Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking News: 2011 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop


Eric Beecroft has just announced that the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop will take place in mid July 2011 in beautiful Buenos Aires, Argentina!

The tuition is $500 for regional students (Mexico, and all countries south to Tierra del Fuego; including Caribbean nationals, and $975 for non-regional students. Early registration is available for a non-refundable $100 via Paypal only. The early registration guarantees a spot and places the payer in the front of the line for class choice. Scholarships will be announced shortly.

The instructors' line up include:

Kael Alford
Walter Astrada
Andrea Bruce
Michael Robinson Chavez
Tewfic El-Sawy
Ashley Gilbertson
Ron Haviv
Henrik Kastenskov & Poul Madsen (Bombay Flying Club)
Jared Moosy
Maggie Steber
Ami Vitale
Adriana Zehbrauskas

NYT's One In 8 Million Gets An Emmy

I was very glad to read that The New York Times’ multimedia series One in 8 Million won an Emmy Award in the “new approaches to documentary” category a few days ago, and that its producers and all those involved were deservedly recognized and honored.

For those who don't know,  the series is a collection of stories told with audio and photography that portray everyday New Yorkers. Unfortunately, it was only featured for 12 months...presumably because the creators didn't want it to go on any further, but I never found out the reason behind that.

Why would I devote a post on this, instead of just a Tweet? Well, apart from thinking it was extremely well produced, I used One in 8 Million as a teaching tool during my Introduction To Multimedia class with the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Manali (India) and in Istanbul.

I used the series as an example to stress to my classes the need for simplicity (the "keep it simple" doctrine), the need to humanize the story and the need for brevity.  Whichever one of the series that the class attendees watched, they unanimously agreed that these were inspirational.

From reading the interview conducted by James Estrin with the staff photographer Todd Heisler, the senior multimedia producer Sarah Kramer, and the photo editor Meaghan Looram, I learned that the audio was recorded before the photography took place..I didn't know that, and I am certain to share this interview with my future classes.

A very well deserved recognition!

Candace Feit: Orissa's Tribals

Photo © Candace Feit -All Rights Reserved  
Candace Feit is a photojournalist currently residing in New Delhi, and was featured on the pages of The Travel Photographer blog a number of times.

Her photographs of West Africa  (she was based earlier in Dakar, Senegal) appeared in the The New York Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and Time magazine, among others.

Candace has recently published more Indian photo stories, including this one on the Adivasis of Orissa.  Orissa has one of the largest concentrations of tribal population in India, and according to a government census, they number around 7 million.They are neglected by the central government, and suffer from extreme poverty.

This has given rise to a fertile environment for the Naxalite anti-government movement, which exploits the vulnerability of the tribals, and forces then to take sides. In turn, the Indian government is battling this separatist movement, and the Adivasis find themselves in the middle of the conflict.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trail Blazer Take Down Buck Saw Review

For years now I have carried the same set up for wood cutting and processing. Other than specific knives, it has been comprised of a Kershaw folding saw (it appears to be identical to a Bahco Laplander saw) and a Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe. This set up has served me well.

Lately however, I have noticed some troubling patterns in my tool use. More often than not, when collecting wood, I am relying almost exclusively on my Kershal saw. I simply find that either because of lack of skill, or design, I can do the same cutting task much faster with the saw than with the Small Forest Axe. The axe mainly comes into play when I am splitting wood and carving.

As a result, I have started to rethink, the cutting tools that I carry. If I am relying so much on my saw, perhaps I should carry a more robust saw. Consequently, I purchased the 24 inch Trail Blazer Take Down Buck Saw.

The saw, disassembles completely, and all the parts fit quite nicely in the main handle tube. The whole set fits into the 25in x 1in tube.



In addition to all the components, there is even space for an extra saw blade.



The saw assembles in about a minute without any tools. Here I have taken a photo of it next to my Small Forest Axe for comparison purposes.



The assembled saw is quite large and robust. The saw weighs 1.55 lb. It is heavier than what I was hoping for, but it is still much lighter than the Small Forest Axe.

The saw is sold in an 18in length as well as the 24in that I got. I chose the 24in version because I wanted to get the largest saw I can carry within my back pack. For me that is 24in. Any larger would stick out of the pack. The saw retails for anywhere from $25 to $40.

A lot more testing would be required to see if this saw is worth carrying. It will probably be a part of a complete rethinking of my tool use. I will keep you updated. The only thing that I can say at this point is that this looks like a good robust tool. Time will tell if it is right for me.

SMOKED PAPRIKA CHICKEN CIABATTA AND CHEESE COLESLAW


I was very impatient to use my new Circulon griddle pan, kindly sent to me courtesy of Cookware By CSN, the pan is excellent and grilled the chicken superbly.

The meal took only 30 minutes or so to prepare and cook, and served with sides of potato wedges makes a substantial meal.

I always precook my potato wedges for 5 minutes or so, drain, return to the dry pan, and drizzle over a few tablespoons of olive oil, shake the pan to coat. Tip onto a tray and cook at 200C for half an hour or so, turning half way through the cooking time. Drain, season, serve.

For the Paprika Chicken you will need:

4 skinless chicken breasts, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, olive oil, 1 crushed clove garlic, 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 8 torn romaine lettuce leaves or your lettuce of choice.

1. Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally and lay each between two sheets of cling film. Bash with a rolling pin until about 1 cm thick.
2. Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and dust with the paprika. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Lay on a hot griddle pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until charred and cooked through.
3. Halve the ciabatta horizontally and lay, cut side down, on the pan for 1 minute. Mix the crushed garlic and mayonnaise and then spread over the cut side of each ciabatta half. Top with the lettuce and chicken, then season with a little salt and pepper. Cut in half to serve.

Cheese Coleslaw

400g white cabbage, 1 coarsely grated carrot, 1 halved and thinly sliced red onion, 3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons low-fat natural yogurt, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 20g pack chives, 100g reduced-fat mature Cheddar (grated).

1. Cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters. Remove and discard the core, then thinly shred the cabbage. Put into a large mixing bowl. Add the carrot, onion, mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard. Snip in most of the chives.
2. Mix the coleslaw well, making sure all of the salad is coated in the dressing. Season, cover and chill.
3. Just before serving sprinkle over the grated cheese and the remaining chives.

Delicious!

David Myers: City of The Dead


The City of the Dead is produced by David Myers, a part-time photographer who lives in Maryland and works in Washington DC.

The City of the Dead is a four mile long cemetery (a necropolis would be a better word to describe it) which extends from the northern to southern part of Cairo. It's called el-arafa by Egyptians, and is an area of tombs and mausoleums where people live and works amongst the dead. Its foundation dates back to the Arab conquest of Egypt in 642 AD, and has grown with time until it reached the equivalent of a fully functioning residential suburb of Cairo.

I watched this short photo essay, and it brought back childhood memories when, once a year during the Eid festival, I had to accompany my father to pay respects to our ancestors and forebears who were interred in our family's mausoleum. I still recall it being as large as a couple of basketball courts, with two house-like structures sheltering a number of mausoleums, made of marble or alabaster, and intricately carved with verses of the Qur'an. It is under one of those that my father rests, alongside his forebears. The marble gateway to the mausoleums is carved with the name of my grandfather...which is like mine.

This brought back the smell of dust to my nostrils...the Egyptian dust that is tamped down by hosing it with water...the green-grey color of the palm tree leaves...and much more.

I've been to many Islamic countries and heard the adan in all of them...but few of them come  close to beauty and purity of the Egyptian adan. Perhaps I am biased....

Esther Havens: Ethiopia

Photo © Esther Havens-All Rights Reserved

It's very easy to like and admire Esther Havens. She is a humanitarian documentary photographer who focuses on social-awareness campaigns with Non Profit Organizations around the world, and spent the past two years capturing stories on water projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Haiti and Central African Republic.

She traveled to over 40 countries and, as she says "...seeks to open hearts and minds to see the third world conditions in a way that might challenge them to make a difference".She's especially supportive of charity:water, which she urges everyone to support.

Her website has many galleries of her travels to Ethiopia, Uganda, CAR, Iraq, Rwanda, Mozambique, Jordan, Nicaragua, India and others in Asia and South America.

The above photograph is from Esther's Ethiopia gallery.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Work: Bali: Ngaben (Cremation Ceremony)

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Here's the first of a number of audio-slideshows of Balinese traditional events which I worked on following my return from my Bali: Island of Odalan Photo~Expedition

Ngaben: Cremation Ceremony is a thematic multimedia photo-essay of black and white stills and ambient sound of a cremation ceremony for 6 villagers held on August 11, 2010 in Blahbatuh. The actual cremation was almost a whole day event, and was preceded by a ceremony of remembrance at one of the villagers' homes during which food and drinks were partaken by the families, villagers, friends, neighbors and whoever else wanted to share in the occasion.

While Balinese Brahmins and its wealthier class cremate their dead as soon as death occurs, the poor need to accumulate funds to do the same for their dead...and frequently organize group cremations to spread the costs. This means that years can pass before their dead are finally cremated. The Balinese Hindu tradition calls for bodies to be cremated in order to free the soul from all worldly ties, and as such the cremations are usually bitter-sweet occasions, since it provides closure to families.

During this event, some bodies were exhumed just before the cremation, bones and skeletons were washed...and these remains were put in coffins placed in sarcophagi fashioned in the form of bulls. These are called wadah or lembu that are made of bamboo, papier mache and cotton fabric. The climax of Ngaben is the burning of the structures and the bodies.

During other cremations I've attended, fire accelerants were used to speed up the process. On this occasion, I didn't see any.

The audio slideshow is also iPad-compatible.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Big Survival Show Review

This is a brief description and review of some of the survival and wilderness living TV series either currently on the air, or that can be found on DVD. Here I am only looking at TV series, not specials or movies. There may be other shows out there, but I am only reviewing the ones I have seen.

Shows currently on the air

Beyond Survival

Beyond Survival is the newest show by Les Stroud. In it, he visits different indigenous tribes in an attempt to learn from them survival skills, as well as some of the other aspects of their lives. I had high hopes for the show, but can’t help feeling disappointed. The show seems to focus way too much on different customs and traditions of the tribes Les visits, and while that is valuable information, it has very little bearing on the subject of wilderness living. Very few skills are examined during the show, and even then, only in passing. You may be able to catch some hints and tricks here and there, but that does not appear to be the main focus of the show.

Man vs. Wild

Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls undoubtedly ranks as the worse survival/wilderness living show on TV. It is a show designed to entertain more than to teach, and as a result, the “skills” demonstrated during the show are not only improperly thought, but are right down dangerous. Not only will you not learn anything, but you may actually learn inaccurate information. While jumping off of cliffs, and exploring caves might make for good television, it increases your chance of dying in a survival situation. You can see my review of the current season here.

Man, Woman, Wild

I have been very pleasantly surprised y this show. The premise is that Myke Hawke, an experienced outdoorsman, is left in the wilderness to survive along with his wife, who does not know much about the outdoors. The fun naturally ensues. While the premise might not be conducive to a very educational show, I must say, that the information provided has been both accurate, well presented, and rather realistic. The show remains focused on actual survival skills, and does not get bogged down in artificially created drama. It is well worth seeing.

Dual Survival

Dual Survival is one of my favorite survival shows. The first season is over, but it seems fairly certain that a second season will be picked up. The show puts together a mismatched pair of survival experts, Cody Lundin (a self described barefoot hippie), and Dave Canterbury (an ex military survivalist). I am sure that the intent of the show was to create a large amount of drama between the two of them, but the result is far from it. While having different styles, Cody and Dave seem to have great respect for each other, and work well together. The result is a very informational show which gives you different points of view on each situation.

Shows that are off the air

Survivorman

Survivorman is the show that put Les Stroud on the map for most people. In the show, Les is stranded in the wilderness, and has to survive for a week. He is truly alone, as he does not have a camera crew, but rather films himself. The show provides very valuable information. Its biggest benefit is that it provides a realistic evaluation of different survival skill and methods. You see exactly how long it takes to do a task, and you see every time it fails. You gain an appreciation for what it is like to do a task when you have not eaten for three days. The show is a must see.

