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 They are all easily searchable by decade or keyword, and almost all of them them previously unpublished.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).