Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brent Foster: Varanasi

Varanasi, India : Holy Waters - Images by Brent Foster

Brent Foster is a photojournalist producing still, video, and multimedia content who is based in Delhi, India since January 2009. He was a staff visual journalist for the Los Angeles Times before deciding to give freelancing a try.

Not content in being an accomplished photographer and multimedia producer, Brent also authors an interesting bog titled Visual Journalist. The above slideshow is of his photographs made during a few days spent in Varanasi. You may want to view the photographs in the large screen format.

I wish it'd had some audio!

My own gallery of Varanasi photographs is City of Shiva

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Travel Photographer's Face-Lift

Many of my readers will have noticed that The Travel Photographer blog has undergone somewhat of a face-lift. Its original anthracite background with a lighter grey logo was over 2 years old, and I felt it was time for a freshening up. After all, I started this anthracite/grey color scheme in January 2007!

Over the past few months, I stealthily increased the size of the photographs appearing in my posts, and while I'm a proponent of the "larger is good" concept, I don't want to increase them least for now.

I hope this white background works well as the anthracite color did for so long.

My Work: Theyyams, Incarnate Deities

One of the most personally rewarding photo~expeditions I organized and led was the Theyyams of Malabar this last February. There are many reasons for this; the synergy between the 9 photographers in the group worked exceptionally well, the pace of the photo expedition was just right, and I fulfilled the ambition of photographing the Theyyam ceremonies over the 5 days we spent in northern Kerala.

To the people of northern Kerala, rituals are enormously important. Theyyam, a word that derives from daivam, meaning "god," is practiced mostly within the so-called "lower" castes of that region. To call it a ceremony would not quite be the word for it, and to name it ritual would only be half right. It is 2000-year-old theatrical performance in which an artist becomes divine and is in incarnated with that deity’s power. The gods and goddesses of Theyyam are not inanimate idols; they are incarnated in the bodies of the artists/performers.

The preliminary ritual is called Thottam, and takes place in the temple's shrine. It is then and only then that the artist receives the deity’s spirit. The deity’s makeup is called "body writing" and is said to have magical and medicinal properties. During the Theyyam the deity converses directly with the devotees, giving blessings, receiving homage and donations, and dispensing advice.

For my new gallery, visit Theyyams: Incarnate Deities

For another interesting post on the background of Theyyam on my blog, go here.

If you missed the verdict on the Theyyam of Malabar photo~expedition, go here and here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taylor Davidson: India, Close & Afar

©Taylor Davidson-All Rights Reserved

Taylor Davidson is a documentary photographer focused on the role of business and people in their environment, and according to the map of India on Taylor Davidson's website, he visited about 25 cities in the subcontinent; from Dharmasala in Himachal Pradesh at the foothills of the Himalayas to Trivandrum in Kerala at its southernmost tip. He traveled across India over two months, and writes this about his experience:
"And, it's nearly impossible to keep your senses closed off. Life invades you, crashes into you, ignores and welcomes you, eventually permeating into your skin, your head, your heart."

What more is there to say about India? Not much...Taylor summarized it pretty well.

Taylor divided his images of India into two sections: the Afar gallery and the Close gallery. He judiciously chose to show off his images in a large (and satisfying) format, and you won't regret exploring his website for more of his galleries.

He recently published a book of 90 of his best photographs of India that is avaialble from the Blurb Bookstore here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Alex Espinosa: Criancas de Nordeste

©Alex Espinosa-All Rights Reserved

Alex Espinosa is a Mexican photographer and photojournalist, who traveled in Latin America from 2000-2006 to document daily life and the humanitarian efforts made to improve lives of children. The documentary project was sponsored by CETYS University, San Diego State University and the University of Baja California.

His work was exhibited in Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and the United States, and was published in Obras, Expansion, Ambientes, Escala, Vinum and International GEO.

Alex is also an alum of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico City.

Criancas de Nordeste is a photo essay dealing with poverty in Brazil, where official statistics show that about 32 million people live under the poverty line. Particulalry in the northeast of the country, this statistic is exacerbated by the fact that many poor families have 7 children or more, and depend on a monthly salary equivalent to $14.

Alex Espinosa's website also has galleries of La Santa Muerte, Migrants and Patagonia, among others.

Marantz-PMD 620

I just published an article on Photocrati providing my impressions of the Marantz-PMD 620, a small hand-held audio recorder, which I needed badly to replace my aging M-Audio MicroTrack I that was beginning to act erratically.

I’m not an audio engineer, so my take on the quality of my various recordings should be viewed as that of a photographer who records ambient sound to accompany more and no less. There’s no question in my mind that the PMD620 is an excellent “point and shoot” audio recorder, small enough to be carried as an accessory, and well capable of capturing sounds in sufficient quality to provide lovely sound tracks for my multimedia productions.

For the rest of my impressions, drop by Photocrati.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


How could I resist making a couple of Nigel Slater's wonderful recipes.

We find from reading his books, Nigel calls Toad in the Hole - 'Toad' - and has always fondly called it this since he was a child.

The sausages used should really be the herby variety, but in the freezer I had some fabulous pork sausages made by my local Q Guild butcher. Obviously for the photograph, herb would have looked better but I hadn't preplanned making this and so thick pork sausages it was.

You have to firstly skin the sausages and then wrap them in Prosciutto. The batter is slightly soggy underneath and crisp on top - exactly as Nigel wants us to experience his recipe. Also, a new twist, was to add grain mustard to the batter mix - his 'Toad' was a winner.

