Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bhutan: Field Report

I am sitting in the main town of Bumthang which has the rather evocative name of Jakar. The internet cafe here has four terminals, wifi and espresso. What else can one ask from life! I shall try to post a few photographs in the coming few days. The two festivals in Wangdue and Tamshing exceeded our expectations, and our collective image storage has run in the hundreds of gigabytes.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I could have told you I grew the leeks myself, I could have said I bought them from the Farmers Market, I could even have said, they were in my box scheme delivery. Alas, none of the above would have been true.

I know you are all going to be disappointed with me now, but they were out of a plastic see-through bag bought from the local supermarket. These leeks were left over from the Leek and Gruyere Quiche in my previous posting. I've let you down, I've let myself down and most of all I have let Nigel down - lets hope he will forgive a fellow West Midlander.

I preplanned the quiche and then forgot to buy the leeks and so had to settle for non-squeaky leeks. I could have made something else, but I had promised my husband I would make quiche, ran out of time and had to settle for the see-through bag!!!

If you can get crisp, bright, fresh leeks, then this simple recipe will taste even better, because it totally relies on the quality of the ingredients, that said, my risotto didn't disappoint but would have been even better, if only I had bought wonderful leeks....................'nough said about those leeks now.

The Parmesan crisps were tablespoons of grated Parmesan placed in a non stick pan and cooked until crisp. They were very moreish and one each just isn't enough - I would definitely make more.

The recipe is from Nigel Slaters new BBC programme Simple Suppers. It's great to have someone on TV who is giving the home cook simple, realistic, achievable and furthermore, delicious recipes. Nigel Slater never disappoints the home cook and he makes cooking stress free and enjoyable.

If you take a peek at his new cookery book you will find he grills some pancetta and adds this to the risotto at the end of the cooking time, but the above recipe is part of his DigIn series of programmes, which is obviously based on growing and eating your own veg!

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be given some homegrown leeks! I know that I have missed the moment with the above recipe but I think I have now redeemed myself to you all.............

My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme

I was kindly sent this book by the publishers Duckworth. The memoirs of Julia Child was written with the help of her husband's grandnephew Alex Prud'homme.

Julia Child, as most of us know, wrote the iconic book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and My Life in France takes us on a journey with her, from the time she left America for Paris in 1948, with her new husband Paul Child, to her death two days before she reached the age of 92 in 2004.

Julia left America with no interest whatsoever in food or cooking and on her first day in Paris she had a meal of sole meuniere and this very meal was a defining moment which altered her outlook on cooking and food. She had an insatiable appetite to learn and become knowledgeable about food and cooking.

Julia recalls her days in Paris and learning to cook at Ecole du Cordon Bleu in 1949, taking us with her on a fascinating culinary journey through Paris and beyond.

Perhaps it's now time to see the film Julie & Julia...............

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Globe & Mail: Behind The Veil

Canada's The Globe and Mail provides a rare insight into the lives of Afghan women through a week-long multi-media series, Behind the Veil.

In these series, 10 representative Afghan women in the Kandahar area speak about key issues in their lives. Aided by an interpreter, specific questions were asked from each of the women. The Globe & Mail is well-known for its edgy multimedia, having featured equally interesting and extremely well produced multimedia pieces before.

I haven't got the time to view this except for a few minutes, but I intend to return to it once I'm back from Bhutan.

On The Road: Bhutan (Bangkok Report #2)

Chinatown (Bangkok)-Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The 8 participants of my Bhutan: Land of the Druk Yul photo expedition are currently in Bangkok, and are collectively relieved to hear that yesterday's earthquake hasn't disrupted our plans, and having spoken to our agent in Thimpu, all indications are that its damage was restricted to the Mongar area in south-eastern Bhutan.

It'll be a short sleep for most of us here in Bangkok as we will be making our way to the airport for a check-in at 4:30 am. We should be in Pao airport at 9:00 am, and it'll be kuzuzangbo-la!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

On The Road: Bhutan (Bangkok Report)

The late afternoon in Bangkok saw Graham Ware, Kayla Keenan and I spending a couple of hours in Bangkok's Chinatown district, "de-rusting' our shutter fingers with some street photography.

While having dinner with some of the photo-expedition's members at The Irish Pub on Silom, news of the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Bhutan reached me. The AP report said that the earthquake killed at least 11 people, damaging an ancient monastery and forcing hundreds to flee, with at least 15 people injured.

The afternoon earthquake was centered in Monggar, a little-populated eastern region of the tiny nation of Bhutan, close to Gauhati in Assam, India. The AP also reports that most buildings in that region are small farmhouses built from mud and stone.

