Saturday, April 30, 2011

Matthieu Paley: Prisoners of the Himalaya



I've featured the extraordinary work of Matthieu Paley a number of times on The Travel Photographer blog already, and while my favorite is still his work on a Sufi festival honoring Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Pakistan, it's also this recent ongoing film project "Prisoners of the Himalaya" that is equally remarkable. It's a documentary film aimed at capturing the life of the last Kyrgyz nomads of Afghanistan.

Matthieu returned to the Afghanistan's Pamir mountains to cooperate in the production of his first movie, along with Louis Meunier (as Director of the project) and others.

When you finish viewing the above trailer, drop by the movie's main website The Roof of the World which gives you more background to the project, and lists the team members that were involved in its making. Also spend time exploring Matthieu's website, and his unique galleries. You certainly will not regret it.

Currently based in Istanbul, Matthieu photographs explore themes of remoteness and isolation in geopolitically sensitive areas, and his work has appeared in Géo, National Geographic Adventure, Newsweek, Time, Outside, Discovery, Vanity Fair and Figaro among others. He has collaborated on numerous books. Since 1999, he travels extensively throughout the mountainous regions of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Northern India and Central Asia.

His photographs have been exhibited in galleries in New York, Hong Kong and Munich, and his multimedia presentations were projected at festival such as the Perpignan Photojournalism festival, the Banff Mountain Festival, and MountainFilm in Colorado. He has lectured at the Royal Geographical Society and the Asia Society in Hong Kong, at the Grand Bivouac Festival in France as well as at the Vancouver Mountain Festival.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Actual Weight of Axe Heads

When judging the weight of an axe head, we most often go by the manufacturer’s specifications. Often, there is no need to doubt that when they say an axe has a two pound head, it in fact has a two pound head. Over time however, some things have not been adding up. Several axes which are supposed to be of the same weight, are not. That is why I decided to just find a way to measure the weight of the heads myself. The axes that I wanted to look in particular are the line of Gransfors Bruks axes because I use them as a point of comparison so often. The ones I will look here are the Wildlife Hatchet, the Small Forest Axe, the Scandinavian Forest Axe, and the American Felling Axe. For comparison pictures, see here. I will also take a look at the Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe, since it is the reason I became skeptical about certain axe weights.

The method I used the measure the weight of each head is to buy a handle for that particular model axe. I then measured the weight of the whole axe and that of the handle, and subtracted one from the other. The results are fairly accurate, although there will be a small margin or error.

Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet:
Total Axe Weight: 1 ½ lb
Handle Weight: ½ lb
Axe Head Weight: 1 lb

Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe:
Total Axe Weight: 2 1/8 lb
Handle Weight: 5/8 lb
Axe Head Weight: 1 ½ lb

Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe:
Total Axe Weight: 2 ½ lb
Handle Weight: 7/8 lb
Axe Head Weight: 1 5/8 lb (most likely 1 3/4 lb)

Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe:
Total Axe Weight: 3 lb
Handle Weight: 1 lb
Axe Head Weight: 2 lb

Gransfors Bruks American Felling Axe (35 inch handle):
Total Axe Weight: 5 lb
Handle Weight: 1 3/4 lb
Axe Head Weight: 3 1/4 lb

With most axes the results were as expected. All the head weights, with the exception of the Scandinavian Forest Axe and the Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe were as listed by the manufacturer. The Scandinavian Forest Axe however, has a head weighing closer to 1 3/4 lb rather than the 2 lb specified by the manufacturer. The Husqvarna Traditional (Multi-Purpose) Axe has a 2 lb head, rather than the advertised 1.87 lb head. It appears that had the manufacturers switched axe heads, the advertised weights would have been correct.

Diego Verges: Ludruk

Photo © Diego Verges-All Rights Reserved
Ludruk is a theatrical genres of East Java in Indonesia. It's a form of traditional performance presented by a troupe of actors on a stage, re-telling the life stories of everyday people and their struggles. Most of the characters were performed by male actors who take the roles of women, but more recently, the sketches and farces feature mostly contemporary domestic stories, and have become commercial entertainment popular with urban and rural working-class audiences.

Diego Verges (featured many times of The Travel photographer blog and one of its Favorite 2011 Photographers) has produced a comprehensive photo essay on the Ludruk, with black & white (and color) facial portraits, and as well as environmental portraits and scenes of these performers.

Ludruk is a must-see for my readers as it merges portraiture, documentary and travel-ethnography photography, and also visually documents an art for that could well vanish in the years to come.

Note: I encountered a similar kind of performance in Bali where it's called Arja. This type of performance enacts old stories in a farcical manner and uses dialogue understood only by Balinese-speaking audiences.

Blurb Goes Mobile...


Blurb has just announced Blurb Mobile for iPhone, which is a way to create stories by easily capturing and sequencing photos and videos into short visual stories that can be instantly shared and viewed by all.

The app is available on the App Store. It's basic version is free, while a version with more bells and whistles is for $1.99. It's also compatible with iPads, so with iPad2, it'll be possible to take photographs (albeit at low resolution) directly and create stories on the fly. Or use photos saved in one's photo library. It'll record ambient sound and video clips as well.

Is it for photojournalists and the like...probably not, but for people who wish to quickly create short visual stories.

I'm sure that this may be of use to photographers who like the Hipstamatic and Instagram apps for their iPhones.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fox Hunting With a Golden Eagle

In this video you see a Kazakh hunter using an eagle he has just trained to hunt a fox in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia. The video is a small part of a series called Human Planet, which currently airs on Discovery and the BBC. The series documents people all over the world living in extraordinary conditions. While the focus is mostly a sociological one, it contains some good information about the way non-industrial cultures live.



I hope that they use all the footage they have to make a more extensive series. Each one of the cultures they visit, deserves at least a whole episode.

My Work: Three New Photo Galleries


I've now completed a sort of trilogy...three new photo galleries of stills from my just completed In Search of the Sufis of Gujarat Photo Expedition™.

The first of the three galleries is of the pilgrims that flock daily in their hundreds to the shrine of Hazra Mira Datar, a renowned Sufi saint in Gujarat, hoping to get rid of evil spirits, other health issues and personal problems. A black & white audio slideshow can also be seen here.

I recommend reading the journal of my experience at the Mira Datar shrine can be read here for a fuller understanding of this 600 year-old phenomenon, which is not restricted to this particular Sufi saint.