Other shows by Les Stroud that are worth seeing, but have been excluded because I do not think they deal directly with the subject of this post are Survival: Summer, Survival: Winter, and Snowshoes and Solitude.

Country Tracks

Country Tracks was a show hosted by Ray Mears, originally aired on BBC. It is a series of short episodes, in which Ray covers topics from navigation for fire lighting. It is very information dense and well worth seeing.

World of Survival

World of Survival was another series by Rey Mears, aired on BBC. It is similar in format to Beyond Survival, but I find that it gets the focus much better. In the show Ray visits different indigenous tribes and learns skills from them. While some of the information is not directly skill related, the shows are rich in information.

Extreme Survival

Extreme Survival was a series by Ray Mears aired on BBC. In the show Ray explores different environments which present a difficulty for survival. Each episode spends a large amount of time recounting actual survival stories. I find that while such stories are interesting, the amount of information presented is drastically reduced.

Bushcraft

Bushcraft was a series by Ray Mears, aired on BBC. In the series Ray explores different aspects of bushcraft ranging from bow making with stone tools, to canoe building. The show is very rich in information. It is a must see for anyone interested in in the subject.

Wild Foods

Wild Foods is yet another show by Ray Mears made for the BBC. This is my favorite of Ray’s shows. In it he explores different foods that might have been eaten by our ancestors, and possible ways of preparing them. The show focuses mostly on Britain, but it provides an amazing insight into the lives of our ancestors.

Other shows by Ray Mears that are worth seeing, but have been excluded because I do not think they deal directly with the subject of this post are Ray Mears Goes Walkabout, Survival (the show deals with different wild animals) Northern Wilderness and Real Heroes of the Telemark.

Andreas Burgess: In The Courtyard of the Beloved

Photos © Andrea Burgess -All Rights Reserved

 I am thrilled to have stumbled on Andrea Burgess' magnificent In The Courtyard of The Beloved, a visual and aural "portrait" of the Dargah of Nizam Uddin Auliyah, a Sufi shrine in Delhi. The shrine is for the revered Hazrat Nizam Uddin, a famous Sufi saint of the Chisti Sect in South Asia, whose main tenet is in drawing close to God through renunciation of the world and service to humanity.

The title of the documentary refers to the title given to Nizzam Uddin by his followers; Mahboub Ilahi or beloved of God. In fact, the qawwali ( style of Sufi devotional music) songs performed at the shrine in his remembrance and praise address Nizzam Uddin as mahboob ilahi.

The "portrait" is made from over 18,000 still images and ambient sounds which were recorded on-site by Andreas... 18,000 still images!!!! Imagine the amount of editing that Andreas had to do!!! It was produced by Sadia Shepard.

The Dargah of Nizzam Uddin is one of my favorite places to photograph in Delhi, and I have a ton of images made in the area, and Andreas' work has given me fresh impetus to spend even more time there when I'm next in Delhi.

I guarantee you'll agree that this is high quality inspirational work, and I strongly recommend it to readers of The Travel Photographer blog, particularly to those who, like me, are interested in multimedia, South Asian Sufism and Indiaphiles. I already sent the link to participants of my forthcoming In Search of Sufis Photo~Expedition™

Very well done, Andreas and Sadia!

Kashmir: Will 2011 Be It ???

Photo © Altaf Qadri/ AP Courtesy SacBee's The Frame-All Rights Reserved

 I read with interest that the Indian government announced it would start releasing jailed protesters, ease security in Kashmiri towns and cities, reopen schools and universities, and offering financial compensation to the families of those killed since the protests in June.

I've been keen to go to Kashmir for a number of years, but was stymied by political unrest in the region, by conflicting time constraints and other destinations. I certainly kick myself for not taking the opportunity of being in Manali with the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in 2009, and travel to Srinagar as some in the workshop did.

So the possibility of a solo-trip (or even a group photo-expedition) to Kashmir is once again rearing its head because of this announcement...only time will tell if the Indian government is serious with this new policy, or whether it's just a public relations stunt before the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

I'm eager to photograph in Kashmir...and its rich and unique Islamic traditions. In all my years of traveling in India, I have not made it yet. Something tells me that 2011 will be it... Inch' Allah.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

CSN Review


I have been fortunate to be asked again by CSN Stores to review a selection of items from their wonderful sites.

From Cookware By CSN I ordered Pillivuyt Ramekins, one of the oldest and most prestigious brands of French porcelain. The ramekins can be used directly from freezer to oven or microwave, and can withstand temperatures ranging from -25 to 300°C. Pillivuyt products always look classy and just eating from them makes the food taste even better.


To go alongside the ramekins, I needed a cooks blowtorch to enable me to make Creme Brulee. I chose a KitchenCraft Master Class Deluxe Professional easy to use and also very easy to get a good brulee topping. I need more practice and must next time tell myself not to overload the ramekins or there won't be room for the crunchy topping and the filling will start to overflow! Now I will be able to use the torch for skinning tomatoes, peppers, browning meringues, the list is endless.


Circulon Infinite Hard Anodised 26cm Chef's Pan is made by Meyer, a trusted, well known company. The pan will be great for making bolognese sauces or chilli con carne - I like to double up and make one freeze one - for a rainy or lazy day. The pan is non stick, has even heat distribution, can be put in the oven, is easy to clean or you can put the pan in the dishwasher. The price for this pan on the CSN site is £56.99 with free delivery. I had a look in my local department store only last week and they were retailing the same pan for £90.00! For my last CSN review I chose the skillet which is in the same range as the Chef's Pan and I am really pleased with this too.


Circulon Elite Hard Anodized Square Grill Pan - this too is non stick, oven safe up to 180°C and comes with a lifetime customer satisfaction guarantee. I chose this grill pan to replace my tired old one and also because I think Circulon pans have hob appeal! I couldn't wait to use it and made delicious paprika chicken - I'll post this on the blog soon.