At this time, all signals are green for the photo-expedition to proceed as planned. The quake-hit region is far enough from our routing that it shouldn't have any effect, however it may have caused landslides in the main road leading to Bumthang, which is our ultimate destination.

Further information will be obtained in the morning from our agent in Thimpu.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On The Road: Bhutan Photo-Expedition

Well, I've packed my last few items in my bags and as you read this, I'm on my way to meet up with the rest of the Bhutan: Land of the Druk Yul photo~expedition participants in Bangkok (after stopping en route in London) on September 21. The 8 photographers are all US-based, except for one who hails from Canada.

Being in Bangkok for a couple of days will allows us to get to know each other before getting to Bhutan, and perhaps take the opportunity to photograph in the city's Chinatown and other areas. What I do know for a fact is that I'll splurge on as much sushi and glorious Thai food as I can...Bhutan is not really a gastronomical destination, so tucking in goodies is always a good idea.

I will try to update the blog whenever I get the chance...certainly it won't be a problem in London and Bangkok, however it may be difficult to find the time and accessible internet connections in the Dragon expect sporadic (but informative posts) on the progress!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NPR: Traveling Down The Amazon

Here's Traveling Down The Amazon, an intelligently produced NPR multimedia feature that combines audio, stills and graphics to tell the story of transcontinental highway being built in Peru and Brazil which promises to bring economic opportunities, and also acute environmental problems, to one of the most remote places on earth.

NPR correspondent Lourdes Garcia-Navarro and staff photographer John Poole traveled the Peruvian route to produce this series.

I found this via a Twitter post (aka a "tweet") by Tracy Boyer, the editor of the excellent Innovative Interactivity blog, that deals with new multimedia and which she appropriately calls "a digital watering hole for multimedia enthusiasts".

Traveling Down The Amazon is not the kind of feature that one can watch in one's too long and too dense to absorb in one go. So bookmark it for whenever you have the time to follow it properly.

I haven't had the time to watch except the first chapter The Road, and found it surprising that the producers of the piece haven't sync'ed the stills and the narration by Garcia-Navarro together. It hasn't bothered me much because I could return or go forward to the still photograph I was interested in, and still keep the narration going on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Black Rapid R-strap: Reinforcement

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

As reported here on The Travel Photographer's blog, I'm a fan of the Black Rapid R-straps and have used mine for over a year on my various photo-expeditions. Many participants in my photo-expeditions like and use them as well, however they're all wary about having expensive cameras dangling from their bodies.

One of the common fears is that the Fasten R which attaches the strap to the bottom of the camera's tripod mount gets undone. If that attachment/fastener is not tightly screwed in, it could get undone because as the camera hangs from one's body, it wiggles and swivels around; such movements can loosen the attachment. Naturally, if that were to happen, the camera and lens would fall to the ground with potentially ugly consequences. I make it a habit to check the tightness of the attachment/fastener every now and then, and a couple of times found it to require a turn.

The company produces the newer FastenR-2, but as I don't have it yet, I can't speak to whether it's an improvement or not in that respect.

Since I'm about to travel in the coming few days on my Bhutan Land of the Druk Yul photo-expedition, during which we'll be frenetically photographing the various festivals and rituals, I've decided to adopt the suggestions of many photographers...and tether a length of lanyard to the Canon 1d's eyelet (originally for the optional hand strap). I also replaced the L-shaped Fasten R with a 1/4"x 2" eye bolt from a hardware store. This makes me feel much more comfortable, since should the eye bolt get loose, the lanyard will keep the camera from dropping to the ground.

Does it look classy and elegant? No, but it's good insurance....and no, it doesn't impede my photographing vertically. Well, maybe just a little bit. Another advantage is that I can easily check and tighten the eye bolt (if need be) with one hand as I walk around.

I'm carrying my other camera (5d Mark II) in a Lowepro holster-style bag, so I don't need to retro-fit another Black Rapid strap in the same way. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't use the same method as 5D Mark II doesn't have an eyelet for a handstrap....but necessity is the mother of invention, and I'm bound to come up with a solution.

Naturally, if anyone has a better idea (or simpler), do let me know!

Note: My thanks to Alex Marino who introduced me to an alternative strap called Sun Sniper. However it's similar to the R-Strap, and has the same weak spots.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The summer has reached the West Midlands at last! We can now have barbecues without having to run for cover and cook under the parasol, we can even eat quiche!

My tomato plants are at last happy and producing good red cherry tomatoes. Even some of the plants that have been on a back burner have burst into life and are trying their very best to put on a show for me.

If you are in the mood for quiche and have some leeks lurking in the fridge then this is a great recipe to use them up. A delicious quiche but try not to cook it to within an inch of its life because it will carry on cooking whilst cooling.

