Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Work: Ranakpur Priest-Caretaker

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

At the outset of my Tribes of South Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition, we traveled to Ranakpur, north of Udaipur.

The Ranakpur temple is one of the most famous Jain temple in India, and is dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankar, or saint. Jainism is an ancient religion of India that prescribes a path of peace and non-violence towards all living beings. The Ranakpur temple is made of white marble, with more than a thousand columns, none of which are alike.

Having been to Ranakpur a number of times during my traveling in India, I didn't expect to photograph much. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of Jain pilgrims we encountered during our visit, and the suffused light in the temple was very helpful. It was almost as if I was photographing under a light tent.

It's Holi Time

Photo © K. K. Arora/Reuters- (Courtesy WSJ Photo Journal) -All Rights Reserved

Holi is a festival of color and was recently celebrated all over India. This exuberant festival aims at infusing fresh hope to people as it marks the end of the winter days and the start of summer. Originally, Holi was a festival to celebrate harvests, and to give thanks for the fertility of the land.

Although Holi is observed all over the north of India, it's also celebrated with considerable zest in Vrindavan and Mathura, and other towns which are said to have housed Krishna. In Vrindavan, Holi takes place over the course of two weeks in Vrindavan, and is observed with numerous processions, folk songs, and dances.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Greg Du Toit: The Waiting Game

Photo © Greg du Toit- (Courtesy The Daily Mail) -All Rights Reserved

Here's an interesting story reported by The Daily Mail (a UK newspaper) which tells us that Greg du Toit, a wildlife photographer living in south Kenya's Great Rift Valley, spent 3 months submerged in a wild lions watering hole for three months, just to get what he deemed to be the perfect photograph of these lions drinking.

The photographer had tried to get the right photograph for a year, but failed to get "it", so he waded into the murky pool with his camera where he spent 270 hours and ended up contracting several tropical diseases, including the potentially deadly Bilharzia.

There are some inconsistencies in this story as the Daily Mail's article mentions that the photographer spent 3 months in the watering hole, and then mentions 270 hours. Obviously, the hours (or days) he spent in there were not consecutive, but notwithstanding, it's a testament to Greg's single mindedness. Why he didn't wear a wet suit to protect him from waterborne diseases is another question which is not addressed in the article.

Yes, photography is a waiting game. I think travel photography, in particular, requires infinite patience, certainly not to the extreme lengths this photographer seems to have gone to, but nevertheless persistence and tenacity are needed. "Parachuting" in a remote Indian village hoping to capture a bunch of wonderful images in an hour or two is -unless one is very lucky- an overly ambitious goal...a holy grail kind of thing. For that, one has to spend the time, establish the requisite connections and know how to engage people honestly, respectfully and with kindness.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Book: Charlotte Rush-Bailey: Soul Survivors

I've just received the book Soul Survivors from its author Charlotte Rush-Bailey, who was a participant in The Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition, and it's certainly a wonderful addition to anyone's travel book collection.

It's essentially a tribute to the people of the Sahel, and focuses on Niger which Charlotte visited in the fall of 2005, amidst a food crisis that had enveloped that nation. Despite the food shortages, Charlotte marvels at how she was welcomed with generous hospitality everywhere she went. The book is full of lovely photographs; many of which are portraits, processed in the photographer-author's signature style.

Published and available through Blurb, the link above provides a preview of some of the book's pages. My favorite photograph of the book is the 5th on the preview strip, which is of a camel caravan. Just a perfect composition.

Charlotte Rush-Bailey's website has more of her photography.

Agnes Dherbeys: Street With No Name

Agnes Dherbeys is a freelance photographer based in Bangkok since 2001. She decided to take up photography as a career after graduating from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques and Sciences of Communication at the Sorbonne.

Since then, she mostly worked in Thailand, Cambodia, East Timor, Aceh), Nepal and the Palestinian Territories. She was recognized with numerous awards, and is member of the photo collective Eve Photographers

Her galleries generally depict social and humanitarian issues in South East Asia, such as Tibetans in exile (Nepal), 5 years after the tsunami (Aceh), the temple of doom (Thailand), and I chose her work in Cambodia titled The Street With No Name. This is a photo essay on the Karaoke girls in Siem Reap, and was photographed when Agnes attended Gary Knight's workshop in July 2009.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Antonio Perez Rio: Omo Valley

Photo © Antonio Perez Rio-All Rights Reserved

Antonio Perez Rio is a Spanish emerging photographer with a special focus on documentary and travel photography. He has two degrees in Law and Social Work, as well as a specific training in creative writing. He has traveled to more than 20 countries, and speaks Spanish, English, French and is learning Arabic.

Antonio tells me that he plans to join the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Istanbul (June 2010) to broaden his already considerable skills.

His Omo Valley slideshow features many of the tribes found in southern Ethiopia, including the Hamer, Karo and the Arbore. Antonio's use of flash brings to my mind the photographs made by Brent Stirton in the Lower Omo Valley.

