Sunday, January 27, 2013

Photography: Mongolia by Hamid Sardar-Afkhami "I am in search of the very soul of a people, a place, a culture."

Video Interview with Hamid Sardar about his photography which is part of the 'No Strangers' exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography.

"My journey as a photographer and as an ethnographer has been a personal pilgrimage. I am in search of the very soul of a people, a place, a culture."

Hamid Sardar-Afkhami is a professional photographer, writer, award winning filmmaker, explorer and scholar of Tibetan and Mongol languages who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Sanskrit and Tibetan Studies. He is based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and Paris, France and participated in the National Geographic expedition that discovered the hidden falls of the Tsangpo River in Tibet.

After moving to Nepal in the late 1980’s and exploring Tibet and the Himalayas for more than a decade, he traveled to Outer Mongolia. Seeing the opportunity to create a single important collection concentrating on the last country where the majority of the population are still nomads, Sardar-Afkhami set up Wind Horse, a mobile studio ger camp in Mongolia. With his arsenal of cameras and different formats, he mounts yearly expeditions into the Mongolian outback to document her nomadic traditions.

Most recently he has dedicated his time to the exploration of Mongolia and has brought awareness to the plight of the country's various nomadic traditions through his award winning photography and films. His images have appeared in prestigious publications such as National Geographic Adventure, and Le Figaro. His documentary film was awarded the prize for the Best Film on Culture at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada. Sardar-Afkhami's recent photographic project takes him to Burma where he aims to document and preserve a record of her tribal peoples.

Watch film Trailer: Tracking The White Reindeer is a film by Hamid Sardar beautifully shot and edited, this film takes us into the lives of a group of people who are little known to the outside world.

In the snow-covered plains of northern Mongolia live the Tsaatan nomads. The young Quizilol and the beautiful Solongo are in love. To prove to Solongo's father that he is man enough to marry his daughter, Quizilol has to show he is capable of raising a herd of reindeer by himself. His family gives him a young stallion to start off. During a blizzard however, the stallion escapes into the spirit dwelling mountains. If it crosses the nearby Russian border, it will be lost forever. The young man can only count on himself to capture the animal. Only if he succeeds will he marry Solongo.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Video: City of Ruins ~ Photographs and CGI 3D Stereoscopic Reconstruction of Warsaw Destroyed During World War II ~ Recreated by Platige Image with Warsaw Rising Museum (Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego 1944 powstanie warszawskie Operation Tempest, Storm)

Watch " City of Ruins"
Poland's first digital 3D stereoscopic recreation and reconstruction of Warsaw destroyed during World War II. The Warsaw Rising Museum decided to make a film whose restoration imagery basis would be the aerial photos and computer generated imagery 3D animation and special visual effects. Although the Museum had its disposal wide documentation from the times of the Warsaw Rising, it issued an appeal to the Warsaw citizens to submit photos that could support the realization of the project. The film depicts a flyover of the Liberator airplane over the razed and depopulated city of Warsaw, portraying the sheer scale of destruction intentionally wrought upon the capital following the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

Compiling the source material and processing the enormous amount of information took over a year. In order to depict the city as faithfully as possible, an enormous amount of archival and referential material was amassed. Aerial imagery and photographs found in museum collections served as references for the film. A total of several thousand pictures were used in the project. Website

CG Supervisior: Michał Gryn
Director: Damian Nenow
Producer: Marcin Kobylecki
Production Manager: Magdalena Matejek

Image Credits:  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Video: Gravity Lights ~ Participate in Trial Testing "Gravity Lights by designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves

Gravity Lights website and updates (including receiving your own Gravity Light to test trial)

Quote from Gravity Lights innovators: 
"GravityLight is a revolutionary new approach to storing energy and creating illumination. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free. Following the initial inspiration of using gravity, and years of perspiration, we have refined the design and it is now ready for production. We need your help to fund the tooling, manufacture and distribution of at least 1000 gravity powered lights. We will gift them to villagers in both Africa and India to use regularly. The follow-up research will tell us how well the lights met their needs, and enable us to refine the design for a more efficient MK2 version. Once we have proved the design, we will be looking to link with NGOs and partners to distribute it as widely as possible. When mass produced the target cost for this light is less than $5."

Why GravityLight?
"Did you know that there are currently over 1.5 billion people in the World who have no reliable access to mains electricity? These people rely, instead, on biomass fuels (mostly kerosene) for lighting once the sun goes down. Lift the weight and let gravity do the rest."

Lift the weight and let gravity do the rest.

The World Bank estimates that, as a result, 780 million women and children inhale smoke which is equivalent to smoking 2 packets of cigarettes every day. 60% of adult, female lung-cancer victims in developing nations are non-smokers. The fumes also cause eye infections and cataracts, but burning kerosene is also more immediately dangerous: 2.5 million people a year, in India alone, suffer severe burns from overturned kerosene lamps. Burning Kerosene also comes with a financial burden: kerosene for lighting ALONE can consume 10 to 20% of a household's income. This burden traps people in a permanent state of subsistence living, buying cupfuls of fuel for their daily needs, as and when they can. The burning of Kerosene for lighting also produces 244 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide annually.

BBC Radio4 -Life without electricity in Liberia Listen here -

Only 0.58% of the residents of Liberia have access to public electricity. Outside the capital city, public power is practically unheard of - just one of the very obvious results of the carnage caused to the country's infrastructure by the years of civil war.Reporting from Liberia's capital, Monrovia, Today programme presenter Evan Davis examined what kind of difficulties this presents to those living and working there.

We are Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves, London based designers who have spent 4 years developing GravityLight as an off-line project. We work for, which has over 20 years of experience in designing and developing hand held computing and communication products for a host of pioneers including Psion, Toshiba, NEC, TomTom, Inmarsat, ICO, Sepura, Racal Acoustics, Voller Energy, FreePlay and SolarAid. We’re using a tried and tested manufacturer who has the right expertise to make GravityLight. 

We have some links to partner organisations in Africa and need to do the same for India. 

If you're part of an organisation and would like to get involved then please contact us. 

We are particularly looking for contacts in South America. 

Visit our skunk-works website here 

Check out John Keane's great Solar For Africa blog.