Tuesday, July 30, 2013

World In Focus Travel Photo Contest 2013

As this blog's readers may know, I'm not a fan of photography contests for two main reasons: the entry fees and the terms/conditions that often strip the entrants of their rights to their submitted work.

That said, there are many photographers (travel or otherwise) who view such contests as a way to gain visibility and stature amongst their peers, and perhaps even get recognition for their work from publishers, editors and the like....and consequently, I do mention such contests on The Travel Photographer, but I don't endorse them.

The sponsor of the 2013 World In Focus Photo Contest is Photo District News, and the deadline  for entries is August 22. The entry fee is $35 for professionals, and $12 for amateurs, and the grand prize is a week long photo workshop with Maine Media Workshops and a conference pass at the PDN Expo in fall. All winning images will be featured in PDN's March 2014 issue.

There are a number of categories such as Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, Spontaneous Moments and Photo Essay.

Understandably, the economics of World In Contest are very much tilted in favor of its sponsor...naturally. It's a business after all, and one that -if marketed successfully- can be lucrative to its sponsor(s).

My other issue with this particular photo contest is that one of its definitions for professional photographer (ie one who has to pay an entry fee of $35) is that he/she "Publishes photographs in books, magazines, newspapers, or online regularly".

In other words, if an amateur photographer regularly publishes photographs on Flickr, or wherever...the entry fee is $35 instead of $12.

The moral of the story here is this: if you need to enter such contests for ego boosting purposes or for visibility, do so. You probably need it. 

1804-06 Lewis and Clark Expedition Documentary

This National Geographic documentary about the Lewis and Clark crossing of the American continent was recently posted on YouTube. I figured I would share it with you before it is taken down. The documentary is quite good, although it lacks detail as can be expected from a 45 minute film. The 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark expedition is one of the finest examples of long distance wilderness travel and outright courage.

Embedding of the video has been disabled by the poster. I was able to do it through some magic, but if it doesn’t work, just follow the link to the YouTube channel:

If you are interested in the subject, I would recommend reading the book Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, by Stephen Ambrose


Or, if you have the time, you can give a go at reading the original Lewis and Clark journals from the expedition. You can obtain a free copy here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Al Jazeera | Bloodletting In Delhi

Photo © Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera-All Rights Reserved

"My family has been practicing this for generations and this is a gift of God."

One of medicine’s oldest practices is bloodletting, and is thought to have originated in ancient Egypt several thousands of years ago. Spreading to to Greece, it was believed that all illnesses stemmed from an overabundance of blood in the patients' bodies. In medieval Europe, bloodletting became the standard treatment for various conditions, from plague and smallpox to epilepsy and gout.

It still is a therapy for a very small number of conditions, and the use of leeches has experienced a revival in the field of microsurgery. It is still commonly used for a wide variety of conditions in the Unani, Ayurvedic, and traditional Chinese systems of alternative medicine.

Al Jazeera has featured a photo essay by photographer Showkat Shafi of practitioners in Old Delhi still practicing this 3000 year-old bloodletting process. These practitioners are of the Unani school (a form of traditional medicine used by some South Asian Muslims), known as Hakim. (See an earliest post with my photographs of a Kashmiri Unani hakim here).

The photo essay shows a Hakim tying the hands or legs of patients with cloths, and making small incisions with a razor blade to allow blood to trickle out of the body, following this ancient medical practice. These practitioners claim they do not charge money for the 'treatment' as they would lose the power to heal if they did so.

The Al Jazeera report mentions that this particular clinic opens at 9am and treats about 40 patients a day. New razor blades are used, and although Delhi has world-class hospitals, people still queue at this open-air clinic to be treated for various ailments through the process of bloodletting.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Lucas Mulder | Guatemalan Markets

Photo © Lucas Mulder-All Rights Reserved
I was told that the next Foundry Photojournalism Workshop will be held in Guatemala in summer 2014...a great choice, and which prompted me to feature the work of the talented Lucas Mulder in which he showcases Guatemalan markets in monochrome, using candid street photography techniques.

Guatemala is not only La Antigua (although its Semana Santa festivities and processions are phenomenal to photograph), but also has wonderful little towns and areas that are remarkably photogenic. Lago de Atitlan, Chichicastenango, Quetzaltenango, to mention only a few.

