Repurposing Indian Doors

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If you have an old camera or two, it looks nice on a bookshelf with a couple of hardcover books.  But what do you do with 75 old cameras?  Who has that many bookshelves?

It seemed a shame to have them packed away out of sight, but I wondered what kind of shelves would be appropriate to display so many old cameras, ranging anywhere from 40 to over 100 years old?  And I thought to myself, “What about repurposing some old doors?” (the other en vogue term is “upcycling”)

Blue Door

R.G. Swamy Electrical works

Driving through Chennai, you come across different “groupings” of shops – there will be a row of hardware shops, then a row of shops selling clothing, then a street with construction items…and eventually you will come across an entire section of road where they are selling nothing but doors. Old buildings are demolished, and the doors, often much more ornate than the ones above, are purchased, sanded down, refinished and turned into new doors. So I stopped by one of these shops and in broken English the shopkeepers kept asking about the size of door I needed, and showing me their newly refinished doors. I kept confusing them by going back to the stacked doors they hadn’t had a chance to strip yet. Then, once I had picked a few “half” doors out, they insisted they would finish them and repaint them, and this led to even more confusion.

Eventually I managed to convey that I wanted their dingy old doors with the chipped wood and multiple layers of paint peeling off, and then, once they realized I was crazy AND had some money to spend, the bidding war began. I’m sure I paid way more than I needed to. But I got my doors.


Technically, they’re all “half” doors – each of these would normally be connected with hinges to another just like it, latching to another pair (again, see photos above).  After dusting them off a little, I sawed them all in half lengthwise, and paid something like pennies for a dozen or so metal brackets and screws to hold them up.


Then, using some acrylic craft paints, I mixed colors to roughly match the natural wood and the layers of paint, and successively painted splotches of paint to make the brackets look like the doors.


Finally, lots of measuring and drilling, and the shelves were hung on the wall.


Finally, it was time to load them up.  Here’s the end result.  Now all that is needed is some lights to illuminate them properly.



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We Two Ours One

As foreigners living in India, we constantly see things around us that leave us scratching our heads.  There’s simply not enough time to chase them all down and figure out what they mean, so often we just accept them and move on, and eventually stop noticing.

But every now and then, we figure one out.  And just for a moment, we feel like we’re finally starting to fit in, and maybe just for a few minutes we don’t feel like the lost foreigners we are in this strange land of a billion people….

photo (7)

Painted on the back of nearly every truck – er, lorry (because we fit in now), are various combinations of the words above.  They all say “sound horn” and “stop” – pretty much as viewed above – or sometimes it will say “horn OK please”.  And very often, somewhere it also says “we two ours one”.

So here’s the story, or at least as I’ve been told.  Apparently, the Indian government created a slogan to encourage people to think about family planning – in Hindi, it’s something like “hum do, hamare do”.  And the meaning is probably much more obvious in Hindi, but in English, it’s “we two, ours two.”  As in two kids.  And I’m also told that when lorry drivers went to register at the local transport registration office, they were encouraged to paint this slogan on their trucks to help promote awareness.  No word yet on whether they got a tax break or whether it was mandatory.

And after awhile, in this land of 1.2 billion people, the slogan was “upgraded” to “we two, ours one.”  Which apparently doesn’t make that much sense to the general public.  This Indian blogger talks more about it, as well as sharing what he thinks about population density overall.

So now we can rest a little bit easier, because we know a little bit more.

Unfortunately, I still haven’t decoded the purpose behind  “sound horn,” “horn OK please,” or the ubiquitous “stop.”  But it’s good to leave some mysteries unsolved for the time being.

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Found Film Friday: Year Round

This week’s “found film” is the last of four rolls that were found in a storage unit in Worcester, Massachusetts.  There’s not a whole lot to say about this week’s roll, other than it makes me think of how we used to take pictures, compared to how we take pictures now.   This 24-picture roll spans the seasons – there are a handful of shots from Christmas, some baseball shots, kids in shorts in the summertime. I thought it was taken over a six month period, but there’s a young boy who clearly ages a couple of years from one photo to the next – so it’s a roll of film that was probably taken over the span of two or three years.  Nowadays, we’d take that many in five minutes.

This week’s roll is also is interesting in that it’s a roll of “Advantix” – Kodak’s brand of film under the “advanced photo system.”   APS or Advantix film didn’t last very long – it was sort of a stepping stone between completely analog film, and today’s digital cameras, in that information about the photos was stored in the cartridge, to assist in processing.  The film itself was also stored in the cartridge after processing.  The format was introduced in 1996, and was discontinued by Koday in 2004 – and by others in 2011.  So this roll is likely about 15 years old. That fits with the VHS tapes in the living room – no CDs or DVDs to be seen.

I also like that this family displays a large poster of Bruce Lee in their living room…

I decided not to share a couple of the photos, though I’m sure the family who took them would have appreciated them for their own photo album; they are of kids on Christmas morning, in an expression of joy – but in their early Christmas morning underwear.

It’s also interesting to think about this – a roll of film gets spread out over a couple of years, and this is what they took pictures of?

Let’s all have a smoke!

Check out the VHS tapes and the cassette player!

Don’t the picture above and below seem to be the same kid at different ages? Maybe I’ve got it wrong? Although this is the baseball shirt from the kid with the bloody nose…

I love what she’s done with the sleeves on that t-shirt!

Christmas recital!

Love me some Bud Ice on Christmas Eve!

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Celebrating Five Years of TAZM Pictures


On the occasion of TAZM Pictures celebrating five years on the web, I thought you might be a bit more forgiving as I write a more self-indulgent post (wait, aren’t they all self-indulgent?).

tazmpictures dot com….but why make a website?  No, it’s not because “everyone has a website.”  Actually, the initial idea for TAZM Pictures had to do with making videos.  I had been editing videos in some form since 2004 or so – if you don’t count in-camera editing or the camera-to-vcr editing I did from the early 90s.  In 2006, a tour in Afghanistan with an 8mm (digital) tape camera and many spare late night hours practicing with our digital editing suite really got me hooked on the art of recording and editing video.  In February, 2007, I uploaded my first video to YouTube.  It was pretty lame, but I wanted to test out this “new” website for video – “you-tube” – that everyone was talking about.

