Feathercraft Wisper XP Kayak

Feathercraft Wisper XP

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One of the best big ticket purchases of my adult life is my Feathercraft Wisper XP kayak. My friend just bought a used 5 series BMW here in Hong Kong for what this thing cost me, but it is worth every hard earned dollar. The thing fits in a bag that goes on buses, trains, planes, boats, whatever. I have taken three fairly large trips with it. 

The biggest of these was a 560 km trip last winter, where my buddy Tim Morch and I paddled the entire west coast of Thailand, from the Burmese border to the Malaysian border. We averaged 30 kms a day, which might not sound like a lot, but it felt significant. The first week is a sort of hell on the body, but after that it gets much easier. I reckoned it was around 250,000 paddle strokes, of which about 150,000 hurt. 

I didn't shoot any video on that trip, but I documented it with an Instagram photo essay,

which you can check out here.

I have shot a few videos out of my Wisper. The first was a trip on the Thai coast in 2010. 

The second was a nice little day paddle around Koh Phayam, an island off the Thai coast where I spend a lot of time.

And the third is a trip we did along the coast of Palawan, in the Philippines. 

These are admittedly pretty amateur, but they give you a taste of what it's like to paddle and camp these spectacular locations.  

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Lumix GF1

I'm not a huge camera geek, I use what I have and don't get obsessed with buying stuff. My main camera for work is the Canon 5DMKII, but it's too much to carry around all the time for fun shots. Last year I picked up a Lumix GF1 from the new-ish "Micro 4/3s" format. This format is amazing for a 'walk around' camera. The lens is fast (f1.7) and the files are great for a camera half the price and size of a DSLR.
Here are a couple of shots from the past few months. The fast lens gives me the look I like for portraits as well.
This will be my last equipment post for a while. Promise!





Thai Andaman Coast Kayak Trip

So the plan was to kayak and camp the entire length of Thailand's Andaman coastline from the Burmese border to Malaysia. 600 kms over 4-5 weeks. We planned it for 8 months, invested in folding kayaks (Feathercraft) and met up on a beach near Burma just before Christmas. In the end I became sick about halfway and had to pack up. My paddling partner Tim Morch made it all the way.

As a photographer I had been looking forward to shooting the trip, but as it turned out we were just too busy to fish or shoot. So I just strapped my camera to my bow and hit 'record' whenever anything vaguely interesting appeared. Sadly I had an SD card fail on me ('Kingston' brand, avoid!!), so I lost the first week of footage. In the end I only had a week or so of video, so I pulled out a few clips and put together this little montage.

Camera was a Lumix GF1, with the 7-14mm lens in a 10Bar housing.


Update from March. Here is another little video I made while paddling in the mangroves on Koh Phayam earlier this month.

Tilt Shift

I know it's a gimmick/fad these days, but playing around with my Canon 45mm tilt shift lens gives me a few hours of fun every now and then. Through some kind of optical trick, it make large landscapes look like little miniature worlds. Here is a shot I took of men loading garbage ships in Hong Kong.
No, they are not models.

ADB Shoot: Clean Energy

I recently wrapped up shooting on a huge project - a coffee table book for the Asian Development Bank. The bank, which lends and/or grants money for infrastructure projects around Asia, hired me to document their Clean Energy initiatives around the region. I shot in remote parts of China, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Nepal.
Projects included hydro (micro, mini and up), geothermal,  wind, methane reclamation, LED & CFL lighting and lots more. The book should be out by March or April. I will post an update once it comes out.
In the meantime, here is a shot I took in the Philippines while traveling to a village up in the mountains. It's a guy doing back breaking labour, loading sugar cane onto a truck. Tough way to make US$1.50 per day.

Toronto Islands shoot

I recently had a great session out on the Toronto Islands. It's not often you get four siblings these days, let alone fun ones! As the eldest of six kids, I feel at right at home with large families. (As long as I'm boss of course.)
Here are a few shots from the session. (Click on pix for hi-res.)


Hong Kong Schools

I have been doing some work for Hong Kong schools. Always nice to see the images end up in communications and on walls! My most recent large shoot was for the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS), one of the top IB schools in a city full of world class educational facilities. These are pzges from the CDNIS annual report.
It was also great to see some of my kids images printed large up on the walls of Casa Dei Bambini, a beautiful Montessori school in Pok Fu Lam.



Bangladesh



I have been derelict in my blogging. Since my Namibia trip in May of 2009 I have spent a few months photographing kids a few countries both east and west. I have shot some nice weddings in beautiful parts of Canada.

So, after 15 yrs of putting it off, I finally visited Bangladesh during January and February 2010. With the highest population density in the world, it is a perfect place for a people photographer. 160,000,000 people living on a flood plain the size of Iowa, each making a $1/day.

Bangladeshis are the warmest people I've ever met. With basically zero tourists, they want everyone to leave with a positive impression of their beautiful country.

I shot a number of projects for international aid organizations in Bangladesh. For Helen Keller International I worked with the ethnic minorities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. A nasty conflict between these hill people and Bengali settlers exploded a couple of days after I left and some of the villages have been burnt down.

Family Health International needed images of people at risk of HIV/AIDS, as well as the services available to them. So I photographed hijras and female sex workers in Dhaka. We also spent time with intravenous drug users (IDUs). Being a destitute junkie in the alleys of Old Dhaka for 25 years is a hardship I cannot imagine.

For CARE Int'l I visited a number of projects in the north. CARE has a massive presence through their partnerships with local NGOs.

And for Save the Children (USA) I photographed rural rudimentary schools in the north and haor regions.

A few of my favs below, a larger gallery can be found here.









4 Deserts - Namibian Ultramarathon (Racing the Planet)

I have just returned from shooting a 7-day ultramarathon in southern Namibia staged by Racing the Planet. Competitors are required to carry all their stuff, including food, for a grueling 250 km run/jog/walk/crawl. The race began at the Fish River Canyon, the world's second largest, and ended with a run over the massive dunes of the Namib Desert. At one point we were on land that had been sealed off for 100+ years, wagon tracks of the original settlers still visible in the sand.
While most competitors were normal folks just aiming to finish, there were a small number of elite athletes in the field including Marco Olmo and Ryan Sandes.
It was cold. And hot. There were stinging plants, scorpions and poisonous snakes. I have some nasty chewed-up feet shots you don't want to see.
See more images, VDO and results here.
More images here.


4Deserts Ultramarathon

Marco Olmo

Fish River Canyon


Namibian Dunes

Puffed Adder



India

Just back from my first real trip to India. It is simply the greatest travel destination of all time.
I didn't shoot nearly as much as I'd hoped, but I got some nice shots in Calcutta and Sikkim, two very different places.
Here are a few of the scenes, and some of the characters I met along the way.





Photo.net wedding contest

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My image of Ana getting ready just won top photo in a competition between 240 wedding photographers worldwide on www.photo.net, the oldest and still largest site for sharing info about photography. This being their first contest of this type, they didn't really get it together to actually make an official announcement, so all there is is this.

I was the Featured Photographer on photo.net for the month of March 2009.

The deciding judge in this contest was Jeff Ascough, often named as the world's top documentary style wedding shooter. (My favorite for sure.)

Wedding in Macau

I recently shot a great wedding in Macau. Although I didn't know it at the time, this was the first wedding to be held at the brand new 5 star Four Seasons Macau. The scale of this place is incredible, although little underpopulated given what's going on in the world.
The B&G had been planning on having their wedding in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but had to find a new venue at the last minute due to political unrest in Bangkok shutting down access to the country.
As far as last minute venues go I don't think they get much better than this! A few images from the event.