Denis's Feed
Mar 14, 2012

Swiss bus crash kills 28 Belgians, most children

SIERRE, Switzerland (Reuters) – A bus carrying Belgian children home from a school ski trip crashed into the wall of a tunnel in the Valais region of Switzerland, killing 28 people, 22 of them children, police said on Wednesday.

The bus, transporting 52 people, mostly school children aged about 12 from Lommel and Heverlee in Flanders, crashed late on Tuesday evening in the canton of Valais, which borders Italy, police told an early-morning news conference.

Jan 20, 2012
via Photographers' Blog

Serendipity in the French Alps

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By Denis Balibouse

serendipity
noun; the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way: a fortunate stroke of serendipity

Going back to a previously covered event is a challenge in creativity in order not to produce the same pictures over and over again. I wondered how to achieve this before traveling to the Haute Maurienne Valley in the West of France to cover the last five stages of La Grande Odyssee sled dog race in the same location as last year.

Oct 19, 2011

Platini quizzed by Swiss court officials

RENANS, Switzerland (Reuters) – Michel Platini was quizzed by Swiss court officials Wednesday over why UEFA has not yet implemented a ruling ordering Sion’s reinstatement to the Europa League.

Platini, the president of European football’s governing body, spent around two hours at the prosecutor’s office in the canton of Vaud. He was followed by general secretary Gianni Infantino.

Oct 19, 2011

Soccer-Platini quizzed by Swiss court officials

RENANS, Switzerland, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Michel Platini was
quizzed by Swiss court officials on Wednesday over why UEFA has
not yet implemented a ruling ordering Sion’s reinstatement to
the Europa League.

Platini, the president of European football’s governing
body, spent around two hours at the prosecutor’s office in the
canton of Vaud. He was followed by general secretary Gianni
Infantino.

Sep 14, 2011
via Photographers' Blog

I believe I can fly

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By Denis Balibouse

Everybody dreams of flying. Some have even burnt their wings trying to do it. So far, I’ve enjoyed it.

Thanks to my work as a photographer I’ve been lucky enough to experience flight in many different aircraft. I’ve flown in helicopters, paragliders and ultralight planes. I even did jobs for a well-known soft-drink company that proudly asserts that one of its products ‘gives you wings’.

Jul 29, 2011
via Photographers' Blog

Tour de France 2011 – A long way to Paris

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This year’s riders of the Tour de France covered 3430.5 km (2131.6 miles), divided into 21 stages, according to the Tour’s official website.

What you may not know is that the Reuters pictures team covering 2011′s most-watched sporting event managed to tally up some 10,000 km (6213 miles).

Jan 21, 2011
via Photographers' Blog

Call of the Wild

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Growing up in the Northern Hemisphere, I read the books and saw the film adaptations of books by American writer Jack London. Books such as “The Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”. Since then I have been fascinated by the North American wilderness, wolves and sled dogs, so when I was offered the chance to follow the ‘Grande Odyssée’ dogsled race, I was overjoyed. I chose to cover the last five stages of the race, which took place in the Haute Maurienne Valley, a remote area close to the Vanoise National Park on the French-Italian border.

Covering more than 1,000km (621 miles) over 11 days, the race mostly crosses the Alps in France but features incursions into Switzerland. Unlike similar events in Canada, the United States or Scandinavia, La Grande Odyssée crosses over the mountains, meaning that the mushers and their dogs climb over 25,000m (82,000 feet) in total – almost three times the climb from sea level to Mt Everest’s summit.

Jul 17, 2010

Polanski attends wife’s concert in Switzerland

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) – Film director Roman Polanski, freed earlier this week from house arrest in Switzerland, attended a Saturday night concert given by his wife at the Montreux jazz festival.

The 76-year-old Polanski arrived with festival founder Claude Nobs for the performance by French actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner on the closing night of the annual event on Lake Geneva, according to a Reuters witness.

Jul 17, 2010

Polanski arrives for wife’s concert in Switzerland

MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) – Film director Roman Polanski, freed earlier this week from house arrest in Switzerland, arrived for a Saturday night concert given by his wife at the Montreux jazz festival.

The 76-year-old Polanski arrived with festival founder Claude Nobs for the performance by French actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner on the closing night of the annual event on Lake Geneva, according to a Reuters witness.

