Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gaza's Massacre

Photo: Khalil Hamra/Associated Press

As we read of the unfolding massacre in Gaza, I thought it appropriate to excerpt the following from an opinion piece written by Tariq Ali in yesterday's The Guardian newspaper.

Here it is:

And Israeli citizens might ponder the following words from Shakespeare (in The Merchant of Venice), which I have slightly altered:

"I am a Palestinian. Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that … the villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction."

For those interested, here's the actual quotation from The Merchant of Venice:

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. (III.i.49–61)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WP: Female Circumcision in Kurdistan

Photo © Andrea Bruce/Washington Post

Here's a photo reportage by Andrea Bruce for The Washington Post titled Sheelan's Circumcision, which makes me cringe for two reasons.

The first reason is obvious; female genital cutting (FGC) is an abhorrent and an utterly repellent practice. The graphic photographs show us how Sheelan, a seven-year-old girl is taken by her mother to be circumcised in Kurdish Iraq, where more than 60 percent of women have undergone the traditional and controversial procedure. It is much beyond's a horrible tradition and no efforts should be spared in trying to eradicate it. It's perhaps through photo essays like these that such efforts will increase, and young girls will be spared the indignity and pain of this procedure.

On the other hand, I'm shocked that The Washington Post editors decided not to preserve Sheelan's privacy and dignity. Here's a 7 year old whose mutilation, a terribly humiliating and painful experience, is now seen on the internet. Would the editors be so cavalier in invading the privacy of a 7 year old in New York City for instance?...or is it because Sheelan and her mother are impoverished Kurds that they ignored their basic rights??

And let me take this thought a little further...has Sheelan's mother given her consent after being explained exactly where these pictures would eventually appear? Was she given money? What did the photographer tell her to convince her? People in the Middle East have human emotions just like us...they want (and have the right) to be treated with respect and dignity like everybody else. Unfortunately, since there are no accompanying explanatory article in the newspaper's website, we are left to speculate.

I'm all for publicizing the atrocity of female genital mutilation in order to combat it, but certainly not at the expense of anyone's privacy as this photo essay does. There are ways to photograph (or edit) this event and not identify the girls' (yes, there are others!) faces.

So shame on The Washington Post's photo editors. Would they be so outrageously cavalier had Sheelan been their daughter?

For those of you who don't know: There is nothing in the Qur'an that mandates female genital cutting, and it is not practiced by the majority of Muslims. So when Sheelan's mother is reported to say: "This is the practice of the Kurdish people for as long as anyone can remember. We don't know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it", she's wrong. Her tribal elders may think so, but it still doesn't make it right.

In fact, the Grand Mufti Ali Jumaa of Egypt, signed a resolution denouncing and totally banning the practice, as it goes against the principles and teachings of Islam.

The Washington Post's Female Circumcision in Kurdistan with graphic photos by Andrea Bruce.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Canon 5D Mark II !!!

All's well that ends well. I was at B&H this morning to buy a card reader, and while at the desk to have it invoiced, I asked the salesman if they had any Canon 5D Mark II in stock, fully anticipating an exasperated no. To my surprise, he looked up and said he had one in stock....just like that. Naturally, I grabbed it.

In life, it's all a matter of timing. Had I gone to B&H five minutes later, it's quite possible that it would've been gone. In any event, I charged the battery and fiddled with the camera. My initial impression is that this camera is extremely intuitive and responsive, with a solid feel to its body. The shutter sounds a little soft. I haven't opened the manual yet, but the Movie function and the Live View will require some reading.

Incidentally, B&H was packed with customers. Recession? Not at B&H.

Denis Dailleux: Egypt

Photo © Denis Dailleux-All Rights Reserved

"Between Denis Dailleux and Cairo, it is a true love story : on one side, an insatiable fascination for this unique place, its mood, its magical lights and an unspeakable tenderess towards its inhabitants ; on the other, a natural generosity, a city which offers itself to this subjugated look, inhabitants full of spontaneous kindness."

Denis Dailleux is a French photographer, who visits Cairo with regularity. He developed an obsession with this ancient city that teems with people, cars and activity. He doesn't seem interested in the superficial Cairo, but delves in the character of the "real" people...those he describes as possessing spontaneous kindness...those who live in the slums but who are willing to share the little they have with Egyptian trait.

His gallery Egypt, My Love is replete with soft-hued images of Egyptians...some posing with candor, others exhibiting shyness in being photographed by a khawaga. In the above photograph, the young clashes with the old...the "in-your-face" of the young man showing off his torso, and his mother demurely looking away from the camera...the story of Egypt in one photograph.

Another photograph in his galleries is of a mosque caretaker beating an old carpet out of its dust in the courtyard of either Al-Hassan or Al-Hussein mosque. Just looking at it, I can smell the Egyptian dust.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Canon 5D Mark II: Adorama

Within a hour of having read on 1001 Noisy Cameras that Adorama had the Canon 5D Mark II in stock, I sauntered rather skeptically down there to investigate the report with my VISA card in my back pocket.

As I expected, the somewhat condescending (note: condescension arising from the knowledge that he had an item that many people wanted) salesman flashed his gleaming canines, and told me they had run out of stock, but he had a bunch of the Canon 5D Mark II in kit form for the grand amount of $3499...and he even showed me the if that would tempt me.

As they say in Alaska, thanks but no thanks. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that lens, its price point is reasonable...but I just don't need it...and this brings me to why Canon dropped the ball in marketing this camera.