Oh dear look what happened to my pastry! This was after resting the pastry before rolling out, and then after popping the lined tin to rest in the fridge for half an hour or so. It didn't matter though and if I had removed the quiche from the tin you would never have known! Taking a belt and braces approach, by either pressing the uncooked pastry just above the rim of the tin or letting the pastry overhang the tin and when it's cooked just trim the pastry neatly from around the edges of the tin. I've never managed to trim the cooked pastry from around the tin neatly to this day!

One of my favourite Gary Rhodes recipes, although I think it is fair to say, I haven't come across many of his recipes on food blogs.


ISBN 9780718153144

Page 180 - Serves 4 people

You will need:

a large piece of butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 sliced large onion, 1 large leek finely shredded and washed, 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 150ml double cream or milk, 100g Gruyere cheese grated, salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 175g fresh or frozen ready-made shortcrust pastry (although I made my own).

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and butter a loose 20cm loose-bottomed tart tin.
2. Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large frying pan. Once sizzling, fry the sliced onion for 5 to 6 minutes before adding the leek. Continue to fry for a further minute or two, then spread them on to a tray to cool.
3. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them together with the extra egg yolk, and then add the cream or milk. Stir in the grated cheese and onion and leek and season with the salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
4. Roll our the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line the tart tin. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans or dried rice and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
5. Bake blind for 15 to 20 minutes, and then allow to cool. Remove the greaseproof paper and baking beans and cut away the excess pastry. Lower the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3.
6. Pour the filling mixture into the pastry case and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until just set. Remove the quiche from the oven and leave to rest for 20 minutes before serving just warm.

Mansi Midha: Kashmir

Photo © Mansi Midha-All Rights Reserved

First things first. I believe if Mansi hadn't been involved with the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Manali this past month, it would never have succeeded as it did. She was the hidden (and frequently, visible too) energy behind all the arrangements, big and small, that are crucial to the viability of such a complex venture. Mansi's cajoling, threats and perseverance made the Foundry Workshop click, and she deserves ample recognition of this here.

Mansi also happens to be a damn good photographer. I chanced upon her as I was walking out of our small hotel on my way to Manali town, and saw her hard at work editing the beginnings of her project "Aditya" on her laptop; a poignant story of a disabled child and his struggling family.

However, for the purpose of this blog, I highlight Mansi's Srinagar, Kashmir project. Kashmir is a long term project for Mansi, and this is merely its start.

A graduate of the International Center of Photography in New York City, she also graduated with a BA in Communication Design. Currently based in New Delhi, Mansi's photographs have been exhibited in various venues in New York, India and China, and she was awarded a clutch of recognitions for her work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

POV: Divine Plan

Photo © Rita Castlenuovo/The New York Times

The New Tork Times brings us a rather interesting photo-essay by Rita Castlenuovo, along with an article by Ethan Bronner, which starts like this:

"Of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, those who live in unauthorized hilltop outposts like this one, a hardscrabble unpaved collection of 20 trailers, are considered the most dangerous. They are fervent believers that there is a divine plan requiring them to hold this land."
Er...and I am a fervent believer in a divine plan requiring me to occupy a gorgeous $14,000,000 townhouse in the West Village that is not mine.

The caption accompanying the above photograph in Rita Castlenuovo's slideshow Fervent Believers published today in The New York Times would make me laugh, if it wasn't for the repulsive action of this zealot thug and the resultant humiliation of this unfortunate Palestinian woman. As alcohol, wine is anathema to observant Muslims, and having been drenched with wine must've caused her much grief.

The photograph's caption reads:

"A settler tosses wine at a Palestinian woman on Shuhada Street in Hebron. The approach of some settlers towards neighboring Palestinians, especially around Nablus in the north and Hebron in the south, has often been one of contempt and violence.

I've used a boldface to highlight what I call "diluting qualifiers" inserted by whoever is the editor of this caption to ensure that readers should not take from the article that it's all these settlers who frequently (or consistently) "approach" Palestinians with violence and contempt. I also chuckled at the choice of the word "approach"...instead of "commit violent acts or treat with contempt".

Sneaky wordsmithing which many readers will unfortunately not notice...but perfect timing by Castlenuovo.

See the The Practice of Domination on the No Caption Needed blog for a similar opinion.

Alessandra Meniconzi: Hidden China

I've waxed lyrical many times about Alessandra Meniconzi's Hidden China book, and it was with great pleasure that I realized she recently updated (and enhanced) her website with absolutely magnificent photographs of minorities in China, structured along the same chapters in her book.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If there's one travel photography book you ought to have on China, this is the one. If this still doesn't convince you, I believe the imagery you'll find on her Hidden China website will. This is travel photography and ethno-photography at its best.

