Friday, August 30, 2013

Dede Pickering | Cuba

Photo © Dede Pickering-All Rights Reserved

Dede Pickering has been super busy for the past six months, having traveled to India, Cuba, Colombia, and Iceland. Having retired from the corporate world, she became a photographer, and traveled to Antarctica, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, China, Cambodia, Peru, Patagonia, Kosovo, Albania, Rwanda, New Zealand, Guatemala, Cuba, South East Asia and has made multiple trips to Africa and India.

She recently updated her website with galleries of these travels, and I chose to feature one of Cuba 2013. Influenced by the work by travel photographer Nevada Weir and others, she is a member of the Explorers Club in New York

In 1998 Dede took on a full-time volunteer position with CARE, a global private humanitarian organization, to start the Women's Initiative, aimed at connecting American women professionals with women in the developing world. She served as chair of the Women's Initiative until 2004. Under her leadership the small group of volunteers raised awareness and a minimum of $150,000 annually to benefit poor women and their families. Dede was also a CARE Trustee and a member of the advisory committee for CARE's Campaign for Education.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kris Bailey | Threads For Prayers

"The highest form of devotion is to redress the misery of those in distress – to fulfill the needs of the helpless and to feed the hungry.” - Moin'Uddin Chisti

Here's a well made audio-slideshow of the annual Urs Festival commemorating the death of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moin Uddin Hasan Chishti produced by Kris Bailey, a member in my Sufi Saints of Rajasthan & Kashmir Photo Expedition-Workshop. It's the third time Kris traveled with me...the first being on Kolkata's Durga Puja, and the second being The Oracles of Kerala Photo Expedition & Workshop.

The Sufi Saints Photo Expedition/Workshop's principal objective was to document the death anniversary held in Ajmer (Rajasthan) of Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Moin'Uddin Chisti (1141- 1230 CE), the most famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order of the Indian Subcontinent. He introduced and established the order in South Asia. He is also known as Gharib Nawaz or ‘Benefactor of the Poor'.

Kris chose to produce the audio slideshow (converted to video) in monochrome to avoid the divergence in colors arising from the harsh sunlight and the shadows created by the canopies in the shrine.

Threads for Prayers is an apt title for this Sufi religious observance, and underscores the syncretic commonality between Hinduism and Islam in South Asia. A Hindu practices is to tie red threads known as kalava or mauli in temples for their wishes to be fulfilled, and it's one of the practices also observed in Sufi shrines.

Apart from being an attorney in Northern California, Kris is a photographer who's keenly interested in South and South East Asia, and is particularly attracted to unusual rituals and religious festivals. She's already been on two of my most intense photo expeditions workshops, and that doesn't seem to deter her in the least.

A number of her projects can be viewed on her Vimeo page.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Extreme Super Ultra Light Backpacking Gear List

A number of years ago the ultralight backpacking movement gained significant momentum. More and more backpackers started reducing the weight of their gear in order to facilitate their travel through the wilderness. In recent times, the super-ultralight movement has begun. While ultralight backpackers generally aim for a base weight of less than 10 lb, super-ultralight backpackers try to achieve a base weight of under 5 lb. Well, this line of thinking has lead to me to make a contribution of my own to the struggle to reduce weight, the extreme-super-ultralight form of backpacking. The goal with extreme-super-ultralight is to reduce your base weight to under 5 oz. Yes, you heard it right, 5 oz. Impossible you say? Have a look at the gear list:


Of course, because of the minimal gear used, you have to rely heavily on your skills and plan accordingly. While a regular backpacker might simply set up camp wherever he wants in the woods, an extreme-super-ultralight backpacker has to use his skills and resourcefulness to find appropriate shelter locations. Often times that requires calling ahead of time, and making what we extreme-super-ultralighters call “reservations” in what is commonly referred to as hotels. Similarly, while a regular backpacker might be able to just throw some food together in a heavy pot, the extreme-super-ultralighter has to do extensive research and locate food resources known as restaurants, or at times use his highly developed skills to locate food stashes known as supermarkets.

Why bother you ask? Why extreme-super-ultralight? Once you have experienced it, there is no going back. When you master the necessary skills and gear, you will seamlessly and quickly move through the wilderness, utilizing the available shelter and food depots, to provide yourself with comfortable and exciting backpacking experience.