In my opinion, Canon missed the holiday buying spree by about 3 weeks. In the long run, it may not lose sales volume because of this, but many photographers now wonder why the camera was uncharacteristically late. Was that caused by some unresolved tech problem, like the black spots?

The other is the illogicality of its bundling the Canon 5D Mark II with a lens in kit form. The large majority of its buyers are professional working and serious photographers with little interest in adding another lens to their original inventory. Selling the camera in kit form is aimed at first-time buyers, and that's why these are now unsold at some retailers. Is Canon trying to get rid of its EF 24-105L Image Stabilized Lens by bundling it with a best selling camera?

I just don't get it.

Note: Another thing I don't get: The price of a BP-E6 battery grip for the 5D II is about $380, and an extra LP-E6 battery costs $80...a total of $460. That's more expensive than an EOS Digital Rebel XTi body!

Yep...I'm in a bad mood.

NGS: International Photo Contest 2008

The National Geographic announced the 2008 winners in its International Photography Contest. Frankly, the NGS lumped so many contests together that I lost track of what is what but in any event, here's another one.

The winner of the International Contest is Ilvy Njiokiktjien of the Netherlands for a photograph of elderly women in Mozambique. Quite a nice photograph with everything coming together, as one of the judges said.

Alison Wright

Photo © Alison Wright-All Rights Reserved

Here's the work of a consumate travel (and documentary) photography professional which I take delight in featuring on this blog. Alison Wright has traveled the corners of the globe during the past 20 years, documenting endangered cultures and highlight human rights issues which she cares about.

She's represented by the National Geographic and Corbis, and has been published in so many publications that it's virtually too long to list them all here, but among those are the National Geographic, Adventure and Traveler magazines, TIME magazine, The New York Times and so on. Her talent was recognized with various prestigious awards, and she published her work in her many book.

I won't single out any particular gallery on her website, as her images are all spectacular, but I will say that the one above of the woman in burqua, and the man in the alcove at Mazar-e-Cherif is, in my view, perfection.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

POV: Massacre in Gaza

Photo: Yasser Saymeh/AFP-Getty Images

The New York Times reports today that more than 200 Palestinians were massacred by the Israeli military strikes. Being The New York Times, it tempers its headlines by pointing out that these military strikes were in retaliation for the "rockets" launched by the militant wing of Hamas on the towns of Southern Israel.

It also features Attack in Gaza, a slideshow which has many photographs of the horrific casualties and devastation. The accompanying article is also well worth a read.

Whenever I read and hear of such violence committed against Palestinians by one of the world's most powerful military machinery, while the so-called civilized West and the rest of the world watches it do so placidly, impotently and in some cases with complicity, I remember Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel's ringing words:

" remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all..."

Will you finally speak out Mr Wiesel, or is the Palestinian corpse in the above picture not worth it?

Alice Smeets: UNICEF Photo of the Year

Image © Alice Smeets-All Rights Reserved

It' always a pleasure to hear of young emerging photographers gaining awards and wide recognition for their work, and here's one who just did that.

The young Belgian photographer Alice Smeets won the international photo competition "UNICEF-Photo of the Year". Her winning picture is of a girl in the largest slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. Although this girl lives amidst mud, litter and refuse, she still wears a clean white dress with ribbons in her hair.

Alice is a freelance photographer based in Belgium, who says she seeks to document "the cruelties the human race has to deal with. I want to touch people’s feelings without shocking them to provoke a reaction as a result."

She won the Canon Profifoto Förderpreis 01/08, was finalist for the Inge Morath Award 08 and selected for the Eddie Adams Workshop XXI. Her images has been exhibited at the Photokina 08 in Cologne and projected at “Visa pour L’image” 08 in Perpignan.

Alice Smeets' website is HERE. Check her black & white work on Haiti's Saut D'eau.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gyula Sopronyi: The Holy River

Image © Gyula Sopronyi-All Rights Reserved

Gyula Sopronyi, originally working for Népszabadságis, Hungary's political daily newspaper, is a freelance photographer with an eye for stories in the faces, expressions and eyes of his subjects. He has won an impressive array of awards and competitions, and attended various Magnum workshops and classes.

Here's one of his galleries, titled The Holy River, of the incomparable Ganges and Varanasi. Other galleries well worth the visit are Gyula's Turkish Baths and the Whale Hunters of the Indonesia's Lamalera.

Alberto Cairo: A Good Man

Photo © Tyler Hicks/NYT-All Rights Reserved

In the midst of the unimaginable mess, misery and corruption in Afghanistan comes the story of Alberto Cairo, heads the orthopedic rehabilitation program of the International Committee of the Red Cross, a job dedicated to helping disabled Afghans live normally again by equipping them with artificial legs and arms.

Here's a man whose story is truly a remarkable one, and that The New York Times brings to us to exemplify selflessness and charity. The photographs are by Tyler Hicks and the story by John F. Burns.

The article tells us that "Mr. Cairo, once a debonair lawyer in his native Turin, Italy, is almost certainly the most celebrated Western relief official in Afghanistan, at least among Afghans. To the generation who have been beneficiaries of his relief work for the International Committee of the Red Cross, he is known simply as “Mr. Alberto,” a man apart among the 15,000 foreigners who live and work in this city."

It is reported that much of the $10 billion to $15 billion in aid donated since the Taliban's fall in 2001 goes to the salaries of foreign workers, however Mr. Cairo gives up much of his salary to patients and ensures that all but a handful of the jobs at the centers go to disabled Afghans, not foreigners. Is a Nobel Prize in the offing? It ought to be.