As background, Alessandra Meniconzi is a Swiss photographer fascinated by the lives and traditions of indigenous people in remote regions of the world. After many years of working in Asia, she traveled in Iceland and became interested in the Arctic. She is the sole photographer for the books Hidden China (2008), Mystic Iceland (2007), and The Silk Road (2004), and she is currently working on the new book about Tibet, Arctic and Himalaya.

Alessandra was featured here on TTP.

Sunday, September 13, 2009



My husband has just bought himself a new toy - a Weber Spirit barbecue - he's even bought some of their accessories. It was pleasing to see him, instead of the usual suspect (me), buying utensils he didn't really need, but I have to say they do lure you into parting with your cash, they are sleek in design and also very practical.

The previous week he 'faffed' about with barbecue and kept asking for opinions and help on how he should go about cooking the food on his new barbie, it really is a learning curve with the Weber, as they recommend cooking with the hood down for some foods.

As you can see from the photograph - the barbecue was delicious!

I knew we would need a very easy and quick dessert to eat after the barbecue because I had to be prepared for the 'faffing' again! Idly flicking through the pages of the September issue of BBC Good Food Magazine I stumbled upon this glorious recipe for roasted plums.

Roasting plums brings out the very best flavour and the wonder of this simple recipe was the vivid purple juices that oozed from the plums to make a delicious sauce. I allowed my plums to cool down for 10 minutes or so and served them simply with double cream poured over. Unfortunately, the photograph doesn't show the wonderful juices that came from the plums, perhaps due to more 'faffing'.

Pershore, Worcestershire celebrate the plum with a Plum Festival at the end of August. I've never managed to go, but perhaps one day we might make the trip. I would love to walk around the stalls overflowing with plums, buying them, and eating them straight from the paper bag - heaven!

You will need:

140g white granulated sugar, ¼ tsp cinnamon, 1 large egg white, 12 ripe purple or red plums

1. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk the egg white, then roll the plums first in egg white and then the cinnamon sugar until very well coated in a sugary crust.
3. Space apart in a buttered baking dish then bake for 15 minutes or until the plums are crusty, cooked through and starting to be juicy (I allowed mine to be quite juicy without the plums collapsing). To test poke in a cocktail stick, if it goes in easily, they are ready.
4. Serve with creme fraiche, ice cream or double cream.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Travel Photographer: GlobalPost

The GlobalPost's Full Frame features photo essays and conversations with photographers in the field, and it has just featured a slideshow of my photographs, along with an audio interview in flash format. The slideshow is titled Unusual Cultures, Unusual Places, and can be seen either by clicking on the arrow in the above image, or by clicking on the link.

GlobalPost has published nearly 3,000 stories, videos and photo galleries since January including numerous in-depth series on a very broad array of major international issues, and have nearly 20 syndication partners who have reached agreements to use GlobalPost content in print, on-air, or online.

Best Multimedia: Journey To End of Coal

Here's one of the best multimedia web documentary I've seen so far, and it's titled “Journey to the end of Coal,” developed by two French multimedia companies, Honkytonk and 31Septembre.

It's an interactive web documentary set in China, and documents the sacrifices that millions of Chinese coal miners are making everyday, risking their lives and spoiling their land to satisfy their own country’s appetite for economic growth.

I was amazed at how this web documentary has crossed over to television visual territory, and how well the interactivity of this web documentary is done, which adds an altogether exciting feature to the experience. You have to see it to be blown over as I am. It gives you the opportunity of experiencing what an investigative photojournalist goes through and faces on a similar assignment!

In short: one of the best I've seen so far, and one that totally justifies the 1.5 million page views it received so far.

However, set aside enough time to experience it..this is not the type of multimedia that can be rushed through.

Via Innovative Interactivity.

Friday, September 11, 2009

POV: The Mind Boggles

© Casey Kelbaugh/The New York Times

While our country is involved in two wars and human lives are lost every day; while President Obama is tackling the enormous economic difficulties inherited from the previous administration, as well as trying to reshape our broken health care system; while we are remembering the dreadful events of September 11, 2001, and while unemployment is at its highest ever, there is still New York Fashion Week to remind us of the breathtaking superficiality of certain segments of society.

Chris Rainier: Papua New Guinea

Chris Rainier: Meetings with Remarkable People - Papua New Guinea from liveBooks on Vimeo.

RESOLVE, the informative blog from liveBooks, has announced that National Geographic Fellow Chris Rainier would be one of its new regular contributors.