Antonio also documented the various religious traditions of Benin, and the photographs can be found here.

For those of us who keep tabs on upcoming travel photographers, I predict we will see much more of Antonio's work.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ron Haviv: Haiti

Let's move away from the insignificance of photojournalists conducting photo tours to Haiti (and wherever else there is human misery), and contemplate the work of Ron Haviv of VII Agency who, less than 24 hours after the earthquake hit the island on January 12, 2010, arrived in Haiti without fanfare to chronicle the ensuing devastation and human suffering.

Ron Haviv's photographs will be showing at an exhibition and fundraiser on March 4, 2010 at VII Photo Agency in Brooklyn, New York. VII is also releasing a book on the Haitian disaster. All the proceeds will go to Partners in Health.

This multimedia presentation was produced by telegraph21 and the VII Photo Agency.

Sean Gilligan: Morocco

In my experience, Morocco is one of the most difficult places for people photography. One not only needs the technical skills of photographing quickly and unobtrusively, but also have an enormous reservoir of patience. I think that Sean Gilligan managed to pull it very well with his gallery titled God, King & Country . The title is from the 3rd image of the gallery which shows a mound of dark sand in which the words God, King, Country are inscribed in white.

Sean Gilligan is a photographer based in New York City, whose objectives are to document cultural diversity, unexpected beauty, intimacy, landscape, and individuals personalities. He has a deep connection with Africa and Ireland and has, over the years, been documenting traditional life as it coexists with modern living.

His work has been featured by CNN, Wall Street Journal, Adidas, Fortune, ESPN, Forbes, among others.

His website has been recently updated and apart from his Morocco gallery, features galleries of Paris, Mexico, Namibia and Ireland.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Review

Digital Photography Review is dedicating a massive 33 pages review to the new Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, granting it an overall rating of 89%. It garners the highest marks in build quality, features and performance (speed).

According to DPR, the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV "has the feel of a product that is determined to be as close to perfect as possible", and "From the point-of-view of the tasks it was built to tackle, there is nothing that can touch the detailed, high resolution images that it can deliver ten times a second."

I obviously have to carefully digest these 33 pages before I can make a decision as to whether to buy the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV or not, but I must say that I was pleasantly impressed by the ergonomics of the new Canon 7D. Handling them both today at B&H's Canon counter (I'm still circling around the Panasonic GF1), I felt that the Canon 7D fitted better in my hands. It's also as fast in terms of frames per second as the Mark IV, and is certainly much lighter.

At about $3300 cheaper than the Mark IV, the 7D might make a lot of sense to photographers who accept that its sensor size may not produce the highest of image quality of the Mark IV, nor has its ruggedness. I still use its predecessor, the Mark II, and I consider it a workhorse that never let me down.

Via Engadget

Ed Ou: Journey To The Promised Land

Ed Ou is a Canadian-Taiwanese photojournalist living and working in the Middle East, who covered his first big story during the Israel – Hezbollah conflict from southern Lebanon in 2006, when he was studying Arabic and International Relations in the Middle East.

Since then, he has worked with Reuters and the Associated Press covering diverse stories such as the ongoing conflict in Somalia, child soldiers in Uganda, California wildfires, faith and conflict in the Holy Land, and even fashion in New York City. He is also a featured contributor to Reportage by Getty Images.

Ed was selected by Photo District News as one of the 30 Emerging Photographers of 2008. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Guardian UK, and many other publications. He speaks English, French, Chinese, and Arabic.

I chose to feature Ed's portfolio titled Journey To The Promised Land, in which he documents some of the Falash Mura, and the surrounding controversy in allowing 40,000 Ethiopian Christians, with claims to Jewish ancestry, to immigrate to Israel.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Anamitra Chakladar: Kushti

Photo © Anamitra Chakladar-All Rights Reserved

At the outset of my Tribes of Rajasthan and Gujarat Photo~Expedition, I spent a few days in Delhi where I had the immense good fortune to meet with Anamitra Chakladar, a friend who attended the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Manali last July.

Along with Terri Gold and Wink Willett (participants in the photo expedition) we visited a Kushti akhara (a traditional Indian wrestling arena), and spent a couple of hours photographing the wrestlers.

Anamitra was born in Kolkata, and expected by his parents to be a teacher or an accounting executive/CPA (he graduated with an accounting degree), but chose to be a photographer instead.

He joined an established newspaper as a trainee photographer, then moved on to television joining NDTV, and saw more than his share of world conflicts including the first Gulf War, the ongoing conflict over Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the coups in Nepal and Bangladesh...and getting shot at during the 2001 attack by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists against the Parliament of India in New Delhi.

Anamitra published his photographs of the Kushti training on Photojournale.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

POV: P As In Professional

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times' Gadgetwise blog features an interview with Harry Benson, the legendary Scottish photographer, who shared some tips on taking photos in low-light situations. It was also picked up by WIRED's Gadget Lab.

