Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First 2011 Photo Expedition

I'm on my way back to New York from teaching a multimedia class at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Istanbul, and thought it opportune to announce that my first photo~expedition in 2011 will be to Gujarat, India. I have yet to pinpoint the dates, but I am leaning towards January 23 to February 6, 2011.

The Travel Photographer's In Search of Sufis photo~expedition will focus on the visual exploration of the syncretism which exists between Islam (especially Sufism) and Hinduism. Syncretism is the combination of disparate or contrary beliefs, often fusing practices of various traditional philosophies.

This expedition will travel in the southern peninsula of Gujarat, and photograph at the various Sufi shrines/darghas as well as Hindu temples, where a multitude of pilgrims arrive to supplicate. It will also include a foray in the tribal belt of Kutch to document the unaltered ways of life of the area, to include religious rituals exclusive to Gujarat.

The maximum number of participants is 5 (excluding myself), and participation will be based on a brief portfolio review. This photo~expedition is not for first-timers to India, is for self-starters and requires an interest in Indian religious traditions. It will include coaching in multimedia techniques and story-telling.

The photo~expedition will commence and end in Ahmedabad, which is well served by flights from Delhi and Mumbai. Hotel accommodations will range from 4-star hotels in the larger cities/towns to whatever is available in the more remote areas.

Details of the photo~expedition and its itinerary will initially be announced to my newsletter recipients in a few days, and then to the general public via this blog.

This photo~expedition is inspired by the remarkable work of my friend Asim Rafiqui as per his The Idea of India project.

My Work: Belly Dancing In Istanbul

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Due to the distance between the historic Sultanahmet district and Kadikoy where the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop was based, I wasn't able to photograph much of Istanbul...except for some grab shots with my new GF1.

However, some of us did manage to take some time and attend a folkloric dance program in Sultanahmet, where we were allowed to photograph at will.

The above photograph was made at the Hocapasha Cultural Center in Eminönü during a wonderful performance. The dance was under black light or UV light...and was minimally color corrected.

I used my Canon 5D Mark II and a 70-200 2.8 Canon lens....and yes, my Foundry class attendees; it's a vertical!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chico Sanchez: Andalucian Flamenco

Photo © Chico Sanchez-All Rights Reserved

Here's another lovely audio slideshow by Chico Sanchez, a freelance photographer based in Mexico City. Chico worked in Venezuela, collaborating with Reuters, European Pressphoto Agency, Agencia EFE, and freelances for various newspapers and magazines.

The title of this audio slideshow is The Angel.

This time, Chico documents the spiritual side of Flamenco, whose mystical, almost religious origins, are almost forgotten by the admirers of this genre of music and dance. Chico is well placed to do so...he's a native Andalucian, a musician and was involved in flamenco himself.

I would have loved to see a flip book effect in Chico's work...various shots of a dancer (or singer for that matter)...and arranged in such a way that playing the slideshow would have animated these almost-identical stills.

The well-known flamenco style of music and dance is emblematic to the culture of Spain, although it is actually native to only one region: Andalusia.

Gypsy, Sephardic, and especially Arabic musical influences are found in flamenco. For me, one of the best flamenco singers is Diego Ramón Jiménez Salazar, known as El Cigala, whose album Lagrima Negas fusing Cuban rhythms and flamenco vocals, made it an international success.

Foundry Workshop (Istanbul) Signed Off

Photo © Anamitra Chakladar-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Anamitra Chakladar-All Rights Reserved

Well, what is there to say except that I had a blast! The Foundry Photojournalism Workshop has ended with a marathon session to show the work completed by some 130-odd photographers who joined it. It was a visual overload of photographs and multimedia projects, and was followed by the customary beer bash at a nearby bar.

My Introduction To Multimedia class was attended by a cross-section of the nationalities represented at the Workshop, and I was extremely pleased to work with Brenda Bravo, Pierre Claquin, Yagmar Dolkun, David Hagerman, Pedro Gomes, Jeroen de Kluiver and Roubina Margossian. The class also benefited enormously from Anamitra Chakladar's expertise in audio editing and multimedia. He patiently fine tuned some of the class's audio tracks...thank you, Anamitra!! The class's output ranged from black & white documentary work to travel and cultural projects.

There's no other way to describe it, but the success of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop -whilst based on the unstinting generosity of the instructors and its staff- is due to Eric Beecroft's vision, tenacity, enthusiasm and his being just Eric.

Next year? South America...perhaps Argentina, perhaps Brazil. Incha'allah.