Clearly the above is a joke. There is no such thing as extreme-super-ultralight backpacking. Yet. However, in this post I hope to speak to a very real issue that I have encountered in the pursuit to cut weight.

I am a big proponent of weight reduction, and I think more specialized forms of backpacking like ultralight and super-ultralight have lead to the development of great technology and techniques which help us towards that end. The problem that I keep encountering however, in doing research about such forms of backpacking, is that I keep running more and more into what I see as “disingenuous weight reduction”.

What I mean by that is that way too often I encounter people who speak of how light their gear is, only to discover that they have only managed to achieve the weight savings by sacrificing the ability to actually go into the woods. Here are a few examples of typical conversations I have with ultralight backpackers (ULB):

  • Me: That’s a very interesting set up. It looks light. How much is your base weight?
  • ULB: Base weight is 6 lb (followed by an explanation about how not everyone can go that light because it requires a lot of skill)
  • Me: That’s amazing. What type of shelter do you use?
  • ULB: I use my poncho. It’s a multi-use item-rain protection and shelter. Weights 8 oz.
  • Me: How does it perform in more serious storms, or rain? Does it offer sufficient protection?
  • ULB: Well, I usually stay in shelters along the trail. This is just for emergencies. I also don’t go out when it is going to rain.
  • Me: :/

Here is another example:

  • ULB: I used to use a large pot like you, but now I have this SUL set up that weight only 4 oz. I never need more than two cups of water anyway.
  • Me: That looks great. How much fuel does the alcohol stove consume during winter? How much time do you spend each day melting snow for water?
  • ULB: Oh, I usually don’t go backpacking in winter. When I do, I bring a white gas stove.
  • Me: :/

Weight reduction is great. Ultralight backpacking is great. However, I thought the whole point was to have the same capability as a “regular” backpacker, only do it in a better and smarter way, utilizing different gear and a wider set of skills. But let me be clear, being able to look at the weather channel and decide to stay home because it might rain, is not the type of skills I am talking about here.

What has happened in many respects is that we now compare apples to oranges. Instead of seeing how we can reduce the weight of different components while maintaining their functionality, we have simply removed the need for the function itself.

If you told me that you developed a shelter that weighs 1 lb instead of my 2 lb shelter, and that you could weather the exact same conditions with your shelter as I could with mine, then that would be a great achievement, and we should all take notice. However, telling me that your shelter weighs 0.25 lb because you actually never use it, while using cabins along the trail each night, then we are really comparing apples to oranges. You haven’t made the shelter lighter, you have simply “cheated” by staying in someone else’s shelter instead of carrying an adequate shelter. This is “disingenuous weight savings”. Similarly, telling me that you have this great super-duper-ultralight kit that you get to use this one perfect weekend in June, but then can’t use the rest of the year, really doesn’t show us much, nor does it translate into actual weight savings.

None of that is any different from carrying an extreme-super-ultralight kit comprised of a credit card. Sleep at a hotel each night, eat at restaurants, and then take a cab back to the trail. You hardly have to carry anything. It kind of misses the point though. Can we get back to the days when going ultralight meant reducing the weight of your pack, but still having all of the functional components necessary for traveling through the wilderness? How did we get from that, to cutting weight by sleeping in cabins and not going out when the conditions are less than perfect? Seems like we took a left turn somewhere and missed the point entirely.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nevada Wier | Insights

"...all of us should have art in our lives...."
There is a small number of leading household names in the world of travel photography and visual ethnography, and one of the top world-wide recognized names is that of Nevada Wier.

As many of my readers know well, Nevada Wier is a multiple award-winning photographer specializing in documenting the remote corners and cultures of the world. She has been published in numerous national and international publications, such as the National Geographic, Geo, National Geographic Adventure, Islands, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, and Smithsonian. She is a Fellow of The Explorer’s Club and a member of the Women’s Geographic Society.

She also is a speaker for workshops, seminars, professional panels, and conferences, and has been featured in video promotions for Adobe Lightroom.

