Mazgouf in Baghdad

It was April 2011, just after dusk, and we made our way to a restaurant in central Baghdad along Abu Nawas Street by the River Tigris. This area is well known for serving Iraq’s favourite fish dish…the “mazgouf”.
Our "mazgouf"; fish grilled over an open fire of burning lemon/orange tree wood. We chose the live fish that we wished to eat and the fish were then stunned, gutted, seasoned then slow grilled for our pleasure. It takes about an hour to cook the fish. This resaurant was next to the banks of the Tigris in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo taken in April 2011.

The restaurant, although having a roof, is open to the elements and was filled with many customers; obviously a popular place.

Having selected our live carp (allegedly from the adjacent Tigris but more probably from a fish farm), the cook removed the fish from the tank and then stunned them with a stick, gutted them by cutting along the back, applied some seasoning, and then impaled them to be slow-grilled next to an open fire of burning fruit tree branches such as from lemon trees and orange trees. What we didn’t realise was that it takes about an hour or so to cook the fish, so we had a lot of time to chat!

Carp are bottom feeders and if they were from the Tigris around Baghdad then I’m not sure that I’d have too many fish dinners; there has just been too much dumped in the river following the recent war. Once I’d got past wondering where the fish came from, I did enjoy the meal. I’m not a real fish eater so I can’t say it was a fantastic meal. It was good for sure but I certainly wasn’t jumping up and down in delight. Many would disagree with me and defend the fish. That’s fine. We all have different tastes, literally!

But the mazgouf is an important dish to the Iraqis and the Iraqi diaspora, and it helps to unite them through social gatherings and reinforce their identity and uniqueness; something that’s very much needed in these trying times.

Photographers warned on Facebook’s new T&Cs

The American Society of Media Photographers, ASMP, has issued some information on Facebook’s proposed T&Cs and how that could impact on photographers.

Most of that information is pretty good but they may have over-estimated their power to influence Facebook. I could be wrong.

What did I do? I kept my Facebook account but removed content and other information about myself except for my name and e-mail address. So I continue to use Facebook for discussions, etc. and provide external links if I need to reference my content; that content was retained and maintained at my main website as it’s the universal primary source for access to my content.

So my recommendation is to continue using Facebook for social interactions and engaging with customers but keep content in a different place that can be URLed. This was easy for me, but then I don’t run a business using Facebook. I suspect, though, that professional photographers who use Facebook as an integral part of their business may experience a number of difficulties. Hopefully other groups can provide further practical advice.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Is Facebook preparing to steal your photos? And what about Google+?

Perhaps I’m being paranoid, but I’ve noticed that Facebook, contrary to its previous behaviour, now strips metadata from photos uploaded to its site and that it does not replicate the metadata to describe the photos when viewing within Facebook. I have several problems with this. But two of these stand out;

  1. One is that it’s a big inconvenience adding descriptions, titles etc. to the photos within Facebook after having already added all those details in the original photo metadata.
  2. The second is that this seems to be a preparation for a land grab on our photos by Facebook, or at least make it easy for others to steal our photos. With copyright and other photo ownership details removed from photos, Facebook, or others, could claim that these photos are “orphans” and then make commercial use of the photos with no credit or restitution given to the legitimate owners.

Am I being paranoid? This is what others think:

I have a Google+ account and I just checked today’s uploaded photos there; Google does remove a lot of the metadata from the photo but it does include a metadata tag for “Artist” with my name, so that’s better than Facebook. Also, the text accompanying the photo within Google+ seems to include most of the relevant metadata tag values. So Google wins here over Facebook, at least for now!

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Supermoon hype

Yet again we have the media hyping the supermoon. In these articles, most media are showing telephoto images of the moon against a city skyline. This gives the impression that the moon is going to look huge during the supermoon. I did some basic calculations whilst on the train going to work a few years ago and I found that the difference is pretty small.

I’ve already bored people at work on this, so I thought it was about time I turned on you! I’ve just re-done my calculations using the latest information from Wikipedia:

  • Moon radius: 1, 737.10 km
  • Moon diameter: 3,474.20 km
  • Average distance between Earth and the moon: 384,400 km
  • Maximum distance between Earth and the moon: 406,300 km
  • Minimum distance between Earth and the moon: 356.700 km

Using basic trigonometry:


At maximum distance the moon has an apparent diameter of 3,287.73 km. At minimum distance the moon has an apparent diameter of 3,742.69 km.

Using these numbers, I created the following image showing the relative moon sizes at minimum distance, at maximum distance and average distance.


Looking at the real sky, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference by eye. The diagram, though, allows you to make a direct comparison, so discerning a difference is much easier than looking up at the real sky. However, one thing is clear; most images posted by the media on the supermoon give a false impression of reality. Some people may fool themselves and think that they see a much bigger moon than normal, but the danger is that some people will look up at the supermoon and think “Is that it? Science is bull!”.

Check out this great article from Phil Plait:

I do like the moon though. Here are some photos of the moon that I’ve taken from around the world:

London, UK (lunar eclipse):


London, UK:




Kabul, Afghanistan:




Ushuaia, Argentina, (on the way to Antarctica):




Basra, Iraq:

Ship on the Shatt Al-Arab, Basra, Iraq. Photo taken in April 2011.

Baghdad, Iraq:

Moon over Baghdad, Iraq. 17 April 2011.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

A day of failures!

Well, a number of parts on my bike broke today. It’s true I was pushing the bike as much as I’ve ever done but the limits are normally mine and not the bike’s. I guess the failures are a combination of age and stress, or perhaps even a result of my over-enthusiastic actions!

Knog NERD 12 bicycle computer

The display was OK but it wasn’t registering my speed so I’m not sure what speeds I was doing today. Perhaps a battery problem with the sensor or the radio link? Should be easy to fix though.

Bionicon C.Guide V.02

I loved this little guy, but today it broke free from the chainstay. I’m not sure if this was due to the plastic holder just ageing or if I accidentally kicked it whilst pedalling furiously. This is how it should look (from last year):


And this is how it looks now:

Broken Bionicon C-Guide V.02 chainguideBroken Bionicon C-Guide V.02 chainguideBroken Bionicon C-Guide V.02 chainguide

I managed to do a quick repair out in the field. The only thing I could use was a supermarket white plastic carrying-bag that I happened to have in my back-pack. Must make a mental note to pack some zip-ties for my future cycling trips. Luckily I was on my way home so this quick-fix was adequate:

Temp fix on broken Bionicon C-Guide V.02 chainguide

Crud Catcher

The bottom rubber cord that attaches the Crud Catch to the downtube broke. Again. I’m not sure if I kicked it whilst pedalling furiously or if the thing was just brittle from aging.

Broken Crud Catcher

CF Card Reader

After taking the above photos, I put the camera’s CF card into my PC’s CF card-reader…it didn’t work as one of the pins in the card-reader got bent. Oh dear! Anyway, I managed to push the pin back without causing any major damage. Whew!

Besides all that, I’m feeling good. Had a brilliant cycling ride, I’m feeling healthy, the sun is out, it’s warm (not too hot) and I’m listening to some great music on…oh yeah :)

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013