The top photo was made during my presenting a couple of personal projects at the start of the Workshop, while the bottom photo was during a class with Yagmar and Brenda looking on.

Monday, June 21, 2010

On The Way: Foundry Photo Workshop

Photo © Guy Calaf-All Rights Reserved

Well, after a few days of intermittent internet service at our hotel in Kadikoy, Istanbul, it seems we're back to full time availability.

The Foundry Photojournalism Workshop has started in full blast, and it's amazing to see so many various nationalities amongst the students. Different languages different styles perhaps, but all connected by a common denominator: photography.

A splendid cast of instructors (some veterans of the workshop, others new), bringing their personal styles into the mix, and surely there'll be awesome projects and results. My class has met a couple of times already (n fact, I must rush to give my second class this morning), and projects range from documenting traditional religious rituals to the local hip-hop scene. So it's bound to be an exciting few days.

The above photograph was made while waiting for our ferry crossing from Eminonu (European side) to Kadikoy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

BBC Summer Good Food Show 2010 Birmingham

My day started in the Press Office where I was given tickets to see Matt Tebbutt in the Summer Kitchen and other treats. I was then asked if I would be willing to take part in the MasterChef Experience Invention Test.

Before I knew it I was being whisked away to the MasterChef Theatre, given an apron, briefed, shown to my workstation, and then the opportunity to familiarise myself with the fresh and dry ingredients provided. Also, a quick tuition of the Miele state of the art kitchen appliances I would be using. The name of the game is to produce something innovative in just 30 minutes. Phew! No, I didn't win or even come third, I thought I would give all of the other contestants a chance!!! I did have lots of fun, even though I couldn't produce anything that resembled even the merest hint of a Michelin star.

My husband bagged himself a front row seat and did his best to take photographs for ourselves and also another contestant, who unfortunately was at the opposite side of the stage to me.

In my session John Torode and Gregg Wallace were keeping a watchful eye over us with the help of Mat Follas and James Nathan, who are two previous MasterChef winners. Andi Peters was the compere and offered us an arm of support. We were all allocated a sous chef from Birmingham Food College and I was very fortunate to have such a helpful and charming right hand man.

After this we returned to the Press Office, sat on a comfy sofa and re-energised ourselves with coffee before our tour of the Good Food Show.

Chocolate Fondue.

I would love one of these!

I had a scoop of the cherry ice cream.


The Liquorice Stall.

Olive Oil.

Summer Kitchen with Matt Tebbutt.


Thank you to Emma, Haymarket Exhibitions and the BBC Summer Good Food Show for a really great day out!

Friday, June 18, 2010

WSJ Photo Journal: Sufi Anniversary

Photo © Deepak Sharma/AP-All Rights Reserved

The WSJ's Photo Journal has featured the above photograph by Deepak Sharma (AP) of Pakistani pilgrims carrying an offering of embroidered cloth (which I believe is called kiswa) to cover the tomb of Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti on the anniversary of his birth in Ajmer, India.

I should have been there!!! My kind of event!

Shaikh Khawaja Syed Muhammad Moinuddin Chisti was the most famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order of the Indian Subcontinent. He introduced and established the order in South Asia, and was succeeded by various notable saints such as Nizzam Uddin Auliya.

I've never checked on this, but Khawaja in Egyptian Arabic means "foreigner", and was used as a title for all Greek and Italian residents (as an example) in Egypt, so I'm not sure if there's a connection or not. Wikipedia defines Khawaja as a title used by South Asians, which is possibly related to Khoja as well.

Matthieu Paley: The Pamir Mountains

Here's a 6 minutes trailer from a multimedia documentary "Forgotten on the Roof of the World" by photographer Matthieu Paley and anthropologist Ted Callahan that tells the story of a little-known tribe of Kirghiz nomads in one of earth’s most remote regions - Afghanistan’s High Pamirs mountains.

The full documentary will be screened by Matthieu at the Royal Geographical Society (Hong Kong) on Tuesday 22nd of June.

Matthieu Paley is an Asia-based (currently based in Hong Kong) photographer specializing in editorial and documentary photography. His work appeared in Geo, National Geographic, Newsweek, Time, Outside, Discovery and various others.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Think Tank Multimedia Buyer's Guide

Photo Courtesy Think Tank

I don't have any Think Tank products (except for its see through bag for cables and stuff), but I must say that it's one of the companies that seems to be in lock-step with the industry's evolution with multimedia.