I photographed in Guatemala for about two weeks starting with the Semana Santa, and then doing short jaunts to the places I mention above. One of the intriguing aspects I encountered in western Guatemala is the cult of Maximón or San Simón. He is a folk saint venerated in various forms by the Mayan people in Guatemala. This cult ought to provide interesting ideas to attendees of the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop.

Lucas Mulder is a photographer based in Boston, and he's a member of the Ballad photography collective.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Doldrums: Framing

It's the summer doldrums...and having the better part of three bare walls means that I have the time to choose some of my best photographs printed, mounted and framed, and placed exhibition-style on these walls.

I already started choosing these photographs...perhaps I'll have some two dozen by the time I'm done with this project. All will be in black & white, in simple black frames.

I've tried Adorama Pix to print three of the first photographs, and so far it's been a success. It's cheap, it's easy and it's fast. I've had the first one delivered, and I'll be picking up the rest in a couple of days. The printing is done on Kodak Pro Glossy paper, in sizes of 11 x 14 inches.  Each print cost me $4.00 excluding the shipping (for the first one) and $2 handling fee for those I'll be picking up. The frames? I already had those.

I found the print quality to be quite good, and suitable for the purpose. I have no patience to print them myself, nor to have them done in a more expensive professional print studio...and the Adorama outfit is very fast.

I estimate that I'll eventually have two dozen of these monochrome prints; some of my travels in India, in Bali, in Vietnam, etc...and the room will be a "surround-visual" of these travels.

Using Trekking Poles to Pitch The GoLite Shangri-La 3

Recently I have decided to start using trekking poles, mostly because of issues I am having with my knees. I have resisted them for a long time because I don’t always need them, and I certainly do not need the extra weight. I was not happy about the concept of bringing extra weigh that might end up being strapped to my pack for most of the trip. So, when I decided to get trekking poles, I knew that I would have to offset the weight somewhere else. That way even if I didn’t use them in their primary role as poles, and just carried them strapped to my pack the whole trip, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

The traditional place where one would offset the weight of the trekking poles is to get rid of the some of the tent supports. That is easy to do with some shelters like the MLD Trailstar, that can simply utilize a single trekking pole for pitching. The shelter I use however, the GoLite Shangri-La 3 is more complicated. It is a larger shelter, with a height of 62 inches, and requires a longer center pole than what a single trekking pole can provide. I knew from the beginning that in order to use my trekking poles to pitch the shelter, I would have to somehow connect them.

The poles I chose for the task are the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork. I bought the 2012 model, but the current 2013 model should do just as well.


The poles weigh exactly 16 oz, and can extend to 130 cm each. The poles use a flip lock mechanism which allows you to collapse the poles while at the same time holding them securely in place when extended.


My approach to using the trekking poles as a center pole for my shelter required that they have sections that can be separated. There are many models which can do that, this is just the one I chose because it had positive reviews. My thinking was to take the two poles, remove the lower section from each pole, and then use a connector piece to attach the poles to each other.


In the above picture you see all of the components of my system, ready for assembly. I have removed the two lower sections from the poles (right), which leaves each pole with two sections (left). On the log between the two parts of the poles you see a small piece of white plastic. Initially I intended to get a replacement lower section for a Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork pole and cut a piece of it to use as a connector, but I found a piece of pen which worked just as well.

To assemble the pieces, I just place the connector in the end of one of the poles, and close the lock.


I then insert the other end of the connector into the other pole and close the lock. Here I have fitted the two poles so that they come completely together, but that is not necessary.


Once the poles are connected, you can use the locks between the remaining sections to adjust the height of the combined pole.




The set up seems to work very well. I have not had any issue of the poles slipping, and they appear to be strong enough for the job. This past weekend I used the poles for my shelter, and in the morning there was absolutely no sagging or any other problems.


In terms of weight, as I mentioned above, the poles weigh 16 oz. The aluminum center pole that comes with the Shangri-La 3 weighs 11.2 oz. With the added weight of the connector piece, by replacing the center pole of the shelter with my trekking poles, I am adding a total of 4 oz to my pack weight. While not perfect, I think it is a good compromise. In effect, I am getting a set of trekking poles for just 4 oz. So far both the poles and the shelter set up have been working very well.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bordeaux Wines Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House - Giveaway

London’s best-loved open-air cinema, Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, is back from 8th-21st August 2013. Kitchen Delights has teamed up with the official wine sponsor of this year’s event, Bordeaux Wines, to offer a pair of tickets to one of the performances – Guys and Dolls on Monday, 12th August.