Here's The New York Times The Admired Foreigner

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays & A Luminous 2009!

I wish all readers of The Travel Photographer blog a Merry Christmas, a very Happy Holiday Season and a Luminous 2009!

It's the time of year when, amongst many reflective thoughts that whirl around my head, I look back at the genesis of this blog, and marvel at the breathtaking growth in number of its readers, at the number of comments received, and at what I've learned about photography along the way. I'm both thrilled and humbled by the immense talent demonstrated by the many photographers (whether travel or documentary photographers) who appeared on this blog's posts.

This blog started early 2007, and has rapidly grown to be a ravenous "beast" needing a lot of attention. Its readership has spread around the globe, including readers from far-flung countries such as Mongolia and Botswana...and more are subscribing to its feed every's just incredible!

For Xmas, I've found that the Singing Santa & His Reindeers to be the best White Christmas rendition ever! For those who are interested, it's by The Drifters.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nick Hall: Mongolia

Photo © Nick Hall-All Rights Reserved

Nick Hall calls the Cotswolds in England his home, but now lives in Seattle and works for various publications such as the UK's Geographical magazine. He was runner-up in the 2007 Travel Photographers Network Annual, and recognized in the Young Travel Photographer of the Year Awards.

Check out his lovely photographs made in the Orkhon Valley of Mongolia...plain-vanilla portraits, environmental portraits, vistas and landscapes...all of them large sized!

Via David duChemin's Pixelated Image

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chico Sanchez: Virgin of Guadalupe

Image © Chico Sanchez-All Rights Reserved

Another Soundslide-based slideshow from photojournalist Chico Sanchez, who this time documents the Virgin of Guadalupe's annual festival on December 12 in at the main Basilica in Mexico City, and titled The Empress of America.

Not only are the photographs well-chosen, but Chico has seamlessly woven various audio tracks into the slideshow; the ambient sound of a local flute and mini-drum, a couple of interviews, a live mass at the Basilica, organ music and even a mariachi band. A very nice production.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

WP: "Destiny" of Girls

Photo © Nikki Kahn/WP-All Rights Reserved

Nikki Kahn is a documentary photographer and photojournalist working for The Washington Post, and has recently been featured of the its website with her photo essay "For Impoverished Girls, School Is Just A Dream", which is accompanied by an article written by Mary Jordan, titled "This Is The Destiny of Girls".

The photographs are of young girls in the westernmost area in India called the Little Rann of Kutch, where one of the main industries is salt-gathering.

In these impoverished villages, many young girls are pulled out of school to help the families earn a meager living from salt gathering. The article tells us that "it is a familiar story in much of the developing world, and particularly South Asia. In India, half the women older than 15 are illiterate, twice the rate for men, and millions of poor girls are pulled out of school to help at home, often when they are 10 to 12 years old." In these parts, it's the girls destiny to remain illiterate.

Nikki Kahn's website is here

Cambodia: Royal Apsaras

Photograph © Christophe Loviny-All Rights Reserved

Christophe Loviny is a photojournalist and editor. He's been a specialist of Southeast Asia for over 25 years, and was based in Angkor from 1989 to 1994. His work on Cambodia has been published in The Sunday Times Magazine, Asiaweek, Geo, L'Express, Paris-Match, Stern, Le Figaro-Magazine, and others. He is the author of several illustrated books, one of which is “Les Danseuses Sacrées d'Angkor”, a collection of texts and photographs on the identity of Cambodia.

Here's a sampling of his photographs of the sacred dancers of Angkor, or The Royal Ballet of Cambodia in a Issuu flash booklet via Lightmediation Photo Agency.

For an early multimedia (QuickTime) gallery of my own, and overdue for a Soundslides makeover, here's Celestial Apsaras.


Yet another Christmas cake! Here are my cakes from the last two years of postings.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. I will be back in the new year with lots more recipes and photographs.

Thank you to the scores of thousands of people from around the world, who have stopped by and looked at my blog. Also a huge thank you for leaving such generous comments.

Last weekend we went to our local coffee shop, to see if we could pick up any hints and tips in our continuing endeavour to make the perfect cup of coffee. This photograph was taken at Sadliers Coffee Lounge, which has been voted the UK's Best Coffee Shop. As a coffee lover this was the perfect start to Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Justin Mott: HCM City (Saigon)

Photo © Justin Mott/NYT-All Rights Reserved

Here's a slideshow of photographs by Justin Mott as featured in the Travel section of The New York Times' website under the caption of A Weekend in Ho Chi Minh City.

I haven't been to Vietnam for a couple of years, and these photographs show the immense strides that Vietnam's main cities have taken towards modernization. Sure, there were already quite a few phenomenally good restaurants in HCM City when I was there, but it seems the number has grown exponentially since.

The first image of the slideshow is of the famed Rex Hotel whose rooftop terrace is not only where the international correspondents were covering the Vietnam war, but where I had the best grilled seafood in Asia.

Justin Mott was featured on TTP a number of times. An interview is here, a post here, and here

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Big Picture's Photographs of the Year 2

Image © Sigit Pamungkas-Reuters

Image © Reinhard Krause-Reuters

Here's the second installment of the Photographs of the Year as featured by "The Big Picture", the large image blog launched by the Boston Globe, and compiled by Alan Taylor. I'm told by knowledgeable sources that The Big Picture records about 750,000 to 1,000,000 hits a day.