The second gallery is of the Jains pilgrims who visit the temples of Palitana; one of the holiest sites for the Jain community. Climbing the 3800 steps to the top of the hill for the main temple is an incredibly arduous task, and the Jain nuns do it continuously for three days while observing a total (food and water) fast. An audio slideshow can also be seen here.

Th third gallery is of various portraits and scenes of Sufi communities encountered during the photo~expedition, which started and ended in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

I hope readers of The Travel Photographer blog will enjoy them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Gear of Horace Kephart

Horace Kephart is another well respected pioneer in what has come to be known as bushcraft. His book Camping and Woodcraft has been a guide to many outdoorsmen, and you can find a copy of it here. When examining the book, you will notice that it contains two volumes. The first one focuses on camping, while the second volume is on woodsmenship. My interest here lies in the second book because it is more relevant to bushcraft. There are many guide-books on camping which will be able to give you a more up to date view of the available gear. In this post I will focus on the gear he recommends for the woodsman.

The first thing that becomes clear when reading the book is that while it was inspired by the example of Nessmuk, it is a much more detail oriented and thought out account of the necessary gear and skills. The length of the book, and the amount of material covered can at times be daunting, but it gives us a much clearer picture of the tools Kephart carried. I will look at two different configurations here-his summer, or warm weather gear, and his winter gear.

SUMMER PACK

Pocket/Belt Carry-Map, compass, waterproof matches, pocket knife, bandana, watch, pipe, and sheath knife on the belt, along with another pouch of waterproof matches. Kephart states that he does not like possibles pouches because they get in the way. He prefers to hold important items in his pockets. I completely agree with him on this one.

Backpack-Duluth pack-It is made of canvas. It is 24 inches by 26 inches and weighs 2lb 4oz.

Clothes-Woolen shirt, woolen drawers, woolen socks, army overcoat, khaki trousers, silk neckerchief, army shoes, army leggings, hat. Kephart advocates against carrying a wool coat, but rather using a thick sweater/stag shirt covered by a rubber cape reaching to the knees or some other waterproof shell. He also carries extra socks and drawers, but they are not included in the weight of the pack provided below.

Shelter:

Shelter cloth/tarp-Waterproof canvas, 9ft by 7ft. It weighs 2lb 4oz. Elsewhere in the book he also recommends a tarp made of waterproof balloon silk, 8ft by 7ft. The same weight is given for the silk tarp.

Blanket-Made out of wool. For summer, a light blanket 66 inches by 84 inches weighs 3lb. For colder whether a thicker blanket is required, which can weigh up to 5lb.

Mosquito net-68 inches by 72 inches in size. It weighs 4oz.

Browse bag-This is an empty cotton bag which gets stuffed with leafs and other materials to function as a sleeping mat. It is 32 inches by 78 inches, and weighs 1lb.

Pillow bag-It functions exactly like the browse bag. It measures 20 inches by 30 inches, and weighs 3oz.

Tools:

Pocket knife-Kephart recommends a jackknife, with one of the blades being about 3 inches long.

Belt knife-He recommends a blade no longer than five inches. The one he uses has a blade that is 4 1/4 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1/8 inches thick. The handle is similarly 4 1/4 inches long, and 3/4 inch thick, tapering to ½ inch at the front. He writes that the Marbles “expert” pattern knife is a good representation of what a knife should look like. He is also credited with designing a knife to his specifications. You can see a picture of it here to the right. There are numerous modern versions of this design, and I find it to be much more useful as a general bushcraft knife than the one used by Nessmuk.

Tomahawk-Kephart states that when there is a full size axe in camp, he will only bring a small tomahawk with him. Total weight of the tomahawk that is given in some places is 12oz, but in Volume 1, where he provides more detail about the tool, he specifies that the tomahawk he uses has a 12 oz (3/4 lb) head. The handle is about a foot long. Kephart tries to describe the design of the head, and states that the blade should be narrow, so that the force is concentrated for better penetration. This seems to describe a modern hawk design, but then he goes on to say that a design like the Nessmuk hatchet is ideal. As you’ve seen from the etching in Nessmuk’s book, his axe closely resembles the design of a modern double bit axe. It appears that he simply carries a hatchet/hawk with a 3/4 lb head, something similar to the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe.

Pliers-Weight 4oz. It appears that if he was camping these days, his pocket knife and pliers might have been quickly merged into a multi tool.

Whetstone-4 inches by 1 inch by ½ inch in size and weighs 2oz.

Twine, nails and tacks-4oz in weight.

Cooking Gear-Frying pan (made of aluminum, 8 5/8 inches in diameter), plate, fork, spoon, towel, cheesecloth, two pots (both pots are made of aluminum and are 1qt in capacity each), and a tin cup

Together the cooking kit weighs 2lb 3oz. There is an interesting cooking set which is attributed to Kephart, that can be seen here and here.

First aid kit-5oz in weight. A detailed list of the contents can be seen on page 33 of Volume 1, but technology has long surpassed those items.

Other Items:

Wallet fitted with small scissors, needles, sail needle, awl point, two waxed ends, thread on card, sail twine, buttons, safety pins, horse-blanket pins, 2 short fish lines, extra hooks, sinkers, snare wire, rubber bands and she laces. The total weighs 6oz.

Comb, tooth brush, tiny mirror, soap in a waterproof bag, rolled in a small towel and secured by a rubber band. Total weight is 6oz.

Fly dope (2oz), talcum powder (1oz), toilet paper (1oz), extra matches (2oz), electric flasher (I’m assuming a flashlight) (5oz).

This list of gear can be found on page 105 of Volume 2 of Camping and Woodcraft. The total weight given for the pack and its contents is 18lb 3oz.

The above list does not provide for any water storage or purification gear. Elsewhere Kephart states that he prefers a US Army 1 qt aluminum canteen with a felt-lined canvas cover. When more water is needed, he recommends a collapsible rubber water container. As 1L of water weighs about 2.2lb, adding 2L of water to the above weight, along with a canteen, will add another 5lb to the pack. This still does not reflect any water purification gear.

Food:

Bread or prepared flour, cereal, milk powder, butter, bacon, cheese, egg powder, dried fruit, sugar, chocolate, coffee, tea. The total weight of two days of rations is given as about 5lb.

This brings the total weight of the pack, including two (2) days of food and 2L of water to 28lb.

