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Thursday Challenge Interviews...

Sibylle Schwarz

Here is a favorite photo selected by Sibylle..

Emergency Drill

Sibylle said: This is picture from our container ship trip, taken during an emergency exercise where the crew tested various pyrotechnic equipment. In the picture, they had just launched some rockets and were trying to see how long the flares would be visible. This was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, after two weeks of seeing no land at all, and the raw force of the sea, the bright orange clothing of the crew, and the mid-day fireworks made for a very surreal scene. I took a ton of pictures during that drill, but this one is my favourite because everyone is so focused and in sync.

What one thing (non-photographic), either for home or travel, do you find indispensable?

The internet - no question about that. I honestly cannot imagine living without it. It's essential for staying in touch with friends and family. It's where I find out about new things and keep myself informed. It's a great place to meet people. It offers me a platform to publish and share ideas and pictures. It's my dictionary, my encyclopaedia, my newspaper, my research library, my store. And it's the reason I have a job.

Tell us about something that you have read or seen lately that you enjoyed. Why?

I recently re-read several old favourites: 1984, Brave New World, The Fountainhead, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, all while on the side, I listened to an audiobook version of The Da Vinci Code. It was pretty bizarre how a lot of the ideas in these books seemed to relate, and connect, for examples, about notions of individual freedom.

If that sounds too heavy, I'm also a sucker for British mysteries and now I'm working my way through the Inspector Banks series by Peter Robinson. And I recently watched "The Office" for the first time - god bless British comedy!

What type of photography do you enjoy the most? Why?

I like going for close-ups and unusual details. Photography for me is a way to look at the familiar in our surroundings with new eyes, maybe find new angles or perspectives. It's surprising what you'll discover in everyday things if you approach them with a fresh eye. I also like street art and urban themes. I tried photograph that a lot of that when I lived in San Francisco and always thought of it as a way of connecting with your city, making it yours by showing and sharing its beauty, especially when the latter isn't immediately obvious.

What is the most unusual thing you have photographed?

When we moved from California to New Zealand, we travelled by container ship. This meant 3 1/2 weeks at sea, nothing but water, and lots and lots of containers. We were allowed to explore the entire ship, and it was a lot of fun trying to capture the strange world of freighter travel.

If we were travelling to New Zealand tell us, from a photographic point of view, where we may want to go and what we might see?

Where would you *not* want to go? Seriously, New Zealand's nature is simply stunning. We just moved here 3 months ago and haven't even been to the South Island yet, but from all I can tell, it's a nature photographer's paradise. Of course, there's a lot to see on the North Island as well, for example, the bizarre moonscape of Tongariro National Park with its volcanic craters and emerald lakes, or the rolling green hills dotted with thousands of sheep, or the beaches, or the forests with fern trees...it's like one big commercial for breakfast cereal, but it's real. I'd say if you are into colors and light, this is the place to go.

Rain King

Sibylle said: I took this picture on a vacation with my family in Normandy, France. We were driving around visiting a lot of the D-Day sites and wanted to stop for a break in this little town by the sea. All of a sudden, a heavy afternoon rainstorm came down, and so we ducked into the nearest bar. This wasn't a touristy place at all, just locals hanging out, having a drink and watching football. So we ordered some wine and sat by the window, taking in the rain and the atmosphere, which just about *defined* what vacation should be like. I named this picture "rain king" because the big splattering drop on the table looks like a crown.

To see and read more visit Sibylle Schwarz.

Note: All images are copyright the photographer.