Harry Benson's tips are:

1. Use program (P) mode to get the best results and to capture detail.
2. Remain in the reasonable ISO range, and avoid setting it above 1000.
3. Use manual focus instead of autofocus in dark situations.
4. Avoid using flash which, in Benson's words, makes one lose a lot of humanity.

It's refreshing to read such advice, especially since i've come across many photographers who shudder at the thought of using the P setting on their cameras (or admit to it).

I frequently advise participants in my Photo~Expeditions to set their cameras on the P setting during the first couple of days of the trip, to compensate for the jet-lag fatigue, and for the sudden disorientation we all experience in a new unfamiliar environment, especially if it's at a bustling heart-pumping festival.

I have used, and will continue to use, the P setting on the occasions when I'm unable to achieve the look I seek from a particular scene . This may be because it's a fast moving situation or because it's a low-light, or because I'm too tired or distracted to think straight.

During my Land of the Druk Yul Photo~Expedition in October 2009, I and the participants agreed that the P setting on the DSLRs we carried didn't stand for Program at all, but for Professional.

So my advice is when you're not getting the exact result you seek from a particular scene for whatever reason, set your camera on P and let it rip. The photograph above is an example of this. It was made during a festival in Bhutan's Jakar Valley, and I had trouble getting the right exposure using a manual and Av setting, so I just resorted to P...and I got what I wanted. Elementary, isn't it?

Harry Benson's interview via The Click

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Work: The Rabari & The Charpoy

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

While in Dasada (in the Little Rann of Kutch) during the The Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition ™, we stopped by a small Rabari village to photograph. We fanned out to photograph whatever caught our eye, and whoever was willing to cooperate.

The previous evening at the Rann Riders Resort, we were shown a wonderful book of Olivier Follmi's photographs; some of which were of the area. One photograph in particular caught our attention, and it was of a Rabari shepherd asleep on a traditional rope bed called "charpoy". It was a photograph that I (and others in the group) was determined to imitate, provided I found the necessary rope-bed and a willing and able photogenic Rabari.

I easily found the charpoy, but to convince one of the Rabaris to lay or sit on it taxed my very limited Hindi and my rudimentary sign language. After some insistence (as well as having to literally drag him by the hand) on my part, the chosen Rebari cooperated and played his part...however, feeling self-conscious being watched by some of his fellow villagers, it didn't last very long at all.

Photo © Sharon Johnson-Tennant-All Rights Reserved

Sharon Johnson-Tennant, one of the group members who was also photographing this recalcitrant Rabari, captured the moment as I showed him the various photographs.

The Rabari tribals live throughout Gujarat, Punjab, Harayana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states in India. Some also live in Pakistan, especially in the Sindh. Their principal occupation is raising cattle, camels and goats.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Belated Blog Anniversary and a Chocolate Giveaway

I have been blogging for approximately three and a half years, and have decided to host my own blog giveaway. The giveaway is chocolate, chocolate and even more chocolate.

My son set up my blog, possibly to keep in touch with all the things that I have cooked. I have to admit, I hadn't come across the world of blogs, and back then the blogosphere was a much smaller place. When I started the blog there were approximately 75 UK blogs on the 'Foodie List' but now there are so many that I couldn't possibly keep up with them all.

I have now had over 250,000 unique visitors since I started blogging in September 2006. My first posting, without a photograph, was a Delia Smith recipe - Fresh Tomato Soup with Basil. There are over 240 postings on the blog, and I have enjoyed every minute of blogging.

All of the products that have appeared on the blog have been extremely good quality, and therefore, they have been positive postings. I have been sent numerous products and would like to thank everyone.

I have had some surprising emails from people who have come across my blog, and a couple of them in particular still make me smile. One was from a marketing company in America who asked me how many people in the UK use a cafetiere to make coffee for breakfast every day - if I knew the answer to that, I think that there would be something seriously wrong with me.

Another email that made me smile was from a Sea Scouts Teacher, who said he was fed up with the meals his pupils served him whilst out at sea and could I suggest a menu so he could experience better food from them, ah!

Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog and also to those who have left comments they are always very much appreciated. I love visiting all of your blogs, old and new, time permitting, and I now feel as though I know many of my fellow food bloggers.

The banana and chocolate chip cupcakes are adapted from here and I simply added 50g of dark chocolate chips to the mix. The lemon tinted buttercream is a recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery cookery book, the buttercream is so sweet my husband couldn't bring himself to sink his teeth into one of my iced cupcakes and it had to be uniced cupcakes for him.

Anyway, for a chance to win the chocolate giveaway, please leave a comment telling me which of my postings is your favourite. The giveaway is open to anyone in the UK.

The winner will be chosen at random.
The closing date is midnight on Saturday, 27th February 2010. The winner will be announced after the closing date - please pop back to see if you have won and provide me with your email details.