Back then, it was already technically possible for anyone to do nonlinear video editing on a home computer, but not many people were doing it yet.  The software was still clunky and expensive, and it hadn’t really caught on with the masses.  But I thought it would be fun to “brand” my videos and started tagging them with “a TAZM Pictures Production.”  I thought it might even be possible to make money editing short videos, maybe to help illustrate products on websites.  So I started asking around how people were making websites these days, and my friend Jamie told me how I could buy a domain name, and suggested WordPress as a way to create a site.  After a whole lot of trial and error in March and April of 2009, I finally got TAZMPictures dot com as a way to offer video editing and other services, and in parallel, I blogged about home video editing.

The name TAZM Pictures is nothing more than an acronym of my family’s first names.  Many of my first videos were collaborations with “M”, especially.  Now that one (Z) has moved out and the other (M) is soon to follow, I thought about a rebranding – but “T and A Films” just doesn’t have that same ring to it!

Unfortunately the business end of things never really took off, as more and more people were starting to do the low-end video editing thing themselves; and people were willing to spend thousands to get a high-end video for other purposes.

So then we turned to video contests.  Most of the early ones (and many still today) were basically just companies trying to “crowdsource” cheap video ads for them, and then publicizing them by having contestants competing for public votes.  In the beginning, it was still pretty easy, as there weren’t that many entries in each contest.  Our first video contest, a collaboration with my youngest, ended up netting us both prizes – a new laptop for her, and a copy of Adobe Premiere Elements (4) for me!  We’re still pretty proud of that video:

In the beginning, the contests were lots of fun.  We ended up winning a few laptops, software, and well over $1,000.  But they quickly became frustrating – you’d put hours and hours of work into them, and then, inexplicably, the judges would choose one that didn’t follow the contest rules.  Or (what we considered) an inferior video would run away with the popular vote prize.  As the prizes stopped rolling in, the biggest honor was that the Armed Forces Network would shamelessly copy one of the ideas I had submitted to an Army Safety Contest:

All of the contest entries we created during that time can be seen here and here.

My youngest and I also collaborated on the first “how-to” videos I did – which I quickly learned were very popular on YouTube.  In fact, with almost 220,000 views, this simple video on how to make a fishpond is the most popular video of the 219 videos I have posted on both the TBrouns and TAZMPictures channels. And it’s followed closely by a video on how to make a henhouse.

Then came retirement from the military.  I think I had pretty much accepted I wasn’t going to make any money at this, around the time I made this silly video, which started out as an attempt to mash up two songs, “da da da” and “La Bamba”, and then I had to figure out what kind of video footage might go with it.  This was the result:

Not everything during this period was silly – as YouTube clamped down on copyrighted music, I was forced to make my own, like in this little documentary (my first, I think), about a baby blackbird in our yard; or this mood piece about windmills.  [Some of the music I did is available above, under the "free music" tab]

But eventually it became time to go back to work, and we moved to Namibia – a photographer’s and videographer’s paradise!  We did so many videos in and around Namibia – I can’t even begin to choose a favorite.  If you’d like to browse them on your own, a playlist of some of the better ones is embedded below.  If you click on the title at the top, I think you can select the individual videos.

But it was in Namibia that really steered TAZM Pictures toward photography.  In Namibia, you pretty much just point a camera in any direction and press the button – it’s hard to fail.  Fortunately, I uploaded the best photos and videos, because Namibia is also where I had a camera and 2 laptops stolen from my home.  The best photos from Namibia are in this collection.  And of course, there was also Madagascar.  And Victoria Falls.

It was also in Namibia that our involvement with vintage cameras began.  Again, my youngest, who has been most involved in the videos, was the catalyst.  She asked about an old vintage camera we had sitting on a shelf for years, wondering if it would still work.  And we ordered film for it from Amazon within the hour.

Within a year, the vintage camera collection would balloon to over 75!  You can see the whole collection, and what I’ve done with them, at the tab on the top of this page.  Nearly all of them work.

And finally, there has been this obsession with Found Film.  And our move to India, which has resulted in a shift from wildlife photography to street photography.

But all of that has been recent.  This was meant to be a retrospective post.  I’ll talk more about the things we did in India, and places around, when TAZM Pictures turns ten.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in referring back to any of the posts of the last five years, I found something that makes it a bit easier to search the archives – click “Archives” in the top menu.  And added a “related posts” widget.

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Baby Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

Sea turtles have been on this earth for 110 million years, compared to humans’ 200,000.  If my math is correct, relating Earth’s 4.6 billion-year existence to a 24-hour clock would have seen sea turtles arriving at around 11:26 pm…and humans arriving at 11:59 and 56 seconds.  Yet we’ve been tremendously successful – there are now over seven billion of us.  No one knows how many sea turtles there are, because males never come to shore and are hard to keep track of.  Although they are listed internationally as “vulnerable”, it’s pretty clear their days on Earth are numbered, if we don’t help.

Olive ridley sea turtles are considered the most abundant type, of seven different varieties of sea turtle.  In 2004, it was estimated that two million females came ashore to lay eggs.  Four years later, this estimate was only 852,000.

The coast of Chennai, in southwest India, is one place where these amazing animals come ashore to lay their eggs on the beach.  An organization called the Tree Foundation, founded by Dr. Supraja Dharini, has done a lot to reduce the mortality rate of these animals, through outreach to local communities and actual intervention by reburying nests in protected locations and ensuring the hatchlings make it safely to the sea.

Sea turtles mate at sea, and the females come ashore to lay a clutch of about 100 eggs.  This is where things get dicey.  Nesting females are sometimes slaughtered, and while they are in shallow water, they are threatened by fishing nets and boats.  Once the eggs hatch and the young turtles make their way to the surface, they become food for all sorts of predators.  The hatchlings are drawn toward the reflected light of the sea at night, but in areas where development has taken place near the beach, artificial light draws them in the opposite direction, where they end up on roads, or dying from dehydration.  They usually return to the same beach every year to lay their eggs.

Organizations like Tree Foundation protect the eggs in hatcheries so that predators don’t dig them up.  When it becomes time to hatch, they will release them on the beach, and volunteers use lights to ensure the turtles know which way to go, as well as keep predators away to ensure the animals can safely reach the sea.  We had an opportunity to take part in this activity recently – it’s an amazing experience.  The video I made while standing in the water with a light is below, and it may be my most expensive video to date.  As I was filming the last little guy, a wave caught me from behind and doused the camera.  We’re waiting to hear from the repair shop but the prognosis is not good.