For 14 nights, a different film will be shown on the giant screen in the 18th century courtyard, with full surround sound, under the stars. This year’s line up features comedy, romance, musicals and thrillers, as well as much loved classics, all enjoyed with Bordeaux wine by the glass or bottle.

With early evening DJ sessions, providing the ideal soundtrack to your picnic and warm up for the film, Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House is not to be missed!

Our lucky winner will be able to enjoy this big, bright and romantic musical classic, which splashes sensational Broadway style and swagger across the screen as it makes its way from a stylised New York to the swirling, seductive backdrop of Havana. Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons are the stars of this streetwise favourite, with the singalong set pieces ranging from show-stopping group numbers to intimate torch songs.

Bordeaux has famously produced red, white and rosé wines for centuries. As well as the bar selling a selection of Bordeaux Wines throughout the event, the Bordeaux Usherettes will be back sampling wines among the crowd of film fans.


To enter the giveaway: answer the following question and
Email the answer with your name and the subject line: Summer Screen Giveaway.  

1. What year was the original Guys and Dolls film made which starred Frank Sinatra?

No spam or anonymous entries allowed.

One lucky reader will be selected at random. The giveaway closes at midnight on 6th August 2013 and the winner will be notified on the 7th August 2013.

Terms & Conditions - please read these carefully as no correspondence will be entered into.

There is one prize in total: one pair of prize tickets (retailing at £14.50 per ticket plus booking fee) for one winner.

Travel to and from the venue is not included in the prize.

The event is on Monday 12th August 2013. Timing: Doors 18.30, DJs from 19.00, Film starts 21.00.

There is no fixed seating in the courtyard – guests are invited to bring their own rugs, blankets and cushions. Sorry, no chairs or portable furniture, including inflatable chairs! Cushions and blankets are also available to buy on-site for £10 / £15.

The screenings are open air and go ahead come rain or shine and the audience area is not covered. Winners must be 18 or over and photographic ID may be required.


Francisco Guerrero | The T'boli People

Photo © Francisco Guerrero-All Rights Reserved
I haven't posted much on the Philippines on The Travel Photographer blog...perhaps 2 or 3 posts at the most. It's no intentional fault of mine, but it's just that I haven't come across much travel photography from this lovely country.

In order to redress this, I have now found Francisco Guerrero's work on the T'boli people. The T'boli people live in the southern part of Filipino province of Cotabata, and around lake Sebu. It is estimated that there are between 100,000 and 150,000 T'boli people. They generally practice the primitive way of agriculture "slash and burn" to grow corn, upland rice, vegetables, and root crops; most of which is for their own consumption.

Twenty-five years ago, written T'Boli did not exist, polygamy was more actively practiced, and barter was the principal form of economic exchange. The latter has since been replaced by a money economy. The T'boli culture is tightly connected with nature, and their dances mimic the action of animals such as monkeys and birds, and their music is played on a variety of musical instruments, and is a form of connection to their ancestors and a source of ancient wisdom.

Francisco Guerrero is based in Spain and in the Philippines, and holds a degree in Anthropology and Communications from Goldsmiths College, London. His clients include Conde Nast Traveller, Travel and Leisure, Lexus Magazine, Budget Travel, Hemispheres, Afar, Town and Country, Continental Inflight among other publications.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Trip Report: 7/20/13 – 7/21/13

This past few weeks the weather here in NY has been horrible. It has been very hot (at least way too hot for my liking), and the humidity has been equally high. It has put a serious damper on my backpacking trips. It’s just hard to get motivated for a ten mile trip into the woods when you are sweating uncontrollably three minutes after you have gotten out of the car.

Despite that however, I decided to go out this past weekend. I had some new gear I wanted to try out. It wasn’t going to be a serious trip, but I just wanted to go a few miles into the woods to see how everything worked.

For starters, I have a new sleeping pad, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. It is a replacement for the NeoAir All Season that I have been using for the past year. We’ll see how well it holds up during long term use, but I was very impressed by how small it pack when compared to the All Season.

