My Work vs Emmy Award Wining Photo

Had to post this purely because of the surprise at finding a picture taken at the same spot I was in when in Syria last year. The only difference is, you can see how heavily modified the Emmy picture is in comparison to mine. Also I left the same picture out of my book because I felt it was too weak, even if I played with it in software. Have a look at the two pictures and compare for yourselves.

My picture



The International Emmy Award Winner 2014

Emmy Award Winner 2014

Emmy Award Winner 2014

I decided to make a modified version of my picture to make it easier to compare with the Emmy version, the POV is slightly different. The point I am trying to make is that for me, there is nothing special about either my image or the Emmy version, it was the reason I didn’t put it in my book. This is why I was so surprised Emmy gave an award to such a similar image. Have a look at my modified version and make up your own mind.

Aleppo Modified

Aleppo Modified

What do you think?

Turkey to create buffer zone in Syria?

It has been reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated at the World Economic Form meeting in Istanbul, that he wants to create a buffer zone inside Syria. The reason given is so the thousands of refugees who recently fled ISIS (Daesh) will be able to return to their homes in security.

To be honest, this is the perfect excuse Erdogan has been looking for to make a land grab in Syria. It is something I wrote about back in March as you can read here and again in April, here. Turkey is definitely the elephant in the room. It has been suspiciously tolerant of Daesh, allowing its fighters to cross the border as well as permitting the movement of weapons into Syria. What this suggests is that Turkish motivations for creating a buffer zone are not to be trusted. All the indications are that Turkey would love to reclaim some of the territory it had as part of the Ottoman empire. With nationalism being stoked in the country, this would be a popular move for Erdogan to make. On the opposite side of the coin, it could create a lot of tension with the Kurds who have created their own autonomous areas in northern Syria over the course of the conflict. If Turkey goes for the land grab, will the Kurds be allowed to continue governing themselves? Time will tell.

Syria will never go back to the borders it had before the conflict started, it is being divided up for geo-political reasons. In the process, the risk of unintended consequences increases. Now that the US led coalition is carrying out airstrikes on Daesh, the dynamic is changing, groups such as Jabhat al Nusra are collaborating with Daesh as now the attacks are seen as an attack on Islam. The operation to bomb them could ultimately lead to them becoming stronger and gaining even more support.

Watch this space.

For watch collectors

I have one of my Swiss watches for sale on ebay, proceeds of which will go toward a photography project I am working on. It is the Schwarz Etienne, New York. Only 300 were made and I have number 287. Cost new was £6400 British pounds. It has a column wheel controlled chronograph which you only find in high end watch movements. It is a beautiful watch, very individual. Comes with its original presentation box.

SE, New York, Front

SE, New York, Front

SE, New York, back

SE, New York, back










Here are its details:

Movement: Chrono RAC J8154 with column wheel
Functions: Big date, Chronograph, 2nd time zone (GMT)
Case: 316L stainless steel, Crystal:Antireflection sapphire
Case back: Sapphire crystal, Crown engraved with SE logo
Case Diameter: 38mm
Case Thickness: 14.55mm
Strap: Genuine Louisiana crocodile black leather, Clasp:Double folding spring buckle
Water-resistance:165 feet/50 metres

I have it up for auction on ebay I made a video showing a closer look at the watch here


Photography Workshop

Ran a photography workshop today for a group of students from Franklin University in Switzerland. They had fun experimenting and learning. I was more concentrated on helping them but managed to create a couple of images I’m happy with.



At the station

At the station







United Nations vs ISIS?

This week is going to be a busy one at the United Nations. As well as the General Assembly meeting there will be others to address the situation with ISIS (Daesh) and Ebola in west Africa.

Now that airstrikes in Syria against Daesh have started, led by the USA and Arab states, it is time to understand what is happening. Before I do, I want to tell you the reaction of my Syrian friends regarding the airstrikes. None of them are happy about it, not because they like Daesh but because they only see Bashar al Assad benefiting from the situation rather than the majority of the Syrian people. In general the view is that when the USA gets involved, the resulting situation is always worse than it was before. It has to be said, history tends to back them up on this.

