Adobe Tools And Tutorials, Photo-Book Competition And More


Find out what’s happening in the photo world today
By Terry Sullivan / United Photo Press

New Software Tools And Tutorials: One of the benefits of having a cloud-based software suite, like Adobe’s Creative Cloud, is that the company can continually update individual apps or a series of apps to expand features. It can also provide guidance on using those tools. Earlier this week, Adobe did both: It released several new features for various versions of Lightroom, its photo management and editing app, as well as Adobe Creative Raw, and it also included new tutorials.

Adobe is including more expansive tutorials and help features in Lightroom.

One welcome feature that Adobe included in the May update is a new slider (to Lightroom CC for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and ChromeOS, Lightroom Classic, and Camera Raw) called “Texture.” According to Adobe, it’s the first slider they’ve added to the app in a few years and it’s “designed to help either accentuate or smooth medium-sized details such as skin, bark and hair. By isolating only medium-sized details, Texture can smooth skin without affecting pore details (delivering a natural smoothing effect) or accentuate bark or hair without increasing the presence of noise or impacting bokeh.”

For those who want to learn about the tools they’re using in Lightroom (specifically Lightroom CC and Classic) Adobe has produced tutorials that provide step-by-step interactive guidance, allowing you to follow along with how the photographer made his or her corrections. The iOS and Android versions will also include tutorial help. According to Adobe, “instead of having to watch in a different window or even on another device and then attempt to follow-along within the app, the interactive tutorials provide access to the photo from the tutorial directly on your device and then walk you through each edit, step-by-step. You actually adjust each slider with guidance and instruction provided by the instructors along the way.”



Photography Book Competition: If you’re a photographer or artist who has never had his or her book published, listen up: The ICP/GOST First Photo Book Award is a competition that “aims to promote and support the work of previously unpublished photographers and artists through the production of a first book by the ICP/GOST imprint.” According to the website, “the winner will have their first book designed, edited, printed and published by the ICP/GOST imprint, including distribution, press and promotion with the opportunity to exhibit the work at a venue to be confirmed. The winner also receives a portion of personal copies of the book from the first print run.”

The website says the award is “open to artists of any age, working in the medium of photography whose work has yet to be published in book form by a mainstream publisher.” The contest is open now and will run through September 2, 2019, but there is an early-bird entry fee of $25 if you enter before May 31, 2019. After that date, the entry fee will be $35.


For more on the new competition, go to http://gostbooks.com/bookaward/



Photojournalism Blog: The Lens blog, a blog run by The New York Times, will stop publishing after roughly ten years in producing stories and projects on photojournalism and documentary photography, and be going on “temporary hiatus.” According to Petapixel, Meaghan Looram, the photo director at The New York Times, “announced the news in a note to staff sent out yesterday and shared by NPPA.” The blog was a vibrant resource for photojournalists, photo editors and creatives and highlighted many important issues during its ten years.

Street Scene 2019 Photo Contest: A great way to elevate the quality of your photography is to take to the street and work at capturing the energy and spontaneity you see there and turn it into an exceptional image. If you think you have an image that depicts that energy, consider entering it in our Street Scene 2019 Photo Contest. We want to see your best photographs that capture a candid moment, an interaction of people, places, forms and light that tell a unique story. 



New Fine-Art Photography Book: Signs by Lee Friedlander, $75, Hardcover, 11.75 x 12.5 inches, 120 pages, 144 duotone photographs. There are few photographers who are better at finding poetry in seemingly mundane or hackneyed subjects, whether it’s the reflection in a storefront, a fence or a self-portrait. In this book, he turns his lens to lettering and signs. But in Friedlander’s hands, he’s not rehashing some dull homage to Andy Warhol. No, what Friedlander delivers is much more vibrant and alive. It’s because he depicts these hand-lettered ads, storefront windows, or massive billboards in carefully considered compositions that often have a sense of gentle humor mixed with a subtle pathos. The book will be published by Fraenkel Gallery (which will have a show in July, 2019 to coincide with the book), and include a wide array of signs, including wheat-paste posters, Coca-Cola ads, prices for milk, road signs, stop signs, neon lights, movie marquees and graffiti.


