Photographers' Blog

Poolside floods

Germany

By Thomas Peter

It was a sunny and calm Monday afternoon when I flew in a German army transport helicopter above a flooded region north of Magdeburg, the capital of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. The Elbe river had swollen to over seven meters (yards) above its normal levels and broken its banks and a dyke near the village of Fischbeck. Farmlands, forests and whole villages were inundated by its waters. Hundreds of people had to flee their homes.

Strapped to a bucket seat I sat beside the helicopter’s open sliding door and surveyed the water landscape below me: sunken buildings, tree tops and the tops of abandoned cars dotted the glistening, caramel-colored surface of the deluge. Here and there a street or a pristinely groomed hedge rose above the water as a reminder of the human order that had been submerged by the force of nature.

One week earlier I had waded through flooded villages upstream. Up to my waist in water I photographed the efforts of rescue teams and volunteers trying to contain the rising river and evacuate trapped inhabitants. When covering a natural disaster of this kind you have to be in the middle of it to capture the emotional dimension of the tragedy.

Yet a bird’s-eye view is equally as important. For only from above can you show the extend of a flood. Or as in the case of the picture below, by picking certain graphic details, bring the absurdity of the situation to the viewer’s attention. When the world in which we are ensconced so happily with all our man-made facilities becomes submerged by dirty water, everything assumes an unreal quality. When people’s homes turn into forlorn boxes surrounded by a freak lake that stretches to the horizon, you understand that the order we take for granted is a mere illusion in the face of nature’s caprices.

At some point the helicopter made a right turn, dipping the side I was sitting on deep below the horizon. And there it was right below me, the epitome of the absurd flood picture: the baby-blue oval of a swimming pool evenly surrounded by muddy water. I trained my 300mm lens straight down and composed as well as I could, which was a challenge in the soaring air stream that nearly snatched my camera out of my hands. I fired off some 10 frames before the chopper leveled out. The picture was gone. No one else on board had seen it.

Rio from above

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Ricardo Moraes

Flying over Rio is always incredible. Seeing my city from the sky reveals its beauty from new angles.

My recent flight over the city was focused on the renovation work being carried out at the Maracana Stadium, which will host games for the Confederations Cup this year, the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games.

With these big events fast approaching, we are constantly monitoring the progress of building works. The new roof being installed at Maracana is supposed to be its big moment, marking the beginning of the end of renovations.

Dreaming of the Dakar Rally

Giniel de Villiers of South Africa (bottom L) drives his Volkswagen Touareg during the twelfth stage of the third South American edition of the Dakar Rally 2011, from San Juan to Cordoba January 14, 2011.    REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Since the creation of The Paris-Dakar Rally in 1979, I’d always dreamed of one day covering this extraordinary adventure.

Each year, I would follow the televised summaries of this rally race that traversed exceptional landscapes. So when I was asked to cover this event I didn’t have to think on it for long! It was with a feeling of excitement and trepidation that I embarked on this adventure.

A competitor rides in the dunes during the sixth stage of the third South American edition of the Dakar Rally 2011 from Iquique to Arica January 7, 2011.    REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

I was warned that physically it would be difficult.

Life on the Dakar Rally is nomadic as every day we change camp. Using only basic comforts (sanitary and portable toilets), each night we pitched our tents in a noisy campsite, as all night the motorcycle, car and truck teams would repair and prepare the machines for the next day’s stage.