Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

A deserted editorial room on Christmas Eve, save for Steve the sub. © Magnus Andersson 2008

Its Christmas Eve and this morning I was the first one in the office, quite eerie to come in and find the place pitch black, having to locate the light switch which I've never done before - the light is usually switched on by someone else as I am very unlikely to get to work on time, let alone be first in.

Anyway working during Christmas has its benefits; a lot of pre-production has already been done (when I was on holiday actually), and we tend to finish quite a lot earlier in the day (aiming for 1pm today) and lastly, traffic is a joy - my commute is reduced by at least 50%.

A big thanks to all you readers as well, you really do come from far and away. As expected, the majority are from the UK (#37%), but only recently the US overtook Sweden in terms of readers. In an average month I get readers from about 25 different countries, but disappointingly, 43% of you still insist of using Internet Explorer. :) However, Mozilla is close behind on 37%, so I recommend all of you IE users to make the switch now. 17% are Mac users, I thought that would be higher actually, but perhaps my slight Mac bating has turned you away?

And I never bought the Nikon P6000 by the way....instead, as a treat for Christmas, I got myself the compact of the year - Panasonic DMC-LX3 - from which the picture above is taken with. All I can say is that it is awesome! Proper wide angle, fast lens, RAW shooting and a hotshoe. That's all I need for the festive period, so Merry Christmas to all of you and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Dear Jacqui, when will you ever learn?

Home Secretary Jacqui on the left. © Birmingham Mail

STOP PRESS: It's ILLEGAL, if a cop - even a smiling one - decides it is! Disregard my previous post.

Sweet Jesus, this is an incredible development. BJP reports here that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (above left), after the November meeting with the NUJ, has said that photography CAN be limited in public places in special circumstances, see her quote below, (my brackets):

'This may be on the grounds of national security (PJ's photographs a terrorist in the act - surely not news?) or there may be situations in which the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation (perhaps the institutionally racist Met Police beating up black people? Nah, not of interest to the public) or raise security considerations (weddings as we all know, are of a high extremist danger, read on). Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person's own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others'.

Thank you very much, Jacqui Smith!

Just to clarify, Jacqui, if there happens to be police officers present at my next job, can I assume that there is bound to be nothing of interest - whatsoever - for the public for me to report on? Nothing in the interest of the people that you serve, the people that elected you? Please, Jacqui, please get in touch, don't be so (camera) shy.

What exactly are the police protecting us photographers - and thereby the public at large - from seeing? Did the UK just become a four-letter word that spells I-R-A-N? No crime reported in the newspapers? Then surely we must live in a crime free society! Hurrah, Jacqui. Civilisation at last, thanks to New Labour - and The Met - one of the oldest police organisations in the world.

Here's some sobering facts on how the Met, in extreme cases such as public disorder, the armed forces were deployed, instead of what we have now, individual officers left to decide when to take individual journalists out of the equation.

Imagine Brixton in 1981, imagine 1985 imagine 1995, without the media. Erased from history, Jacqui? A young and promising photojournalist by the name of David Hodge was killed at the 1985 riots, and yes others died as well, but from governmental failures; institutional wrongdoing.

Individual officers deciding when to pull the hood over the nations eyes, let alone multiple bullets to the head. These are dangerous times, indeed.

Without getting too political, this government has had serious misjudgments on the issue of national security ever since the '45 minute' claim. A decision which so far has lead to the loss of over 100.000 Iraqi civilian lives.

But wait - Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary - makes things worse. Seven days ago a wedding photographer in London - on the very day of UN Human Rights Day - was detained for 45 minutes (oh, the irony!) under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Laugh your head off/cry your eyes out here.

So please, Mrs Thatcher, Jacqui Smith, I'm expecting a personal reply from you to the question; Exactly how many crimes have been prevented, how many lives have been saved by criminalising trained photojournalists to carry out their profession and their chosen duty to inform the public of events in their society?

Alternatively, Jacqui, here's another question; do we have a police force inexcusably unaware of its own operating limits, without proper training? Surely you wouldn't start killing innocent civilians to protect national security? Surely you have security of this country under control, without resorting to extreme measures?