For more, go to artbook.com/catalog–photography–monographs–friedlander–lee.html


This photo was shot on an iPhone and captured by Rachael Short, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident and is a quadriplegic.

Inspiration & Mobile Photography: Yesterday was Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To mark the day, Apple published a moving story on the photography of Rachael Short, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident and is a quadriplegic. In the story she says she uses an iPhone because it’s lightweight and easy to use. 


Photographer Rachael Short.

1st Porto Photography Biennial in Portugal discusses art and sustainability with 16 exhibitions


16 exhibitions, 14 city spaces, 11 curators and 53 national and international artists make up the program of the 1st Porto Photography Biennial, which takes place from May 16 to July 2.

Discussing cultural and environmental changes and recognizing the human being as a force for the construction and destruction of the planet are the starting points for the first edition of the event in Porto that wants to promote creation, debate and reflection. "Ci.CLO Bienal'19 emerges as a consequence of the work developed by the Ci.CLO platform, an independent research and creation structure in the field of photography that establishes a relationship with other artistic, environmental and social disciplines. The platform was founded in 2015 and develops a continuous work of experimentation in collaboration with artists, offering a space dedicated to the creation of essay ", begins to explain Virgílio Ferreira, artistic director and photographer 25 years ago, in an interview with the Observer.

"Adaptation and Transition" is the theme of the first Porto Photography Biennial, whose main challenge is to think about "the symptoms of the ecological crisis and re-imagine other strategies of social and environmental regeneration through artistic practice." According to the official, this event "stands as a platform to promote the debate about art and sustainability, deconstructing traditional ethics and values ​​and exploring new ways of acting."



From Thursday Porto receives 16 exhibitions, 11 curators and 53 Portuguese, Polish, German, Italian or English artists, but also students of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, Escola Superior Artística do Porto and Escola Artistico Soares dos Reis, who will present mostly unpublished works here. 

"There is a concern and interest in encouraging and stimulating artistic creation with emerging artists, providing them with not only an exhibition space for their works, but also curative guidance and guidance throughout the project development process," says Virgílio Ferreira .



From the program, which runs until July 2, there are exhibitions that will happen in 14 spaces of the city: Gardens of the Crystal Palace, Rectory of the University of Porto, Galleries and atriums of the building of the Paços do Concelho of the City Hall of Porto , Mira Forum, Palace of Belomonte, Portuguese Center of Photography, Museum of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, Salut Au Monde !, Casa do Infante, Panel Gallery of the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto, Palace Viscondes de Balsemão, Casa Tait, São Bento and Aliados Subway Station.

Krysztof Candrowicz, artistic director of the Hamburg Photography Triennial, curates the exhibition "Stories on Earthly Survival" at the Center for Portuguese Photography. The exhibition brings together seven international artists, including Mandy Barker of the UK, who will present the Soup, Sand, Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals, a dialogue between photography and scientific research that explores the problem of plastic waste in the oceans. Curated by Jose Maia, the Mira Forum will receive the exile exhibition of the landscape, where Chana de Moura and Dinis Santos, selected artists at Ci.CLO Open Call, will present works produced and designed exclusively for the Ci.CLO Bienal'19. Jayne Dyer, an artist, Australian art critic and academic who has worked on issues such as the identity, waste, and (dis) functionality of urban and natural environments, will present This Savage Garden, an artistic intervention at five locations in the Crystal Palace Gardens ", Emphasizes the artistic director.

Another point is the Visual Space of Change, a photographic project that brings together visual artists, architects and curators "in an exercise of reflection on the concerns related to the transformation of territory, public space and the environment." It is an exhibition of contemporary photography projects through the projection of video and photography in the São Bento and Aliados Subway Stations.




After the Biennial in Porto some developed works will be selected for national and international itinerary in cultural institutions, such as museums and festivals, "promoting their visibility among various audiences".

Alongside the exhibitions, the initiative also includes workshops, public forums, creative projects, artistic residencies, a symposium and the edition of a Green Guide. "It is a publication that aims to map the Portuguese initiatives committed to environmental and social issues, encouraging artists and the community to build for the integration of the arts in raising awareness for sustainability," explains Virgílio Ferreira, photographer and artistic director of the event.

