Travel in black & white

Due to, or rather thanks to, a revolting stomach my recent visit to Kyrgyzstan did not turn out as expected. With the exquisite luxory of having two weeks to spend doing nothing, I decided to see where the “wheel” would take me.

Hopefully the photographs presented in this series communicate an attitude of openness to the surroundings, but at the same time I was very much a foreigner in these same surroundings. I have felt compelled to use black and white, as well as the square format,  to try to underscore the basic feeling of this part of the travel.

As always when travelling, my best moments came when meeting people. Very few of the people I met spoke any English, and my knowledge of the Kyrgyz language did not allow any deep and long conversations, and thus some of these meetings were mainly characterized as events of mutual curiosity. The photographs are presented as a slideshow here.

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Ulak tartysh

Imagine a mix of polo, rugby and icehockey and you probably visualize something not very far from the Kyrgyz national sport Ulak Tartysh.

Based on ancient traditions of wolf hunting, the players aim at getting a freshly decapitated goat into dougnut-like goals at the two opposite ends of the playing ground. Each team has 10 horse-mounted members, with 5 players per team active at a particular time.

As far as I know basically everything is allowed, such as smashing your own horse into your opponent or his horse in full gallop. Dragging your opponent out of his saddle in the middle of 10 crazy warriors is of course also great. This game actually made me think about the Genghis Khan war machine some 800 years ago. This army actually advanced in average 17 km per day, including major battles, for several months, and they never lost a battle. For comparison, please remember that the allied forces had to take a break for logistic reasons after only 3 days and 90 km, without major clashes, after landing in Normandie during WWII….

The players are of course amazingly good riders (probably even conceived on horseback….), show great pride and courage, and don’t take the referee’s whistle for the final truth. A surprisingly strong expression of anarchy and real fighting permeated the competition, and I was several times stunned by the aggressive oral clashes between players, between players and the referee, and also between players and the public.

The pictures shown are from a recent championship in Jalal Abad, with regional teams from the different oblasts of Kyrgyzstan, and I had really great pleasure in photographing this event. High speed, unexpected events, lots of dust and strong contrasts due to direct sunlight all made it a challenging but exciting “assignment”. More pictures from this event will be added to this website as a separate gallery later.

Fragments of Identity

A new gallery has been added today, a gallery quite different from all others on this website. The gallery “Fragments of an identity” originates in a series of workshops with Robert Sannes from earlier this year. For me these workshops focused on the relevance of my own person in photography, expressing emotions and aspects of my identity. Comments and critics are appreciated (as usual!).

Ecotourism in Kyrgyzstan

Many of the photographs presented on this website are taken in Kyrgyzstan, on a trip I made last year. Since the infrastructure in the countryside is not exactly developed for tourists, it is almost obligatory to use a local organizer. Out of several possibilities I chose to go with Ecotour, a small company based in the capital Bishkek. Their website is here, and their new guesthouse is here.

Their concept is quite unique, and they cooperate with a number of families living in yurt camps in the mountain regions. Everything is small scale, and as a guest you rely on the wonderful hospitality of the local people. Highly recommended! If anyone needs more information on this I will be glad to assist.

Update

I have made some changes to the structure of the website, so that the different travels are now entries under the “Projects” heading. I have also added a new gallery, “Finnmark 2008”, with pictures from a workshop at Øytun Folkehøyskole in early December last year. This school teaches Nature Photography, and a link to their website is http://www.oytun.fhs.no/index.php?side=foto.

In early December the daylight only lasts for some 2-3 hours, and often the light has a bluish tone which is beautiful. An example is seen in this picture:

Finally!

Ah, finally everything seems to work! Trying to make the transition from a complete novice to a happy owner of a fully operating website in one day, I have relied heavily on the rather excellent instructions given by Photocrati (thanks!).

I have uploaded some photographs from the last year, many of them from my travels to Kyrgyzstan and Iran. To me the greatest joy as a traveller is to meet people, and I hope this is reflected in my photographs. To travel with an open mind and an open heart brings out the best of me as well as the people I meet, and the hospitality I have encountered almost everywhere has been astonishing.

I’m very interested in hearing comments and criticism on the photographs! Although I have a strong feeling aboout many of these photographs I ‘m very much aware that I have lots to learn, so please….

By the way, can anyone tell me how to change the size of the thumbnails in WordPress?

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