I also have a set of trekking poles, the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork (2012 model). Hopefully they will help with my knees. I also want to use them as the center pole for my GoLite Shangri-La 3 tent, so I can save on weight there.

I also wanted to take out my O/U 12 gauge so I can put a few shells through it to loosen the mechanism.

Anyway, I set out in the morning. It didn’t feel too warm when I started out, but the humidity was very high, which made things miserable.

Copy of 027

I didn’t go far. I just bushwhacked for two or three miles in, so I wouldn’t bother anyone with the noise I was about to make. I dropped off my gear and had a snack.


Then I just had some fun shooting different loads with my CZ Upland Sterling. The action has been a bit stiff, so I wanted to shoot a few more boxes through it to loosen it up some more.


As warm as it was, I wasn’t in the mood to keep a fire burning all evening long. I set up the tent using the trekking poles, which worked very well in that role. I’ll have a post with more details about the set up later. After that I just took apart my shotgun and occupied myself with cleaning it.


I spent the rest of the time taking pictures for a few post I have been meaning to make. It is a time consuming activity.

In the morning I just packed up and made my way out.

Copy of 039

That’s it. A short trip so I can make sure all of the new components of my gear work the way they are supposed to. Everything worked well. I was very happy with the fact that the trekking poles could be used as a center pole for the tent. This mean that the addition of the poles to my gear adds almost no weight. The XTherm pad also worked well; again, I have to see how it does long term. I hurried back home as the heat was seriously bothering me. I think we spend a lot of time worrying about cold weather backpacking, but the heat can be just as challenging, and I must admit, I much prefer winter camping.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chris McGrath | Hanoi's Street Barbers

Photo © Chris McGrath/GettyImages-All Rights Reserved

NBC's PhotoBlog featured the work of Chris McGrath documenting Hanoi's street barbers. It seems that having one's hair cut in the street is a tradition that goes back to the 18th century. Many of the barbers are ex-military, have retired from the army and cutting hair is a way to augment their army pensions, or just to keep busy and socialize.

While I was in Hanoi, I saw a one or two of these street barbers but I read that few work in the city's Old Quarter as there's no space to accommodate their chairs and paraphernalia on its sidewalks. The cost of a haircut ranges from the equivalent of $1 to $4, depending on the barber's abilities and whether the client is a regular or not.

This series remind me of my own The Street Barbers of Manali, which I photographed while teaching at the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop in that northern Himalayan town. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Photograph of an Indian Fishing, 1923

The photograph was taken in 1923 and shows a Hupa Indian fishing with a net.


Clearly the location has been prepared for such fishing, with scaffolding allowing him to stand over the water and lower the net.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Manuel Gomes Teixeira | Platinum Palladium Printing

Produced by Luís Oliveira Santos, this gem of a 12 minutes documentary video may help decrease your blood pressure rate quite significantly because it exudes calm and deliberate movements...and is a must for all fans of monochrome photography. Yes, it's a quasi fluff piece for the new Leica M Monochrom, but it will also interest (perhaps even thrill) those who are interested in traditional photographic printing methodology.

Manuel Gomes Teixeira is a photographer and a platinum palladium printer, who usually uses traditional methods, with photographic film in medium and large format cameras. He was asked by the exclusive distributor of Leica cameras in Portugal to test the Monochrom, and demonstrated how platinum printing combined with the quality of the Leica's image files result in beautiful photographs.

Platinum prints are photographic prints made by a monochrome printing process that provides the greatest tonal range of any printing method using chemical development, and are the most durable of all photographic processes. It is recognized that Platinum-Palladium prints convey detail even within the darkest shadows, and reveal a range of inviting tonal warmth.

The documentary was chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Charlotte Rush Bailey | Prayers To A Pir

Charlotte Rush-Bailey has been on virtually all my recent photo expeditions-workshops (except for the one in Vietnam), and has completed her multimedia project of Gharib Nawaz's Urs festival during my Sufi Saints of Rajasthan & Kashmir Photo Expedition-Workshop.

Charlotte is a photographer who migrated to the world of photography from a corporate career that covered three decades of marketing and communications positions in a variety of global industries including energy, financial services, media, conservation, technology and professional services. This gave her opportunities to work with people all over the world, and to learn to appreciate cultural nuances and the influences of socio-political forces.

