Photographers' Blog

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures August 15, 2010

Flooding and mudslides have again dominated the week's coverage in Asia. Reports that one fifth of Pakistan is now under water and over 20 million have been affected by the rising waters. In the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu over a 1000 people lost their lives as a mudslide swept through the town of Zhouqu. It is easy to become visually tired looking at images of people wading waist deep in flood water or seeing another image of a relative weeping for a loved one. In the pictures below even the most jaded eyes and souls must feel the passion of the pictures as photographers tell the story and bring home the desperation of their subject's plight.

Adrees Latif, chief photographer Pakistan, captures a moment that if it wasn't so sad would almost be funny. People, whose lives have been shattered by flooding, loss of their homes, hunger and the risk of disease suffer the final humiliation as a relief truck sweeps by driving water over their heads, the driver oblivious of the scene. In another picture  in a  camp for the displaced  Karachi based photographer Akhtar Soomro photographs a boy sitting in isolation who hurriedly eats, his eyes glaring out of the image as he keeps guard in case someone, imagined or real, tries to steal his food.

PAKISTAN-FLOODS/

Residents being evacuated through flood waters dodge an army truck carrying relief supplies for flood victims in Pakistan's Muzaffargarh district in Punjab province August 11, 2010. The floods have ploughed a swathe of destruction more than 1,000 km (600 miles) long from northern Pakistan to the south, killing more than 1,600 people.   REUTERS/Adrees Latif

PAKISTAN-FLOODS/

A boy fleeing from flooded village eats his food handout in a makeshift relief camp in Sukkur at Pakistan's Sindh province August 10, 2010. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari returned home on Tuesday from official foreign visits to a chorus of criticism over his government's response to the country's worst flooding in 80 years. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Shanghai based photographer Aly Song, flew, drove and then  finally hiked the final 5 miles into the mudslide stricken town of Zhouqu. Working closely with stringers, Aly and the team produced images that scream from the page; a man bent over and standing in isolation, holds his head in sheer grief as the search and rescue carries on behind him. The image of the girl in the red dress stopped me in my tracks as I remembered haunting "red dress" scenes in the mainly black and white Spielberg film "Schindler's List".  Two other striking images from Zhouqu are the workers resting, dwarfed by the crumpled buildings in the background and the faceless rescue workers, heads bowed, wearing full protection against airborne disease, listening to instructions from their leaders, who to me appear resigned in the accepted knowledge that they are no longer looking for survivors, but are to be employed to try and stop disease spreading from the decaying bodies.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A week in pictures

Rarely do so many big stories of global interest happen at the same time from one region but last week in Asia its been incredible.

Soldiers and aid workers struggled to reach at least a million people cut off by landslides that have complicated relief efforts after the worst floods in Pakistan in 80 years. Poor weather has grounded relief helicopters and more rain was expected to compound the misery of more than 13 million people . The floods have killed more than 1,600 people. 

PAKISTAN-FLOODS/

Marooned flood victims looking to escape grab the side bars of a hovering Army helicopter which arrived to distribute food supplies in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province August 7, 2010. Pakistanis desperate to get out of flooded villages threw themselves at helicopters on Saturday as more heavy rain was expected to intensify both suffering and anger with the government. The disaster killed more than 1,600 people and disrupted the lives of 12 million.  REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The China I met: A land of contradictions

Reuters photographer Nir Elias is pictured while walking with some 1000 other survivors during a 9-hour trek from the village of Qingping to Hanwang in the earthquake-hit Mianzhu, Sichuan Province as he covers the earthquake aftermath May 16, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

When I got the senior photographer job in Shanghai in late 2005, Reinhard Krause, who was China’s chief photographer, well advised me to drop any preconceptions I might have about the place.

Below is an audio slideshow based on my portfolio of work from China, where I discovered a land of contradictions.

Below is a selection of some of the portfolio images. Click here for a full slideshow.

from Russell Boyce:

Don’t drink the water, even if there is any to drink (Update)

One more picture that caught my eye during the 24 hours news cycle for the World Water Day is the image of hundreds of hoses providing drinking water to  residents of a housing block in Jakarta.  The grubby plastic pipes supplying a fragile lifeline to families seem to represent the desperation that people face when the water supply is cut off.