KitchenCraft Master Class Ladle with White Handle - it would be foolish to use metal utensils in the Circulon non-stick pans and this eye catching ladle will be perfect for using with the Chef's Pan.


Chicago Metallic 12 Cup Madeleine Pan - as an avid collector of baking tins of all shapes and sizes, this pan will make me very happy! I have several Chicago Metallic pans and have been really happy with them. Madeleine's have seen a revival recently and I can't wait to seek out some recipes and to try out my new baking tin.

Ordering and tracking is easy, as soon as your order has been shipped you are sent an email with tracking information. The Chef's Pan took only two business days to arrive at my home and everything else arrived very quickly too. Also, with CSN there is the added benefit of Customer Service support, should you need to use this. All of my parcels have been well packed both internally and externally.

Thank you Eileen.

Next Week on The Travel Photographer


I'm starting a Sunday feature in which I announce some of the posts in the pipeline for the rest of the week. Most of my posts are scheduled ahead of time but there are exceptions, which occur when I stumble on an interesting portfolio, website or issue..

I've also been frequently complimented on my POVs...and especially those containing rants. I will try my best to come up with those as soon as I can.

For the week starting Monday September 27, I have posts on:

1. A fantastic multimedia project involving Indian Sufis. You will NOT want to miss this one!
2. The work of a talented photographer involved in NGOs.
3. The work of another talented photojournalist featuring tribal life in Orissa.
4. A movie by a British journalist featuring prostitution in India.

I'm also going to release an audio slideshow of my work in Bali during the week. It documents a cremation ceremony.

Oh, and by the way...so far, I've written about 2000 posts for The Travel Photographer!

My Work: Balinese Dancers

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

As some participants in my photo~expeditions seek to return with a diverse portfolio, I try to organize alternative styles of photography events during the trip...and although the primary focus is always on merging travel photography with documentary photography, I provide such opportunities to those who join them...depending on the destination.

One of the pre-arranged photo shoots during my recent Bali: Island of Odalan Photo~Expedition ™ was held at the studio of a dance master specializing in the traditional dances of the island. I asked for three Legong dancing students, and one Baris dancer to be made up, costumed and willing to pose for us. Nothing photo-journalistic was intended from it, except perhaps during the make-up preparations, but the objective was fundamentally similar to a fashion photo-shoot.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Notwithstanding, I couldn't resist to make some non-posed photographs such as the one of the Baris dancer with the young daughter of the make-up artist. I always prefer shooting in a landscape format (to get more elements in the frame...and tell more of a story), but I also had to resort to a vertical format to shoot the Baris and Legong dancers in a traditional pose. Both of these images have their uses, and I'm not saying one is better than the other...but the landscape format lends itself better to my kind of shooting style.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Out of Town with Jack Hargreaves

This is an old television show that I bumped across. The only way I can describe it is that it is as if though you are speaking to your grandfather. It is a mixture of stories about the countryside and visits to people who live pre-industrial lifestyles within Britain.

Some episodes are quite interesting, offering a glimpse into a more traditional form of living. Others can get tedious. Fast forward through the episodes, to find the parts that you like.

I have imbedded Part 1 of Episode 12 and have provided links to Parts 2 and 3. You can find the rest of the episodes on YouTube.

Part 1


Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiJPX2v_Tcs&feature=related

Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b2d5d3xdFI&feature=related

There are about two dozen episodes available.

30 Days In Muslim America

 Courtesy of Boing Boing

With The New York Times and others reporting discrimination against Muslims in the United States just yesterday, I thought it would be opportune and timely to feature here 30 Days In Muslim America, a photo essay published in the well-known Boing Boing blog, by Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq.

Naturally, discrmination against Muslims has spiked recently as a consequence of the so-called Ground Zero Community Center stupidity and Terry Jones' odious Quran-burning farce, so it's no surprise that The New York Times reported this:
There’s a level of hatred and animosity that is shocking,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, regional attorney of the E.E.O.C.’s Phoenix office. “I’ve been doing this for 31 years, and I’ve never seen such antipathy toward Muslim workers.
I don't think the photographs featured by Boing Boing are designed to allay the racism, fear and suspicion that face American Muslims, but it's one of the tiny steps that hopefully will add up. Muslims in America, as President Obama said, are not they...they are us.

Eventually, perhaps the traditional Islamic way of life will be accepted (and respected) in the United States as that of the Hasidim in Brooklyn and the Amish in Lancaster...but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wink Willett: Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat

Photo © Wink Willett -All Rights Reserved

Wink Willett was on the participants in my Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition, which took place earlier this year between January 23 and February 7, 2010. Due to conflicting time demands, it took a while for him to upload his photographs of the trip, but he finally got them on his website. Here are those I chose to showcase:

To kick the post off, the above photograph is of an elderly Gujarati Rebari with his wife in the background. This is a spontaneous portrait, made whilst the man was greeting someone else.

Photo © Wink Willett -All Rights Reserved

The above environmental portrait is of two Wadha girls with their goats. The Wadha tribe near Bhuj are traditionally involved in the production of wood charcoal, and are extremely poor. Yet, they take enormous pride in their homes (mostly huts with thatched roofs), the cleanliness of their living quarters and use brilliant colors to spruce them up.

Photo © Wink Willett -All Rights Reserved

The photograph above is of two traditional Rabari shepherds which was made in the south of Rajasthan. The Rabaris are nomadic shepherds, cattle and camel herders, and the men commonly wear white, golden earrings, white or red turbans and carry a big stick in the hand. They wear dhoti and  short double breasted waist coat.

Photo © Wink Willett -All Rights Reserved

During the photo~expedition, we spent a few days in South Rajasthan to photograph at the Baneshwar Mela; an annual religious gathering when event tribal people indigenous to the area converge to the confluence of two rivers. It is there that they remember their dead and cleanse their sins by bathing in the ice-cold water.

Wink Willett is an international banker, and brings to his photographic style the lessons he learned from his many overseas senior postings. Check his website for more of well composed travel photographs.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

POV: iPad Re-examined

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy -All Rights Reserved

Well, I've played with it for about a week now and I still am of the opinion that the iPad is a more of a wonderful display-toy-gadget rather than a useful tool. And I think this is exactly what Apple intends it to be. I also read that new features are being worked on to include Apple’s Facetime video chat capability.