I served this with his browned onion and Marsala gravy, and have made this on numerous occasions.

The recipe comes from his book Nigel Slater's Real Food - a link to the recipe can be found here.


This is a quick and easy recipe to make and I chose bright red ripe plums for this. Nigel advises the pudding is best eaten hot, with either ice cream or cold cream.

The crisp topping is made by simply melting butter and pouring over breadcrumbs and sugar.

The Kitchen Diaries is one of those books that you can't put down and then can't make your mind up which recipe to cook next!

Nigel writes for The Observer and you can find his Plum Crisp recipe here.

Farzana Wahidy: Burqa

At the age of 24, Farzana Wahidy has been a photographer for Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press. She was born in Afghanistan but now resides in the United States. The National Geographic All Roads Film Festival recently recognized her work by awarding her seed money and equipment to assist in her field work.

In an interview, she said:
" I wasn’t at all interested in photography before. I wanted to be a journalist. I thought I could travel around as a journalist. I wanted to tell the world about the situation in Afghanistan. Above all, I wanted to be free and independent. I always had to work to support my family. One day, I found out about these film and photojournalism courses and I applied. I was 17 -- I thought they wouldn’t accept me because I was too young. So I changed the date of birth in my passport. Two weeks later I found out I had been accepted."

Farzana was initially trained at Aina Photo Agency (founded by Reza), and her work in Afghanistan is remarkable. It underscores how many indigenous photographers and photojournalists are often better storytellers than non-indigenous professionals, and gives the photographs an imprimatur of authenticity..

Ad For Canon 5D II Video

Here is a 200-second promotional video from Canon for the 5D Mark II that essentially showcases the various Canon lenses that can be used to produce such a video. The ad's soundtrack is annoying, but what is most annoying is that I have yet to be able to produce a half decent video with mine.

Video-making is not as easy as one would think, especially when engrossed in making still photographs, then switching to video mode as an afterthought, or just to record a few moments of video. It takes a different mindset, focus, training and resolve...and a tripod would be useful.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Minimalist Photo Gear

I'm planning to travel to Cairo for around 10 days, and finally took the plunge in reducing the load of photographic gear I normally take with me. Since the trip is not one of my group photo~expeditions nor a workshop, but will involve a couple of self-assignments, I can afford to pare it down.

Here's my list:

1. Acer Aspire One 8.9-inch Mini Laptop (1.6 GHz Intel Atom, 1gb RAM, Windows XP) on which I downloaded Soundslides (my favorite slideshow maker), Audacity (free audio editor) and GIMP (instead of power-hungry CS). I may add Lightroom but download it on a memory stick. I'm a hard-core Mac user, so I'm still very uncomfortable using XP, but the netbook's feather-like weight is incredible. The display while small, is magnificent and I look at it as a souped-up Epson P7000 at less than half its price.

I read on the internets that hardy souls install OSX on it, but that's above my tech pay grade, so I'll keep using the XP for a while.

2. A 250gb G-Tech Mini G-Drive External Hard Drive with both FireWire and USB 2.0 for increased portability. I formatted it be used for both Mac and Win, and it works like a charm. It's a tiny little thing, that weighs less than 9 oz.

3. My new Domke F3-X will take the above gear, plus my Canon 5D2 and two lenses (I'll leave the 70-200mm 2.8 behind), and my Marantz PMD620 audio recorder. It has other pockets in which I can put mt CF cards, and whatever other whatsits I carry with me. All I need to do is to put it in a washing machine and dryer, and it'll be broken in just fine. Maybe cover the Domke logo with gaffer tape, and I'm set to go.

I just read this in the New York Times:

Apple’s COO Tim Cook :“They have cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small screens, and just not a consumer experience, and not something that we would put the Mac brand on, quite frankly. And so, it’s not a space as it exists today that we are interested in, nor do we believe that customers in the long term would be interested in. It’s a segment we would choose not to play in."


Friday, April 24, 2009

Are You Doing Audio Slideshows Yet?

©Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I've published an article asking this very question on, a pro photographers' blog, gear review site, and community, which includes this:
"Multimedia is not a panacea for ill thought out or badly produced projects. It still needs good stories, great photographs and certainly, audio that is part of the story and part of the photographs. Adding a song downloaded from an online music store to a set of unrelated photographs is not what I’m taking about."
If you're interested in producing your own audio slideshows, I encourage you to read it here, and by having a look at an earlier POV post of mine here on TTP.

Stefano Torrione: The Rituals of the Gnawa

This is a post that'll be particularly appreciated by participants in my forthcoming Gnawa Photo~Expedition as photojournalist Stefano Torrione has documented the Gnawa in Essaouira and Marrakech in one of his many interesting galleries titled The Rituals of the Gnawas.

Stefano is a photojournalist who started his career at the magazine Epoca in the early nineties, and that led him to be awarded the Panorama European Kodak Award in 1993 in Arles for his reportage on the street children of Bucharest. He is particularly interested in geographical and ethnographical reportage, and traveled and worked in many countries for magazines like Geo, Panorama Travel, In Viaggio and others.

In 2005 he participated in Obiettivo Uomo Ambiente, the first International Biennial Photography Exhibition in Viterbo, with a reportage on the Gnawas rituals in Morocco.