A few weeks ago, President Obama spoke of the need to build a global coalition against the global threat of Daesh, their network is spread around the world and they have been preparing for for attacks by the West for quite some time. The USA has been leading talks behind the scenes with all the members of the U.N as a way of confronting the crisis.

While the act of attacking Daesh and stopping them in their tracks can only be a good thing there are many risks involved, in particular who or what will fill the vacuum which will follow. This is the real fear of the Sunni muslims in both Syria and Iraq. It could lead to expanded sectarian conflict across the region rather than bringing any sort of peace. Russia has already condemned the airstrikes in Syria as there has been no agreement by the Security Council of the U.N. It seems that Obama is going to try and rectify the lack of agreement this week by arguing that as Daesh are a global threat the response also needs to be global and there is only one global organization which can do the job, the U.N. In order for that to happen it would need all U.N member states to give real teeth to what until now has been little more than a corrupt talking shop. By giving the U.N genuine power it would be the only organization capable of confronting Daesh at the international level. This is why I believe this week will be quite interesting, there really could be moves to make this happen.

The crisis in the Middle East isn’t the only crisis in town. Ebola in west Africa is threatening to decimate populations and I use the word literally. It is a crisis which also requires a global response as it has the potential to spread far beyond where it is now. It has arrived to the point where there are now infected bodies in the streets, there are not enough medical facilities or staff to cope with the outbreak. There are cases where highly infectious bodies lie in the streets. It does not require a huge leap of the imagination to see how easy it would be for terrorists to extract blood from these bodies for extraction of the virus to be used as a weapon, the process is not complicated. Ebola is something which has the potential to effect us all and requires a global response of the same level that militant Islam is receiving.

Finally, I want to go back to the way most ordinary Syrians view Daesh compared to the government of Bashar al Assad and illustrate it with something I saw today. They don’t want Daesh but the Sunni majority hate the Syrian regime even more. By destroying Daesh they feel it will allow Assad to kill even more people and the USA with its military action will inadvertently help him to do it. These are not my opinions but are based on numerous conversations I have had with Syrians in the last few days.

Syrian Regime vs ISIS (Daesh)

Syrian Regime vs ISIS (Daesh)

What next for Ukraine?

With a rather shaky ceasefire in place in eastern Ukraine, there are still small pockets of fighting, and the withdrawal of the majority of Russian forces the question has to be, what happens next?

The situation is far from resolved, the separatists control large parts of Donbass region which includes the cities Donetsk and Luhansk, on the other hand they haven’t been able to yet take control of Mariupol which would put them well on the way to creating a land corridor between Crimea and Russia. Crimea has no physical link to Russia and there are now talks of constructing a bridge across the Kerch Strait between the two. Since Crimea’s annexation, Ukraine has severely restricted drinking water supplies to Crimea and the only options left for the time being are a polluted unused reservoir and a river which is also polluted. Not a good situation for the inhabitants to be in.

Apart from a frozen conflict there are other dangers facing Ukraine. A lot of the fighting against the Russian separatists has been done not only by the regular Ukrainian military but also far right Neo-Nazi groups, in particular the Azov Battalion. In fact Azov have often been at the forefront of the fighting and have proven themselves to be a tough bunch, more so than the regular army. Russia has always portrayed the new Ukrainian leadership of having a Nazi element and the fact that Ukraine has allowed Azov to fight and supplied them with weapons adds to this. This recent article in The Guardian touches on this also.

As Russia no longer has any political influence over Ukraine since the overthrow of President Victor Yanukovych, the rights and wrongs of which I don’t get involved in, Russia has been seeking to destabilize Ukraine. Understanding the growth of the far right Neo-Nazi movement in Ukraine is I believe, a part of Russia’s strategy to weaken its neighbour. Azov and other far right militia groups see the current government in Kiev as useless and have the attitude that Ukraine needs to have a strong dictatorship to control the country. By freezing the conflict now, Russia understands that these far right militia, who are well armed and battle hardened, can seriously destabilize the rest of Ukraine, in particular the capital Kiev. It hasn’t happened yet but the probability is high. Foreign Neo- Nazis have travelled to Ukraine to join them, not many yet but I can see the numbers increasing, in particular from Germany where there has been huge growth in far right organizations who are looking for a fight.