Jun 26, 2009
via Photographers' Blog

My other pair of eyes and hands

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To add to the blog entry (http://blogs.reuters.com/photo/2007/11/07/my-second-pair-of-eyes-ii/) by my colleague Jerry Lampen, more often than we realise we depend on somebody else to enable us to do our job. Generally we think of this profession as individualistic but repeatedly we use the help or the goodwill of others – press and communication managers, security agents, helicopter pilots and drivers.I would like to make a brief tribute to Olivier Thetaz with whom I take pictured here in action. He is a professional driving instructor training the likes of police or ambulance drivers. He is also a retired amateur race driver and sometimes I think he still has a bit of racing in his blood. I have been sitting on the back of his motorbike on and off for the last 15 years covering cycling, running, triathlon and bikes races. The pictures I take are a result of our special relationship. As the races we cover are not too busy compared to those of the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia we are a bit less pressured but I still need to be fast in making a decision to ask him to stop on the side of the road.I have to look forward and backwards, take into account the sun, the background and the possibility to quickly jump back on the bike to stay ahead of the riders as it is quite difficult to overtake. We try to prepare his position on the road before so we can make the best of the little time we have.He also needs to be quick and precise.  He has to place the bike in position in front of the riders - we are generally only allowed to shoot for a few seconds and then leave our position on a rotational basis.We are in constant communication via a bluetooth radio device on our helmets which is a technological improvement compared with the days when we had to scream orders at each other.Even so, we had to find a way to communicate with short words and I would always talk with his view in mind – not mine : left, right, up down, level with the yellow jersey or the emergency shout “Dégage !” (Move out !) when a rider tries to use the wind tunnel created by us to leave the pack more easily.He also has my safety in his hands. In Switzerland, roads are only closed to oncoming traffic a few minutes before the arrival of the race.As a rule we have to drive on the left hand side of the road, facing the oncoming vehicles that security didn’t manage to catch before the arrival of the race –  I can recall two accidents involving other drivers, fortunately neither resulting in bad injuries.I have to trust him as I can only concentrate on the race and I’m relieved to say I very rarely get a bad feeling about his driving. He only lets me know later in the evening when we were close to a crash !This usually happens when we drive down a pass following the pack – then the technical cars are the biggest danger as we all have to speed up to more than 100 km/h (60 miles/h) to keep up with the riders as they are quicker in the curves and have the priority anyway.On some sections of road we are also allowed to overtake the pack but it can only be done with the goodwill of the riders – sometimes they get too close and touch the bike but fortunately we’re travelling at the same speed. Inevitably there is also some swearing in various foreign languages as we choose the wrong side to overtake….The strangest day we experienced was certainly the 21st June 2007, it really proved to be the longest day of the year. We were in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland in Bellinzona for the Tour de Suisse cycling race. It was stage 6 out of 9, and we went to the start as usual 90 minutes before to get a good coffee and wait for the cyclists to arrive for some portrait shots.Some gathering black clouds on the mountain tops convinced us to wear our rain cover as the stage was about to start. Wearing this outfit means you are almost waterproof (apart from your camera) but you have to wear it over all your clothes.Any movement is a struggle so turning around on the bike to shoot is far from easy. It started to rain big drops, then the drops became hailstones and very quickly the road was covered in white.The driver had already stopped and was lying on the fuel tank of his motorbike trying to prevent any damage. He also refused to drive back to the riders  as we were cruising 1 km in front of the pack when it happened. I then had to run back to find some cyclists and take some pictures.The stage was stopped and soon a new start on the other side of the mountain was decided. I decided to quickly send some images as my phone was ringing with editors asking if we were on the spot – but the region proved to be badly connected with no 3G phone signal and we had to rush to drive the 80 kilometers left to the second start.Only a few kilometres before the end of that stage, I was sitting backwards on the bike for my convenience, and he shouts in the radio that there is a horse running loose on the road. I try to turn my body and managed to get a few frames before the animal exited down the nearest side road. It is a day we still remember and joke about with colleagues.So far in 2009 we have covered the Tour de Romandie and Tour de Suisse cycling races in Switzerland.

    • About Denis

      "Born in 1972 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Started photography with a local agency and newspapers in 1988. Professional since 1991. Currently lives in Lausanne and freelanced for Reuters for more than 10 years before becoming staff in 2007."
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