Sunday, November 30, 2008

Coffee Anyone?

As a follow up to my posting Coffee and Cake, I mentioned we had a new coffee machine earlier this year. Our old coffee machine died and we decided to do some research for a few weeks and investigate our options.

There are some amazing forums for coffee lovers where you can get advice overload! They are a very useful source of information, especially if you are about to make a leap up the coffee machine ladder.

We learnt very fast from the forums, the coffee grinder is the most important piece of equipment, and we purchased a Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder. My husband really, really wanted to be the proud owner of a Rancilio Silvio coffee machine but as I explained to him, the machine has to be moved to the front of the work surface to be used and the Rancillio weighs approximately 14kg. We eventually decided to buy a Gaggia Classic coffee machine weighing in at 8kg.

A jug is needed to foam the milk, a Gaggia thermometer for checking the milk and last but not least, top quality freshly roasted coffee beans which we purchase from Hasbean .

You can see by the foam on the milk that we are getting better, but not yet to Barista standard!

We are very happy with our choices and occasionally go to our local coffee shop, which happily for us has been voted the UK's best coffee house! Here you get treated to excellent coffee, topped with latte art.

This week I went to the Good Food Show in Birmingham, and out of curiosity, asked for a demo on a top of the range fully automatic coffee machine. I can only say how disappointed I was, the milk was made up of huge bubbles and the coffee was dire. To make a good cup of coffee, passion and enthusiasm is needed, pressing a button simply just won't do!

Chico Sanchez: Mexican Bullfighting

Photograph © Chico Sanchez-All Rights Reserved

I've featured Chico Sanchez's work on a number of occasions (links below), and he's back on TTP with his SoundSlides slideshow on Mexican Bullfighting. The audio is well chosen, and weaven quite nicely into the slideshow with narrative, ambient sound, etc.

Although the subject matter may offend many who (in my view, justifiably) oppose this gruesome and cruel activity, there's also the consideration that it is a tradition, and part of Mexican history. The Spanish occupation of Mexico led to the rise of bullfighting which is locally known as la fiesta brava.

The justifications for this controversial tradition in some the slideshow's captions are rather puerile but whether we like it or not, it has been one of the most popular "sporting" events in Mexico for the last 400 years

Chico Sanchez is a freelance photographer based in Mexico City. Chico worked in Venezuela, collaborating with Reuters, European Pressphoto Agency, Agencia EFE, and freelances for various newspapers and magazines.

Previous posts of Chico Sanchez's slideshows are (here, here, and here).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Kalpesh Lathigra: Transmission

Photograph © Kalpesh Lathigra-All Rights Reserved

As previously noted in The Travel Photographer blog (see below for link), Kalpesh Lathigra is an enormously talented London-based freelance photographer, working for most of the United Kingdom's newspaper magazines, including the Sunday Times Magazine, and The Independent Magazine. His work ranges from photographic essays of the American Midwest to the aftermath of the Asian tsunami, as well as social issues related photography projects such as The Brides of Krishna, the widows in Vrindavan.

He has recently published a series of photographs titled Transmission on his website which portray women prostitutes (including some hijras, or eunuchs who dress and identify themselves as female) outside of their usual environment in Mumbai, India. Kalpesh chose to photograph his subjects, not in the brothels as many photographers have done, but in his studio.

In an accompanying article in the Independent, Kalpesh says: "They were really surprised that I wanted to take their photographs in the studio and not in a brothel, but I did it because I wanted to isolate the women visually in a direct way. The photographs are for me a way of breaking away from visual clichés – and more importantly, a way of breaking away from the taboos and stigma of HIV, which in India are still very prevalent."

Viewing these dignified portraits, I'm reminded of Sebastiao Salagado's "If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things."

Previous post on Kalpesh Lathigra (Link)

Friday, November 28, 2008

WP: Mumbai Attacks

Photograph © Altaf Qadri/AP-All Rights Reserved

The media is full of reports of the attacks on Mumbai's landmark hotels and others areas. This is the third day that militants and Indian security forces are battling, with reports of about 150 dead, and over 300 wounded. The majority of the casualties and wounded are Indians. The situation still appears confused, with continuous news of blasts and gunfire still being heard in areas.

Here's a slideshow of images by various photographers which appeared on the Washington Post's website. The one above is by Altaf Qadri, an AP photographer. I wonder what the blurry figure on the right of the photograph is doing....putting his life in danger in such a fashion.

(Registration may be required by The Washington Post, and some images are graphic).

Nikon Outs Its DX3

Image Courtesy Engadget

In the pursuit of fair and balanced reporting, here's a Nikon item. According to the Engadget website, Nikon has outed its yet to be formally announced DX3 DSLR. It's said that it will have a 24.5mp FX sensor, 5:4 and DX crops, 5fps at full resolution; DX crop shoots 10mp images at up to 7fps, ISO 100-1600, with an extendability of down to 50 and up to 6400 along with 16 bit EXPEED processor.

This Nikon model targets Canon's 1DS Mark III as its main competitor, but whether photographers will ditch their high-end Canons and lens investments in favor of the new Nikon is doubtful. We'll have to wait and see.

Price and delivery date are unknown.

Via BJP's 1854

Thursday, November 27, 2008

National Geo's Photo Contest: Results

Photograph © Van Nguyen/Courtesy NG-All Rights Reserved

The National Geographic's website just featured the winners of its International Photography Contest. Its categories were People, Places and Nature. However, to see all the submissions, one needs to download some program called Silverlight from Microsoft...which is not compatible with Power PC Macs. Too bad...and sort of shortsighted from National Geographic's deciders.

The above photograph is my favorite amongst those I could see on my treasured Power PC Mac. It combines a compassionate and candid moment by photographer Van Nguyen of a Vietnamese girl during a journey to America for medical treatment....she's probably a burn victim.

