Monday, 28 July 2008

Lovemore and Wellington mosaic

A while ago I was asked by the NUJ to submit a photo of myself that was to be incorporated into a massive mosaic in support of Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibebe, the President and General Secretary respectively of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

On 30 July Lovemore and Wellington are due in court to face charges of what Mugabe's brutal regime call 'spreading falsehoods prejudicial to the state'. In fact they were speaking out about the state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe.

Their trial date has been postponed from their original trial on 23 June. As part of their extended bail conditions they are not allowed to address political or public gatherings. These charges and bail conditions are clear breaches of free speech and freedom to associate.

Read more and get involved here and here.

My mug can be seen in there too, #8 from top left.

Are you any good at Photoshop?

No. In fact, you suck at Photoshop! At last, season two has arrived of this insane American comedy show about an unseen PS genius named Donnie Hoyle. Alongside tutorials on various PS techniques we also get a glimpse of his troubled life plus endless killer lines about us lesser Adobe users:

"this is basic to intermediate, but for you its going to be stupid hard, advanced, so I'm gonna try and slow it down..."

Initially there was only ten episodes, but 11, 12 and 13 are now online. Joy.

On youtube here.

Sunday, 27 July 2008


© Magnus Andersson

I've been away for a while which should explain the lack of posts the last few days. If you ever have the chance, go and visit the Peak District in Derbyshire, UK. We've had an absolutely perfect holiday up there, including a visit to Alton Towers as well. More on this later.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Genie in a bottle

The strobist page is just sensational. He's got so many useful tutorials on there that I cant understand how he has time to be a newspaper photographer as well?! Anyway, one of the posts got me thinking a bit. It basically explains how you can override your cameras max sync speed (1/250th in my case). Sadly, my D2Hs hasn't got the electronic shutter needed for this, so I am stuck at that max speed (we're not discussing FP sync here, by the way, a different beast altogether). I also sold my old trusty D70 earlier this year. However, I know that before they upgraded to D2Hs here at the newspaper, they used to shoot on Nikon D1H. Not a great camera, I know, but it has the required electronic shutter. I brought one home to try out over the weekend and I have been charging its batteries ever since.

© Magnus Andersson

The above bottle was shot as follows: SB-800 (left) on PC cord, SB-80DX on slave, both on 1/128 power, f/20, 1/16,000 sec, ISO 800 (no post processing at all). Yes, sixteen thousandth of a second - that's 0.0000625 seconds. Insane. I just wish I could use this for work, but it seems unlikely as the batteries for these old cameras are completely knackered. Lasts maybe 30min, maybe less, so I cant risk it on a job just yet.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Gear heads only

Alleged Nikon P6000

I have been seeing a bit of movement on this lately, and I do hope its true. I'm about to spend some cash on a new compact, and this would fit the bill perfectly. Would easily whup G9-butt in the ISO stakes.

Unless the Canon G10 and subsequent G9 price drop is true, and the Nikon rumour proves wrong, of course...

The alleged Nikon P6000 certainly looks good, but where's the front dial wheel as seen on their D-series SLR's? And why so many mega pixels???

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Loose ends

Strawberries sans cream © Magnus Andersson

A few of my blog postings seem to end in the words 'more on that later', but frankly, once I've posted something I don't necessarily feel the need to go back and revisit it once again. But in attempt to be diligent and to keep you, my fine readers, coming back, I shall tie up some loose ends and give you closure (sort of) on one thing: Wimbledon.

It obviously finished a while ago now, but for me it was a really good insight into how a global sporting event like this works. I get a feeling that the same togs tend to go every year, so if you have a good year, your agency/paper/magazine will ask you to do it again the next year. For me it was a bit of a mess though, because I'd never covered sports before, let alone such a major event. I look at sports photography quite a lot, but seeing what kind of pictures that are being used and then trying to teach yourself exactly that are two very different things. First of all you need the kit.

I'm ashamed to tell you what kind of kit my newspaper supplies me with after having been at Wimbledon but here goes: one Nikon D2Hs (no spare body, just ONE), 17-35/2.8, 50/1.8 and a 80-200/2.8. That's it.

Swedish veteran Bjorkman lays into one © Magnus Andersson

Not a lot that you can do with that at a sporting event for sure, but luckily I own a 300/2.8 personally, and that came in handy, especially on the cropped D2Hs sensor, but overall, I felt like
I was back doing work experience again, watching all these 400 VR's and 600mm's and 2-3 bodies dangling off each photographer, while I had to make do with a student kit. Allegedly we will upgrade our kit in a year or so. Ho hum.

Court One from the corner pit © Magnus Andersson

However, help was at hand. Nikon and Canon were both there, and they basically let you have any kit you wanted for a day or two - as long as you signed your life away. That meant I was swinging D3's and D300 all day long, and let me tell you, the D3 is the shit. I've never felt a camera to be that responsive and intuitive in my life, and the files that it produces are wonderful. Combine that with a super fast AF, superb colour rendering and high ISO performance and you have a camera that every single newspaper photographer would want to own at least two of. Many thanks to Alex and the rest of the staff at Nikon UK for sorting me out on my days at the Championship.