Here is it's latest effort in the multimedia field which is the Multimedia DSLR Buyers Guide. It's essentially a fluff piece about various products that can be used by photographers as additional tools for story-telling purposes. While some of the information is pretty basic, I found it quite useful when I got to the Accessories and Wired It Up sections. Naturally, Think Tank also lists its various bags as "must-haves" in the guide, and deservedly so.

As readers of this blog know, I do not advertise products of any kind, unless I've tried and liked them. I haven't tried Think Tank bags but I like what it's doing with its product line. Otherwise, I have no relationship of any sort with it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I'm on my way to attend the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Istanbul, where I'm giving a class on multimedia (Introduction To Multimedia). The class will adopt a simulated under pressure work environment where class participants have to shoot, edit and present their photographs and audio tracks to me, to eventually produce a publishable 3-5 minutes audio slideshow.

I'm stopping over in London for a couple of nights, then catching a flight to Attaturk Airport on the 19th June.

I will try to post on this trip as much as I can...perhaps even post some photographs of the workshop's going-ons. I'm taking my new Panasonic Lumix GF1 especially for that purpose. I'm also hoping to shoot for a personal project in Istanbul.

NYT's LENS: A.K. Kimoto

Photo © A.K. Kimoto-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times' LENS blog features a poignant photo essay on opium addiction in Afghanistan by the late A.K. Kimoto. The photo essay is in black & white; dark and brooding as befits such a subject matter. See it...I highly recommend it, along with its accompanying article.

Kimoto was a 32-year-old Japanese photographer based in Bangkok, who died in March while traveling to Australia.

He spent years photographing families in the remote northeastern mountains of Afghanistan, controlled by the Taliban. He roamed remote settlements in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, to find out why so many of the inhabitants (even the young) had become addicted to opium. As Emily Anne Epstein explains in the piece: "The poverty in this region is so harsh that parents blow opium smoke into their children’s noses to soothe the pangs of hunger."

A.K. Kimoto wrote:
“I offer to transport the mother and child to a clinic. One of the elders cuts me off before I can finish my thought. He smiles gently as he tells me that the child would never survive such a journey in the cold rain, and anyway, this way of life and death have been repeated for centuries in these mountains.”
Coincidentally, the New York Times reported yesterday that the United States has discovered nearly "$1 trillion" in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, which translates into approximately $35,000 for every inhabitant of the country. Naturally, massive investments will be required to mine these deposits, but in any event there's little chance that the poor of Badakhshan will see their lives improve from this eventual wealth. Cronyism, and venal corruption are endemic to the region...and only those with the power and connections will reap the benefits.

Trevor Snapp: La Santa Muerte

Photo © Trevor Snapp-All Rights Reserved

Trevor Snapp is a self-taught photographer with degrees in anthropology and African studies, and his work is syndicated with Corbis and Millennium Images. His clients include Stern, National Geographic Traveler, BBC, Time.com, Chicago Tribune, Marie Calire and others. He has also worked for a variety of NGOs such as Heifer International, Gates Foundation, and Intrahealth in Africa.

Now based in Kampala, Trevor photographed La Santa Muerte in Mexico, among other galleries of Central Amercia

The cult of Santa Muerte is unusual because it's the cult of the drug lords, the dispossessed, and criminals. There are many shrines to Santa Muerte in the capital city, but Tepito is where the most popular shrines are. Tepito is an infamous barrio and its tough reputation dates back to pre-Hispanic times. The neighborhood is a warren of mean streets and alleys, lined with auto-body shops and small stores. It's here that the prostitutes, drug dealers and petty thieves come to pay their respect to the saint. It's also where the common folk; housewives, cab drivers and street vendors come to make their offerings...tequila bottles, candles, money and flowers.

The gallery strikes a chord with me since I photographed in Tepito in 2008, along with two other photographers, when we were within a hair's breadth of being mugged.

Monday, June 14, 2010


If you love Queen of Puddings, then I guess you will be a fan of this pudding. The only difference I can find between the two is, traditionally Monmouth Pudding has a fruit layer of cooked apples, peaches, pears, plums or rhubarb spread over the cooked breadcrumb custard. Also, I cooked the meringue at a lower temperature to give a crisp meringue.

This Monmouth Pudding has a layer of raspberry jam spread over the cooked breadcrumb custard and raspberries sprinkled over the jam. Also, the breadcrumb custard is made slightly differently. I used a good quality no sugar added jam, otherwise it would have been tooth achingly sweet. A modern twist on Monmouth Pudding and very delicious.