Makin' Babies: A Laugh

I think a joke will lift our collective spirit on this Thanksgiving day. It's a bit long, but you'll get into it pretty quickly. Of course, it's a good thing the photographer is a Canon wouldn't work otherwise. Thanks to Ralph Childs for relaying it to me.


The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Mr. Smith kissed his wife goodbye and said, 'Well, I'm off now. The man should be here soon.'

Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale.

'Good morning, Ma'am', he said, 'I've come to...'

'Oh, no need to explain,' Mrs. Smith cut in, embarrassed, 'I've been expecting you.'

'Have you really?' said the photographer. 'Well, that's good.Did you know babies are my specialty?'

'Well that's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat'.

After a moment she asked, blushing, 'Well, where do we start?'

'Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is fun. You can really spread out there.'

'Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Harry and me!'

'Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.'

'My, that's a lot!', gasped Mrs. Smith .

'Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be in and out in five minutes, but I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that.'

'Don't I know it,' said Mrs. Smith quietly

The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. 'This was done on the top of a bus,' he said.

'Oh, my word!' Mrs. Smith exclaimed, grasping at her throat.

And these twins turned out exceptionally well - when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with.'

'She was difficult?' asked Mrs. Smith .

'Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look'

'Four and five deep?' said Mrs. Smith , her eyes wide with amazement.

'Yes', the photographer replied. 'And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling - I could hardly concentrate, and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in.'

Mrs. Smith leaned forward. 'Do you mean they actually chewed on your,'

'It's true, Ma'am, yes... Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away.'


'Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long.'

Mrs. Smith fainted.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Social Documentary Website

I've stumbled across the Social Documentary website, a new addition to documentary photography on the web, and which features documentary photography from around the world.

According to its self-description, Social Documentary welcomes "professional and amateur photographers, journalists, NGOs, students—anyone with a story to tell and a collection of good photographs" and who seek to create easy and affordable websites on

Its secondary goal "is to create an online image bank of quality photographs documenting all aspects of the world created by an international collection of photographers. "

The Terms & Conditions are here, and, as usual with such ventures, make sure you read and accept these before deciding.

Yan Seiler: The Outsiders

Photograph © Yan Seiler-All Rights Reserved

Yan Seiler travels allows him to document the plight of people in several Asian countries, an experience that provides his work a strong humanitarian slant.

His biography on his website is sparse, but it appears the Swiss national’s interest in photography is very recent, and was kindled by the gift of an old film camera in 2004. He discovered his indisputable talents quite rapidly, bought a digital SLR and took a break from his office job to leave for Asia.

I feature this SoundSlides slideshow titled The Outsiders of Yan's work amongst a community of lepers in India.

By way of background, leper colonies still remain around the world, in countries such as India, Japan, Egypt, Nepal and Vietnam. It is now commonly believed that many of those segregated into these communities were presumed to have leprosy, when they actually had syphilis. Leprosy is not highly infectious, as approximately 95% of people are immune and sufferers are no longer infectious after only a few days of treatment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Canon 5D Mark II Video

Canon EOS5DmkII, One night in Beijing. from Dan Chung on Vimeo

Here's a video filmed by the UK's The Guardian newspaper photographer Dan Chung entirely on a production Canon EOS5DmkII and adapted Nikon and Zeiss lenses using manual focus. The camera was purchased to use solely as a video camera with existing Nikon kit.

The film was shot an edited in about twelve hours directly after picking the camera up from a Beijing camera store and charging the battery.

What can I say? It's very impressive. It's reported that the Canon 5D Mark II will be shipped to US retailers starting November 25. It'll be interesting to see how well this camera does in this economic environment...will they fly off the shelves at B&H, Adorama, J&R. Amazon and the rest of the stores? There is significant pent-up demand for this model in particular, but the holiday shopping season is predicted to be dismal....time will tell.

via PDNPulse (Link)

Sacramento Bee: The Chhat Festival

Photograph © AP / Bikas Das-All Rights Reserved

The Sacramento Bee website has recently joined the list of large-image blogs with its The Frame. Two of the others are the Boston Globe's The Big Picture and WSJ's Photo Journal.

The Frame has featured photographs of the Chhat festivities in India last week. Hindu devotees worship the sun god and fast all day for the improvement of their family and society during the festival.

Chhat is celebrated twice a year, once in summer (May-July), called the Chaiti Chhat, and once during October-November, six days after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhat. The first day of Chhat begins with a ritual bathing (preferably in the Ganges River), followed by a period of abstinence by the worshipers. Photographs are by a number of photographers such as Altaf Qadri and Bikas Das among others.

I expect more large-image blogs will be imitated by many newspaper websites across the country. I 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.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tom Hoops: Wai Kru Ceremony

Photograph © Tom Hoops-All Rights Reserved

Tom Hoops' biography is sparse....very sparse. His website only says that he's a freelance photographer, based in Bangkok and available for worldwide assignments. That's it.

However, his work speaks for him. Mostly black & white, with a few in color, Hoops has a natural affinity for portraits...striking portraits. A few of his subjects display enormous magnetism, and his Heads gallery is a must-see on his website.

But the gallery I liked best is the Documentary one because Hoops displays his work on the annual Wai Kru (homage to the teacher) ceremony at Wat Bang Phra, a Buddhist monastery 25 miles west of Bangkok. It is here that thousands of laborers, taxi-drivers, truck drivers, mobsters, small time crooks arrive once a year at the temple to take part in ceremony known as wai kru. They receive new tattoos, refresh faded ones, and get high or drunk.

(Tom Hoops gallery via Penelope Gan's blog)

I'm very familar with Wat Bang Phra (or Phro) and its tattooing monks. I photographed the monks at the monastery, and have a blog post here.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This cake could easily be made now, and frozen without it's icing, ready for Christmas. It is full of all things Christmassy, dried cranberries, apricots, ground almonds and orange. Making a Christmas cake isn't for everyone and we all know it's quite a time consuming task.

