The people that know me well understand that Egypt has long been a part of me. Adventures with my family made me feel at home in this country at a young age. Egypt is a rich and complex tapestry. Where some see the chaos of Cairo's streets, I see beauty in the traffic. I fall in love with every image I take in this country. Each tell their own story.
These images were taken over a two year period of discovery in the country during the filming of Undercover Egypt.
Images have been selected by National Geographic for the photo assignment "The Walk" and SeeMe's exhibition in the Louvre in Paris.
High on the hill overlooking Luxor is the village of Qurna. Upon first glance it appears that nobody lives here. Brightly painted ramshackle houses greet you as you climb to the top. The view is magical, overlooking the Nile Delta and the vast array of temples a mere wave away.
The first written accounts of this village date back to the 1600s, when two missionary brothers travelled throughout Upper Egypt documenting their experiences. What they describe can still be seen today but not perhaps for much longer.
The village sits upon dozens of ancient tombs that form part of the huge necropolis of Thebes on the west banks of Luxor. Since the 1960s, local authorities have gradually relocated the villages to enable the recovery of the tombs. Tales of pilfering are well circulated with fears that much of their treasured content is long taken.
Many of the 3,200 residents have already left to a new settlement a few kilometers away. The housing provided is vastly different from their hilltop life, with small close knit units they say put them on top of each other and cut them off from their traditional way of life.
I visited the women of a family who would like to stay. Over tea they shared their laughter and home. Their brightly painted walls give way to rooms filled with straw and livestock.
At the back of the house is a bright blue door which leads into the rock face. Inside its instantly dark and cooler. They tell me it's their storeroom. It's hard to tell how deep it goes. Locals tell of stories where houses are linked directly to the temples through a series of tunnels. I could well believe it as I looked into the dark endless distance.
It’s uncertain how long they will be able to stay with most of the village already bulldozed. It’s a sad reflection of what is occurring across the region with thousands of families displaced in order to preserve the past and modernize the future. I walked away feeling this family was just as much an Egyptian treasure as any of the tombs and galleries I've visited. Their smiles and giggles still very much in my thoughts.
The old town of Bettles is located seven miles from Bettles Field and sits on the Koyukuk River in the Alaskan Arctic. It was founded in 1898 during the gold rush by Gordon Bettles who built a trading post here. He sold supplies to the Koyukuk stampeders who came in search of gold and it soon became the northern terminal of the Koyukuk River barge line. Local history tells of an early freeze that led to sixty steamboats getting stuck and left over nine hundred people stranded for the winter. Three hundred of them decided to stick it out, very few ever returned to endure another but the town was firmly established through the incident. The trading post was in operation between 1901 to 1956.
In the summer a twenty minute boat ride from the new settlement brings you to the mosquito friendly place where the Arctic forests all but take over. In the winter its a different story, accessible only by snow machine, the town lies buried under a blanket of thick snow. Old artifacts peak through cracked windows and the snow pushes through the open doors of the cabins. The temperatures at the height of winter can go dip as low as -60. This is no place for the faint of heart.
From my first visit to the Arctic in 2010 to shoot the Northern Lights I've been hooked. There is no experience like it. Seeing the lights night after night is the best medicine for a modern world and I was fortunate to spend several months studying them in Alaska.
Northern lights are surrounded by folklore from every country they are viewed in. In Canada whistling voices have been heard which some say are of spirits that echo over the night trying to communicate. Their rapid movements dance across the sky and Nordic countries believe them to be the reflections of racing swans.
The nature of the aurora oval, which shifts around the pole region, often means that the lights are seen in areas we wouldn't normally expect. Descriptions of the lights are also found amongst ancient Egyptian texts. Some state they were visible both night and day and are linked to the Egyptians god of light - Amun.
Here are a selection taken in the Alaskan Arctic region and in and around the Canadian city of Vancouver. Catching them over the city has become a favourite pastime over the last few years. When I began to regularly check the forecast and learn more about solar activity it wasn't long before I realized they are easily seen at lower latitudes with a keen eye and our modern cameras. I hope you go out in search of them the next time there is a solar storm in your area.
A selection of these images have appeared in National Geographic books, displayed on the Times Square Billboards in New York and are featured by the Huffington Post.
Capturing places at night while everyone is sleeping is one of my favorite times to shoot. Minus all the crowds and the traffic, our streets and buildings offer a large canvas to draw upon and feel completely different to how they do in the day. I prefer the shooting challenges of shooting in low light and have ventured out in the dark whenever possible. Here is a selection taken in London, Vancouver, Calgary, Portland and Amsterdam.
Long roads and endless skies were my expectations for a photography trip I took through Las Vegas and Reno. I wasn't expecting it to turn into something mildly supernatural or ghostly.
Driving towards Vegas I came across a solar energy field. It looked like something out of the Martian movie or a portal into another dimension. It even had a light ball suspended in mid air.
Las Vegas feels like another dimension usually so it's fitting this site is close by. It's a wildest dream driving yourself through all the glitzy lights and casino hotels, lined with all you can eat buffets and breakfasts.
North along the I95 is area Area 51. We drove through and stopped at the alien center. There are always hidden gems to find along the road. Still there was no sign abnormal activity just yet.
Just over the halfway mark is Tonopath. The town is known as the Queen of the Silver Camps and has a rich history in mining. Away from the cities it boasts some of the clearest skies around for star gazing in the region and was once voted #1 star gazing destination by USA today. That's not all it's famous for.
The Clown Motel lies to the far edge of town and as the name suggests is completely clown themed. Not the best place to stay if you've a clown phobia but I quite like them. Their reception area is crowded with clowns and visitors bring their own to add to the collection. What makes this motel even more interesting is that it sits next to the Tonopath Cemetery. I'm not going to lie, it was a little creepy, especially when talk from the town filters in of ghostly apparitions.
We caught up with a long term resident who stays at the clown motel for months at a time while he works at a nearby energy field similar to the one I drove past. He tells us of his experiences of strange knocks at his door in the early hours of the morning but each time he answers, nobody is there.
About five hours drive from Vegas and two hours from Reno is the area of Hawthorne. Endless rows of what look like underground bunkers go on for miles. The sign reads "Naval Undersea Warfare Centre" but the only water we are near is Walker Lake, miles from the any sea. Some sites say these are ammunition bunkers, where ammunition is made, tested and stored.
The site certainly felt significant amidst it's isolated location. For a small state Nevada has a lot going on it in and some of it a little wacky. I put my foot down on the accelerator and drove off into a full moon.
Fireworks are only legal for one week of the year in Fillmore, California. It’s the only place in the county that allows them and people come from far and wide to partake in the festivities. As soon as the sun goes down the streets erupt and clouds of smoke fill the sky. Children of all ages light firecrackers and sparklers. It's a real family occasion and I was overjoyed to be part of it.
Egypt is not unique in that it is home to just about as many stray animals as it is residents. Around every corner, under ever car and through every alley are sets of eyes watching you. In my stairwell alone I had over twenty cats that would eagerly await any door opening and food offering. At night the dogs howl as they run around a quieter neighbourhood in their packs. By the end of my three month stay, I had simply lost count of how many animals I had encountered, many of which are malnurished.
Many more to come...