Rajibul Islam: The Rohingya

Photo © Sheikh Rajibul Islam-All Rights Reserved

The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group of the Northern Arakan State of Western Burma, are denied citizenship and suffer persecution and discrimination in Myanmar. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Bangladesh. An estimated 25,000 unregistered Rohingya refugees are living in the Kutupalong makeshift camp in Bangladesh, and are being forcibly displaced from their homes, in an act of intimidation and abuse by the local authorities. Few have been granted refugee status. The majority struggle to survive, unrecognized and unassisted in Bangladesh.

Precious little on Sheikh Rajibul Islam's background is available on the internet, although he is listed on Lightstalkers as a Bangladeshi documentary photographer and film maker. Rajibul has also worked with Benjamin Chesterton of duckrabbit in Dhaka, where they have been working on a documentary about the effects of climate change on Bangladesh.

In my view, Rajibul and his powerful work belong to what I call the Bangladeshi "school" of photography...the dark and brooding style, which showcases social issues which need to be addressed. He's in good company: G.M.B. Akash, Sumit Dayal, Munem Wasif, Andrew Biraj, Tanvir Ahmed, Abir Abdullah, Monirul Alam, Shehzad Noorani, Saiful Huq Omi, Khaled Hasan, Murtada Bulbul, Mohammad Kibria Palash and Azizur Rahim Peu...and so many other talented photographers.

The Rohingya photo essay is showcased by the excellent Social Documentary. Social Documentary is a website for photographers, NGOs, editors, journalists, lovers of photography and anyone else who believes that photography plays an important role in educating people about our world.

Thanks to Benjamin Chesterton of the incomparable duckrabbit for bringing Rajibul Islam to our attention.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Charlotte Rush-Bailey: Tribes of Raj & Gujarat

Photo © Charlotte Rush-Bailey- All Rights Reserved

Charlotte Rush-Bailey is the second group member of The Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition ™ whose work is being showcased here on TTP.

As demonstrated by her photographs here, and by those on her impressive website, Charlotte's quest to explore the unknown and learn from it has always been with her. Her career covered three decades of marketing and communications positions in a variety of global industries including energy, financial services, media, conservation, technology and professional services. This gave opportunities to work with people all over the world, and to learn to appreciate cultural nuances and the influences of socio-political forces.

Photo © Charlotte Rush-Bailey-All Rights Reserved

This is no idle claim by Charlotte. I saw her engage people in the remote villages of Kutch and in the warrens of the walled city in Ahmedabad with an incredible ease, which led her to have no difficulty obtaining the photographs she wanted.

Photo © Charlotte Rush-Bailey-All Rights Reserved

Charlotte immersed herself in her passion of photography, and attended numerous workshops including those at the Palm Beach Photographic Workshops and Santa Fe Photo Workshops. She traveled to more than 90 countries, with a camera as a constant traveling companion. She believes that it was this that gained her more intimacy with people, places and nature.

Photo © Charlotte Rush-Bailey- All Rights Reserved

Charlotte's statement on her website reads:
"These explorations have enriched my life beyond imagining. Most important is the confirmation that humans – regardless of race, creed or tradition – share core values that far outweigh the differences that are so often the cause of conflict. The importance of family, community and spirituality are universal. Beyond humanity, nature has taught me complete humility and reverence. Nothing we humans do can repeal the laws and forces of nature; nothing we create can compare with the beauty, elegance and resilience of the natural world."

She's absolutely right.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tribes of Rajasthan/Gujarat Photo Group

Photo © Kantilal Doobal-All Rights Reserved

Kantilal Doobal is the Bhuj-based photographer/guide who accompanied us on our forays in the tribal lands of Bhuj area. He photographed alongside us, and emailed us this group photograph at a Wadha village on the last day in the Kutch.

From left: Sharon Johnson-Tennant, Colleen Kerrigan, Sandy Chandler, Tewfic El-Sawy, Kim McClellan, Terri Gold, Cathy Scholl and Charlotte Rush-Bailey. The fellow in the blue turban is the village's chief. Missing are Wink Willett and Jamie Johnson.

Kantilal Doobal's Flickr stream is here.

Alessandra Meniconzi: The Roitschäggätä

Photo © Alessandra Meniconzi -All Rights Reserved

Photo © Alessandra Meniconzi -All Rights Reserved

Alessandra Meniconzi's work has graced the pages of The Travel Photographer blog on many occasions, with photographs of far-away and remote areas of the world, however she sent me some of new work made in her back-yard. Yes, literally in her back-yard in Switzerland, although when I first viewed the photographs, I took them to be from Mongolia or even perhaps Papua New guinea.

But not at all...these were made in the villages of the Lötschental valley. It's the largest valley on the northern side of the Rhône valley in the canton of Valais in Switzerland, which lies in the Bernese Alps.

The masks are worn by the Roitschäggätä, who are unmarried young men from Lötschental villages who hide behind handmade wooden masks and are clad in fur, scaring passersby and playing pranks.

Starting as early as February 2, this tradition has been repeatedly prohibited by the Church, but without much success. The Roitschäggätä roam through the valley on Maundy Thursday, while there is a masked parade in the village of Wiler on the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday.

