Belize Pt 2 – YETI

On water or land, there’s always a place to be thirsty and carry the right vessel.

logo_blackTrajan_NEW

All Across Africa – Women’s Cooperatives in Rwanda

Day1_Weavers_BuyDay-891

In February of this year, I joined All Across Africa in Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi for an amazing two-week journey through their women’s basket weaving cooperatives, as well as sewing schools designed for young adults. It was a beautiful experience showing the strength of a non-profit empowering locals by providing proper skill set training as well as a growing community of business development. The following are images throughout Rwanda. All products can be purchased by going to www.AllAcrossAfrica.org

Day13_RwandaSisalDye-576

Day2_Sewing_Bracelets-451

Day1_Weavers_BuyDay-522

Day13_RwandaSisalDye-1302

Day1_Weavers_BuyDay-425

Day1_Weavers_BuyDay-73

Day1_Weavers_BuyDay-1032

Day13_RwandaSisalDye-1163

Day2_Sewing_Bracelets-691

Day12_RwandaGikondo-296

Day1_Weavers_BuyDay-1258

Day2_Sewing_Bracelets-303

Day1_Weavers_BuyDay-1371

Day13_RwandaSisalDye-386

Day13_RwandaSisalDye-479

Day13_RwandaSisalDye-790

Day13_RwandaSisalDye-303

Please visit www.AllAcrossAfrica.org to support the women of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi

Cameron Karsten Photography

Vodou Footprints: A Faraway Land in Benin’s Cradle of Vodou

Day6_AlladaVodou-452

Geography, for many Americans, is that daunting and embarrassing mystery—a dim knowledge largely confined to wartime allies, historical enemies, and the occasional topical hotspot. Beyond this so-called important handful—Western Europe, the Middle East, possibly China or Japan—everything else is clumped together into a world of unknowns.

When I told acquaintances of my impending trip, the average response was somewhere between hesitance and puzzlement. Like a jargoning doctor to the common patient, my words didn’t ring many bells.

Well, perhaps Benin is a faraway land.

Day3_Ganvie-356

Admittedly, I too couldn’t place Benin in its exact location prior. West Africa, I’d say evasively, somehow hopeful that several nations would willingly surrender their unique identities to their greater region. Technically, I wasn’t wrong. But not surprisingly, I soon discovered that Benin deserved far more respect and scrutiny than I had originally expected. Take a closer look and you’ll begin to unravel a majestic tangle of complexity and misconception.

Benin borders Nigeria’s western edge, touches Togo’s eastern boundary, and supports Niger and Burkina Faso above. It is one of those tiny West African countries that stretch north to south. Sneeze and you’ll miss it. In fact, picture Africa’s western shoreline as a nose. Benin sits just beyond where the mouth and the nose would meet—at the nostrils, if you will—a sliver of land anchored by the fabled Bight of Benin.

And then there’s magic. In the West, the word conjures up David Blaine, television’s greatest living magician. A levitating, fire-breathing, death-defying illusionist. A beloved celebrity of record-setting endurance. A talent, no doubt. From the Beninese perspective, however, he is not a man of magic. Call him master of deception. Magic in Benin is a way of life.

Day1_Ouidah-112

Everywhere there is magic. It’s in the red earth of the landscape, the throbbing fury of the sun, and the relentless currents of the great flowing rivers. It’s their religion—a religion in which the interactions between nature and humanity are cherished and respected every day. Magic is Vodou. And with 4,000 years of magic backing it up, Benin is the undisputed cradle of Vodou.

Personally, I believe in magic, both as a form of deception as well as a supernatural expression of the energies beyond ordinary comprehension. For millennia, Homo sapiens—the self-proclaimed wise man—has existed, evolved, and generally erred, all the while attempting to explain: What lies beneath? What forces create the churning seas of the ocean and the gyrating clouds of the sky? What energies course through veins and roots alike? Indeed, what does our cunning and craft amount to aside vast incomprehensibilities? Our attempts to solve breed yet further questions. No matter our advancements or industry, the sun still rises and the moon ever orbits to a language seemingly all their own.

Day5_Allada-173

Countless cultures have contrived to explain these fundamental phenomena. Some grow. Most fade beneath the all-consuming flames of war and oppression. And yet, incredibly, amidst the largest powerhouses of the world, there exists a small country—undeterred by the folly of others and sorely ravaged by the horrible histories of slavery—where the primeval practices still prevail and the honor of the mysteries of the world take precedence.

Cast aside the linear mindset and the textual teachings of the West. Simply observe what is before you and what has come to pass. Only then will you understand Benin. Here the supernatural and natural worlds converge; everyday occurrences take on special meanings; and the privileged traveler may join the setting sun into the obscurity of a secret and sacred society to appreciate the mysteries of what Benin declares its official religion: the worship of the Vodou.

Day6_AlladaVodou-366

It is a world of shadow and dance. Of masks, scars, and tattoos. A country where Kings remain the Kings of Kings, and the leopard and snake reign in the household tale. Feel the pulsing rhythm of Vodou, transcend the merely tangible, and let the beat of the drum lift your mind into the realm of the metaphysical. Once you have crossed this threshold, once you have heeded this singular call, the world around can never be the same.

For us, there is no retreat. There is only the universal language of Vodou, and together we will drink from this bottomless cup.

Together we’ll reach a faraway land.

Next essay –>

Day6_AlladaVodou-507

Day2_Cotonou_Egungun-236

Day6_AlladaVodou-173

Day2_Cotonou_Egungun-1

Day6_AlladaVodou-578

Day4_AbomeyCalavi-197

logo_blackTrajan

Africa – People + Places

Cultures-ClashI’ve been sifting through imagery as I prepare to head to New York City for the 2013 Eddie Adams Workshop and meetings with potential clients.  What I’ve found has allowed me to relive the beautiful memories of past travels and the people and places I met.  Here, Africa represents itself in all its wondrous enjoyment, with the hopes of near returns on future assignments.