PS, Jacqui, here's some video of your boys protecting national security in the last few days: (gets interesting just before 4:00, and after that becomes compelling viewing for the mere fact that these (just like all the other) police officers don't have a clue what they are doing, no explanations for their actions, no knowledge of the law, no knowledge that they can get serious repercussions, even loose their job over this).

At least in my case, as soon as the officer in charge found out what the plods were doing, my equipment was released immediately. Don't know what happened to the promise that "all ground staff would get proper training on how to treat the press", you, Jacqui?

ps, Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary: there is plenty more to come at Marc Vallee.

Bedtime reading for Jacqui only: Yes we have come along way, but why rewind the clock in the name of national security?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

OMG, public photography is lawful!!!

Several (white) police officers detain two (black) people after an argument and ask the photographer not to take any pictures. In this instance, are we - photographer, the detained and the police (for breaching their own guidelines) - all criminals? © Magnus Andersson

Maybe we are making progress? Story on how officers are reminded that it actually isnt a crime, not even a terrorist crime, to take pictures! That said, one of our photographers was handcuffed and led away from a crime scene in London two weeks ago.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Postcards from Sweden

Holiday is so very taxing, so here's a couple of quick snaps from our traditional Lucia celebrations, where one of my little cousins sang in the choir. Brought a little tear to my eye!

© Magnus Andersson 2008: Lucia celebrations in Lindberga church.

© Magnus Andersson 2008: Angels of all sizes in the choir.

© Magnus Andersson 2008: Angels of all sizes in a shop window.

Friday, 5 December 2008

I forgot

© Magnus Andersson

Today has been a mad day, no time for lunch, did 7 jobs in the afternoon, although to be fair, 5 of them were within walking distance from where I parked the car. But still, didn't finish until 19:15.

Now its back to slow motion though, because I have two weeks off.

Before I go, I forgot about this story. Not often that I get a chance to present audio slideshows on here, so enjoy. Charlton Special School - along with other schools on the same day - broke the Guinness World Record!


© Alex Masi

I didnt have time to post a blog yesterday, flat out at work and then a long drive to Willesden to have dinner with some old video/photo journalist friends, got back late.

Dinner was fantastic though, and it was good to see that Alex is still producing the stuff out there that matters. Have a look here and here for the latest.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


US soldiers gather biometric data during a census in Baghdad while searching houses. © Yuri Kozyrev, Aug 5, 2007

I cant give you any images from today as I haven't had time to download yet, but Dispatches, the brainchild of Gary Knight, does it for me. Yuri Kozyrev's comprehensive coverage of the US-led invasion of Iraq is a serious piece of journalism, let alone photojournalism. Subscribe to Dispatches here.

If you want a version of Yuri's work with captions, click here.

Also check out this most subversive film about the most hated man on this planet, the current US president.

post scipt: forgot to mention the music in the slideshow, how good is that!?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

I give consent

This is 8-week old puppy R-Jay, nervously glancing over towards the chief veterinary surgeon who is about to inject him with his vaccination. © Magnus Andersson

OK, so moaning (see previous post) about things doesn't help, maybe blogging will? I'll try and give you a post a day until I go on holiday on Saturday, maybe that can keep my mind busy instead.

Today I was down at the PDSA PetAid Hospital in New Cross. They provide free care to pets whose owners normally couldn't afford a vet.

Chief veterinary surgeon Paul inspecting an x-ray showing metal plates inserted into a dog's leg. © Magnus Andersson

The strange thing was that I wasn't allowed to photograph the dogs being operated on, for the simple reason that they hadn't signed the consent form. Ridiculous I thought, dogs can't sign it, let alone give their consent, right?

8-week old puppy R-Jay checking the fine print before signing his photo consent form. © Magnus Andersson

How wrong I was.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Rear view #02

Southbound on Dunton Road, Bermondsey, Oct '08 © Magnus Andersson

My Christmas and pre-Christmas plans have now both gone to pot, so I might have to pause the blog (even more) to consider my options, because nothing has been working out lately. /Misery guts

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Life & death

Dead Confederate soldiers of Gen. Starke's LA Brigade lying by fence at Hagerstown Pike, killed by advancing Federal troops in Civil War Battle of Antietam, 1862. © LIFE/Google (link)

Google has come together with the defunct LIFE Magazine and are now offering one of the biggest photography collections in the world for free online. They are all easily searchable by decade or keyword, and almost all of them them previously unpublished.