NPR: The Mekong, A River

Here's a wonderful multimedia piece The Mekong: A River And A Region Transformed, which is produced by NPR, as only a sterling institution such NPR would know how.

It documents the Mekong through a 3,000-mile journey from the river’s source on the Tibetan plateau to its mouth at the South China Sea, relying on Michael Sullivan and photographer Christopher Brown examine the turbulent history and uncertain future along the Mekong.

The Mekong is one of the world’s major rivers, and is its 12th-longest, and the 7th-longest in Asia. According to Wikipedia, its estimated length is 4,350 km or 2,703 miles, running from the Tibetan Plateau through China's Yunnan province, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

I've traveled to most countries through which the Mekong runs, and it was at its most spectacular at Khone Phapheng, in southern Laos with its borders with Cambodia, during monsoon season.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Apple iPad & Photography

Apple announced its newest creation, the iPad, while I was in the Kutch area in Gujarat, and had no reliable internet access so I'm still pretty much out of the loop in as far as its technical specifications are concerned...but that won't stop me from expressing my knee-jerk opinion on it from what I already know.

I gather from a couple of opinions written about the iPad that the jury (from a photography standpoint) is still out. Some say that it will "save" photojournalism and newspapers, while others are more low-key and only say it will provide a new platform to display one's photographs.

I view it as the latter...a magnified iTouch. No more and no less. I initially got very excited, hoping that it could replace netbooks, but it doesn't. From what I seen, it will not enable photographers to use it as a conduit device to download contents of CF/SD cards unto external hard drives. As a portfolio display device, it will do beautifully though. I use the tiny iTouch to do just that, and must say that it's useful in some occasions. The iPad will do the same in large format, and I expect it will be dazzling.

The absence of Flash is disappointing but expected. It's a pity but I imagine that it will not be hard for photographers to convert their Flash-based multimedia photo essays to QuickTime...or some other application...and show them off that way. As for enjoying photo Flash websites, this device will not do it you.

It's been said that Apple has indeed brought us the iPad, but its success or failure will depend on the app developers. Let's wait and see...we'll know soon enough.

Monday, February 15, 2010

POV: The Gulf Between Us?

Photo © Charlotte Rush-Bailey -All Rights Reserved

Oh, how our eyes can deceive us sometimes..and how easily photographs captured in a split-second can convey a very different story from reality.

Here's a photograph of me while at the Jama Masjid in Ahmedabad during prayers (called namaz in India), in which I look wary of the man who's crossing my path. Our body language and side glances seem to convey a mutual distrust, with the space between us accentuating that wariness.

But nothing could be further from the truth. A second later I greeted him with the traditional Muslim al-salam aleikum, unmistakably pronounced in Arabic. Surprised, his face immediately softened as he recognized a fellow Muslim, and he responded, with warmth in his voice. We shook hands, then he brought his hand to his heart, and I did the same. I forget his name, but I remember his kind eyes, and that he spoke a halting Arabic (which he later told me he learned while working long and hard hours in Jeddah). He suddenly asked me if I was Sunni. The question threw me off-balance for a moment, but when I replied affirmatively, he once again violently pumped my hand. I was now part of the Umah. If only he knew what my real beliefs were. Perhaps he wouldn't him, the bottom line is that a Muslim born in the faith is always a Muslim, no matter what.

During The Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition, we visited many villages and a number of tribes of Muslim persuasion. We were frequently asked where we were from, and were greeted with smiles when we replied "Amereeka". Despite obvious poverty, we were welcomed in homes, offered fresh milk, chai and roti , and were considered honored visitors. I wonder how we -in "Amereeka"- would treat these villagers if they dropped by our homes...just like that, to take pictures and to gawk. No, that's not true. I don't wonder. I know.

These are the memories which stay with me for a long time...memories of instances when the walls of mistrust, ignorance and bigotry (on both sides) dissolve because a genuine -and basic- human connection is made. These memories remain with me more so than my photographs of the decisive moments, or photographs with layers or photographs that tell stories.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


For the flapjack lover, flapjacks scattered over a fruit based pudding, instead of the usual crumble mix, is a wonderful thing.

I used a mixture of small rolled oats, and added some jumbo oats for texture, the mix worked perfectly. Fresh apricots and blueberries would have been wonderful, but we are still waiting for summer to come and therefore, a tin of drained canned apricots and frozen blueberries were used.

This pudding isn't really a looker when it's served up and perhaps it would be best to cook it in small individual dishes. To be honest, it looked like a nervous breakdown on a plate when I served it up and to make matters worse, I topped it with a dollop of creme fraiche which my husband said just added to it's misery. It made us laugh though, which can only be a good thing.

Moving on from looks, the pudding is amazing, the apricot and blueberry combo is perfect, and the buttery, crispy oat topping on this occasion, left crumble in the shade.