WINTER PACK

The winter gear outlined by Kephart, is shown in an abbreviated list on page 145 of the second volume. It closely resembles the summer gear with some specific alterations. Here I will go through the changes or additions that he recommends for winter camping.

Shelter:

The first significant change is to the shelter system. The tarp that was recommended for milder weather is exchanged with a canvas half tent of approximately 4 lb in weight. The reason given is that a tarp is too breezy.

The second change to the shelter system is the replacement of a blanket with a sleeping bag. Earlier in the first volume of the book, Kephart explained that to carry enough blankets to equal the warmth provided by a sleeping bag would be weight prohibitive. For that same reason he recommends the change to a sleeping bag. The weight of the sleeping bag is given as 8 lb. Keep in mind that here he is referring to 100 year old sleeping bag technology.

The last change to the shelter system is the removal of the browse bag. Instead of this bag, Kephart recommends bringing an axe which you can use to gather the necessary bedding materials.

Tools:

The major change in tools is the one pointed to above. The small tomahawk is replaced with an axe. Kephart speaks of a full size axe with a 3 ½ lb head, but the weight measurement he provides is 1 lb 12oz. This would make the axe similar to the size of a Small Forest Axe. In Volume 1 he states that a good axe for heavy work that can be taken on a canoe trip where no full size axe is available in camp, would have a 2 lb head and a 18 inch handle. He seems to like a Hudson Bay or Damascus pattern axe. He also recommends the use of a small file for sharpening.

Clothing:

The additional clothing that is recommended is a Mackinaw shirt, spare underwear and spare socks, moccasins, and German socks.

Other Items:

The additional items that are listed are a folding lantern and candles, along with some extra matches.

Kephart points out that it is not uncommon that with food, a winter pack may weigh 50 or 60 lb. He recommends that a hunter out during winter carry enough food for a few days until he can start providing himself with food from hunting.

I’ll leave this post with a quote from Kephart that I find to be very true, and is largely why I follow my style of backpacking: “The man who goes afoot, prepared to camp anywhere and in any wether, is the most independent fellow on earth. He can follow his bent, obey the whim of the hour, do what he pleases whenever he pleases, without deference to anybody, or care for any beast of burden or obedience to the course of any current. He is footloose and free. Where neither horse nor boat can go, he can go, seeing country that no other kind of traveler ever sees.”

When compared to Nessmuk, I found Kephart’s approach to gear selection to be well documented and thought out. The weight of every piece of gear is properly recorded, and the lists are complete and vary depending on the environmental conditions. If we go through his gear lists, and update each item with its modern equivalent (an act of which I believe he would approve), we would see a set of gear, which can be readily found on the trails today. As with Nessmuk, the only piece of gear that is common today, which is no where to be seen in Kephart’s writings is a water purification system.

Planet Magazine: 2011 Global Travel Contest

Photo © Terri Gold-All Rights Reserved
Planet magazine has announced the winners of its Global Travel Contest (General Category), and in which I was pleased to see that Terri Gold was named as one of the runners-up with its above infra-red images made during my Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat Photo~Expedition, which took place in January 2010.

Terri Gold's distinctive infrared images can be seen on her website Terri Gold World Imagery.

I was also pleased to see that Claudia Wiens was recognized with her portrait of a Syrian woman in the contest's Portrait Category. Claudia is a terrific photojournalist based in Istanbul and Cairo, and an alum of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in Mexico City.

Anindya Chakraborty: Charak Puja


Another religious festival comes to The Travel Photographer from Anindya Chakraborty, a self taught photographer from Kolkata. A software engineer in "real" life, Anindya started photography in 2006. He's gravitating towards documentary photography, and on his moving the United States, did a series on Bodie Ghost Town, New Orleans and finally on broken American Dreams. Some of his work was published in Picsean Travel Magazine.

These can be seen on his SmugMug website.

However, I recommend you view Anindya's Charak Puja on The Invisible Photographer website where the photo essay is presented as a flash slideshow.

Charak puja is a traditional festival celebrated mainly in the rural areas of Bengal. It's unique amongst Bengali festivals because it's dedicated strictly to penance. The men and women, seeking to undertake the ritual, have to go through a month-long day fast, subsist only on fruits & perform daily worship.

On the day of the Charak, bamboo poles are erected with height ranging from 10 to 15 feet. The devotees step up to the stages, and are impaled with hooks which are attached to the poles. The devotees are then suspended from these poles.

Reminiscent of the Thaipusam festival, the Hindu devotees of the Charak festival seek penance and self-mortification to achieve salvation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dorset Cereals Good Honest Crunch


Dorset Cereals have brought out two new cereals, Good Honest Crunch Toffee & Pecans and Good Honest Crunch Strawberries & Raspberries. Both are great to eat with milk at breakfast time or just to dip your hand into for snacking.

I love Dorset Cereals muesli, and so I had to try and wean myself away from muesli in the morning, to eat a bowl of Good Honest Crunch. Not a difficult challenge though, the toffee and pecan is lovely with just the amount of crunch. I am very happy with the way they have brought the flavours together, haven't been mean with the pecans, there are plenty of clusters of cereal to crunch on, and it isn't too sweet either.

Good Honest Crunch Strawberries & Raspberries was just a little too sweet for me as a breakfast cereal, but I have enjoyed snacking on this one and it was lovely sprinkled onto natural yogurt. The dried strawberries and raspberries are wonderful with plenty of zing.

Dorset Cereals are running a competition on facebook until the 3rd of May to design a new granola. All you have to do is submit a recipe and the 10 best recipes submitted will be created by the Dorset Cereals team and then the most popular recipe will be made into a new Dorset Cereals Granola. The lucky winner will be invited to spend the day in Dorset Cereals development kitchen and you will also be provided with accommodation in their favourite country hotel. The nine runners up will each receive a case of the winning granola.

This is a wonderful opportunity for foodies so get your thinking cap on, and you never know, yours might be the winning entry. Good Luck!

Thank you Dorset Cereals.

The Axe Manual of Peter McLaren

In the early 20th century, Peter McLaren could chop through a piece of wood with an axe faster than any other man. He broke numerous records and became very well known. He stated that he only used Plumb axes, which of course was the greatest imaginable advertisement for Plumb. They forged a special head with McLaren’s image on it, and encouraged him to write this axe manual, which they published in the 1930s.


The manual is a short booklet on axe care and use. It is very well illustrated and provides great information in a very compact and direct way. As far as I know the book is in the public domain, and a copy can be found here (PDF), here and a number of other places online.