British women employed as porters re shortage of men during World War I, London, 1915. © LIFE/Goole (link)

The archive goes all the way back to the very first days of photography and is a veritable treasure trove for those interested in history general and the development of photojournalism in particular. Dig in.

Mustachioed man wearing steel helmet w. built-on chain screen to protect soldiers' eyes from fragments of shell, rock, etc. during WWI; manufactured by E.J. Codd Co., Baltimore, MD, 1918. © LIFE/Google (link)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Help if you can

picture from

While we journalists in the West worry about a downturn in the economy, there are colleagues in Zimbabwe who can't do their job at at all, or do it in fear of death, due to Robert Mugabe's evil regime and his effect on their economical landscape.

Eight continuous years of a financial downturn, inflation at an astonishing 231,000,000%, and more than one journalist murdered.

They are in desperate need of equipment to continue their important job of reporting. If you have a disused camera, laptop or a PC that you don't need anymore, get in touch with the NUJ to see how you can donate it to a country that really needs change. Find the necessary email address and a video here.

Rear view #01

Northbound on Blackfriars Bridge with St Paul's Cathedral in the background, October '08. I spent 5 years working in the tallest of the buildings which can be seen in the rear view mirror, before becoming a fulltime photog. I'm very happy to see the back of it. © Magnus Andersson

Working as a photographer in London invariably means that you spend more time in the car than you ever do taking pictures. Lots of traffic jams, accidents, road works, major gas works, floodings, re-routings, marches, demonstrations, etc, which leaves you stationary. So you get bored. And to pass the time a little you bring out your compact camera and start taking pictures of the things around you. Sometimes even when the car is moving, if its interesting enough.

This will probably be a continuing series, so hit the tags 'rear view' or 'car' and you'll likely find all the (future tense) images.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Derbyshire pt II

© Magnus Andersson

A promise is a promise. Continuing on from post #1, I think I might move to Derbyshire later in life. We had perfect weather the whole weekend, absolutely scorching, along with the usual combination of good food and drink, long walks and picnic's plus quite a lot of tennis.

© Magnus Andersson

The place we were staying in was top notch, a farm in the middle of nowhere with their own tennis court. Tennis makes your feet go all warm.

© Magnus Andersson

Ladybird loving my Adidas.

© Magnus Andersson

The locals were great and also very tasty! Breakfast was served consisting only of local produce.

© Magnus Andersson

A big fire erupted in a field next to us in the middle of our afternoon game of tennis, but nobody was seriously hurt. A harvester caught fire inside and started spewing out burning embers behind itself and it took a while before the driver realised that he was dishing out a bit of burnt-earth-policy.

© Magnus Andersson

Go to Matlock Bath and experience the mad biker invasion every weekend. We took the cable car up to the top of the Heights of Abraham, some spectacular scenery from up there and we also had a lovely picnic, complete with an afternoon snooze in the sunshine.

© Magnus Andersson

Note to self: use some sunscreen next time you spend the midday hours on a tennis court in blazing sunshine. That really hurt afterwards...

© Magnus Andersson

I also tried some long-shutter speed photography lit only by mobile phone - worked a treat!

© Magnus Andersson

© Magnus Andersson

© Magnus Andersson

© Magnus Andersson

Friday, 7 November 2008

Back again

© Magnus Andersson

Blog laziness has prevailed in the last few days, and perhaps also the fact that panto season is upon us, which doesn't bring the most interesting of pictures so apologies are due.

Some of you might remember this little walk along the East London canals which was done back in May. A while back I had a few days off so I had the time to follow it up with another extended walk, but in a slightly different take. See it here. Click on the full screen icon for full viewing pleasure...

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Worth waiting for

Todays front pages in the UK (click for larger version) © Magnus Andersson

I initially didnt plan to stay up to watch the coverage of the US presidential election results, but as soon as I started watching it I couldnt stop. As Ohio went to Barack Obama the writing was on the wall.