Chris is a well known documentary photographer who took part in many National Geographic initiatives, such as the All Roads Photography Program and the Enduring Voices Project. With RESOLVE, Chris will video-post a monthly series "Meetings with Remarkable People" which will take its viewers along with him as he travels the world.

In this first video, Chris shares the ancient dances and rituals he documented on a recent trip to Papua New Guinea.

Ajit Patel: Indian Colors

Based in Mumbai, Ajit Patel is an award-winning freelance advertising photographer, with the background of having produced documentary movies in London.

His website reflects his initial passion for black & white, but that has evolved to color. His favorite camera is the Hassleblad X-Pan because, as he puts it, he enjoys the space it provides in composing visual elements.

There are a number of galleries which demonstrate Ajit's careful composition and love of colors. For instance, his photographs in the Indian Colors gallery underscore these very talents. And perhaps influenced by Degas, Ajit shows us a lovely subdued mood in his gallery titled Ballet School.

A versatile photographer, Ajit's galleries is certainly worth your time...I only wish his photographs were shown in a larger size to appreciate them better.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pétanque In NYC's Bryant Park

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

For a shift in gears, here are a couple of photographs made yesterday at the northwestern corner of Bryant Park in New York City, where aficionados meet almost daily to play bocce or pétanque.

Pétanque is a French game of “boules”, where each player strives to throw metal balls as close as possible to a smaller wooden ball, named the “cochonnet”. Game strategies include “pointing” when a player throws his ball to have it roll as close to the cochonnet as possible, and “shooting” when a player aims for the ball of an opponent, hoping to move him out of a favorable spot.

Bocce is a sport similar to the boules, bowls or pétanque family,with an ancient ancestry dating back to the Roman Empire. It was developed into its present form in Italy, and naturally was exported to other countries that received Italian migrants.

In the South of France, this game (or sport) evolved into a regional activity virtually synonymous with Provence...a little pastis and a game of pétanque is what locals do. Anyone who watched the wonderful French films Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources will surely recall how the game was described in the memoirs of novelist Marcel Pagnol.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New Leica M9

Photojournalists (the few who can still afford it) and dentists have been impatiently waiting for 9/9/2009 for the new Leica M9.

According to the British Journal of Photography, Leica has updated its M8 model with a full-frame M9. The M9 fits a 24x36mm 18.5 million pixel resolution CCD sensor that has been developed specifically for the camera. It offers ‘full 35mm film format without any compromises’ claims Leica.

The M9 has a magnesium alloy body, and is said to have a "discreet" mode for candid shots in street photography. It can photograph at a range of ISO80 to ISO2500, at up to 2fps, and has a 2.5-inch LCD screen on the back.

The M9, which will be available in a steel-grey or black paint finish, weighs 589g with its battery and measures 139x37x80mm. The price in the US is estimated at $7000, while it's the equivalent of $8000 in the UK (at today's exchange rate).

There's also a review here on DPReview, and for the "eye-candy" go to the M9's website.

Mohit Gupta: Thankas

I mentioned that I would feature Mohit Gupta's multimedia project "Thankas" on TPP as soon as it was uploaded on his website, and I'm pleased that he has just made it available to us to appreciate on his newly completed website/blog.

Originally from Himachal Pradesh, Mohit is an independent photographer based in New Delhi, who specializes in travel and documentary photography. To Mohit, photography is a serious medium for expression. A self taught photographer, he is mainly interested in documenting culture, traditions, rituals and religion, and has traveled within South East Asia to do just that. He also works with NGOs and helps them documenting their work.

"Thankas" was Mohit's project while at the Foundry Photojournalism, where he attended my Introduction To Multimedia Storytelling class. It is a well-made audio slideshow, incorporating many techniques...including the flip-book technique to simulate motion from a number of sequential still photographs.

My previous post on Introduction To Multimedia Storytelling is here.

Mindy Adams' Guide: Multimedia Reporting

Mindy McAdams teaches university courses about online journalism and the changing ways we use technologies for communication, and she has published a comprehensive guide to multimedia proficiency, now available for download in PDF from her website.

The 42-page document is fully linked and usable online in most web browsers, Adobe Reader, or in Preview on the Mac OS. McAdams has licensed the entire document under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. This means that users are free to share, distribute, reuse and even remix it, in line with the CC conditions.

I have yet to read it in its entirety, but my quick scan of its chapters convinced me that it's a valuable document for those who seek to, not only start incorporating multimedia in their work, but also those of us who already are proficient in it but want to hone their skills.