Enjoy the video.  You can see the founder of the Tree Foundation, Dr. Dharini, still participating in the release of the hatchlings.

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Found Film Friday: Hannah’s Tenth Birthday

This week is the second of three “found film” Friday posts in which I’m sharing film that was found (by someone else) in a storage unit in Worcester, Massachusetts.  The first post, last week, was a 110 cartridge from what appeared to be a young girl’s first camera.  I decided her name was “Hannah”, although the clue for that doesn’t appear until this week’s roll, in which she appears to be celebrating her tenth birthday!

The film is a roll of ordinary Kodak 35mm film.  Like the previous roll, it was never developed, so Mom and Dad have no record of that magical tenth birthday.  I think it serves them right, for having failed to develop Hannah’s 110 film, possibly having failed to nurture a hidden talent that would one day lead to greatness.

Found Film:  Worcester, MA roll 2

For Hannah’s tenth birthday, she chose a Tweety theme. But she also likes unicorns. And mom and dad let her hang unicorn posters in the dining room. For the party, anyway. Maybe all the time!

She also likes horses.

Hannah invited her best friends to her party. There’s this girl, posing in front of the 2-liter generic soda our moms all used to get when a dozen kids were coming over for a party:

And this girl:

Here they are again, with (probably) Dad in the background:

Here, let’s get a closer look at that guy.

And of course there were also grownups at the party.

All in all, it looks like Hannah had a pretty good time. Unfortunately, unless she reads my blog, she’ll have to rely on memory to recall her tenth birthday party.

By the way, there were two other photos on the roll, one of which told me this roll is from the late 1990s, or maybe 2000.

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Vintage: Testing the Houghton Folding Ensign 3 1/4A

If you’re at all interested in my occasional posts about trying to make old cameras work, read on – this one is the oldest one yet.  The Houghton Folding Ensign 3 1/4A was manufactured in London around 1912, and is gigantic by modern standards, at about a foot tall, 4 1/2 inches wide, and a good 2 inches deep.

Folding Ensign 3 1/4A

It has three shutter speeds – 1/25, 1/50 and 1/100 second – plus “B” and “T”, as well as six aperture settings ranging from f/4 (!) to f/128. Focusing is accomplished by moving the bellows – the front end clicks into one of four slots marked 5, 10, 25 feet and infinity. I wonder how much success they had with those options at f/4!

Folding Ensign 3 1/4A

“Victus” refers to the shutter, manufactured by Wollensak, and “G. Gennert” is Gottfried Gennert, who sold photographic supplies in the mid- to late 1800s.  You can see one of his catalogs here.  Possibly he supplied the lens for this camera – there’s not much information on the ‘net about the camera, so I’m guessing in some cases.

For a 102-year-old folding camera with leather bellows, this camera is in remarkably good shape. It’s common for folders half as old as this one to have tiny pinholes in the corners of the folds; sticky shutters; or any other number of problems. When I discovered that this one appeared to be in full working order, I wanted to see if I could actually take some pictures with it.

There was just one problem – the camera is designed for 122 film – “postcard” sized at 3.25 by 5.5 inches – which hasn’t been made for years. The widest film currently available is 120 film, which is just over 2.25 inches wide.  Below, a 122 spool is shown for comparison with a 120 spool.


So…I acquired an old roll of 122 size “found film” (the roll had no salvageable photos, but I needed the additional spool and the used backing paper), and then I ordered some “sheet film” – which comes in 4×5 inch individual sheets. (As a side note, figuring out the packaging and directions for sheet film was a separate problem to solve.  I was afraid I’d open the box and inadvertently expose the whole $25 pack!  Check out this link if you’re curious about how they address these concerns and others)

In complete darkness, I used a piece of cardstock cut 3 1/4 inches wide to trim 4 sheets of 4×5 sheet film down to 3.25 by 5 inches.  I had prepared by marking the backing paper where the first four exposures were indicated with a tiny piece of masking tape.  This is necessary because you manually crank the film forward and the number on the back of the paper tells you when to stop.  See the photo below.  The idea is to have a sheet of film (in the box) at the right place in the camera (facing the lens) when the little number 1 is showing in the window at the bottom left of the back of the camera.


Then, in the dark, I unrolled the backing paper and taped four of the modified sheets to the backing paper with masking tape.

Just for the record, it’s really hard to tape things into place with masking tape in complete darkness.  But I rolled everything up, switched on the lights, and loaded up the camera.  Off to take some pictures!

I snapped four shots and came back home, planning to unroll the film in complete darkness.  I opened the camera and discovered that one of the four film sheets had somehow been pulled off the backing paper (messy masking tape job, probably) and was now taped exactly across the exposure area, blocking all the other film!.  Not only was this one ruined, there was no way to tell which of the four this was – if it was the first one, all the other shots would be ruined as well!

As it turned out, sheet #2 was the one that became detached, blocking sheets #3 and #4, as well as tearing the edges of the backing paper in about 10 places.  So in the end, I got one single picture.  You can even see the masking tape…

With a bit of editing and cropping, we have this result:

Not bad for a 100-year-old camera. How many of the cameras we currently own will perform as well in 2114?

I look forward to trying to salvage what I can of the backing paper and giving this another try.

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Found Film: Hannah and her Sister

This week we have one of three rolls found (by someone else) in a storage unit in Worcester, Massachusetts.  This set of film rolls is interesting in that they are all different types of film, and thus came from different cameras.  There is a fourth in the set, which I already posted a few weeks ago – a set of panoramic 35mm photos of the beach.  It’s unclear how this roll relates to the other 3 – they are completely different styles.  Nor is it clear whether the remaining rolls are all related.

It’s unclear to me how four completely different rolls of film end up not being processed by their owner(s?) and wind up in a storage unit in Worcester, Massachusetts.  These are the mysteries of found film.

In terms of time frame, the other two rolls have a few clues.  They also suggest the older of the two girls in this roll is named Hannah.  This is probably her camera, and it used 110 film.  I believe it’s from the late 1990s.

I believe this is Hannah, taking a selfie in the mirror.

I think this is also a “selfie”

Where are they now? Maybe someday we’ll find out.

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Chennai: Textures

I’ve posted before about Chennai’s endless walls and the fact that many of them get postered, painted, repainted and repostered.  This creates interesting textures; so much so, that one of my predecessors did an entire photographic exhibition on just that theme – and sold many of his photos to boot! When I heard about that, I started to pay more attention. It’s an endless theme.

