Friday, September 30, 2011

Basic Saw Use Part 2: Sawing Large Wood

This is the second part of the video on saw use. Here I focus on working with larger pieces of wood with a portable saw. It is rare that on an outing in the woods you would have to bring down large pieces of wood using this technique, and I very rarely do so, but it’s good to know the theory in case you need it. As always, when working with large pieces of wood, make sure that you are clear out of the way before the wood is cut.

For more information on saw use and maintenance, read the Crosscut Saw Manual by Warren Miller. It covers most of the fundamentals and is a great starting point for anyone interested in the subject.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kolkata's Cult of Durga: Report #1

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I've never sweated as much as I did today at Kumartuli!!! Well, maybe I did...but let me put it this way, it's been a while since I did.

The area or neighborhood is a traditional potters’ quarter in northern Kolkata, which is abuzz with workers applying the finishing touches on the variety of clay idols of Hindu gods and goddesses that are to be placed in the pandals for the Durga Puja in a few days' time.

We were met by Chhandak Pradhan, who's assisting me during the workshop, at Kumartuli, and spent over two hours photographing the lading of the finished idols unto the trucks, the artists applying paint on the unfinished clay statues, and even the fashioning of the straw armature on which the clay is applied...and yet, all the clay idols have to be delivered by tomorrow!

The objective of the workshop is to produce a a multi-part multimedia documentary on the Durga Puja festival as it occurs in Kolkata; the preparation of the clay idols, the flurry of shopping, the transportation of the idols to the pandals, the rituals and the processions to the river for the idols' final immersion in the river. I shall be working in black & white...but it's up to the rest of the participants whether to do the same or work in color.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Basic Saw Use Part 1: Sawing Small Wood

This video is part 1 of 2, and covers some basic saw use techniques. This first video focuses on working with smaller pieces of wood.

Please keep in mind that saws, just like all other cutting tools, get dull over time. Properly sharpening a saw can be a complex procedure, and is one with which I am not sufficiently familiar, so I will not try to go over it here. Taking care of your blade will give it a long life, and these days, particularly with smaller saws like the ones you see in the video, most people simply replace the blade rather than sharpening it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Saeco Lavazza A Modo Mio Extra Coffee Machine

I have spent a very happy few weeks or so testing, on a daily basis, a Limited Edition Blue Saeco Lavazza A Modo Mio Extra Coffee Machine (the coffee machine isn't supplied with a shot glass).

The coffee machine arrived with five boxes of Lavazza Modo Mio coffee capsules, which includes one box of decaffeinated. There are eight capsules in each box, all of which are excellent in taste quality and also have a great after taste, giving a true Italian espresso.

If you are, or have been thinking about buying a coffee machine which takes capsules, then hopefully you will find the following information useful.

The coffee machine is quickly set up and can at the press of a button produce an espresso and steamed milk, which you can make effortlessly and extremely quickly. Within a very short time you will learn how to make a good espresso and also how to texture the milk.

Photograph showing the water tank which slides off for filling.

To Make an Espresso: Place a capsule in the slot, pull the loading lever forward and down, press coffee brew button, the machine will make an espresso, press the coffee brew button to stop the flow and return the lever to eject the used capsule.

This is one of my best efforts at foaming the milk - not quite there yet, but as you can see from the photograph I have made microfoam.

This photograph is to show, that with practice, the milk can be textured and you will then get a far superior latte. Still not quite enough texturing though to make latte art. The instruction book gives full details showing how to achieve textured milk and latte art, it just needs practice.

This coffee shows one of my earliest attempts at foaming the milk - this is the equivalent to how coffee looks on the high street. Not bad but can be improved upon.

Forget all about foam and all of the bubbles you are presented with at some coffee shops, and sadly, in some of the independent coffee shops too. You can produce much better foamed and textured milk at home with the Lavazza coffee machine.


