Photographers' Blog

Hong Kong’s National Day ferry disaster

By Tyrone Siu

When the National Day fireworks ended in enthusiastic applause, most photographers – especially those who were functioning on an empty stomach like me – thought we could finally call it a night. After all, we had witnessed all the hustle and bustle since early in the day at the flag-raising ceremony. It was, we thought, perhaps enough sensation for a single day.

I was about to enjoy a nice hotpot dinner with other battered journalists after filing my fireworks pictures, when a reporter on site mentioned a brief report online that ruined the plan.

It said that two ferries had collided off Hong Kong’s Lamma Island but did not mention any injuries, but a hunch told me it could turn out to be a particularly nasty disaster. A minute later, I was carrying my clumsy tripod to evade the happy festival-goers and run past the police’s quarantine line to search for a taxi.


My watch told me half an hour had passed since the crush when the taxi was driving at full speed – heading to somewhere that I needed to decide soon. I told myself the decision had to be made promptly and I knew a wrong judgment call would cost me the opportunity to record the incident.

In a frenzy, I made a dozen calls to try to figure out the number of injuries, where the passengers were taken to be treated, the location of the collision site and what damage there was to the ferries, praying that the information could led me to the best vantage point.

Costa Concordia: An incredible tragedy

By Max Rossi

4 o’clock on a Saturday morning, a confused call told me a cruise ship had run aground near the island of Giglio in the beautiful Italian region of Tuscany. My first reaction was “I can’t go!”, Pope Benedict was waiting for me to take pictures of him shaking hands with the new Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in his private library at the Vatican. No way could I leave that event uncovered but the bad thing was that I was the only staff photographer in Rome – just 150 km (90 miles) from the ship.

A stringer photographer, Remo Casilli, was sent there immediately and he was able to get pictures of the survivors still covered in their blankets at Santo Stefano harbor and the first images of the ship lying on its side near the island. I spent the hours before the meeting with the Pope trying to get in touch with some photographers on the island, and finally, thanks to Facebook, got the phone number of a member of local news agency Giglio News to provide us with the first night images of the ship in the Giglio Harbour.

In the meantime chief photographer Stefano Rellandini was also searching and filing to to our global desk in Singapore whatever images we found. Saturday afternoon was spent coordinating and editing our stringer pictures from the island. I left Rome on Sunday morning and arrived on the island around 3 in the afternoon due to a long waiting list for the ferry in Santo Stefano harbor. I had the only car on the ferry. The rest were rescue vehicles.

from Russell Boyce:

A Shanghai sinking – an aerial perspective

Checking through the file this picture by Reuters Shanghai based photographer Aly Song really caught my eye and I needed to think why.


 A view shows a sinking cargo ship after it collided with a boat on Huangpu River in Shanghai February 1, 2010. Three sailors were  rescued from the accident, while further investigation is underway, according to local media. REUTERS/Aly Song


Why does this picture work so well when common sense tells me the worker in the foreground should block my view of the scene? Why don’t I feel that I want him to move so I can see the whole scene? Maybe it’s the way I am drawn into the picture by the strong sense of aerial perspective, the bold dark red of the helmet in the foreground, the point of focus, the harsh contrast of the diagonals thrown up by the stricken cargo ship and then through into the soft, misty and pale skyline of Shanghai.

from Our Take on Your Take:

Capturing the crash aftermath

Two hours after the news broke about a military jet crashing into San Diego homes, I received an email to You Witness from Ron Belanger with a link to dramatic photos of the incident. Here is Ron's account of events.

I was working at home near MCAS Miramar in San Diego mid-day Monday, when I heard the unmistakable "pop… pop…" sound of ejection seats firing nearby but hadn't heard the jet's engines. As a retired Navy pilot and aircraft accident investigator I suddenly realized this meant that a pilotless aircraft and ejection seats would soon be coming down. I took cover under my desk then heard a deafening sound as the plane crashed and the house shook violently.

When I ran outside there was a large black cloud of smoke rising and I could feel the heat. I tried to call 911 but the line was already busy as other witnesses called in the emergency. I grabbed my shoes and camera and ran down to the scene which is five houses over from mine. Several of us asked neighbors if there was anyone in the house. Since that wasn't known, we went down the right side, where part of the house was still standing, shouting out to anyone inside but there was no answer… just the roar of the fire and the sound of small explosions. We couldn't go in because the house was fully involved in flames at every opening we found. As we were checking out the back yard, a propane tank from the camper which had been pushed into the house exploded. We quickly retreated since there was nothing we could do.

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