The Leica File: The Xiangqi Player

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy- All Rights Reserved (Leica M9. 1/250 sec f2.8 Elmarit 28mm)
I 'm starting a new category on The Travel Photographer blog called The Leica File which will have posts/photographs of my efforts with the M9.

When the weather is good during the weekends, Columbus Park in NYC's Chinatown sees large numbers of Chinese playing xiangqi, a two-player board game similar to Western chess, and one of the most popular board games in China. Xiangqi is believed to be descended from the Indian chess game of chaturanga, and may have been played as early as the third century BC.

The majority of Chinatown's inhabitants are from the Guangdong, Toisan and Fujian provinces in China, as well as from Hong Kong. They flock to Columbus Park for socializing, play cards and chess, listen to Chinese street opera and even air their caged birds.

This fellow was so intent on his game that I could've aimed my lens an inch from his face and he wouldn't have noticed. Click the picture to enlarge.

I must say that the recent Thumbs Up EP 1 purchase has greatly improved my comfort level in handling the M9...it now fits much better, and I have better control. The only inconvenience is that with the EP1 on, the M9 is more difficult to pull out of my jacket pocket...but it shouldn't be in there in the first place, should it?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hultafors GK Review

The Hultafors GK is another Scandinavian knife that has seen some popularity in recent months. There is a good amount of material on its lighter weight cousin the Hultafors HVK, including some destruction tests, which show it to be a robust blade. I wanted to give you some comparison pictures, so you can see how it stacks up against some of the knives with which we are more familiar.
















Specifications:
Knife Length: 8 3/4 inches (222 mm)
Blade Length: 3 5/8 inches (93 mm)
Blade Thickness: 1/8 inches (3 mm)
Blade Width: 7/8 inches (22 mm)
Blade Material: Unknown Japanese carbon steel
Blade Hardness: HRC 58-60 on the Rockwell Scale
Type of Tang: Partial concealed
Blade Grind: Scandinavian with a small secondary bevel
Handle Material: Plastic
Sheath Material: Plastic
Cost: $16.00
















The knife is cheap. It is in the same cost category as the old school Mora knives. Even though I had to get it shipped from the UK, the overall cost was under $20. You can find the knife here.

When compared to the Mora 1, the Hultafors GK is a much more robust knife. While the blade is a little bit shorter, it is noticeably thicker and wider. The curve at the tip of the blade on the GK is more pronounced than that of the Mora, which I find shortens the working surface of the blade, making the GK feel like a shorter knife. The blade has a small secondary bevel, again, making it more robust that the Mora. The handle is very large when compared to the Mora 1. I am sure that some people will like that, but I find it to be unnecessary bulk. The handle also has a very poorly positioned finger guard. It is or noticeable size, and on top of that is rather thick. This makes the knife uncomfortable to use in a number of positions. If I had any interest in using the knife, I would have to grind it down.































The knife has a concealed partial tang. Here you can see a picture of it. The picture was not taken by me. The connection between the blade and the handle felt very secure, and I did not feel any movement at any point during testing.














Just like with all other knives, I took it out for some testing. I put it through some of the regular tasks for which it might be used.

The knife did well with batoning. The blade is of course very short, coming in at under four inches. This significantly limits the size of wood which you will be able to split. The relatively thick blade had no problem going through the wood.
















Similarly, when truncating, the knife is robust enough to take the pounding without much fear of it falling apart.
















As with any sharp knife the feather sticks were not a problem, although the finger guard made some of the process harder by not allowing me to choke up on the blade. As I mentioned above, I find this to be a big problem with a knife which will do a good amount of wood working.
















The knife comes with a good quality plastic sheath. The knife is held securely inside, although it feels somewhat bulky.

I think that overall, this has been my problem with the whole knife. It is just too robust for what it is. I find the blade to be too thick and wide considering that it is so short. The short length limits much of the force that you will b able to put on the blade, and as such, there is no need for it to be nearly as thick or wide. Unless you plan on using it to split concrete, it is a bit of overkill. I am sure that since it is intended to be a utility knife, that may very well be the intended use, but as a bushcraft knife, the added bulk when compared to the Mora 1 seems unnecessary. Similarly, I find the handle to be way too big. I am sure that there are guys out there with large hands who will live the handle, but for my average size hands, most of the handle did not see much use.

Overall, I find this knife hard to recommend over the usual Mora knives. The price is about the same, but I would rather have a Mora 1, or even a Mora Clipper instead of Hultafors GK as a bushcraft knife. There is a certain simplicity and bare practicality to the old school Mora knives, which is missing in the GK. Granted, this is intended to be a heavier work knife. The lighter HVK model will probably be better suited for bushcraft tasks.

Paul Patrick: Sabarimala Pilgrimage

Photo © Paul Patrick- All Rights Reserved
Paul Patrick is a Norwegian freelance documentary photographer who started traveling the world alone at very early age. His quest was stories to tell with his camera. Since starting his travels, he has produced stories on Algeria, Burkina Faso, China, Europe, Ghana, India, Nepal and Morocco.

What drew my attention to his website was that one of his galleries is of Sabarimala pilgrimage in Kerala which Paul describes as one of the largest religious festivals in the world, with an estimated 50-60 million pilgrims visiting it every year. It's virtually unknown outside of India.

The Sabarimala pilgrimage is frequently described by the Indian press as the 'Mecca of Hindus'. The temple is dedicated to Ayyappa, who is believed to be Shiva’s third son and brother of Murugan and Ganesha. It is situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats. The temple is accessible only by foot, and the millions of pilgrims to Sabarimala vow to abstain from sex, and other acts, for 41 days before embarking on the pilgrimage. No women over the age of 60 is allowed on this pilgrimage, nor are girls younger than 6. The routes taken by the pilgrims can range in distance between 8 kilometers (the shortest one) and another of more than 60 km across three hills.

Note: I am in the process of scheduling a photo~expedition in March 2012 to document a couple of religious festivals in Kerala (but not Sabarimala though). Details will be forthcoming shortly.