Via Seshu on Twitter

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mitchell Kanashkevich: Seeing The Light

Photo © Mitchell Kanashkevich-All Rights Reserved

Mitchell Kanashkevich is an oft-published travel/documentary photographer, whose main passion resonates with those of us who are described as "ethno-photographers". Much of his work is in capturing disappearing ancient cultures and the human condition in unique, challenging situations. Much of his travel/documentary photography is represented by Getty Images, while his cultural portraits, both color and black and white, are in private collections.

Mitchell has recently published a new eBook titled Seeing The Light. The premise of the eBook is to show how to create “believable” looking artificial light with a single off camera flash in a softbox or with a reflector, exploit natural light with and without the help of artificial light,and gain a deeper understanding of natural light and how it can be used creatively, even in challenging situations.

Via the above link, you can see sample screen grabs and even download a sample PDF.

As he says, the lessons in Seeing the Light is relevant to anyone who’s passionate about light, but wants to stay compact – that includes travel and documentary photographers, wedding photographers, portrait photographers and even low-budget commercial shooters.

For Mitchell's wonderful travel and ethno-photography, drop by his website...I guarantee you'll be inspired by his work.

Monday, September 7, 2009

WIRED: Kanepari & Ferguson

Photos © Adam Ferguson (L)/Zackary Canepari (R)-Courtesy WIRED

"The photojournalist has long been known as the lone wolf, traveling solo to the far-flung corners of the world to document experiences few are capable of seeing. By function, it’s often a solitary quest, lonely and alienating; rarely as romantic as the photographs make it appear."
What a great start for the Raw File article written for WIRED by Bryan Derballa!

The article deals with the friendship and healthy competition between Adam Ferguson and Zackary Canepari, two immensely gifted photojournalists working in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. It appears that they helped each other, and edited one another’s work, always hoping to improve its quality.

WIRED's Raw File's article is in essence two interviews: Ferguson giving his views on Canepari's work, and vice-versa. Quite an interesting read...naturally, they pat each other on the back, but that's what friends do, especially those whose camaraderie withstood difficult circumstances.

Both photojournalists are content to be doing what they want to do at this time. Canepari is back in California pursuing personal projects, while Ferguson is still shooting in Afghanistan.

Zackary Canepari was featured on TTP a few times, and Adam Ferguson's work in Orissa was featured here.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ulla Lohmann: Papua Mummies

An unusual project has put Ulla Lohmann in the 'crosshairs' at the Visa pour l'Image photojournalism festival in Perpignan.

Ulla's Mummies in Papua portfolio was shown at Visa's first nightly projections, and is a distinct change from the normal fare that the festival is reputed for. She had to wait two years before being granted authorization to see and photograph the mummies.

In Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Highlands, the Anga tribe used to follow an ancient method of mummification for its dead by smoke curing, however the tradition has been almost lost, until the tribe leader's grand-daughter's death.

The lost tradition was revived when the grand-daughter died. The mummies were brought back to the village, and eventually restored for preservation. Now, the tribe's leader also wants to be mummified once he dies and has asked Lohmann to record the event.

1854, the blog of the British Journal of Photography has an interview with Ulla Lohmann.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

POV: To Publish or Not?

After 3 weeks of deliberation, the Associated Press released a graphic photograph by Julie Jacobson of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard shortly after he was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard was mortally wounded and died shortly thereafter.

The New York Times has the whole story here.

Naturally, both the knee-jerk and the well reasoned outrage at AP's decision to publish such a photograph have been the subject of many op-eds, newspaper articles, commentary and blog posts. It is not the first time (nor the last) that the issue is whether the public is better served by seeing what really happens in war, or whether it's better to shield us from the ugliness of war, and to protect the privacy of the American families who lose loved ones in these conflicts.

In this case, the father of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard specifically requested AP not to show the photograph, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates intervened personally to ask not have the photos published.

It's a tough call, isn't it? But I reluctantly side with those who believe that showing such images conveys to the viewing public the atrocity, the complexity, the brutality, and the sacrifices of war. We should not allow ourselves to be anesthetized by deliberate governmental or military censorship, often disguised by proclamations of "respect for the families". These are the same people who send our children to war, knowing full well how horrific it is. Mr. Gates pleaded with AP not to show the image of this (in his words) "maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers...." Yet, children like Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard have been sent to war by Mr. Gates and his predecessor by a mere stroke of their pens...and precious lives have been lost, and will continue to be lost.

Every day we see photographs of Iraqi corpses, Palestinians horribly maimed, Afghan women with horrific burns, Congolese civilians beheaded, and many others. They are also loved ones and have families too, yet we show them in our publications without even thinking twice. Yes, sometimes, a gentle soul at one of the newspapers inserts a caution before the graphic images...but they still end up on our front pages, don't they?