Serves: 4 people

You will need: 75g butter, 75g golden syrup, 45g oats, 45g jumbo oats, a tin of drained apricots quartered, 100g frozen or fresh blueberries, 1 tablespoon light muscovado sugar.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C Fan/200°C/Gas 6.
2. Gently melt the butter in a small pan with the syrup and then fold in the oats.
3. Arrange the apricots and blueberries in the base of a small shallow ovenproof dish.
4. Sprinkle the fruit with the sugar and then scatter over the flapjack mixture allowing some of the fruit to show through. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden and crusty.
5. Serve warm or cold.


Preheat the oven to Fan 160°C/180°C/Gas 4. Line a 23cm square tin with baking parchment.

1. Gently melt 240g salted butter with 180g demerara sugar and 6 tablespoons golden syrup over a medium heat.
2. Stir in 350g rolled oats.
3. Put the mixture into the tin and press down. Bake for 20 minutes.
4. Leave to cool and cut into squares.

The oats used in the above recipes were supplied by Mornflake, who have brought out some new products for 2010 including, Mornflake Utterly Apple Oat Crisp Clusters, Lyles Golden Syrup Granola, Oatbran Flakes with Sultanas & Apple, Toasted Oatbran, Ready Steady Oats and Superfast Oats with added Wheat Bran.

Mornflake have recently been championed in the Guild of Fine Food's Great Taste Awards for its range of Extra Crispy Mueslis.

You can read more about Mornflake and their product range by visiting their website.

Thank you to Mornflake and Kate.

Foundry PJ Workshop: Istanbul

If you haven't checked the updated website for the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop recently, do yourself a favor, and do so. Not only has it been totally revamped (I believe it's the work of the talented Chilean photojournalist and webmaster Gabriel Morty Ortega Berger), but it also showcases work by FPW's astoundingly creative alum such as Monte Swann, Dhiraj Singh (who attended my multimedia class in Manali), Tristan Wheelock and Mansi Midha.

Wait...there's more! Not only are many of the FPW instructors(such as Andrea Bruce, Ron Haviv, Guy Calaf, Adriana Zehbrauskas to name only four) returning for an encore, but their ranks will be augmented in Istanbul by absolutely brilliant photojournalists such as Tyler Hicks, David Bathgate, Lynsey Addario and Adam Ferguson!

The registration details are up, so if you're up to it...go for it. I don't really know what you're waiting for. Do I need to mention that FPW is held in incomparable city?

Peter Turnley: Haiti

Photo © Peter Turnley-All Rights Reserved

Much as been said and written about the horrific earthquake which befell Haiti and its aftermath, ranging from the compassionate to the cynical, with disparate opinions as to whether Zoriah Miller and Andy Levin are right to conduct photo workshops on the island at this time or not, including thoughtful entreaties from photojournalists like Asim Rafiqui not to consider Haiti a zoo.

Ignoring this debate for the time being, I choose to showcase Peter Turnley's powerful 50 picture photo essay on Haiti which was made three weeks after the event, when the Haitian people are restarting their lives as best they can.

Haiti: Between Life & Death is exclusively shown on The Online Photographer.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Travel Photographer Blog: 3 Years

The Travel Photographer blog turned 3 years old on the 24th of January, and I missed celebrating it while leading the Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo Expedition...but no matter.

About 1700 posts, thousands and thousands of unique visitors and subscribers, followers and an enormous amount of support from photographers, full timers and part timers, and many other creatives. And to think that I started this blog to write about myself and my photography...I ran out of things to say in less than a week, and decided there were many more interesting photographers, emerging and established, than I could ever be...and the rest is history as they say.

This blog helped my second career in ways that I could never imagine. I'm hugely chuffed when I'm introduced to people, and they exclaim "You're The Travel Photographer!!".

And to those who worry that my posts may get less acerbic with age, rest assured that my opinionated POVs will continue unabated, and its vinegary content may even increase in 2010.

Providing a free platform for promising emerging travel and documentary photographers is always what this blog will try to do, and I look forward to another year of exciting fresh talent, photography news and controversial points of view.

And it will remain ad-free.

Kim McClellan: Tribes of Raj & Gujarat

Photo © Kim McClellan -All Rights Reserved

Photo © Kim McClellan -All Rights Reserved

Photo © Kim McClellan -All Rights Reserved

Kim McClellan is a professional photographer (as well as working for the SBA in DC), and graduated from the Washington School of Photography in January 2001. She's passionate about international travel photography, and her work was featured in juried exhibitions and shows in the Washington DC Metro Area. She's well-known for her work in fashion, glamour, and classical figures.

Kim joined my Bhutan: Land of Druk Yul Photo~Expedition ™ this past October, and will join my forthcoming Bali: Island of Odalan Photo~Expedition ™ in August. On her way to cover the Venice Carnavale, Kim found the time to send me a sample of her work made during The Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition ™, which appears here.

The first is of a traditional Rabari shepherd in Southern Rajasthan; the second is of a young girl carrying a baby in Poshina while the third is of an Agaria salt worker near Dasada.