I just thought it might be interesting to share what I’ve collected so far.

The first one is my background on Twitter!

Sometimes decay can lead to new life….

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Chennai: Grit and Grain

In Namibia, photography was all about long lenses, tripods, “the golden hour”, and finding the right guide. Since moving to Chennai, a large city in India, the lenses have gotten much shorter, shooting is sometimes instinctive; and sweeping landscapes have made way for the grit and grime of everyday human life, toil, and aging buildings. It’s been a perfect setting for testing out some of my older cameras, along with grainy black and white – sometimes expired – film. A recent photowalk near some of the city’s older buildings, and then through a neighborhood of car salvage entrepreneurs, drove this home.

We ignored a crudely hand-painted “keep out” sign to snap photos of this crumbling LIC (Life Insurance Company) building and within 30 seconds, were confronted by a man on a motorcycle who demanded to know why we were photographing a government building.

Something tells me the Bilal Hotel is not currently accepting reservations.

This neighborhood drugstore has seen better days.

These guys will repair your tires while you wait.

This fellow stopped and asked me for some money. My pockets were literally empty, and I told him so. So instead, he insisted I take his picture. Then he wanted to see, and I had to explain this was not possible on a film camera. He accepted this and offered a handshake and went on his way.

I love this guy’s paint job!

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Found Film Friday: Laguna Beach Photowalk

After last week’s “surfing” theme, I thought it would be fun to share another roll with a seaside theme.  This one is not that old, and it came with the same batch of film as “Michelle’s” fisheye roll, and “Mike’s” roll.  Like the other rolls, this one includes a “selfie.”  After having seen this batch of film that all came from a single seller, I imagine that “Mike” was the guy who would develop film for his friends, as these all appear to come from different photographers, but for some reason, this batch of film rolls just never got developed.

What’s interesting/different about this roll is that it appears to be from a “half frame” camera.  A typical 35mm camera produces negatives that are 35mm by 24mm.  But there were a few cameras over the years that would basically rotate the orientation of the film 90 degrees, and you would get “half” size photos, around 24mm by 18mm.  So in this case, a roll of 36 exposures actually produced 72 individual shots.  This came into vogue in the 1960s, because it allowed for smaller cameras (like the Olympus Pen, back in the day).  Once it became possible to make “normal” 35mm cameras in a smaller size, the half frame format sort of faded away again.

Like the other rolls in this batch, we can determine where and roughly when the photos were taken.  This is the photo that gave me the key info I needed:

Pat Tobin was a well-known area surfer, and a painter in his own right, who died in 2006. His friend, weatherman Dennis McTighe painted this mural in his honor in mid-March, 2006. It was just south of Main Beach, in Laguna Beach, California. From the condition of the mural in this photo, it looks like the photo may have been taken a few years later.

You can’t really tell for sure, but I’m guessing the photographer was part of a group.  Either that, or he really likes photographing other photographers in action.

Either is possible, I guess. Or both! I kind of like the photographer’s style. He was trying to be artistic in his composition. Nowdadays it’s easy to be critical, but you also have to remember, he took 72 film photos – one of every scene; nowadays you might take 5 or 10 different shots of the same thing using a digital camera – and you’d get instant feedback and know if your shot turned out how you wanted it.

Rather than put all the photos here, if you like what you’ve seen so far, I encourage you to check out the full set on Flickr. For this post, I’ll end with what I believe to be a “selfie” of the photographer.

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These Student-Athletes Can Use a Hand!

Those of you who know me may recall that in Windhoek, I was quite active in teaching Namibian teens to swim, and training them to compete in multisport competitions involving swimming, running, and/or cycling.  The story of one of these athletes is captured in this blog post.  A group of 4 athletes (and a chaperone) whom I taught and coached are now in a position to compete in Africa’s triathlon championships on April 12.  However, they won’t get there without a little help.  They’ve got an Indiegogo campaign that explains more – and only a few days left to meet their goal:

Why do they need help?  Here’s the background.  First, a little history:

Namibia has the world’s highest income disparity.  This means there are a very few “haves” and a whole lot of “have nots.”  The difference between the “haves” and the “have nots” is largely along racial lines, dating back to years of apartheid policy imposed by South Africa prior to 1990.  During apartheid, the government felt that it was pointless to give black (then-) South Africans any decent education, as they would not be permitted employment in any professions requiring it anyhow.  As a result, today in addition to an income disparity, there is also a skills disparity and an education disparity.  The government of Namibia has spent over 20% of the country’s budget on education since independence in 1990, but it takes time when most of your teachers are also lacking in education.  Recovering from years of enforced non-education is taking years, if not generations.

Enter programs like “Physically Active Youth.”  In the former township area of Windhoek called Katutura, the passing rate for 10th grade – commonly seen as the gateway to any sort of higher education – is generally about 35%.  Parents often are unable to help educate their own children, partly due to lacking formal education themselves, but also because of the need to work to put food on the table (unemployment estimates range between 35 and 50%).  So a couple of visionary youths established the “Physically Active Youth” program, which offers not only a place to study and receive assistance with schoolwork, but also life skills training, all supported by a sports framework which helps kids develop discipline, pride, and translates directly into improved academics.  As a result, a decade later, a large majority of PAY participants passes 10th grade exams, and many are going on to complete 12th grade and go on to university.

PAY has a cycling team that consistently ranks nationwide.  In addition to acting as role models for their peers, the cyclists help publicize the PAY program overall.  And many of the youths in the program are excellent runners as well.  But one skill that has been lacking in the black Namibian community in general is swimming.  So we started a swimming program in 2012.  And PAY kids started competing in local swimming competitions.  And triathlons.  And soon they started winning.  If you’re skeptical, refer back to this blog post. Seriously, have a look.

And they are giving back to the program by teaching their peers to swim.  And it all feeds back into improved academics and increased opportunities – not only for them, but for youths throughout the program and the community.

So that’s why they need your help.  Every little bit makes a difference.  And whether you can or can’t help, please share this post with your friends, and/or send them this link about the fundraiser:

Thanks from the teens at PAY!