Serves: 4-6

For the pudding:

90g fresh breadcrumbs, 2 tbs soft light brown sugar, 450ml whole milk, 1 lemon zest only, 2 tbs caster sugar, 25g salted butter, 3 large eggs

For the topping:

175g raspberry jam
150g fresh raspberries
75g caster sugar
3 large egg whites

1. Preheat the grill to medium setting. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and brown sugar onto a roasting tray and mix together. Grill the breadcrumb mix until the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted. Put on one side to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.
3. Heat the milk, lemon zest, sugar and butter together in a pan over a medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is combined. Stir the toasted breadcrumbs and caster sugar into the milk mixture. Put to one side to cool for 30 minutes.
4. After the breadcrumb mixture has cooled for 30 minutes, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale and fluffy, add them to the milk and breadcrumb mixture and whisk until combined.
5. Pour the pudding mixture into a 20cm ovenproof serving dish and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the pudding has risen and is just set.
6. Spread the raspberry jam over the pudding layer. Sprinkle over the raspberries.
7. Whisk the egg whites until the soft peak stage, add the sugar a little at a time whilst still whisking. Continue to whisk until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form.
8. Spoon the meringue over the pudding and return to the oven for 40 minutes until the meringue is golden brown.

Thank you to Lisa and Tate & Lyle.

The Daily Beast: Veronique De Viguerie

Photo © Veronique de Vigurie-All Rights Reserved

One of my favorite photojournalists, Veronique de Vigurie, was featured on The Daily Beast blog in an article/interview titled The Bravest Photographer.

Veronique de Viguerie is based in Paris and, at the age of only 32, has already won prestigious awards including Canon’s coveted Female Photojournalist of the Year Award in 2006. Her photographs regularly appear in Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Marie-Claire, and The Guardian.

She's known for her empathy with her subjects, and that trait got her in hot water in 2008 when she photographed a group of Taliban fighters who had killed 10 French soldiers. Paris-Match published her photographs, and her critics accused her being used to spread Taliban propaganda.

I recall writing about this, and suggesting that if anyone was to be accused of anything, it should have been the Paris-Match editors.

The article quotes Régis Le Sommier, deputy editor in chief of Paris Match, that he believes de Viguerie is "one of the most daring and promising photographers of her generation."

More of de Viguerie's images are on Getty Images Reportage website.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Greater Middle East Photo

Photo © Manal Al Dowayan-All Rights Reserved


Someone came up with the timely idea to publish a photography blog titled the Greater Middle East Photo blog, with the commendable intent to provide space for photography from a region which is sadly under represented.

This new blog hopes to be a facilitator of great photos, great photographers, and great minds discussing photography from the greater Middle East. I hope so as well. The Middle East has been lagging behind in terms of photography, and this blog will perhaps be an added venue to showcase more of its talent.

The photograph above is by Manal Al Dowayan; a photographer who lived for most of her life in a semi-enclosed compound in Daharan in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Much of her work is about female identity in the conservative Muslim Middle East. The photograph above is titled "I am an educator", while the writing on the slate reads "ignorance is darkness" repeated many times. Her work is featured on the Greater Middle East Photo blog.

Note: My apologies for the shorter blog posts in the coming few days as I'm behind schedule in preparing my class material and presentations for the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Istanbul this coming week.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Joey L. : The Mentawai (The Movie)

Here's a highly recommended 16-minute long movie documentary of Joey L.'s (and his team) excursion into the land of the Mentawai. It starts with the 10-hour crowded cargo ferry ride from Sumatra across the strait to the islands of the Mentawai, approximately 150 kilometers off the Sumatran coast.

The excursion took 2 years to plan and prepare, and we are treated to a behind the scenes look at the photo shoots along with snippets of the Mentawai's life. The amount of gear that Joey and his team had to carry was quite significant. This is not a destination where you show up with a couple of cameras and flashes. They had to lug heavy lighting equipment, large reflectors and lightboxes, cameras, lenses, video equipment, generators, food and so forth.

The most visible Mentawai tribesmen in the documentary are Bajak Tarason and Bajak Tolkot, who seem to have a pessimistic view of the Menatawai's future. They address the interference of the Indonesian government in their ancient tribal customs, and of the Christian missionaries who seek to change their belief system.

It's Bajak Tolkot who invites the world to visit the Menatawai islands, to witness their way of life before it's too late. I really hope very few people take him on this invitation. I realize that an influx of tourists could bring a much needed infusion of prosperity to the Mentawai, but it would also accelerate the demise of their way of life, or turn them into performers; wearing their loin cloths and brandishing their arrows for the tourists' cameras.