Ci.CLO Bienal'19 has the support of the Directorate General of Arts and the City Council of Porto, as well as international reference partners such as the Asia-Europe Foundation and the Photography Triennial of Hamburg, one of the largest photography events from Europe.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival: The Apollo Provides a Soul-Stirring Tribute to the Iconic Sanctuary for Blackness


Along with premiering some of what are guaranteed to be the year’s most acclaimed on-camera projects, Tribeca Film Festival is also an industry who’s who and a great place for actors and creators to both learn and network. But, because the programming slate is so stacked, it can be hard to parse what’s absolutely essential. We’re here to help with this breakdown of a few of the absolute can’t-miss events to get to while the festival is on from April 24 to May 5.

Multi-hyphenate extraordinaire Rashida Jones will sit down for a lengthy and intimate discussion of her career as well as her life growing up in the home of Hollywood royalty. The talk will be held at the Stella Artois Theatre @ TPAC on May 1 at 6 p.m.

Head to the Stella Artois Theatre @ TPAC on April 26 at 6 p.m. for “The Good, the Bad, the Hungry,” a world premiere documentary directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes. This depiction of honor, tradition, and fortitude follows one of America’s most competitive traditions: the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. (Perhaps don’t arrive on an empty stomach.) 


Based on the 2013 Tribeca-winning documentary, “The Kill Team” takes on the true story of Private Andrew Briggman, the infantryman in Afghanistan who found himself in the throes of conspiracy of violence against civilians. Written and directed by Dan Krauss, the feature comes courtesy of A24 and stars Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Long, and others.

Head to the Virtual Arcade for “Where There’s Smoke,” a two-part immersive experience, blending documentary with theater and escape room to explore the notions of memory and loss. Participants, positioned within the aftermath of a blaze, must work together to determine the cause of a fire. This world premiere was created by Lance Weiler. 

The world premiere of “Wig” boasts some heavy-hitting producing talent including the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Michael Mayer, and documents the once-dead drag festival Wigstock. Exploring the festival’s origin with rare archival footage as well as delving into contemporary drag, the piece—and HBO Documentary Film—will feature Lady Bunny, Naomi Smalls, Harris, and more. And after the premiere screening, stay put for a special drag performance by Lady Bunny herself.


A view of the signage at the “The Apollo” screening during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 24, 2019 in New York City.

The 18th Tribeca Film Festival invited its attendees to the beautiful blackness of Harlem for its opening night film, The Apollo. Naturally, the documentary screening was held at its namesake theater.

I had the honor of attending opening night, and by extension, I had the honor of stepping into The Apollo Theater for the very first time in my life. Following the natural chaos known as the red carpet, I made an intention to take a moment and breathe in the spirits of each black performer and of each black patron who had found a joyful safe space there.

Then it was time for the long-awaited documentary’s curtain rise.

Per The Apollo’s press release:

The film chronicles the 85-year history and legacy of the famed New York City landmark, The Apollo Theater. Directed by Academy and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, the documentary showcases archival footage, music, comedy and dance performances plus behind-the-scenes moments with the theater’s staff as well as interviews with artists including Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx. The stage production of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Meframes the film and the way in which The Apollo explores the current struggle of black lives in America and the role that art plays in that struggle.

Documentarian and helmer Williams not only gifts his audience with limited-access archival footage, but offers an impressive invitation to the core of the theater—the Harlem residents who surround it. Accompanied by a beautiful score composed by Grammy winner Robert Glasper, a symphony of slow-motion frames showcases the faces of hardened residents in a gorgeous and humanizing display. You’re so close, you can see their pores. Clearly intentional.

The Apollo Theater has proudly boasted that it is the home of where “stars are born and legends are made.” And rightfully so, as the theater—opened as The Apollo in 1934—served as the sanctuary against white-only establishments in New York City such as The Cotton Club. The Apolloprovides an inside-look into many original performances such as young Ella Fitzgerald’s incomparable scat, Billie Holiday’s sobering rendition of “Strange Fruit,” the lithe movements of a sexy Eartha Kitt, the hilarious comedic stylings of Red Foxx, and the amazing Motown revue featuring footage from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Supremes, little Stevie Wonder, and The Temptations.

Plus, there are special treats such as the theater’s first manager, Frank Schiffman and his infamous theater cards, which (hilariously) assessed each performer who graced the stage. Or Mr. Apollo himself, the eccentric Billy Mitchell, as he takes curious fans—young and old alike—on a tour backstage, including the “Wall of Legends.”