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Swimathon: Bird’s Eye View

Last week I took part in a “Swimathon” in Goa, on the eastern coast of southern India.  Participants were to swim either 2 km, 1 km, or 250 meters in the calm sea.  It was a great set of races, and had lots of participation by a local swim club as well as members of the Indian military.  It was also a great opportunity to use my quadcopter and GoPro Hero, which attracted almost as much attention as the race itself.  Here, in order, are the outcomes of my efforts to film the 250 meter race and the 1 km race.  I didn’t film the 2 km race because I was in the water myself!

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“Blessed:” My Entry for the “India Is” Video Contest


All living things love their life, desire pleasure and do not like pain; they dislike any injury to themselves; everybody is desirous of life and to every being, his life is very dear.”

-  from the Yogashastra (Jain Scripture), from around 500 BC.

While on an early morning photowalk at Marina Beach in Chennai, India, I saw an amazing sight.  Thousands of pigeons, swirling in the early morning light.  As photographers, we were captivated, and others passing by also stopped to have a look.  Marina Beach is surprisingly crowded at sunrise.


The pigeons made for great pictures. But I was interested in the people feeding the pigeons.  There had to be more to this, beyond just wanting to feed the birds.

It turns out that these were Jains, adherents of one of the world’s oldest surviving religions.  Joined by others they have inspired – from multiple faiths and communities – they gather every single day starting at 5 am to feed nearly 10,000 pigeons, as well as crows and stray dogs. Think about that – how often do you get up at 5 am?  They are at the beach at 5 am every single day. 

Jainism prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings and emphasizes spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life.  Jains also believe in karma, the purity of the soul, and that reality and truth are perceived from multiple perspectives, and no single view is complete, as illustrated by the well-known parable of the blind men and an elephant.  They believe in looking after their fellow living creatures, no matter how humble or insignificant.  Pigeons hold a special place in Jainism (read this story for an example).

So every day, the first couple of guys arrive in an auto-rickshaw, or “tuk-tuk”, and they carry 50-kilogram sacks of grain out to the sand.  Six of them.  Costing about 8,000 rupees, or US$ 130.  They lay out a design in the shape of a swastika – a Jain symbol of auspiciousness since thousands of years before Hitler corrupted this symbol for his own ends.  Then as others arrive, this symbol gets filled in with grain.  Visitors like me are invited to take part, to share in the service.  Then they sit and wait for their guests to arrive.

This happens every single day of the year.  In any weather.  I thought it was pretty amazing, and decided to make a short documentary about it.  I’ve entered it in the “India Is” video contest hosted by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.  With lots of helpful feedback from my family, I think it turned out pretty good.

For more pigeon photos from the beach, you can check out this set on Flickr.

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Found Film: Everybody’s Gone Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

This week’s found film has a little bit of a story to it. It was found by someone in a storage unit in Worcester, Massachusetts. I wrote them back and asked for more details, but didn’t get any. But anyhow, the film was advertised as “4 exposed rolls and 2 unexposed rolls”. They were 35mm rolls and still had the film tabs sticking out, albeit only 3/4 of an inch or so. To make sure they were unexposed, I cut off about 7 inches from the “unexposed” rolls and processed them. Nothing on them, so I assumed they were safe to use in photography.

So I used another piece of one to try and load a 126 cartridge. Only about 6-8 inches to just snap a couple of shots. But when I processed it, I found the photo at the top of this post on the film. Meaning the film had been exposed after all.

The film itself is slide film, which I processed as normal film – this is called “cross processing” and can give odd color shifts, but it’s just for fun, and I don’t know how, nor do I have the chemicals to process slide film. All the shots I got back were panoramic – in other words they were “double wide” 35mm shots. Who knows what camera was used. But all variants on a theme, and I think some of them are pretty nice. Here is a selection:

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

Found Film: Surfing

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Testing the Ansco Regent

Sometimes I’m not sure whether these posts I do on whether or not I’ve been able to make these vintage cameras work are more about the cameras, or about the content of the photos I’ve managed to snap.  This is one of those posts, and explains why I’ll share more of the photos from the roll than I usually would.

Ansco Regent

The Ansco Regent doesn’t appear to have been a particularly memorable camera, nor sophisticated for its time. Most of the ones you’ll read about online have sentimental value (“my grandfather’s old camera”) and often damaged or aged bellows have rendered them unusable. The Regent is a 1953-ish 35mm camera that was actually just an Agfa Solinette II, manufactured in Germany, important and rebranded by the Ansco company. A German Wikipedia article on the Agfa version characterized the 1952 Solinette as “obsolete pre-war technology.”

It has aperture settings from f/3.5 to f/22, shutter speeds up to 1/300 second, and among other things, has a handy indicator on top of the lens to help control depth of field. Mine has a 50mm Apotar lens and Prontor shutter, and the camera is focused by a ring which moves the entire lens/shutter assembly. It has a timer, but the shutter has to be cocked manually with a switch on the side of the lens.

Mine is a bit tricky to operate, because the grease inside the lens which lubricates the focus mechanism appears to have gummed up. The teeth on the ring are pretty painful and it’s tough to get a grip, but by brute force (and a screwdriver) I was able to force the ring loose (it was frozen in place), though I needed a coin or another metal object to help me focus the camera when I was snapping photos. I thought about disassembling it and cleaning it, but the company seems to have favored rivets over screws. I decided to see what kind of photos I could get out of it before making that decision.

Art Contest

I chose as my venue the Mylapore Festival (I’ve posted about previously) that took place in early January.  The festival included many different community and family-oriented activities, including a kids’ art contest (photo above) and both adult and kids’ “kolam” contests (photos below).  I was really impressed with the sharp, colorful photos I managed to get from the camera in spite of the less-than-enthusiastic reviews.

Kolam Contest

Kolam Contest

The women were allocated one of 100 squares marked out on the city street.  Nearly every square was taken on both days the contest was held.

Kolam Contest

You don’t have to be Indian to participate.  Nor do you have to be a woman.  But they formed the large majority of contestants.

Kolam Contest

Kolam making is passed from generation to generation.  Most designs start with an array of equally spaced dots.  The design is formed using rice flour.

Girls of all ages participated in the younger iteration of the contest. Many of the younger girls had their grandmothers helping or coaching.

Girls' Kolam Contest

Girls' Kolam Contest

Girls' Kolam Contest

I also took shots around the neighborhood which I’ll share below. Some of the photos have bright spots or “smears” on them. These are evidence of a pinhole or two in the bellows, allowing light in. This can make for interesting effects, but not always desirable ones.