Yes, sometimes war is necessary and sometimes it's forced on us...and having taken the momentous decision to send our own to war, we should accept, and see, its atrocious consequences.

Finally, why hasn't the AP shown similar photographs during the previous Administration? If it did, perhaps we wouldn't be in this mess.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What is Barrel Distortion?

The world of photography is full of strange terms. Pin-cushion effect, bokeh, depth of field, and white balance are just a few that take a moment to get to grips with.

The one I'm blogging about today is barrel distortion. This is the curious effect that reminds you a picture was taken using a circular lens, because the straight lines curve slightly.

It's particuarly obvious in photographs of buildings or other man-made structures because, not surprisingly, they tend to have a lot of straight lines.

The photos in the this blog entry demonstrate the effect. They are all stunningly unexciting pictures of the wall of my house, which comprises courses of bricks laid in a 'stretcher bond' pattern.

The top photo was taken with the Sigma 50mm macro lens. If there is any distortion it's difficult to see - the lines look good to me.

The second shot is with the kit lens that came with my Sony A350, at maximum zoom, or focal length of 70mm. Again, any distortion is invisible.

The final picture is with the same lens but at the other extreme of its focal length, 18mm. This is a wide-angle setting, which is where barrel distortion tends to occur. It's visible in this picture - which looks as if something is pushing the centre of the shot forward slightly, curving the lines of the brickwork.

Effects like this give the lie to the claim 'the camera never lies'. Incredibly sophisticated though they are, cameras are still not a match for the human eye.

Shiho Fukada: Tawang

Photo © Shiho Fukada/NYTimes-All Rights Reserved

One of my favorite photographers is Shiho Fukada, and a fresh slideshow of her photographs is featured in the New York Times.

A Contested Frontier In The Clouds is the rather awkward title chosen for the slideshow, but Shiho's photographs, despite the dry reportage they illustrate, has flashes of her usual creativity.

Tawang is a town in India's Arunachal Pradesh, and rises above 10,000 feet in this region of eastern Himalayas. It is home to one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most sacred monasteries, which is of the Gelugpa sect. The area is thickly forested with white stupas and steep, terraced hillsides that is home to the Monpa people, who practice Tibetan Buddhism, speak a language similar to Tibetan and once paid tribute to rulers in Lhasa.

The article accompanying the photo slideshow deals with the conflict over the Tawang area between India and China, which go back to the latter's territorial claims to Tibet. According to China, this section of northeast India has historically been part of Tibet, and should be part of China.

Paula Marina: Iemanjá

Photo © Paula Marina-All Rights Reserved

Born in Recife, Brazil, Paula Marina is a journalist and photographer who currently lives and works in in Sao Paulo. She started photography at the tender age of 18 years old, attending various courses at SENAC, and working with prints and enlargements in a makeshift darkroom in her bathroom.

Her website showcases a broad panoply of photographic interests, ranging from fine art to more travel oriented photography, however what caught my attention was her photo essay on Iemanjá.

Iemanjá is the Goddess of the Water in the Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda religions, and December 31 is when, in addition to celebrating New Year’s Eve, large crowds of its adherents are celebrating the Festa de Iemanjá near Rio's beaches. The goddess is offered flowers, gifts, perfume and rice which are cast into the water.

Like Santeria, it is basically a possession religion in which adherents assume the form of deities, both for worship and magic.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Carolyn Cole: Afghan Women

Photo © Carolyn Cole/LATimes-All Rights Reserved

The Los Angeles Times has featured an audio slideshow on Afghan Women, photographed and narrated by Carolyn Cole, and produced by Bryan Chan.

The premise of the audio slideshow is that while Afghan women live in a freer environment than what it was under the Taleban, when they were forbidden to leave their homes without a male relative, beaten for trivial infractions, and deprived of schooling and employment, they are still disillusioned by the meager gains achieved despite billions of dollars in international aid, and a sustained military campaign.

The abhorrent constraints of age-old traditions over the treatment of women still remain, and these are reinforced by poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. It is heart-breaking to realize that treatment of women in Afghanistan will not improve as quickly as we all hope, as these traditions are deeply woven in the country's very psyche and fabric, and that it will take decades upon decades of consistent educational efforts coupled with financial assistance to inculcate new attitudes. Forcible change will not work and cannot be practically sustained, but sensible persuasion supported by health and educational programs might.

Carolyn Cole's images in the audio slideshow are well chosen; some are even powerful...however she ought to have worked on her narration a little more. As it stands, she's intoning from a script rather than narrating. I know, photographers are now expected and required to be storytellers, narrators, videographers and lots of other things in between...but that's the new order of things, and we'd better get on with it.