I decorated the cake with glace icing and then simply brushed the bay leaves and green grapes with egg white, dusted them with caster sugar and left them to dry. Even if you don't make the cake, frosted grapes are delicious!

I nearly forgot to say, if you do make this cake, don't put the mixture into a paper cake liner as I did, otherwise you will end up with cake liner marks on your cake and it really isn't a good look for a special occasion cake.

You can either make this cake in a 2lb loaf tin or halve the mixture and use two 1lb loaf tins. Either way, they need to be greased and lined.

For the cake:

175g butter, 175g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 300g self-raising flour, 100g dried cranberries, 200g chopped ready-to-eat apricots, 50g ground almonds, grated zest 1 orange.

1. Heat the oven to Gas 3, 160°C, 325°F.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs adding a little of the flour if the mixture curdles. Stir in the flour with the cranberries, apricots, almonds and orange zest.
4. Dollop into the tin, smooth the top and bake for approximately 1½ hours(the 1lb loaf tins will take less time to cook), until golden, risen and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.

For the decoration:

1 orange, 100g caster sugar, 4-5 green grapes, 6 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons orange juice. Or alternatively, you can use a glace icing.

1. Put 2 tablespoons of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a small pan, boil for 2 minutes until syrupy. Add the remaining sugar, stir well then drizzle over the cake.
2. Decorate with the frosted grapes, bay leaves and curls of orange peel (this can be made by using a potato peeler and paring off one long strip of orange rind, cut the strip of orange rind into 3 or 4 strips and wind up tightly).

POV: Photographers & Recession Part 2

In contrast to my previous Photographers & Recession, today's POV post strikes a happier note, and here's why:

I was emailed last night by a potential buyer looking for a travel/documentary photographer (he'll remain anonymous to respect his privacy) who, among his many travels, photographed in Tibet. It seems the buyer wanted to buy his photographs of Tibet, searched the net for them, and found a post on The Travel Photographer's blog featuring his work, website, etc.

I was asked for this photographer's email (I don't know why the buyer didn't see it on his website), so I provided it with great alacrity, and hopefully the deal will be done soon.

This is certainly not the first time (or the last) that I've been contacted for information on photographers who appear on this blog...some from buyers, some publishers...many ask me the whereabouts of certain photographers....for some I know and for others I don't...but I always try to help. In many cases, my posts on photographers appear on top of the Google search pages, so buyers, collectors and publishers try The Travel Photographer's blog first.

I'm gratified that The Travel Photographer's blog serves such a purpose. When I started it, this never crossed my mind, so it's doubly gratifying.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Enrico Martino: Mexico's Tehuanas

Photograph © Enrico Martino-All Rights Reserved

After considerable thought, the gallery on Enrico Martino's website that I liked the best is titled "A Matriarchy in the Land of's the photographer's ode to the tehuanas, the beautiful women of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico. These women wear beautifully colored dresses and when they dance, they have the male spectators eating out of their hands. Such are the tehuanas , the ancient soul of Mexico; the reason why Frida Khalo wore their traditional dresses, and why Diego Rivera immortalized them with his murals.

Enrico Martino is an Italian photojournalist living and working in Turin. He started his career as a photojournalist, publishing stories in various publications and magazines such as Epoca, Espresso, Elle, Marie-Claire, and Rutas del Mundo, to name but a few. He specializes in travel and cultural assignments, and has directed his talented eye on Latin America, with particular emphasis on Mexico.

His website is replete with extraordinarily interesting galleries. Among Enrico's recent work are Holy Cora Week (Judea Cora), Panama, Tangiers, The Dancing Gods of Kathakali (I struggled a lot not to feature this gallery!), and among his archives, I found Antigua in Guatemala and the best of all, The Living Stones (Orient's Christians).

A word of advice: give yourself the time to explore all of Enrico's galleries. They'll open up new worlds and if you're a travel photographer with my sort of mindset, you'll find fresh directions in his work

Friday, November 21, 2008

Canon's Behind The Lens: Marco di Lauro

Photograph © Marco di Lauro-All Rights Reserved

Canon's Behind The Lens features Italian photographer Marco di Lauro. He's a photographer since 1993, and has been shooting for Getty Images since 2002 after working as a freelancer for The Associated Press. He covered conflicts in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa and The Balkans, and recently returned from a two month embed with British paratroopers in Afghanistan.

Although the article on Marco is essentially a promo piece for Canon's products, I was struck by this quote:

"I prefer to use short lenses than the longer EF70-200mm f/1.4L USM I have in my bag, they are more suitable for the type of photography I do and they really fit my personality. I use the EF35mm f/1.4L USM for at least 80% of the pictures I take - I need to be close to the subjects I photograph. Some photographers are really good long lens photographers; I am not. I need to feel the breath of the subject I photograph, I need to feel what I feel, I need to go through his emotions and, if he is suffering, I need to suffer with him."

Not that I'm remotely close of being a conflict photographer, but it's uncanny how this quote describes my style of photographing as well (minus the "suffering" bit, which is not what I'm involved with). I started off my travel photography by using, virtually exclusively, the 70-200mm f/2.8 for my photographs. I don't know whether it was an initial unwillingness to approach the subject(s) and engage or whether it was my visual preference at the time, but I found that over the ensuing years, I used it less and less. It's a great lens, but I much prefer shorter lenses...and while I haven't yet mastered my new 24mm 1.4L lens as much as I would like, I know that it -and the other short zooms in my kit- provides me with the ability of getting really close to my subjects.

Marco di Lauro: Between Duty and Downtime

Thursday, November 20, 2008

POV: Photographers & Recession

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The United States stocks crashed to five-and-a-half year lows yesterday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 427 points, the S&P 500 losing 52 points and the Nasdaq Composite falling 52 points. At opening today, the Dow dropped another 150 points to get to a low of 7850.