Street Vendor

Piled Debris

Kids Being Nonchalant

These kids really wanted us to take their picture, and they were all laughs and smiles. Once I agreed to take their picture and lined up the shot, they all turned somber on cue.


Carousels come in all sizes.


Ice Cream Makes You Happy

This kid is definitely in need of some ice cream. And I’m going to have to figure out where the bellows are leaking light.

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Found Film: Seasons

This week, I thought I’d post TWO rolls of found film. One roll has suffered quite a bit from age, and the other only had a couple of usable photos on it. I’m titling this post based on the photos having been taken opposite times of year. There is no other relationship between the two rolls of film.

The first roll comes from a Foldex 20, a folding camera made by Pho-tak in the 1950s that looks suspiciously like the Rollex 20, a camera made around the same time by the United States Camera company.  As of this writing, the camera itself (actual camera pictured below) can still be purchased on eBay from the person who sold me the film).  I’m throwing in the pictures for free.


The film (and camera) came from North Vernon, Indiana – a town of around 6,700 people, which would have had around 4,000 people when this camera was new.  Here’s a picture of the town’s main street:

north vernon

If the camera’s original owners lived in or near North Vernon when they took these pictures, I don’t think they lived downtown.  Here are the photos I was able to retrieve from their film.  Know any of them?

Found: Winter in Indiana

Found: Winter in Indiana

This is probably their view from the place. Not bad!

Found: Winter in Indiana

And just for fun, this is probably the result of having accidentally pressed the shutter button while the camera was moving. Happens on those older cameras sometimes.

Found: Winter in Indiana

And now that we’ve seen winter in Indiana, let’s have a look at roll number two. This one also comes to us from the midwest, but we have no clues other than we think it came from Alliance, Ohio – a town of 22,000 that experienced its heyday in the 1960s, when it was home to 28,000 people. The film being shared in this post is the one on the left, with the red backing paper. The one on the right was shared with you last week.


I suspect both rolls probably came from the same photographer and camera, as they both gave me similar  challenges, probably from the way they were stored over the years – the backing paper was stuck to the film, and there was some rust on the inside of the spool.  This week’s roll also had quite a bit of fungus on the film, which makes it difficult to tell much, other than most of the photos being from some sort of fishing trip to a lake.  They seem clearer at smaller size, which is how I’ll reproduce them here.  Enjoy!

Found Film:  Fishing Hole

Found Film:  Fishing Hole

Found Film:  Fishing Hole

Found Film:  Fishing Hole

Found Film:  Fishing Hole

Found Film:  Fishing Hole

Found Film:  Fishing Hole

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Three Vest Pocket Kodaks



These are “Vest Pocket Kodaks” – of which nearly two million were produced, from about 1912 to the early 1920s.  I’ve blogged about one of these cameras before - to sum up, they represent an important step in the miniaturization of cameras, making them the first mass-produced cameras that could actually fit in a vest pocket.  As such, they wound up in innumerable soldiers pockets in World War I, earning them the nickname “soldier’s camera.”

The cameras pictured here did not spend any time in World War I, as their serial numbers place them in the very late teens and/or (most likely) early 1920s, at the earliest.  The two outer cameras have serial numbers on the backs of the little “feet” propping them up; the inner camera is a “model B”, produced well after the war.  Unlike the very early models, they are “autographics” – meaning they have a little window in the back which could be opened, and, using a metal stylus (shown on the front of the middle camera but attached to the back of the others), the user could scratch some information about the shot on the back of the film, expose it to the light, and have that become a permanent part of the photo.


I have been struggling to get decent photographs out of all three of these cameras, and despite the sunny description in the ad above, it can be a challenge.  The struts that fold out when you extend the bellows are a bit delicate, and it is easy to inadvertently use the camera without extending it fully.  Also, the cover that is removed to allow film loading (facing you in the photo above) is held in place using the small switch in the middle – which is easily moved, allowing the cover to fall off and exposing all the film.  Plus, with any camera nearly 100 years old, the leather bellows almost always have pinholes.  They are tricky to detect and can be temporarily covered with electrician’s tape, but are best closed with a tiny bit of gasket material, or a mix of white glue, a drop of dish soap, and black coloring.  Don’t bother trying to fix anything bigger than a tiny pinhole.

But after a number of attempts, I have managed to get pictures of some form from all three.  They’re not going to win any prizes, but I find it amazing that a 100-year-old camera can produce photos at all.  Will your DSL be able to do that in 20 years?

So going from left to right, here are my best photos so far.  The far left camera was produced from 1915 to 1925, and this one, serial numbered 1053829, is most likely from 1919 or 1920.  It clearly still has an undiagnosed light leak – but this is a good start. The second photo is a sideways shot of the temple room seen in the first shot.

Man at Temple


The middle camera is the newest of the three. It was produced from 1925 to 1934 and was also marketed as the “Boy Scout” or “Girl Scout” camera. Instead of folding struts, this model uses a folding bed that opens up, and then the bellows portion slides forward. It can also be a bit tricky. The first time I took this one out for a spin, it had light leaks, which I have since repaired.

Mother and Child



Finally, the camera on the right, which is actually the first one I acquired. This one, numbered 1237896 and acquired in South Africa, is most likely from 1920. The photos are from a construction site in Windhoek, Namibia – I thought the light and shadows would be a good way to see how it performs. The third photo is an accidental double exposure, which often happened back in the days when these were made.

Windhoek Construction

Windhoek Construction

Windhoek Construction

If you’ve got one of these cameras and are wondering where you can get film, there are still a very few places that stockpiled 127 film and will still sell it to you for a pretty high price (in my opinion.  It’s supply vs demand – not judging!)  Another alternative is to buy a few 127 spools, use a sharp knife to cut down a roll of 120 film, and respool it in complete darkness.  The slightly differing lengths may make the diameter of the roll slightly larger, which can cause a tight fit.  Finally, I’m told there are also people who simply spool 35mm film onto the 127 spools.  You end up with sprocket holes in your photos and you have to either use a 127 backing paper or tape over the red window.

Like all cameras, they can be used to tell stories.  But imagine the stories these cameras themselves would have!

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Chennai’s Walls: an Endless Canvas

Chennai is full of walls.  Many of them are marked “stick no bills” – and people will generally abide by that request.  But the majority end up being political advertising space.


