Photographer #217: Peter Granser

Monday, January 31, 2011
Austrian photographer Peter Granser, 1971, lives and works in Germany. He will release his book J'ai perdu ma tête at the end of 2011. It will contain images of a psychiatric institute in France. Granser was not interested in the outer manifestations of insanity, he approached the subject from an interior perspective. It will be his sixth book if one does not include his special editions. Amongst his earlier books have been Signs, landscape images taken in Texas that give us an insight into the contemporary US identity through words, signs and other expressions. His earliest book is Sun City, about a retirement colony in the American southwest. The following images come from J'ai perdu ma tête, Signs and Sun City.


Photographer #216: Timm Kölln

Sunday, January 30, 2011
Timm Kölln, 1976, Germany, lives and works in Berlin. For many years he has been following cycling races as the Tour the France, Paris - Roubaix and the Giro d'Italia. He is not your ordinary sports photographer, unlike his colleagues that photograph and register the various races with digital equipment, Timm still shoots everything on film. He sees cycling as an aesthetic sport and brings that back in his, mostly black and white, photography. In 2010 he released his book The Peloton. It contains strong images of the riders several seconds after they crossed the finish line. The photographs from the series Lo Stelvio are made with a pinhole camera. The following images come from the portfolio's Dolomiti, The Peloton and Lo Stelvio.


Diary - The Lammergeier

Friday, January 28, 2011
The Lammergeier has become among the rarest of European breeding birds. The decline seems to have started as far back as the 19th Century and its causes seem to have been a combination of the rise of guns, poisoning and nest robbing. Colonel Irby in 1895 wrote how his friend Colonel Verner had already noticed a decline twenty years earlier when "...these birds nested regularly not far from Gibraltar, but owing to persecution have of late years disappeared or retired to less-frequented sierras."

Dr Stark, in the decade of the 1880s recorded how "In Andalucia is decidedly common in the Sierra Nevada, and all the region between Granada and Jaen. In a day’s ride five or six may be seen flying over the hill-sides or gliding along the face of a cliff or down some ravine. In the Ronda mountains they are fairly numerous, becoming scarcer towards Gibraltar and Tarifa."

It seems that the presence of the Griffon Vulture was somehow detrimental to the natural distribution of the Lammergeier. Dr Stark thus commented how "In certain districts of the Sierra Nevada, where the Griffon does not intrude, the Quebrantahuesos is especially numerous."

Stark's comments also suggest that the population near the Strait of Gibraltar was dominated by non-breeding immatures (above and below). "In the lower ranges of the Sierra de Ronda, towards Gibraltar and Tarifa, the Bearded Vulture is not very common; the Griffon being, on the contrary, abundant in that district. The majority of Bearded Vultures seen here have been birds in dark plumage, not fully adult."

Today, to have any chance of seeing (and photographing) Lammergeiers we have to travel to the Pyrenees, the main European nucleus of this species. Re-introduction programmes, such as those in the Sierra de Cazorla, offer hope of recovery which will be slow. These birds take eight years to reach breeding condition.


First winter (left) and adult (right)

Today, in special places like Boumort in the Catalan Pyrenees, it is still possible to observe the complete array of European vultures together. Three of them - Griffon, Black and Lammergeier - are in this single photograph.

My gratitude to the management and staff of Boumort Reserve for permission to photograph within the reserve

Photographer #215: Wayne Lawrence

Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wayne Lawrence, 1974, The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, works and lives in Brooklyn, New York. He left St. Kitts in 1994 and started working as a carpenter. He swopped carpenting with photography several years ago. Wayne's work focuses on "individuals and rituals within communities otherwise overlooked by the mainstream media". His work has been shown at various exhibitions and has been published in magazines as Colors, Newsweek and the New York Times Magazine.  The following images come from the series Orchard Beach (The Bronx Riviera), Jouvert (Labor Day in Brooklyn) and MIA (Urban Beach Week).


Photographer #214: Aaron Huey

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Aaron Huey, 1975, USA, has done a vast amount of projects. In 2002 he walked 3,349 miles across the United States. He regularly shoots for the National Geographic magazine, The New Yorker and Harper's amongst many others. He was named one of PDN's top 30 emerging photographers in 2007. In 2008 he was awarded a National Geographic Expedition Council grant to hitchhike across Siberia. Aaron has covered stories on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia and the United States to name a few. He was planning on doing a story on poverty in America and ended up at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. Pine Ridge became a long-term project on it's own. The following images come from the series America, Pine Ridge and Afghanistan Drug War.


Photographer #213: Osama Esid

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Osama Esid, 1970, Syria, lives in Minneapolis, USA. He hand colors his black and white prints. His work is often about "Orientalism" and the social preconceptions and stereotypes that have been created in the past and still exist today. For his series Cairo Street Workers, he created a studio in the streets of Cairo, Egypt. By doing this, he gave the impression of being a mobile businessman, just like the other people in the street. This gave him the opportunity to photograph the working men. Due to the backdrop of fake palmtrees they step out of reality, but their clothes, expressions and gear tell the true stories of these men. The following images come from the series Cairo Street Workers, Orientalism and Stereotypes and Marie.


Photographer #212: Newsha Tavakolian

Monday, January 24, 2011
Newsha Tavakolian, 1981, Iran, is a self-taught photographer. Her work has been published in magazines as Time Magazine, Newsweek and Stern. Her main focus lies on women's issues. She started out as a photojournalist, covering stories in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon amongst others. Slowly her work has shifted towards a more documentary and creative approach. In her series "listen", she photographed six female singers who are not allowed to sing solo, perform in public or produce CD's due to the Islamic tenets. She then created six images and turned them into CD covers for these singers. As a statement she left the CD cases empty. Newsha's portfolio is filled with interesting stories. The following images come from "listen" and Mother of Martyrs.