Deciding that I had enough of gory pictures for a few days, I looked for travel-related imagery, and here are the two photograph in this second part which in my view are just lovely.

The first is of Muslim women attend prayers on the eve of the first day of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan at a mosque in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia on August 31, 2008, by the photographer Sigit Pamungkas.

The second is of ethnic Tibetan worshipers entering a monastery to celebrate Monlam, or Great Prayer Festival, during a sandstorm in Aba, Sichuan province, February 17, 2008. Thousands of Tibetan pilgrims gathered to celebrate Monlam, one of the most important festivals in Tibetan Buddhism. The photographer is Reinhard Krause.

Lunatic Magazine #3

Here's issue #3 of Lunatic Magazine, a bi-annual online photo magazine which seeks to give photographers the opportunity to promote original stories and images. It also aims to provide space for creative work within photojournalism. The magazine presents new work from known and unknown talented photographers from all around the world. The magazine is very nicely presented, and very well edited by Karl Blanchet and Eric Hilaire.

One of the eye-catching features is Take Me Home by the talented and award winning GMB Akash of Bangladeshi free-riders on the trains that criss-cross this vast and impoverished nation.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Work: The Buddha's Apprentices

Here's an audio slideshow based on the Soundslides flash platform featuring photographs of novices (and nuns) in various monasteries in Bhutan titled The Buddha's Apprentices.

The photographs of slideshow were made during my Land of the Druk Yul photo expedition this past October.

The ambient audio was recorded in monasteries during prayer ceremonies, using a M-Audio Micro-Track, while the images were processed in Lightroom 2.2

The Big Picture's Photographs of the Year

Photograph © REUTERS/Kareem Raheem

One of the better photo blogs is "The Big Picture" launched by the Boston Globe, and compiled by Alan Taylor, who credits the old Life magazine, National Geographic, Mediastorm and MSNBC for his inspiration. The Big Picture joins the fray with its Photographs of the Year Part 1 using its high-quality large images.

One of the photographs chosen by the Boston Globe is the one above of a man carrying the body of a child recovered from the rubble of a destroyed house after an air strike in Baghdad's Sadr City in Iraq on April 29, 2008.

When talking about the motive of the Iraqi journalist in throwing a pair of shoes at him during a press conference in Baghdad; a gesture of utmost contempt in the Middle East, George W. Bush said that he didn't know what the journalist's "beef" was. Well, he should be shown this photograph...perhaps it'll jog his faulty memory.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time Pictures of the Year 2008

Photograph © Livia Corona/Time-All Rights Reserved

Yes, 'tis the season for the "photos of the year" fever. Time magazine has just published it's Pictures of the Year feature, which showcases 47 photographs its editors believe are reflective of 2008.

Incidentally, Barack Obama has made it as Time's Person of the Year. Not a great surprise...if not him, who?

As for the Pictures of the Year feature, I'm glad to see that one of the images chosen is that of the Afghan mother nursing her child photographed by Alixandra Fazzina. It was chosen as TTP's Photo of the Year just yesterday!

The above photograph is made by Livia Corona, and is of Gregory Gochtovtt of Philadelphia who, laid off from his job at Wachovia Bank in March, decided to enlist in the National Guard. He shipped out to Iraq in December. His Homer Simpson's slippers complete the story, don't they?

Travel Photographer of the Year 2008

Photograph © Charlie Mahoney-All Rights Reserved

TOPTY has just published its winners of its annual competition to crown the travel photographer of the year. Entries were received from photographers in 61 countries, and shortlisted entrants from 33 countries went through to the final judging round. Category winners for 2008 come from Australia, Italy, the UK and USA, with photographers from Kenya, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland among the other prizewinners.

The Young Travel Photographer of the Year category was won by Daniel Rooney of the UK, while Charlie Mahoney, the American photojournalist who won the TPOTY New Talent category in 2007 has returned this year to win the Life portfolio category.

Congratulations to Canadian landscape photographer Darwin Wiggett for deservedly winning the TOPTY crown, but well deserved kudos to Charlie Mahoney for his beautifully evocative series involving two Irish brothers and an intimate insight into their lives as farmers. His photo essay, Ancestral Calling, was featured on this blog in September, and the post is here.

In the post, I wrote : "The photographs in this gallery are just superbly composed, and the Irish light is perfect." I'm glad the contest judges agreed with me.

MSNBC's Year In Pictures 2008

MSNBC has just published its Year In Pictures slideshow, which is in two parts; News and Sports, and allows viewers to cast their vote. Many of the bylines under the News photographs are of well-known photojournalists.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lightroom 2.2 Available

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.2 is available immediately as a free upgrade for existing Lightroom 2 users. According to the company, its Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 2.2 update includes these enhancements:

• Additional camera support for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon PowerShot G10, Panasonic DMC-LX3 and other.

• Includes several corrections for issues introduced by the Lightroom 2.0 release

Mac users can get it from here.

Windows users from here.

TTP's Photo of the Year

Photograph © Alixandra Fazzina-All Rights Reserved

I'm very pleased to announce that the second annual The Travel Photographer's Photo of the Year is the above wonderful photograph by Alixandra Fazzina. It's of an Afghan woman named Siamoy, who's breast feeding her baby boy as she goes to visit her sisters at their home in Khourdakon village, in the remote mountainous province of Badakshan.

Alixandra traveled to Afghanistan with Oxfam as part of its work on maternal mortality, which involves providing help and assistance in Badakhshan from this worthy organization.

