Photographer #173: Susana Raab

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Susana Raab, 1968, Peru/USA, is a Washington, DC based editorial and documentary photographer. Her series Cholita examines modern coastal Peruvian culture with an emphasis on the Peruvian social constructs, which are a legacy of colonial times. The word Cholo derives its origin from colonial times and signifies a dog of disreputable origin, and was used by the colonial Spaniards as an insult. Today the word is commonly used with both positive and negative connotations depending upon the context and reflects a central paradox of Latin American culture. The following images come from her series CholitaConsumed (Fast Food in the US) and Migrants in Immokalee.


Deep Purple

A decade or more ago finding a Purple Gallinule, sorry Purple Swamphen, was quite an achievement. You could find them but they were localised in some well protected lakes and other wetlands.
In the early to mid 1990s you would certainly be very lucky to find one in La Janda. Then, possibly thanks to improved conservation, they started to turn up in the oddest of places. I even found them in small ponds within industrial estates. They certainly took off!
La Janda is now a great site to see them, often in flocks. They are quite bold and will come out of the reed beds into the open in broad daylight.
In fact they are so bold that they will venture onto tracks frequented by vehicles that simply drive too fast, to the detriment of these amazing birds...
But the balance is a positive one and we are now able to enjoy these iridescent birds where until recently there were none...

Photographer #172: George Georgiou

Monday, November 29, 2010
George Georgiou, 1961, Great-Britain, has an impressive body of work. In his latest book Fault Lines/Turkey/East/West he focused on the normal everyday life of Turkish people in a drastically changing country. Turkey is constantly modernizing and urbanizing due to mass migration from villages to cities. To persue his photography George has been to various countries as Serbia, Kosovo, Georgia and Ukraine. The following images come from the series Fault Lines: Turkey East WestTransit Ukraine: After the Revolution, Turks2 and Between the Lines Part 2.


Winter paradoxes

Yesterday I saw this young Short-toed Eagle over La Janda. This is a predominantly reptile hunter, though it does take other prey, and most books tell you they all go to spend the winter in tropical Africa. Before anyone jumps to the conclusion that global warming is changing the habits of this bird, I hasten to add that I have seen these majestic raptors in the area of the Strait most winters over the past 45 years.
So how do they survive? For starters we have to realise that only a few do it as the carrying capacity of the area for these birds cannot now be that high. But the ones that stay seem to survive, probably on a combination of snakes, lizards and small mammals. The reason is that these lowland areas of south-western Iberia are mild. But even here the nights can be cold, temperatures dropping below zero away from the coast. But the secret is that the sun retains a position high in the sky at noon which means that it rapidly warms up, even up to 20 or more degrees Celsius in mid-winter. This generates reptile activity and food for the eagles...
This is also the reason why many insectivorous birds also stay down here, or arrive from the north and go no further. Even obligate insect eaters, like the Crag Martin (below), winter here. This is the only European hirundine to winter north of the Sahara. I studied them many years ago and found that they survived by laying down fat reserves when conditions were favourable and surviving on these when it rained and they could not hunt. They were behaving like birds on migration throughout the winter. Adults, I found were better at it than first winter birds. In particularly bad years many young birds died and I would pick up their emaciated corpses at the base of their cave roosts.

Two other largely insectivorous birds winter down here in very large numbers. White Wagtail (above) and Meadow Pipit (below) also rely on small insects, especially those that live close to water. In winter swarms of these rise in the middle of the day as temperatures rise. The ones that the wagtails and pipits miss are probably taken by the martins!
All this should not surpise us. The latitude of Gibraltar is, for example, lower than parts of North Africa. And as Abel Chapman wrote more than a century ago this is, after all, a little piece of Africa in Europe!

Photographer #171: Asger Carlsen

Sunday, November 28, 2010
Asger Carlsen, 1973, Denmark, released a monograph with the title Wrong. The images inside the book seem to be images that anyone could take. They are shot with the built-in flash of a simple camera resembling photographs that one can find in everyone's home. However, the images of Asger are "wrong", they contain elements that are impossible and it's is hard to see how the photographer has achieved this. Carlsen' photography is disturbing, humorous and well composed. The following images come from the book Wrong and the series Hester.


