Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Bitterness and short memory

Laura Pannack's winning shot of the foto8 Summer Show. And no, I don't know him and I didn't ask him to pose. © Magnus Andersson

The wretched* thing that is the foto8 Summer Show took place last Friday and I was going to boycott it based on the simple fact that none of the three images that I entered got accepted. Plus it cost £10 to get in on the night, on top of the £15 entrant's fee that I'd already paid to enter my unsuccessful images. Bitter, me? Pfft!

If you are thinking of going with your dignity intact, please remember your rangefinder; in this case a Hasselblad X-Pan. © Magnus Andersson

I mean, come on, PPY charges £20 but all entrants gets a copy of the £17.99 book and free drinks if you can make it on the night, and its in a spacious venue to boot - The National Theatre. And the PPY book is bigger...

Size comparison: foto8 vs. PPY books. © Magnus Andersson

Anyway, I then got word from my friend Tiziano that there was a spare ticket going and would I be interested? Of course I would! Short memory, me? Hell yes.

Not sure what is going on her in terms of B&W/colour etc. © Magnus Andersson

Turns out that our mutual friend Alex couldn't make it to London in time for the show so instead I came along and acted as his intrepid reporter from the show. The lucky git had all three of his entries accepted.

Jon Levy announces that happiness is now to be enjoyed (for the remainder of the party, at least). © Magnus Andersson

From his perspective, he might have been a bit disappointed to that see 2 of his 3 pictures where hung right at floor level. Do you know how difficult it is to view an image at ankle height? If that wasn't bad enough, his trio of images all came from the same story but were not placed together. But these are my words - NOT his - and at least his work was good enough to to be included, so I just need to try harder next time [swallows bitter pill].

An Alex Masi print (R) hung at ankle height. © Magnus Andersson

Another Alex Masi print hung at ankle height. © Magnus Andersson

After several unsuccessful attempts of avoiding the free bar, we finally managed to get around to see the whole exhibition and I think the words 'information' and 'overload' comes to mind. And before I get an angry rant from Jon Levy, I must add that I really appreciate what foto8 are trying to do in this show case and in fact we need more people doing it, giving a space to all strands of current photography.

A print/back of heads. © Magnus Andersson

Having been part of a group exhibition before (which was nowhere near as complicated), I know how much time the foto8 team must have put in into hanging 153 (!) prints properly in such a small space, but more importantly, space or no space, as a showcase for current photography it is a must see!

Towards the end of the night you could actually see some of the prints properly. © Magnus Andersson

Perhaps this lack of contemporary photographic spaces reflect the lack of funding in the industry at the moment, but a show like this deserves a bigger space and I cant really fault HOST or foto8 for for pulling off the show and especially the opening night, year after year.

Live band in action on Honduras Street. © Magnus Andersson

Note to self (and anybody thinking about entering the Summer Show in 2011):

Don't go for IKEA frames. You'll disappear in the judges eyes. Saying that though, quite a few IKEA frames still made it...hmm. OK, just print BIG and you're in, no matter how average your pic is.

*Its actually brilliant, especially the opening night, which is worth a tenner in booze alone, not to mention the photography on display, so there.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

PPY 2010

Organiser Tim Bishop (R) eventually gets David Bebber's name right after initially announcing Daniel Berehulak as this years winner. Oops! © Magnus Andersson

Monday night saw the winners of The Press Photographer's Year accept their prizes at The National Theatre on Southbank. I went down there with my former colleague Rob Logan to enjoy the exhibition but more importantly the free bar. It would be even better if next year the do is on a Friday rather than Monday night...not that it made a huge difference to us, we always drink responsibly.

Some - but not all - of the winners. © Magnus Andersson

David Bebber of The Times deservedly won Photograph of the Year with his sublime shot of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi but there were quite a few photographers who couldn't accept their prizes due to having to work. I think the whole event coincided with the eviction of the protesters from Parliament Square as well, so that might well explain some of the absentees.

My favourite photo was the haunting portrait of snooker player Alex Higgins (who died yesterday) by Cathal McNaughton. © Magnus Andersson

The only hiccup came when one of the organisers, Tim Bishop, accidentally read out the wrong name when presenting David Bebber's big prize - in Tim's mind it had apparently gone to Daniel Berehulak again! It took a couple of seconds before he realised his mistake and announced David as the winner, but I think we all know how Tim voted. ;-D

My contribution up on the wall. © Magnus Andersson

And finally my shot of Boris in the PPY book, next to some crying fascist and the leader of the free world. © Magnus Andersson

Cushy Royal Wednesday

HRH Prince Charles inside All Saints Church in Peckham. © Magnus Andersson

On Wednesday I was on the Royal rota all day. Prince Charles and Camilla visited Windrush Square and Brixton Market and it was the usual melee with lots of press photographers jostling for limited space, security guards going nuts and people standing in front the two people we all wanted to photograph.

