Sunday, December 8, 2013

How to Photograph Coastlines

coastline at St Andrews, Scotland.

 Malibu's scenic coastline

 coastline at St Andrews

 coastline of Anaura Bay

Lost Cities

Lost city is a term that can be used to a human settlement that which fell into terminal decline, became extensively or completely uninhabited. The location of many of these cities had been forgotten, but some have been rediscovered and studied extensively by scientists.

Recently abandoned cities or cities whose location was never in question might be referred to as ruins or ghost towns. The search for such lost cities by European explorers and adventurers in the Americas, Africa and in Southeast Asia from the 15th century onwards eventually led to the development of archaeology.


Lucknow, Eclipse of Elegance

Ah, Lucknow! The capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, and a city whose cultural wealth blends Hindu and Muslim cultures co-existing side by side for centuries, sharing similar interests and speaking a common language. A city which owes its unique trait to the secular and syncretic traditions of the Nawabs of Awadh, who encouraged and enhanced its intrinsic traditions.

Lucknow Urdu literature, Muslim poetry, its refined cuisine, music and its dance are examples of its sophistication and cultural refinement. Moreover, Lucknow experienced an influx of Sufi saints, and it has its share of venerated saints such as Sheikh Qawam-ud-din and his disciple Shah Mina who have their tombs in the city. Moreover, Lucknow is reputed to be the home of the delicious galowti kebab*. It's said that the recipe was developed for aging nawab who could not chew meat having lost all his teeth. The recipe is said to have more than 100 aromatic spices.

But I digressed away from the purpose of this post which is to feature the work of Pascal Meunier, which he titles Lucknow, Eclipse of an Elegant Lady. To illustrate this post, I chose his photograph of a ramshackle mansion in Lucknow, and its tattered furniture on which a elderly caretaker is sleeping...under the regal and severe gaze of Queen Victoria. I would guess that this painting hasn't been moved an inch since it was hung in the mid to late 1800s.

Pascal is far from being a newcomer to The Travel Photographer blog. He's one of my favorite travel documentary photographers, and for some 14 years, he has reported on the cultural traditions from Mauritania to Malaysia, passing through Iran, Libya, Yemen and Egypt on the way. The objective of his photography is to capture the cultural heritage and traditions that are swiftly vanishing. He also shows a Muslim world in change, overtaken by modernity, but increasingly anxious to preserve its values. He has photographed my native Egypt in depth...documenting the public baths in Cairo, its night life, its decrepit palaces, and even photographed the gold Sukari mine which has its share of controversy.

* For the record, Anamitra Chakladar, a good friend in Delhi, generously introduced me to the delights of the galowti kebab in a Nizzam Uddin eatery. I've been hooked since.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Afghanistan, A Tale of Three Cities

I've gone bored with the repetitiveness and lack of imagination of what passes for photojournalism these days, and I was disinterested in featuring any new work that came across my desktop.

However, I thought Afghanistan: A Tale of Three Cities was different. It's a series that filmmaker John D McHugh has been making for Al Jazeera, looking at Afghanistan through the prism of 2014, when international troops are scheduled to "withdraw" from the country. The photographs are in monochrome, and depict life in the Afghan cities of Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Jalalabad.

I was especially intrigued by the photograph above, showing currency exchange offices surrounding what appears to be a small mosque (top middle). The Arabic script on its wall reads "this is a noble masjid"... places of mammon surrounding a place of worship? Really? But then I remember that Mecca...the holy epicenter of Islam was and is crowded with trading and mercantile activities, and has been so since time immemorial.

He was a daily press photographer, and worked as a regular stringer for The Associated Press and The Guardian before taking a staff photographer position with Agence-France Presse. Since 2007 he has been freelance again and is represented by Reportage by Getty Images.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Meringue Topped Mince Pies and Mini Mince Pies with Lids - Recipe

We ate all the crumble topped mince pies and because I've got lot's of mincemeat to use up I decided to rustle up these little beauties.

A cloud of crispy meringue
If there was a popularity contest for mince pies these would come third - first place is given to the crumble topped mince pies, second place to mini mince pies with a pastry lid and third place goes to meringue topped mince pies.

Mini Mince Pies with lids

I always use Delia's mincemeat recipe (it doesn't boil over) and if there is any left it keeps well.

You will need: 12 cup bun tin, greased and mincemeat

Recipe: for Meringue Topped mince pies or use the sweet pastry to make mini mince pies with lids.

For the sweet pastry:
225g plain flour, 115g butter, 50g lard, 25g icing sugar, 1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sift flour into a bowl add the butter and lard. Rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the icing sugar and then the beaten egg. Bring together to form a smooth dough. Place in plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out just over half the pastry to 3mm thickness and cut out circles large enough to fit the base of the tart tins.
3. Place a dessert spoon of mincemeat into each pastry base.

Meringue Topping
2 egg whites
100g golden caster sugar

1. Whisk 2 egg whites to the soft peak stage. Gradually whisk in 100g caster sugar teaspoon by teaspoon until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
2. Place blobs of meringue on top of the mince meat and bake for 20 minutes, until pale golden. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Mini Mince Pies - follow the sweet pastry recipe and cut out lids to fit the tops of the mince pies. Place a dessert spoon of mincemeat into each pastry base.  Wet the lids and press on to the sides of the pastry bases. Cut twice into each pastry lid and place the tray in the fridge for 30 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes.  When they come out of the oven sprinkle with plenty of caster sugar. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then remove the pies to a wire rack. They will freeze successfully.