Ukraine fell into the trap of arming these groups and now Russia is backing away, it knows it can now sit back and watch as instability spreads. I don’t know if this was Russia’s plan from the start but it sees the benefits of taking advantage of the situation by freezing the conflict so all these militia can direct their anger towards Kiev. It is bound to happen over time, they pretty much admit it themselves in the article I linked to.

So what is Russia’s strategy here? It has been wanting to complete its South Stream gas pipeline for some time and hence avoid supplying gas to Europe via Ukraine but the EU has been holding things up for fear of becoming over dependent on Russia for energy. This pipeline bypasses Ukraine, coming through the Black Sea, entering Europe via Bulgaria, well that’s the plan but the EU hasn’t given permission for the final stage to be built yet. Russia seeing that these far right militia groups have the real potential to destabilize Ukraine and possibly the energy supply which Europe depends on, could be used as a strong pressure point to allow completion of the South Stream pipeline. Europe’s distaste for Russian actions in Ukraine may well have to be swallowed if Ukraine becomes unstable and the supply of gas with it. It simply needs the energy too much.

With European and American sanctions against Russia being increased it has become a game of chicken, who blinks first, Russia is totally reliant on the income from its gas exports to Europe and Europe is trying to put Vladimir Putin back in his box. Who has the greater will to win?

Featured on a major photojournalism website have featured my work from Syria. It is always nice to have one’s work recognized.

Syria Refugees and Rebels



My Personal Blog Challenge. Do you know anybody in these countries?

This is something personal, my blog has had visitors from most countries in the world but I still miss quite a few  and I would love to fill in those gaps and make this blog truly international. It would be great to have at least one person from every country in the world who has seen my blog. So if you know somebody in any of the countries listed below, some are less likely than others I know, then please get them to check out my blog.

The countries missing are:

  • North Korea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Western Sahara
  • Mauritania
  • Senegal
  • Gambia
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Guinea
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Chad
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Eritrea
  • Somalia
  • Burkina Faso
  • Liberia
  • Cameroon
  • Central Africa Republic
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Congo
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Zambia
  • Angola
  • Swaziland
  • Lesotho
  • Bhutan
  • Cuba
  • Greenland
  • And numerous Pacific Island Nations

Below is a list of the top 10 countries which visit here. I would like to say a big thank you to everybody who follows this blog. You all inspire me with your support to keep developing new articles and I hope I can continue holding your interest. Thank you everybody :D

United States FlagUnited States
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom
Switzerland FlagSwitzerland
Italy FlagItaly
Australia FlagAustralia
Germany FlagGermany
Canada FlagCanada
France FlagFrance
India FlagIndia
Spain FlagSpain

Time to face the ISIS inside of us

Russell Chapman:

Read this article. ISIS is inside us. Fascinating read and very accurate.

Originally posted on Human Rights Blog:


By PD Dr. Elham Manea

“We are ISIS”.

A startling statement? Yet this was the title of an article written by former Kuwaiti Minister of Information, Saad bin Tafla al Ajami, published by the Qatari newspaper al Sharq in 7 August 2014. He was not celebrating the Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), nor the atrocities it is committing against civilians and minorities in Iraq and Syria.

He was reminding us that ISIS, while condemned by the majority of Muslims, is a product of an Islamic religious discourse that dominated our public sphere in the last decades – a mainstream discourse!

ISIS “did not come from another planet’, He said. ‘It is not a product of the infidel West or a bygone orient”, he insisted.

No, “the truth that we can not deny is: ISIS learned from our schools, prayed in our mosques, listened to our media… and our…

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