Photographer #211: Billy Kidd

Sunday, January 23, 2011
Billy Kidd, 1980, USA, is a fashion, portrait and celebrity photographer. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona but currently works and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Since 2007 he has been shooting commercial and editorial work. In 2010 his images of Paul Dano were selected for the PDN Faces contest aswell as the shots of Pharrell Williams and NERD for PDN's The Look contest. Billy's images are soft and rough at the same time, it is young, edgy and rebellious. The following images come from his portfolio's Portraits I, Portraits II and Celebrity.


Photographer #210: Jason Nocito

Thursday, January 20, 2011
Jason Nocito, 1973, USA, is a rock, lifestyle and fashion photographer. At a young age he started taking pictures of bands and his friends hanging out at concerts. He studied photography at the Parsons School of Design and graduated in 1996. Nowadays Jason shoots campaigns for big clients as Apple, Nike and MTV. He has seen various celebrities and musicians in front of his camera as Emile Hirsch and Mary Kate Olsen. His photography is full of vibrance, youth and a sense of freedom. The following images come from I Heart Transylvania, the campaign Skins and various other portfolio's.


Photographer #209: Richard Renaldi

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Richard Renaldi, 1968, USA, is a photographer with a large portfolio of projects and several monographs. He travels across the United States to find his images. In the book Figure and Ground he went from coast to coast. Together these images make a portrait of a population and a country. In his project 49 and 50 he went to the 49th and 50th state, being Alaska and Hawaii. It is a tribute to the character of these secluded places. In his project Touching Strangers, Richard asked complete strangers to pose for a picture with one condition; they have to touch each other in some manner, introducing an unpredictable variable in the traditional portrait. Renaldi uses a large format (8x10") camera. The following images come from 49 and 50, Fall River Boys and Touching Strangers.


Photographer #208: Jörn Vanhöfen

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Jörn Vanhöfen, 1961, Germany, is a landscape photographer. He will be releasing his book Aftermath with images from his Disaster series in April 2011. In 2009 he released the book Südafrikas Küste (South Africa's Coast). His large prints have something that makes the viewer uncomfortable and question reality. Jörn plays with the elements such as wind, snow, light and carefully chooses perspectives gaining tension in the photographs. Jörn has exhibited extensively throughout Europe, but also had several overseas exhibitions. He has been published in various catalogues. In 2000 he released the book Die Elbe (The Elbe River). The following images come from the series Disaster, Südafrika and Elbe.


Diary: The Bonelli's Eagle

With the new year I am introducing a new section to the blog called diary. Whenever this word appears in front of the post title it means I will be drawing on written texts from 19th and early 20th Century naturalists and comparing to the present. Photographs may not all be from now but will include some from my archive. Today, I start with the Bonelli's Eagle Aquila fasciata.

This impressive cliff-nesting eagle has attracted the attention of naturtalists for a long time. Sadly, this bird is very much in decline and is rarer each year. The European population is of the order of 1000 breeding pairs, 80% of which are in Spain with smaller numbers in Portugal, Greece, France, Italy, Croatia and Albania.

Its geographical range once included many coastal cliffs where it is now gone. A traditional site was the Rock of Gibraltar where it nested annually until last recorded in 1936 - the disturbance of the war years probably caused their disappearance. They nested below the old Signal Station (below).

Colonel Howard Irby in the second edition of his Ornithology of the Straits of Gibraltar (1895) tells us how " a pair nest annually at Gibraltar, at the 'back of the Rock', to the south of the Signal Station; there are never more than a pair, though there are four situations where there are nests, one of which has not been used for several years.

typical eyrie with two chicks

My friend and colleague Dr Juan Pleguezuelos of the University of Granada studied this habit of use of alternative nests and found that it was a way of avoiding parasite infestation. What is more he was able to show that birds which lined the nests with fresh branches of Maritime Pine Pinus pinaster had a greater breeding success rate. The chemicals produced by this pine acted as an effective insect repellent that kept the nests clean and the chicks healthy!

Bonelli's Eagles were once widely distributed across southern Iberia and our Pleistocene cave sites on the Rock have revealed evidence of their presence since at least 50 thousand years ago (above).

Irby tells us how "when not breeding they hunt together (male and female), one high above the other, suddenly stooping down on some luckless rabbit or else gliding off to take up a fresh aerial station whence to watch for their prey, which seems to be taken on the ground." The other favourite prey of this bird is the partridge.

Irby relates some fascinating accounts of situations and contexts unlikely to be found today. Ospreys also nested on Gibraltars cliffs and he tells us what happened when they came across each other: "on another occasion, in the same month, I saw a Bonelli's Eagle flying about not far from the Osprey's nest, when down swooped an Osprey, like a stone, striking the Eagle on the back and knocking out a lot of feathers. Shrieking out, they were bound together for a few seconds, and then separated, neither apparently the worse for the encounter, and each flying off towards their respective eyries.

Lt Colonel Willougby Verner, writing in 1909, was equally impressed by this powerful eagle. As a falconer and son of a falconer he "was intensely attracted by Bonelli's Eagle when I learnt that it was the same species which the Afghans employ for hawking small deer."

He further observed "as regards their structure, few Eagles, if indeed any, are so powerful for their size as is Bonelli's. Their massive legs and feet and abnormally large claws are seemingly out of all proportion to the rest of their body." 

It is a real pity that such a majestic animal should be suffering such a fate as we progressively eat into their territories and sever traditional connections that have maintained viable populations for tens of millennia...