She's the third participant to send me her multimedia work of Gharib Nawaz's Urs festival, which captures the intensity of the event.  Prayers To A Pir was made using Adobe Premiere Pro instead of Soundslides which I favor,  but Charlotte found it to be easier to sequence and sync the audio with the stills.

Galeto, Soho, London - Review

Brazilian Street Food
Kitchen Delights London Reporter........gets to eat Brazilian Street Food.

When the mercury reaches over 30 degrees for over 5 consecutive days in London town, it’s practically a national emergency with stories of buckling rail tracks and schools not knowing how to cope with the heat. It shouldn’t be so dramatic, but when the last heat wave was back in 2006, we do need a little on guidance on how to behave.

If you are in Soho this balmy summer, the chilled out Brazilian restaurant Galeto can show you what to do in this heat. This small yet intimate eatery set over 2 levels serves up real street food and cocktails with plenty of Rio attitude for your pound including the beautifully made Brazilian classic Caipirinha (made with cachaca, sugar and lime).

To start, we had two classics which Fabricia, our Brazilian waitress recommended. Coxinhas de Frango are small pieces of soft potato dough filled with soft shredded chicken. We also chose Kibe – a little bit like small beef balls, both of which were fun to share and ideally suited with a cocktail.

When it came to ordering a main course, there are a few options to choose from and the old saying ‘quality not quantity’ comes to mind. You need to opt for the 8oz rump steak with fries and go for one of their generous salads to share. It was well presented, tender, colourful and full of flavour.

At this point having picked up a few Brazilian words from the menu, we asked what the name of the restaurant Galeto actually means? It’s literally ‘little chicken’ and is what the Portuguese introduced to Rio in the 1960's and has stayed with them ever since (and yes there is chicken on the menu but on this occasion we went for red meat).

In this hot weather, desserts don’t always hit the spot but both my dining companion and I have a sweet tooth and our arms were gently twisted to choose the very worthy Banana Frita – sliced banana pan fried in orange and lime with cinnamon served with vanilla ice cream. It was surprisingly moreish and good for sharing! We also indulged in the mini chocolate doughnuts in chocolate sauce.

The food overall was good value and your wallet won’t take a pounding either – I reckon you could get away with £25 per head with one cocktail.

So it only leaves me to say that if this is what Brazil tastes like on a hot day, then I’m booking my flight now!

Thanks to all the staff at Galeto for their prompt, cheerful and attentive service.

For more information visit www.galeto.co.uk

33 Dean St

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wilderness Navigation: Obtaining Free Topographic Maps Part 2

A while back I did a post about how I obtain free topographic maps. You can see the post here. At that time a few of my readers made me aware of another source of free topo maps called Gmap4. Since that time I have been using the Gmap4 site to plan my trips, but I have never posted about it because until recently I was not able to figure out how to print maps from it. While I was able to locate the maps that I want, whenever I tried to print them out, I would just get a blank page. Unfortunately, the site does not have its own print function, so you have to use the browser’s print option. I’ve tried several browsers, but they have all printed out nothing but blank pages for me.

A few months ago I figured out a way around the problem. Last week Section Hiker did a post about Gmap4, where he went into great detail about the site and the different functions. Since I am not a big GPS user, most of those functions do not matter to me, but it did remind me to write this post and explain how I print out the maps in case anyone else is having the same issue as me.

To use the site just go to Gmap4 at http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.html Once you are on the main page, click on “Start Gmap4”.


This will take you to the world map page. Once there you can use the map two different ways. You can either zoom and move it around until you find your desired location, or you can just use the search function from the “Menu”.


This will open a search bar where you can type in your desired location. It doesn’t have to be an actual address. You can type in the name of a mountain, a lake, etc. In this case I will search for “Friday Mountain, NY”.


Click any of the options next to the search bar such as “List” or “Search”. and you will be taken to your location, or the site will display a list of available matches.


Once you have found your location, there are many different things you can do, such as creating a plotting a route, creating a .gpx file for your GPS unit, or you can change the type of map being displayed. The one you see above is the “t1” map, but you can also use the “t2” map which will give you the same “My Topo” maps I talked about in the last first map tutorial on finding free maps. For more details on the options as they relate to GPS use, you can look at the Section Hiker post.