Fabulous range of colours.
Chic, no mess and easy to use.
The machine is supplied with 5 varieties of coffee capsules, each box containing 8 coffee capsules.
Lavazza coffee is excellent quality.
Lavazza coffee capsules can be bought in most supermarkets.
It is possible to quickly learn how to foam milk to a good standard.
With practice you can foam the milk to a very high standard.
After a short time practicing steaming the milk, it is possible to texture the milk, and if you are clever enough, make latte art.
The machine is capable of making an espresso, as good as or better than, any high street chain coffee shop.
Preheating the machine for 20-30 minutes (although no mention of this is made in the manual), I believe you can expect to make an espresso which exceeds the quality you can buy on the high street.
There is a draw which holds up to 10 empty capsules and these only need to be emptied out every few days and the draw can then be cleaned too.
Minimal cleaning required.
There is a User Manual A Modo Mio Coffee Menu giving detailed instructions for making everything from an espresso to a caffe mocha.


The steam wand is about 1cm too short which may make it difficult to foam the milk until you get used to using a suitable jug and steaming the milk.
It is essential to buy a small stainless steel jug, preferably from Lavazza, to ensure the jug is the correct size.
The User Manual has a few errors with regards to the steaming button operation.
Pressing down the steaming button manually is uncomfortable.

Summing Up:

One of my passions is coffee, and for the last few years I have owned a Gaggia Classic Coffee Machine and a Rancilio Grinder. I also buy top quality freshly roasted coffee beans, which from the time they are freshly roasted, arrive on my doorstep approximately two days later. My coffee machine has now been fitted with a PID, which in layman's terms means, good brew temperature control.

As I already own a coffee machine, it is impossible not to make comparisons whilst testing and reviewing. This was a wonderful opportunity to try a quality coffee machine which takes top quality coffee capsules, and can also foam the milk. I know I will use this machine on a weekly basis, even though I have used my Gaggia for a few years now.

The Lavazza coffee machine has given my Gaggia Classic a run for it's money and other than a few niggles, I'm in love. If you can afford it, I would suggest looking at the Premium model because it will dispense a measured shot of coffee, and also you don't have to keep the steam button pressed down.

The Lavazza coffee machine can make a range of coffees. It surely has to be one of the best coffee capsule machines on the market. RRP £125.

Thank you for the fabulous Lavazza coffee machine.

Khari Baoli: Delhi's Spice Market

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

One of my favorite places in Old Delhi for street photography is in its spice wholesale market located just off Khari Baoli street. The smell of the various spices is overpowering, and I spent a few moments sneezing and coughing, much to the amusement of the onlookers. The market has been operating (probably unchanged to a large extent) since the 17th century, and can be accessed by walking to Fatehpuri Masjid on Chandni Chowk, and turning left.

It seems there had been a murder of a jewelry storekeeper a few days before on Chandni Chowk, so a handful of merchants of electronics and other stuff were shuttered in protest. The police was out in force with barricades, but outnumbered the protestors.

I recorded some ambient sound from the spice market, which is punctuated with spitting, coughing and hawking by the porters...this will add considerable authenticity should I decide to produce a multimedia piece on the spice market.

The Leica M9 functioned flawlessly...and eagerly jumped to action in its first view of India. Its baptism of fire seems to have been successful. It unobtrusiveness allowed me to remain unnoticed for a while, but of course, India is India...and someone will notice you and eventually engage you in some banter.

By the way, this photograph is the in-camera jpeg version of the larger DNG. I haven't processed it at all, except for a minute touch of sharpening.

Platypus 4L Platy Water Tank Review

This product was provided to me for purposes of the review by Appalachian Outdoors. Appalachian Outdoors is not the manufacturer of this product, they are simply retailers, and supply a large number of outdoor equipment and gear.

For many years now I have been using an MSR Dromedary water bladder to carry larger quantities of water when needed. Unfortunately, the past year I have been having problems with the water in the bag having a horrible taste. I imagine this is an issue with the tap water I am using, because I have never had that problem before. Either way, I decided to look for an alternative.

I managed to find a 3L Platypus bladder, and it has been working fairly well. When Appalachian Outdoors gave me the opportunity to select which items I test, I noticed the 4L Platypus Water Tank, and decided to give it a try.

The water tank seems to be made from the same material as the other Platypus bladders, and in design is very similar. It holds 4L of water, and has clear volume demarcations on the side. The bladder weighs 2.5oz and will cost you anywhere from $25 to $30. In size it is 26.6 inches by 10.5 inches.