Berta upe Tilmantaitė | Myanmar

Photo © Berta upe Tilmantaite- All Rights Reserved
Viewing Vimeo's Staff Pick "A Handful of Myanmar" made me realize that it had been quite a while since I posted photographs or video of this wonderful country.

Myanmar is currently one of the hottest travel destinations. Tour groups, solo tourists, travel photographers are flocking to this wonderful Asian nation, and its hotels are virtually overbooked. Some may say that this influx of tourism (mostly Western), which increased almost 90% over the past 3 years, will eventually be detrimental to its culture, character and personality. Despite the recent cancellation of large tour groups from the US, the UK, Australia and France, Myanmar is planning for a significant tourist influx in the coming couple of years.

A far cry from when I visited in 2001 and 2002, when tourists were few...partly put off by the country's poor infrastructure and by the notion that tourism helped to retain the military junta in power.

Berta upe Tilmantaite is a Lithuanian multimedia journalist, photographer and story teller, currently based in Vilnius. She obtained her MA in International Multimedia Journalism from the University of Bolton / Beijing Foreign Studies University (Beijing) after graduating from Vilnius University.

I am featuring her work from Myanmar here, but also explore her other galleries of the Himalaya region, Tibet, Indonesia, Borneo, Mongolia, Thailand, Georgia and Portugal. Her video titled A Handful of Myanmar was a Vimeo Staff Pick.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sponsored Video: Express Yourself With Canon #LEGRIA Mini

I’m always looking for fun ways to present content differently for the blog and how to make food as visually exciting and appealing as possible.

Good lighting, great props, some attention to styling and snapping away whilst getting straight into the action are some of my tried and tested methods to get great visuals but what if you’re looking for something new or unique?

Canon have introduced a nifty little video camera called the Legria mini and are challenging us foodies to create a-maz-ing content to inspire readers.

At just the size of your palm, this small camera is perfect for presenting a recipe to camera without the need for a camera assistant.  Imagine being able to put it on the work surface as you whizz, chop and create. It’s also light and versatile allowing you to capture every moment, which can be pulled together as a mini package afterwards.

The camera also boasts great sound and picture quality - so nothing to worry about if you’re a technophobe.  With wireless syncing ability with a smartphone or tablet – it’s just made life easier for all of us.

Let's take a look at the video to see what’s possible using it both inside and outdoors.  In the video they even put it in the fridge (I’m not sure I would go that far but it’s nice knowing it’s an option). With Christmas creeping up on us - this will be an ideal gift to get those creative juices simmering.

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Canon but all thoughts are our own.

Dude You’re Screwed! Premiers Dec 8, 2013 at 10PM

Dude You’re Screwed! is the newest survival show from the Discovery Channel. Stupid name, I know. We’ll see how the show actually turns out.


The show is based around five survival experts. Here are the credentials provided by the Discovery Channel:

  • Terry Schappert, a Green Beret, A -Team leader, medic, sniper and close combat specialist
  • John Hudson, an Extreme Survival Instructor for the UK Royal Air Force
  • Matt Graham, a primitive skills expert and a desert survival instructor
  • Jake Zweig, a former Navy SEAL, certified in Surface Warfare & as a dive safety officer and helicast master
  • Tom Moore, a veteran Army Scout, bush craft master and wilderness guide

Each episode one of them will be dropped in a remote area of the wilderness without being told ahead of time where that will be. He then has 100 hours to make his way out. The other four experts will do some backseat driving, watching the progress on a television set, and commenting along the way. From the description, the show gives me a Bear Grylls vibe, which is not a good thing, but I’ll watch and see how it turns out.

The show airs this Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 10PM on the Discovery Channel right after the Naked and Afraid two hour premier.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Naked and Afraid Season 2 Starts Dec 8, 2013 at 8PM

That’s right, Naked and Afraid returns for season two. The new season is set to premier on December 8, 2013 at 8PM on the Discovery Channel.


For those of you not familiar with the show, the premise is that one man and one woman are dropped off in the wilderness. They are each allowed to bring only one tool, and nothing else. By nothing else, I mean, not even clothing. They then have to survive 21 days. The “no clothing” rule understandably seems to limit the show to areas where the temperatures will not cause immediate hypothermia, such as deserts and jungles. In season one, some of the people managed to make it, others did not.

Season two premiers with a two hour episode, where they will actually have four (4) people trying to survive together. I think the show is quite good at demonstrating the difficulties created by starvation, as well as the psychological impact of such a challenge.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Rohit Vohra | Stolen Moments

Photo © Rohit Vohra-All Rights Reserved

I do like the phrase 'stolen moments' when it relates to street photography, since I agree that candid photography is a form of 'theft'...after all, it was Henri Cartier-Bresson who chose the phrase of images à la sauvette, which may be translated as "images on the fly" or "stolen images, as a title for one of his books. The phrase was then translated to the more widely known "the decisive moment"by the English publisher of the same book.

And where else other than India can it be most practiced? Actually, in a lot of more places, but India occupies a significant place in the pantheon of interesting countries to photograph in the streets. As I often say, it takes considerable courage to photograph in black & white in India...avoiding the seduction of color that attracts so many of us. That is precisely what Rohit Vohra did in his Stolen Moments galleries...stolen moments in the streets of India in monochrome.

Just have a look at the decisive moment in the above photograph. Possibly made in the chaotic alleys of Old Delhi, a woman gestures with her hand trying to gain passage in front of a harried rickshaw driver, while her child and the driver glare at each other. One could write a short story based on this split second moment.

Rohit Vohra is a street photographer based in New Delhi whose photographs are often about contact with humans and basic living elements. He is also a co-founder of APF Magazine.