It is time to take a breather and reflect on the year gone by. 2016 was a very busy time with 15 international trips to all corners of the globe including Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Sardinia, & Botswana. I thank everyone who has been a part of these photographic adventures, and I hope that we will have an equally fulfilling time in 2017. Here is a selection of 15 of some of my favorite images, one from each trip.
Rajasthani Mystics Running through Hot Coals, India
Receding Wave and Calved Ice on Black Beach, Iceland
Woman in a Chador Walking Past a Mural of Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran
Man Walking over Puddle During Easter Procession, Guatemala
Plaza de España at Dusk, Spain
Portrait of Alessia in Traditional Dress of the Village of Tresnuraghes, Sardinia
Elderly Woman Cutting Grass with a Sickle for Animal Food, Romania
Travel Photographer of the Year Competition
I am happy to say that, after 6 years as a Finalist, the image above, from one of our 2016 tours to Romania, was chosen as the Best Single image in a Portfolio "Mankind" in the 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) (see above). Another, photographed in a bakery in Viñales, Cuba was Highly Commended in the One Shot Category, "Shaped by Light" (see at the end of this post).
Farm Workers Loading Fresh-cut Hay on to a Horse-drawn Cart, Romania
Gelati Monastery Interior Showing Medieval Frescoes, Georgia
St Blaise’s Church and the Cathedral at Dusk, Croatia
Young Golden Eagle Hunter Holding his Bird, Mongolia
Man Grinding Millet to Make Flour for Chapatis, India
A Bride Leaves and a Bride Exits from the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum, Uzbekistan
Male Cheetah Using a Tree as a Lookout, Botswana
Bathing Huts at St James Reflected in a Tidal Pool, South Africa
The Cake Decorator, Cuba
Travel Photographer of the Year Competition
"The Cake Decorator" - 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY), Highly Commended One Shot, "Shaped by Light"
You know sometimes you find an image that you really love…at the time, then, when you go back and look at your files a year or two later, you see something else that really jumps out, that trumps your initial selection. Well, for me this is one of those times. Initially I had chosen the image above as my "hero". It was the expression of intense devotion on the woman's face that got me. I ignored the rest…until now more that 2 years later.
Below are my edits from that particular shoot and now there is only one image that stands out amongst all of them. My initial selection is too cluttered and the people in the back merge with the subject. Can you guess which image is my new champion? My choice is below.
This image shows more of the setting, there is still a lot of emotion in the face of the woman who is performing her bathing ritual, but it is the apparent dispassion of the two ladies in conversation behind her that seals it for me — I wish the guy in the back had not raised his arm but I can live with it. What do you think?
I was going through my files looking for an image from the 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela when I came across this one. I liked the chaos of the hands and arms, as well as the bold colors, but what was it all about? What was going on? Does the image work on its own as a graphic treatment of a moment in time? I don't think so.
Recalling that moment during the first of 8 days that we spent in Allahabad, while there to witness the world's largest gathering of humanity during the Maha Kumbh Mela, I went back and looked at the set of images I had taken. They showed a group of women, one who seemed to be the center of attention in her role as a "seer", performing a ritual puja on the banks of the Ganges. From time to time the woman in the red sari would go into a trance state and start shaking her head while the others attended to her. Seen in the context of the story, this image makes more sense.
I spent 15 minutes watching and photographing this whole session. I had gained their approval before taking one picture so was able to move in fairly close and record the whole event with a wide angle lens. After a minute or so I was invisible to them. From the 80 images that I shot I have narrowed the results down to 16.
It is off to Sicily again next Tuesday. Our tour will take us along the north coast, across to Stromboli, then around a snow-covered Mt Etna. We will be in Enna for the Easter Parade.
I just bought Mark Knopfler's new album, "Tracker" and I was delighted to see that there was a track called Lights of Taormina. We will be back in Taormina on March 30 for 3 nights so that seemed very serendipitous.
I have embedded the track in this post for you to enjoy.