This an interesting insight in Ms Wier's craft and thought process that's behind it. She's currently involved in personal projects, and you'll see towards the end of the video that's she's keen on working with infrared imaging. Well worth your time to appreciate the vision of an experienced and wise professional travel photographer

The video can also be viewed on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Charles Meacham | Calcutta's Taxi

Photo © Charles Meacham-All Rights Reserved

I just read in the India Times that the color of the iconic taxis in Kolkata is to be shortly changed from yellow to blue and white.

Imagine! Although there are new models in the taxi business, most of Kolkata's taxis are antiquated yellow painted Hindustan Ambassadors and I wager their owners and drivers are raising hue and cry at the government's decision. To add further insult to injury, the West Bengal government is reported to be planning to introduce a new fleet of 2,000 cabs in the city which could never refuse passengers, citing late hours, inclement weather or whatever pretext.

So perhaps as a swan's song to these venerable workhorses and for the 'fiddled-with' meters, here's Charles Meacham's Calcutta's Taxi, a photo essay on the yellow taxis that crawl around this teeming metropolis.

I often used these yellow taxis to travel from one end of Kolkata to the other during my Durga Puja Photo Expedition-Workshop in October 2011, and I recall an occasion when seated in the front seat alongside the driver, I almost passed out from the heat spewed out by the motor's heat of the old and ill-maintained Ambassador. Obviously there was no air conditioning, nor were the open windows any help whatsoever in Kolkata's heat and humidity.

Charles Meacham was born outside of Philadelphia, and started traveling immediately after high school. Having spent the last ten years photographing, he has received over 30 international photography awards, and attended the 25th annual Eddie Adams workshop. He co-founded the Walk With Pride project which aimed to bring social awareness to LGBT Rights by photographing pride marches around the world.  After 10 years of living in Asia, Charles calls Brooklyn his home. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Naked and Afraid Season 2: Casting Calls

Do you want to be a reality TV star? Do you have a strong desire to curl up naked under a tree and cry because you are hungry? Are you skilled at creating drama even though you are in the middle of nowhere with only one other person? Do you enjoy having your skills be judged by undisclosed experts. If so, then you are in luck. Naked and Afraid is now holding casting calls for season two of the show.


In all seriousness though, if you have seen the show, and ever thought that you can do better that the people on it, this may be your chance.

For those not familiar, Naked and Afraid is a reality survival show where one man and one woman are put on a remote location (usually tropical or desert environment) completely naked, and with only one tool each. They then have to survive for 21 days together.

From what I understand the casting calls are being handled by Metal Flower Media. They are looking for applicants over 18 years of age. If you have any interest in being on the show contact Naela Duarrani-Linday at

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

I enjoy vegetarian meals, and whilst I eat meat, it's great to have meatless days too.  I am a very fussy meat eater - for instance I will only buy sausages from my trusted butcher, I'd never eat a burger unless I make it myself, likewise with bolognese sauce, who knows what's hidden in that innocent looking sauce. I would never buy a sandwich which contains meat of any description.....yes I'm a very, very fussy meat eater.

The lasagne recipe is from BBC GoodFood website, I made a few substitutions, I'm not too keen on aubergines and used a couple of courgettes, red onions, yellow and red pepper and sliced chestnut mushrooms. Everything in the recipe is made from scratch including the tomato sauce, it's best to be prepared to spend quite some time in the kitchen but the result is worth it.  I served mine with a leafy salad and sundried tomato flatbread.

The original recipe includes a white sauce but I think a cheese sauce would have worked well. Have you made a sauce which tastes of flour?  Step by step instructions from WikiHow - show how to make a white/cheese sauce and how to avoid this problem.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Supranav Dash | Trades Portraits

Photo © Supranav Dash-All Rights Reserved
I very much like this type of project. 

Everybody who's been to India knows that many occupations, trades and services are to a large extent linked to the prevailing caste system. For a few hundred of years, members of specific castes were rigidly tied to occupations, and could rarely deviate from them. These occupations, crafts and trade know-how were passed from generation to generation; from father to son...but how long will this continue with the globalization and the erosion of the caste system.

The photographs were made in Kolkata by Supranav Dash between 2011-2013. Kolkata was, of course, the capital of British Colonial India and also the commercial hub of the Indian sub-continent. I came across this work on TIME's Lightbox blog, and learned from the accompanying article by that Ms Jyoti Thottam that Supranav was influenced by Eugène Atget and Irving Penn who documented the trades and professions of London, Paris and New York.

