Photographers' Blog

Water, water everywhere

Moorland, Britain

By Cathal McNaughton

It’s like a scene from a Hollywood disaster movie. The Somerset village of Moorland is under five feet of water. Wading along the usually bustling main street, I am struck by how quiet it is – everything has an eerie, post-apocalyptic feel.

The only sound I can hear is coming from the now breached flood defences moving backwards and forwards in the ebb and flow of the rising waters, creaking like a sinking ship.

There is a strong chemical smell of leaking fuel as I push past the huge chunks of debris floating by in the murky waters. Cars lie abandoned with their lights left on, the houses are sandbagged and empty – their inhabitants left days ago. I see a deserted house with post still sticking out of the letterbox.

In the distance, I hear a faint rumble, which continues to grow until around the corner comes a large, ex-military amphibious vehicle. It’s the type of thing you might more usually see on fun city tours, which plunge into the river to the delight of the passengers. But here these vehicles are being used by amateur rescuers keen to do their bit.

It stops and I’m offered a lift through the village to the other side, where a few remaining villagers battle to keep the floods at bay. Others are simply hoping that the waters don’t rise any more. This is the case at the Vize family farm, where the living room is already under several inches of water. It starts to rain again.

Uncovering Nuclear Britain

By Suzanne Plunkett

It sounds like the road trip from hell: a journey around all Britain’s functioning nuclear power stations.

After all, when the UK has so much to offer the traveller – from the bright lights of London to the ancient ruins of Stonehenge – why would anyone go out of their way to visit the far-flung places where the country has stowed its grim industrial reactor halls?

Memories of the Fukushima and Chernobyl meltdowns don’t help. For all its green credentials, nuclear energy seems forever tainted by the consequences of its few disasters. Thoughts of abandoned cities, stark yellow and black hazard symbols and the sickening effects of leaking radiation are never far away.

Bacon, beans and tea to go

Along Britain’s highways

By Stefan Wermuth

In a mug or take away? That’s the decision you have to make when you order a tea through the hatch in the side of a burger van, snack van, mobile kitchen, roadside cafe or tea stop – all different names for food vendors scattered around the main roads that wind across Britain.

Your first answer might be “excuse me?” because you can’t hear the question over the sound of the food van’s generator buzzing too loudly or a heavy-goods truck passing by, honking his horn five inches away from your ear. When you do manage to answer properly, “in a mug” means you will get your tea in a giant cup, often branded with the logo of a local business, along with a metal spoon shared with other travelers. Otherwise you get the tea in a polystyrene cup to take away.

Snack vans are usually located roadside in areas known locally as “lay-bys” along so-called “A-routes” – main roads not quite as big as motorways, which run all over the country. They can be trailers, little vans, caravans or even converted double-decker buses. They don’t offer a panoramic view – or let’s say that the only possible panoramic view ends at the next hedge – but every van is unique.

Beachside at Blackpool

Blackpool, Northern England

By Phil Noble

I can remember vividly as a child trailing after several suitcases pulled by my parents or trying to squeeze into my uncle’s luggage-laden car as my brother and I began the journey to our annual family holiday by the beach.

This was the late 1970s or early 1980s, and foreign holidays were out of the reach of the Noble household at that point, so the bright lights of a British resort such as Llandudno or Blackpool was our usual destination.

Over the years these seaside resorts and others like them have undergone a rollercoaster ride (excuse the pun), seemingly lurching from popularity to poverty and back again.

Shrovetide: a rough and tumble game

Ashbourne, central England

By Darren Staples

There are rules – even if there is no referee to enforce them. One of the ancient ones is said to be: ‘committing murder or manslaughter is prohibited’. Royal Shrovetide Football is not for the faint-hearted, either for players or the spectators who can quickly become caught up in the scrum.

On the face of it, the game played in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday each year will sound familiar to anyone who knows what happens at any English Premiership venue on a Saturday afternoon.

There is one ball, two teams – the Up’ards and the Down’ards – and the goal is to score goals. In these parts, it’s like Manchester United playing Manchester City, with all the passion and pride that comes with it.

Britain’s pigeon fanciers

By Nigel Roddis

All those years ago when Paul Julius von Reuter was just starting out his news agency, he used homing pigeons to plug a gap in the information link between the bourses of Paris and Berlin. The operation only lasted a year, until the final telegraph line was laid, but the fact that pigeons carried stock market price reports remains an anecdote on resourcefulness.

SLIDESHOW: PIGEONS TAKE FLIGHT

Fast forward to 2012, where the world is connected by fiber optics and satellite beams, one may be surprised to learn that aficionados still train, keep and race pigeons for sport. Although the membership of Britain’s Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) has been declining over the past few decades, tens of thousands remain.

This year the 40th annual British Homing World Show of the Year in Blackpool had 2,500 pigeon entries from around the world including the U.S. and China, and its 25,000 visitors make it the largest single event at the seaside resort. Pigeon fancier Norman Perry of Port Talbot won the title of Supreme Champion in the Winter Gardens, a venue better known for ballroom dancing.

