Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Travel Photographer's 5 Most Popular Personal Posts

I thought I'd feature the 5 most popular personal posts appearing on The Travel Photographer's blog during the past 12 months. This time, I'm listing them in order of unique hits they've received.

1. The Girl's of Hanoi's Tet Trung Thu.

The most number of views was for a gallery of photographs made with a Fuji X Pro-1 (and a Fujinon 18mm), and a Leica M9 (with a Elmarit 28mm) a few days before Hanoi’s Tết Trung Thu festival (also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival). Traditionally, the festival celebrated harvest but in recent years, it’s an occasion for young women (and men) to walk the streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter to show off new clothes, and to wear over-sized fake eyeglasses, and Minnie Mouse ears or antlers on their heads.

I have no way of knowing if the high number of views was due to having the word "girls" in the post's title, or whether it was because of the photographs!

I'm a little surprised that this particular POV gleaned the second highest number of views. It's a little dry, but perhaps my readers got interested in how I conduct the business of my photo expeditions. 

I listed a number of major reasons...the brand name, the time expended, the research, the niche and the bottom line. Looking back on 2013, there's no question in my mind that the most critical reason is the niche...which I describe as my personal intellectual interest in religious and cultural events in South Asia and South East Asia which puts me in a different category than other photographers/photojournalists.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

3. Back Story | Widows of Varanasi.

I've posted a handful of Back Story posts featuring a number of my photographs taken over the course of the past few years, and which had stories attached to them.

This story involved widows in the ancient city of Varanasi, where I was documenting the plight of widows. The two portraits featured in the post were made in an ashram on the banks of the Ganges. The ashram is dedicated to harboring widows expelled from their family homes following the death of their husbands, and those who left of their own volition because of their sense of "uselessness", and to avoid being an extra mouth to feed.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

4. POV: DxO Film Pack 3 & Color Efex Pro 4.

This POV dealt with my discarding a past reticence in using specialized post processing software such as DxO Film Pack, Alien Skin Software, and Color Efex Pro 4. Possibly due to using the various photo apps in the iPhone such as Hipstamatic and Instagram, I became more comfortable in accepting these new software products.

I explained how I produced the above look by using the DxO Film Pack and converting the photograph to monochrome (using the Kodak T-Max100 preset) and then applying a Sepia Gold toning filter to it. I then added some Structure and Vignetting using Color Efex Pro 4.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
5. POV; Sadhus, Charlatans or Not?.

The fifth most popular personal post dealt with the question whether the sadhus in India and Nepal were charlatans or a genuine ascetics.

From my own experience I determined that most of the sadhus I saw on my travels all over India were a cross between homeless charlatans and spiritual ascetics. However, I have no way of knowing if they became ascetics because of poverty or because of some form of inherent spirituality.

I recalled that in 2006, I had come across authentic sadhus during an assignment in Varanasi. My fixer was from this ancient city, and knew it inside out. Upon learning that I was interested in sadhus, and seeing my disinterest in photographing the "tourist" sadhus basking in the sun on the ghats of Varanasi, he took me to a number of out-of-the-way ashrams for sadhus.