Recently I was approached by one of the participants from our recent Pixelchrome/EpicPhoto Tours tour to Gujarat. She had been reviewing her images and was feeling very nervous about sharing them with her peers on our group Facebook page.
With her permission, I would like to share the contents of her email and then comment at the end:
"I have selected a few photos I love in the categories I had preselected before the trip. Faces, Working, Street Life, Hands & Feet, Sharing and after being on the trip a new one, Animals. I am following the Facebook posts from the group and feeling a bit intimidated/nervous about posting my photos on Facebook and mentioning Pixelchrome/Epic Photo Tours; I am thinking only fabulous photos should be shown to showcase your company in the best light. Without post photo enhancement software, the best I can do is crop and a bit of highlighting…whatever Windows standard software allows."
First of all I would like to commend Lois on her foresight and on her wish to tell the story of her journey through Gujarat. What a great idea to try and tell that story with each of those categories in mind. This is certainly a good way to organize one's thoughts and a good way to plan the narrative — not that it would preclude her from photographing all of those random moments that would crop up that would not necessarily "fit" into those categories.
Secondly, having looked through the following collection of images, if I were a newcomer to the photo tour experience may I suggest that I might be intimidated by what I have seen here. This is quite a collection of images, one which I would certainly be proud to share with my peers, and indeed with the rest of the world.
Lois came on this tour as a fledgling photographer, and having been given the myriad opportunities which our tour offered, she stretched her photographic wings and soared.
I have arranged the images in galleries in the categories in which Lois had divided them, and at the top of each gallery I have chosen my favorite image from each collection. I have explained why in the caption — oh, and the first four images below are my pick of the whole bunch.
Please grab a cup of coffee and take some time to look through this body of work — one which you should be proud to have created Lois. Brava! (click on the images in each gallery to create a slideshow)
All images © Lois Brassart, 2015
Strong, bold colors, good composition and great use of shadows. Timing was a little off. I would have waited till there was a little more separation between the two men (see example). I would have also altered my position so as to create more of a diagonal with the kite strings (see example). As it is the white strings form a rather strong 50:50 division of the frame
I love the mood in this image and it is the "gestures" that are what really make it work — the woman washing her hair, the position of the hand of the woman standing, and the raised paddle as the woman beats the clothing — great timing! Great use of the reflection. Maybe get lower next time and include the whole reflection.
Fabulous portrait, great connection and beautiful light
Here I really like the use of the arms as the lead in to the image. The diagonals are very strong, the color is strong and all the elements come together to tell the story of this sale/trade. In a perfect world I would have moved my camera perspective slightly so as to get rid of the bright spot of earth in the lower mid frame.
Fantastic image. You know what I really like about it is the wonderful use of depth of field. The viewer is so drawn to the cows where the background could have been a great distraction — not so here.
Not sure what is going on here but whatever it is, I really like it. The textured "overlay" in the background is very complimentary to the image as a whole. The expression on the face of the man is engaged and the placement of the hand is very strong — the gravy is his red string bracelet.
I really like the unusual point of view. The light is nice and you have made a connection with the girl. Compositionally I would have included all of the ladle and given a little more breathing room between the tyre and the edge of the frame. The cut-off matchbox is not helping either.
Hands & Feet
Great shot. It fits beautifully into your category of hands & feet — a bonus having the woman in green in the background! Again in a perfect world there are a couple of things that I would have changed to make this perfect. A step to the right would have got rid of the merge of the womens' arms with the tree, and I would have preferred that the woman in the background had been one pace back so as not to be so close to the edge of the frame.
This image is really strong in part due to the mystery. What is it? Love the texture and pattern.
Great use of the telephoto lens to compress the image. Great colors
Nice barber shop image. It took me a second to see the reflection of the face in the mirror. I like the repetition of the hand gesture. A little step to the right and you could have had the reflection of the barber in the big mirror, and a little more space between the edge of the frame and the reflection of the guy being shaved would also have been nice.