Alixandra Fazzina has spent a decade chronicling war, violence, misery and distress, mainly in Africa and the Middle East. She photographed the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army and their victims in Uganda, the Miya-Miya rebels in Congo, and is currently working on a story about people-smuggling from Ethiopia and Somalia to the Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In addition to her work for British newspapers such as The Sunday Times, Guardian, Telegraph and The Independent, her reportage features were published in Newsweek, The New York Times, Stern and Corriere.

TTP's previous post on Alixandra's photo essay Childbirth Perils

Monday, December 15, 2008

Canon 5D Mark II: Availability?

US-based photographers who can't find a Canon 5D Mark II at their favorite (or any) retailer, can always fly to Paris and buy it there. I'm told by a visitor to Paris that she'll be buying one at the retail price of Euros 2400 or 2000 (the latter when clawing back one's "detaxe" or VAT at the airport). Euros 2000 is equivalent to $2740 at today's rate of exchange.

An alternative is to fly to Shanghai where, according to Ryan Pyle, every camera store is flush with Canon 5D Mark II's at same price as here.

Just a thought.

Ryan Pyle: Gongga Shan

Photographs © Ryan Pyle-All Rights Reserved

Born in Canada, Ryan Pyle obtained a degree in International Politics from the University of Toronto and subsequently fled to China on an exploratory mission. In 2002 he settled in China permanently (currently in Shanghai, China), and began taking freelance assignments in 2004. He then became a regular contributor to the New York Times covering China, Time, Newsweek, Outside Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine, Fortune and Der Spiegel.

Ryan recently produced a photo essay on Gongga Shan or Gongga Mountain, which was included as an Honorable Mention in the awards at the Banff Mountain Culture Awards.

The photo essay was produced during an arduous journey through China's remote Sichuan province; departing from the Chinese town of Kangding, Ryan and his writing partner walked 4 days (at an average altitude of 4000m) to reach the remote Tibetan Gongga Mountain Monastery. It was very much a journey from Han China to Tibetan China at a time when relations between the two have been severely strained.

Here's an excerpt: "I had first learned about Minya Konka, or Gongga Shan, from naturalist Joseph Rock. His work in eastern Tibet, now western Sichuan, was pioneering and when he first laid eyes on Minya Konka he believed he had found the largest mountain in the world. He wasn't far off. Minya Konka stands an impressive 7556m and towers above the rest of the range. It's a sight beyond words. The Minya Konka Tibetan Monastery rests at the base of the mountain. My journey to the monastery began on foot in the town of Laoyulin, just outside of Kangding. From there the four-day, 120-km trek to the monastery had taken its toll, walking at an average altitude of about 4000 m. But this is the way many of the pilgrims make the journey to this remote monastery, and it was important to follow in their footsteps to understand the significance of the temple and its role in the community. Each morning at the monastery one monk prays alone in the main prayer hall. It was a damp and cold morning and there was a lovely light coming in from the single window; my only concern was to do justice to the moment."

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The sparkling clementines bathing in the Cointreau syrup look so pretty they can be served piled high in a glass bowl, without even considering making the cake. This is how I served them last year, and they are a very welcome dessert after all the rich food we had devoured!

The clementines are submerged in the Cointreau syrup for 24 hours before using and are simply turned now and again. The sparkling clementines in their syrup can be made in advance and popped into the freezer.

The cake was made with ready-to-eat apricots that had been simmered gently in clementine juice. A tender crumbed, moist cake that either keeps well or can be frozen. This cake is an all-in-one mixture and so no labour intensive cake making here!

This recipe is by Mary Cadogan who is now a food consultant for BBCGoodFood Magazine.


ISBN 056352149X - Page 122

Serves: 6

You will need: A buttered and base lined 20cm round cake tin.

For the cake: 100g ready-to-eat finely chopped dried apricots, 175ml clementine juice (6-8 clementines), 100g softened butter, 100g golden caster sugar, 2 eggs, 50g self-raising flour, 175g ground almonds, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbs slivered almonds, icing sugar for dusting.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4/Fan 160°C. Place the apricots in a pan with the clementine juice. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
2. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs and flour in a bowl for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, then fold in the ground almonds, vanilla and apricots along with their juices.
3. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Scatter over the slivered almonds. Bake in the oven for approximately 40-50 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container).

For the Sparkling Clementines:

8 clementines, 175g golden caster sugar, 5 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

1. Squeeze the juice from 2 clementines and put to one side. Peel the remaining clementines and remove all the pith, place them in a heatproof bowl.
2. Put the sugar in a saucepan with 6 tablespoons cold water. Gently heat, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat, stop stirring and rapidly boil until the syrup turns light caramel, about 2-4 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the clementine juice and Cointreau. Return to the heat and stir until the caramel is smooth, then pour it over the whole clementines. Turn them in the syrup, then cover with a saucer to submerge them and leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

To Serve: Dust the cake with icing sugar. Slice the cake and put a wedge on each plate with a clementine. Spoon the syrup over the cake and fruit. Serve with Greek yogurt.

Condition Critical

Here's Condition Critical, a feature produced by MediaStorm for Medecins Sans Frontieres on the war in the eastern Congo; a horrific war virtually ignored by the US mainstream media, which is consumed by far more serious matters such as whether the Governor of Illinois is corrupt, if Sarah Palin will be running in 2012...and of course, that Barack Obama will use his middle name when he's inaugurated.