I also have seen articles predicting that most portable computer devices in the coming few years will have touch-screens and if so, the iPad was certainly the precursor.

I currently use it to peruse news websites, play time-wasting games (mostly sniper games), and that's it. The only photography-related app I think is really fantastic is the one by The Guardian called The Guardian Eyewitness app for iPad. I have yet to see another as good. If anyone knows of similar apps, please let me know.

The good news is that SoundSlides (my favorite audio-slideshow making software) now has a beta version of program which is iPad-compatible (it auto detects iPads, and using this version allowed me to view my audio-slideshows on the iPad.

Some of my audio slideshows have also been uploaded to my Vimeo page, and I can watch these on the iPad as well. The resolution is not as great as the Soundslides though.

Bottom line: the iPad is cool.

The above images is on the opening frame of my new (and still unreleased) slideshow of Balinese cockfights.

S&F™ Lowepro: MultiMedia Photographer


Here's what is fantastic about being ad-free and not beholden to any manufacturer (or retailer)...I am free in liking or disliking any product I want, and mention my opinion on my blog. I'm not paid to flog a particular product and ignore others that I like. I can use a product from ABC and another from XYZ...I have no particular loyalty to any manufacturer (unless it produces exceptionally good products), nor do I follow a fad...nor another photographer. I like what I like...period.

Now, I happen to like some of the Lowepro products, and I've used a couple of them myself. I use a Top Loader Pro bought in 2000 or 2001 that still works perfectly well, except for one of its zippers that doesn't work any more...it's been badly abused for the past 10 years, and it's grubby...but that's how I like my stuff. I also have a Lowepro backpack and a Stealth Reporter shoulder bag that I seldom use now, but in their heyday, they were great.

I suppose Lowepro realized it had to come up with a separate line of products for the growing number of multimedia photographers, perhaps following Think Tank which also has an interesting product line, and has recently launched the S&F™ Lowepro for the Multimedia Photographer products, which consist of S&F™ Technical Harness with S&F™ Light Utility Belt, S&F™ Slim Lens Pouch 75 AW & 55 AW, S&F™ Audio Utility Bag 100, S&F™ Laptop Utility Backpack 100 AW, S&F™ Lens Exchange Case 200 AW and S&F™ Transport Duffle Backpack.

I am only interested in the S&F™ Audio Utility Bag 100 at this stage, so I'll probably pop in one of the two photography retailers closest to me, and check it out.

I am still enthralled by my The Travel Photographer Pouches, so it'll be difficult to pry them from my hands...but one never knows.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Belt Carry-Part 2

The third item of kit that I have on my belt is what people often refer to as a possibles pouch. It is just a small bag in which I keep some small items. For that purpose I use a container that I found at an army surplus store tagged as a jungle binoculars container. Just about any container that you can hang from your belt will do the trick.



I have a number of small items inside. I have tried to organize them to the best of my ability.

Here is the list:


Top Row From Left to Right

Tools Envelope

Button compass-There are many on the market. Make sure to get one that is liquid filled. They are of much higher quality.
Commando wire saw-These are higher quality than a basic wire saw. I am always shocked how quickly they can cut through wood. In case you are left with just your belt kit, the combination of commando saw and knife will serve you well.
Small ferro rod-Just a back up fire starting method in case I leave the larger ferro rod somewhere after using it.

DC4 sharpening stone-It is small, but it gets the job done. I use it for both my knife and axe.

First Aid Envelope

Assorted Band Aids-I bumped across these Band Aids that already contain antibiotic. They come in sizes from 2in x 4in and below. I carry an assortment of them.
Razor blade
Fresnel magnifying glass-Size 2in x 4in. It is also very good for starting fires.
Adhesive tape
Two squares of gauze-Size 2in x 2in. Between the gauze and the adhesive tape, you can bandage a decent size cut or wound.

Water Purification Envelope

16 Katadyn water purification tablets (chlorine dioxide)-Chlorine dioxide is the only chemical on the market that will kill protozoans such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium as well as bacteria and viruses. The down side is that it can take up to four (4) hours to kill Cryptosporidium. All the other pathogens however are killed fairly quickly.
Sheet of aluminum foil-Size 2ft x 4 ft. It can be used to boil water or cook. It’s not ideal because it loses strength in the flames, but it’s better than nothing.
Three plastic bags for water storage-Many people carry condoms for storing water. I find these bags to be a lot more durable and they pack to about the same side. These are simply bags that you get in the grocery store for fruits and vegetables. They are the ones on a roll in that section of the supermarket.

Second Row From Left to Right

Film canister containing cotton and Vaseline fire starter/tinder-For more details on this form of fire starter, have a look here.

Film canister containing fishing kit and sewing kit-I carry an assortment of needles, string, fishing line, hooks and lures.

A roll of duct tape-You can never go wrong with ducks tape. It can also be sued to repair holes in you water carrying bags that I listed above.

Pills envelope-Bring the pills that you are likely to need and use.

Fenix E01 flashlight and spare battery-For a review on the flashlight, have a look here.

Third Row From Left to Right

A BIC lighter (white)-This is the most underrated fire starter you can get. With a lighter you can start a fire without much experience and under very difficult conditions. I know other ways seem more worthy of the woods, but this is the sure way to do it. Some people complain that lighters can fail, but in reality the likelihood of that is a lot lower that you falling off a cliff. Get the white lighter because you can see how much fuel you have left.

An “Army” size ferro rod-This is a fun way to start fires. You need some experience to use it effectively, but because it has no moving parts, eventually, you will be able to start a fire with it. For tips on using a ferro rod, take a look here.

Box of waterproof and windproof matches

Two bundles of artificial sinew-This is some of te best cordage I have been able to find. It packs in a very small bundle, but is strong enough for shelter building.

So these are the items I carry on my belt. The only additional item I have on me other than clothing is a bandana.

These items constitute things that I would not want to be without as well as items that I use frequently. There are some emergency items, in case I am separated from my pack, but many are simply things I reach for often.

