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clan jetties penang malaysia
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Unbeknown to myself, Georgetown (on the island of Penang, off the East coast of Malaysia) is home to a population of Chinese clans who actually live on the sea just off the coast of this fascinating city. There wooden houses are raised above the waters on concrete and wooden stilts. There are currently 6 different jetties that house an estimated 1000 Chinese immigrants who have been based here for over 100 years.

Clan jetties, Malaysia. Copyright Tom Bourdon

 

There used to be more jetties but fire is an evil enemy when you live in a wooden village, and has destroyed many homes. In the past these have not been rebuilt due to the financial costs and the powers of local developers, however the recently gained World Heritage status means any property destroyed will have to rebuild in the same style, this should ensure the safeguard of the population for some time.

Clan jetties, Malaysia. Copyright Tom Bourdon

Traditionally the residents where fishermen who traded there catch at the local market, while fishing still continues things have modernised somewhat overtime and you can now find an array of shops and home-stays. My research leads me to believe that many others work elsewhere in the city but due to the fact they don’t actually live on the land they pay no taxes, this seems a bizarre legal loophole if it is actually true.

Clan jetties, Malaysia. Copyright Tom Bourdon

Each house now has it mains water and electricity supply, in fact they all seemed to have satellite tv too, although the lack of any kind of sewage system was concerning.

Clan jetties, Malaysia. Copyright Tom Bourdon

As with everywhere in Malaysia the residents are a jolly bunch and happy to share a few smiles.

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    Photo Critiques
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    Towards the end of 2010 I was contacted by a very nice man offering me the opportunity to become part of a new venture called Gurushots that offers photo critiques from some extremely experienced photographers.

    The idea is simple. For a small fee, occasionally free (more on that in a minute) anyone can upload an image and have it reviewed by one of several experienced photographers, the critique will be completed online and available for the world to see with in just a couple of days.

    Now it takes a bit of bravery to agree to have someone critique your work, more so if the results are to shown online for the world to see. But having been though a few similar critiques myself I´m well aware of how they can help you, and me, become more aware of what we are shooting.

    Impressed with the simplicity of the idea I jumped on board and I´ve already enjoyed completing a few critiques. It´s nice to have something I enjoy that directly helps others improve their photographic skills.

    Now the site uses the words amateur and pro in almost every paragraph of text, which I know can cause some friction amongst photographers (I try and stay clear of categorising people in such a way), but they really do offer a great service at a silly price.

    I’m told they are planning on expanding the the site to not only include critiques but many other services to help the budding photographer improve his vision.

    And now for the free bit.

    The best thing about this is for a limited time only I’m offering 3 free critiques to you guys. All you have to do is click on my profile (http://www.gurushots.com/tom-bourdon) then click the link for a free critique. If there is no link it means you were too slow and I’ve got the 3 critiques which will keep me busy for a while, but follow me on Twitter or Facebook when I’ll be randomly announcing more free critiques.

    Check it out GuruShots Pro Critique

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      Happy Christmas folks
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      I shot this earlier this evening. I went out with my tripod in hand with the intention of shooting out of focus Christmas lights, for the first few minutes all was going well, then bamb, someone hit the switch and the lights went out. Kind of put a sudden end to my night of shooting. Returning home I was pretty happy to see this image on a large screen and so made it into a Christmas card, so here’s hoping this festive season brings you many wonderful joys and  delights. Happy Christmas.

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        IGVP – Its alive !!
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        Just a quick post for today, but more come later in the week.

        I’m very proud to be a part of the IGVP initiative whose website went live yesterday morning. It promises to be a strong community of visual artists lead by some of the best do-gooders out there.

        Check out the website for more information. www.VisualPeacemakers.org

        I told you it would be quick :)

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          Postcard from Mcleodganj
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          Just a very very quick postcard from Mcleodganj before I head off to Delhi.

          See you on the other side.

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            Taking time out to improve
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            I’ve had a few days off from shooting. In fact I haven’t shot a single frame since last Friday. Some of you may view this as me being lazy, but its far from the truth. When I was at Kumbh mela I shot literally thousands of frames, often from sunrise to sunset. Needless to say the images in my ‘To process’ collection was mounting up and I was burning out, so many people, so much noise, so much to shoot, it never stopped, for weeks.