The Associated Press solemnly announced that Japan, Hong Kong and European countries including Germany and Italy are officially in recession and the U.S. and Britain would be joining them soon. In my estimate, we're already there.

We have recently read that newspapers and magazines are reducing their costs to a degree not seen before in the industry....and some are already stopping their print editions, relying only on their online presence.

I've said it many times before, but it's worth repeating as often as a Buddhist mantra: if photographers do not diversify and use the new technological products now available, they'll end up not working nor selling their work. Whether you're a travel or editorial photographer, embrace multimedia, use it and become proficient in producing cutting edge work. That's the only way to stay ahead and to hopefully offer something that will be different. I predict that photo editors and similar buyers will rely more and more on Flickr images (or similar), because they won't have the budgets to pay working photographers.

The next 3-4 years will be rough....even rougher than we think.

LAT: Cementerio Norte

Photograph © Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times-All Rights Reserved

Here's a multimedia feature published on the Los Angeles Time's website titled Cementario Del Norte (I think it should be spelled Cementerio), a cemetery in the north of Manila. About 50,000 poverty-striken Filipinos consider this cemetery as their home, and have converted the burial site into a village of the living.

The photography and audio of the slideshow is by Luis Sinco.

Historians say that both living and the dead have populated the cemetery since it opened in 1884, since it needed caretakers to guard valuables often sealed with the dead inside the mausoleums.

The accompanying article by John M. Glionna is worth a read as it explains the circumstances and the current lifestyle of the unusual community that makes this cemetery its home. For instance:

"In one exclusive area, paid caretakers of the grave site of the family of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo -- an immense pyramid flanked by marble sphinxes -- enjoy air conditioning, cable television and a washer and dryer."

There is another similar community in Cairo dwarfing any other, where nearly a million people live in its City of the Dead...a 6 kilometers-long area called Al Arafa which is -and has been- Cairo's main cemetery for over 700 years.

Gemma Thorpe: Footsteps in the Gobi

Photograph © Gemma Thorpe-All Rights Reserved

Gemma Thorpe is a British freelance documentary photographer currently based in Beijing, who specializes in social and environmental issues. Having studied Geography at Sheffield University before turning to photography full-time, Gemma initially studying at Leeds College of Art and Design and then in 2007 for an MA in International Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, completed in Dalian, NE China.

She has exhibited in the United Kingdom and in China, and has published work in the UK and Europe. Her website has a number of galleries, most of which are of China but I was drawn to two of her projects: Shamanism in Korea and Footsteps In The Gobi.

The latter is a Soundslides feature of Emma's photograph made while crossing the Gobi desert, retracing the travels of Mildred Cable who was the first Englishwoman to cross the desert. From 1923 to 1936, Mildred and two friends, sisters Francesca and Eva French, traveled back and forth across the route that has become known as the Silk Road.

The Gobi Desert is the largest desert region in Asia, and covers parts of northern and northwestern China, and of southern Mongolia. It's also the 6th largest desert in the world, and is the location of several important cities along the legendary Silk Road.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The New Yorker: Photogs' Memorable Meals

Photograph © Brent Stirton/Courtesy The New Yorker

For some reason, the New Yorker magazine's website decided to feature an audio slideshow titled Tea & Wallaby, in which some photographers describe memorable meals they've had whilst working in the field. John Stanmeyer talks of chai, Rena Effendi of a gruesome-looking sheep stew, Carolyn Drake of pears in Uigur-land and Stephanie Sinclair of her favorite eating place in Beirut.

Just to add my two cents' worth to this mix:

On a self-assignment in Chhattisgarh (central India), I ate red ant chutney which is a delicacy favored by the indigenous Adivasi of the region. The red ants carry a sort of venom, and when prepared into a chutney, it adds a “je ne sais quoi” sting to one’s palate. It wasn’t bad…it had just added different kind of “zing” to the meal. The tiny critters were somewhat crunchy as well.

The other staple food that ranks high on my “avoid” list is injera; the spongy, sour flat bread of Ethiopia. Its period of fermentation gives injera a sour taste, which may well be an acquired thing. I tried to acquire the taste while on a photo-trip to Ethiopia but found it was impossibly unpalatable.

Jasmine Debels: India

I'm frequently referred to web galleries of travel photographers such as the one of Jasmine Debels, a Belgian photographer, whose India photo gallery is prefaced by a quote by Mahatma Ghandi essentially saying that happiness is in the eye of its true.

Most of Jasmine's Travel portfolio is of India, although one or two of her photographs seem to be of Burma and Bhutan. Her biography is unfortunately sparse, but she does say that she likes to travel around the world ( and who doesn't?) and wanted to share her photographs. She seems to have recently exhibited her photographs, and lists these in Flemish.

As an aside, there was quite a large number of Belgian tourists in Bhutan and amongst them a noticeable number of keen photographers.


DxO Mark proclaims that it's a website for people who are passionate about image quality. It's still in beta version, and it "features the first database of objective digital camera image quality measurements entirely accessible via the internet."

In addition to the Image Quality Database itself, the website proposes its new DxOMark Sensor scale, which allows it to rank digital camera with a single number for photographers to evaluate and compare models.

Certainly an interesting concept, and quite useful for buyers when confronted with the myriad of camera choices. Being interested in the new Canon 5D Mark II, I'll be keen to have a look at DxO Mark's measurements when these are published.

DxO Mark's Canon Database

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Richard Daniels: Buddha Factory

Photograph © Richard Daniels-All Rights Reserved

Richard Daniels is a British photographer who studied at the Royal Melbourne Institute in Australia, and is currently working out of Bangkok. He has exhibited his work at the National Museum Bangkok and participated in the International Photography Best of Show 2008 curated by Bill Hunt of Hasted Hunt (NY). His photographs were also recently published in the Lucie Awards Book, and in Through Our Eyes (Thailand Close Up).