Exploring his many galleries, I wished his photographs had been larger to better appreciate his reportage and photo work on Nubian Women, Kham, Kolkata, and Kyrgyz faces.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Travel Photographer's FPW Awards

©Jyotika Jain (L)- ©Martyn Aim (R)-All Rights Reserved

In February 2009, I offered two scholarships to the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, and both Eric Beecroft and I (as jurors) had the difficult task to choose the recipients of the scholarships, which were announced on April 15th.

The above are photographs by Jyotika Jain and Martyn Aim, both winners of the two scholarships.

Jyotika Jain is a Mumbai-based freelance photographer, who recently started her photographic career. One of her documentary projects is on the ladies compartment of the local trains in Mumbai and Zaveri bazaar (old and traditional jeweller’s market). She exhibited her series on the local trains "Ladies Special: Myriad Moments" at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, in February 2009.

Martyn Aim's background is that of an anthropologist. He has a MA Visual Anthropology from the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester. His education is in fieldwork methods and documentary/stills photography and film. As an ethnographer, he spent a year documenting the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations peoples of western Canada, living in isolated reserve communities. The above photograph is from his series of Balinese cock-fighters.

Felice Willat: The Spirit of Burma

©Felice Willat-All Rights Reserved

Felice Willat is founder and president of Tools With Heart, a company that develops products to enhance personal discovery and well being. A successful entrepreneur, and with a strong background in network television production, Felice is also an accomplished photographer, as evidenced by the recent publication of her photographs of Burma on the pages of Matador, an online international travel magazine, in a feature titled In Focus: The Spirit of Burma.

From Felice's many lovely photographs, I chose the one above of evening traffic over the famed U-Bein bridge in Amarapura.

Her photographs are on display in an exhibit titled ALMS - "Offerings" at the Topanga Canyon Gallery (Los Angeles) from April 7th - May 3rd, 2009. Further details on the venue are here. The photographs also inspired her new book, "The Quiet Between - Song Of Burma".

Felice is one of the photographers joining my Gnawa Photo~Expedition due to start on June 19, and I look forward to see her work from this Moroccan extravaganza!

Her website with more photographs is here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Joyce Birkenstock: Kathakali Paintings

©Joyce Birkenstock-All Rights Reserved

Joyce Birkenstock is a remarkable artist and photographer, and a peripatetic international traveler who visited most countries of the world. She received her training at the University of Dallas, the University of Iowa, the Norton Art School, the Art Students League, and the Vermont Studio Center, and her awards, achievements and professional affiliations are too many to list here.

She traveled on most of my photo expeditions, and I take much pleasure in featuring three of her superb paintings of Kathakali actors. The paintings are inspired by, and based on, her own photographs made during our private photo-shoot in Thrissur, during the Theyyams of Malabar photo-expedition which I organized and led in February.

I can still hear Joyce's exclamations of wonder as she photographed these actors while they were dressing up for the performance. She must have been visualizing her paintings as she clicked the shutter!

More of Joyce's work can be seen on Artistic Journeys

NYT: Colombia's Displaced Indians

©Moises Saman for NYTimes-All Rights Reserved

Here's an audio slideshow "Colombia's Displaced Indians" with photographs by Moises Saman, and narrated by Simon Romero (also the author of the accompanying article) concerning the misery affecting the indigenous population of western Colombia caught in the crossfire from a new breed of criminal armies is pressing deeper into the jungle, fighting with guerrillas who have been long in the Chocó region for control of the cocaine trade.

The objective of these groups is dominance over coca-growing areas and routes to ship cocaine abroad, predominantly to the United States.

The narration is rather flat in parts, but the photographs are really powerful.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pulitzer Prizes For Photography

Photojournalists Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald and Damon Winter of The New York Times have just won this year's Pulitzer Prizes for Photography. Farrell won the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, and Winter won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

Farrell won for his coverage of Hurricane Ike's devastation in Haiti and the humanitarian disaster that followed the storm, and Winter won for his coverage of President Barack Obama's campaign to the White House.

View the photographs on Pixcetera.

Read the article on the NPPA website.

Via Imaging Insider.

Chico Sanchez: Holy Week In Oaxaca

I've been waiting for Chico Sanchez's photographs of Semana Santa and as I predicted, he just came through with another of his well produced SoundSlides slideshows featuring Holy Week in Oaxaca. As you'll see, Easter for devout Oaxacans is the most important religious celebration of the year, which is demonstrated by processions and ceremonies that take place throughout the city of Oaxaca itself, and in the whole southern state.

The slideshow is a co-production of Chico Sanchez and Leslie Mazoch (who has co-produced many of these slideshows).

A number of Chico Sanchez's documentary/travel photography slideshows have been featured on The Travel Photographer blog; and can be found here.

La Santa Muerte

In total contrast to the above feature by Chico Sanchez, this post is about La Santa Muerte; a growing cult in Mexico whose core is the worship of the Santa Muerte or Holy Death, a kind of female incarnation of the Grim Reaper. In this short movie clip. Ioan Grillo and Journalist Daniel Hernandez go deep into Santa Muerte's spiritual center in Tepito, an old market neighborhood in the heart of Mexico City, which has long been associated with the criminal underworld to learn more about this new religious movement gaining traction at the fringe of Mexican culture.

This is extremely interesting to me as Tepito is the rough neighborhood of Mexico City where a couple of my students from the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop and I spent time in, photographing at some of the shrines of La Santa Muerte. Alex Espinosa, Christine Sommers and I photographed the very church and priest shown in the movie clip...and it's a deja vu for me, as it will be to them. We almost got mugged, but that's another story...

