Photographers' Blog

Rob Ford’s football frenzy

Toronto, Canada

By Mark Blinch

Rob Ford is a very interesting man. He is definitely not your typical mayor. At Reuters, city politics is not usually something we cover. If we do, it’s usually because of a big city election or a major mayoral scandal. In Toronto, it looks like we may be on the brink of both.

Ford was legally removed from office on Monday after a judge found him guilty of violating conflict-of-interest laws.

The controversy began back in 2010. That’s when Ford raised eyebrows by soliciting donations for his private football foundation using official city letterhead. Ford’s actions were questioned again when he took part in a council debate and vote on the matter, voting to remove the sanctions that were ordered against him.

The judge’s decision and Ford’s actions made headlines around the world yesterday. In the Twitterverse, Rob Ford was a worldwide top-trending topic for most of the day.

His antics become viral sensations, his quotes become the stuff that journalists dream about.

Escaping Toronto: The hassles of traveling with gear

By Jim Urquhart

As I attempted to leave Toronto I found I had to go into deep Canadian mode to make it possible.

Last week I spent several days meeting editors and visiting a friend in the city. I had looked forward to the trip but I never expected it to be such a mind melting, dignity crushing, blood letting experience to simply go home when it was all said and done. Through my work I get to travel my fair share. Over the last several years I have developed several habits that help me ensure my travels go as planned.

A major one is avoiding traveling by air as much as possible. Traveling by commercial aircraft you are limited by what camera gear you bring along. I never check in any of my gear with luggage. I have seen too many other photographers’ equipment get destroyed by doing so. Also, you are dependent on so many variables that can come into play like weather and aircraft maintenance. I prefer to drive if time allows but seeing as it 1,899.94 miles from my doorstep to Reuters’ Toronto offices I had to fly to return home.

Teetering on the edge

I’m always amazed at the places my cameras bring me. It was media preview day for the CN Tower’s EdgeWalk, where daredevils walk 356m (1,168ft) above the ground along a catwalk atop Toronto’s famous CN Tower. There’s a safety harness and an overhead rail, but no hand rail at all. Just a metal platform and a view. Not a month earlier, I had photographed the CN Tower being struck by lightning. Thank God this was a clear day.

We had 6 people on our walk. I would be accompanied by 2 text journalists, another photographer, and two tour guides for an excursion that was to last 30 minutes.

The morning started when the tower’s safety personnel attached all manner of clips and cables to my cameras so they could fasten them securely to the bright red jumpsuit they gave us to wear. I brought up a Canon 5d Mark II with a 16-35 wide zoom, and a Nikon D3s with a 24-70. The memory card slots, eyepiece, and battery doors of both cameras were all taped down to make sure nothing fell off. I have dropped a camera maybe once or twice in my life, and I knew this wouldn’t be the time to have an accident.

Human roadblock

I was relaxing Sunday evening killing zombies on the Xbox, when I got a news alert on my blackberry stating Tamil protesters were blocking two lanes of traffic on the Gardiner Expressway.  The Gardiner is a major freeway that goes through downtown Toronto. We don’t often see big protests or demonstrations, so my excitement begins to build.

The freeway snakes in between high rise condo buildings, and my first instinct was to figure out a way to get a vantage point up in the building to shoot the protest from a high angle.  I spotted a couple of guys enjoying a few beers on their 10th floor balcony  and shouted up. They were happy to come down and take me up to a spot overlooking the site of the protest. I took my pictures of the blockaded road, filed them, and got back down to street level to see if I could get in nice and close.

I ran up the onramp to the freeway, and spent a few minutes shooting the flags in the crowd, before making my way to the front lines. The demonstrators were peaceful, and the police seemed to be somewhat patient with the large crowd. Demonstration leaders kept the crowd calm with megaphones, telling them to keep the peace, but that didn’t keep a few aggressive situations from developing.

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