“I hope [the audience] learns who and what The Apollo is,” Smokey Robinson told The Root. “Because it is tradition and should always be. It should always be standing. Let ‘em tear down everything else around it, [but] let this keep standing. Especially for black music.”

“The moment that me and CeCe [Winans] were standing on the side of the stage getting ready to be introduced, [we were] just looking at each other and said, ‘Can you believe this?’” BeBe Winans told The Root about his fondest memory performing on the iconic stage with his sister.

And of course, there was Amateur Night, where aspiring stars held their breaths before rubbing that Tree (Stump) of Hope and standing in the spotlight toward the 1,500-odd seats filled with leering audience members.

Co-founder, CEO, and executive chair of Tribeca Enterprises Jane Rosenthal, and Robert De Niro speak at the “The Apollo” screening during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 24, 2019 in New York City.


As noted in the documentary, people came to The Apollo Theater on Amateur Night to boo folks—a 13-year-old Lauryn Hill performing a cover of The Jackson’ 5's “Who’s Loving You” can attest to that—akin to a tough-love hazing on campus (an apt analogy as the theater was repeatedly referred to as “a campus” in the film). On the flip-side, there were jaw-dropping moments like Bianca Graham’s cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Williams grants the audience with a backstage pass to it all.

“We often talk about The Apollo’s legacy,” Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of The Apollo, told The Root. “It was a place of opportunity. It created opportunities for black artists who couldn’t perform anywhere else—people say to me ‘Oh my god, it launched the careers of all of these legends!’ When they were on The Apollo stage, they were just performers who wanted the opportunity. So, fast forward—that’s what The Apollo’s about, that’s what’s in our DNA. And today, we’re still pushing the envelope, creating opportunities for emerging talent and what we want to do now is to establish a 21st century canon for the performing arts that focuses on the African and African-American diaspora narrative.”


“It’s the beginning of it all,” Pharrell muses in the first few frames of the documentary.


And then there was the end. The doc chronicles the decline of the beloved theater, as well as the restoration by Percy E. Sutton through his firm Inner City Broadcasting and the subsequent purchase by the city of New York (which catapulted the birth of the non-profit Apollo Theater Foundation). From footage of the marquee displaying those dreading two words, “The End,” to the overjoyed faces of Harlem residents during the theater’s triumphant comeback, The Apollo takes the audience on the very emotional rollercoaster fans and founders alike were faced with riding.

“In these disturbing times, when the administration is promoting divisiveness and racism, we’re making a statement by being here tonight that we reject it,” he said. “No, you don’t! Not in this house, not on this stage!” Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro exclaimed onstage during the opening remarks with his festival partner, Jane Rosenthal.

Not on this stage, indeed. In fact, what does happen on the stage is a reclaiming of power by black bodies who have faced—and still face—the struggles of oppression, through the unrelenting force of art. Along with providing a much-needed history lesson, The Apollo invites its audience along the journey of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, adapted for the stage by Kamilah Forbes. Coates’ acclaimed book asks (himself andus) the question, “What do you tell your black son in the age of Trayvon Martin?” Whether it’s Morocco Omari (Empire) or Angela Bassett, Williams gives the audience a sneak peek into the visceral process of a black actor reciting the rage, pain and reckoning of their ancestors, their family, their friends, and themselves. 

Above all, The Apollo was black. “Black black black black black,” as expressed in a rehearsal of a passage from Coates’ book.

Following the screening, singer Alice Smith took the stage, providing the audience with a performance of two songs, including an intoxicating cover of “I Put a Spell On You.

The entire experience rendered me speechless. After Smith sauntered offstage, I sat in my chair digesting the magnificence I just experienced and thought, “Wow.”

“I don’t care if you’re black or white, you can’t watch the story of our struggle, hear the beauty of our music, and not feel something,” Williams told The Root.


With The Apollo, you will feel something. You will feel everything.

The Apollo will be released on HBO later this year.

Color film was built for white people. Here's what it did to dark skin.

The biased film was fixed in the 1990s, so why do so many photos still distort darker skin?