Note: Sreekanth Sivaswamy, a photographer and reader of this blog emailed me a correction. It's women between certain ages (some websites claim it's between 6 and 60, while others it's between 10 and 50) who are not allowed to enter the temple, since the legend attributed to Ayyappa prohibits the entry of the women in the menstrual age group.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Holy Week Celebrations

Photo © Alvaro Barrientos-Courtesy Photoblog MSNBC

Photo © Alvaro Barrientos- Courtesy Denver Post

Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter, and provides remarkable opportunities to photographers to capture the various religious festivals, rituals and pageants that are scheduled, particularly in Catholic communities, during the period. The week includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Some of the featured rituals in Spain, Portugal and Italy include the processions of hooded flagellants during Lent, as well as self-crucifixion in the Philippines considered as a form of devout worship.

In the top photograph, a masked flagellant is comforted by a colleague at the end of his penance during the 'Los Picaos' brotherhood Good Friday procession in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, northern Spain. The second photograph is of a penitent dragging his chains at the same venue. Both photographs are by Alvaro Barrientos, and I think they're some of the best amongst featured by the various photo blogs.

Flagellation is not restricted to Catholicism, but is also practiced in other religious traditions, notably in Shi'a Islam during the Day of Ashura. Much older religious tradtions, like the cult of Isis in Egypt and the Dionysian cult of Greece, practiced their own forms of flagellation.

Apart from a Holy Week spent in Guatemala in 2002 photographing the processions, I haven't photographed Catholic religious traditions (except for a short photo shoot at a small festival in Oaxaca), and I ought to plan for 2012.

Of course, it depends if the 21st of May doesn't turn out to be the end of the world as a demented US preacher predicts....then I (and the majority of us) would've missed the chance.

But something tells me we needn't worry.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Vivian Maier: Street And Yes, Travel Photographer

Photo © Vivian Maier-All Rights Reserved

Much praise has been deservedly written and said about Vivian Maier, and of her photography. The story of this nanny and her photography has impressed the world, and now she (through the work of John Maloof) has a dedicated website.

Maier’s work was discovered in 2007 by John Maloof at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side, while researching material for a book on that area of Chicago.

Whilst I knew that Maier's work was principally in street photography, I found out that she undertook trips on her own to Canada in 1951 and 1955, in 1957 to South America, in 1959 to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, in 1960 to Florida, and in 1965 to the Caribbean Islands. Amazingly, she traveled to India (as evidenced by her portraits in Cochin) and to Yemen in 1959.

The website gathers many galleries of her work; street photographs of New York and Chicago, her travel portfolio (Yemen, India, Canada, France, etc).

I have always maintained that there are no amateur photographers....the work of Vivian Maier validates my point of view.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Official Vivian Maier website is online!

Photobucket

Bahco/Sandvik 19 inch Rucksack Axe Review

In this review I would like to take a look at two sightly different axes. A while back I came across a small axe with the name Sandvik on it. I bought it for about $20. Recently, I noticed that a very similar axe is being sold under the Bahco name. After some reading, it became clear that Bahco had purchased Sadvik. I bought one of the Bahco axes, so I can see if there have been any modifications made from the Sandvik model. In this review I will switch between the two axes.
















Specifications:
Manufacturer: Bahco/SNA Europe
Axe Head Weight: 1 3/4 lb
Axe Length: 19 3/4 inches
Axe Head Material: Unknown Swedish steel
Handle Material: Ash
Cost: $40 for the Bahco version
















What you see in the above in the first picture is the Sandvik Axe, and in the second picture is the Bahco version.

The two axes are nearly identical. Aside from color, there are only two differences, both in the head. The first difference is that the poll of the Bahco version has been made heavier. It still doesn’t provide ideal balance, but it is an improvement over the Sadndvik version, which had a very small poll. The second change is of questionable value. For some reason, Bahco changed the attachment method, ans is now using a plastic wedge to attach the head. Even more bizarre is the fact that the wedge has some sort of attachment loop on it. During testing the head stayed on securely, but this choice is hard to explain.
















Otherwise, both axes are the same size, and are comparable to the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe. Here you can see the axes next to each other.
























The handle grain is hard to see because of the paint on the handle, but it is good on both axes. The handle is the same length as that of the Small Forest Axe, but it is noticeably thicker, too thick for my liking.

The head of the Bahco/Snadvik axe is a quarter of a pound heavier than that of the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe. It also has a very strange shape. It almost appears to have been designed as a splitting axe. While the bit is fairly thin, the head quickly widens in the cheeks, making it appear almost triangular. It reminds me of an old Stiletto head of similar size that I have.























While it would be possible to do some work with a file on the bit of the axe, how much can be done is limited by the abruptly widening cheeks, which get in the way. If you wish to re-profile the axe, you may have to grind down the cheeks.
















Because of this “splitting” design, the Bahco/Sandvik axe falls behind the Small Forest Axe when it comes to chopping. Here I had sharpened the axe, but had made no effort to re-profile the bit. I am sure that with some work, the axe can at least match the performance of the Small Forest Axe. I don’t know how easy that would be to do considering that the cheeks expand so rapidly from the bit. In splitting of course, the added weight of the head, combined with the wide head design, the Bahco/Sandvik axe shines.
















The balance of the Sandvik axe was terrible, as the poll was very small.
















I am very glad that the Bahco version has an expanded poll. It still doesn’t balance out the axe completely, because of the short handle (I like to see 1 3/4 lb heads on a 25 inch handle rathern than a 20 inch one), but it is a huge improvement over the Sandvik version.
















I am not really sure how to judge the Bahco axe. It is a very peculiar design. In some respects it shows a lot of promise. The bit is fairly thin, and the overall size of the axe makes it very portable. The price is also very reasonable. On the other hand, the wide cheeks make it more suited for splitting than chopping. The attachment method that is used int eh Bahco version is just bizarre. I don’t know what to say about it. It held together during testing, but just looks like something you can pull out (I tried-I couldn’t pull it out). As it is, it can not outperform the Gransfors Bruks Small Forest Axe. With some work however, the potential is there.

Bahco also makes different size axe including a version with a 26 inch handle and a 2 1/4 lb head.

Chhandak Pradhan: The God Makers

Photo © Chhandak Pradhan-All Rights Reserved
Chhandak Pradhan is an editorial photographer and freelance journalist based in Kolkata, who started his career as a reporter at 22. He currently specialises in interviews, editorial, multimedia, documentary, corporate and fashion photography. He is part of Babel Images, an international collective of documentary photographers and is represented by Barcroft Media (UK) and OTN Photos (Italy).

He was selected as a participant in the Angkor Photo Workshop 2009, and assisted Ed Kashi, Jonathan Torgovnik and Cheryl Newman during their workshops in Kolkata. He is also assisting Steve Raymer, former National Geographic magazine staff photographer and Associate Professor of journalism at Indiana University.