The staunch Republican John Bolton, a maniac war supporter, was one of the pundits on BBC's coverage and a sweet sight to behold as he increasingly got angrier and more irritated as it was becoming clear that Obama was Gobama!

© Steve Bell 2008

By the time McCain came on to give his acceptance-of-defeat speech I was getting a bit tired. When Barack finally came on to deliver his speech I promptly fell asleep on the sofa, missing the main event through sheer exhaustion! I think the time was 4 or 5am, but sure I am not. My back is all sore thanks to the small sofa and I slept through the alarm, only saved by the fact that the electricity meter started beeping at 8:15am, warning me to top it up.

Link to Steve Bell's cartoon here.

Monday, 3 November 2008

"photojournalism; its intellectually bankrupt"

Glory Trip 197 © Simon Norfolk

These words are from Simon Norfolk in an interview in the latest issue of Foto8 - pages 13-17 of this online PDF, which sadly is too lo-res for reading the text. The magazine itself carries it over pages 32-41 and makes for a great investment, buy it or subscribe.

His work is unusual on many levels, having left photojournalism behind in 1994 in favour of landscape photography - he only shoots with large format wooden cameras - but his topics stay in the realm of war, war zones and war technology.

I saw one of his lectures a few years ago when he came to visit my university and it really was memorable. At the time he was in the process of shooting his Supercomputers project and one of the girls at the lecture ended up being his assistant for the project there and then as he needed a German speaker.

Glory Trip 196 © Simon Norfolk

Simon from the Foto8 article: "The problem with photojournalism is that it is hooked on the visible. When these photographers are invited along on a little jolly ride to be embedded with the troops, the military know where the real war is taking place. So the reason they allow people to tag along is because they know that what they will be able to see is unimportant. Hegel says that the Owl of Minerva spreads its wings at dusk. When the thing is over, that's when you get access to it. It's because its irrelevant that they allow you to embed and watch them fire some guns through a slit."

"Once the war has moved into this other realm, its completely unstoppable, because no one is talking about it. That's the powerlessness of photojournalism; its intellectually bankrupt, locked in a mode of operating that came to an end in the 50's, its heyday. Like an old bloke who still listens to the records he got into when he was 18, photojournalism is unable to unhinge itself from the modes it learnt in its puberty."

Glory Trip 195 © Simon Norfolk

His images of missile launches - or glory trips - are perhaps more painterly than journalistic but if you bother reading his extensive captions they take on a whole new depth of meaning, something which is a rare thing today.

From the Foto8 article: He admits to spending as much time writing these days as he does photographing, decrying those those who feel the caption is some kind of poor relative.

Related: blog interview with Simon from just under two years a go. Interesting Flickr thread.

Hook me up now

In case you dont read Lifehacker, I just wanted to show you this amazing report on neuro science from 60 Minutes on CBS. Its the kind of thing that makes you go 'wow'!

The monkey is feeding itself via the robotic arm which is - get this - controlled only by the monkey's own brain. Watch it below now (30 sec ad first).

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Once in a life time?

© Magnus Andersson

Certainly the first and probably the only time in my life that me and my car end up at the front of the queue as Tower Bridge opens to let through a tall boat.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Safety first

I like reading instruction manuals, I really do, but despite what you were thinking when seeing this water proof case for my Canon, this is not - I repeat not - a life jacket...

© Magnus Andersson

There are flies on the windscreen

© Magnus Andersson

Its holiday time for me, but I'll attempt a picture or two....bonus points for knowing the band lyrics behind this blog title. I had to pull over just to get the shot. A bit of flash might have helped.

This happens to be a wasp, but hey, they are more useful than you'd expect. Check out last nights Autumnwatch on iPlayer (1st episode, but only if you live in the UK).

Friday, 24 October 2008

Denied treatment

© Magnus Andersson Luke and his mom Nicola, moments before he tears of his obligatory oxygen supply, which took his mum 20 mins to apply.

This is Luke, he is 5 years old and suffers from Down's syndrome. He cant walk or talk like a 'normal' 5-year-old. Not that his mum Nicola would treat him any different. When she was told about his condition the GP said 'I'm sorry to tell you but he has Down's..." Her response was - Sorry for what? He is still my child no matter what!