For decades, the color film available to consumers was built for white people. The chemicals coating the film simply weren't adequate to capture a diversity of darker skin tones. And the photo labs established in the 1940s and 50s even used an image of a white woman, called a Shirley card, to calibrate the colors for printing:

Concordia University professor Lorna Roth has researched the evolution of skin tone imaging. She explained in a 2009 paper how the older technology distorted the appearance of black subjects:

Problems for the African-American community, for example, have included reproduction of facial images without details, lighting challenges, and ashen-looking facial skin colours contrasted strikingly with the whites of eyes and teeth.

How this would affect non-white people seemingly didn't occur to those who designed and operated the photo systems. In an essay for Buzzfeed, writer and photographer Syreeta McFadden described growing up with film that couldn't record her actual appearance:

The inconsistencies were so glaring that for a while, I thought it was impossible to get a decent picture of me that captured my likeness. I began to retreat from situations involving group photos. And sure, many of us are fickle about what makes a good portrait. But it seemed the technology was stacked against me. I only knew, though I didn’t understand why, that the lighter you were, the more likely it was that the camera — the film — got your likeness right.

Many of the technological biases have since been corrected (though, not all of them, as explained in the video above). Still, we often see controversies about the misrepresentation of non-white subjects in magazines and advertisements. What are we to make of the fact that these images routinely lighten the skin of women of color?



Tools are only as good as the people who use them. The learned preference for lighter skin is ubiquitous in many parts of the world, and it starts early. That's an infinitely tougher problem than improving the color range of photo technology.


David Attenborough climate change TV show a 'call to arms'

Sir David Attenborough's new BBC documentary on climate change has been praised by TV critics.
Climate Change - The Facts, shown on BBC One on Thursday, was a "rousing call to arms", said the Guardian.

In a four-star review, the Times said the veteran presenter "took a sterner tone... as though his patience was nearly spent".

Sir David, 92, has called global warming "our greatest threat in thousands of years".

In its review, The Arts Desk said: "Devastating footage of last year's climactic upheavals makes surreal viewing.

"While Earth has survived radical climactic changes and regenerated following mass extinctions, it's not the destruction of Earth that we are facing, it's the destruction of our familiar, natural world and our uniquely rich human culture.

"In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined," Sir David said in the film.

 
Image caption Climate change protesters have closed off central London since Monday 

"It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies." 

In a glowing review, the Telegraph called the title of the documentary "robust" and praised the use of Sir David in the central role.

"At a time when public debate seems to be getting ever more hysterical," it said, "it's good to be presented with something you can trust. And we all trust Attenborough."

"Sir David Attenborough might as well be narrating a horror film," wrote the FT

"A panoply of profs line up to explain that the science on climate change is now unequivocal, never mind the brief clip of Donald Trump prating: 'It's a hoax, it's a hoax, OK'."

But it added: "Fortunately for our nerves the last 20 minutes focuses on what needs to be - and can be - done on an international and personal level."

Sir David's concern over the impacts of climate change has become a major focus for the naturalist in recent years and has been a theme of his Our Planet series on Netflix

The new BBC programme has a strong emphasis on hope with Sir David arguing that if dramatic action is taken over the next decade, then the world can keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5C this century, limiting the scale of the damage.


Lake Chad: Can the vanishing lake be saved?



Lake Chad - a source of water to millions of people in West Africa - has shrunk by nine-tenths due to climate change, population growth and irrigation. But can a scheme dating back to the 1980s save it?

"It's a ridiculous plan and it will never happen." That's the reaction many people have to the idea of trying to fill up Lake Chad and restore it to its former ocean-like glory by diverting water from the Congo river system 2,400km (1,500 miles) away. 

Sceptics in Nigeria, who have seen successive governments fail even to make the lights work, wonder if the region's politicians have nodded off and have been dreaming a little too hard. 

But the government ministers and engineers who were recently sipping mineral water in the capital, Abuja, at the International Conference on Lake Chad had good reason to be thinking outside the box.

 

Lake Chad has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s, due to climate change, an increase in the population and unplanned irrigation. Its basin covers parts of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, and has been a water source for between 20 million and 30 million people.

But with the desert encroaching further every year, it is getting increasingly difficult for families to make a living through agriculture, fishing and livestock farming. The UN says 10.7 million people in the Lake Chad basin need humanitarian relief to survive.