Another feature which I have found very useful is the ability to obtain directions to any location on the map. Let’s say that you have found the location on Friday Mountain, and you want to get directions to a particular location on a nearby road, in this case “Denning Road”. All you have to do is move the pointer near the location to which you want directions and right click on it. A window showing the GPS coordinates will appear, and on the bottom it will have an option to get direction to or from that location.


Now that you have found your desired area of the map, and have found directions to the location, it is time to print out your map. This is where I originally had a problem with the website. The way i got around it is the same way I was able to obtain the pictures for this post.

To print, look at your keyboard. Above the arrows, near your right hand, at the very top of the keyboard (or someplace else depending on your keyboard configurations) there is a “Print Screen” button. With the window featuring the map opened, press the button. This will create a copy of the full screen image. Then, open the Paint program on your computer. Select “Paste”. The map image will now appear in your image software. You can now save or print the map using that software.

Well, that is as far as my knowledge of technology has taken me, and these are the features that I use. It is a great site an it is free to use. Much thanks to the developer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Rasha Yousif | We Came For Peace

With all the turmoil caused by various strands of so-called 'political' Islam and far right Islamists, We Came For Peace is a welcome and timely reminder that Islam's message is that of peace and tolerance.

“We Came For Peace” is a very short multimedia story of Namreen and her mother. Rasha tells us she met them in the women’s section at a Sufi mosque in Srinagar, and was touched by the mother’s sincere prayers. She asked if she would say a prayer for her, and asked the daughter Namreen to translate it. When Namreen was asked as to why she came to the mosque, she answered “We came for Peace”.

Rasha Yousif recently returned from my Sufi Saints of Rajasthan & Kashmir Photo Expedition-Workshop, during which she was immersed in her favorite element, photographing Islamic rituals and traditions, particularly those we encountered in Srinagar.

As I wrote in another post, the Islam (and Sufism) we witnessed in Srinagar's various religious sites was calm and soothing, and while there were many manifestations of utter devotional zeal especially amongst by women, these were gentler than those we witnessed and documented at the Sufi shrine of Moin'Uddin Chisti where the exuberance of the pilgrims was mind-boggling.

Rasha is from Bahrain, where she works in the finance industry. She graduated from the University of Bahrain, and obtained her Masters in Finance from DePaul University.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Modify a Plastic Mora Sheath; Guest Post by WI_Woodsman

A while back a noticed a post by one of the Blades and Bushcraft members, WI_Woodsman on how he modified his “crappy” Mora sheath. I though it was a great project, and eventually asked him for permission to re-post it here. Luckily he agreed. The project shows a redesign of a Mora #1 or #2 plastic sheath, so that you knife can actually stay in the sheath rather than coming loose all the time. Here is the post:

Well it eventually happened! A while back the belt attachment finally wore off my Mora Classic #1. Honestly, it's the only complaint I've ever had with the early Mora knives. It seem as though the Swedes are either prone to hanging their Mora's from a button or they have incredibly thin belts. Over the years I've forced my belts through the flimsy plastic attachment until it at last ripped off... Inevitable as this may have been it has given me an opportunity to improve on an otherwise flawed design. I could have just thrown away the sheath but as much as I hate that sheath I grew attached to it, I just couldn't simply discard it! So the following is my solution.


First I cut a piece of leather to attach the new belt loop to as well as.


I cut it to size an stitched it up tight, I left the knife in so it would contour and provide friction to the handle as well.


Then I cut off the excess leather.


Using a punch I put two holes for the strap.


I cut another strip of leather and dyed it black to match the rest of the sheath and laced it through the holes. (Sorry 'bout the random stuff in the back ground...)


Then I twist the the grain side in.


I then cut the straps to size and make a slit in one strap and trim the other side at an angle to make it easer to pull it through the slit.


(OK, I hope the pictures and description of the attachment makes sense) Place the slit over the other strap.


Wrap the angled tap around the slotted tab once.


(Here's where that angle tab makes this process easier...) Now I pull that angle tab through the slot. Use a pare of needle nose pliers to really YANK that angle tab through the slot. (You can see the marks left by my Leatherman on my tabs.)


No problems! Only solutions! My Mora Classic fixed and better than it was originally I'm looking forward to using it for many, many more years to come.


