Friday, 27 June 2008

Wimbledon pt I

Andy Murray stretches for a one-hand-backhand shot in his opening match. © Magnus Andersson

Its been a really busy week so the blog has had to take a break for a few days, but I'm back now. After that Pussy Galore shoot I went straight to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships for the next two days and I had a blast.

We never get a chance to photograph sport at the paper apart from once a year when one of us gets a pass to Wimbledon, and this year the luck fell on me. I have to say that it is a pretty steep learning curve for someone like me who hasn't shot sports before, but I'm into most sports apart from maybe cricket (its NOT a sport, its an upper class excuse for getting drunk during the day) and polo (also upper class, but mainly because I'm very allergic to those beautiful horses), so the will to learn was there.

First of all I went to see the nice folks at the photography liaison office lead by the brilliant Bob Martin and his staff Russell, Trisha and the French girl whose name I cant remember, and they've all been very helpful with the little newcomer, showing me around and making sure I wipe my nose.

I first went down on Sunday, the day before it started, to pick up my accreditation and to get a general feel of the place. Its huge. There are 18 courts in all so there's a lot of tennis to cover. Luckily my pass gets me into both Centre Court and Court 1 - where the big names always play - so my choice is pretty much already made up for me.

That said you can get some different angles on say Court 18 (left), which my pass for the two main courts doesn't really allow me to, so its well worth checking out the smaller one's as well. You also get some good crowd shots from these, because you are not as restricted. On Centre Court and Court 1 I'm only allowed to sit on the umpire side, which means you mainly concentrate on the player nearest to you. Luckily they switch over after a few points so you don't really have to move. In sports photography a clean background is key though, so jostling for the seat nearest to the umpire happens, because it means you can shoot both players if you want to. Saves time and annoys your colleagues.

The weather was glorious the first two days and consequently I burnt my arms and my neck - on one side only, which made me look a Hi-Lo Wobbler (pictured left) that I used to fish with in my youth. The photographer from the MoD kindly lent me his spare hat when he saw what a state I was in, heat exhaustion can be a dangerous thing. Luckily we get free water from the sponsors Evian and we are also given a meal allowance and free coffee as well, just to make sure that we can keep doing our job.

After my first day I was exhausted. The heat, lugging all that gear around (two bodies, wide zoom, 80-200 and a 300 plus a monopod, water, gear pouches etc on my shoulders), and trying to learn how to shoot tennis in one day got to me, not to mention the two hour journey home. When I finally got to bed I couldn't sleep. Too tired. But I'm sure Djokovic was tired too...

Djokovic serve/severe arm twist © Magnus Andersson

Even so I cant complain at all. Getting a chance to photograph the top performers up close (we are only 4-5 metres away from them) is a chance that only 130 or so photographers in the world get a chance to do every year, so yes, I'm loving it all.

I spent a lot of time watching the other experienced photographers too, and guess what? There's chimping going on between each point! Yes, chimping! Between each and every point! I had no idea. I have always been a firm believer in not-deleting-in-camera, always wait until you got it onto a hard drive and then view it on a decent screen, not a little LCD in bright sunlight. But there's a good reason for it. Most cameras shoot at least eight frames per second which can generate a lot of pictures for editing later, so it actually saves time to chimp a bit during the action, because there will always be frames where the focus just wasn't tracking properly, or where the composition is out.

I'm off out for dinner now but there will be more from Wimbledon, because there is so much more to say. Stay tuned.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Pussy Galore!

© Magnus Andersson

Remember that I went for an eye test a little while ago? Well today I photographed the actor Honor Blackman - aka Pussy Galore in Goldfinger - for the charity Action for Blind People. She also had an eye test.

The pictures are meant to be used in mini media campaign a bit later, but I couldn't resist giving you this picture. She has been around since 1925, but she looks a damn sight (sorry) better than I did in those trial glasses.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Postcards from Sweden Pt II

All images © Magnus Andersson

Its midsummers eve here, but I'm not feeling too good so I'm sat at home where my parents are having a party with their old friends, instead of being out with my I'm flying back to London tomorrow afternoon, its the sensible thing to do.

I've landed a nice freelance job for next week though, more on that once its happened, but it is slightly James Bond related.

Pictures: my brothers cat Sivan up in the cherry tree, one of my nieces jumping rocks and afternoon sun in the forest at my brothers place.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Postcards from Sweden pt I

All images © Magnus Andersson

I'm having a wonderful time here, been eating a lot of good food, but I also managed to get a horrible trojan on my dad's laptop, hence no posting until now. Tomorrow is midsummer's eve here, the biggest pagan celebration on the planet, the whole country goes bonkers. Bring it on.