Photographer #170: Jehad Nga

Thursday, November 25, 2010
Jehad Nga, 1976, USA, is a photojournalist that travels to some of the most dangerous places on this planet. He is one of the few that have covered Somalia extensively. He has been there many times in the last 5 years. Jehad covered stories in Iraq, Darfur and Kenya. In the village Turkana, he photographed the people inside a hut thus removing the harsh environment. He wanted to document the faces of the people that are at risk of dying due to water shortage and starvation. The following images come from the series Turkana, Iraq 2003-2008 - The Wait and In Memoria Del Futuro: Mogadishu 2010.


Photographer #169: Josef Schulz

Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Josef Schulz, 1966, Poland, lives and works in Germany. In his series Sign Out he photographed billboards from below and in postprocessing he deleted any text or logos. Schulz often manipulates his images to add meaning to them. In the series Übergang (Transition) he photographed the border posts that are no longer in use. He blurs the background to get them out of context. Josef has exhibited extensively around the globe. The following images come from the series Sign Out, Übergang and Sachliches.


Photographer #168: Lieko Shiga

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Lieko Shiga, 1980, Japan, graduated in 2004 at the Chelsea University of Art and Design in London. Since then she has released two books, Lilly in 2007 and CANARY in 2009. Her photographs are mysterious, intimate and emotional. For her series Lilly she photographed the people living in her block in East London. She covered an outside wall completely with a black cloth and photographed the people in front of it. The entire project consists of 80 images. The following images come from her series CANARY, Lilly and Damien Court.


Photographer #167: Youssef Nabil

Monday, November 22, 2010
Egyptian photographer Youssef Nabil, 1972, works and lives in New York. His images are hand colored gelatin silver prints. Next to his portraits of singers, writers and actors, often from the Arab world, he makes self-portraits that "reflect his dislocated life away from Egypt." Youssef's images remind us of film-stills from earlier Egyptian and Arab movies. He has been in numerous solo and group exhibitions and released two books; Sleep in my Arms, 2007 and I won't let you die, 2008. The following images come from his portfolio's Works I, Works II and Works III.


Photographer #166: Shai Kremer

Sunday, November 21, 2010
Shai Kremer, 1974, Israel, lives and works in New York. In his project Infected Landscape, with which he has had several solo exhibitions in the last few years, he focused on the effect of the military on the Iraeli landscape. Since 2002 he has been working on a series in New York. Instead of concentrating on the elements that make New York great, he takes us on a journey past the "less-explored". The following images come from the projects New York, Fallen Empires and Desert.


In Search of the Ibex

The Spanish Ibex is one of those gems of Nature that have somehow managed to survive, by a combination of luck and dedicated individuals prepared to come to their rescue, amidst the increasing human pressure on the fauna of Europe. Now confined to inaccessible high mountains, these animals once roamed rocky terrain down to sea level where they were hunted 40 thousand years ago by Neanderthals on the rocks by the sea at Gibraltar. But intense human pressure has driven these animals from any ancient favoured haunts.

To find and photograph these animals, my son Stewart and I climbed up the rocky terrain of the Sierra de Gredos in Western Spain. Winter is a good time as the snows push these animals down to where they can graze but this does not mean they are easy to find. To get to them requires hard work, not made any easier by altitude (we were between 1800 and 2000 metres) and snow showers...

Finally, a chance as a group of young and females allow approach during a heavy snow shower...

Stealth, while keeping downwind, allows a window of opportunity to get the shots we were after!

...not winking - left eye closed as the driving snow hit this ibex's face on its left side!

baby ibex

then a spectacular male, casually shows itself as it forages among the rocks, allowing an opportunity for good close-ups!

Exhausted but exhilarated we start the long trek back. A clearing in the the weather allows Stewart a chance to take some stunning photographs of Ibex Country...

father and son after a hard day's work!