© Magnus Andersson Nicola tries her best to apply the much-needed oxygen mask - a daily struggle which takes 20 mins. Within 5 mins Luke has ripped it off his face because to him, the tape needed to hold it in place hurts his skin.

Ever since then she has faced numerous obstacles in bringing him up, including reducing her sleeping pattern to a maximum of 3-4 hours per day as Luke is dependant on having additional oxygen 24 hours a day (as applied by his totally devoted mum Nicola).

She's also suffered people's ignorance in the street when they accuse her of mistreating her son for 'forcing' him to wear one of two oxygen masks. Her life revolves only around Luke. Luckily she gets help from her own mum Linda, but its still a massive sacrifice that she makes.

© Magnus Andersson Nicola consoles Luke after he (successfully) ripped off the more efficcient oxygen mask, which was replaced by this one.

Did she get upset when she learned that Luke's consultant - who had deemed him fit for a crucial injection that would benefit his health enormously - was replaced by a new consultant who simply said no? You bet she did.

© Magnus Andersson Mum Nicola kisses her son after he gets exhausted of switching oxygen supply.

Nicola reckons she is just one of many mum's in similar situations where their childs' health is jeopardised by the economy of health care politics.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

He's been robbed

Tomorrow we're hoping to photograph this robbery victim. Yup, you read that right - he is still alive!

These are the x-rays that the Met Police have released. It happened in November last year and a 17-year old has now been found guilty of attempted murder and will be sentenced tomorrow.

Incredibly, the victims recovery has been good and he is now back in school!

The 15-year old victim was offered to be flown to
USA to appear on NBC News but turned it down saying: "I don't want to go because I've got school to go to."

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Dorset revisited - unstable cliffs

© Magnus Andersson

My girlfriend and me had a fantastic holiday in Dorset in late September. It was supposed to be a little treat to myself for my birthday, which happened the following week. We drove down from London on a Tuesday and came back on Sunday. Initially we made the mistake of staying in Portsmouth, in the middle of a Lib Dem party conference. I'd avoid P'mouth anyway, but during political conferences its just full of suits and we stayed in a shit hotel, so it was double bad. We rectified things by relocating to Lulworth Cove instead though.

© Magnus Andersson

Its called the Jurassic Coast for a reason. Everywhere you can see these (above) compressed geological time lines, millions of years of Earth's history sticking up around the coast.

This is Lulworth Cove itself in the evening sun, tiny little place where we found a great B&B in an old stone house run by a couple who moved down here after finishing their careers in London. They warned us; 'Once you move here, you don't want to live anywhere else'. I can understand them. The natural beauty is second to none in the UK.

The weather was properly Brit-summer-nice so we spent most of our time rambling the hills and coastlines, from Old Harry Rocks, Swanage, Durlston to Lulworth and Portland Island (below, click for bigger size), where they also had a brand new spa in which my girlfriend treated me to a much-needed full body massage. Thanks!

© Magnus Andersson

It was also amazing to see the huge amount of birds of prey that they have here. I didn't bring my SLR as I was on holiday, but lets just say that my girlfriend got bored as I stood fixed with my binoculars watching peregrine falcons, barn owls in mid day, a multitude of kestrels, buzzards and all sorts flying above us! I would go back for that reason alone. More pictures below, click on the for slightly larger sizes.

But what's up with the dangerous and unstable cliffs?

Barn owl in the middle of the day. © Magnus Andersson

Me looking for the elusive peregrine falcon after having seen one some time earlier.

Evidence of a meal interrupted, possibly by us. Poor Mickey, eh? Watching birds of prey hunt is awesome though. © Magnus Andersson

Close to Old Harry Rock. © Magnus Andersson

One of many lighthouses on Portland Island. © Magnus Andersson

A little self portrait (shadow). © Magnus Andersson

Stone sculpture of Earth by the coast of Durlston. Notice the curved horizon. Gotta love the barrel distortion on the SD850IS. © Magnus Andersson

The King of Corfe Castle - forgot to ask his name, but he was a very friendly fella. © Magnus Andersson

Climbing the enormous hills around Lulworth Cove. © Magnus Andersson

What's this warnig sign about?! © Magnus Andersson

Apparently he lives around here and doesn't like the tourists much. © Magnus Andersson