In the documentary, I've seen young Mentawai wearing graphic t-shirts, including one of Donald Duck, posing next to a traditional Mentawai tribesmen. So the infiltration has already started, and not before too long, the baseball caps will appear as well. It's a shame that similar cultures and traditional ways of life can so swiftly disappear.

My thanks to Cathy Scholl for the heads-up on this movie.

In The Shadow of Everest At RMA

Photo © Tom Wool-All Rights Reserved

The Rubin Museum of Art in New York City is showing the photographs of Tom Wool in an exhibition In The Shadow of Everest, which runs until July 26, 2010.

Coming from a fashion photography background, Tom Wool has devoted himself to work for humanitarian organizations. Using a medium format Hasselblad, he photographed Tibet's Rongbuk Valley and its inhabitants in May 2001.

The valley stretches about 30 miles from the base of Mount Everest on the north side, and is home to some 3,000 Tibetans. It's considered sacred, with deep religious connotations to the Tibetans. The valley is home to the Rongbuk Monastery, the highest of any in the world at 17,000 feet above sea level.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fons Rademakers: Haridwar Kumbh Mela

Photo © Fons Rademakers-All Rights Reserved

I've featured so much work from various photographers, and seen so many photographs of the Nagas and pilgrims here and elsewhere, it's as if I've been there myself. I'm pretty sure these photographers who were at the Kumbh will either recognize each others work, or recognize the subjects.

However, here's the work of Fons Rademakers who's a physicist working at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, where the largest particle accelerator is operated and where the World Wide Web began as a project. Fons leads a software project that provides programs for data processing and analysis, but started his connection with photography when 12 years old, and regards it as his passion next to physics and computing.

I would recommend to Fons that he ought to consider moving his many other photo galleries from SmugMug to his own website. They're certainly worth showing in a more professional medium.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Like A Child In A Sweet Shop

Do you ever sit at the computer staring endlessly at all the wonderful goodies out there in cyberspace. Just press enter and it can all be yours! Now I have found more stores to add to my list. CSN Stores has amazing online stores where you can find everything from lighting to furniture to cookware!

CSN Stores have kindly said I can have some kitchen goodies to review, so pop back soon, to see if I have chosen a gadget, gizmo or something a little more restrained (which will be very difficult especially as the site is a cook's playground).

John Batdorff II: Peru

It runs in the family, as they say.

John Batdorff II is the son of two avid photographers, and it was only natural that he was "infected by" the same passion. Based in Chicago and in Ennis (Montana), John developed his craft early on by photographing for his family's newspaper, and enhanced it by specializing in landscape and travel photography.

His work has been exhibited in museums and featured in various publications.

While John's galleries include one of India, I'm bucking my own trend this time and featuring his work of Peru.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Revamp: The Travel Photographer's Website

It took a while, but I completed setting up two websites based on the popular WordPress F.8 theme that will run in parallel to my current website.

The first WordPress-based website contains 15 photo galleries, which are also iTouch and iPad-compatible.

The second WordPress-based website contains 8 audio-slideshows.

The Travel Photographer's original HTML/Flash-based website still remains as is.

POV:The Future of Travel Photography Gear?

Yes, I caved and got an Voigtlander 40mm optical viewfinder for my Panasonic GF1. It's well suited to the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens.

But this is not about the viewfinder or how much better the GF1 feels with it...it's about the above 'minimalist' gear which is an option when I'm planning an assignment or a photo trip. I can have all this in a small Domke bag, and have spare room for a book, an audio recorder, an itouch and lots more.

Imagine the bliss of having all one's gear in a small and light bag!!!

Here's a statistic: The combined weight of the GF1, the Acer netbook and a WD Passport hard drive (from their individual listed specifications) is 3.8lbs. The combined weight of a Canon 5D Mark II and a 24-70mm 2.8 lens is 3.9lbs.

Am I contemplating chucking out the DSLRs and lenses? Not at all. What I now have available to me is equipment which, depending on the nature and duration of the trip and/or assignment, is a viable alternative.

The easy one first: the WD Passport 750gb is small and worked well so far. It may not be as tough as a Lacie Rugged, but it's functional, provides ample storage and is inexpensive.

The not-so-easy: I've used the Acer netbook on 3 or more photo expeditions, and it also did okay. However, its Windows XP software is a major irritant, and its Atom processor is really sluggish. I seldom have it process any image files, and just use it to save my RAW files on its 160gb hard drive and on the WD Passport. An eventual alternative to the Acer could be an iPad, if and when it allows connectivity to an external HD.