His various galleries are mostly editorial, and I feature his lovely The God Makers images documenting the clay artisans of Kumartuli in Kolkata who "bring gods to life" for the Durga puja. I also strongly recommend viewing, among others, his tender Living In Memory, a short photo essay on his grandparents.

It's a great pleasure that Chhandak will join and assist in my Kolkata's Cult of Durga Photo~Expedition & Workshop™.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Thumbs Up" For Leica M9



I've been slowly getting used to my Leica M9 over the past weeks and I, coming from a line of Canon DSLRs, found its handling to be rather challenging. The Leica M9 is sleek and aesthetically beautiful but it didn't rest in my hand as well as I would've liked. I had to really grasp it well because there's nothing on its body that I could get a grip on...nothing like the hand contour in the Canons for instance.

Poking around the internet, I found that the Leica M9 hand grip was sold at B&H for $250, and poking around even further landed me on Steve Huff's Leica blog and his praise for the ThumbsUp which is a thumbs grip manufactured by Tim Isaac of match Technical Services.

There are a number of styles available for the ThumbsUp thumb grip, and I chose the Thumbs Up EP-1. Receiving a quick response to my inquiry from Tim that he was out of stock but who provided me a list of stockists, I chose PopFlash.Photo in California, and I ordered it on Monday for the grand total of $130.88.

It arrived today! Very well crafted, the Thumbs Up EP-1 fitted perfectly in the Leica's hotshoe, and enormously improved the camera's handling. I feel the M9 is more securely grasped in my hand with it. I look forward to leave it on the M9 as long as I use it.

I have no relationship with either match Technical Services or PopFlash.Photo. I like the EP-1 and its quality, and both companies delivered excellent service.

POV: Blurb's Photo Book Now 2011


Blurb has announced Photography Book Now 2011, an international juried competition which promises it'll celebrate the most creative, most innovative, and finest self-published photography books – and the people behind them, and recommends that all Blurb users submit their best photography books for a chance to win $25,000 and worldwide recognition.

I was tempted to enter my two photography books Bali: Island of Gods and Darshan, which I spent so much energy on, but frankly the submission fee of $35 per book put me off.

The sales of both books have surpassed my wildest (but modest in monetary terms) volume expectations...and I'm happy with the degree of recognition these still constantly receive.

The submission fee is probably to cover administrative costs etc, but Blurb is earning quite a nice margin and fees from its publishing business, and while I don't begrudge it its business model, I also think that charging a fee to enter such a competition is cheeky. Yes, I know...no free lunches anymore.

That's my take on it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tim Hetherington


To some of my readers, Tim Hetherington's death from wounds received during an RPG attack while covering the front lines in the besieged city of Misrata, Libya yesterday was a great shock...to others, he may be just another photojournalist killed while documenting a civil war. Covering conflict has always been dangerous, and many famous photojournalists have given their lives doing it. Tim Hetherington was one of them.

For most of his distinguished career, conflict photographer and filmmaker Tim Hetherington documented some of the world’s bloodiest conflicts. He was one of the best known photojournalists and winner of the prestigious awards, produced powerful pieces for ABC News' "Nightline" from the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, and directed the documentary "Restrepo," which won an award at the Sundance film festival last year.

It'a grave loss to photojournalism.

The same RPG attack also gravely wounded photographers Chris Hondros (now confirmed dead by Getty), Michael Christopher Brown, and Guy Martin.

The Gear of George Washington Sears/Nessmuk

George Washington Sear a/k/a Nessmuk is one of the most widely read authors in the bushcraft community. His book Woodcraft and Camping, published early in the 1900s has become a go to guide for many outdoorsmen. You can get a copy of his book here.

As is the case with most people to whom we look up, idolization soon follows. A fair amount has been said about what Sears believed and what he did, but it is hard to find many statements that are actually supported by his writings. In this post I attempted to go through Woodcraft and Camping and see if I can outline a coherent list of the gear that Sears used or advocated.

The first challenge that I encountered, is that Sears is admittedly trying to write a book which captures his more than fifty years of experience as an outdoorsman. As a result, much of his writing contains contradictory or incomplete statements. At times he will say that he uses only minimal gear, and a few pages later he will proceed to give cooking instructions using items which are nowhere to be found in the kit to which he referred earlier.

I will also disregard the weights that he gives for his combined gear and its volume. Measurements of individual items are presumably correct, but when he starts to give estimates for the total weight of his gear, some of the numbers are hard to believe. For example, on page 6 of the book, he states that his canoe, extra clothing, blanket-bag, two days rations, pocket axe, fishing rod and backpack never exceeded 26 lb. Even assuming a ten pound canoe, this leads even Kephart to assert that this must have been only possible in summer. There are other similar instances throughout the book, which give me pause when looking at the numbers he provides. I will attempt to provide available measurements from contemporary examples, whenever possible.

Possibles Pouch (What Sears calls a ditty-bag):

He states that it is 4 inches by 6 inches in size. It contains a dozen hooks, four lines of six yards each, three darning needles and a few common needles, dozen buttons, sewing silk, thread, ball of yarn, sticking salve, shoemaker’s wax, beeswax, sinkers, a file for sharpening hooks, a vial of fly medicine, a vial of pain killer, and two or three gangs of hooks on brass wire snells, water-proof match safe, strings, compass, bits of linen and scarlet flannel (for frogging), copper tacks, and other light duffle. He states that it weighs 2 ½ ounces, but that seems highly unlikely. Maybe he is referring to the weight of the empty pouch.

Backpack (knapsack):

Made from oil cloth (according to Kephart, from canvas), with no frame and no hip belt. He specifies that it weight 12 ounces, and is half a bushel in capacity (35 liter, 2150 cubic inches). This is a fairly small pack. The size is what today we would consider a day pack, comparable to a Coleman RTX. A modern pack of that size weighs about 1.5 lb, so a 12 ounce weight is not unreasonable for a very basic pack It is unlikely that he consistently fit all of his gear in such a small pack, but he writes that it holds his blanket-bag, shelter tent, hatchet, ditty-bag, tinware, fishing tackle, clothes and two days’ rations. To me this seems a rather extraordinary claim.