The conflict turns 30

By Enrique Marcarian

When Argentina invaded the Falklands in 1982, I tried to reach there on an Argentine Air Force plane from the continental mainland, but due to restrictions imposed by the military government I only reached a port on the Patagonian coast. I was stuck there for a week, but as I was there I managed to photograph what I still remember as one of the saddest moments in the story of that conflict – the return of the ARA Alferez Sobral, the Navy’s rescue tug that had been attacked by British helicopters. On board the boat were survivors with their uniforms torn and trembling in the South Atlantic cold, and eight dead crew members in coffins.

It was only 23 years later, in 2005, that I finally did manage to reach the islands in one of the weekly commercial flights leaving from Chile. That was to be my first coverage of life in the Islands. I was anxious to see how the locals would react to an Argentine photographer taking pictures of them.

My first stop was at a major dart tournament. I entered cautiously trying to be unnoticed, which worked at first while everyone was focused on the dartboards and beer drinking. Once I had a few beers and took a few pictures, a couple of schoolteachers took notice of my nationality. To my surprise, instead of throwing me out they asked me about my country, and complimented me on then-Foreign Minister Guido di Tella for having sent Christmas presents to Falklands children.

It’s as British as fish and chips

By Eddie Keogh

It’s been our national dish for over a 100 years now and although it’s seen some strong opposition from lasagne and chicken tikka masala, it’s as popular now as it ever was. As a young boy, I have fond memories of Dad rushing in the door with parcels of fish and chips wrapped up in last weeks newspaper. Crispy battered fish with chips covered in salt and vinegar – comfort food at it’s best.

I’ve just spent three days traveling around London’s high streets and back streets looking for Fish and Chip shops. From The Codfather in Northolt to The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden. I’ve met every nationality working behind the counter and queuing in front of the counter, which confirms it’s broad appeal. Back in 1995, British people were demolishing an incredible 300 million portions of fish and chips every year!

The birth of fish and chips has an interesting international story. We hadn’t even clapped eyes on a potato until they were bought back from South America by the conquistadors in the 17th century. It was the French who invented the chip and the Jews who brought deep fried fish to Britain. There are differing opinions but it’s claimed that the first combined fish and chip shop was opened by a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, within the sound of Bow Bells in East London around 1860. The importance of this national dish was never clearer than during World War II when the British government made sure fish and chips were one of the few foods that was never rationed.

An accordion for Ablogin

By Vasily Fedosenko

To Vladimir Ablogin, it may still seem like a fairy tale, but as he touches his new squeezebox “garmoshka” accordion, which had covered thousands of miles to find him in his dilapidated wood hut, he knows what has happened is real.

I arrived in his run-of-the-mill Russian village in the Smolensk region at Belarus’s border on an early December morning to take pictures of local peasants voting in Russia’s parliamentary election. Looking like it was still from the Soviet era, the election day soon turned into a rare holiday in this backwater settlement, which was until recently prosaically named “Gryaz” (Mud).

Paying little heed to my presence and already warmed up with Russia’s national tipple, a bare-footed Ablogin sat on a bed in his higgledy-piggledy home, playing a traditional Russian “garmoshka” button accordion to amuse his audience of several women and men.

from UK News:

Best of Britain: Work and play

Brits work hard and they play hard. This week's Best of Britain includes photos of people doing both.  There's a photo of dozens of people seeking to break the world record for naked rollercoaster riders as well as suited up City workers heading to their offices with the Tower Bridge in the background.

There are photos of workers checking up on Big Ben and chimpanzees checking each other. Also included are grouse hunters, Fringe Festival entertainers and a laughing Prince Charles as he attends the Highland Games.

Thrillseekers take part in a world record-breaking nude rollercoaster ride, to raise money for Southend Hospital's breast care unit, at an amusement park in Southend-on-Sea, southeast England August 8, 2010. Participants, who loaded into the carriages 40 at a time, broke the previous world record of 32 naked riders on a theme park ride. A total of 102 riders turned up to ride without clothing. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

City workers cross London Bridge during the morning rush-hour in the City of London August 11, 2010.     REUTERS/Paul Hackett

Gamekeepers Bob Pirie and Adam Smith (R) pose on a heather moor a day before the opening of the grouse shooting season, on the Auchleeks Estate near Trinafour, Scotland August 11, 2010. The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust says that the economic resilience of grouse shooting is being tested by falling numbers of grouse being shot. Their study suggests slightly less than half as many grouse were shot in Scotland last year as in 2001.   REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Two chimpanzees groom each other as they sit together in their Budongo Trail enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland August 10, 2010. In March eleven new chimpanzees were introduced, in stages over six months, from Holland's Beekse Bergen safari park in order to create a 'super group' of twenty two. REUTERS/David Moir

A street entertainer performs during the opening day of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 6, 2010. The festival runs for the rest of August. REUTERS/David Moir

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