National Geographic Assignment Blog » Kimi Recor The blog about National Geographic Assignment photographers. Mon, 08 Feb 2010 18:35:07 +0000 en hourly 1 Stolen River Tue, 02 Feb 2010 18:29:30 +0000 Kimi Recor /author/kimi/feed/savuti.jpg

The last drop of water evaporated into the heat, and the Savuti Channel in Northern Botswana stood barren and dry, a skeleton of the lush river it had once been. It was the year 1982, and Beverly and Dereck Joubert were on assignment for National Geographic, documenting the gradual demise of one of Africa’s great rivers. Although they had known this moment would come, it wasn’t until the last of the water disappeared, that the heaviness of the situation came to full fruition. This was a key moment in history,an event that would change not only the surrounding landscape, but also affect the wildlife that had come to depend on the channel for its sustenance.

Much of this devastating change was documented in the Jouberts’ National Geographic films, Stolen River and Journey to the Forgotten River. Over the next twenty-eight years, Beverly and Dereck would return again and again to the Savuti Channel, hoping for a change, a sign of life, anything to bring hope to the once thriving paradise-turned barren wasteland, and each time they would leave disappointed.

Then, in early January, Beverly and Dereck Joubert returned to the Savuti Channel once again,to visit the new Savuti Elephant Camp.
As they stood along a deck overlooking the channel, they noticed as a trickle of water began to bubble upwards out of a hole in the riverbed. It was the same exact spot where,years ago, they had watched the last of the water disappear into thin air.

Within the hour, the Channel was once again full of water. This of course, delighted the elephants, who trotted down to the river, and began to swim, immersing their entire bodies in the cool, fresh river water,
After almost three decades of dry dust and dead trees lining its bed, the Savuti Channel is once again rich with moisture and life, no longer forgotten, but bountiful and present in all its splendor.

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Nuestra Mirada Magazine – Pablo Corral Thu, 07 Jan 2010 13:00:00 +0000 Kimi Recor /author/kimi/feed/natgeo1.jpg

Photo by Horacio Coppola

We are honored to present the first issue of Nuestra Mirada magazine, devoted entirely to the city of Buenos Aires.

Our intention is that this virtual magazine shall revolve around photography and visual journalism and, through the matchless power of the image, illuminate the major issues affecting Latin America.

We do not know each other, but we have so much in common: a tumultuous history, a similar understanding of the world, a shared language, a drive to live vividly and to die well. And yet we are strangers. We know the music of our neighbors, we celebrate the diversity of accents and idiosyncrasies, but Ibero-America is big and complex, too much remains to be discovered. Mexicans know little about Chileans, Chileans do not know enough about the Argentines, the Spanish have forgotten about the bond that connected them to America, and Brazil and the Spanish-speaking countries stand with their backs to each other. We are strangers among ourselves. Nuestra Mirada was created with the goal of building bridges among the people of Ibero-America, with the intention of being a space to share, to discuss, to dream, and to celebrate our diversity and unity.

There are many photographers whose work is not known beyond their own country’s borders. Some have covered urgent issues but have not found a way to spread their message. This magazine will help promote their work and become a space for broader thought and reflection.

Buenos Aires is one of the great cities of the world, one of the most sophisticated and complex. We wanted to present it from many angles. To that end we have chosen several masters of Argentine photography, and we have also included young photographers whose work is not yet known. Each gallery is accompanied by an article or interview that invites deeper understanding of the artists and the city they portray.

The themes we have chosen are diverse: human rights, history, environment, art, architecture, politics, everyday life, culture, and travel. Despite these many angles, the vision of Buenos Aires that we offer will certainly be arbitrary and incomplete.

Pablo Corral

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The Hairy Loch – Jim Richardson Tue, 05 Jan 2010 17:11:17 +0000 Kimi Recor /author/kimi/feed/Skye_Pann_I_Flat.jpg.scaled.1000.jpg

The islanders on Skye call it the Hairy Loch. I call my image of it Skye Pan I. The photograph was stitched together from frames 14, 691, 14,692 and 14,693.

I’ve always loved the Hairy Loch and have driven past it often. The intricacy and regularity of the reeds in the loch was always alluring, but at the time I had no idea of just what a complex and storied place it was. That would come later when I explored the history of the Hairy Loch, properly called Loch Cill Chroisd.