One item that you might consider adding to the above kit is a plastic bag or an emergency poncho. It is a very valuable item for shelter building. So far I have not been able to comfortably integrate it into my kit (without stuffing it in). I like my items to be fairly loosely packed so I can access them easily. I don’t want my possibles pouch to turn into an emergency kit. If however you can find a way to bring such an item, it would be a good use of your space.

When selecting what to bring, make sure the items make sense to you.

Jørgen Johanson: Kham & Amdo (Tibet)

Photo © Jørgen Johanson -All Rights Reserved

Jørgen Johanson went on his first trip to Asia in 1982, and completed the Annapurna circuit in Nepal. He was hooked from that moment on travel, photography and on Asian cultures.

He's a software development engineer for companies Norwegian companies, and recently took a 2-3 years sabbatical just to travel. Most of his travel has been trips to Asia, but also made some trips to Africa, where he photographed in Ethiopia and Niger. He's also enamored of India and China...but it's the Tibetan culture and the Himalayas that really fascinate him.

Take a look at Jørgen's Kham & Amdo photo galleries (he's got two on his website), and explore the other galleries which include Myanmar (some good shots of the fishermen of Lake Inle) and Bhutan (stop by the lovely photograph of Wangdi Phodrang Dzong in the mist).

Jørgen also self-published a book "Kham And Amdo" which is available on Blurb, which you can preview in its entirety.

Nguyen Thanh Hai: Hanoi

Photo © Nguyen Thanh Hai -All Rights Reserved

Nguyen Thanh Hai is known as Maika Elan, and is a young Vietnamese freelance photographer based in Hanoi whose work is just delightful.

Maika was a selected participant in the Creative Economies workshop at the Asia Europe Forum for Young Photographers in Malaysia, and at the 2010 photojournalism workshop with the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation (IMMF), where she received awards for the best photo essay and best single photograph.

I was initially drawn to her gallery of classical drama, and then to her photographs of Inside Hanoi...which I strongly encourage you to peruse. Maika's sense of color and compositional skills will impress you. I also urge you to visit her Lomography section, which she lets her color affinity loose.

In my view, Maika has an extremely bright future in photography.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Kitchen Goodies


I have been sent an array of goodies by Cookequip who specialise in barbeque supplies, stovetop smokers, wood chips, grilling and baking planks - just to mention a few. A great place to shop for interesting gifts.

Cookequip have now added some new products to their range and these include Vacuum Food Storage/Marinading/Freezer Pots which are new to the UK, these are great for storing soft fruit and vegetables. Also, there is the Vacuum Pump to extract the air from the vacuum pots.

Silicone Kitchen Twine - this is re-usable flexible twine ideal for tying joints and would have been very useful when I reviewed the Wood Wraps.

The Flavour Injector - used in the USA but new here in the UK. A great way to directly use a marinade for maximum flavour and to prevent poultry and meats from drying out.

Cookequip also have another website The Old Smokehouse selling foods and equipment, including outdoor barbeques, smokers and lots more. You can send for smoked foods such as wild Cumbrian salmon, sausages, cheese, chicken and duck. Here you can even book to go on a Food Smoking Course - what a fabulous present this would be.

Thank you Clive.

Belt Carry-Part 1

I have been getting a good amount of requests to make a post about all the gear that I use. I have been reluctant to do it because the ideal camping gear is something that varies from person to person. Just because I use something, does not mean that it will work for you and your style of outdoor life.

That being said, I remember that when I was first starting out, that is exactly what I wanted to see, so I understand the motivation.

I will try to provide a list of my gear. I will also try to specify how and why I use it, and what other choices might be out there.

I’ll start with the tools I carry on my belt.

The first thing is a knife. I use the Fallkniven S1. I have modified it sightly, removing the finger guard, and wrapping the handle with cord in order to make it thicker.



This is a convex edge blade. You can get it very sharp, and it is very durable. However, it takes some work to sharpen when compared to a single or double bevel blade. The blade length is 5 in. Many people like a 4 in blade, but I find it to be too short, and limits the type of slicing cuts you can do. This is a personal preference and depends on how you like to use your blade.

The knife is not cheap. Prices have recently gone up, well over the $100 range. There are good cheap alternatives. In fact, most knives that are on the market will get the job done. Anything from a Mora to a ESEE knife will do, as long as you keep it sharp. Technology is a beautiful thing, and these days even the lowest level knife producer can manufacture a very usable knife.

I may try to make a longer post in the future specifically on knives. It is a subject on which there are many opinions, and a more in debt look is required than what I can provide here. For now, I will leave it at this. For some of my ramblings about knives, you can take a look at this post.

The second item that I carry on my belt is my canteen.



I like having a canteen instead of just a bladder because it allows me to carry water without my backpack, and I find them to be much more durable.

Inside the cover I also have a canteen cup, with some 550 para cord stuffed on the bottom of the cover. In the front pocket of the cover I carry a mini BIC lighter, some waterproof matches and four water purification tablets. I use the Katadyn chlorine dioxide tabs. They are supposed to kill everything in the water, but you will have to wait for it. I keep them only as a back up.



These canteens are very durable, and so are the canteen cups. They are almost impossible to brake. Another option for this set up would be a Nalgene type bottle, with a metal cup on the bottom. Some people prefer this arrangement because they can get a metal bottle is case they have to boil water. I prefer the canteen because it stays closer to your body, and does not bounce around while you are walking. I find the canteen cup adequate for boiling water.

For more information on how I carry the canteen, you can have a look at my Carrying a Belt Kit post.

Continued on Part 2...

Ralph Childs: Bali Island of Odalan


Photo © Ralph N. Childs -All Rights Reserved

Ralph Childs is a five time participant in my photo~expeditions, and is the seventh to submit samples of his work made during the Bali: Island of Odalan Photo~Expedition.

The above photograph, which I view as one of the best ones in his Bali portfolio, is of a devotee in a trance during a melasti ceremony at Masceti beach. These trances are not play-acting by any means, and are genuine manifestation of religious fervor which may reach a peak during such important celebrations and rituals.