Pictures: one of my nieces catches some rain with her mouth (as you do), their dad (my bro) looses it in the rain, and finally my two lovely nieces in the stairs.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Doom & gloom

© Magnus Andersson

OK, so I haven't posted much the last few days, but its been quite hectic, what with one of our team on holiday, so us three photographers are taking turns doing the imaging (processing images for press), which meant that there's only two photographers available for assignments, hence we're rushed off our feet.

The second reason is football. Euro 2008 is under way and Sweden notched up a 2-0 against Greece last night, so well done the lads, but I have to say it wasnt very entertaining. I shouted at the TV most of the time.

The third reason is not really a reason, but its depressing none the less. A brilliant conversation between two photographers talking about the difference between UK & US in terms of photography. Maybe its time to start applying for that Green Card lottery?

However, its not all doom and gloom for me as I'll be going on holiday again on Friday, and for a week or so I can forget about it and just go fishing, canoeing and camping with my dad, hang with my nieces and only carry a small compact camera where I go. Yippy ki yay, motherfucker.

After that we have Wimbledon, and I've got my pass and my long lens ready. I've never been before, and we never really shoot sport here at the paper, so it should be much fun and lots of mistakes to be had.

Picture: taken while I was still studying photojournalism at uni; the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone on the day he refused to apologise for likening a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

"it's about the cumulative damage done by suspicion"

Good film by Rajesh Thind on the issue of being confronted by officers who have very little understanding of the law when it comes to taking pictures and filming in public places.

I mentioned my ordeal in a previous post, and now security expert Bruce Schneier has weighed in with a good article in The Guardian.

The Times also had a piece on the subject from which the beautiful sentence to this post title was lifted.

Here's a download on what our rights are. I just wish they would show it to the officers, because I'm pretty sure we photographers know the score.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Results are in

© Daniel Berehulak

Its Friday and I'm off to an exhibition which I've played a small part in, but more importantly, the results for The Press Photographer's Year 2008 are in! That Daniel Berehulak gets everywhere, doesn't he. Good stuff.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

My brand new glasses

© My optician

I mentioned that I had to go for an eye test a while ago, and I ordered some new glasses. Well, they have now arrived, quite stylish, no?

Monday, 2 June 2008

Back to work

© Magnus Andersson

Yesterday was my last day off and as always when you've gotten used to doing nothing for so long it was impossible to sleep. Why, oh why must the brain worry about it? I was actually looking forward to it, but not my brain. Maybe time to see a shrink?

I was knackered before I even got in the car this morning, and when I finally had done the last job for the day - or so I thought - I was looking forward to the sofa. Instead I got a call from the office with a job I had to go to right away. No sofa for me.

Another day, another murder in south London, this time a 15-year old girl stabbed several times in a lift. The picture above is of the forensic guys about to go in and examine the scene. She's the 16th teenager to be killed this year, which means it will be a new record again. The total tally last year was 27, and the halfway mark has already been passed at the beginning of June.

Driving me nuts

© Magnus Andersson

The Ansel Adams exhibition was quite special. Seeing his exquisite prints reminded me of my own feeble attempts at applying the zone system to my early dark room experiences. Of course I didn't get anywhere near his results but that didn't really matter to me though. It was the magic of seeing the image - the one I had had composed and shot earlier in the day - appear from the blank paper right in front of my eyes, this time as a monochrome image.

The image above is of a decimated forest on the west coast of Sweden, early 90's I'd say. I shot it on my dad's SLR, a Konica AutoReflex T, purchased during my parents honeymoon (I think), somewhere around 1969. I remember using a 35/2, tripod (ha! daylight), and a red filter, using T-Max400 (or possibly Tri-X, but the grain looks a bit more like T-Max).

I'd cycled from our hometown on the coast into the countryside to join two of my friends in their summer house. They'd taken the car out earlier, but I was desperate to join them so I hopped on the bicycle instead, not quite realising it would nearly take six hours to get there...

I'd been on the bike for four hours when I saw this scenery and decided to take a break and set up the shot. When I got off the saddle I got the fright of my life. I'd been riding with a backpack full of beer plus the camera, and the blood flow to my balls had been stemmed by the added weight. My nuts had gone numb, quite literally! I had to stand by the way side massaging my groin for along time before I could continue. Read what you want into that, but I wasn't nice at the time.

Anyway, I think the Adams' show is part of a touring exhibition that normally 'lives' in Germany, so keep an eye out for it, it might come your way. Well worth it.