I encourage you to visit all of Richard's galleries, although my favorite is of his recent Buddha Factory.

Magnum Blog: Advice To Young Photogs

Alec Soth's recent post Advice to Young Photographers on Magnum's blog is extremely useful, and I think it's certainly a must-read for many emerging and established photographers. Not only does it include Alec's own advice to image-makers, but also sensible advice from about 35 other Magnum photographers ranging from Abbas to Alex Majoli, from Constantine Manos to Paolo Pellegrin, and from Olivia Arthur to Susan Meiselas. Some of the advice is obvious, but others are witty and thought provoking.

Perhaps it's Abbas's advice of wearing good shoes that takes the fillip. Whether it does or doesn't, it certainly gave me the excuse to show my photograph of a tsechu dancer during the Wangdue festival in Bhutan. This amiable fellow may never be a photographer...look closely, and you'll see that his dancing shoes are so well-worn that they almost have no soles!

Monday, November 17, 2008

NYT: Tin in the Congo

Photograph © Johan Spanner-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times features a multimedia slideshow titled A Scramble for Tin in Congo ably narrated by Lydia Polgreen and with Johan Spanner's photographs. The main scene is in Bisie, a tin-rush village of about 10,000 people who mine the tin in terrible conditions, and whose output enriches renegade Congolese army troops.

One cannot help by looking at the harrowing photographs and, most of all, by reading the accompanying article (by Polgreen) of recalling Joseph Conrad's “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience,” in describing what was happening in the Congo during the early 1900s, which was then considered by King Leopold II of Belgium (a monstrous criminal if there was ever one) as his personal fiefdom. Also joining the fray was Mobutu Sese Seko who looted his own country (then called Zaire) to such an extent that African kelptocracy is synonymous with his name.

(Registration may be required by the NYT)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


'You Challenge Gordon Ramsay' is a new series in Olive Magazine where a reader challenges Gordon Ramsay to see if their recipe against his, in a blind test by three members of the Olive Magazine reader panel, matches up to Gordon's. Of course Gordon won, but only by one point!

The lemon tart has melted dark chocolate brushed over the cooked pastry case and this is then allowed to cool before adding the lemon filling. I chose not to use the chocolate because I wasn't too sure about messing about with a classic recipe. The purpose of the chocolate, although not written about in the recipe, is I presume to keep the pastry base from going soft. Next time I make the tart though, it will definitely be with the chocolate base!

The pastry can be made in the food processor, a quick whizz and it's done. The pastry is quite sticky and I decided to roll the pastry out between two sheets of cling film to make life easier.

If you decide to have a go at making this tart try not to over cook the filling, but leave it at the wobble stage in the centre.

When the tart had cooled I dusted it with icing sugar and then my husband ran an industrial blowtorch over the surface to give a brulee effect! You don't think I'm going to use that thing, do you?!!! If you scan down to the end of this posting you will see him having some brulee fun.

The filling had lots of lemon flavour and not too sweet, the pastry was very similar to shortbread. I'll definitely be making this again - but not this side of Christmas!

OLIVE MAGAZINE - October 2008 Page 61 The tart serves 8 people and the recipe can be found here.

Bob Krist: The Kerala Project

Photograph © Bob Krist-All Rights Reserved

Here's an article in Digital Photo Pro magazine by the legendary and distinguished travel photographer Bob Krist who writes of his recent experiences photographing in Kerala. Bob tells us he had never been to Kerala, and decided to go to this wonderful part of India on a self-assignment. He describes how he planned his trip carefully, and chose to deal with an Indian travel agent rather than paying the extra commissions on dealing with a U.S.-based middleman. Also included in the article is a list of Bob's gear, and various tips as how he managed to photograph the Puram festival in Trissur.

For further photographs of Kerala (and elsewhere) by a master photographer, visit Bob Krist's website.

The article is timely as I've just concluded the planning for my photo-expedition to photograph the Theyyam dancers of Malabar this coming February, and I certainly echo Bob's decision to use a local agent to eliminate extra commissions. I've hired local travel operators on all my photo expeditions, for all self-assignments and solo travels...and by doing so, saved a bundle for myself and for the participants on my photo trips.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Peter Dench: Egypt's Zabaleen

Photograph © Peter Dench-All Rights Reserved

Peter Dench is a British photographer who works primarily in the fields of commercial and editorial photography. He was granted a World Press Photo award, and his work was chosen to participate in PDN's Photo Annual 2008.

His website offers many interesting galleries (his work on UK themes is thought-provoking), but I chose his work on the Egyptian Zabaleen to bring here on the pages of TTP.

A bit of background on this unusual community (excerpted from Wikipedia):

"The Zabbaleen are an Egyptian community of mainly Coptic Christians who are self-employed in Cairo to collect and dispose of much of the city's waste. They perform this service very cheaply or for free, making a living by sorting the waste materials for reuse or recycling. Waste food is fed to livestock (most often pigs) or poultry. Other materials, such as steel, glass and plastic bottles, are sorted by hand and sold as raw materials. Other items are repaired or reused. Some material is burnt as fuel. Traditionally, donkey driven carts are used by males to collect waste from homes, which is sorted by female members of the family in zabbaleen homes. It is claimed that zabbaleen reuse or recycle 80-90% of the waste they collect. "

An estimated 60,000 - 70,000 Zabbaleen live in an area known locally as Garbage City, and are mostly descendants of poor farmers from Upper Egypt who settled in the city in the 1950s. By virtue of their being Coptic Christians and of their occupation, the zabaleen are discriminated against, and face compounded hardships brought about by the pervasive corruption and kleptocracy of Egypt's governance. Since they're not Muslims, social services provided by Islamic organizations are not extended to them as well.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Faces of India: Vincent de Groot

Photograph © Vincent de Groot-All Rights Reserved

I previously featured Vincent de Groot's photographs of Mali on this blog, and now he returns with his newly uploaded Faces of India Soundslides feature. The photographs are in black & white, and are accompanied by a hip-hop style of could well be modern Bhangra. This might be a little incongruous at first, but maybe this is precisely what the photographer intended.