Kim is a natural story-teller, and had our group mesmerized on many occasions while recounting various life events. She was also firmly in control whenever some of our photo shoots required her expertise in directing models.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Haridwar Kumbh Mela

© Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP (Courtesy WSJ Photo Journal)

The three month-long bathing festival Kumbh Mela along the Ganges river in Haridwar occurs every 12 years, and about 50 million Hindu devotees performing their prayers and washing away their sins in river's waters are expected in this holy city. However, non-accredited photographers seem to face mounting difficulties and restrictions in photographing main events, such as the bathing at the Har-Ki-Pairi ghats.

Tom Carter, an American photographer, is quoted as saying: "I was planning on attending the Maha Shivratri Pratham Shahi Snan first royal bath on February 12 and the main royal bath on April 14 to photograph the infamous Naga Sadhu processions, however I was informed that tourists won’t even be allowed in the proximity of HarKiPairi on those dates. Westerners be warned"

The most captivating event of all the Kumbh Melas is undoubtedly the bathing of the naked Naga Sadhus, and many photographers without accreditation will not be able to photograph there. However, there is much to photograph in religious events such as these, and photographers will hopefully have an embarrassment of choices.

Photographers wishing to obtain official press passes need to have entered India on a journalist visa, have a copy of their press card and a letter of accreditation from their organization...otherwise the main bathing areas and Naga Sadhus will be off-limits.

I've read many articles on this event, and exuberant hyperbole describe it as the largest gathering of humanity. It is not. The distinction belongs to the Maha Kumbh Mela which occurs after 12 'Purna Kumbh Melas', or after every 144 years. It was held at Allahabad in early 2001, and was attended by over 60 million people, making it the largest gathering in the world. Satellite imagery of the event were posted online and its mass of humanity was clearly seen.

For recent photographs of the Haridwar event, drop by Tom Bourdon's blog here.

You can also visit my own take on the Maha Kumbh Mela of 2001, which I describe as "rubbing shoulders with ascetics, mendicants, mystics, beggars and charlatans".

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat: Photo Shoot!

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Rather than posting a group photograph of the members of the Tribes of South Rajasthan & Kutch Photo~Expedition™ in which everyone is smiling rather self-consciously, I thought this one would be more appropriate.

This cluster of the group members was not really the norm, as most of the time we wandered either individually or in twos in villages to photograph what appealed to our individual eyes. However, a subject occasionally appeared so photogenic to all of us that clustering was the only option. In this case, the subject was Leshma, a beautiful Wadha girl, who was so naturally comfortable in heeding instructions that I think she must have been a professional model in a previous life.

From left to right: Cathy Scholl, Kim McClellan, Terri Gold, and Charlotte Rush-Bailey.

Second row, from left to right: Sharon Tennant, Sandy Chandler and Colleen Kerrigan. Missing are Wink Willet and Jamie Johnson.

And yes...I have a few photographs of Leshma myself. Here she is in the photograph below...she's worth it, isn't she?? And yes, I know...some will suggest that I crop the dark area on the right, but I seldom crop out of the camera.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book: To Cambodia With Love

Having not read the fine print and that Amazon and Barnes & Noble were promoting the publication date of 1 March 2010 for the new guidebook To Cambodia With Love - A Travel Guide for the Connoisseur, I was on the verge of getting my credit card out to order it on Amazon , only to realize that it's still unavailable, and listed as a pre-order only. Nonetheless, I am hugely chuffed that a book with my photographs of Cambodia is on major booksellers' websites, even if my name is misspelled on the Amazon website. name! I'm always amused how many on my photo~expeditions struggle to pronounce my name and, eventually defeated, call me 'T' (making me feel a bit like Tony Soprano...which is a gigantic compliment in my way of thinking), while the local tribals we visited in Gujarat last week had no difficulty at all. On all my photo~expeditions and individual travels to pretty much "out of the beaten path" places, I have yet to meet a local who struggles with my name or mispronounces it...only Americans find it to be a tongue twister.

But I digress, so back to the important matter in hand. I was referred to the Amazon web page for the To Cambodia With Love via a post on Andy Brouwer's blog. Andy is the editor and contributor of the book, and is a recognized expert of all matters related to Cambodia, where he lives and works. Andy has only finished the final manuscript last weekend, so he predicts that the book will be available in 3-4 months. By the way, this book was in the works since a couple of years. I got paid for my photographs when I submitted them, so I'm sort of relaxed about the final publication date.

I hope readers of The Travel Photographer blog who have an interest in Cambodia will buy this book. If I get free copies, I will come up with a contest of some sort and give away copies to winners.

If I do and as long as the free supply lasts, perhaps I will give a free copy to American readers who pronounce my name correctly.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat: Verdict

Bathing Pilgrims (Baneshwar) © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

I can best summarize my verdict on the Tribes of South Rajasthan & Kutch Photo~Expedition™ as being a mixed bag. Readers of this blog know that I (in contrast to the majority of other travel photographers who lead photo tours) do not not sugar-coat nor gloss over the results of my photo-expeditions, and that I report the ups and downs on each of these trips. It's unreasonable to expect that a photo-expedition will not encounter disappointments, and realistically managing one's expectations is always sensible.