Thanks for checking out my this little project, I hope it helps you or gives you a better idea. I'd be interested to see your Mora sheath mod!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Easy Bread Rolls - Recipe

I didn't make these bread rolls today for many reasons - it's too hot and I no longer have a kitchen. The fitters come on Monday to fit my new kitchen, we are also having a new boiler which means a few difficult days.  It's a great excuse to eat out but I'm sure I'll soon want to cook again.  I've chosen some appliances that are going to take me a few weeks to get used to and at the moment I'm not sure when cooking will resume.

Choosing a kitchen and appliances has taken months and at last the day of the refit is about to arrive. I've learnt a lot over the last six months about appliances and the process of choosing a kitchen and interestingly I couldn't find all of the help I needed on the internet.

The dough balls before I put them into the airing cupboard to rise.
 I always flour my trays instead of greasing them.
I weighed out each piece of dough but somehow they didn't rise evenly.
Even the poppy seeds didn't want to stick evenly to the risen dough.
The rolls are made with an enriched dough which is milk and egg mixed together instead of the usual water.  Easy and straight forward to make and they freeze too.

Makes: 12 bread rolls

450g strong plain flour
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp caster sugar
7g easy blend dried yeast
55g butter
1 egg beaten
250ml warm milk
Seeds or a dusting of flour to decorate

1. Flour two baking trays.  Into the bowl of the mixer add the flour, salt, sugar and yeast.  Rub in the butter.  Place the bowl under the dough hook of the mixer and pour in most of the milk and egg to make a soft dough.  On a low setting let the mixer do it's work for 8-10 minutes.
2. Spread a film of vegetable oil over the dough and cover the bowl with a greased piece of clingwrap.  Place in the airing cupboard until doubled in size.
3. Remove the cling wrap and return the bowl to the mixer - let the dough hook knock back the dough on low for a couple of minutes.
4. Turn the dough onto a greased board and divide into 12 even pieces.
5. Take a piece of dough and place under the palm of your hand and move your hand around in a circle until you have a dough ball.  There is a full explanation of 'How to shape bread rolls' on the Baking Mad website.
6. Take a floured baking tray and place six dough balls on each tray.  Cover with greased cling wrap and leave to rise until doubled in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
8. Brush the tops of the rolls with the retained milk and egg mix and sprinkle with seeds or flour the tops.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
The floury rolls had the best rise and the flour keeps the dough crust soft

Bereaved | Rina Castelnuovo | New York Times

Photo © Rina Castelnuovo -All Rights Reserved
For a while now, I had taken the decision not to feature work by conflict photographers.

The banality and superficiality of what was published led to a sort of tediousness...an intellectual and visual fatigue for such work. Comparing the conflict photographers of today with titans such as Don McCullin led me to abandon any interest in this type of photography.

But suddenly there appears work of such empathy...of such depth and of such impact, that I regained a bit faith again. No, it's not conflict photography per se... quite the opposite. However, it's photographed in a conflict area...and is of people involved in a 65+ years confrontation...often, violent and dehumanizing.

This compelling work was published by The New York Times (yes, the very same newspaper that sold us the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction lie, and now tries hard to convince us that the popular uprising in Egypt is a "coup", amongst other journalistic pearls), and is titled Bereaved by Rina Castelnuovo.

While I could easily distinguish the Palestinian women from the Israeli because of their dress, it was impossible to distinguish the men from each other....in line with many studies proving that Arabs and Jews are genetically a single population.

Rina Castelnuovo is an Israeli photographer, who has been documenting the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis for more than 30 years, 17 of them as a contract photographer for The New York Times based in Jerusalem.

You can read more about Bereaved here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Metabones Nikon to Micro Four Thirds Speed Booster Review

I have been waiting for the Nikon to Micro Four Thirds Speed Booster from Metabones for a little while now. It was announced back in January and now, 6 months later the Nikon to MFT version has hit the scene. Within a couple day or two of the announcement, I checked my bank balance and placed my order. Around 3 days later, a little parcel arrives at my work desk in Sydney all the way from Hong Kong. I have to say I am impressed at how quickly it got to me.

The build quality is very good. The body is metal; the aperture control has engraved markings and is indented for half-stops. The 4-element lens unit is a solid looking piece and it all seems to be put together well.

