Most children, Asher Svidensky says, are a little intimidated by golden eagles. Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill as well as the girl, Ashol-Pan. “To see her with the eagle was amazing,” he recalls. “She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it.”
The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country’s only apprentice huntress. —A 13-year-old eagle huntress in Mongolia
I am going out on a limb and guessing she is not the only daughter of an accomplished eagle hunter. It’s a great thing when dads share their interests and explorations of the world with their daughters just as they would with sons, and I hope she is not actually alone. Or if so, then not for long.
Well, I got out to the archery range, anyway.
I did a ton of swimming over the course of about a year after I had some trouble adjusting to running. I am still having trouble, but every time I come back to it, I have a slightly different problem, which I step back and resolve, eventually to uncover a new problem. (At this rate, by the time I can actually run regularly for more than a few months at a time, I expect to have among the most perfectly balanced physiques and flawless mechanics known to humanity.)
Swimming was a way to get deeply engaged while recovering from some of the problems I had, and San Francisco makes it easy. I am a little claustrophobic in a pool (as I discovered during the coaching sessions I did to help me develop a clean freestyle stroke). San Francisco has a park in the bay with a nearly 300m buoy line, and I probably did more than 99% of my meters there, starting right after my first coaching session by going outside to do my homework instead of trying to figure out the pool’s schedule. I got a lot of the same environmental pleasure from swimming that I got from running (much of which I did on trails within Golden Gate Park) – a slight sense of isolation makes me feel good, and the occasional sea lion sighting or near-miss with another swimmer was no big deal.
I did a mix of wetsuit only and with fins, in part depending on distance. I found after a mile or so that it was easy to add distance from a physical point of view. I am basically an aerobic engine with cyclist legs, so this was particularly true if I had fins on – it was practically a case of “lie down and watch the miles go by.”
As I prepared to move to Baltimore, it was pretty clear I wouldn’t be able to continue swimming as conveniently and pleasantly as I could in San Francisco, and I gave a little thought to what I wanted to be sure to do. Fitocracy has in-site challenges for various distances for the triathlon sports – the longest swim distance is 10km. Challenge accepted.
I doubt I ever really believed I would swim that far. I was pushing my distances out, and I was joking with others about 10km being some kind of obvious benchmark, but I was never a fast swimmer, and the sheer time commitment posed risks such as getting so chilled I couldn’t operate my car afterward. Also, I never quite adjusted to how much more I needed to eat to support swimming – I struggled to maintain my weight as my distances climbed. (I’m not complaining exactly, but it was challenging enough to make me suspect swimming was not a long-term thing.)
When I got my move date more or less nailed down, I looked at the calendar and figured out how many weeks I had to bridge the gap between my longest swim so far and 10km, which by then had firmly settled itself in my head as Important. In May, I had a little over 2 months to work up from around 6km, so there was a very real possibility I would fail. I tried to swim about twice a week – 1 short swim + 1 long one – and then I don’t remember what happened, but I got busy or distracted and ended up out the water for almost a month. When I got back in, I figured I’d try for 8km but give myself a pass if I only made it 5, and then give myself 2 more tries to hit the full 10km.
June 16 was a beautiful day, and as I approached 7km, I was happy to just stay in the water. I had “only 3k to go” – no problem, as I had just done it twice and then some.
I was ready to move.
All photos from my Instagram stream.
Last fall, I moved to a part of the country that has a so-called real winter, after living on the West Coast for my entire remembered life. As luck – or something – would have it, I happened to move right before the snowiest winter in 5 years, approaching the snowiness of a 2009 season dubbed Snowmageddon.
My mother grew up a couple hundred miles north of here, and she’s been horrified on my behalf by the weather reports. I have appropriate clothing and have mostly been working from home – and I have a comfortable apartment – so I haven’t had (m)any complaints. Also, the local authorities are good at road clearing.
And when you’re not struggling with heat or transportation, even a somewhat alarming clowder of icicles right above the back door is rather beautiful.
Is a selfie simply a self-portrait? Many say no, that a selfie is explicitly taken while holding the camera. So while at least one very early photographer experimented with himself as a subject, the first true selfie is these guys:
Here’s how they did it:
Snapped in New York on the roof of the Marceau Studio on Fifth Avenue, across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, this picture features five mustached photographers holding an antediluvian analog camera at arm’s length. Because this camera would have been too heavy to hold with one hand, Joseph Byron is propping it up on the left, with his colleague Ben Falk holding it on the right. In the middle, you have Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, and Pop Core.
What’s interesting here is that these five gentlemen were the photographers of the Byron Company, a photography studio founded in Manhattan in 1892, which was described by the New York Times as “one of New York’s pre-eminent commercial photography studios.”
From This Might Be The First Selfie In Photographic History: Mustached New Yorkers, Not Teenage Girls, Were the Creators of the Arm’s-Length Selfie.
So basically the first selfie was literally marketing. Now, of course, it is in true 21st Century fashion all about Brand You.
It’s possible that more work went into the shot on the left than goes into any women’s magazine cover.
Worth1000 has the best photoshoppery contests. I want to do one of those marvelous blog entries that is like a magical journey through the imagination, but the problem with Worth1000 and me is that I get lost down the rabbit hole, and nothing gets done for at least a day. So you will have to be satisfied with this.
The source image is Portrait of Princesse Albert de Broglie, née Joséphine-Eléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1853). Well, the source for the room and the dress, anyway….