Vincent de Groot took photography up in earnest in 2001, and progressively switched to digital photography since then. Born in the Netherlands, he worked and lived in Germany, then Switzerland and currently resides in France.

His previous slideshow on Malian portraits is here: (Link)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bhutan: Tamshing & Thangbi Mani festivals

Here's a gallery of my photographs titled Tsechus of Tamshing & Thangbi Mani which features the dancing monks are they prepare and perform at these two provincial festivals (or tsechus) in Bhutan's heartland of Bumthang, and from which I just returned from.

The enjoyable, but time-consuming, task of evaluating and processing all of the images brought back from my 2008 Bhutan photo-expedition has started in earnest mid-last week and is now an ongoing exercise. I just bought a OWC 500gb external hard drive specifically to host these images, and it'll supplement my existing setup of Lacie drives as well.

My Show Off: Lakhang Butter Lamps

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Here's an image made while I was entering the Wangdichoeling Lakhang in Jakar to photograph a prayer ceremony. I was hurriedly climbing a very steep set of wobbly wooden stairs to get to the lakhang's prayer room in time for the ceremony, and this scene of a woman lighting butter lamps unfolded in front of me.

In my view, little can surpass the pleasure of capturing a serendipitous scene such as this one, where all the elements fall into place for just a moment...a moment I happen to be right there, albeit somewhat out of breath.

For the techies: f2.8, 40mm, 1/30th, 100 iso (click for a larger view)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chico Sanchez: Day of the Dead

Photograph © Chico Sanchez-All Rights Reserved

Chico Sanchez brings us once again a nicely-done Soundslides feature of the El Dia de Los Muertos from the Mexican towns of Xochimilco and Toluca. He combined a well chosen ambient audio and music to create an interesting soundtrack to his photographs.

The Day of the Dead is a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico, and focuses on family gatherings and friends to pray for and remember loved ones who have died. The celebration occurs on the 1st and 2nd of November, in connection with the Catholic holy days of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Scholars trace the origins of the Day of the Dead to indigenous observances dating back thousands of years.

Chico Sanchez's other features on The Travel Photographer's blog are Lucha Libre, Lady of Guadalupe and Holy Week.

Heather McClintock

Heather McClintock announced that her solo exhibition, The Innocent: Casualties of the Civil War in Northern Uganda, opens at Gallery FCB in New York City from November 13th until January 1st (Monday - Friday: 12-5pm). The artist’s opening reception Thursday November 13th from 6-9PM.

Gallery FCB is located at 16 W.23rd st between 5th & 6th ave on the 3rd floor.

The Travel Photographer blog had a post on Heather McClintock in November 2007. (Link)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Travel Photographer's 2009 Tours

Here's a post to plug my 2009 upcoming photo-expeditions-workshops, including my participation in the Foundry photojournalism Workshop in Manali, India.

For further information and details:

Theyyams of Malabar Photo Expedition

Gnawa Festival In Essaouira

Bhutan: Land of the Druk Yul 2009

Foundry Photojournalism Workshop 2009

For a feel on how I conduct my photo-expeditions, and how they compare to others, drop by The Travel Photographer, and also read my previous posts on this blog.

Foundry Photojournalism Workshop 2009

Further details on the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop 2009 have now been published. The workshop will be held in Manali (Manali-Kulu Valleys, Himachal Pradesh, India) from 26 July to 1 August 2009, for a total of 6 days.

Tuition is $900 for the workshop program, which includes six days of classes, all slideshows, panels, parties, portfolio reviews, and events during the workshop week. This does not include travel costs, lodging, airfare, food, etc. For South Asian photojournalists, tuition is $450. Scholarships will be also be available.

All classes will be limited to 10 students, and will be divided into multiple experience levels- intro, medium, and advanced/master class.

A number of world-class photographers have joined as instructors, and I encourage all emerging photographers who are interested to register. It's an opportunity not to be missed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

1 on 1: Kirsten Luce

Photograph © Kirsten Luce-All Rights Reserved

The Travel Photographer blog occasionally posts interviews with both travel and editorial photographers. This interview is with Kirsten Luce, a freelance photojournalist working in New York City. Her work was published in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Time, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald (International Edition), AP, Bloomberg News and CARE International. She recently attended the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico City, and her photo project featuring Clowns in Xochimilco received wide acclaim.

An enormously talented photographer and photojournalist, Kirsten recently took the time to respond to TTP's questions.

1) TTP: When did you decide to become a photographer? Who or what influenced your decision?

While enrolled in art school at the University of Georgia, I took a photojournalism class and promptly switched majors. my professor, Jim Virga, was a newspaper photojournalist turned educator. He took a practical approach to photojournalism that spoke to me. He taught us the basics: how to put together a portfolio to apply for jobs. I got my first newspaper internship with a portfolio compiled from these class assignments. If it weren't for the perspective that I gained from him and my classmates, I would not be a working photojournalist.

2) TTP: Do you have any formal training regarding photography?

I took 3 or 4 photo classes in high school/college and I interned at The Birmingham News in Alabama for six months.

3) TTP : If you had the choice, where is your favorite place to live and work as a photographer in the world and why?

I absolutely fell in love with Mexico. I won a grant to study journalism and lived in Colima, a small university city in western Mexico, and I have been consumed by the country ever since. I went there for a semester and ended up staying for several months longer, freelancing for the AP, and eventually taking a newspaper staff job in McAllen, Texas on the Mexican border. I very well may end up back in Mexico some day.

4) TTP: Describe your own favorite image, and describe how you went about creating it.

