the heat and add the mixed fruit and brandy. When syrupy, stir in the cream then spoon into the pastry cases. Top with the apples and scatter over the flaked almonds. Place the pastry lids on each case, dust with icing sugar.
6. Serve with lots of pouring cream.

CBS' Sunday Morning: Bobby Haas

Image Copyright © Robert Haas-All Rights Reserved

I occasionally watch CBS' Sunday Morning, and this time I was rewarded with an interesting segment featuring Bobby Haas. Haas is an aerial photographer who's traveled to some of the most isolated and rugged places on Earth, places only easily accessible from the air. He estimates that he's taken more than 70,000 photographs from the air.

For the past six years, Haas traveled from Africa to South America and now the Arctic, and has the fear of heights. Furthermore, he is a successful financial investor who, back in the '80s, earned a fortune in the bare-knuckle world of leveraged buyouts with his former firm Hicks & Haas. His first book became one of the best-sellers in National Geographic's history, and his photographs are featured in a spread in this month's magazine.

I greatly enjoyed the segment, and was gratified to see that Haas uses Canon gear. For the sake of filming the feature, Haas showed us how he usually leans into the plane's open cockpit door...but his camera's straps were not around his neck! He must've excellent insurance and many back ups if he does that on his real shoots.

Of course, I should mention here that Yann Arthus-Bertrand is perhaps a better known aerial photographer who produced over 60 books of his landscape photographs taken from helicopters and balloons.

CBS' Sunday Morning video Bobby Haas

CBS' Sunday Morning article Bobby Haas

NY Times: Christian Lebanon

Image Copyright © Bryan Denton for The New York Times-All Rights Reserved

An interesting slideshow and an accompanying article from the New York Times deals with the current political situation in Lebanon...interesting to those who follow events in the Middle East. Robert Fisk, the preeminent journalist at the Independent newspaper and bestselling author, who's an expert on Lebanon (and the Middle East), has warned repeatedly that the Lebanese are on the edge of a civil war.

The article in the NY Times highlights that the current "struggle is over who gets to be the next president, a post reserved for a Christian under Lebanon’s Constitution, and which must be filled by the end of November. But the larger question — one that is prompting rival Christian factions to threaten war — is whether Lebanese Christians must accept their minority status and get along with the Muslim majority or whether Christians should insist on special privileges no matter what their share of the population."

Isn't majority rule one of the fundamental principles of democracy?

Another telling paragraph in the article: "The Christians allied with Hezbollah have had to overcome their own deeply entrenched prejudice against Muslims, Mr. Franjieh said: “We were always taught that we were superior to the Muslims. Now we must realize they are our brothers, and we must help each other.”

Ah, yes...the poison of religious racism.

In my view, Muslim political dominance in Lebanon is inevitable...it'll either be achieved by changing the country's constitution or through civil war.

The slideshow is of photographs by Bryan Denton.

Here's The New York Times' Christian Lebanon Registration may be required.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Nayan Sthankiya: Sanskrit

Image Copyright © Nayan Sthankiya-All Rights Reserved

Nayan Sthankiya is a Canadian photojournalist of East Indian decent, currently based in India covering international news in the Asia Pacific region. He has traveled to over 40 countries world wide. He studied multi-media arts at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Nayan slowly gravitated to photography. After spending a year lobbying the Chinese for the release of an imprisoned Korean photojournalist, he realized the power of the image to effect change and to inform and teach the world.

I feature Nayan's photo essay on a Sanskrit school in Karnataka, India. Sanskrit is one of the world's oldest languages and is still in use in India today. Its position in the cultures of South and Southeast Asia is akin to that of Latin and Greek in Europe and it has influenced many modern-day languages of the world. A school in the tiny village of Melkote is dedicated to its study, and is an archive for some 2000 texts. The school has been in operation for the last 150 years.

Nayan's Indian Sanskrit

Saturday, October 6, 2007

NY Times: Afghan Terrain

Image Copyright © Tomás Munita/NY Times-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times has a slideshow of Tomás Munita's excellent photographs that accompany an article describing a $40 million experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. The objective is for the anthropologists to understand subtle points of tribal relations, and explain these to the combat troops.

As an example, one of the anthropologists identified an unusually high concentration of widows in one Afghan village, whose lack of income created financial pressure on their sons to provide for their families, and drove the young men to join well-paid insurgents. As a consequence, the US military developed a job training program for the widows.