The way in which it is different, offers the greatest advantages as well as disadvantages when it comes to this product. The way this 4L tank differs from the familiar bladders is that in addition to the usual spout, it has a Ziploc style closure on top of the container. This does several things. It allows for very easy filling up. If you are treating your water chemically in camp, it is very easy to fill up and let it sit. The sitting portion is also made easier by the design, as it has a bottom which will allow the tank to stand up almost like a non-flexible bucket. The tank even comes with handles for easy carrying.


Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a price. The Ziploc style closure is not something I would trust in my pack. I did several tests with it, and while it will stay closed if you turn the container up side down and shake it, when you apply pressure from different angles, like you would have in a backpack, the closure can fail.

Unfortunately, this eliminates this bladder as one I would be willing to carry in my backpack. The risk of it opening, no matter how small, is unacceptable to me. On the other hand however, this is a great design for use in camp. If you are going to carry it empty, and fill it up when you set up camp, it is very useful and comfortable to use. In that respect I would much rather have it than the MSR Dromedary bag. However, since I like to be on the move most of the time, I am going to have to keep on looking. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

In Focus: Hindu Festivals

Photo © Dibyangshu Sarkar—AFP/Getty Images

Photo © Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri

Photo © AP Photo/Manish Swarup

What an incredible but timely coincidence!

In Focus, the photo blog of The Atlantic, has just featured 39 photographs of Hindu festivals...and yes, you guessed it, 3 of those are of the preparations for the Durga Puja in Kolkata.

I am traveling this evening from London to Delhi, where I'll spend a couple of nights, then on to Kolkata to for my Kolkata's Cult of Durga Photo Expedition/Workshop.

The expedition/workshop will involve a lot of street photography, and at its core is the Durga Puja festivities. We plan to document the festivities from the making of the clay idols and their delivery to the neighborhoods' pandals to their final immersion in the Hooghly river.

It appears that the weather for Kolkata might be intermittently rainy during the Durga Puja week, but I also expect we shall have glorious light quality when the rain stops.

Delhi Photo Festival: October 15-28, 2011

As I mentioned in earlier posts, Delhi Photo Festival is progressing steadily, and now includes an  array of workshops, lectures, portfolio reviews, gallery walks and seminars.

I am very pleased to be participating in the festival, where I will teach a short multimedia module on October 15 aimed at photographers and photojournalists to produce audio-slideshows that rivals in quality and content then the more elaborate multimedia productions.

On the morning of the same day, I will be reviewing portfolios of non-working photographers at the same venue, the Habitat Learning Centre.

The above image is the official poster for the 'Delhi Photo Festival'. Feel free to make copies and disseminate to photo enthusiasts as widely as you can.

Fire Fixins Review

This product was provided to me by the manufacturer for purposes of testing it. For more information, or to place an order directly with the manufacturer, contact

Fire Fixins is a fire starter made by a father and son team from Ohio. It is comprised of a bundle of jute rope which has been impregnated with wax, and a piece of fatwood attached to the bundle. The whole product costs $4.


The two tinders can be used separately or in combination. Both tinders are capable of taking a spark from a ferrocerium rod, and as you can see from the video, are water resistant, if not water proof.

Using the tinder is easy. Take a piece of the jute rope, pull the fibers apart so that you expose the fine threads inside and put a spark to it.


The tinder catches very quickly and provides a good flame.


The fatwood can either be used as kindling in order to strengthen the flame from the jute rope, or it can be used as tinder in and of itself. To do that, just scrape off some fine shavings. I like to do that by using the spine of my knife.


When you have a good pile of shavings, put a spark to it. It does not catch as easily as the jute rope, but it will catch. Just like the jute, the fatwood is water resistant because of the high oil content in the wood. It should be able to catch a spark even after it has been exposed to water.


Overall, I am very happy with this product. It worked exactly as advertised. When compared to the tinder I usually use (cotton balls and Vaseline), it takes a bit longer to prepare, but on the other hand, it makes a lot less of a mess. You can prepare the tinder without getting anything on your hands.