Photograph © Kirsten Luce-All Rights Reserved

One of my personal favorites is from my first few weeks in Mexico in 2004. I was at a carnival with my Swedish roommate and snapped some photos of a street performer. It doesn't have much news value but it makes me smile. It ran in a little Mexican newspaper that I would contribute to. They paid me $3 to use it.

5) TTP: Describe a day in your professional life.

My professional life was recently turned upside down. I chose to leave my staff job at a newspaper on the border to move to New York city and freelance. It's my self-designed grad school. I wake up, contact editors, brainstorm, edit recent projects and plan for future projects. If I have an assignment, I photograph, edit and FTP the images.

6) TTP: Tell your funniest, scariest, most bizarre, most touching story from a photoshoot!

Earlier this year, I accompanied a Mexican reporter to cover the aftermath of a shootout between suspected drug cartel members and Mexican soldiers in a small border town in Mexico. When we arrived, the situation was still very tense and at least three people had died. There were hundreds of people gathered in the streets to watch the story unfold. The chilling part was that no one would talk to us. No one wanted to be photographed, in fear that they would be identified as a witness. No one even wanted to be seen with us. It was my first glimpse of just how powerful the cartels are in Mexico and how intimidated the local population remains.

7) TTP: What types of assignments are you most attracted to?

I love photographing assignments that give me time and access to whatever it is I am covering. I prefer to work alone, as I don't like photographing things with other photographers or videographers present. At the newspaper, I would really enjoy photographing a 'day in the life' of a person or place. When you have the time and access, you can wait for the right light and moments.

8) TTP: How would you describe your photographic style?

Subtle, textured and quiet...but I am evolving.

9) TTP: Who or what would you love to photograph that you haven't already?

There are too many things. At the moment I am drawn to Arctic cultures. I have spent a lot of time working in the heat, and look forward to documenting people that live under vastly different environmental conditions.

10) TTP: Describe the photo gear, as well as (if digital) your computer hardware and software you use.

I photograph with Canon gear. I own a 5d, 17-35, 24 1.4, 70-200 and a 550ex strobe. I prefer to travel light. I miss my Mark II from the paper but adjusting to the 5d. It's a fine camera. I still use Photo Mechanic and Photoshop, but transitioning into Lightroom. I have a wireless internet card that makes my life a lot I can transmit images from virtually anywhere I am.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

WP: The Healing Fields

The Washington Post brings us a poignant feature titled The Healing Fields. It's about hundreds of uninsured and under-insured American citizens who come to an isolated county in Virginia every year to seek treatment at a field hospital operated by the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps.

I cannot understand how can anyone decry universal health-care in our country after watching and reading this feature (registration may be required by the WP)


My husband reminded me last night, British Sausage Week is from Monday 3rd November to Sunday,9th November.

Fortunately, quite a few of the butchers shops here are members of The Guild Q Butchers, they enter lots of competitions and seem to do really well. For instance, my local butcher is a gold medal winner for his pork sausage, year after year.

Whilst in Beckenham visiting family, we went to Villagers Sausages where every sausage imaginable can be bought. They have a very interesting website with press related articles, history and also lots of recipes, not forgetting that you can also order online.

The recipe I chose for British Sausage Week comes from the very talented cookery writer Annie Bell.

You will see from the photograph that my sausages are shall we say 'very well done'. I am a very fussy sausage eater, they have to be top quality and this is how I enjoy eating mine.

If you don't like your sausages as well cooked as mine, then by all means just show them the pan and brown the sausages lightly.

Only a small amount of red wine is used in this recipe, and unless you have got a bottle of red already opened, this can sometimes be a problem to the home cook. Maybe you have already come across Gourmet Classic seasoned cooking wines, these can be bought both in red and white. They have a screw top and can be kept in the store cupboard for up to three months after opening. I've seen these in both Waitrose and Sainsbury's.


ISBN 9781856268189 - Page 129

Serves: 4 people

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 600g chipolatas, 300g peeled shallots, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 200ml red wine, 300ml chicken stock, 1 bay leaf, black pepper, 500g peeled and thinly sliced medium main crop potatoes.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan180°C/Gas 6. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and brown the sausages on both sides, doing this in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan (I chose to grill mine).
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 30 x 20cm roasting dish over a medium heat, add the shallots and fry until slightly golden. Sprinkle over the flour and stir, then pour over the red wine and chicken stock. Add the sausages, bay leaf and a little seasoning, then bring to the boil.
3. Toss the potato slices in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil (I microwaved my sliced potatoes to start the cooking process first) and lay them on top of the sausages. Season and bake for 40 minutes until the potatoes are lovely and crisp.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ethiopia's Nomad Warriors: Salgado

Photograph © Sebastião Salgado-All Rights Reserved

Rolling Stone magazine published black & white photographs of Ethiopia's Nomad Warriors by Sebastião Salgado. The tribes of the Omo Valley such as Hamer, Mursi and the Sumer are featured in this essay of images by a master photographer. In my view, the images are too small to appropriately convey these people's beauty and charisma, and I look forward to perhaps seeing them elsewhere.

A Sebastião Salgado quote that always stays with me:

"If you take a picture of a human that does not make him noble, there is no reason to take this picture. That is my way of seeing things."

For a sample of my own images of the Omo Valley tribes, go here.

Kumari: Nepal's Living Goddess

Photograph © Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

I read on the National Geographic’s website that Nepal has just chosen a new Kumari, the living goddess, a few days ago. The Kumari is essentially Nepal’s virgin goddess, whose body houses the spirit of Taleju (an incarnation of Goddess Durga).

There are stringent rules for a girl to be chosen as a Kumari. She must belong to the Shakya clan (a community of goldsmiths), her family must be extremely pious Hindus, she must have 32 characteristics of physical perfection (including a set of 40 teeth), and she has to prove her fearlessness by spending a night in a dark room with decapitated carcasses.