What's in the box?

The Speed Booster comes well packed but there is no pouch to store the adapter in. It comes with front and rear caps. One being their version of Nikon body cap, the other being their version of a Panasonic rear lens cap. Unlike the body of the Speed Booster, neither are well made but do work.  I tried using a Nikon body cap but the fit is too loose.

Also in the box, you get a couple of hex keys in a plastic bag to remove the tripod adapter. There are no instructions or guide on how to use the unit.

The elements of the Speed Booster are a little exposed at the MFT end and I wouldn't recommend using an Olympus cap - it seems as though it would be very close to the lens element. The Panasonic style cap would be a better choice and get over the slight nastiness of the supplied cap.

Putting Camera, Speed Booster and Lens Together

Attaching the Speed Booster is fairly easy. While it doesn't mount as smoothly as say an Olympus lens on my OM-D and likewise, Nikon lenses feel that great when rotating them, I have had worse. This was a little surprising considering the apparent high build quality. On the Metabones web site it says to rotate the Speed Booster ring to 8 before mounting the lens. I don't think failing to do so would damage your lens or the Speed Booster, but it may make it more difficult to lock the lens should you not when the aperture tab on the lens is pushed up against the Metabones aperture control link.

There is a compact tripod mount on the unit and this is threaded for a quick release plate, or you can use it directly in a Arca Swiss style tripod clamp. It looks very short for the latter but works well for any lens that does not have its own tripod clamping ring and gives good balance with a standard zoom and with the relatively light weight of MFT cameras, just right for these lenses. Obviously, if using something like a Sigma 150-500mm zoom you would use the lenses tripod mounting ring.

Well how does it work?

Well I must say I am pleasantly surprised. In a word - excellent!!!! I was expecting the sort of degradation you get when you when you use a teleconverter. It seems excellent from fully open with the lenses I have used.

So far I have had a play with an ancient Nikon AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8. This is a pre-D lens and not one of Nikon's best. When mounted, it becomes a 35mm equivalent at f/2. This lens suffers from flare and it seems no worse for the Speed Booster despite adding 4 lens elements into the equation. As a full-frame lens, there is no light fall-off and sharpness does not suffer. Not an excessively large combination and easy enough to use. I wouldn't say it is a substitute for something like the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 which remains on my wish list.

Next play was with the Tamron 60mm f/2 macro. This is a DX format lens and it becomes the equivalent of an 85mm f/1.4 (sort of). I don't consider this lens a true f/2 as it is only f/2 at around 3m and longer. As an internal focusing macro lens, the focal length increases the closer you focus and the aperture falls. It is around a f/2.5 at closest focus. Still, the extra speed makes a nice bright viewfinder and the generous focus ring rotation of the lens makes it easy to focus. The Tamron 60mm is ultra-sharp on my Nikon and just as sharp on the Olympus.

OK, now for the real test. My Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom is probably my most used Nikon lens. With the Speed Booster on my Olympus OM-D this becomes an equivalent to a 14.2-34mm f/2.5-3.2. This is a lot faster (1 2/3 stops) than my Olympus 9-18mm (18-36mm equivalent) f/4-5.6 zoom goes substantially wider and almost as long. First impressions indoors I noticed quite a bit of vignetting. In the field, this does not seem to be an issue, probably due to the longer focus distance slightly increasing the focal length - who knows. It gives a fair bit more in field of view than the Olympus wide zoom and again very sharp. One disadvantage of the 10-24mm lens is the relatively short focus scale but the wider focal length afforded by the Speed Booster seems to overcome any issues here and the 14x screen magnification available for the Olympus OM-D makes focusing not ultra-critical.

The results show in the photos.

Tamron 60mm macro - a tiny flower at closet focus and stopped down quite a bit.

Nikon Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 at 24mm

From the same spot - Nikon Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 at 10mm

Nikon Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 at around 18mm


The Speed Booster is not cheap and costs about the same as a mid-priced consumer level fixed focal length lens or one of the cheaper non-kit zooms. If you have a couple of lenses sitting in your kit bag for a Nikon camera, it can be a bargain. There seems to be no real image quality issues with using the Speed Booster and for low-light work - a real treat. With DX lenses and the 0.71x magnification of the Speed Booster, you have a lot more wide options for the Olympus system.