My gallery of photographs of La Santa Muerte is here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sandra Chandler: Carnevale, Fantasy of Venice

Sandy Chandler has just published her new book ‘Carnevale, Fantasy of Venice' of her beautiful photographs of Venice and its magical Carnevale. One can preview the book here.

Her introduction in the book reads :
Venice is one of the world's most picturesque cities and as a backdrop, Carnevale is shown as a vivid, vibrant colorful dream. The excitement of this twelve day celebration is all part of a spectacular journey. It was my dream to photograph and capture the spirit of the magic and excitement of this real life fantasy - Carnevale.

Sandra is a photographer and interior designer based in San Francisco. She tells us that color, smells and sounds drew her to world travel. Her city's Asian culture first enticed her to China in 1978 when the People’s Republic first opened. She then continued her exploration of Asia by traveling to Bhutan, India, Japan, Singapore, Nepal, Thailand, Tibet, and on to South America and Europe. Her website is here (LINK).

The book will be celebrated on May 7th at:

Tufenkian Artisan Carpets
515 NW 10th Avenue (in the Pearl)
Portland, Oregon

The Travel Photographer blog had a previous post on Sandra here. (LINK)

WLIW21: In The Footsteps of Marco Polo

I missed In The Footsteps of Marco Polo, a delightful and unusual travelogue on WLIW21, most probably because I was traveling and not in New York. However, I now have the chance of watching it on its website, and it promises to be a great televised yarn.

The series chronicles the journey of two men – Belliveau, at the time a wedding photographer, and O’Donnell, an artist and former Marine – as they set out to follow Marco Polo’s route. Equal parts travelogue, adventure story, history trek and buddy movie, the 90-minute film weaves footage from the duo’s often perilous voyage with Marco Polo’s descriptions and experiences. Richly enhanced with Belliveau’s photographs, the program details their highs and lows as they retrace Polo’s path, trying to see what he saw and feel what he must have felt.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


This recipe came from Feel Good Food by Woman & Home - the magazine is published quarterly and is an excellent source of inspirational recipes, ideas, styling and information.

Unfortunately, in the photograph you can't see any evidence of the berries because the muffins are scattered with a pecan crumble topping, well that's my excuse anyway! Perhaps it would have been a good idea to coat the berries in a little flour and then gently poke them into the mixture in the muffin cases.



Makes: 8

You will need: 175g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 50g fruit sugar, 100g melted butter, 2 free range eggs, 75ml skimmed milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 100g mixed berries.

For the topping: 15g unsalted butter cut into cubes, 25g plain flour, 1tsp fruit sugar, 20g pecans roughly chopped.

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/325°F/Gas 3.
2. Make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour and then stir in the sugar. Put to one side.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the sugar. Mix together the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the flour, add the berries and stir to combine - be careful not to over mix.
4. Divide the mixture between the cakes cases in a muffin tin. Top each with a little of the crumble mixture, then the pecans.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.


WSJ: Bob Krist's 'A Focus on Storytelling'

You actually need to think about what kind of photos you want. I say inspiration is for amateurs. Even though you aren't working for a magazine, you can still give yourself a little assignment...When you shoot with a mission, you start to think in terms of a storyteller, rather than a person walking around waiting to be hit with a bolt of, "Wow, that's beauty."
-Bob Krist

The Wall Street Journal (yes, The Wall Street Journal...imagine that!) has an insightful interview with the legendary travel photographer Bob Krist with his take on visual storytelling, and suggestions to make better travel photographs.

As for his quote, Bob's right on the money. Photographing with a predetermined and well researched mission will force you to become a visual storyteller.

The WSJ not only offers us an interview, but also an audio slideshow (SoundSlides format) of Bob's photographs and his narration.

Previous posts on Bob Krist have appeared here on The Travel Photographer.

Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest

The Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) has announced its 2009 international travel photography awards. TPOTY is run by photographers for photographers, judged by photography experts, and provides prizes, including foreign travel, photographic equipment and photography tuition.

As in all and every photography contests, I strongly encourage all interested photographers to make sure they carefully read the contests' terms and conditions, especially since misunderstandings between organizers and contestants over terms, prizes and other issues sometimes occur.

Whilst on the subject of photo contests, Bob Krist has just uploaded this post on his Photo Traveler blog.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

WSJ Photo Journal: Orthodox Good Friday

©Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty-All Rights Reserved

The Wall Street Journal's Photo Journal consistently brings us remarkable images from the world over. Here's one of an Ethiopian Christian Orthodox worshiper carrying a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa, the path Christians believe Jesus walked while bearing the cross, in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Orthodox Christian clergymen and pilgrims marked Good Friday in Jerusalem's Old City, at the site where they believe Jesus was crucified on this date two millennia ago. Members of Orthodox Christian churches follow a different calendar than Protestants and Roman Catholics.

We Are Not Untouchables

©Jakob Carlsen-All Rights Reserved

The International Dalit Solidarity Network's website in an attempt to publicize the still-present plight of the "untouchables", around 250 million people primarily in South Asia, but also in the Middle east and Africa, who are born into a life where they are subjected to dehumanizing practices linked to the notion of "untouchability" and caste discrimination. The so-called untouchables have chosen the name "Dalit" for themselves to signify empowerment.