Another not-so-easy: The GF1 is a delight to use, and the quality of its images is almost as good as from an entry-level DSLR....but almost is the key word. Having said that, it's still a lovely tool to use on walk-abouts, for environmental portraits and as a back-up. It'll be very useful in situations where photography may be frowned upon (like religious rituals) or where one doesn't want to be labeled as a professional photographer.

I'll be taking the GF1 (along with my Canon gear) to Istanbul in a couple of weeks, and will further test its walk-"aboutability".

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mark Thomas: Haridwar Kumbh Mela

Here's another feature from the recent Kumbh Mela which was held earlier this year in Haridwar, North India.

This body of work by photographer Mark Thomas is titled Kumbh Mela 2010, and is mainly of portraits he made during that religious event.

Mark Thomas is a photojournalist and a multimedia expert, whose work appeared in various publications, including The Boston Globe and National Geographic News. He professes a deep passion for documenting and photographing India.

His Kumbh Mela 2010 gallery consists of portraits of naga babas, the ash-covered sadhus who belong to the Shaivite sect, as well as pilgrims.

Mark's website has other Indian-centric galleries such as Faces of Kashi, Visions of Kashi and Child Labor.

A worthwhile website to bookmark for Indiaphiles.

Monday, June 7, 2010


A couple of postings ago I put out a request to ask if any of my readers would kindly email Nigel Slater's recipe for the above to me, well success, June promptly replied and sent the recipe across to me. Thank you June.

The first recipe is from a favourite cookery writer of mine, Diana Henry and comes from her recipe book Cook Simple.

It's basically an all-in-one recipe with just a few ingredients to make a delicious main meal. Potatoes, onion, an eating apple, Tamworth free range pork chops (yes, of the Tamworth two fame - can you remember the two pigs that escaped on their way to the abattoir, way back in 1998!) and dry white wine.

Nigel's Spring Green Gratin was served alongside, and this unlikely pairing was a match made in heaven!

For the Spring Green Gratin:

You will need: 500ml whole milk, 1 small onion, 2 cloves, 1 bay leaf, 6 peppercorns, 500g spring greens, 60g walnut halves, 25g butter, 25g plain flour, 100g grated Parmesan cheese.

1. Add the onion spiked with cloves, bay leaf and peppercorns to the milk, bring to the boil and then leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes.
2. Trim the spring greens, shred into wide strips then dunk into a large pot of boiling water and remove after 30 seconds and drain.
3. Toast the walnut halves in a dry frying pan until they smell warm and nutty.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4.
5. Make the sauce by melting the butter, adding the flour and cooking for 3-4 minutes until pale biscuit coloured. Pour in the strained warm milk, stir until it thickens over a moderate heat. Simmer over a low heat for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the walnuts and half the Parmesan then season.
6. Put the greens in a medium size gratin dish, pour over the sauce and top with the rest of the cheese.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the crust is golden.

Not a looker this one, but extremely delicious.

Jehad Nga Talks to BJP

Photo © Jehad Nga-All Rights Reserved

"I respond more to fashion and fine-art, carrying these fields and variables in photojournalism." -Jehad Nga

The British Journal of Photography (which revamped its website) published an interview with Jehad Nga, one of my favorite photographers. This blog featured many posts on Nga, and his distinctive chiaroscuro style.

Titled From Kansas To Nairobi, the recent interview sheds a light on Nga's decision to join the Institute for Artist Management instead of VII and Magnum.

Nga first visited the Middle East in 2001 spending months in different medical volunteering positions in Gaza. When he interned at Magnum Photos in 2002, he was also training to become an Emergency Medical Technician. But since 2004, when he moved to East Africa, he's been dedicating most of his time to photography, working regularly for the New York Times.

Via photojournalism links

Kate Baumgartner: Religious Asia

Photo © Kate Baumgartner-All Rights Reserved

Kate Baumgartner describes herself as an avid photographer, and that may well be an understatement.

Based in Hong Kong, she photographed to Cambodia, Burma, India, China, Namibia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam...returning with splendid photographs, like the one above of the Cao Dai monks. Cao Dai is the relatively new, syncretist, monotheistic religion established in 1926 in Vietnam.