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Hoses used to supply residences with water are seen hanging across a street at the Penjaringan subdistrict in Jakarta March 22, 2010. Residents in the area say that they have had to construct makeshift water supplies for their homes by attaching hoses to pumps bought with their own money, as the government has yet to repair the original water supply which was damaged. March 22 is World Water Day.     REUTERS/Beawiharta

Today, March 22 is World Water Day and Reuters photographers in Asia were given an open brief to shoot feature pictures to illustrate it.  The only requirement I asked of them is that they included in the captions, the fact that while the Earth is literally covered in water, more than a billion people lack access to clean water for drinking or sanitation. At the same time in China 50 million people are facing drought conditions and water shortages and the two stories seemed to tie in with one another.

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.

CHINA

 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.

Temple of Heaven

China’s elderly find life and joy in exercise

By Grace Liang and Lucy Hornby

BEIJING – Gao Mingyuan has found joy at age 66.

Joy, in his case, consists of bending himself double and hooking his legs around a pole that runs behind his shoulders, in a Chinese meditative martial arts tradition.

Gao is one of many Chinese seniors, freed from the rigors of work and raising children, who are turning to martial arts such as tai chi, bopping to trendy beats or singing patriotic songs as they seek health and friends in parks across the country.

“We forget all our troubles when we practice,” he said as he contorted himself at the Temple of Heaven, where seniors exercise beneath the gnarled trees at dawn.

Making a submarine with scrap

Amateur inventor Tao Xiangli scoured second-hand markets for two years in search of spare parts for more than just a broken appliance. He’s built a home-made submarine he hopes will give him his big break. Read the full story here.

Beijing screens darkened by solar eclipse

Hundreds of images rushed into our picture editing system within 2 hours of the start of business on July 22, 2009 and kept flashing across our monitors all day long. The screens all seemed to be filled with nearly black rectangles: a technical problem? No. What was happening? Simple! All the pictures were of a total solar eclipse. Most of the images were just black.

A combination picture shows the sequence of a total solar eclipse as observed in Chongqing municipality July 22, 2009. The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century began its flight on Wednesday across a narrow path of Asia, where it was expected to darken the skies for millions of people for more than six minutes in some places. REUTERS/Stringer

Ahead of the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, staff photographers and dozens of stringers were positioned along the route of the blackout across central and eastern China. The first picture showing people holding welding masks to view the sun jumped onto our system around 8:30am, even before the eclipse started, but it was a bright picture and striking image. Then, as the moon gradually passed between the earth and sun blocking more and more light, the image tones got darker and darker. At 9:40am local time, the Yangtze Valley had gone dark and my screen showed this:

North Korea – From the outside looking in

Recently, I went to the Chinese border-town of Dandong on the Yalu River to see what I could photograph to match stories about reports that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was sick. Dandong is one of the closest towns on the border to the secretive country, and was the obvious choice due mainly to the chances of a journalist entering the highly restricted and reclusive country at such short notice being practically impossible. They don’t accept journalists at the best of times, let alone when their ‘dear leader’, as he is officially known, is not well. Kim has led communist North Korea for 14 years and if he was dead, the potentially nuclear-capable country could quickly become a scary and somewhat horrifying scenario.My hope for the assignment was that maybe I could get pictures of North Korean soldiers on border patrols, or perhaps even people working in the fields – something that showed life on the ‘other side’.

A local contact told us of boats for hire about one hours drive north of Dandong. I thought ok, it would be something like a small fishing village where the locals occasionally subsidise their incomes by taking people for rides to see the secretive side of the river, but when we arrived we found a thriving, well organised tourism industry. There was a fleet of six large boats that took 20 people at a time, or a fleet of speedboats that took five at a time. You could go for 20 minutes or for over an hour, cruising along the Chinese side of the river photographing or filming North Koreans washing their clothes or themselves, riding bicycles, tending their crops, or just fishing as they tried to get any extra food to supplement what measly portions they were obviously receiving.

Myself, text journalist Chris Buckley and Reuters cameraman Johnnie boarded a boat and headed towards the small town of Qing Cheng which was once connected to China via a bridge that protrudes from both sides of the river but had it’s middle portion blown-up 60 years ago – a symbolic reminder that this country is separated from the rest of the world.

Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was my nickname yesterday.

My Olympic opening ceremony endurance test began with an 8am call to be on the roof of the Bird’s Nest stadium for a meeting of photographers.

I began my first of three climbs through the maze of steep, narrow catwalks with IOC pool photographers from AP, Getty, AFP and Xinhua. On either side of the path were sheets of glass through which the colored lights of the stadium are projected.

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We were told to wear fireproof suits, helmets and climbing harnesses over our clothes.  The Chinese fireworks technicians on the roof had sensibly chosen to wear t-shirts and shorts.