Sandra Chandler: Moroccan Impressions

Following her return from our Gnawa Photo Expedition in late June, whose principal objective was to photograph the legendary Gnawa musicians during the 12th Essaouira Music Festival, Sandra immersed herself in working on her Moroccan Impressions, a collection of photographs that are to be shown at Tufenkian on September 3, 2009.

The venue's address is:

Tufenkian Artisan Carpets
515 NW 10th Avenue (in the Pearl District)
Portland, Oregon
503.222.3428 Ext: 105

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

WSJ Photo Journal: Pind Daan

Photo © Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press-All Rights Reserved

The Photo Journal of the Wall Street Journal continues to bring us interesting photographs from all corners of the globe, including this one by AP photographer Rajesh Kumar Singh of Hindus performing Pind Daan rituals in blessing their ancestors’ souls in the River Ganges in Allahabad.

As per Hindu tradition, families and relatives perform this mandatory rite which is believed to bring salvation (moksha) to the departed souls

Pind-Daan is considered to be a mandatory rite believed to bring salvation to the departed souls, and is performed at the Ganges in Gaya, Varanasi and Allahbad.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

LENS blog: Dominic Nahr's Uneasy Congo

The New York Times' LENS blog brings us the work of photojournalist Dominic Nahr in a series of photographs titled Uneasy Congo. Though he is only 26 years old, Dominic’s photographs of Congo’s brutal conflict are being exhibited in Perpignan at Visa pour l’Image, one of the most important international photojournalism festival.

The article explains the reasons as to why Dominic's photographs were chosen for the venue, but what is the most poignant of his statments is this one as he recalls viewing the results of a massacre:

"At first, you feel like a scavenger because you’re hanging over these bodies, but you have to document it. This had to be remembered. Laws were broken. There had to be evidence and this had to be remembered."

While this is another example of "bearing witness" to the atrocities committed in Africa, there are others who bemoan the fact that not enough photography and coverage are dedicated to show Africa's success stories...perhaps these are also right.

For more photographs, Dominic Nahr's website is here.

My Work: The Street Barbers of Manali

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The gestation period for The Street Barbers of Manali was remarkably short...certainly the shortest for any of my projects. Walking through the streets of Manali with Yasin Dar (a conflict photographer and photojournalist based in Kashmir), we came about the barbers who had set up a sort of shack near the Peace Cafe...a Tibetan coffeehouse and restaurant that offers an extraordinary muesli with fruits and yogurt.

As Yasin chose one of the barbers for his multimedia piece which would be eventually presented at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, we photographed alongside each other for about an hour. It was quite an experience to see the various angles we each chose...distinct from each other, but eventually telling the same story.

The street barbers in this area of Manali make about 20 rupees per client, and while they seemed to have a thriving business, their net take-home cannot be more than $5 taking into account whatever they have to pay (rent, protection money, etc) for the choice spot on a well trafficked street.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ami Vitale: Interview

Photo © Ami Vitale-All Rights Reserved

I regret two things. While Ami and I traveled side by side to Manali for the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop on the latter section of a 20 hours road trip marred by unforeseen twists and turns (including fender benders and police shake-ups), we were both so knackered that conversation was limited, and I regret that both she and I were so immersed in tutoring our respective classes at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, that it was difficult to get to know each other beyond some passing pleasantries.

So it's with pleasure that I found this interview with her on The Adventure Life, the personal blog of Steve Casimiro, West Coast Editor of National Geographic Adventure. It fills in the gaps very well, and features updated information on Ami and her work.

Ami has worked on contract for National Geographic for many years, and her work was published in all or most of the top-name magazine and newspapers. One of the questions raised in the interview relates as to what Ami was doing in India. Well, that 'mystery' is is now solved.

Via (and with thanks) duckrabbit multimedia blog

Dede Pickering: World Photographer

Photo © Dede Pickering-All Rights Reserved

Dede Pickering retired from the corporate world and became a world traveler and's just that simple and that complex. She has traveled to Antarctica, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, China, Cambodia, Peru, Patagonia, Kosovo, Albania, Rwanda, New Zealand, Guatemala, South East Asia and has made multiple trips to Africa and India, but her passion is the Himalayan Region.

Dede is involved with CARE, a global private humanitarian organization, and started the Women’s Initiative, aimed at connecting American women professionals with women in the developing world. She is also a member of the Explorers Club in New York.

Exploring her website with its remarkable photographs of different cultures, I stopped by her statement, of which this is excerpted:

"The lens of my camera allowed me to look inside the lives of others and blur the differences."
Dede's galleries are a delight for those of us who love travel photography at its best. You'll know what I mean when you do.