According to the Indian Ministry of Welfare, two Dalits are assaulted every hour in India, three Dalit women are raped every day, and two Dalits are murdered every day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jim Romano: The Tabloid Photographer

I normally plan my posts a few days ahead of time, but when I saw that today's The New York Times' wonderful multimedia One In 8 Million was featuring Jim Romano: The Tabloid Photographer, I simply couldn't resist.

Since 1946, Jim Romano has chased news on Staten Island for the Daily News, The New York Post and many others. The audio in this multimedia piece makes all the difference...see if you agree. Jim in eight million indeed!

The photographs are by Todd Heisler, and the interview by J. David Goodman. Good work by both.

Stefen Chow: Imperial Beijing

A few days ago, I posted a POV titled Larger Is Good in which I wrote that larger images on photography/photographers' websites were advisable in order to attract photo editors and buyers.

Here's a beautiful example of what I meant: the website of Stefen Chow, a photographer who worked with Getty Images, Associated Press and Bloomberg News, Singapore Airlines and Shell. Not content to have traveled to over 30 countries, Stefen also summitted Mount Everest in 2005. He currently lives in Beijing and Singapore.

To show off the website, I chose Stefen's work on Imperial Beijing. This photo essay consists of photographs of Beijing's Imperial City, or The Forbidden City, which was home for 24 emperors over almost 5 centuries. I'd also encourage you to explore his other galleries, especially the Everest Adventure.

His beautiful images are almost as large as many monitors, and the navigation is ultra simple and intuitive. Check it out, and you'll join the large imagery converts!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

NYT Magazine: Finally No Models Pics

©Ellen von Unwerth

From today's The New York Times' article "Times Will Cut Sections To Lower Costs"

"Beginning with the issue of May 10, The New York Times Magazine will no longer contain a regular fashion layout; fashion reporting and photography will continue in the T magazines published every few weeks, and in the weekly Sunday and Thursday Styles sections."

Finally! If I wanted to look at pretty skeletal fashion models, I'd buy Vogue. I never did nor will's just a rhetorical flourish.

Hopefully the fashion layout/fashion reporting in The New York Times will be replaced with documentary photography and photojournalism on relevant current issues, in the mold of the Sunday Times Magazine, and other magazines of the British broadsheets. I never really understood why the NYT Magazine had fashion photos.

I'm not holding my breath...but I'm hoping.

POV: 160gb vs 160gb?

I'm always on the lookout (as most travel photographers and photojournalists are) for ways to reduce the electronic gear I carry with me on my photo~expedition/assignments, which seems to get heavier with time. Notwithstanding the many advantages of digital photography, I recall with some nostalgia as to how I used to gripe at the weight of 50 rolls of film...a feather compared to what I have to schlep now.

In case you haven't noticed, netbooks are taking the computer industry and its consumers by storm. A recent article in The New York Times' The Frugal Traveler relates the benefits of the Acer Aspire One, a tiny laptop that weighs just 2.2 pounds, and based on the comments from users of such netbooks, they're the best thing since sliced bread.

Now here's the question: the Acer Aspire One (160gb) retails for about $300 and the Epson P7000 (160gb) retails for about $750. See where I'm going with this? The Acer netbook is only 2.2 lbs, and offers wi-fi and internet it's almost no-brainer. I say almost because I'm an Apple user, and all my peripherals (such as external hard drives et al) are Mac friendly.

And that's what's on mind this sunny morning. Tests and trials will be conducted by some of my techie friends, and I shall report soon...I hope. If a Mac user adopted one of these netbooks, and made it work easily with Mac friendly peripherals etc, I'd appreciate a quick email!

Naturally, there are rumors that Apple will "soon" announce its own netbook or super-charged iTouch...I hope so.

Zackary Canepari: The Heart of Punjab

©Zackary Canepari/The New York Times

The New York Times featured the work of photographer Zackary Canepari in a slideshow titled The Heart of Punjab. His above photograph is of young students at a seminary school in Dera Ghazi Khan, a gateway both to Taliban-controlled areas and the heart of Punjab.

One of the key captions in the slideshow comes from the accompanying article:

"The Taliban in south and west Punjab exploit many of the same weaknesses that have allowed them to expand in other areas: an absent or intimidated police force; a lack of attention from national and provincial leaders; a population steadily cowed by threats, or won over by hard-line mullahs who usurp authority by playing on government neglect and poverty."

The accompanying article is by Sabrina Tavernise, Richard A. Oppel Jr.and Eric Schmitt.

In the same vein, PBS featured Children of the Taliban on its FRONTLINE/WORLD program on April 14, 2009.

More photography from Zackary Canepari on TTP (LINK)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Travel Photographer's Awards Go To....

In February 2009, I offered two scholarships to the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, and both Eric Beecroft and I (as jurors) are delighted today to award them to two photographers. We also chose two runners up should one or both of the winners be unable to join the workshop.

1. Winner of the TTP Full scholarship of $450 for a South Asian photojournalist is Jyotika Jain. (Runner Up is Vivek M.)

2. Winner of the FPW/TTP scholarship of $900 for a photojournalist of any nationality is Martyn Aim. (Runner Up is Mike Terry). This scholarship is equally funded by the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop and The Travel Photographer.

It was an exceedingly difficult task to choose 2 (plus 2) from the many submissions, and we took both the quality of images submitted and the photographers' statements in consideration.

Congratulations to the winners, who will be contacted by the Foundry Workshop soon.