It's clear that no one has any idea if this experiment will work long term, but at least it's a constructive step and hopefully may yield some results. The Afghans are justifiably suspicious of Western influence (aka interference), be it from Russia in the 80s or the United States, so I'm not holding my breath.

Whatever the long term outcome is, this experimental program is certainly intellectually and morally more in sync with our values as Americans than the thuggish and xenophobic behavior that we read about so often these days.

Here's The New York Times' Human Terrain

Friday, October 5, 2007

Alexandra Boulat

Image Copyright © Jerome Delay/AP-All Rights Reserved

It is reported that photojournalist Alexandra Boulat, one of the founding members of the VII photo agency, died last night in a Paris hospital. She was 45. Boulat suffered a brain aneurysm last June while living in Jerusalem, Israel. She was later transferred to Paris.

Boulat was one of the most talented photographers of her generation. She was born in Paris in 1962 and was originally trained in graphic art and art history, at the Beaux Arts in Paris. She was represented by Sipa Press for 10 years until 2000. In 2001 she co-founded VII photo agency. Her news and features stories were published in many international magazines, above all Time, Newsweek, National Geographic Magazine and Paris-Match. She received many International Awards for the quality of her work.

Among her many varied assignments, she reported on the wars in former Yugoslavia, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq, Afghanistan at the fall of the Taliban, and women's condition in the Islamic world. Other large assignments published in National Geographic include country stories on Indonesia Albania, and Morroco.

CS Monitor: A Village in Ghana

Image Copyright © Peter DiCampo/CS Monitor-All Rights Reserved

Although the northern Ghanian village of Wantugu has high-tension power lines in place since 2000, its people are still lacking one key element: electricity flowing through those wires and into village homes. For most people in developed countries, living without electricity is unthinkable, but in Wantugu it is the norm, rather than the exception.

Even without electric power, the 3,500 inhabitants of this rural farming community are active after dark, with young people get together to study English homework or the Qu'ran, while others gather to watch a film on the only TV in the village.

The feature is photographed and reported by Peter DiCampo, who has used the Soundslides quite effectively. You'll see that he's effectively created motion in some of the pictures of the Ghanaians' dance (two-thirds into the feature) by adding virtually identical photographs of a dance scene and keeping the time delay between these to the minimum of a second... using the same flip-book technique I used in The Dancing Monks of Prakhar slideshow. I also liked the audio soundtrack that accompanies DiCampo's slideshow.

Here's CS Monitor's Wantugu village

Thursday, October 4, 2007

WELSH LEEK, BACON AND GOAT'S CHEESE TART



This is another recipe from one of my favourite books 'The Book of Old Tarts'. With a title such as that, it would be impossible not to fall in love with this book.
There are several sections to this book: 'Roman Origins and British Tart Baking Before 1700', 'Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Tarts' through to 'Twentieth-Century Tarts'.
With wonderful recipe titles such as A Medieval Tart of Brie, A Sixteenth-century Tart of Flowers and Gooseberry and Marshmallow Lattice Tart - who could resist. Next to each recipe there are a few snippets of history about each tart.
Sometime ago I posted a recipe on here for
'Bilberry Mucky Mouth' Tart which was a dessert made in heaven and because of past successes from this book, I just knew that I wouldn't be disappointed.
The only change I would make to this recipe is that maybe next time, instead of using single cream, I would try double cream.



THE BOOK OF OLD TARTS by Elizabeth Hodder

ISBN 0747221057 - Page 100

Serves: 6-8

225g plain shortcrust pastry. 1 tablespoon, olive oil, 15g butter, 3 leeks - washed, trimmed and thinly sliced, 225g rindless streaky bacon - finely chopped, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, 425ml single cream, 175g goat's cheese (Welsh, if possible), 55g walnuts - finely chopped, ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.
2. Line a deep 23cm tart tin with the pastry, place on the heated baking tray and prebake blind for 15 minutes and then remove from the oven and brush with some of the beaten egg and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Heat the olive oil and butter in a frying pan, add the leeks and fry very gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bacon and continue frying until the leek is soft and the bacon is not quite crisp, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and season with salt and black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, egg yolk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Break up the goats cheese into small pieces.
5. Put the walnuts in the base of the pre-baked pastry case. Spoon in the leek, bacon and parsley mixture, add the goat's cheese and finally pour in the cream mixture. Sprinkle the surface with the nutmeg. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the tart looks set and the cheese is nicely browned.