Sadly, I managed to get myself barred as well...

Centre Court from the stand pit © Magnus Andersson

My pass allowed me access for the first ten days, and after that they take a view on who can come and why. I asked if I could come on Ladies Final day (Saturday, it ends the next day) and was told it was OK. Never mind that I wasn't paid for this, going to shoot Wimbledon is a rare opportunity so I got up early to get to (unpaid) work that morning, even though I had worked 14 days in a row by this stage. I paid the parking attendant his £25 (parking fee's are ridiculous) and went to the entrances. I put the unwanted of my gear in my locker inside the photographic area, then went to the Nikon people to pick up some much wanted gear and headed to Centre Court.

Court 18 from above © Magnus Andersson

First off was the Williams' sisters final and I just made it in time. Three security guys checked my pass and let me in. I got a spot near the baseline, right next to a big TV camera, but there were still a few empty seats around us, so I was OK for elbow space. The final unfolded in two straight sets, a blessing when it comes to editing. I don't envy the guys who had to shoot the men's final. Five long sets with several rain delays. They had to be there at 2pm and probably didn't leave until long after midnight, and got wet in between...

Shot on a borrowed Nikon D3 & 14mm 2.8 © Magnus Andersson

Next I was headed over to Court One to cover teenage wonder kid Laura Robson in her final. I heard somebody shout my name and turned around to find Russell from the photo office chasing me. He came up and asked me in his stern Scottish tones: 'Were you in the pit at the Ladies final'? I said: 'Yes'. He told me that I wasn't supposed to be there, that I was in breach of Wimbledon rules by being there and taking pictures.

Bjorkman squeeze down to fit my full frame © Magnus Andersson

I thought 'Oh shit, I'm out the door right now'. I was taken back to the office to find out how it had happened that I was let in to that Williams final. It turned out that that they have a sticker system on Finals' days and I had not been assigned one, and hence wasn't allowed to shoot that final. My bad. I wasn't aware of this system, but rules are rules. I think security had a lapse for not spotting the missing sticker on my badge, but I apologised profusely to Russell and his colleagues for causing trouble when I wasn't even aware that I was.

Line umpire tries to ignore photographer © Magnus Andersson

What happened next was rough but fair. Russell had a quick chat with Bob and then spelt it out for me: 'You are banned from Wimbledon next year. Your newspaper is welcome, but you, personally, can't come back. Now go and photograph the final you came to photograph'. And he left it at that, so thanks Russell, for letting me shoot Laura's match.

Laura Robson kisses her trophy © Magnus Andersson

Next year I hope one of my colleagues will learn from my mistakes. Anyway, I'd still like to thank Bob Martin, Russell Cheyne, Trisha and the French girl (still don't know her name) for making it a great event for me.

Thought for the day: Ignorance might be an explanation, but its not an excuse.

Venus Williams mesmerized by her new bling © Magnus Andersson

Thursday, 10 July 2008

And the correct answer is...

© Magnus Andersson

...UK prime minister Gordon Brown.

I put up a little quiz a few days ago, and the response was overwhelming, NOT! I got one reply, from a person that went to the same class as me. Cheating - I believe I mentioned it - will not be tolerated! That someone owes me a drink.

cutting from today's Guardian. © Magnus Andersson

Today has been a day of endless frustration though. I was supposed to have the morning off and not start until 12.30 but got a call at 10am from my editor. I was needed to photograph the parents of yet another teenage murder victim.

OK, I'll try and be there for 11.15. Turned up on time but couldn't find any parking for the next 20 minutes, saw our crime reporter knocking on the door as I went past trying alternative roads, found a spot and knocked on the door myself. Spoke to one of their relatives and apparently there had been a misunderstanding. They had NOT agreed to a photo in the end, so my morning of lie-in-turned-exclusive-photo-opportunity had become an early start on a day when I'm supposed to be working late.

I managed to get back to the office for a few minutes to download the jobs from the day before, but didn't have time to edit them in Photoshop. Had to go off to the remaining three jobs and after that got home to download, at 19.30.

Earlier in the week I'd ordered some new RAM for my computer at home and tried installing it when I got home. Bad mistake.

The computer broke. Damn machine! As soon as I turned it on again it started beeping every second and wouldn't go through the boot routine. It got stuck on a 'PCI Device Listing' screen and did nothing else. In the end I gave up and downloaded my jobs on my girlfriends laptop instead, which doesn't have the Nikon software that I use for captioning, and its damn slow, so it meant a lot more work.

While waiting for the download I googled my PC's condition and after much re-starting and fiddling, I managed to get it to work on one of the RAM sticks, but not both. So this post is brought to you on 50% RAM capacity, not 100%. I wasted 4 hours getting here, but hopefully I've only wasted a minute or so of your time.


The last pic is from today, of some kids whose life is a lot worse than for most of us. Yet they still achieve. More on this later perhaps. I'm not complaining anymore.

© Magnus Andersson

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Hanging with the mob

Alex and Dani drinking and eating. Duh! © Magnus Andersson

Another night out, I cant wait for tomorrow to end as I will have an extended weekend on my hands, so that I can sleep properly.