The successive layers of paint upon paint, posters upon posters are accepted as a part of the texture of the city, and are rarely examined in close detail – though one of my predecessors here has photographed walls like the one below and turned it into a profitable art exhibition. Without all the stuff I’ve included in the photo for context.

Sidewalk Storefront

But on a major street in Chennai, the Stella Maris College Department of Fine Arts has turned a 250-meter stretch of wall surrounding their compound into a giant artists’ canvas. I spent a morning photographing them, and thought others might enjoy browsing some of the individual pieces. The project is called, “The Trees and the Skies”, and is accompanied by the following description:

The concept is a metaphor to signify art that represents the rootedness of the trees and the open imagination of the skies.  The paintings envisage a change which can unite all people as we reassess the use of nature and our environment


The gentleman sleeping on the sidewalk is not part of the exhibition – but is included for context!

DSC09584 DSC09581


It’s hard to see how much detail is in some of these pieces.  Check out this close-up from the painting above:



DSC09579 DSC09577 DSC09576 DSC09574

The previous painting is gloomy, but I like the caricature of the trucks we see all over town.  Here’s a close-up:


Here are more examples and more close-up detail shots.  These are a pleasure to drive past every morning.  I imagine what if all the walls were painted with art instead of political ads…

DSC09573 DSC09572 DSC09571 DSC09570

Some jerk left his bike here.  Oh wait, that’s MY bike…

DSC09569 DSC09568 DSC09567 DSC09566 DSC09565

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Found Film Friday: Dress-Up Dog

This week’s roll of found film is a roll of 620 panchromatic that not much is known about, other than that it came from an estate sale near Alliance, Ohio.  I had quite a bit of trouble loading it into the developer tank.  As I was unrolling it in the dark, it was extremely difficult to separate the film from the backing paper – the tape holding the end on had hardened and broke into little pieces once I could separate the film.

Then the backing paper was completely stuck to the film.  So I pulled it off anyway and loaded it into the tank.  I decided to soak it in distilled water, and after soaking it in the tank, shook it up and rinsed several times.  I was glad to see that the pictures turned out well anyway, with a few fibers still stuck to the film here and there, but not too many missing areas on the film.

Based on when this film produced, the people seen in most of the photos are likely still at an age that they would be living – maybe in their late 50s or 60s today.  As always, they have never seen these photos, probably taken by mom or dad.  Maybe they will someday.

One of them is this guy.

Found Film:  Dress-Up Dog

Found Film:  Dress-Up Dog

Found Film:  Dress-Up Dog

I like to imagine that here, he is thanking “The Big Guy” for something really Good. But I’m actually not sure the photo is oriented correctly. Is he pointing at something through a car’s sun roof? Is that a millipede walking on top of a sun roof?  Did they have sun roofs when this photo was taken? Did they have millipedes?

Found Film:  Dress-Up Dog

My favorite pictures on this roll, however, are these. Just a girl and her dog.

Found Film:  Dress-Up Dog

Found Film:  Dress-Up Dog

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Found Film Friday: New Baby AND a New TV!

Sometimes when I develop these “found” rolls of film I find it kind of sad that their original owners forgot to do so themselves.  This is one of those times.  The fact that I picked up these rolls on eBay suggests they came from an estate sale, which means the photographers are likely no longer with us.  The babies in the photos probably are, and they would be in their mid to late 50s, most likely.

All we know about the photos is that they come from the Pittsburgh area.  They came to me in a box – three rolls in total – and only one of the three rolls matched the brand on the outside of the box.  Still, it’s reasonable to assume they all come from roughly the same time frame.  The box itself was stamped “1964″ in the “develop by” space.  And the TV that appears on one roll appears identically in one of the other rolls.


The roll of Ansco film (the black one) that originally belonged with the box only had three usable photos on it – two of a (shiny new, I assume) Zenith television:

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

and one shot out the window, with a barely decipherable car:

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

But the other rolls were almost exclusively of children.

There’s this little guy, who clearly grew up in a home with hunting enthusiasts:

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

Or maybe it was grandma’s house. This may be his parents, who somehow don’t seem to match the home decor of the previous shot:

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

Here’s Junior again, enjoying the outdoors and wearing the same sweatshirt. So the pictures were mostly all taken the same day.

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

But wait – there’s more! There’s also this little guy:

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

He’s placed in various poses with large stuffed animals. The second one is, in my opinion, terrifying. Although our photographic subject appears nonplussed.

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

…and there’s also the family dog:

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

and is this some sort of a bunny suit? Posing in front of the fancy new Zenith TV, by the way.

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

And before you say, “well this is all the same kid, just at a later age”, let me share my favorite shots from this set of rolls:

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

Found Film: New Baby and a New TV!

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Badrian Street and the Flower Market

Badrian Street or “Budirian Street” as it is painted on the street sign, is the site of Chennai’s old wholesale flower market.


While technically, the vendors in what is commonly known as “poo-k-kadai,” sell “wholesale”, their typical clients are ladies who buy less than a kilogram of flowers, typically to be woven into garlands using banana plant fibers.  It’s a fascinating area for photography, but economically quite fragile, as the businesses operating on the street have nearly been evicted several times because the authorities feel that wholesale fruit and vegetable sales should be limited to Koyambedu, a huge market in western Chennai.

Flower Vendor

A typical flower vendor here earns around 250 rupees per day (just over four U.S. dollars), after paying employees and fees to bicycle rickshaw drivers and the workers who carry huge sacks of flowers on their heads, with wide trays made of wicker and held together with bits of plastic.

Flower Transport

The owners claim they would never be able to pay the rent required at Koyambedu. And their clients, who often earn even less than they do, can’t afford to make the trip to the outskirts of town to buy a few plastic bags of flowers. So the market fills a niche in an economically vulnerable area, where it can be easy to fall between the economic cracks.


There are over 50 flower sellers sprawled along the edges of Badrian Street, which runs about 250 meters at the most. In the morning, it can appear chaotic as three-wheel cargo vehicles, customers, and the occasional photographer all pile through the streets. The street itself is typically covered with the debris of flowers: cut stems, leaves, and bits of flowers, along with the usual trash generated by high volumes of people. A garbage truck makes its daily rounds backing down the street, which makes a hard right angle at its north end, impossible for a truck to negotiate.

Flower Vendor

All of the vendors will gladly offer you a printed cardboard “business card” – typically two-by-three inches or larger – because Badrian street is also home to numerous small printing companies. And there are also other businesses, such as the occasional knife-sharpeners, who carry around what is essentially a bicycle wheel mounted in a metal frame/stand, which uses a belt to spin a sharpening stone.