Clothing:

Two woolen shirts, two pair of woolen drawers, two pair of woolen socks, woolen coat, woolen vest, woolen pants, hat, and boots. This set of clothing will leave one extra pair of socks, an extra shirt, and an extra set of drawers.

Shelter:

Blanket bag-Sears states that it is made of Mackinaw (misspelled in the book as “Mackinac”) wool, large enough to cover a man’s body, and open on the top and bottom. It appears to be made of one or possibly two blankets that has been sawn together on one side. The weight of a modern wool blanket, size 5 ft by 7 ft is about 4 lb. If the bag is made of two blankets, the weight would be about 8 lb. Sears states that all his clothing, his blanket-bag and his tarp weigh 8 lb total. This seems highly unlikely as a single blanket will weigh over 4 lb alone, and the tarp about 2 lb. The number is possible if by clothing he only means the extra clothing, and his blanket-bag is made from only a single blanket.

Tarp/Tent-Sears gives three different tarp and tents systems that he appears to use. One is mentioned on page 6 of the book and is a waterproof cotton cloth (most likely canvas) size 6 ft by 8 ft. Judging by the weigh of his other tarp, this one probably weighs about 2 lb. The second tarp he describes on page 20, and is a 9 ft by 7 ft strong cotton waterproof tarp (again, most likely canvas). He gives the weight of this tarp as 2 1/4 lb. The last shelter system he describes is a tent for which he provides the specifications on page 17. It appears to be open on one side to take advantage of the fire. In size it is 9 ft by 4 ½ ft, with covered sides. He gives the weight of the tent as 3 lb, with additional 5 ounces for the nail/tacks. He states that it will take an experienced person three (3) hours to put up this tent properly. He also gives specifications on how to waterproof the tent using alum and other chemicals.

Pillow bag-This is just an empty bag that is stuffed with leafs, moss or grass to make a pillow.

Cooking Gear:

The cooking gear comprises of five pieces of tinware. The largest one seems to be a 2 quart kettle, along with a number of smaller nesting dishes. The total weight provided by Sears is 2 lb. This is certainly possible if the items are very, very thin. In comparison, a single 14 cm Zebra pot weight 1 lb 10 oz. When backpacking, Sears states that he only carries two of the pots, one being 6 inches my 2 inches high, and the second one being smaller.

Tools:

Hatchet-The hatchet used by Sears was a custom made one. The handle appears to be about a foot in length, and it is a double bit hatchet. The weight is not specified, but it is probably similar to that of a Small Forest Axe, about 2 ½ lb total.

Belt knife-Much has been written about this Nessmuk pattern knife, and people have tried to apply its shape to just about every use, from wood carving to any other general bushcraft use. The description that Sears provides for this knife is “The one shown in the cut is thin in the blade, and handy for skinning, cutting meat, or eating with”. It does not appear anywhere that he actually used this knife for woodwork or general bushcraft. It has the shape of a hunting/skinning knife, and the uses listed by Sears seem to support that. That would certainly be an important use of the knife for Sears considering that most of his outings relied heavily of hunting or fishing. I’ve looked at some other sources, and it appears, that typically, wood work was done with a small folding knife, not a belt knife such as the one described here.

Folding knife-This is a double bladed pocket knife. Sears states that together with the sheath knife, it is all that is needed for camp use.

Fishing/hunting gear-The fishing equipment that Sears used seems varied as would be expected from any fisherman. As an example, one of the rods he lists, weighs 5oz according to him. In several places he speaks of his muzzle loading rifle as well.

Food:

The food lists that Sears provides are lengthy and diverse. Some of the items he speaks of regularly are ham, bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, bread, butter, canned food, beans, and other types of meat. Hunting and fishing also appears to be a very important source of food for him. The weigh of his food must have been massive. It is very likely that many of the trips he describes were undertaken by canoe or mule train.

All of the above items are compiled from anecdotes and interspersed references in the book. In only one location do we ever get a description of a specific trip along with a detailed gear list. That can be found on page 53. The trip is a solo backpacking expedition, which he planned to take about seven (7) days. The items he took on the trip were: rifle, hatchet, compass, blanket-bag, knapsack, knife, one loaf of bread, two quarts of meal, two pounds of pork, one pound of sugar, with tea, salt, etc. and a supply of jerked venison. One tin dish, twelve rounds of ammunition and bullet mold.

There are several things which can be noted from this one trip into the woods. The first is, once again, the massive weight of his food. Along with two pounds of pork and one pound of sugar, the weigh of his food must have exceeded five pounds. On top of that, he describes killing three deer on his ten day trip, so he can have sufficient food. Apparently, dried foods such as rice were not in the picture.

The second notable thing is the absence of any shelter. This seems to have been a deliberate omission designed to save weight, although clearly inadvisable. In fact, at the end of the chapter, Sears writes: “Nothing but the exceptionally fine, dry weather rendered such a trip possible in a wilderness so cut up with swamps, lakes, marshes and streams. A week of steady rain or a premature snow storm...would have been most disastrous. Reader, if you ever are tempted to make a similar thoughtless, reckless trip-don’t do it.”

Another notable thing about Sears, which can be seen in the whole book is the total lack of any water purification or even water storage system. From what I saw, no where did he mention any type of water bottle or method for cleaning water. It appears that people had stronger stomachs in the good old days, and that he relied heavily on natural sources of water. Most likely however, the water bottle has simply been omitted.

I was also struck by the way Sears camped. First of all, his style of camping requires large use of natural resources. Almost every camp he sets up requires the chopping down of at least three trees about a foot in diameter, if not more, and the killing of a deer or some other animal for food. These days, few of us can afford that type of camping. The second interesting thing I saw was the incredible amount of time it takes to set up a camp. His tent alone takes three (3) hours to put up according to him. On page 40 he additionally describes a camp stove which takes one (1) hour to make. This does not include the gathering of fire wood, or the preparation of his sleeping surface. The setting up of a camp seems to have taken at least half a day.

Whenever I read other people’s writings about Sears, I always end up with the impression that he was a rough woodsman and that his writings reflect the golden age of camping and bushcraft. The more I read his own writings however, the more I reach the conclusion that he was a regular guy, just like any on us. He spent just as much time and money finding the “perfect” gear, and found the wilderness just as challenging. The fact that he considers a ten (10) day trip off the trail to be some type of an extreme adventure, makes me reconsider the rest of his accounts.