Here's an excerpt: "Hundreds of thousands of people are on the run, fleeing a war raging in eastern Congo in the provinces of North and South Kivu. They are frightened. Many are sick or wounded. Others have been harassed or raped, or have had everything they own stolen. For more than a decade, several armed groups and the army have been fighting each other in the Kivus. The violence has made it impossible for people to lead normal lives. Life isn’t just hard in the Kivus: this region is in critical condition. And things aren’t getting any better. The destiny of everyone in this region of Congo is shaped by the war. The story of their struggle to survive needs to be told."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

NPR: Reza: War And Peace

Image © Gerard Rancinan-All Rights Reserved

Reza Deghati is one of the world's eminent photojournalists, who traveled the world for nearly 30 years, bearing witness to wars, unrest, great leaders and the courage of ordinary people trapped by history. He has won countless awards, working for publications such as National Geographic, Newsweek and Time.

NPR has an interview with Reza, to publicize his latest book, Reza War and Peace: A Photographer's Journey. It is "a retrospective of that work, drawing on his own tale of exile and giving voice to those he met along his journey, those without means or audience, who suffer the injustices of war and disaster".

Canon 5D Mark II: $4800...WTF?

I just read on 1001 Noisy Cameras that a camera retailer is offering a Canon 5D Mark II with a EF 24-105mm f4.0 L lens for $4800, a nice $1000 premium. Since these cameras are sold out with a long waiting list, it seems the retailer in question figures that some photographers will fork out an additional $1000 for it to have it know, the immediate gratification thing.

I guess the recessionary headlines haven't made it to where this retailer is located. Greed and cupidity...isn't that what brought Wall Street to its knees just a month ago?

Private: The Other Side of India

PRIVATE is a self-described quarterly international review of black and white photographs and texts, and an "independent and itinerant publication that offer its photographic journey since 1992".

Its website, Private Photo Review, is showcasing a special issue titled The Other Side of India, with black & white photographs by Indian photographers, such as Srinivas Kuruganti with Coal India Limited, Saibal Das with Circus Girls, Bijoy Chowdhury with Bandwallahs, and others.

I wish Private Photo Review could have shown us a sample of these photographs in a larger format. As they are, they're too small for us to really appreciate. For instance, it could've used Issuu to publish a sample magazine, which would enhanced its eye-candy appeal.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Charles Meacham: Hemkund Sahib

Image © Charles Meacham-All Rights Reserved

Charles Meacham was born just outside of Philadelphia, and his first major travel experience was a year trip touring the U.S. in a 1971 Volkswagen camper. Overheating and bursting into flames, the van died along a highway in Arizona, but his interest in travel did not.

He specializes in projects involving Sikhism, and he has recently documented the festival in Nanded, one of the biggest Sikh festival. The pilgrimage to Hemkund, whose site is a glacial lake surrounded by seven peaks located in the Himalayas at an elevation of over 15,000 ft (4,600 m), is in Uttarakhand state of India, and at a distance of 275 kilometers from Rishikesh. Charles tells me that he was the only professional photographer at the festival.

Meacham's photographs of the Sikh Nanded festival are nicely color-saturated and well editited, so that I could easily imagine what the trek felt, especially that the last section of 5 kilometers involves a steep climb from 10,000 feet to 15,000 feet.

Sikhism was founded in the 16th century Punjab district, and was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him. It is a monotheistic religion which stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals.

Charles Meacham website

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NG's Traveler: 2008 Photo Contest Results

The National Geographic Traveler announced its annual photo contest winners. The photo contest received over 14,500 entries from 4000 "amateur shutterbugs" (The Traveler's terminology, not mine).

Traveler's Photo Contest Winners

Not to diminish the quality of the winning photographs, but had I been the judge, the above photograph would have won first prizes.

Separately, in the National Geographic International Photo Contest, the Viewers Choice (which is picked by viewers, not by judges) is the above photograph which seems to have been manipulated to add the clouds' reflections.

Update: just posted a statement on the above photograph, which essentially says that it appeared altered, which is against the rules of the contest. It has now been taken down.

The Winners of the Viewers' Choice

Mustafah Abdulaziz: Patagonia Cowboys

Photograph © Mustafah Abdulaziz-All Rights Reserved

When you finish viewing his portfolio (especially his new Patagonia Cowboys series), you'll agree with me and many others...Mustafah Abdulaziz is a damn good photographer. Not only is he good, but he realizes the power of large images which populate his website, and it's quite an experience to be able to enjoy his craft through them.

Born in New York City, Mustafah is self-taught (always a huge plus for me), and worked as a freelancer for three years before moving to Philadelphia, his current base. He photographed for the Tribune newspapers, The Morning Call, Newsday, Baltimore Sun, and worked for a myriad corporate clients to include Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Olympus Cameras and others.

He attended the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico City in June where I was teaching a multimedia class and, as I was flying back to NYC with some of the rest of the instructors, the consensus was that Mustafah would reach the pinnacle of his profession soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Canon 5D Mark II: DxO Lab

(Credit: DxO Labs)

CNET's Underexposed, a blog by Stephen Shankland, has posted an article with a bunch of interesting news on the Canon 5D Mark II. For instance, it reports that the camera's sensor ranks very high on DxO Labs' test of sensor performance. This is especially significant since there's been an ongoing debate as to whether the $2,700 5D Mark II performs better than the $6,500 1Ds Mark III, which has the same resolution of 21.1 mps.

Although the DxO tests give the edge to the 1Ds Mark III based on its better color and dynamic range, the 5D Mark II has a better low-light performance. In my view, this is particularly welcome news considering that the price of a 1Ds Mark III is 2.4 times that of 5D Mark II.