The chosen Kumari will be taken away from her family (it’s a huge honor), declared a living goddess, and installed in her royal chambers. She will not talk to ordinary mortals, her feet won’t touch the ground and she won’t venture out of her palace more than a handful of times a year. She loses her status with the onset of puberty, and returns to her family.

To me, taking a child away from his or her parents is cruel, but I can't judge whether the Kumari tradition constitutes child abuse or not. With many traditions that are not ours, Western sensibilities frequently over-react, and we view such practices through our own set of prisms. However, there are also a number of Nepali organizations that criticize the Kumari tradition, and I feel these are the best suited to do so and are the most qualified to establish a dialogue between traditionalists and modernists.

A National Geographic video can be seen here

Friday, November 7, 2008

PDN + Canon?

I received my PDN November issue yesterday, and was surprised to see its cover was a Canon advertisement for the EOS 50D. Now, I'm all for magazines to make money from advertisers, but to have PDN's cover taken over by an ad is annoying, and a turn-off.

To be clear, PDN still has a regular cover, but it's covered by another cover: the Canon ad, and ripping it off damages the issue.

A note to PDN people: I like PDN (not always, but most of the time) and Canon is my brand of choice, but this is not a good idea and certainly not one that I'd like to see again. I have to thumb through enough pages of ads as it stands to get to articles and another ad layer is not welcome. I don't know if this gimmick is only for subscribed issues or for all issues in circulation.

This is worse than the ads that appear before multimedia presentations because I paid for the magazine and this ad doesn't go away after 15 seconds. Since I really don't want to have a Canon ad in my face whenever I reach for this PDN magazine, I tore it off.

In Harm's Way

Here's In Harm's Way, a film produced by CBS/Warner Brothers following war photographer Zorial Miller and photojournalist Alissa Everett through Gaza and the West Bank.

However, while the above link can only be seen in the United States, the film can now be seen on You Tube.

Zoriah Miller is the freelance photographer who published pictures of dead U.S. Marines on his blog, which led him to be ejected from his U.S. military embed in Iraq. He was featured on The Travel Photographer here (Link) and here (Link).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bhutan's Coronation

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The Himalayan nation of Bhutan crowned its fifth king Thursday after a two-year wait for the precise moment deemed most auspicious by court astrologers. At precisely 8:31 a.m. local time King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, 52, placed the Raven Crown on the head of his son, 28-year old Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck, giving him the title of Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King.

The ceremony was held in Thimpu's Tashichho Dzong, a 17th century white-walled fortress that serves both as administrative headquarters and a monastic center. Bhutanese came from all over the country for the ceremony, including nomadic yak herders who trekked for days from the icy Himalayan mountains of northern Bhutan, as well as members of the country's Hindu minority.

While traveling in Bhutan earlier last month on my Land of the Druk Yul photo-expedition, we saw frenetic activities for this coronation. Unfortunately, I don't know its Dzongkha equivalent, but I extend my congratulations to Bhutan.

The above image is of a Black Hat dancer practicing on a ceremonial trumpet at the Tamshing tsechu last month.

Update: For photographs of the coronation, including some by Paula Bronstein of Getty Images, visit The Boston Globe's The Big Picture.

David Rochkind: Kenya

Photograph © David Rochkind-All Rights Reserved

David Rochkind is based in Caracas, Venezuela and covers news and produces feature stories all over Latin America and elsewhere. His images and stories have been published by The New York Times, Time magazine, Glamour, Stern, The Observer's Sunday Magazine and CARE.

He was chosen as one of Photo District News' 2008 New & Emerging Photographers To Watch.

Although most of David's portfolios are of Latin or Central America, I chose his powerful portfolio of images made in the urban slums of Mathare, Kenya to highlight on this blog. Has the fact that our President-elect has Kenyan parentage influenced me? Perhaps.

Chobi Mela V: Photo Festival

The dates of Chobi Mela V: The International Festival Of Photography in Bangladesh have been delayed to 29th January 2009 - 20th February 2009.

Among other reasons, the organizers have had to delay Chobi Mela V due to the overwhelming response and the large number of high quality entries. They also claim that Chobi Mela V will be bigger, better and more diverse than any of the previous festivals.

For further information, visit Chobi Mela V

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

Photograph © Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune-All Rights Reserved

"This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can."
-Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

And we did...and we shall...and the United States and the world rejoices.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My New G10: First Shot

Photograph © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I bought a Canon G10 two days ago, and haven't had the time to really put it through its paces yet...however, I've formed a bunch of initial impressions from a couple of shots made in the streets of New York. I will follow up with further thoughts as I use it, and will post these on TTP. I suspect that many of my eventual thoughts, if not all, will mirror other comments made about the G10.

First and foremost, a no-brainer: this is not a's a point and shoot. This fact was reaffirmed to me when I walked over to the DSLR counter at B&H, and was directed by the guy to walk to the other side of the the point & shoot department. So if you expect DSLR quality from the G10, think again. It may come close, but that's about it. Will it replace your DSLR? No. Will it be a back-up for your DSLR? Again, probably not...but that depends on what your definition of back-up is. For me, it won't be.

Secondly, the shutter lag is noticeable. In the above photograph taken while crossing an avenue in New York, you'll notice the tip of a vehicle in the bottom left corner of the frame. This appears because of the shutter lag...the vehicle wouldn't appear had I used a DSLR. I shot this frame at 25mm, f4.5, 1/200th, and an iso of 80.

The quality of the image and color rendition are fine, although still not as good as from a large-sensor DSLR....okay, since you got the message by now, let's drop the comparison to DSLRs since it's really comparing apples to oranges.

The size of the G10 is ideal for street photography (which is the reason I bought it in the first place), it's easily portable in a coat jacket and it's easy to use out of the box. I don't think the G10 will be great for active people photography for instance. I'm quite sure it wouldn't do well at the dance festivals in Bhutan...but it could be very useful in posed environmental portraits.

To be continued....