I have just returned from an Epic Photo Tours/Pixelchrome photography tour in Gujarat in India. For two weeks 11 participants, myself and Herb Leventon, and our super guide Pravin Dangera visited cities, tribal villages, mosques, temples, Royal Palaces and much more.
It was a wonderful tour with a warm, compatible group, great weather and a huge variety of subjects to photograph. Below I have posted a few more images from the tour (see also here) — please enjoy them!
As we near the one week mark on our trip to Gujarat I wanted to share a few images. As always India is amazing and it never disappoints — a true travel photographer's dream. Enjoy the images!
First, I’ve instructed Secretary Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations that have been severed since January of 1961. Going forward, the United States will reestablish an embassy in Havana, and high-ranking officials will visit Cuba.
Where we can advance shared interests, we will -– on issues like health, migration, counterterrorism, drug trafficking and disaster response. Indeed, we’ve seen the benefits of cooperation between our countries before. It was a Cuban, Carlos Finlay, who discovered that mosquitoes carry yellow fever; his work helped Walter Reed fight it. Cuba has sent hundreds of health care workers to Africa to fight Ebola, and I believe American and Cuban health care workers should work side by side to stop the spread of this deadly disease.
Now, where we disagree, we will raise those differences directly -– as we will continue to do on issues related to democracy and human rights in Cuba. But I believe that we can do more to support the Cuban people and promote our values through engagement. After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.
Second, I’ve instructed Secretary Kerry to review Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. This review will be guided by the facts and the law. Terrorism has changed in the last several decades. At a time when we are focused on threats from al Qaeda to ISIL, a nation that meets our conditions and renounces the use of terrorism should not face this sanction.
Third, we are taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba. This is fundamentally about freedom and openness, and also expresses my belief in the power of people-to-people engagement. With the changes I’m announcing today, it will be easier for Americans to travel to Cuba, and Americans will be able to use American credit and debit cards on the island. Nobody represents America’s values better than the American people, and I believe this contact will ultimately do more to empower the Cuban people.
I also believe that more resources should be able to reach the Cuban people. So we’re significantly increasing the amount of money that can be sent to Cuba, and removing limits on remittances that support humanitarian projects, the Cuban people, and the emerging Cuban private sector.
I believe that American businesses should not be put at a disadvantage, and that increased commerce is good for Americans and for Cubans. So we will facilitate authorized transactions between the United States and Cuba. U.S. financial institutions will be allowed to open accounts at Cuban financial institutions. And it will be easier for U.S. exporters to sell goods in Cuba.
I believe in the free flow of information. Unfortunately, our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe. So I’ve authorized increased telecommunications connections between the United States and Cuba. Businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries.
These are the steps that I can take as President to change this policy. The embargo that’s been imposed for decades is now codified in legislation. As these changes unfold, I look forward to engaging Congress in an honest and serious debate about lifting the embargo.
I am slowly making my way through the images from this past December trip to Cuba which I lead with Nevada Wier. I started posting a few of my favorite images several days ago [see link] and below you will see a few more .
I am looking forward to returning to Eastern Cuba in April 2015. If you are interested in being included on the "interested list" please send me an email.
As you may know, I was in Cuba during an historic time and I want to share the following extract from the President's recent statement on Cuba Policy Changes:
This new course will not be without challenges, but it is based not on a leap of faith but on a conviction that it’s the best way to help bring freedom and opportunity to the Cuban people, and to promote America’s national security interests in the Americas, including greater regional stability and economic opportunities for American businesses. - Secretary of State, John Kerry
Enjoy the images and have a Happy New Year and safe travels wherever you go!
Only the United States Congress can repeal the embargo. What Mr Obama has done is remove some of its teeth. Just how far détente between the United States and Cuba will go is not yet clear. “I don’t expect a transformation of Cuban society overnight,” said Mr Obama. But he is surely right in saying that after half a century of failure in trying to isolate Cuba, it is worth trying to promote change there through engagement — Editorial, The Economist
Jeremy Woodhouse is a professional photographer and traveller. He leads photography trips to all corners of the globe