Something that you can not see in the video or pictures is the smell of the product. The fatwood really adds a nice smell, which makes the product a pleasure to use. I am usually very performance oriented in my reviews, but this fire starter just had a good feel to it. I you are someone who likes using natural materials, I think Fire Fixins will hit the spot. Even without those characteristics however, this is a well performing product. For the price, you just can’t go wrong.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Henry Taylor Acorn Gouge Review

Woodworking has come to comprise a good portion of our bushcraft activities. As a result, many of our tools are geared towards that task. Many of us carry belt knives which excel at those woodworking tasks. Other than the all purpose belt knife, most people interested in bushcraft will also most likely have in their possession a crook, or spoon knife. The curved blade of that knife allows for the removal of wood from concaved surfaces such as a spoon.

For some time now, I have been using crook knives for exactly such tasks. First I used the Mora 164, and then the Mora 162-see here. I even tried one of the horseshoe knives. In the end however, I was not happy with any of them. They just did not feel right in my hand, and I could rarely manage to finish a project without cutting myself with the crook knife.

So, I started searching for a better way. It is no secret that people who do woodworking in a shop use chisels and gouges to perform these carving tasks. However, in the bush, where a light weight portable tool is needed, the crook knife seemed like the best option. That is until I found the Acorn gouges.


The Henry Taylor Acorn gouges are made in England and come in a variety of configuration. They vary in size of the cutting surface (measured in inches), and in the degree of sweep/curvature of the cutting surface (indicated as different number values - 6,8,10,etc, with the lower number indicating a more open curve). The one I use and that you see in the pictures is a 5/16 inch, sweep #6 straight gouge. I purchased mine for $23.

They are very small. You can see it next to a Mora 164 here.


I have found the gouge to be very easy to use. I have had much better luck working with it than with the crook knives. It performs the job admirably, especially on hard woods. If you are working with soft green woods, the crook knife will probably have an advantage because its larger cutting surface will allow you to remove more wood with each pass.

Overall, I am very happy with this tool. I have been carrying it instead of my crook knife for a few months now. It may not be the right choice for you, but it is a fairly good alternative for those who have not had the best of luck with crook knives.

John Kenny: Kenyan Portraits

Photo © John Kenny-All Rights Reserved

The Guardian newspaper in London alerted me of an exhibition opening next week of John Kenny's new portraits from Kenya.

John Kenny started a journey in 2006 that took him though many of Sub-Saharan Africa’s remotest communities. He spent hours walking, hitch-hiking and driving across African countries making photographs of people, ancient cultures and traditions.

The Guardian and the exhibition venue (3 Bedfordbury Gallery) has a selected number of these portraits, but the collection can be best seen on John Kenny's website.

He tells us that the images were taken during his second trip to the far North of Kenya in 2011. With major drought across the Samburu, Rendille and Turkana villages in the region, he wanted to to convey a little more on how climate changes are undermining traditional pastoral ways of live in East Africa.

I have featured John Kenny's work a number of times. You can the posts see here and here.

Should I go and see the exhibit at the Covent Garden gallery whilst I'm in London, I'll post my impressions.

I just noticed that John Kenny used a 10x8 format Chamonix camera for some of his work.

New! Nikon's V1 Mirrorless Camera

As readers of this blog know well, I am a big fan and supporter of the interchangeable mirrorless cameras. I have the Panasonic Lumix GF1 that I just love and while it's a shame Panasonic decided to pimp it up so mindlessly with its new GF3 iteration, the fact remains that I believe this type of cameras will eventually be preferred by enthusiasts and professionals over bulky (and overly complex) DSLRs.

Nikon has just announced a new crop of such cameras, and the one that caught my attention is the Nikon V1.

The Nikon V1 is claimed to be the world’s smallest and lightest camera with interchangeable lenses and an electronic viewfinder. It ought to be in retail stores on October 20th with a 10-30mm lens for $900.

Nikon also released a collection of 4 news lenses (Nikkor 1 System) for its new cameras: the 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, a 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 (81-297mm equivalent) for $250, a 10mm f/2.8 (27mm equivalent) for $250, and a 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 (27-270mm equivalent) power zoom lens for $750.

Intelligently, Nikon also announced a FT-1 F-mount adaptor that will allow Nikon fans to use their SLR lenses. This indicates to me that Nikon predicts that many photographers will be encouraged to migrate (as back up or second body) to its new system since their investment in lenses will be preserved.

