A Shanghai sinking – an aerial perspective

February 3, 2010

Checking through the file this picture by Reuters Shanghai based photographer Aly Song really caught my eye and I needed to think why.


 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.

 Or is it the classic grid like composition of the horizontal line of the waters edge and the vertical lines of the buildings that are both dissected by the triangular shapes of the cargo ship? What ever it is the eye suddenly snaps back to the subject, an overturned cargo ship slowly sinking in the murky waters of the Huangpu River.

I just have to know more. The caption tells me the cargo ship collided with a barge, three sailors were rescued and an investigation is underway.

 Have a look at the picture below without the worker – see what I mean?


Russell Boyce, Chief photographer Asia


The worker softens the image and brings a human dimension to what is essentially a mass of concrete and broken steel.

In a more technical dimension, the worker fills the critical RH 1/3 of the image, helping to contextualise the scene

Nice image Aly!

Posted by NIck Wilcox-Brown | Report as abusive

Good work Aly! Russel said it better than I can.
My own images of Shanghai here http:///www.pictobank.com

Posted by lucas | Report as abusive

…works for me, as the helmeted worker, gives some additional info. Tells me there is some other people at the scene. And yes, it ads human dimension.

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