DSC_0086-(4)---Version-3Hamar, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

DSC_0206---Version-3Somewhere in the Afar Desert, Ethiopia

Gold-Stars,-Happy-FacesThe Layla House Adoption House, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

DSC_0179---Version-3The streets of Lagos, Nigeria

DSC_0024---Version-2The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Nairobi, Kenya

DSC_0307-(1)---Version-5Hamar boy, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

High-RisenDiani Beach, Kenya

DSC_0009-(4)---Version-3Hamar girls, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Tuti-AliveTuti, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

For more please visit: Travel

Cameron Karsten Photography

The Honey Harvest is Near

DennisBeePortrait

With the nearing end of the the summer, a north hemisphere-wide honey harvest is about to begin, and I’m feeling pretty damn excited.  Longtime friend and fellow traveler Dennie P (aka D) stopped by and had the opportunity to check in on my hives.  I’m hoping he’s hooked!  He looks like it.

Location: BI, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D MarkIII w/Canon EF 16-35mm 2.8L II USM Lens

35mm, 1/200 sec at ƒ/7.1, ISO 100, tripod.

Post: LR4 & Adobe PSCC

Olympic Day Hiking – The Brothers

OlympicHiking-34

Spent a sunny summer day hiking to the base of The Brothers on the Olympic Peninsula, reaching just above the tree-line before running out of time.  An hour and twenty minutes up to Lena Lake and then an additional three hours upwards.  We passed below massive pines and wound through streams that disappeared beneath the riverbeds.

OlympicHiking-45

OlympicHiking-62

OlympicHiking-13

OlympicHiking-4

OlympicHiking-205

OlympicHiking-78

OlympicHiking-115

OlympicHiking-119

OlympicHiking-206

OlympicHiking-122

OlympicHiking-132

OlympicHiking-99

OlympicHiking-105

Cameron Karsten Photography

Post-Apocalyptic Youth Survival Group sneak peek!

YouthResilience

Sneak peak of a Youth Survival Group shoot: In a post-apocalyptic world, a band of youths group together to fight the threats of day-to-day survival.

More imagery to come!

Location: Clear-Cut Field – Olympic Peninsula, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D MarkIII w/Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Autofocus Lens

24mm, 1/160 sec at ƒ/18, ISO 100, tripod, composite.

Post: Capture One & Adobe PS6

Cameron Karsten Photography

Photo of the Day: Casey Zautke of Barn Owl Builds

Casey Zautke of Barn Owl Builds prepares a beam of fir for a conference table

Hot off PS6, I’m stoked with my most recent image.  Shot yesterday with Casey Zautke of Barn Owl Builds, he and his brother Josh own a customized furniture company. Each piece of reclaimed wood is hand-picked specific for each order.  Here, Casey runs a thick fir plank through a joiner in order to flatten its surfaces as they begin constructing a conference table.

Over the next couple of months I’m thrilled to be working with them, creating content for their brand and new website.

Location: Barn Owl Builds – Seattle, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

16mm, 1/60 sec at ƒ/10, ISO 100, tripod, composite.

Post: LR4 & Adobe PS6

Cameron Karsten Photography

Photo of the Day: Athena Devouring Her Soldiers

CameronKarsten2013_Goya

Inspired by Francisco Goya’s 1819-1823 oil painting Saturn Devouring His Son, the above project speaks of humanity’s innate compulsion to send its soldiers into the throes of death.  We fight for land.  We fight for possession and power.  It is our willingness to send man and woman into war; and Athena above, goddess of warfare (and wisdom) unleashes her rage over the very men and women we as a people send into battle.

On the other side of the coin, we also fight for freedom, for a voice, for the ability to live our lives as we choose.  There are always two sides, our decisions coming from a place we find within ourselves.

Shot with three Q-flashes, black back drop, and a 6-stop neutral density filter allowing me to shoot wide open, I brought the subject as close to the wide angle lens as possible to create distortion in her face and hands.  Goya’s image is offered below for reference.

Location: private residence

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark III with Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Lens

16mm, 1/80 sec at ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, tripod.

Post: LR4 & Adobe PS6

Cameron Karsten Photography

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 1.23.58 PMFrancisco Goya (1819-1823 oil painting) Saturn Devouring His Son

Photo(z) of the Day: MK Cuttin’ It All Down

CameronKarsten2013_FilabertPruning

I invited Matt over on an unusually warm late winter day in the PNW.  Two ideas: Matt in his element pruning trees outside (above); Matt taking the outdoor technique indoors and getting a little carried away (below).

This blossoming flibert tree (also known as a hazelnut tree) is a sign of the beginning of spring.  The pollen on each flower is loaded, and the slightest gust of wind releases plumes of the fine yellow dust.  Honey bees were loving it, one of their few choicest sources of food this time of year.  Matt climbed the ladder.  I positioned lights and posted on top of his car.  Snap.

CameronKarsten2013_BanzaiPruning

Banzai pruning is an artform, same as large-scale pruning, but on a different level.  Instead of setting up Matt to look like a Zen master delicately snipping away at this miniature money tree, I wanted him to look guilty, cutting away his profits with shock and awe.  Maybe it also reflects the scale of environmental damage that the fracking on the Bakken Shale in Montana and North Dakota cause, as well as the further advancement of permitting for the Keystone XL Pipeline.  As an individual, spending his days outdoors working with trees, Matt chooses the preservation and cultivation of nature over the growth of the “money tree”.

Cameron Karsten Photography