Knife Sharpener

Badrian Street is an interesting place to visit, and its shopkeepers are universally friendly and happy to pose for the photos which, early mornings or late afternoons when the light is no longer harsh, almost universally turn out great because the lights used to illuminate the flowers and help open the buds really to a lot to create and emphasize highlights. If you’d like to see more photos from Badrian Street, be sure and check out this set on Flickr.

Rickshaw Driver

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Found: Michelle’s Fisheye Film

It’s “Found Film” Friday, and this week’s “found” roll comes to us from the same place as last week’s roll – but appears to be from a different photographer.  Among that set of different 35mm rolls, none of which appeared to be particularly old, one had been marked with permanent marker, “Dev for Michelle” (the 400TX roll on the bottom left):


Unfortunately, Michelle’s friend never held up his end of the deal – he never developed her film, and not only didn’t return it, but it ended up being sold on eBay.  Maybe one day she will be able to track her photos down on this blog.

When I pulled the roll out of the developing tank, I was surprised to see that they all seemed to have a large circle on them.  I thought at first this might be from some kind of camera, but after researching and looking at the full roll, have decided she must have used some kind of fisheye lens to give her photos this appearance.

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

I believe we have photos of the photographer. Like last week’s photographer, she appears to have taken a selfie – though she is on about half of the photos where the camera is held by someone else. So it could be either of the women who show up in the photos. Here’s he selfie, followed by the other woman who shows up in the photos:

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

We also know the photos were all taken in Los Angeles. In or near Venice Beach. How do we know?  From this photo:

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

It appears to be a double exposure, but at least of the exposures in the above photo was taken from this exact spot in Venice, CA.  And through the magic of Google Street View, we can take a stroll down the street and see that the photo near the top of this post, with the guy standing near the phone booth, was taken here.

And we also know that the photos were taken within the last 7 years or so.  Probably in 2007ish.  From the photo below.

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Michelle and her friends spent the afternoon in Venice, spent some time in a diner, and at a rooftop cafe.  Looks like they had a pretty good time.

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

Hopefully someday Michelle will realize that her film finally ended up getting developed. It’s here if she ever wants to have a look.

Found Film: Michelle's Fisheye Film

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It’s always hardest cutting your own video…

Why, other than a few hardcore fans, is a film’s director the only one who likes the “Director’s Cut” better than the movie that was released to the public?

It’s hard to delete the footage you worked so hard to get, or even sometimes to eliminate scenes altogether because they don’t help the “story” along, or make the video drag.  Nowadays especially, people want their videos in bite-size chunks – no one has the patience to sit and gaze at the scenes that looked really cool in real life, but now occupy a small rectangle on their computer screen.

It’s best to let someone else have a chance to chop out parts of your edited videos if you can.  As painful as it can be at times.  Or you can practice by taking other peoples’ videos and seeing where you’d cut them.  Many videos on Vimeo allow downloading in pretty good resolution.

Someone showed me a really nice video of South India on Vimeo the other day – six minutes of beautiful scenery, perfectly timed to a piece of Indian music.  And although “Joe Marshall” probably thinks I’m arrogant for having done so, I decided to see if I could take his beautiful footage and turn it into a much shorter, crisp version of his video.

The end result is a three-minute video, with no scene longer than 4-5 seconds, and I removed the pillarboxes and letterboxes (the black bars at the top and bottom of the video).  I hope you like it!  I have included the original for reference.

“South India” Remix from Tom on Vimeo.

South India from Joe Marshall on Vimeo.

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Goa is for the Birds – Literally

Boat: Abstract

Just north of Panaji, Goa’s “small but spritely” capital, where the Mapusa and Mandovi Rivers meet, is what appears to be an island – Chorao Island – which has 11,000 inhabitants, and whose western end is a 1.8 square kilometer mangrove forest known as the Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.


Looking at the map, it doesn’t really look like an island to me.  But it is definitely a bird sanctuary.

Apparently we really lucked out when we scored a time with local bird guide Uday, whose number I found all over TripAdvisor.  Goa’s Department of Tourism hasn’t yet figured out how to make the island accessible to tourists, but Uday has been taking tourists on boat rides around the island for decades.  He’s booked out every day, but we just happened to call him after a last-minute cancellation.


We had the cab drop us at the Ribandar ferry at 6:15 (it runs at 6 and 6:30) and caught the (free) ride to the other side, where Uday met us on his scooter and zipped us over to his house – his house! – about ten minutes away.


After a cup of green tea and some delicious biscuits, he led us down a muddy slope to his boat, we climbed in, and we started down the river.

Full Moon

Thanks to the full moon the night prior, we had arrived at an “especially low” tide, which, Uday said, would lead to increased bird sightings. We saw the purple heron below (I didn’t even know there was such a thing) on the way to the boat.

Purple Heron

Most of the more obvious birds we saw were water birds – cormorants, egrets, pond herons…

Morning Light

Pond Heron

…but there were also birds of prey, such as this Brahminy Kite

Brahminy Kite

But most amazingly, we saw so many kingfishers! Like, how often do you see two different types of kingfishers and a cormorant, just sitting on a bunch of twigs? Ignore the trash please.

Three Little Birds

This is a closeup of the white throated kingfisher, who stayed on the bush until we got about three meters away.

White throated Kingfisher

The white throated kingfishers have bright blue backs. Here’s one from another angle, and as it takes off in flight.

White Throated Kingfisher

Taking off

Of the other kingfishers we managed to photograph (some flew away when we got close), we also saw this black capped kingfisher and many so-called “common kingfishers” (if they’re so common, why is it so cool to spot one?):

Black Capped Kingfisher

And finally, Uday nearly flipped out when we came upon two white collared kingfishers.  This is a guy who takes tourists out to see birds pretty much every day – and he was taking pictures with his own cell phone, and insisting we send him prints.  He said other birdwatchers would come for weeks to try and spot this bird.  One flew away when we approached – but the other stayed, and we came within a couple of meters.

White Collared Kingfisher

You should give Uday a call if you’re ever in North Goa.  His number is +91-9822583127 or +91-9545062069.  He’ll charge a fair price, depending on how many of you there are in the boat.  Bring a 300mm lens. And a sweatshirt or something for the early morning scooter ride.

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