Ajmal Naqshbandi: The Fixer

Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi is a feature-length documentary that follows the relationship between an Afghan interpreter, Ajmal Naqshbandi and his client, American journalist Christian Parenti. This intimate portrait of two colleagues shifts dramatically when Ajmal is kidnapped along with an Italian reporter.

The documentary also examines why was the Italian journalist, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, released in exchange for five Taliban prisoners while Ajmal was left behind and beheaded by his captors.

It is produced by Nancy Roth and directed by Ian Olds. Fixer will be screened during the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009.

I've posted about Ajmal Naqshbandi two years ago on this blog, and hope this documentary does his memory justice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eric Tourneret: The Honey Gatherers

Photo ©Éric Tourneret-All Rights Reserved.

The Rai (aka Raji) people live in the Himalayan foothills of central Nepal, and are known as the honey hunters. Twice a year, Rai men gather around steep cliffs that are home to the world's largest honeybee, and as they have for generations, these men are to harvest its honey. The harvest ritual usually starts with a prayer and sacrifice of flowers, fruits, and rice. A fire is then lit at the base of the cliff to smoke the bees from their honeycombs.

The honey hunters then descend the cliffs, harnessed to a ladder braided bamboo well over 250 feet above ground. With the rest of their teams securing the ropes, and providing tools up and down as needed, the honey hunters fight the bees as they cut chunks of honey from the comb.

This is the work of photographer Éric Tourneret, who after traveling to Djibouti for his military service, began a career as photojournalist for a number of French magazines. Examples of his fascinating photo reportage include the indigenous sorcerers and healers of the Ivory Coast, the “Transvestites of Islam” in Pakistan, and his work on bees.

Éric Tourneret's "The Honey Gatherers of Nepal".

New Nikon D5000

Nikon introduced the new D5000, with a 12.3 megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor, a D-Movie Mode with sound, which allows the recording of 720p HD movie clips, a vari-angle color LCD monitor allowing the positioning of the 2.7-inch monitor, 19 Auto-exposure Scene Modes, One-button Live View, continuous shooting as fast as 4 fps, ISO sensitivity from 200 to 3200, built-in image sensor cleaning, and a host of other features.

The new D5000 will be available at Nikon dealers beginning in late April 2009 at an estimated selling price of $729.95.

A D5000 review by Dan Havlik

D5000's Articulated Display

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Work: Traders of Kochi

One of the scheduled photo-shoots during the Theyyams of Malabar Photo~Expedition was in the streets of old Kochi, or more specifically, Mattencherry. This area offered opportunities to photograph the bazaar-like alleys, with traditional godowns and stores stocked with all types of rice, dark brown nutmeg, red and green chillies, earthy ginger, black pepper and other spices.

From the walkabout in Mattencherry is the Traders of Kochi gallery.

Many of the local people I spoke with, and photographed, were Muslims, descendants of the Arab merchants who propagated their faith along the Malabar Coast. A significant community was created through the marriage of local women to these Arab sailors, and are still known as the Mappilas or Moplahs. The Arabs merchants and mariners are believed to come from the Red Sea coastal areas, and the Hadramaut region of Yemen.

Nice people, hard-working and welcoming.

POV: Larger & Simple

My two posts today are inter-related. This one is about my long-standing view that photography web sites which display large photographs do a better job in getting them sold (or getting their makers hired), and the second (above) puts this belief into practice.

In one of my posts on Photocrati, I made the point that “larger is better”, and used the example that some of the most popular photography blogs such as The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture and the Wall Street Journal’s Photo Journal, display large photographs (around 990 pixels by 640 pixels).

In fact, Rob Haggart, the former Director of Photography for Men’s Journal and Outside Magazine, is now the founder of A Photo Folio. His mission is to create “websites that get you hired.” If you drop by his website, you'll find his creations are indeed huge. Haggard is an industry insider, and knows what he's talking about.

I believe the era of dinky little "almost thumbnails but not quite" photographs is over for technical, aesthetic and for commercial reasons. The two news photography blogs I mentioned earlier also made sure of that. A few moments of research amongst the web designs currently offered by liveBooks, Neon Sky, FolioLink, SiteWelder and the rest, will unanimously reveal that large is good.

As for simple, well...I've posted earlier about The Photopreneur article which said it very clearly: "Despite the whiz-bang features and slick animation offered on so many sites, simple is usually best. Editors are short of time, and faced with a large number of images they want to gain an understanding quickly of what the photographer can do. They’re less interested in what the photographer’s Web developer can do."

So if you want to sell your photographs, consider making your websites simple, and your photographs larger. It's a no-brainer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Julia over at A Slice of Cherry Pie is hosting her annual Easter Cake Bake challenge and this is my entry.

If you click here you can see my two previous entries for this challenge.

Cupcake heaven - I made vanilla scented cupcakes, topped with chocolate fudge icing, on to which I placed the mini-eggs. Curls of white Belgium chocolate and Green & Blacks Organic Dark Chocolate, were then scattered over the cupcakes.

To make 12 vanilla cupcakes you will need: 150g softened unsalted butter, 150g caster sugar, 175g self-raising flour, 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

1. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cake cases. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and beat for 2 minutes. Divide the mixture among the cases.
2. Bake in a preheated oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 18-20 minutes until they are risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Fudge Icing

You will need: 25g unsalted butter, 15g cocoa powder, 175g icing sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk.