The blog post also mentions the black-spot issue reported afflicting some of the new 5D Mark IIs. It also reports that Chuck Westfall of Canon will make an official comment on the issue.

Detailed image quality measurements for the Canon 5D Mark II: (DxO Labs)

As an aside, I was shopping at B&H today, and noticed a few things:

1. During my visit, the customer traffic at the cashiers' lanes were light in comparison to others occasions I was there. I didn't have to wait for a salesclerk to help me.

2. There was quite a crowd surrounding the Nikon island, where new models are on display. In contrast, the Canon island had a much smaller number, mostly around the point & shoots (ie the G10).

3. If I'm to believe the salesclerk, B&H had no 5D Mark II in stock and had even ceased taking pre-orders via email since there were too many.

Moises Saman: Machu Picchu

Photograph © Moises Saman-All Rights Reserved

I noticed that The New York Times' featured a slideshow of Machu Picchu's photographs by Moises Saman, who's better known as a conflict photographer, having covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The slideshow is titled The Lost City of the Incas while the accompanying article is written by Simon Romero.

The article's premise is that while Hiram Bingham (a model for the fictional Indiana Jones) has always been credited with discovering the Incan city of Machu Picchu in 1911, evidence has emerged that a German adventurer may have preceded him. Some records show that the German adventurer bought land in the area in the 1860s. It's an interesting read for those who feel (like I do) that many countries' heritage and patrimony have been pillaged by colonizing Western powers (especially European). For instance, I read that Ethiopia is now demanding that Britain’s museums return some of its most significant religious treasures and artifacts, including the Ethiopian royal crown, 140 years after they were looted by marauding British troops.

As for Moises Saman, he became a staff photographer at New York Newsday from 2000-07, and is currently a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. His work received many awards and recognitions, including in the 2007 World Press Photo contest and the UNICEF Photo of the Year awards. He also received a World Press Photo award for his coverage of the presidential elections in Haiti, as well as being named Photographer of the Year by the New York Press Photographers Association.

WSJ: Phil Borges

"When Phil Borges learned of the perks that came with being a dentist, he switched his major from engineering to orthodontics. But his first love -- photography -- would eventually become his second career."

And so begins the recent Wall Street Journal's article on a peerless photographer; Phil Borges. For over twenty five years Phil has lived with and documented indigenous and tribal cultures around the world, and with his work he aims to create a deeper understanding of issues faced by people in the developing world.

The article tells us that Phil, now 66, says it would have been easy to stay in orthodontics. "I would have had a comfortable life," he says. "[But] I wanted to be fulfilled, and whenever I picked up my camera, I was doing what I wanted."

And he did.

[Previous posts on Phil Borges on TPP can be found HERE and HERE]

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Canon 5D Mark II: Black Spots?

The blogosphere is jumping with the buzz that some users of the new Canon 5D Mark II have reported that photos taken with it can be "blemished with dark spots near areas with very bright highlights".

While some users have said that there is a simple fix for it, Canon appears to be aware of this report, and is looking into's possibly a firmware issue.

I have two thoughts on this: Firstly, I never buy a just released new camera from its first batch, and always wait for the second, or even third, batch until all its kinks (if any) are resolved. Secondly, if this avers to be a real issue and Canon fumbles it, it'll have significant product credibility problems on its hands.

CNET's Crave Black Spots Afflict Canon's New SLR

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rodrigo Cruz: Migrants

Photograph © Rodrigo Cruz-All Rights Reserved

I'm very pleased to feature the excellent work of Mexican photojournalist Rodrigo Cruz on TTP. Rodrigo was the energy behind the success of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico in June 2008, and without his unstinting assistance, many of us would not have been able to produce the work we did.

Rodrigo is an extraordinarily talented independent photographer (and videographer), whose main body of work is with non-governmental organizations in Mexico and elsewhere. His work has been awarded innumerable recognitions, including First Place (Migration category) in the 14th Latin-American Contest of Documentary Photography 2008, First place in the International Photography Contest on Indigenous People Human Rights in 2007, and First place in the News category of the National Geographic's Latin America contest "Luces de America".

Rodrigo Cruz's Multimedia Migrants is a powerful example of how multimedia can be harnessed to document a social issue, without resorting to the artifices of "eye-candy" and irrelevant add-ons.

PDN's POTD: More Large Pictures

PDN has recently joined the list of large-image blogs with its Photo Of The Day. As posted earlier on TTP, some of the others are the Boston Globe's The Big Picture and WSJ's Photo Journal, and the Sacramento Bee's The Frame.

PDN's entry is somewhat different than the rest, since it appears that it intends to feature a collection of various photography styles: documentary, fine art, portraits, etc.

I'm glad the large-image format is adopted by many newspaper websites across the country. I still don't know how these will be monetized other than through accompanying adverts, but they certainly are an excellent platform to show off work by deserving photographers.


I thought how striking the colours were in my Apricot, Almond and Cranberry cake and with some of the leftover fruits made this granola.

The granola is full of wonderful dried fruits, nuts and seeds, also it gave me an opportunity to use some of my freshly grated coconut I have squirreled away in the freezer.

The recipe makes a huge 1.5kg, but I simply halved the original recipe and stored the granola in a large kilner jar.

This seasonal granola would be wonderful as a gift, especially if you are to be a house guest over Christmas, and I couldn't think of a better way to start Christmas day than with a bowl of jewelled granola.