I want to end this post with a quote from Sears which I really like:

“...there are some who plunge into an unbroken forest with a feeling of fresh, free, invigorating delight... These know that nature is stern, hard, immovable an terrible in unrelenting cruelty. When wintry winds are out and the mercury far below zero, she will allow her most ardent lover to freeze on her snowy breast without waving a leaf in pity, or offering him a match; and scores of her devotees may starve to death in as many different languages before she will offer a loaf of bread. She does not deal in matches and loafs; rather in thunderbolts and granite mountains. And the ashes of her camp-fires bury proud cities. But, like any tyrant, she yields to force, and gives the more, the more she is beaten. She may starve or freeze the poet, the scholar, the scientist; all the same, she has in store food, fuel and shelter, which the skillful, self-reliant woodsman can wring from her savage hands with axe and rifle.”

This is certainly not the modern, politically correct view of nature, but I find it the closest to reality.

Magnum In Motion/Abbas: Children Of The Lotus


Magnum In Motion has produced Children Of The Lotus, a multimedia slideshow of Abbas' photographs made during the photographer's travels in 12 Buddhist countries spanning the better part of three years.

Abbas' inspiration was the photograph (it's really a poignant mug shot) of a young Khmer girl who was executed by a genocidal regime. He wonders how a Buddhist society, presumably full of compassion, be able to countenance the massacre and starvation of a quarter of its population?

Most of the images in the slideshow are in black & white, with a few at the end that are in color. Abbas chose to photograph in black & white because, as he tells us, he doesn't describe reality but aims to transcend it. I would have much preferred if the slideshow was either in black & white or color...I suppose the producers had a reason to do otherwise.

I also found the use of the zooming in for close ups and Ken Burns effect somewhat overdone and heavy-handed...and to use throat singing (more of the Mongolian genre) to be the wrong choice to accompany this production. It seems the producers obtained the audio from freesound.org. With the majority of the countries covered in the slideshow being of the Theravada branch of Buddhism, I'm quite sure they could've easily found more appropriate chants.

In multimedia, bad audio kills great photographs. In this project, it's not that it's bad...but it's not relevant. If all the photos had been of Tibetan (although I'm not sure if the chanting are indeed Tibetan...it could be Mongolian) Buddhism, it would've been fine.

Having said that, work by Abbas is still work by Abbas and the mute button is within reach.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thaipusam: Kevin WY Lee



Here's a well done video of the festival of Thaipusam (some graphic scenes) by Singapore-based Kevin WY Lee. Kevin WY Lee is a street and documentary photographer and founder of Invisible Ph t grapher Asia, which is not only a collective of photographers in Asia specializing in street photography and visual journalism, but is also a platform, blog, showcase and library archive of street photography and visual journalism in that important part of the world.

I have already posted work by one of their photographers, and I'm consistently impressed by IPA's features...so bookmark it.

It was made using a Panasonic GH2 and Pentax 25mm F/1.4 lens.

Thaipusam is an important festival observed by the Hindus of southern India during the Tamil month of Thai (January - February). Outside of India, it is celebrated mainly by the Tamil speaking community settled in Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

This short movie was made in Singapore's Thaipusam, where Hindu devotees walk a pilgrimage from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Little India, carrying milk pots as offerings or attaching kavadis (heavy burdens) to their bodies, to the Tank Road Temple, four kilometers away.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Removing an Axe Handle in the Woods

Back in March I did a post about making a replacement handle for an axe in the woods. You can see the post here. Inevitably, the question was brought up about how to remove a broken off handle if part of it is still securely attached to the head. The method I recommended was to use an amber to burn out the wood in the eye, just like you would a spoon. Unfortunately, this is a time consuming method. An easier approach was recommended, where the head of the axe is placed in a fire and the handle burnt out. I was skeptical about this approach because if the axe head is overheated, the temper of the blade can be ruined. I figured however that I would give it a try, and see if it works. I followed the approach outlined by Kephart in Camping and Woodcraft.

I started out with an old Colling hatchet. The head was securely attached to the handle.
















I buried the head of the hatchet up to the eye in the soil.
















I then built a fire on top of it. The fire was large enough to cover the head. The wood used was oak. I continued the burn for 15 minutes.
















I then pulled the head out of the fire. The handle had burnt off, but surprisingly, the head appeared untouched by the fire in the areas that were buried.
















I used a piece of split wood that I had left from making the fire, and with the help of a baton, I pushed the handle through the eye from the bottom. As you can see, the area on top of the eye was not too charred, ut the bottom part had been burnt much more severely. To punch out the part of the handle in the eye, just prop one end of the head on the ground, and the other end on a log. That should create enough free space under the eye for you to push it out.
















With very little effort, the head of the axe was free from the handle.
















When I returned home, I sanded off some of the paint/protective cover, and put the head in vinegar. What that does is to reveal the temper line of the axe head. Here it is clearly visible, and seems unchanged. At the very least, there are no areas where you can see that high heat advanced and changed the temper. It is possible that the temper was uniformly changed throughout the head, retaining the temper line, but I hav eno way of testing for that.
















I was shocked by how little the head was effected by the fire. Most of it retained its original paint, and even the rust appeared to be untouched. While the head got hot, it never even came close to being hot enough for the temper to be substantially effected. Even the poll of the axe, which was directly exposed to the flame, never got red hot. Despite my scepticism, this appears to be a very effective way to remove an axe handle while in the woods.

Graham Crouch: Kolkata & The Effigy Makers

Photo © Graham Crouch-All Rights Reserved
Graham Crouch is a photographer currently working out of New Delhi, who worked with News Ltd in Sydney , Melbourne and North Queensland , and New Delhi. He now covers India, Pakistan , Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for a wide variety of assignments. He was awarded the Asian Geo Magazine's Photographer of the Year as well as various awards in the National Press Photographers Association of America and the Thai Foreign Correspondents Club Feature Photography. He also won first prize in the Prix de la Photographie PX3 awards in 2010.

I am pleased to feature Graham's work in Kolkata which has colorful images of the city's famous flower market, the effigy makers for the Durga puja, along with various street scenes.

Graham also has a photo essay on his PhotoShelter site which showcases the traditional potters area known as Kumortuli, where they create the Puja effigies of the Hindu gods for the annual Durga puja festivities.

I will alert the participants in my Kolkata's Cult of Durga Photo~Expedition/Workshop™ which is scheduled for September 29 to October 13, 2011 of these galleries, since I plan for us to document effigy makers, amongst many other subject matters, during the Durga Puja.