1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the cocoa powder and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the icing sugar and milk, mixing until smooth.
2. Return to the heat for 1 minute, stirring until it has a glossy pouring consistency. Quickly spread the icing over the cakes whilst it is still warm.

Note: Very quickly, the fudge icing cannot be spread, as it cools down. I popped the mixture into a basin and warmed it through in the microwave until it became a pouring consistency again, you may need to thin it down a little with some more milk.

Spread the chocolate fudge icing on top of the cupcakes, and top with mini eggs. Decorate with the chocolate curls.

Gary Knight: FT Interview

©Gary Knight-Courtesy FT-All Rights Reserved.

"You find when you photograph the poor the world over that, unless you’re trying to make them appear without dignity, people understand what you’re doing and they collaborate."-Gary Knight

The Financial Times' Weekend Magazine published an interview with VII co-founder and photographer Gary Knight, who turned his lens on Brazil’s penal system, and found brutality, overcrowding and a controversial evangelist pastor with a strange power over inmates.

A worthwhile read from a leading, and thoughtful, photojournalist. Claire Holland, picture editor of FT Weekend Magazine, conducted the interview.

Praful Rao: Chatt Puja

(Click arrow to play video)

Virtually every civilization has worshiped a sun god but in Bihar, it is the setting sun that is worshiped.

Photographer Praful Rao documented the Chatt Puja, which is when the Bihari community in Kalimpong congregate in an open area much before dawn to worship the sun. Women bedecked in colorful saris, along with their husbands carrying puja material in baskets, arrive to the area much before sunrise. It is they who perform the puja.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

BBC's Human Planet: Timothy Allen

I was pleased to receive an email from Timothy Allen announcing that he is writing a weekly blog for the BBC documenting his work with indigenous societies around the world for the documentary Human Planet.

Human Planet is a new 8×50 minute documentary series being made by BBC Television. The series celebrates the human species and looks at our relationship with the natural world by showing the remarkable ways we have adapted to life in every environment on earth. It is due to be transmitted in the UK in October 2010 and will be rolled out across the world soon after.

Timothy Allen is a English photographer with a hefty professional background, including the Sunday Telegraph, The Independent and Axiom Photographic Agency, and who has won prestigious awards such as 6 Picture Editors' Guild Awards including the title of Arts Photographer of the Year. More recently he was the recipient of the 'One Planet, Many Lives' award in Travel Photographer of the Year for his work with the indigenous cultures of the Himalayas. The focus of his recent work has been on the planet's remaining tribal societies, and he currently devotes his time to documenting the diversity of humanity's cultural heritage. He has worked with indigenous communities throughout the world , most extensively in India and South East Asia.

This is a blog which is certain to enchant, educate, and delight those of us who are passionate about travel photography, ethno-photography and interested in our humanity's cultural heritage. Bookmark it, and visit it often!

For Canon 5D Mark II fans: check out the short video made with a Canon 5D II during a tribal dance in Niger.

A previous TTP post on Tim Allen's Nagaland work is here.

Easter & Holy Week

©REUTERS/Henry Romero-All Rights Reserved.

A masked Catholic penitent flagellates himself during the start of a procession through the streets of Taxco in the Mexican state of Guerrero, in observance of Holy Week celebrations. Hundreds of penitents, bound and flagellating themselves, walk the labyrinthine cobblestone streets of Taxco, an almost 500-year-old silver mining town built into a mountainside, in one of the most dramatic and heartfelt Easter rituals staged in this fervently Catholic country.

Flagellation is also practiced by some Shi'a Muslims, who whip themselves on the holiday of Ashura to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein Bin Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in 680.

The Boston Globe's The Big Picture has remarkable photographs of Holy Week (Link).

It's a little unfortunate that a foot appears in the top left corner of the above photograph!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

David DuChemin: Within The Frame

David DuChemin of The Pixelated Image is in the final phases of having his new book Within The Frame available at major bookstores everywhere. This a 260 page book in which David shares his experiences and knowledge acquired from years of working as a travel photographer.

Peachpit Press are publishing the book, and have posted a free down-loadable chapter of Within The Frame as a teaser.

I look forward to review David's opus soon, and expect that it'll be a must-have for all of us who are interested in travel and adventure photography. More to come soon!

Foundry Photojournalism Workshop: Another Scholarship!!

Eric Beecroft, co-founder of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, announced that the dispatches 2009 Foundry Scholarship in Memory of Alexandra Boulat will award one woman photographer from South Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Tibet) a full scholarship to attend the workshop as well as $100 toward travel expenses.

Eligibility: Any woman photographer from South Asia (no dual nationals from outside South Asia) may apply, including those that have applied unsuccessfully to other scholarships for the workshop.

Deadline: May 7, 2009

Winners Announced May 21, 2009

Judges: The judges are dispatches’ contributing photographers Antonin Kratochvil, Yuri Kozyrev, and Seamus Murphy.

How to Apply:
Please send a link to TWO photographic essays, each containing from 6 to 20 images, to fpw [at] rethink-dispatches [dot] com.

Write “Foundry Scholarship” in the subject line.

Also include one to two paragraphs in an attached Word doc or pdf summarising your photography background, career goals, any other workshops you’ve attended, and what you hope to get out of the Foundry workshop. Please also include the links to your galleries in the attachment.