For all the times I had seen it, I had never really gotten a picture of it until this morning when I was hurrying to the Glasgow airport to take a flight home. Once, some 13 years before on a previous National Geographic assignment, I had stopped here for a gorgeous sunset and tried to photograph it but was defeated by the dreaded Scottish midges (or midgies, the way Scots say it.) The midge is species of invisible, flying piranha known to eat the flesh off the bones of a photographer in minutes. I gave up.

When this scene of Loch Cill Chroisd unfolded before me, I had to stop the car. The sun was rising, the fog for thinning, and I worked frantically to photograph this view before it was gone. I asked myself, “Why the hell had I lingered for so long at the loch up the road when this was waiting for me here?”

The scene cried out for all the detail I could capture. Oh, the great heap of Beinn na Caillich rising above the horizon didn’t need the detail. It was the the water’s reeds, dappled with floating leaves, that needed detail. They needed a subtle rendering that would give each blade of grass its due credit in making up the matrix of life in this stunning landscape.

The ability to stitch several digital images together to form a panorama is a powerful tool for landscape photographers. And it results in a huge file, brimming with information that renders fine detail precisely and maintains lush tonalities. So grabbing my tripod, I quickly mounted the camera, leveled the head, and started shooting multi-image sets of images for later processing in the computer.

There are ways in which the digital processing actually removes distortion from images. Before joining one image to the next, the software takes out some of the stretching that lenses inevitably produce when rendering the real world onto a flat surface. (It’s a necessary byproduct of optics, roughly analogous to the kind of stretching that happens when you project a spherical earth onto a flat map.) But readers of National Geographic remain shy of anything that smacks of “digital manipulation” (as we all should be) and so when we published the image, we duly noted that it was a panorama made up of several images.

The resulting image had a strong sense of serenity. Several of the other variations I tried had this same sense of calm, but this particular set seemed to have the best harmony. Plus, the detailed rendering suggested something more.

Perhaps one of the reasons I love the landscapes of Scotland is their long history of habitation. People have been living amongst its lochs and beinns for a long time. Places like this gather more than just wrinkles inflicted by geology. Myths and tales grow on them a surely as grass and trees.

So it is with Loch Cill Chroisd.

The name itself has meaning. The church, the “cill”, is just up the road. And “Chroisd” mean Christ. Thus: Christ Church. Legend has it that an evil spirt dwelt in the loch and poisoned the water until St. Columba (who brought Christianity to Scotland in the 6th century) chased it away. After that another spirit — an each uisge or water horse — set up shop in the loch, turning itself into a handsome young man to seduce passing women and drown them in the deepest part of the loch.

Further legends of this landscape abound. High atop Beinn na Caillich is a cairn (large pile of stones) said to be where a young Norwegian princess wished to be buried. She hoped that she could feel the winds of her homeland around her grave for eternity. Or maybe not. Maybe it really is the home of the giant woman from the days of Fingal (for whom the cave on Staffa is named, and where we will be going soon.) The Gaelic-to-English translation, “Hill of the Old Woman,” would lend weight to that story.

Regardless of legend, real history was at work here, too. The Gaelic Mackinnon clan defeated the Vikings there on the north slope of Beinn na Caillich. The clan lost all its property, including this beinn, when they took up the Jacobite cause and, some say, aided Bonnie Prince Charlie in his escape. Geographer Thomas Pennant climbed to the peak in 1772 in the first recorded ascent of a mountain on Skye. (I can scarcely believe no one climbed this beinn before 1772, if only to take their sheep up for grazing. But then sheepherders aren’t known for record keeping.) More recently in 2004, young Alan Cope of nearby Broadford ascended the mountain 10 times in one day for charity.

I like places like this, where human regard, caring and observation imbue the land with such common lore that the names themselves have depth of meaning. To the locals, the loch is just “The Hairy Loch” and the mountain is “The Beinn.” Landscapes are more than pretty scenes. We project our dreams on them and make them carry our history. Sometimes it is difficult to separate the external physical landscape from the inner landscape of our minds. We give the land meaning, and it carries our meaning long after we are gone.

The beauty is in the details.

Jim Richardson

See more of Jim’s work here.

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Photo Friday – John Burcham Thu, 24 Dec 2009 15:00:00 +0000 Kimi Recor /author/kimi/feed/008.jpg

To see more of John’s work, go here.

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Infrared Christmas-Stephen Alvarez Tue, 22 Dec 2009 17:51:18 +0000 Kimi Recor /author/kimi/feed/6a00e551a5897b88330120a76e0e5d970b800wi1.jpg

See more of Stephen’s work here.

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