Most of the team members were women, outnumbering the 2 men and the resulting gender imbalance naturally influenced the group's synergy and dynamics. All of the participants are accomplished photographers in their own right, with different specialties and interests. The group participants were all punctual and extraordinarily adept in engaging people we met during the trip, whether these were tribals or villagers, whether elderly or children, etc. It was fascinating to compare the disparate photo disciplines of the group members, and see the difference in approach of those with fashion/textile design backgrounds, and those with an affinity to portraits or those with a photojournalism bend.

We had two main issues on this photo-expedition. The light was incredibly harsh except for an hour or so in the early morning, and just right for no more than an hour in the early evening. I don't think I saw a single cloud during the 15 plus days of the trip. As most of the villages were at quite a distance from our hotels, we had to leave very early in the morning (5:30-6:00 am was the norm) to catch the soft light for exterior photography, while hoping for interesting interiors for the rest of the day. The other issue was that we were saddled with a guide who was overwhelmed by our photography-related requirements, and who simply couldn't meet them. He was eventually changed by another person in Bhuj who, being a photographer himself, had a reasonable understanding of light issues and knew the area quite well. Due to a local transportation contractor's unintelligent decision, our transport vehicle in the early stages of our trip was inadequate. It was replaced by a more appropriate bus, driven by an excellent operator (who doubled up as a fixer as well) and an attendant who kept us well hydrated with bottles of Bisleri and Diet Cokes!

With hindsight, I would now do this photo-expedition differently. For instance, I would spend the bulk of its duration between Gujarat's Dasada and Bhuj, eliminating a couple of stops in Southern Rajasthan, perhaps even cutting out Rajasthan altogether and flying into Ahmedabad directly from Delhi or Mumbai. I would also increase the price of the photo-expedition to hire 2-3 all-terrain vehicles, which would allow us to penetrate the Kutch interior more effectively than with our large bus. Most of the tribal people have been spoiled by tourists paying for photographs. I was told that a way around that issue is to bring cosmetics, and similar products for the womenfolk.

There were extraordinary highlights on this trip. The tribal Bhil women performing early morning ritual bathing during the Baneshwar mela (above picture); the eunuchs at the hijra temple near Dasada, the serendipitous encounters with a group of Jain pilgrims known as Digambar, and a handful of reclusive Jat women; and spending almost a whole day with the Wadha tribe in Bhirandhiaro. Another captivating event was a Bhil exorcism ritual near Poshina which, being a local affair, was sparsely attended but very intense. In Ahmedabad, the calligraphy at Jama Masjid and the incense burning over the tombs of Ahmed Shah's wives were wonderful to witness.

In terms of camera gear, I exclusively used my Canon 5D Mark II, and used my 28-70mm f2.8 lens most of the time. I also occasionally used my Canon 20mm f1.4 whilst shooting indoors. I forced myself to use my newly acquired Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS, which I schlepped for most of the trip. Eight of the participants used Canon gear, while 2 used Nikons.

Much of our group's photography was unposed and candid, however there were some instances when I -and others- had to set up subjects. I think that many of our most successful photo shoots were in larger villages, as opposed to those where only a few families lived. I have asked the members of this photo~expedition to send me 3-4 of their photographs for eventual posting on this blog's pages.

We had the full gamut of accommodation quality. The top notch Lalit Hotel in Delhi to the rather dusty iLark in Bhuj, from the crusty Darbargadh hotel in Poshina to the delightful oasis Rann Riders Resort in Dasada, run by the capable Mujahid Malik.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


It's a sin not to eat trifle, at least once a year. I haven't made trifle for at least a couple of years, but to compensate I have made an Amaretto, berry, meringue and cream trifle, it was certainly worth the wait. The trifle was made with frozen berries, but I will definitely be making this again with fresh summer berries.

Meringues - just a few to break up. I used two large egg whites and 110g golden caster sugar, the recipe is here on Delia's website.
500g mixed berries - if using frozen, thaw in a sieve over a bowl to remove the excess juice.
4 tablespoons of Amaretto
250g Madeira cake - I made mine but again it is perfectly fine to buy some, don't be tempted to use trifle sponges though because you don't want soggy cake and trifle sponges will go soggy!
500ml fresh custard
300ml whipping cream, softly whipped

1. Place the thawed berries in a bowl and pour over the Amaretto, leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
2. Cut the Madeira cake into cubes and place in a large, deep serving bowl. Top with two-thirds of the fruit, and pour over the custard.
3. Pop into the fridge to firm up for a couple of hours then remove.
4. Spoon a layer of cream on top of the custard, arrange broken pieces of meringue on top of the cream and then place clouds of whipped cream around the meringue pieces.
5. Top with the rest of the berries.
6. Decorate with Valentine hearts.