"We used to pass fields of maize on our way to the lake and there were vast numbers of boats bobbing up and down on the water back then, and huge fish markets," says Bale Bura, who grew up by the lake in the 1970s and now works for the Lake Chad Fishermen's Association.
   
Image caption Transaqua would cost tens of billions of dollars to build 

Now far fewer farmers are able to earn a living on the mineral-rich but bone-dry shores. 

This is one reason why the delegates in Abuja decided to dust off a scheme first mooted back in 1982 by the Italian engineering company Bonifica Spa. 

It came up with Transaqua - a plan to construct a 2,400km (1,500 mile) canal to transfer water from the upstream tributaries of the mighty Congo River all the way to the Chari River basin, which feeds Lake Chad. 
'Deafening silence'

It proposed the transfer of up to 100 billion cubic metres (3.5 trillion cubic feet) of water a year and featured a series of dams along the route to generate electricity.

"I sent one of our engineers to the USA, to purchase the only reliable maps of Africa, which were made by the US Air Force and were the only maps with contour lines," says Marcello Vichi, the Italian engineer who was asked to look into the idea during the early 1980s.

"After a couple of months of solitary study, I announced to the then chief executive that this thing could be done."

He says 500 copies of the plans were sent out in 1985 to government representatives of every African country, as well as international financial agencies.

"The response was a deafening silence," he adds. 

But more than three decades later, minds are finally focusing on the lake's shrinkage, prompted by its link to the deadly geopolitical crises of Islamist militancy and migration.

 
Image caption Boko Haram recently seized more than 100 schoolgirls, before releasing most of 
them a month later 

In 2014, I headed out of the north-east Nigerian city of Maiduguri towards Lake Chad in a new minibus. There were armoured vehicles in front as well as behind, and right next to me was a Nigerian soldier - fast asleep. Our destination was Kirenawa, the latest village that the marauding Boko Haram jihadists had terrorised. 

As the road became steadily sandier, we entered a long-neglected area, passing the faded signs of abandoned government projects in ever hotter and sleepier villages. 

Buildings had been torched and people had been left terrified, watching as others were killed in front of them.

In all the villages, people complained there was nothing for young people to do, nothing to dream of except getting out. 
'Ugly kinds of jobs'

It had become a perfect recruiting ground for the Islamist militants. The offer of a little cash and the promise of some training and a gun persuaded many to join. 

Of course, Lake Chad's decline is not the sole reason for the rise of violent extremism - a number of factors including poor governance have also played a role - but there is clearly a link. 

"I know many young people from my own village who got into these ugly kinds of jobs," Mr Bura says. 

As if the delegates gathering in Abuja last month needed reminding of how dire the security situation had become, more than 100 schoolgirls had just been seized from Dapchi, Nigeria.

At the meeting, it was agreed that Bonifica and PowerChina, the company that helped build the Three Gorges dam spanning the Yangtze River, would complete a feasibility study. They announced that the effort to raise $50bn (£35bn) for the Lake Chad Fund should begin immediately.


  


Bonifica says its plan will use less than 8% of the water the Congo River discharges into the Atlantic and would not be a threat to the Democratic Republic of Congo's continuing Grand Inga Dam project, which would create the world's largest hydropower generator if it is completed.

Further engineering work would be needed to enable the Chari River to handle the increased flow of water. The project can be done in a staggered way, with each completed stage immediately adding to the flow of water into the Lake Chad basin. 

Other options that have been considered include one which involves pumping the water uphill from Palambo, in the Central African Republic.

As well as the funding challenge for Transaqua, there will be resistance from environmental campaigners to overcome. And even carrying out the feasibility study properly requires peace.

Chinese media has reported the transfer canal would be 100m (328ft) wide and 10m (33ft) deep and would be flanked by a service road and eventually a rail line. 

"It is a project which responds to the never-tackled infrastructural needs of the African continent, which maybe will give birth to a real African renaissance," says Mr Vichi, who sees all along the route of the canal vast potential for agro-processing and transforming agricultural products for African and foreign markets.

Ministers know life is likely to get ever tougher for the people who live around Lake Chad. That's why they are paying attention to the plans to bring it back to life.


Will Ross