Take a look at Kate's gallery of photographs under the Religion category, and you'll find many of the different faiths and traditions of Asia, including the unusual rituals during the Thaipusam festival in Singapore, which is celebrated mostly by the Tamil community. On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage during which some will engage in self-mortification by piercing their skin, tongue or cheeks with skewers.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Test Shots: Panasonic GF1 + 20mm f1.7 Lens

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Photo © Tewfic EL-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

Here's a couple of "on-the-go" photographs made with my brand-new Panasonic GF1/20mm 1.7 lens on Bleecker street in NYC's West Village. There was a couple of garbage bags on the sidewalk which I had to frame out of the top photograph by chopping off the woman's shoes. The second is of a woman balancing 4 (actually 5, I think) lemonades and seemingly on collision course with another...it didn't happen.

I shot these with the GF1's Intelligent Auto mode on; essentially the "point & shoot" mode, which I'm using for a couple of days until I get used to its handling. The IA mode allows me to photograph in both RAW and jpeg. The images above are the jpeg versions (out of the camera), and were slightly sharpened with CS. Click on them for a larger size.

In my opinion, the GF1 is a hybrid between a point & shoot and a rangefinder, and is ideal to carry on photo walk-abouts. It's probably a camera that P&S shooters will consider as a step-up, while DSLR users will view it either as a backup or as a carry-around tool. The shutter lag isn't too bad...in fact, I didn't find it to be much of a problem. It's there, but it's not significant.

It still bothers me not having a viewfinder (a Panasonic EVF or Voigtlander OVF may be my next purchase) to look through, but perhaps I'll get used to it. One of the notable advantages of this camera is, when photographed, people don't seem fazed (or threatened) by it as compared to a DSLR.

I carry it on a hand strap, and I find that it doesn't nestle easily in my hand. Maybe I'll get used to it in a few days.

Am I in love with the GF1? Not yet...I like it, and getting used to it...but it's not love (yet).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Paolo Evangelista: Zanzibar

Photo © Paolo Evangelista-All Rights Reserved

Paolo Evangelista holds degrees in music and anthropology, but decided to pack his bags, his espresso machine (after all, he's Italian) and his cameras to live in Australia for a while. Currently based in Perugia, he traveled to Zanzibar where most of his galleries are of.

Most interesting are Paolo's street photographs in Stone Town.

It's the old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, where nothing much has changed in the last 200 years. Its winding alleys, bustling bazaars, lovely mosques and typical Arab houses are exquisite backdrops for this sort of photography. Its name conjures sea traders, explorers, Sultans and the fragrance of exotic spices. It was also declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Also of interest to me is Paolo's gallery of Sydney's Chinese market, since I photograph in New York Chinatown.

Friday, June 4, 2010

MSF's Starved For Attention

"this year 195,000,000 children will suffer from malnutrition"
and so starts “Starved for Attention” the extremely well produced multimedia campaign by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and VII Photo which exposes the neglected and largely invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition.

The campaign aims to present a series of multimedia documentaries of still photography and video from the well-known photojournalists at the VII Agency, such as Marcus Bleasdale, Jessica Dimmock, Ron Haviv, Antonin Kratochvil, Franco Pagetti, Stephanie Sinclair, and John Stanmeyer.

The first multimedia reportage is titled Frustration and is by Marcus Bleasdale, who narrates it out of Djibouti.

Bookmark this website, since the remaining reportages will be featured over the course of the coming months.

For more background on the project, JournalismNow features an interview with Ron Haviv, which touches on his work in Bangladesh for Starved For Attention.

New Handheld Recorder Zoom H1

Photo Courtesy Samson Audio

Ay...I hate innovation. Well, not really of course, but a new (and occasionally improved) gadget always turns up a few months after a purchase, and this is annoying. Why can't the stuff I buy stay fresh and on the cutting edge of things all the time?

I'm kidding...sort of. But here's the H1, a new handheld audio recorder from Samson Audio, which may not have the top of the range recording schemes, but is a handy portable stereo recorder at an unheard-of $99 price.

It's supposed to give you 10 hours of battery life on a single AA cell, and can accommodate up to 32GB of removable microSDHC storage. Its microphones are configured in an X/Y pattern for optimum stereo imaging.

At this price (and assuming its performance is as good as Samson claims), it'll be a hit for entry-level multimedia photographers, and perhaps many others. It's available on July 30th, so keep your eye on it if you're in the market for a low cost handheld recorder.