Good move, Nikon! Let's see what Canon (and perhaps even Leica) has in store.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

AGA Cookshop and Review: White AGA Berndes Ceramic Coated 24cm Frying Pan

AGA Cookshop have supplied this fabulous light weight white AGA Berndes cast aluminium frying pan with a ceramic coating which is suitable for all hob heat sources, including induction. The pan also has a heavy gauge 6mm base to provide optimum heat and absorption and distribution. The pan has a removable handle for oven use, is very easy to clean and comes with an 8 years warranty. A lid can be bought for the pan as an optional extra. This is a top of the range pan and is a classic beauty, modern and timeless. The pan will look special in any kitchen.

It is recommended by the manufacturer the pan is lightly greased before every use. I lightly greased the pan and found this was sufficient to ensure food didn't stick but simply slides off. Hand cleaning is easy or the pan can be put in the dishwasher.

Egg in Toast - Not any old egg on toast, lightly grease the pan, put a small amount of butter in the pan and heat gently until melted. Take a piece of good quality bread (I made mine), tear out a sizeable piece of bread put into the pan and toast, turn the bread over, break the egg into the hole and cook gently (a piece of foil covering the pan or a lid will help cook the egg on top). Keep on checking the egg and then serve. My husband says this is the best egg and toast ever! There was neither sticking or burning on the base of the pan - the brown in the pan is a puddle of butter and a few browning crumbs from the bread.

Smoked Haddock in Butter and Creme Fraiche Sauce - I greased the pan first, and again no sticking and the pan cleaned easily. There are no hotspots with this pan which means you can cook at a gentle heat and everything cooks at the same time. Sauces will also pour from the pan easily because the pan has sloping sides.

Berry Slump - this is simply a bag of frozen fruit sprinkled with a small amount of sugar and topped with a sponge mixture and some flaked almonds sprinkled over. Once again, a very happy husband, he loved this recipe.

Again, I greased the pan before using which is a great tip for using all pans. The pudding was cooked in the oven without the handle and as you can see from the photograph the fruit didn't stick to the pan even though I changed my oven setting to fan. Sometimes berry fruit fillings turn to jam and stick to the pan.

Berndes were founded in 1921 and the German family is celebrating it's 90th anniversary in 2011. Berndes revolutionised the market for cookware with a pan made of cast aluminium and non-stick coating. Berndes developed into an innovation leader in manufacturing non-stick cookware.

The AGA Cookshop sell cookware, kettles, kitchen tools, electricals, tableware, bakeware, textiles, books, cleaning and storage products and have a fabulous online shop. AGA Cast Iron Cookware is made in Coalbrookdale foundry, Shropshire (not far from where I live), and they also make the castings for both AGA and Rayburn Cookers.

Thank you to AGA Cookshop and Rebecca.

POV: Gear For Kolkata

As i have not used my DSLRs for quite a while (well, since the Foundry Workshop in Buenos Aires in July), I decided to give them an airing today...a very brief one; just for a photograph to accompany this post.

For the Kolkata's Cult of Durga Photo Expedition/Workshop, I am taking the Canon 5D Mark II, the Canon 7D, a 70-200 f2.8 (not shown), a 28-70 f2.8, a 17-40mm f4.0, a Marantz PMD620 recorder, a 28mm Leica Elmarit, a 40mm f1.4 Nokton Voigtlander (not shown), a Holga for Canon lens (not shown) and the Leica M9 (used to take the picture).

The workshop will involve a lot of street photography, especially during the Durga Puja festivities, and I intend to use the M9 for that...for the low-light situations or for those that require quick focusing, a Canon will be used. I have a couple of projects in mind in which I will try to use the Holga lens...these will involve environmental portraiture. Should it rain, the Leica will remain dry in the Domke bag.

That being said, everything depends on the 'facts of the ground' as politicians are prone to say.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dettol No-Touch Hand Wash System

The Dettol No Touch Hand Wash System means you will never have to use a soap pump ever again. The dispenser comes supplied with 4 x AA batteries and you can use it immediately once you have put the hand wash refill into the dispenser, there is also an on/off switch at the back of the unit.