The first photograph on the Lightbox blog is that of a Brahmin with a deformed cow, and those of you who have visited Pushkar will certainly recall such itinerant individuals with similar cows, trying to make meagre earnings by parading these unfortunate animals. 

I seldom read the comments that accompany such projects, but this time I did...piqued by curiosity at how viewers will react to the monochromatic photographs of India. True enough, a commentator didn't like it and described the choice as strange. She proceeded to insult another commentator who disagreed with her. Well, I think these monochromes perfectly fit the subject matter.

Supranav Dash was born and brought up in Kolkata, India. He has a BFA in Photography (Honors) from the School of Visual Arts, NYC. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn. His areas of interest are Fine Art and Social Documentary.

If you're interested in viewing the portraiys along with ambient sound (presumably of Kolkata's streets), drop by Supranav's Vimeo page.

One Bowl Baking - Book Review

It takes only 15 minutes to make the majority of recipes from this cookery book and no fancy kitchen equipment is required other than a set of scales for weighing out.  Simple to follow recipes and baking from scratch to produce delicious cakes and bakes.

One bowl baking cuts down on unnecessary equipment, less washing up and is a shortcut to making delicious bakes.

There are over 100 recipes in the book with chapters covering muffins, scones, cookies, cupcakes, bundt cakes, party cakes, cheesecakes, tarts, puddings and dessert.  Chapter 1 - Good Baking - is a guide to suggested baking tools, knowing your ingredients and how to use the recipes in the book.

A few of the recipes which caught my eye are Peaches and Cream Streusel Muffins, Juicy Mango-Raspberry Crumble Tart, Glazed Coconut Bundt Cake and Whoopie Pie Trio.  There are lots of hints and tips with each recipe regarding ingredients, cooking and storing.
Delicious Orange-Blueberry Scones
My orange-blueberry scones are perfectly delicious and I loved the use of flaked almonds as a topping. They were quick and easy to make which means less time spent in the kitchen. The scones will freeze too.

This is a useful cookery book and one to turn to when you want to bake something just a little different and with great recipe titles too.

The author, Yvonne Ruperti was a recipe developer for Cooks Illustrated and is a professional pastry chef and recipe developer.  She splits her time between Singapore and New York city.

All of the recipes are in cups, ounces and grams.

Price £14.99
Available 12 September 2013
Perseus Books UK

Thank you for the review copy.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trip Report: Conklin Cemetery and Pine Meadow Lake Ruins 8/17/13 – 8/18/13

For some time now, during my research of different mountains here in NY, I’ve been seeing some sporadic pictures of ruins surrounding Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park. Through some reading, I pieced together that there were two sets of ruins in those mountains. The first was what people refer to as the Conklin Cemetery, and the second, the Pine Meadow Lake Pump House Ruins.

The history of the area that I was able to find goes a bit like this: In 1779 the Conklin family came to this area in the mountain. At the time there was no lake there, but was rather a valley. They built a house, farm, etc. What has come to be known as the Conklin cemetery was the burial site for members of the family. Over the years the land gets transferred several times. In 1935 the Civilian Conservation Corps floods the valley, creating Pine Meadow Lake. Several structures are constructed for the task, and abandoned after the lake is created. In 1963 the land is acquired by the park.

So, I decided to go to the lake and see what I could find. I would mostly follow trails, except for when I reached the lake. My plan was to travel along the southern side of the lake, where the Conklin cemetery was supposed be located. After passing the lake, I would camp in the vicinity of a lean-to shelter. The next day I would return along the northern side of the lake where the pump house ruins are located. The southern section of the lake would require bushwhacking.

The trip started out following along a river, which would take me a good part of the way to the lake. Just like last time, I had with me my trekking poles, which have been proving to be very useful.

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There were some mushrooms along the trail.

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… and a frog…

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For those of you who may be interested in repeating the trip, I started from the parking are on Seven Lakes drive. I then followed the Red trail to the White trail, to the Black trail over Raccoon Mountain, and then a short piece of Yellow trail, which got me almost next to the southern section of the lake. 