Photo © Ralph N. Childs -All Rights Reserved

The above photograph was made during a traditional procession on the same Masceti beach on the Balinese eastern coast during one of the melasti ceremonies we photographed. Melasti is the purification of the Pratima deity and other symbols at a beach, and is a fundamental ritual of a temple's anniversary.


Photo © Ralph N. Childs -All Rights Reserved

This is one of the candid photographs that Ralph seeks whenever he's traveling. He pursues the theme of "father & son", and this one of the young boy and his father (under the spring's spout) was made at Pura Tirta Empul, where hundreds of devotees come daily to bathe in the temple's sacred springs.


Photo © Ralph N. Childs -All Rights Reserved

The above photograph is of Kecak dancers in an unusual pose, which I believe is towards the end of the performance. The Kecak dance is a comparatively modern Balinese dance, and is also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant. It is performed by a circle of many performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, chanting "cak" and throwing up their arms.

Chicago-based Ralph Childs maintains the blog RNC Photography where he posted more of his Kecak photographs. He also photographs local assignments during week-ends, and works for one of the largest American aerospace and defense technology company.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Greg Vore: Rickshaw Wallah

Photo © Greg Vore -All Rights Reserved

Greg Vore is a New York City-based photographer, and attended three colleges: Duke, The New World School of The Arts in Miami and The North Carolina School of The Arts. He started his photography career assisting in New York City for 6 years, after which he opened a studio on the north side of Williamsburg where his commercial work has been on still life. He completed catalogs and packaging imagery for Kate Spade, Bumble and Bumble, Waterworks, Henri Bendel, Martha Stewart, Intel, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Creative Recreation and others. This work has appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, New York Times T, The New Yorker, Domino and Lucky magazines.

His travel work has been featured in the Communication Arts Photo Annual, PDN’s World In Focus issue in the extreme exploration category and by National Geographic and CITY magazines.

Here's Greg's Rickshaw Wallah gallery, which features a number of rickshaw pullers (or wallahs) which must have been photographed in Kolkata. Using a simple white backdrop for portraits of rickhsaw wallahs is incredibly effective, especially those that retain some of the natural background. Others are photographed in the "field" so to speak. To underscore how hard these wallahs work, a photograph of calloused hands is added to the gallery.

Also take a look at Greg's other galleries including his India and Africa photographs.

His rickshaw gallery brings memories of the excellent Dominique Lapierre's City of Joy (book and movie) in which Hazari and his family re-locate to Kolkata with hopes of starting life anew, but he ends up pulling a rickshaw. The fabulous Indian actor, Om Puri, delivered an unforgettable performance as Hazari.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fujifilm's FinePix X100: Digital "Rangefinder"




These are breaking news from Photokina...Fujifilm launched the FinePix X100, a 12.3-megapixel camera styled in a 1950s metal-and-leather body. It features and APS-C sized CMOS sensor and a fixed-in-place but bright and fast 23mm f2 prime lens. It also boasts an ISO range of 200 to 6400, and 5fps continuous shooting.

According to Engadget, this camera will interest many to-be DSLR buyers provided it's intelligently priced. Absolutely, and I would think it would also interest existing DSLR users who lust after a more compact camera.

The Luminous Landscape reports from Photokina that it may cost approximately US $1,700 when it becomes available early in 2011.

UPDATE (Sept 21): Fujifilm confirmed that it will retail for about $1000 and be available in March (via BJP's 1854 blog).

Jan Sochor: The Palo In Cuba

Photo © Jan Sochor -All Rights Reserved

Jan Sochor is a freelance photographer, working between South America and Europe. He lived and worked in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain and the Czech Republic during the past five years. His photographs and stories have appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers and websites, including Sunday Times, National Geographic, Reuters, Burn magazine, Foto8, 100Eyes, UNESCO, Boston Review, PDN online,and others.

In this 3 minutes audio-slideshow, Jan has now focused his lenses on the adherents of the Palo religion, also known as Las Reglas de Congo. Palo is a syncretic religion which developed in Cuba amongst Central African slaves. Due to forced evangelicalism, Palo adherents gave their deities names from the Christian faith to continue their spiritual tradition.

Palo's main tenets are the veneration of ancestors' spirits, and belief in natural powers. The Palo pantheon starts at the creator god, Nzambi.

Highly recommended viewing for those of us who document, and are interested in, global spiritual traditions.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Reuters Does Big: Full Focus

Photo © REUTERS/Carlos Barria -All Rights Reserved

Reuters has joined the other news media in featuring large photographs on a blog.

Full Focus, a large format showcase of Reuters award-winning photography, tells global stories. The agency seeks to use this imagery to foster a deeper understanding of current events and social issues, and Full Focus provides an opportunity for its readers/viewers to offer perspectives on the photographs and the topics they address.

The lovely photograph by Carlos Barria and is part of the Haiti Revisited photo essay, and is of expecting women waiting for tent distribution near the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince on February 19, 2010 during the aftermath of the earthquake.

I ought to add separate links (to the right of this page) for all the large-sized photo blogs of major news media...Boston Globe's The Big Picture, Sacbee's The Frame, WSJ Photo Journal, The LA Time's Framework, etc.

Kristian Bertel: India

Photo © Kristian Bertel-All Rights Reserved

Kristian Bertel is a Danish photographer who graduated from Aarhus Tech with a degree in graphic design. His passion for photography began in 2006, and it was exercised in India some years later.

Kristian started out in Delhi and ventured into the Thar desert in Rajasthan, and then to the holy city, Varanasi.

There are 12 sideshows of India on Kristian's website, and are mostly of portraits of Indians in the streets, accompanied by Hindi songs and music. The one titled Vijayawada however, is accompanied by Arabic music....possibly an Egyptian rural song.

Apart from this minor lapse, these galleries will satisfy most Indiaphiles as being accurate representations of Indians going about their daily lives in various cities, towns and villages.

Friday, September 17, 2010

POV: Geniuses!


This will probably be one of my shortest POVs...but Stewart and Colbert are absolute geniuses! I prefer the "Keep Fear Alive" rally...its premise is so satirical that I can't wait to see the faces of the right-wing/tea baggers clowns on Fox.