I've read Samson's blurb, but didn't find the accessory on the H1's list that allows it to be set on top of a DSLR's hot shoe as shown in the above photograph. The H1 has a tripod mount on its back, so this doodad connects it to the hot shoe.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Interview: The Travel Photographer on the Matador Network

In a new series on Matador Network's Notebook which features periodic interviews with professional photographers, MatadorU faculty and travel photographer Lola Akinmade caught up with me to discuss my perspectives on travel photography, and my insights on the industry as well as on my photo~expeditions. You can also leave your comments if you wish.

Read the interview, in which I confide that
"it was almost like having two personalities; one being a “starched” banker during workdays, and a more relaxed personality befitting that of a travel photographer during the weekends."
I have a bunch of other interviews, which are listed under My Other Websites on the right.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Got it! Panasonic GF1 + 20mm f1.7 Lens

Having lost patience with Amazon's delivery system, and the fact that its delivery was now estimated to be between June 1 and June 14, I called yesterday and canceled my order. The customer service lady was extremely pleasant and nice, making me feel somewhat guilty for a while.

My guilt didn't last too long after I saw that Adorama had a Panasonic GF1 with a 20mm/F1.7 for $847 excluding NYC tax, but including some stuff like an 8 GB SD Sandisk memory card, a Lowepro carrying case (I much prefer my own pouches), a wonderful USB 2.0 SD card reader (like a memory stick), and a cleaning kit (of dubious use except for a nice lens brush).

I walked over to the store, got served by a lovely young woman (inexplicably wearing a scarf in NYC's heat) and had my new camera and accessories in under 10 minutes.

As with every camera and electronic gadgets I buy, I tried to work through the controls and settings without opening the manual. I got reasonably far, and was stumped a number of times, especially as I am used to a Canon "nomenclature". So I'll have to spend some time studying the manual after all.

I will soon test the GF1 and will post some of the street shots here. However, my first impressions holding it, shooting a few interior shots and so forth, gave me a sense that it's a solidly-built small camera. Not a point & shoot, not a rangefinder...but a hybrid in between the two.

Darren Ornitz: East Africa

Today I'm featuring the work of Darren Ornitz, who as a freelance photographer, traveled for 14 months in Africa and Asia including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Yemen and Oman.

Quite a number of photographs in Darren's East Africa gallery are of Lalibela, one of Ethiopia's holiest cities, and a center of pilgrimage for much of the country. The population of Lalibela is almost completely Ethiopian Orthodox Christian, and having spent a few days there photographing during the Epiphany celebrations, I can only describe it as "Biblical".

Part of the East Africa portfolio are some photographs of Zanzibar, and more specifically Stone Town. A UNESCO listed old city, Stone Town was David Livingstone's base when preparing for his final expedition in 1866. The above photograph is of Stone Town.

Darren studied at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse until transferring to Fordham.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Liz McClarnon the celebrity Masterchef winner 2008, has teamed up with Kerry LowLow Cheese. She is featured in a recipe booklet using Kerry LowLow cheese to bring us delicious recipes using their mature Cheddar cheese, which is made with skimmed milk.

I decided to make Liz's Lasagne, a lasagne with a twist - a layer of spinach isn't something that I would normally associate with lasagne, but it works perfectly.

You can see this recipe and others from the booklet here.

Thank you to Kerry LowLow for the delicious cheese and also the Le Creuset dish.

Nigel Slater's 'A Gratin of Spring Greens & Roasted Walnuts'.

I have lost the recipe for the above, it was in the April 2010 issue of Sainsbury's Magazine.

Can anyone help me out on this please and email the recipe to margsblogspot@blueyonder.co.uk - I would be really grateful, because it is to be a blog posting, and also my husband has requested I make this again!


One Million Visitors!

I'm immensely gratified that since inception in mid-January 2007, The Travel Photographer blog has now received a total of 1,000,000 visitors!

What originally started as a lark has taken a life of its own, and The Travel Photographer blog seems to have its comfy little place place amongst other photography blogs. A million visitors is a drop in the ocean for blog behemoths, but for this one-man blog, it's enormous.

I sometimes hesitate in calling it a blog, because in reality it's more of a compilation of photo-essays, galleries (my own but mainly by others), multimedia, occasional geo-political rants and diatribes (some serious others downright silly), opinions (some ridiculous and others touching a nerve or two) and whatever else took my fancy.

However, nothing is more gratifying that getting emails from photographers expressing appreciation for being featured on The Travel Photographer....and responding as best I can to requests for advice and guidance virtually every day.

I hope the best is yet to come as Sinatra and Bennett told us....but in the meantime, I've got to run...I can hear my blog yelling "Feed Me!".