There was some good climbing up Raccoon Mountain. I am still getting used to doing it with the trekking poles. It’s actually not bad, offering good balance points.

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After reaching the summit, I descended down the Block trail until I reached a short section marked as Yellow. I followed it briefly until it ended in an unmarked path that seemed to follow along side the lake. I started following it, but it soon started moving away from the lake. From what I knew, the cemetery was right next to the lake, so I decided to bushwhack along the coast. That was easier said than done. The are was so overgrown with dense vegetation that moving was impossible in most areas. I zigzagged through the bushes, following whatever game trails I could find. On the upside, some of the huckleberry bushes had started to produce fruit.

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After spending quite some time in the area, I gave up on trying to find the cemetery. I figured the undergrowth was too thick and everything would have been covered up. I could be ten feet from a monument and I wouldn’t know it. I just pushed ahead along the lake in an effort to intersect a trail and follow it up the mountain where I would camp.

However, just as I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t locate the site, I emerged into a small clearing in the brush. It was the Conklin cemetery.

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It was a small area, that had clearly been maintained. At first I wasn’t sure how anyone had reached it at all, but that I noticed that there was a small trail leading out the other end. Eventually it proved to lead out to the unmarked path on the side of the lake.

The older head stone I was able to find was of Ezekial Conklin, who served in the Orange County Militia during the Revolutionary War. He died November 29, 1811.

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I followed the small path out of the cemetery heading due east. I soon reached another opening in the woods under a group of large pine trees. A bit to the side, I noticed the remnants of an old shed of some sort. I assume it was used as part of the pump station.

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I decided to stop at this spot and have lunch. I noticed that on all of the pine trees were remnants of the exoskeletons of what appeared to be cicadas.

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I figured I would stay away from the upright pines and found a nice rock to sit on.

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I’ve been experimenting with different foods, so today for lunch I had some tortillas with pepperoni and a mixture of bacon, dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. I also brought some ketchup in a small hand sanitizer bottle. Very happy with the results.

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When I was done with lunch, I decided to spend some time by the lake. I was making good progress, and since I had brought my fishing kit with me, I decided to try my luck. After looking around for a bit, I found one location where I was able to reach the water through the bushes. I set up, tied a roostertail to my line, and on the first cast I hooked something.

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It was an eight inch Blue Gill. They are not particularly good eating, and have a lot of bones, but will do for dinner in the woods.

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Since luck was on my side, I figured I would try for a few more. On the second and third cast I ended up hooking the lilies and losing the lures. I decided to cut my losses. I gutted the fish and stored it in a plastic bag from lunch. I then set out again.

At first my plan was to follow along the lake. I was about half way along it by this point. Unfortunately the same old problem popped up. The brush was too thick to move through. I again started following small unmarked paths, until I reached a decent size one. Along it there were several ruins, which appeared to be from the pump house complex.

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Unfortunately, all of this following of unmarked paths and looking for ruins, got me completely turned around. I had lost sight of the lake, and without realizing it had completed a good size semicircle, actually moving back west from where I had come. At this point I decided that it would be too difficult to try to follow the lake. I decided to backtrack to the north side of the lake and follow a path that ran there. This turned what was supposed to be five miles of backpacking on the first day into about seven miles. There was no time to waste. I just pushed along until I got to the area where I had intended to camp for the night. I only stopped for a bit near a small stream to fill up with water.

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The area where I wanted to camp for the night was over the other side of a mountain. When I passed over the peak, it was one of the first good views I was able to get that day.

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I set up camp, and got the fish cooking.



I also made my usual instant mashed potatoes, and finished a few snacks I had left over from earlier that day.

When the sun went down, I went to sleep. The next morning I fired up the stove and made some oatmeal. I didn’t want to start the fire back up again because I didn’t want to waste water putting it out when I was done.


After breakfast I headed back. As I was leaving, I noticed an unmarked path that was cutting across in the direction I intended to go-the north side of the lake. I decided to follow it instead of the trail. I figured worse case scenario, I would have to bushwhack until I reached the trail along the lake. I was in luck however, and eventually this path intersected the Red trail, which I needed to reach the lake. It appears that a bear had the same idea.