Simply place the wet palms of your hands under the nozzle and it automatically dispenses just the right amount of soap. The soap that came with mine was Aloe Vera & Vitamin E with moisturisers, and not only smells lovely, it keeps your hands moisturised, and kills 99.9% of bacteria too. It's great to have in the kitchen when you are preparing meals and very efficiently removes all strong smells from your hands including onions, leeks and fish.

This is a great kitchen gadget but place it where you aren't going to accidentally put your hands near to the nozzle, otherwise it will very efficiently start pumping out soap on it's own!

RRP £9.99 which includes the dispensing base, one refill and 4 x AA batteries (250ml refills are RRP £2.99).

Thank you Rachel.

Axe Restoration-Selecting an Axe Head

In this video I go over some of the basic things I look for in an axe head that I plan to bring back to a functional condition. Everyone has their preferences in terms of design, but there are some common defects that I would try to avoid if possible.

Issues to avoid:

1. Pitting of the Metal-While surface rust is not a big problem and can be easily removed, pitting corrosion of the metal is something to avoid. Holes in the surface of the axe head formed due to corrosion will weaken the structural integrity of the axe and decrease its performance.


2. Deformed or Mushroomed Poll-This is a clear indication that the axe has been abused. While in some circumstances the damage can be corrected, it will require a lot of work and should lead you to suspect further damage.


3. Deformed or Over Stressed Eye-A deformed or mushroomed eye should certainly be avoided. You should also be careful if you see an eye that has a lot of screws or nails driven into it, as this may be an indication of damage. If nothing else, it shows that the user did not take very good care of this axe.


Another form of damage to the eye is damage that occurs to the top of the eye. Sometimes people who have failed to properly fit the handle on their axe will take a hammer and try to drive the head onto the handle. This can result in damage to the eye.


4. Disproportional Eye-Many people tend to have an idealized vision of vintage axes. The reality however is that defects were a common thing even during the golden age of axe manufacturing. One of the common defects is a disproportionally punched out eye. For one reason or another, the punch that formed the eye was at an angle to the head, and that resulted at the eye being at an angle. This will translate into the head sitting at an angle tot eh handle once hung. This is a very difficult problem to correct.


5. Misshapen Bit-In many cases damage to the bit can be corrected fairly easily with some filing. However, with some axe heads, the bit has been ground in such a way that correcting it will be a massive task. A common form of this a bit that has had more metal removed from the top section of the axe head than the bottom. It results in an edge that slants towards the upper portion of the axe head. A lot of work will be required to bring such a bit back into shape.


Not all of the issues covered in the video are listed here.

Antonio Mari: Candomble

Photo © Antonio Mari-All Rights Reserved

Here's the work of Antonio Mari, US-Brazilian photographer living in both countries, and specializing in ethnophotography. His work appeared in the New York Times, The New York Post, Newsday, Gannett Newspapers, Asahi Shimbun (Japan), Veja Magazine (Brazil), Time Magazine, Science Magazine and the Boston Globe, as well as Geo Magazine (Germany).

I was drawn to his Bahia of All Saints (Candomble) gallery which depicts the practice of the Afro-Brazilian syncretism called Candomble in the Reconcavo Baiano region of the northeastern state of Bahia,Brazil. The images were made during an offering ceremony in a small village called Milagre San Roque.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Countdown To Kolkata

Just a few lines to start the countdown for my Kolkata's Cult of Durga Photo Expedition/Workshop. In exactly a week from today, I'll be in Delhi enjoying the company of various friends, and looking at my first Leica images made in Delhi! I can't wait.

A couple of days later, I fly off to Kolkata to officially start the workshop.

I am currently in London until next Sunday, enjoying it as always despite having to wait till Tuesday for a BT technician to repair a fault in the internet connection. It's unreal how we've become accustomed to having the's almost like being accustomed (and expecting) electricity, heat, water...If I had to choose having television of internet, the latter would win hands down.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Charles W. Cushman: New York City

Photo © Charles W. Cushman

I don't know why The Daily Mail, as a British newspaper would feature an extensive gallery of New York City photographs made in the 1940s and later by Charles Weever Cushman, but it did and these show us how much (and how little) has changed in this wonderful city.