            So I’ve taken this time not just to put my camera down and give my back and shoulders a rest from such weight but to work through my images and closely examine what I’ve shot and more importantly what I haven’t shot. I’ll be back shooting the the Kumbh mela shortly and I’ll go into it knowing what’s possible and what’s missing the shots I’ve already got. Photographers are spoilt a little by this event not only because there is just so much to shoot but because it goes on for so long, allowing time out to take stock. How many photographers are actually doing this I’m unsure.

            I’ve been on the road now for 5 months now and I’m starting to miss some the creature comforts of home, reliable internet access and red wine are just to mention just two of them.

            I’ll be in Mathura for Holi celebrations which promises to be another incredible experience, I shot this colourful celebration in the same location in 2007 and it was so good, I’m doing it al over again.

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              February 2010 Wallpaper
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              Another month has passed & its time for the monthly wallpaper. Stay tuned as I’m currently working on a how to guide to help you create your own wallpapers, until then you can use this one.

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              So how do I put this image on my desktop ??:

              Click the link below that matches your screen resolution then right click the image and click ‘Set as desktop background’ or ‘Use Image as Desktop Picture” on the Mac. If you want different sizes just let me know.

              1024×768 | 1280×800| 1280×853 | 1440×900 | 2560×1600

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                Double whammy of Postcards
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                Its been quiet here, what with power cuts and frustratingly slow internet I’ve struggled to update the blog. But, not to worry, today you get a 2 for 1 deal on postcards.

                The first one comes from Bodhgaya in the Bihar region of India. This is the holiest of places for the Buddhist community. Basically this is where it all began, under a tree over 2500 years ago, a young guy named Siddharta sat and meditated for 3 days before achieving  a state of nirvana. A few weeks later he gave his first teaching, and Buddhism was born.

                Nowadays its not just a pilgrimage site for Buddhists but also for many a tourist.

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                I spend 4 days here and although it’s turned into quite a commercial place, it certainly has an certain spiritual essence about it.

                The second postcard comes from here in Varanassi. I’ve only been here 2 days but its my favorite place by far. I first visited this city 3 years ago and have been wanting to return ever since. This is place is the stuff of dreams for photographers, a simple stroll along the river Ganges can reveal more than you thought possible, all bathed in beautiful soft light. This place is magical.

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                Today was my first day shooting and I shot this early on, back lit by the rising sun. I really like this shot and think it could be a wallpaper for January.

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                  Postcard from Calcutta
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                  Well despite some difficult moments, Ive made it out of Bangladesh – and that’s not as easy as it sounds you know. You need a special permit to leave by land, that takes 3 working days !

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                  So here I am in Calcutta, India, but leaving soon to Bodhgaya to shoot a story on the origins of Buddhism. Think robed monks, ancient temples, meditation, peace and tranquility. Expect to see the images here soon.

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                    Rediscovering Thailand
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                    So here I am (or was) working away in my temporary office on a beach in the Trang province of Southern Thailand, its slightly cramped and there was no wifi, I mean seriously there was no wifi !

                    My hut was the light blue dot to the right at the top of the beach in the image below, a great place though and wish I could have stayed longer, perhaps forever.. Ohh and I’ve finally got a few blue skies too.

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                    I’m now in Phuket and starting to prepare for the Vegetarian festival that starts this Sunday, the 18th,  and continues until Monday 26th. I hope to have some images up soon from this event as well as the stunning beaches here (although I haven’t seen any yet).

                    On a different theme.

                    This is my third visit to Thailand, the first two times I left feeling disappointed at what I’d seen. I left feeling the whole country had sold out big time and prostituted itself for the sake of the tourist. Many naturally beautiful areas have been destroyed due to posh resorts, restaurants, golf courses and the like popping up in what would normally be jungle territory. Not only this it felt like the tourists who came here weren’t interested in the Thai people or their culture, they just wanted beaches, cheap drinks, hot weather, parties and cheap sex. None of these are the reasons I travel and I think its harmful to the society in the long run.

                    However….. this time, perhaps because I’ve been to more ‘off the beaten track’ places, I’ve not felt this at all. I’ve not yet met one drunk, sun burnt tourist and only seen stunningly beautiful places. Saying that I’ve just arrived in the most touristy place in the country so I don’t know how long this feeling will last, but for now its all good. :)

                    Got a feeling I’m going to be giving away another book pretty soon, stay tuned.

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