… and some more frogs…

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Eventually I reached the north side of the lake. This time i was able to slow down and look around. There were much better fishing locations here, and the coast was easily accessible.


By the side of the trail you could see the ruins of the actual pump house, along with some other structures.



After that it was just a matter of making my way out. The overall trip ended up being twelve miles.


I was using a new GPS unit on this trip, the Garmin eTrex 20. I’m still trying to learn how to use it. I was able to record the track, but wasn’t able to get a picture of the full elevation profile.


The trip was great. Other than getting turned around a few times, there were no difficulties. There were however some interesting gear developments. Recently I have cut down the weight and size of some of my gear, most notably my cooking kit and my sleeping bad (I’m using the NeoAir XTherm now). As a result, my 62L backpack now sits almost a third empty, without me even using any of the pockets. For this trip I ended up taking my REI Revelcloud puffy jacket just so I can fill up some of the room. The extra space will be welcomed during winter when I have crampons and other gear to fit in, but right now, the pack seems to large. I’ll have to think of something.

Ruben Vicente & João Maia | Hidden Gion

Here's a lovely multimedia piece (in video form) of photographs by Ruben Vicente and João Maia of the famous Gion neighborhood.

Gion is a district of Kyoto, Japan, originally developed in the Middle Ages, and built to accommodate the needs of travelers. It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. The geisha in the Gion district (and Kyoto generally) do not refer to themselves as geisha; instead, Gion geisha use the local term geiko. While the term geisha means "artist" or "person of the arts", the more direct term geiko means essentially "a child of the arts" or "a woman of art".

I read that Gion's structures boast wooden lattice windows made of thin wooden beams in a grid pattern to create a lace effect, and its streets are lined with stores selling traditional Kyoto crafts, such as 'kanzashi' (ornamental hairpins), incense and kimono accessories.

Ruben Vicente is travel photographer based in Lisbon who, apart from loving photography, is a senior programmer in the telecom industry. João Maia is a part-time freelance photographer in Lisbon specializing in landscape, nature and travel. He is also a software architect with a major Japanese company.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Raspberry, Chocolate and Almond Cake

It made a welcome change to make a cake that isn't either filled or covered in buttercream but we did serve the cake warm with double cream poured over, and very nice it was too.

Chocolate and raspberries go really well together, the cake will keep covered for a few days in the fridge. It slices well and will freeze too.

The cake testers gave this one the thumbs up.......

I'll let you take a peek behind the curtains of Kitchen Delights new kitchen sometime in September, the finishing touches are taking longer than we anticipated.

In the meantime to make this delicious cake -

You will need:

150g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self-raising flour
50ml milk
150g ground almonds
135g dark chocolate chips
150g frozen raspberries
25g flaked almonds
Icing sugar
Double cream to serve

1. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin.
2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
3. Beat the caster sugar and butter together until it is a light and fluffy consistency.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time and add a tablespoon of flour with the last egg, beating well.  Add the milk and keep on beating.
5. Sieve the flour over the egg mixture and fold in.  Add the ground almonds and chocolate chips and fold these in to the batter.  Now carefully fold in the frozen raspberries.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
7. Bake for 60 minutes or until cooked through.  Cool and then release the tin and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.
8. Sieve the icing sugar and dust over the cake.
9. Best served with cream.

Kares Le Roy | Asia In 6 Minutes

I frequently find wonderful work by photographers on my ZITE, and this remarkable video by Kares Le Roy managed to temporarily distract me a little from following the horrific events in Egypt. I hope it will have the same effect if you feel the same way.

Kares is a French photographer and graphic designer. More of his background can be found on his blog (scroll down for the English version). He traveled and photographed in Tibet, Nepal, India, Bali, Cuba, Cambodia and Morocco. He traveled through 56 000 km of land and humans: faces, smiles, eyes, monuments, cultures, events and this 6 minutes video masterfully provides a bird's eye view of the Asian continent.

I have featured the work of Kares on The Travel Photographer blog already, but Beware Magazine also has an interesting interview with him.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mykel Hawke vs. Joe Teti – The Next Round of TV Survival Show Host Drama

On Wednesday, a fellow blogger and writer of  Rocky Mountain Bushcraft, who seems to have his finger on the pulse of survival show drama, published a post about a war of words brewing on Facebook between former host of Man, Woman, Wild, Mykel Hawke, and co-host of Dual Survival, Joe Teti.


