A Road Less Travelled

Monthly Archives: May 2013

PALAU’S FIRST BORN RITUAL

The First-Born ceremony is still practiced with great pride in Palau. New mothers undertake a private cleansing ceremony after giving birth, then emerge to an audience of family and friends in a traditional grass skirt, covered in ginger and oils – yellow from the Turmeric that has been painted over their bodies. In one hand they carry a single leaf to symbolise the cleansing process. One arm deliberately cups the breasts which are large and full of milk, giving prominence to the mother’s nurturing power.

PALAU’S JELLY FISH LAKE – AN EXCEPTIONAL LIFE EXPERIENCE ( and an absolute delight for a photographer)

This is an amazing experience; snorkelling through a lake teeming with jellyfish – harmless, thanks to a rare combination of environmental and evolutionary circumstances.

Swimming in Palau’s Jelly fish Lake begins when your boat is parked on the edge of an island and you wander up and over the steep volcanic slope that separates the lagoon from the lake. After a 200 metre paddle, you’re drifting through a wonder world of jellyfish – millions of them – gently jostling and shunting each other aside as they glide in the direction of the sun’s trajectory to complete their daily migratory pattern. Its a surreal experience, a cross between something you’d see in the movie Avatar and being immersed in one of David Attenborough’s nature documentaries, only you can feel the jellyfish roll off your body and see them sliding off to one side of your face mask as you move through the water. When you dive down and turn upwards, you can see the sunlight shining through a constellation of golden orbs, so thick you can barely see the sky.

HERO ARIEL SHOT OF PALAU IN THE BAG (phew)

This time, all the ingredients needed for a hero shot were there – sunshine, clear skies (with a few puffy clouds), the right tide, minimal wind, a helicopter and – beneath us – the world heritage listed cluster of Palau islands. I had come a long way hoping for this photograph.

BLUE HOLES AND SWIMMING WITH SHARKS IN PALAU

Blue Corner is probably Palau’s most popular dive site as you’re assured of seeing schools of sharks and fish. Hook up to a piece of coral or rock at about 40ft, add a touch of air to your vest for buoyancy to keep you off the reef bed and then just take it all in as the fish (and one particularly friendly Wrass you can pat) come to you. More fish than I have ever seen in one place, plenty of white and black tipped sharks and turtles – all far more interested in feeding on the reef and cruising the currents than bothering the line of anchored spectators.

SENSUAL ISLANDS – A PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION IN THE MAKING

It’s with theme in mind that I’m now wandering the 15 South Pacific and Micronesian countries looking to capture – among the thousands of tourism images I’ll shoot for the project – at least one image per destination which will become part of the Sensual Islands Exhibition I’ll mount to promote the beauty of island culture. Hopefully, the exhibition itself will go some way towards promoting the countries I’m photographing.

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A successful promotional photograph starts with knowing what you want it to say and who you want it to appeal to - before you even bring the camera to your eye.

 

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