Friday, June 22, 2018

In photos: Beyond the surf, Ghana’s coast is a kaleidoscopic dream

After making plans to visit Ghana for a vacation, photographer Adrian Morris just couldn’t help but put his camera to work. From east to west, along the coast, Adrian captured candid and ethereal moments that aren’t easy to come by.

In early 2018, Australian photographer Adrian Morris traveled to Ghana. Initially, he went to chase waves—Ghana’s coast is home to great surf—and take a break from his working life. But as he began to research his trip, his interest in the region grew, and he couldn’t help but take his camera along for the ride.

Easily one of Africa’s most overlooked travel destinations, Adrian found himself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of photo opportunities Ghana afforded him. “The first thing I noticed was the color,” he says. “The colors of the clothes the women wore, of the small wooden houses, of the shops, of the hand-painted fishing boats. And there was this smoky haze that never seemed to disappear—even on a sunny day. It gave the place a real atmosphere and energy.”

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

In search of silence: Is this England’s quietest spot?

The sound of silence isn’t easy to find, but city-dweller Richard Mellor heads to England’s supposed most tranquil spot for a dose of wilderness. Is it really as quiet as they say?

I sit beside Channelbush Sike, a boulder-strewn stream of transparent water, and listen. The current rushes down a couple of chutes. A bee buzzes by; a cuckoo cuckoos. Every so often, I think I hear a car approaching along the track—but it’s just wind sighing through surrounding forest. Other than that? Nope. Nothing.

And that was my hope in visiting this remote corner of Northumberland, found just inside the Cumbrian border and less than 10 miles from Scotland. It’s known as the Kielder Mires (or the Border Mires) thanks to around 60 peat bogs—which store precious amounts of carbon, thus negating the effect of global warming—speckling the boundaries of Kielder Forest.

And one particular 500-meter-by-500-meter-square of one particular Mire (its precise location a secret but somewhere nearby) was specified as Britain’s most peaceful spot in 2006 when the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) produced a ‘tranquillity map’ of the country.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

What’s it like to swim into the world’s weirdest underwater orgy?

Each Southern Hemisphere winter, a natural phenomenon occurs off a remote stretch of the South Australian coast that will leave you blushing, finds Sarah Reid.

Shimmering like a hyperactive rainbow, the male cuttlefish suddenly makes his move, snaking an orangey tentacle around the female’s head and drawing it towards his own mouth. It looks like he’s about to eat her, but this mollusc has a decidedly more X-rated motive.

“The male actually squirts sperm into the female’s mouth, and she fertilizes it internally before depositing the eggs under a rock shelf,” marine educator and dive instructor Carl Charter had explained during my pre-snorkel briefing—adding that the kinky copulation sessions of Australian giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama) can last up to half an hour.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

In photos: Stolen moments from India’s remote, northeastern reaches

For photographer Annapurna Mellor, five weeks navigating India’s northeast, from Assam to Kolkata, provided ample time to produce a photographic ode to this stunning, rarely-visited region.

I’m staring at the giant map of India which hangs above my desk. I’ve been three times before, and I want to go again. But where? I know very little about the northeast, aside from tea—Darjeeling and Assam are staples in every British cupboard. I make a mark on my map. And with that, the fate of my fourth trip is sealed.

It takes me four flights to get to Gauhati, the capital of Assam and the gateway to the region.  I’m on assignment with the Indian tourism board for my first week. They pile me and a group of camera-clad journalists into a couple of jeeps and we leave Assam’s dusty capital to head north, into the wild state of Arunachal Pradesh. Our destination is Tawang, a mountain town claimed by both India and China, on the border between Tibet and Bhutan.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Meet the families keeping Rajasthani block-printing traditions alive

In a small corner of northern India, generation after generation of families are keeping the art of Rajasthani block-printing alive. Lorna Parkes visits the village of Bagru to see how tradition and modernity are keeping the tradition intact.

It’s the hammering that guides me to the Chhipa Ka Mohalla printing workshop. It’s persistent and considered, interwoven with the equally dogged drone of high-pitched car horns that permeate life in Rajasthan.

The literal translation of ‘chhipa’ is ‘to print’. And here in the village of Bagru, the speciality is exquisite block-printed textiles, a craft that’s been passed down from generation to generation since the Mughal Empire. The tapping I hear is the genesis of an artisan journey that begins with a wedge of sheesham wood, a steady hand and a small steel chisel guided by a wooden hammer.

Sitting 30 miles outside of Jaipur’s pink city, Bagru is well known in Rajasthan for its dense concentration of textile artisans, who survive cheek-by-jowel in a dust bowl of concrete family compounds that house a thriving cottage industry.

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Meet the man who walked 12,000 kilometers across the African continent

In January 2018, Mario Rigby returned home from a walk. But while most walks don’t warrant international media attention, Mario’s walk saw him navigate the length of the African continent, over the course of two years. 

“I was an adventurous child,” says Mario Rigby over the phone from his home in Toronto, Canada. “My parents had to get me into sports or I would get in trouble.” So that’s what his parents did. And Mario, not one to do things by halves, went on to compete in track and field at a national level.

Now, Mario—who was born in Turks and Caicos and grew up in Germany before moving to Toronto—is one of the city’s leading fitness instructors, and coaches top-tier athletes across a range of sports. And when he’s not doing that, he likes nothing more than to head out for a stroll.

But we’re not talking a couple of laps around the block with the dog. Mario’s first proper walk was from Toronto to Montreal—500 kilometers (310 miles) on foot. He was averaging about 50-60 kilometers (31-37 miles) a day, he says. And that was just the warm-up.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

How to make an award-winning adventure film (without budget or crew)

You don’t need fancy equipment, a crew or lots of money to make a great short adventure film. Featured contributor Leon McCarron explains how anyone can get started.

In 2012, I walked across the Empty Quarter desert alongside my friend Alastair Humphreys. We had just two cameras to film the entire experience, but with time and energy, we eventually turned 40 hours of material into a one-hour feature. I was incredibly proud of what we put together—even more so when someone other than my mother gave us positive feedback. The film was selected for several festivals, including the Banff Mountain Film Festival and, for the first time, I like I could call myself a filmmaker.

A couple of years earlier, I’d had a very different experience. At 23 years old, I set off on a long bike trip. I’d watched the Long Way Round TV series in which Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman travel from London to New York by motorbike and thought: “How hard can it be to make something similar?”

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