It is unclear to me how all this started, but seems to have been going on behind the scenes for some time now. It became very public when Mykel Hawke published a post about it on his Facebook page. The post vaguely spoke about how Joe Teti has been attacking him, and as his former commander, Myke knew things about him he would not want made public. (Sorry about the poor screen shot)

Copy (2) of Mykel Hawke j 

By the time I decided to make a post about this so you guys are in the loop as well, there was a massive amount of information. It is too much for me to post here, as Myke goes on for a number of posts about misrepresentations made by Joe Teti and things he has done wrong. The last post on the subject as of the time I am writing this discusses how Joe Teti allegedly failed to show up for combat duty after 9/11 and instead tried to make money by starting his own private security company.

Copy of Mykel Hawke j

As far as Joe Teti, he seems to have gone silent since Myke started posting all of this information on his Facebook page. Prior to that point however, he did publish several cryptic posts, which now make much more sense.

Copy (2) of Joseph Teti  Dual Survival j

Copy of Joseph Teti  Dual Survival j

I am sure there will be further developments. Something clearly went down between the two of them and has devolved into an all out war. Regardless of the the cause, I can’t imagine this will be good for either of their careers. Considering all of the publicity issues some networks have had with less than credible survival hosts, I don’t imagine any of them will want to do much business with people who have this much baggage… or maybe that’s exactly what they would want. Stay tuned for the Myke and Joe Survival Hour. :)

All that being said, what really blows my mind is that this is all happening on Facebook. It seems like a communications medium more suited to teenage girls than grown men, especially considering that both of them have websites, publicity teams, lawyers and publishers. I suppose sometimes people just can’t help themselves. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

POV: Monochrome...A Phase In Life?

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

A Facebook "conversation" touching on the merits (or lack thereof) of the Leica Monochrom with my friend Pierre Claquin triggered many thoughts in my mind. First off, the ephemeral thought of selling some or all of our photo gear to acquire the $8000 Monochrom crossed our minds...but after pushing away the temptation, I reflected on the reasons behind my recent interest in making monochrome photographs.

It started off during my Kolkata's Cult of Durga Photo~Expedition & Workshop™ in October 2011 during which I asked all its participants to produce their projects in black and white in order to bast capture the grittiness of Kolkata's Durga Puja.

I started to dabble with the various techniques in Photoshop or Lightroom; sometimes using presets in some cases. I also tried shooting in black and white with my M9 and the X Pro-1. The latter was used quite a lot in that mode in Sa Pa and Hanoi during my North of the 16th Parallel Photo-Expedition/Workshop, resulting in The Indigo People, and Hanoi Streets among others.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

More recently, I caught myself converting some of my most colorful photographs (such as the one of the Rajasthani shepherd and the Kathakali performer) to black and white, and was glad in seeing that these were equally powerful and pleasing to my eyes. I continued this trend over the past weeks, and started sending some of my conversions to be printed at Adorama.

In my office, I have about two dozen of some of my Cibachrome photographs made about a decade ago, already framed and mounted, and I've now decided to replace them with more recent photographs in monochrome. I already have switched 3 or 4 and these adorn one of my walls.

So is this infatuation with monochrome a function of a maturing phase in my photography timeline...or is it just an aesthetic phase that will subside? I don't know, but I wager that I'm not the only one who's passing (or has passed) through it.

It might also be a partial consequence of having downloaded the Nik Collection with its Silver Efex 2 software. The ease to use this software, and its results are really worth its $150 price tag.

In fact, its suggested workflow is what I use...not necessarily on all my conversions, but with a little tweaking, I found it works for me:

1. Apply Raw Presharpener using Sharpener Pro 3.0.
2. Apply noise reduction using Dfine 2.0.
3. Control color and light using Viveza 2.
4. Apply filter enhancements using Color Efex Pro 4.
5. Convert to black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2.
6. Apply output sharpening using Sharpener Pro 3.0.

Finally, will I desert color photography for monochrome? can I when there are many instances where color photography is just perfect for the scene?

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy- All Rights Reserved