But tonight was good, I was out with three talented (Italian-mob-connected) individuals whom I happened to go to university with, so you better click on their pages, or you'll be sleeping with the fishes!

Sara managed to creep away after 10 minutes, so she's not captured, but Alex told us about life in India and at WpN, and Dani kept it real by chasing a firetruck in the middle of our beer drinking session at The Foundry.

Dani coming back from chasing London's finest. © Magnus Andersson

The Foundry happens to be one of the first bars I went to some 11 years ago when I first arrived in London, and I still come back for more. Nuff said.

Plug: check Alex's and Dani's job on squatters in London. V good. Follow the link on Alex's page that says 'watch multimedia slideshow' (or similar)

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Press Photographer of the Year 2008

© Magnus Andersson

As you already know, the winner of PPY 2008 was Daniel Berehulak, but today - at the private view - I managed to pap him! That's Daniel (below) bottom left, with his winning image projected above him.

© Magnus Andersson

OK, maybe you can tell that I don't do papping in my day-to-day work, praise be Thor, but it was a wonderful night of great images on display in the National Theatre. Here's Daniel accepting the prize.

© Magnus Andersson

Not so wonderful was the boasting of one of the young winners (whom shall remain anonymous), but he claimed to be a wonderful speech-giver, let alone a GREAT photographer, and possibly flirtatious with anyone happening to be female. OK, he might have been drunk.

On a lighter note, there was massive trouble with the wireless microphone during the announcements, and this one (below) kind of captured the happy and relaxed mood of the evening, when the mic cut out for umpteenth time.

© Magnus Andersson

There was also lots of free booze, so I must go to bed now. Some of us must work tomorrow.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Quiz time

© Magnus Andersson

I remember my photojournalist tutor at LCC, Nigel Tanburn, once telling us that if we ever get the chance to photograph this particular person, its well worth trying to get a close up of his hand.

Why? Because he is a particularly bad nail biter. Well, the other day I got to within two metres of him during an interview, so I whipped out the 80-200 and zoomed in. Now to the quiz: who is this man?

Post your answer in the comments box. The winner earns her/himself a drink on me. No cheating.

Now I'm off to a BBQ with Nigel himself plus his former students.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Automatic Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor = camera porn

The first proper SLR camera that I bought for myself was a Canon 1000 F/N, but before that, the first SLR that I ever used properly was a Nikon F3 (left). This was when I was studying at Chalmers Technical University in Gothenburg, early 90's, and was a member of the CFFC (Chalmers Film & Foto Kommitte). The F3, even by today's standards, is a beautiful piece of work. We used to shoot T-Max 3200 on gig nights down in the student union and we processed the first roll during the show and managed to hang prints in the place before the gig was over! Proper dip'n'dunk.

I don't know if it was the superb handling and feel of the F3 that made me a Nikon-head, but I've remained true ever since (apart from straying over for a Canon 20D, but gave it up for a Nikon D2x). Sadly, at least in the high-ISO stakes, Nikon have been lagging behind Canon for quite a while. Until the D3 (left) arrived. The race was over and image quality counted for more than mere megapixels, at least for us photojournalists.

I'm pretty sure that lens quality is the next area-for-improvement rather than MP, but for sure, consumers are still fooled into buying more pixels and less quality. (And if Canon comes up with the goods, I'll switch, OK?)

Today Nikon have announced the D700 and the flash SB-900. These two products - to me - is camera porn. I love all things technical, love reading the specs, love trying out all the functions. And my girlfriend suffers.

But I also feel sorry for all the people that have bought the D300. Surely a D700 - with the superb sensor of the D3 - is a much better option if you want to go with a smaller camera body (and presumably a smaller budget)?

And for D3 users there's another annoyance: the have introduced dust removal on the D700 as well, so why buy a D3 anymore? Anyway, I don't want to berate the cameras that I love the most and its good to see that Nikon are forging ahead. Having been at Wimbledon the past week I have also noticed a fair shift away from the white lenses as well, so come on Nikon!

And when uber-photographer and founder Robert Hanashiro of USA Today a - a long time Canon user - says that they have switched to Nikon, it means a lot (p.2 in the interview).

As for image quality though, there's only one brand to trust: Swedish-made Hasselblad's of course...I have a whole (film) system gathering dust at home, any takers? Their 39MP sensor produces some decent stuff though, I have to admit.

But so does the D2Hs, my current work camera, and it only boasts 4MP (below).

Nadal goes for power on a double handed forehand shot. © Magnus Andersson

My fifteen seconds

Thanks for all the texts and emails about my Metro appearance. For those of you who hasn't seen it/avoided it, look away now.

OK, you can also see a clip of it on BBC here, I appear at 27 seconds, bottom right, raising my lens. Possibly only available to UK users. Thanks Valroy for sending me the scan!

Front page

Andy Murray runs for a ball during his match with Gasquet yesterday. © Magnus Andersson

Did you see the match that Andy Murray played last night? It was a blinder, he came from two sets down to win the next three and I was down in the photo pit taking pictures.

I've had a few texts this morning saying that I'm on the front page of the Metro, so for those of you in London who commute on public transport today, I can only apologise.