The recipe also comes under another title Crunchy Nutty Muesli and is in Rachel's Favourite Food ISBN 0717138984 this can be found on page 89.

Sometime ago I made granola and this too was a runaway success. As an added bonus for all of you Nigel Slater fans, I have given the recipe for his Two-Oat Muesli in the comment box!

Well, I seem to be on a roll now using up the cranberries and apricots. Pop back in a weeks time to see what else I've made!

After many reqests here is the recipe for Crunchy Nutty Granola.

Makes 1.5kg

125g butter, 150ml runny honey, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 500g rolled oats, 50g roughly chopped pecan nuts, 150g roughly chopped hazelnuts, 75g pumpkin seeds, 75g sunflower seeds, 50g golden linseeds, 100g desiccated coconut, 300g mixed dried fruit such as dates, figs, apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries (the larger fruit chopped)

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3.
2. Place the butter, honey and vanilla extract in a small saucepan on a low heat and gently melt together. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds and desiccated coconut together in a large bowl. Pour over the melted butter and honey mixture and stir really well to ensure all the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
3. Divide the mixture between two large baking trays and spread in an even layer. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays, stirring every now and then. (If you transfer it into a deep bowl at this stage, while it is still warm, it will go soggy.)
4. Once completely cool, transfer to a large bowl and stir in your choice of dried fruits. Pour into an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to two months.

POV: If Only....

Photograph © Jb Reed/NYT-All Rights Reserved

I'd like to start the week with a story that appeared in the New York Times' City section yesterday. After the mindless mayhem in Mumbai, stories such as this one are to be treasured and remembered.

An Indonesian Muslim, Dinar Puspita is a 17-year old exchange student currently attending school in Riverdale, New York. This is an increasingly Jewish Orthodox neighborhood with many synagogues, but no mosques. This made it extremely difficult for Dinar to perform her prayers as required by her faith, until her host contacted Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center asking if Dinar could pray there since her school prohibits religious prayers.

The Rabbi agreed, and eventually surprised by the attention of the media, said "I never understood what the big deal was. Somebody’s child from halfway around the world needs a place to worship.”

In my view, Rabbi Rosenblatt and Dinar Puspita are the true representatives of their faiths.

Now if only the Muslim worshipers in Denpasar could read this, and atone for their angry indignation when I entered the mosque...only to find out later that I had as much right as they had to be in this Muslim place of worship, and realize how right I was when I chastised them for their offensive behavior.

If only the illiterate self-appointed "guardians" at the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, who wave me -and others- so insolently out of the mosque when it's prayer time, could read this and see how a young Muslim girl was welcomed to worship in a Jewish synagogue.

If only the so-called keepers at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul would read this, and realize that telling non-Muslims to enter the mosque from a small side door, is ridiculous...and not in keeping with Islam's tenets. Dinar entered the synagogue by its front door.

If only...

ps. I was justifiably taken to task by my friend and fellow photographer Asim Rafiqui by being too harsh (politely, he inserted the word "inadvertently" to minimize the criticism). He is right. The large majority of Muslims are good, kind and decent people, with unsurpassed generosity, unequaled hospitality and immense tolerance despite their many travails.. The examples I cited, while disturbing, are nevertheless aberrations, and I should have stated this with more clarity.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Katie Orlinsky: Muxe of Juchitan

Photograph © Katie Orlinsky/NYT-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times features a photo essay by Katie Orlinsky titled A Lifestyle Distinct: The Muxe of Mexico. In Zapotec cultures of Oaxaca state, a muxe is a physically male individual who dresses and behaves as a woman. These individuals are generally regarded by Mexicans as a third gender, and live their lives as women, choosing men as sexual or romantic partners. The word muxe is thought to derive from the Spanish word "mujer".

The accompanying article (by Marc Lacey) tells us that while Mexico can be intolerant of homosexuality, "nowhere are attitudes toward sex and gender quite as elastic as in the far reaches of the southern state of Oaxaca".

Katie Orlinksy is a photojournalist who divides her time between photographing news in New York City and southern Mexico where she works on long term projects. She has been published in the New York Times, LIFE, Newsweek, Time, Le Monde and various other global publications.

Katie was previously featured on TTP here in connection with her being awarded a Foundry Photojournalism Workshop scholarship in June 2008.

(Registration by The New York Times may be required)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Foundry Photojournalism Workshop 2009

As previously posted on TTP, the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop (FPW) has announced its second annual event planned for 26 July - 1 August 2009, in Manali, Manali-Kulu Valleys, Himachal Pradesh, India.

The Foundry Photojournalism Workshop was created to provide training, education and networking to emerging photographers and students who normally would not be able to afford workshops, Foundry is a grassroots workshop series held in inspiring and photographically challenging global locations.

I'm proud to be associated with FPW for the second time, and I thought it'd be useful to post details of the multimedia class I'll be teaching in Manali:

Tewfic El-Sawy will teach a multimedia class that allows its participants to concentrate on the story, rather than on the application. The purpose and aim of the class is to show photojournalists how to make quick work of slide show production, using their own images and audio generated in the field, to produce a cogent photo story under the simulation of publishing deadlines. Most of the class's time will be spent photographing in the field, while class time will be devoted to weaving the material into photo stories.

This class will require will use SoundSlides software, and either Audacity or GarageBand for audio. Participants will need to have Flash Audio Recorders for field work.

Please contact FPW's administration directly through its website for registration or questions.