NB: Please make sure that the images are captioned. Galleries that are fast-loading are appreciated.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kiran Ambwani

Kiran Ambawni is a freelance photographer based in Montreal, and she specializes in editorial and commercial photography. A graduate of McGill University and the Dawson Institue of Photography, her background in anthropolgy has clearly influenced her work as evidenced by her travel portfolio.

Some of her projects deal with one of the largest slums in Asia; Mumbai's Dharvi, a Trek for Peace documenting the Himalayan mountain women of Nepal, and Tibetans in exile.

Apart from her talented Travel portfolio, drop by her Landscape gallery and see how lumimous its first frame is!

liveBooks Photojournalism Websites

liveBooks has launched liveBooks Photojournalism, a cost-effective, pre-designed website offering and community for photojournalists launched in partnership with FiftyCrows and the National Geographic All Roads Photography Program.

This partnership will include eight additional leaders in international photojournalism and documentary photography in the near future, and will provide photojournalists worldwide with an opportunity to have a professional web presence at an affordable price.

The sites are available via subscription for $44/month or $444/year, or they can be purchased for a one-time fee of $1,144. I don't have a liveBooks website, but I know of many photographers who have. More examples are also found on its website. Further details are available directly from liveBooks Photojournalism.

liveBooks also has a very informative blog called RESOLVE, which is edited by Miki Johnson and Carmen Suen. I've bookmarked it for regular follow may want to do so as well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Canon 5D II Does Theyyams (VIDEO)

Here's a short snippet of raw video captured on my Canon 5D Mark II during one of the many Theyyam ceremonies witnessed during my Theyyam of Malabar photo expedition in Kerala (India). The camera used was the new Canon 5D Mark II...Nothing fancy. I just pointed and pressed the button. I still have quite a few others that are lengthier which will be worked on using iMovie etc. Audio was captured via the camera's microphone. However, I've recorded excellent audio with my new Marantz PMD-620 which I'll use for forthcoming projects.

Theyyam rituals are indigenous to north Kerala, and the actor-dancers incarnate local deities to foretell the future to devotees. Incredible imagery and action! For more information on the Theyyams photo expedition, go here.

I chose not to embed the video in this post because it looked a bit jerky when I did, so click on the link instead of the image. This will open my video page on Vimeo. You may want to go full screen to get a better feel for the action.

Foundry Photojournalism Workshop: News

Eric Beecroft, co-founder of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, has recently announced a new tuition deal for South Asian students and others.

The tuition deal runs from March 28 to April 18, hurry and register before it expires!

South Asian:
Two for $800 — If two students sign up and pay together, tuition is $400 each/$800 total. (The students need to note whom they are signing up with when they do so to get this deal).

Two for $1600 — If two students sign up and pay together, tuition is $800 each/$1600 total.(The students need to note whom they are signing up with when they do so to get this deal).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Canon 5D Mark II Batteries

A recent post on a professional photo forum complaining about the non-availability of extra Canon LP-E6 Camera batteries for the Canon 5D Mark II was joined by a rep for a retailer whose post reveals how Canon completely dropped the ball by not supplying sufficient extra batteries to its authorized retailers; totally mismanaging a critical component of the camera's launch, and which eventually gave rise to price gouging by unscrupulous vendors.

Why was Canon caught with its pants down? It had to know that the camera would appeal to serious photographers who would need an extra battery.

I've ranted about this in a previous post. (LINK)

Note: This post was redacted on April 20, 2009.

Sylvain Savolainen: The Afars

©Sylvain Savolainen-All Rights Reserved.

Sylvain Savolainen is a photographer and reporter based in Geneva, and is regularly published by international newspapers and magazines such as Geo, La Stampa, IHT, The New York Times and Le Figaro. In Paris, he worked with Sygma and Gamma agencies, and currently Cosmos and Grazia Neri partly distribute his work. He is also a contributor to the French and Swiss national radios. In 2007, he won the Swiss Press Photo award for the best foreign feature of the year.

Sylvain has documented many ethnic groups, including the Afars. The Afars, or Danakil, are an ethnic group in the Horn of Africa, residing principally in the Danakil Desert in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, as well as in Eritrea and Djibouti. They constitute over a third of the population of Djibouti, but the majority still remain nomadic pastoralists, raising goats, sheep, camels and cattle in the desert.

Here's Sylvain's Those Who Gaze Into The Horizon: The Afars

Geisha Peeping!

Photo ©Hiroshi Yamauch-All Rights Reserved.

How awful! The New York Times has an article on how Kyoto, the historic and former imperial capital, is attracting hordes of tourists wanting to photograph the geisha and maiko, who, with their "elaborate dress, white-painted faces and stylized gestures, exercise a special allure for Western imaginations as the seeming embodiment of Japanese tradition."

Further on in the article, I read that a record 927,000 foreigners spent a night in Kyoto in 2007, a substantial growth over the preceding year. On the other hand, the estimated number of geisha is only 1,000 to 2,000, as compared to 80,000 in the 1920s.

I'm saddened, but not surprised, that the Kyoto residents, and the geisha, are now complaining that tourists with cameras are aggressive, and even "ambush and surround the young women for close-ups. Sometimes, they say, the tourists block their way, pull their sleeves, and at times have even caused them to trip over."

On the other hand, I'm not fussed by the fellow in the above photograph. He's maintaining a reasonably respectful distance from the two geisha, and I don't see that as harassment. However, I can imagine the behavior of tourists with small compact cameras wanting to get close-ups on the geisha faces! Disgraceful.

The article is authored by Miki Tanikawa.