Madagascar

I’m back from Madagascar where I spent a month before the holidays,  discovering the island for a TV show called “Maritime Africa”. It will be a five-part documentary series about the islands around Africa.  SWR/ARTE (German and French public TV) and twelve other European stations will air the show that will be about the islands, their people and the distinct cultures as I document it for a coffee table book.  It was a privilege to work with this incredibly talented group  of people. Check out their website: http://www.filmquadrat-dok.de/ Images will follow soon!

Return to Sierra Leone

I am leaving tomorrow to Freetown, Sierra Leone filled with feelings of anxiety as well as hope. The last time I was there was just a few months after the brutal civil war ended in 2002 that claimed tens of thousands of lives and left more than a third of its population displaced. Yet it is the unspeakable atrocities that are so haunting. I remember back in 1999, Miguel Gil Moreno de Mora, a friend and extremely committed journalist, who was later killed covering the conflict, told me stories of rebels offering their victims the choice between a “long sleeve” or “short sleeve” just as they were about to hack off their victims’ arms. When I arrived, three years later, I saw faces devoid of expression, weighed down by these horrific memories. The goal was not just to kill people but to terrorize an entire population.

Today security and the politics are steadily improving but there is a quieter battle still going on.  One in eight women are dying giving birth. The government recently announced free health care to pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers and children under five beginning on April 27. With only about 170 doctors for more than 5 million people, this will be a daunting task.  I hope this documentary can raise awareness, promote change and help. The doctors, health workers and government are working hard to change the statistics.

If you are interested in learning more about this or want to donate, the following links are to organizations working there.

Unicef

Marie Stopes International

Doctors Without Borders

Amnesty International

Flight for Survival: Rhinos go back to Africa

View the story at msnbc.com

They are huge but gentle, lumbering beasts and there are only eight left on the entire planet. Scientists believe the magnificent Northern White rhinos are nearly extinct. In a last ditch effort to save this species from extinction, the Lewa Conservancy in Kenya cut a deal to airlift the last four breeding age animals from the Czech Zoo to live “free” on the savannas of Kenya. You can read more about the trip in my blog.

What gear do you carry?

I have used Nikon bodies and Nikkor lenses since I began and am currently using the D4, D800 and Df. My choice of lenses really depends on the nature of the assignment. If I am shooting wildlife, I need longer lenses like the 400mm with an extender or the 80-400mm. Most of my work is close and intimate so my workhorse is the 24-70mm or the fixed 24mm 1.8. I like to travel light and often bring just 1-2 bodies with a wide and a longer zoom, two SB-910 speedlights, radiopoppers, a gold reflector and my Manfrotto tripod. If I’m going to a remote place, I carry Goalzero solar panels and am now using the F-stop backpacks for most of my travel. I’ll usually buy medicines in country as they are always cheaper there. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, I like to bring gifts. It is the minimal that I can do to bring small tokens of thanks for the countless people who give so much to make sure that I am safe and travel well.

Mirages: A Video Shot for Nikon with the D300s

This was my first attempt at shooting video with a still camera. I used the Nikon D300s and experimented in different situations from riding on the hood of a taxi in Mumbai, India to the deadly, blowing sands of the Thar desert in Rajasthan.  Or maybe its the other way around.. more deadly is sitting on the top of an Indian taxi just to get a few images. Dai Sugano, an absolute genius and wonderful journalist, helped me with the editing. Check out his work. Its very inspiring. David Barreda and Ashima Narain assisted me in the field. Not only are they both talented photographers and story tellers, but they also happen to be lovely people. I’ll be posting a blog soon to discuss how I created the video as well as some tips I have for still photographers making the transition into shooting video. These cameras are revolutionizing the business of photography and opening up more avenues for us to develop our story telling.