Photographers' Blog

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures February 27, 2011

The World's gaze at events in the Middle East was broken last week after an earthquake of 6.3 destroyed many buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand; the death toll now stands at 147 with 200 still missing. This was the latest disaster covered by Tim Wimborne. In recent weeks he has been to Toowoomba and Brisbane for the floods, Cairns for the typhoon Yasi and now NZ to cover the earthquake.  Tim worked closely with stringer Simon Baker to produce a file that saddens the heart, buildings normally seen on holiday postcards now forming the tombs of those who have died and as yet have not been pulled from the rubble. For me one of the strongest images is that of a  man picking through the rubble of what was once his home. With Tim's birds-eye view we see that nothing is really worth saving amid the dust and rubble, a photograph, a smashed lamp and a model boat.

NEWZEALAND-QUAKE/

Resident of the beach-side suburb of New Brighton, Julian Sanderson, searches for personal items through the remains of his house, destroyed by Tuesday's earthquake, in Christchurch February 25, 2011. International rescue teams searched through the rubble of quake-ravaged Christchurch on Friday for more than 200 people still missing, but rain and cold were dimming hopes of finding more survivors in the country's worst natural disaster in decades.  REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

NEWZEALAND/QUAKE

A rescue worker (R) looks through the rubble of the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch February 24, 2011. International rescuers intensified their search for earthquake survivors in New Zealand on Thursday, spurred on by reports of a faint female voice heard beneath a collapsed church, even as the official death toll of 71 looked certain to climb. REUTERS/Simon Baker

In China the word Jasmine has taken on a new meaning. For most it means a flower or tea; to the authorities it means dissent and potential danger to the given order. Social networkers have called for a "Jasmine Revolution" in China inspired by the demonstrations in the Middle East. The government's response was swift, crushing any demonstrations, which are now planned on a weekly basis. The word Jasmine was blocked on the China internet as was the professional social network service LinkedIn. Photographers Carlos Barria, David Gray and Aly Song were quickly onto the streets to cover the demonstrations being snuffed out by the authorities. Communist party officials' were quick to blame the unrest on "hostile western forces". What fascinates me about these three pictures is the calm look on the faces of the protesters. I suppose one has to wonder if these lone activists have been released from custody and if not what conditions they are being held under now and for how long.

CHINA-POLITICS/INTERNET 

A man is arrested by police after internet social networks called to join a "Jasmine Revolution" protest in front of the Peace Cinema in downtown Shanghai February 20, 2011. Chinese President Hu Jintao called on Saturday for stricter government management of the Internet while calls for gatherings inspired by uprisings in the Middle East spread on Chinese websites abroad. The messages have scant chance of inspiring protests in China whose one-party government has plenty of censorship controls in place and where most Chinese have difficulty gaining access to overseas websites because of a censorship "fire wall." REUTERS/Carlos Barria

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures February 6, 2011

Cyclone Yasi statistics were impressive, bigger than Katrina that killed more than  1,200 people in 2005, winds of 300 km (186 miles) per hour, more powerful than Cyclone Tracy that hit Darwin in 1974, killing more than  70 people and probably the most powerful in recorded history ever to hit the coast of Australia. The satellite pictures seemed to support all these claims. The expectation of devastation was high. I even began to fret about the claim that the concrete hotel that photographer Tim Wimborne was staying in was actually cyclone-proof. Experts had started to say that  cyclone proof buildings might not be. But Yasi passed and only one poor soul died (asphyxiated in his home by fumes from his own generator), a few homes had their roofs torn off, caravans were swept aside and minimal flooding. The only lasting effect that will hit us all are the increased insurance premiums, devastated banana and sugarcane crops; price rises are promised.

aus combo

(Top left) A hand painted board protects the front window of a cafe in the northern Australian city of Cairns February 2, 2011. Category five Cyclone Yasi, expected to be the most powerful storm to cross Australia's heavily populated east coast in generations, is expected to make landfall late on Wednesday night. Thousands of residents fled their homes and crammed into shelters in northeastern Australia as the cyclone with a 650 km (404 mile) wide front barreled toward the coastline on Wednesday. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

(Top right) Cyclone Yasi (top) is seen approaching the coast of Australia, at 2300 GMT on February 1, 2011, while Hurricane Katrina is seen with its outer bands lashing the Gulf Coast of the U.S. a day before landfall, August 28, 2005, in this combo of satellite images created February 2, 2011. Yasi, which has been upgraded to a maximum-strength Category 5 storm, is now moving with winds of up to 300 km (186 miles) per hour and has a 650 km (400 mile) wide front. Yasi's current strength is similar to Hurricane Katrina, which reached maximum Category 5 in the U.S. Gulf before weakening a little as it made landfall near New Orleans, causing altogether approximately 1200 reported deaths.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures January 16 2011

Our thoughts are with photographer Lucas Mebrouk Dolega who was covering the street protests in Tunisia who is now in a critical condition after sustaining head injuries on Friday from a tear gas canister fired by a nearby police officer.