But isn't it also sad that it's up to Comedy Show personalities to satirically stand up to extremism, and to highlight the hypocrisy of our politics, politicians, and mainstream media?

Lens: John Stanmeyer's Island of Spirits

Photo © John Stanmeyer-All Rights Reserved

The New York Times' Lens features John Stanmeyer's Island of Spirits, whose black & white photographs were made using a Holga.

Also included is an interview by the NYT's James Estrin with John, who's one of the founding members of the photo cooperative VII, and whose work appears regularly in the National Geographic and Time. This coincides with an exhibit that opened on Thursday at the VII Gallery, 28 Jay Street, Brooklyn, which I mentioned a few days ago on my blog.

I loved these wonderful photographs made using the lowest technology possible, especially as they are a reminder that it's the photographer, not the camera, that makes them.

Having just returned from a photo-expedition to Bali a few weeks ago, I also marvel at the degree of influence John (and Gary Knight) has had on my own photography. I attended a week-long workshop with both of them a few years ago in Bali, and I can see their "thumbprints" on the images I made during these past 15 days...especially on two black & white projects I am working on at the moment....cockfighting and cremations.

When these are ready, I will feature them on this blog, and you, my readers, can judge for yourselves.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Ten Bushcraft Books by Robert Graves

This is a compilation of pamphlets on different topics related to bushcraft, ranging from Ropes and Cordage to Snares and Traps.

It is on point and sufficiently illustrated. The publication manages to pack a large amount of information in an easy to read form. It is well worth a look.



As far as I am aware, the publication is in the public domain, and a copy can be obtained here, here, and a number of other places online.

CSN REVIEW COMING UP!

CSN Stores has amazing online stores where you can find everything from great cookware to beautiful wardrobes to chic lighting pieces!

I have a few items in the pipeline to review for Cookware By CSN, and more online shopping to do at their stores.

Shopping with CSN Stores couldn't be easier and the prices are great too!

WSJ Photo Journal: Kapparot

Photo © Ariel Schalit/Associated Press-All Rights Reserved

The Wall Street Photo Journal featured the above photograph of a an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother holding a hen that was later slaughtered for the Kaparot ritual. Some Jews believe their sins can be transferred to the chicken (or roosters) during the ritual, which comes before Yom Kippur.

Kaparot is performed by grasping the bird (hen for women, roosters for men) and moving it around one's head three times, symbolically transferring one's sins to the object. The bird is then slaughtered or donated to the poor.

Many religious traditions have more or less the same rituals, including Islam with its prescribed animal sacrifice during Eid ul-Adha, when the meat is partially donated to the needy.

Understandably, the little girl doesn't look very pleased at the prospect of the hen being killed.

Anton Kusters: The Yakuza

Photo © Anton Kusters-All Rights Reserved

Anton Kusters is the well deserved Category Winner, Editorial — Photography Book Now 2010 with his The Yakuza in Tokyo.

The Yakuza are members of traditional organized crime syndicates in Japan, and are well known for violence and initiation rites. Many Yakuza have full-body tattoos known as irezumi in Japan, which are still often done by hand using needles of sharpened bamboo or steel. ANother ritual for the Yakuza is yubitsume, or the cutting of one's finger, as a form of penance or apology.

It's mind-blowing as to how Anton managed to photograph such a secretive society.

Anton Kusters is a photographer, specialized in long term projects, producing complete experiences with images, film and words. He currently resides in Brussels and Tokyo. He is also a graphic designer and internet specialist, runs his own web and interactive design agency, and he's creative director at BURN Magazine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Knots for Every Need

Okay, so I’ve been thinking of putting up a series of post on different types of knots that people might find useful for the outdoors.

Unfortunately, I soon realized that I know nothing about knots, and that photographing that which I do know in a manner that would make any sense, would take forever.

Luckily, there is a website which provides great tutorials about knot making. It is called Animated Knots by Grog. Make sure to check it out.

Matjaž Krivic's A Day In Varanasi


Set aside about 7 minutes of your time, adjust the volume of your speakers and choose the full screen option on to watch Matjaž Krivic's A Day In Varanasi...and be transported to this ancient city, helped along with the New Age-like music of L. Subramaniam.

Varanasi is also known as Benares and Kashi, and is considered as holy by Buddhists, and Jains, and is the holiest place for Hindus. Hindu cosmology places it as as the center of earth. Mark Twain wrote: "Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."

In other words...Varanasi is really ancient.

I posted some of Matjaž Krivic's photography before on this blog, and he has some wonderful work for us to admire . For some 20 years, he globe-trotted the world capturing the personality and grandeur of indigenous people and places, and found the time to be awarded many prizes, and recognized in various venues and exhibitions. He traveled in Yemen, Mali, Tibet, North and West Africa, Iran, Mongolia, China, Nepal and India.

In other words...Matjaž is really good.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

John Kenny: Omo Valley & Africa

Photo © John Kenny-All Rights Reserved

Here's a real treat for those of us who are enamored with Ethiopia's Omo Valley tribes (and we are many), and a treat for "Africanphiles" in general as well. A real trove of magnificent portraits of handsome and beautiful African native people, ranging from the Omo Vallley various tribes to Kaokoland's Himba.

John Kenny's website presents around 100 of these portraits along with a handful of African landscapes, and is a must-have bookmark for anyone with an ethnographer interest.

John started his photography career about 7 years ago, and is self-taught. He first arrived in Africa in 2006, and keeps returning to photograph because he's fascinated to encounter societies that are able to survive in some of the most arid, isolated and difficult environments.

He tells us that he chose to make each and every one of these portraits because the individuals attracted him, and gave him a sense of wonder. He photographs without using flash or studio equipment, preferring natural sunlight. He also tells us that he travels alone, or with a local guide...and uses local transport to get from one place to the other.

I chose a color photograph to accompany this post, but I suggest you visit John's toned monochromatic portraits. The tones of his photographs are earthy, rich and vibrant...perfect for his subjects.

Via Greg Pleak