Photographers' Blog

72 hours in Shanghai

By Carlos Barria

Occasionally, along with covering the news stories like the economy, politics, sports and social trends, we (Reuters photographers) have time to do something really fun.

Weeks ago, over a couple of beers, a friend from the BBC had the idea of putting a camera on the hood of a car and shooting a time-lapse sequence for a story he was working on. I’d never done a time-lapse project myself, so when I was asked to come up with an idea for Earth Hour on March 31— when cities across the world switch off their lights at 8:30 pm— my colleague Aly Song and I thought we’d give it a try. We decided to shoot sequences during the three days leading up to Earth Hour, ending with the dimming of the lights in Shanghai’s city center.

(View a full screen version here)

It was also a good opportunity to buy some new toys at Chinese prices, such as suction cup camera holders used to secure the camera on top of a car or any other surface.


Reuters photographer Aly Song sets up a remote camera in the front of a taxi

We used a total of seven cameras between two photographers on this project, shooting over 14,000 pictures, for a final time-lapse sequence that lasts one minute and 40 seconds.

That’s quite labor-intensive, but I think the video offers a glance at the frenetic energy and fast-pace of change that characterizes so many Chinese cities today.

Obama signs historic health care bill: An easy assignment?

The White House East Room has been, through the decades, the site for countless ceremonies, speeches and historic moments. I have lost count of the number of times I have covered events in there, but on Tuesday, the most historically important moment in the young presidency of Barack Obama unfolded in the most packed working conditions I have ever seen in that grand room. Hundreds of invited Congressmen and women, who each had a hand in bringing about the health care reform bill, sat shoulder-to-shoulder and right up against the stage. Along with dozens of photographers, journalists and television crews, there wasn’t room to breathe and this presented a rare challenge for those that regularly cover the White House – the chance that you may not even see the event taking place!

USA

With the front row of the audience about 3 feet (one meter) from the signing desk, it was almost impossible to see the Presidential Seal and that important document that President Obama was about to sign. Even on step ladders, which normally elevate us sufficiently above the audience, it was touch-and-go, and that’s before camera phones, the new nemesis for any working photographer shooting over a crowd, would inevitably start popping up. Not to mention the audience members standing up themselves to see over the rows in front. I even had to negotiate a compromise with one Congresswoman from New York that if she would refrain from pulling out her cell phone and blocking us behind her, I would ensure that she would receive a copy of one of my pictures as a trade off. She thankfully obliged and I emailed her a jpeg file later in the day for her private collection, for which she was grateful. Other congressmen in the audience were not as considerate, and anticipating this (hey, even elected officials can’t resist pulling out their cameras too), I set in place an “insurance policy”, because news photographer’s never get a second chance at capturing history.

My insurance policy was a Canon 5D camera and 24-105mm lens clamped high above my head on one of the towering light stands, atop of which is enough illumination to set an exposure of 400th sec @ f4, at 1000 asa. They do light White House events well, as administrations past and present recognize the power of the well-crafted image. I know a lot of photographers who shoot indoor events and would dream of soft, plentiful light rather than messing with high ISO speeds or the dreaded flash/strobe. With one dedicated radio transmitter attached to the hotshoe of my handheld camera, and a radio receiver connected to remote camera on the light pole, I could wirelessly fire the remote every time I pushed my shutter button. After editing the pictures from the remote camera for the Reuters wire shortly after the event ended, I thought it would be cool to put the entire sequence together with some sound to give you a sense of being in that room on this historic occasion.

Asia’s largest solar power plant

Nicky Loh presents a series of time-lapse sequences of a solar power plant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Asia’s Largest Solar Power Plant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan from Nicky Loh on Vimeo.

The first time lapse sequence was shot over a period of one hour at 1 frame every two seconds on a lens baby. I chose to use still photography to capture the time lapse over video as the movement of the panels was so small that a continuous one hour raw video file on the 5D MKII would have crashed my computer.