AUSTRALIA-FLOODS/

A passenger in a car waves for assistance as a flash flood sweeps across an intersection in Toowoomba, 105 km (65 miles) west of Brisbane, January 10, 2011. Tsunami-like flash floods raced towards Australia's third-largest city of Brisbane on Tuesday, prompting evacuations of its outskirts, flood warnings for the financial district and predictions that  the death toll is likely to climb.     REUTERS/Tomas Guerin

Rupert Murdoch's iPad only newspaper "The Daily" is getting closer to launch (reports say the proposed launch of January 19th was delayed due to technical glitches) and others are  launching similar pay-for publications. Along with rumours of an imminent iPad2 and Apple's competitors rushing to launch their own tablet devices, it seems to me much more likely that people will once more expect to pay for their news as opposed to expecting  to get it free. They will now have a device to easily download and read news and look at pictures and video immediately. Maybe the much heralded notion that the sometimes faster, but unsubstantiated, social media generated news would be the death knell of main stream media (why should I pay for the news when I get it free from the net quicker?) might have been a little premature and could actually be one of the factors that contribute to people expecting to pay for quality news viewed on hand held devices. What do you think?

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures 28 November 2010

I was listening to a radio programme about the history of military music (please bear with me) and a woman recounted a story about the first time she heard the "Last Post" being played at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday. The woman (sadly I don't remember her name), said that what really struck her was that after the moment of total silence was broken by the first notes of the Last Post she knew that every one of the thousands of people standing in Whitehall would be sharing the same thought - that of someone who they had loved and lost. Three stories this week put me in mind of this woman as I looked at images of people grieving for lost ones. The difference being that for each person lost the world was watching their story albeit only momentarily; the crushed people in Cambodia, the miners in New Zealand and the four people killed by the shelling by North Korea of the tiny island of Yeonpyeong.

CAMBODIA STAMPEDE/

People are crushed in a stampede on a bridge in Phnom Penh November 23, 2010. The stampede killed at least 339 people late on Monday and wounded nearly as many after thousands panicked on the last day of a water festival, authorities and state media said. REUTERS/Stringer

At 3.30am on the 24th I received a call from the desk telling me that that hundreds of people had been killed in Cambodia during the water festival. The picture I saw horrific, young people twisted together, some dead and some alive, panic in their eyes as people stampeded to try to leave an island linked by a bridge.  The picture of the people in the act of dying reminding me of the images from the Hillsborough soccer disaster in 1989 when fans were crushed to death in steel cages as more fans tried to crowd into the game, photographers pitch side only needing turn around to take these pictures, unable to help as the life was squeezed out of them.

Less is more

A long, long time ago I was a gear fiend. I had to have all the toys and they had to be dragged around with me on every assignment. A backpack the size of a refrigerator stuffed with lenses, filters, tripods and gadgets that would never see the light of day…. All just in case.

The older I get, the lighter I travel. The older I get, the less stuff I need in my life. My wife and I even disposed of our dining table and chairs in favor of simple floor cushions. No clothes drier, no air-conditioner, no TV. This approach applies to my professional life, be it an assignment 10 minutes walk from the Reuters office in Sydney or a several week-long assignment in Afghanistan. Now I’m more likely to shoot with prime lenses, not use flash (I never really got the hang of speed lights anyway) and not take any fancy add-ons. If it doesn’t fit in two or three small pouches on my belt, chances are it gets left behind. My check-in bag is rarely full. Media scrums at news conferences are less painful. In and out of taxis/elevators/armored trucks is easier. Running with your kit is faster. Working becomes simpler and I really don’t miss all those bits and pieces that no longer weigh me down.

That means there is less to break, less to clean, less to remember, less back strain and less of a struggle through airports. Oh, and to keep your boss happy, less expense.

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