Charles Weever Cushman was an amateur photographer and Indiana University alumnus, who bequeathed approximately 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to his alma mater. The photographs in this collection bridge a thirty-two year span from 1938 to 1969.

Most of these places shown in the photographs have either been demolished or altered, except for one or two in the East Village. My favorite is the one above of Chinese store windows in Chinatown made on October 7, 1942.... I wonder where that is.

Which brings me to street photography. I read a day or two ago that Scott Strazzante got into trouble because some random guy took umbrage to his shooting from the hip, and shoved him. You can read of the incident here.  I also got some grief when an older fellow, whom I was photographing quite openly, hurled the vilest of epithets at me but he wasn't physical. You can read about it here.

The guy who shoved Scott said that photographing people from the hip was "intellectually unfair".  I don't know what he meant, except perhaps he thought that it wasn't really photography, and for it to be fair, people being photographed had to be aware that Scott (or I and other street photographers who shoot from the hip) were photographing them...otherwise it was a sort of surveillance photography.

Scott actually thinks that "shooting from the hip is kinda creepy".  I don't disagree (which isn't quite the same as saying that I agree) with this notion, but I would qualify it by saying that it depends who the subjects are.  For example, if provocatively dressed young women are being photographed
surreptitiously with a different intent than pure street photography, then it's creepy. Otherwise, shooting from the hip is no different than shooting candid portraits with a long lens.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Snow & Nealley Boy’s Axe Review

As you guys may remember, a while back I did a review of the Snow & Nealley Hudson Bay axe. I ended up being very disappointed with the extremely low quality control of the manufacturer. Well, I decided to give them a second chance, and review their Boy’s axe.

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Manufacturer: Snow & Nealley
Axe Head Weight: 2.25 lb
Axe Length: 28 inches
Axe Head Material: Unknown carbon steel
Handle Material: Hickory
Cost: $68


The Snow & Nealley Boy’s axe is reasonably priced as a mid range axe. A quality axe with a $70 price tag would be a bargain, although, if the quality is low, it is more money than I would want to risk. For this review I will compare it to the Gransfors Bruks Scandinavian Forest Axe just for reference purposes. Clearly the Boy’s axe is quite a bit heavier.

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The handle of the Snow & Nealley Boy’s axe (left) has a good shape to it, but on the one I got, the grain orientation was horrible. As you can see from the picture, it is completely horizontal. The handle is covered in varnish, which is not bad, and is well applied, but I know many people prefer to remove it on their axes.

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The head of the Snow & Nealley Boy’s axe is a very well designed Dayton pattern head. In terms of design, I could not find any faults with it. The edge needs to be thinned out for the axe to be exactly how I like it, but that would not take more than 20 minutes with a file and stone. The head is attached to the handle using an aluminum wedge. You can not see it in the picture because the top of all Snow & Nealey axe heads is covered with black paint. In terms of quality however, the head leaves a lot to be desired. The eye was again not well aligned, so the head sits at a slight angle to the handle. While this defect is not nearly as bad as that on the Hudson Bay axe I reviewed earlier, it is still something that should have been caught in quality control. That being said, this was still a usable axe.

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The axe has fairly good balance. It is slightly bit heavy, but overall, the balance is good.

l (64)

The axe comes with a leather sheath that covers the bit. However, as with all sheaths of this design that I have encountered, it comes right off in the pack. It appears that they use the same sheath for several of their axes, so the fit is not great.

The performance of the axe will depend on what you do with the edge. Out of the box, it was not what I would call sharp, and the edge was too thick for my liking. The whole bit itself was fairly thin, but the edge needs work. A thinned out and sharpened edge should give you a well performing axe. Out of the box however, you should not expect too much. The axe is a little heavier than I would like. I don’t know if it is the heavier head or the thicker handle, but it feels heavier than the Council Tool Boy’s axe.

As a design however, the axe is a good one. Other than minor things, I can’t find too many faults. The quality control however is once again where the axe is let down. While not nearly as bad as the last Snow & Neally axe I reviewed, the quality control with this one is still inexcusably low. Perhaps Snow& Nealley can merge with Condor Knife and Tool, so we can get a well designed axe that is well made.