The famous Royal cushion. © Magnus Andersson

Being on the rota usually means that you get up close and exclusive access and you then share your pictures with other media (who have to photograph from a distance, if at all) but on the Brixton Market visit it was just chaos and one security guard nearly knocked me over in his zealousness to clear the path.

Prince Charles stylishly drips some honey into his tea. © Magnus Andersson

The rest of the day was much better as the rest of the press weren't invited, he was on his own (Camilla had gone elsewhere, so there were less staff around) and of course the pictures got better as well. The second visit was to All Saints Church in Peckham where the Prince met church members and groups from the community.

Both Prince Charles and God loves Peckham. © Magnus Andersson

You have to hand it to him though, he is a very likeable fellow. If it wasn't for his press aides (who are only doing their job) constantly ushering him along, Prince Charles could quite happily chat to these people all day long, no pompousness about him at all.

HRH gets a fit of the giggles whilst having a cup of tea. © Magnus Andersson

The third visit was to a hospice in Greenwich where he mingled with the elderly residents, going from table to table. One funny detail was the Royal cushion; a small pillow that would be placed by one of his aides on the chair that HRH was supposed to sit in, therefore minimizing any confusion as he goes around to all the various tables and places for a chat. Royal cushion pusher? Nice job if you can get it.

Prince Charles says hello to a dog, but check out the guy in the foreground - cushy job or what? © Magnus Andersson

Ps. You can follow the Royal's on youtube, flickr and twitter (The Queen follows no one!)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Directing for reel

iPhone 3GS Tilt & Shift Photography from magnusphotog on Vimeo. © Magnus Andersson

If you don't like the iPhone and/or hate reading about it, you should probably skip this post. Furthermore you'll also be spared the details on what a sad life I live, when an app on a mobile phone can give me so much pleasure.

For the rest of you; above you can watch a slide show of photographs which I took on the iPhone 3GS. Nothing special about that of course, lots of other phones have got much better cameras, but not many of those are as much fun, or as versatile.

With the release of the iPhone 4 I got a bit intrigued about iMovie on the iPhone. Of course I tried installing it, but having an older handset meant that I wasn't allowed. Bummer. So I looked around to see what else was out there to edit video and I found ReelDirector. I now realise that a lot of people have been raving about it already; its been out for quite a while - but as soon as I tried it I fell in love with it.

I readily admit that I don't shoot a lot of video, either professionally or personally, BUT having the ability to create slide shows from still images natively on the iPhone is such a treat. Its been a while since I used Soundslides and that program is just a pain in the arse. The advent of Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere and even iMovie on Mac's made it all so much easier, and now its even easier on your mobile.

ReelDirector outputs to .MOV and you can either email it or save it to your camera roll as a compressed version. The rendering takes an age of course, the processor on the 3GS isn't as powerful as on the iPhone 4, but leave it for a while and soon you'll hear the bell announcing completion.

Music rendering can occasionally throw up a little time shift, notably a second or two of slowing down the pitch, but apart from that it works just fine. The amount of transitions that you can choose from is very versatile and the only big gripe I have about the app is that there is no way of choosing orientation of a new reel, i.e. will the latest output come up as a landscape or portrait video?

Extremely annoying and I do hope that the creators - Nexvio - will issue a fix for this soon.
On the plus side, you can use music from your own library (albeit not directly from the iPhone, you have to do it from your own computer over Wi-Fi first, but its easy enough) and you can combine still images with video if you so wish, split clips etc. A lot of people seem to prefer ReelDirector over iMovie as well, and that says a lot.

Above all though, ReelDirector is so much fun to use and for £2.39 its a snip! This little app combined with the previously mentioned ZoomIt and a SD recording camera gives you one of the most compact multi media production kits on the planet. Other planets have even smaller stuff, but sadly they don't ship to Earth yet.

PS. Here's a link to the same slide show uploaded to youtube, but I find that the resolution seems to be a bit lower over there compared to Vimeo, maybe its just my eyes?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

What does it mean?

A pair of Nike Air's up in the air in Deptford. © Magnus Andersson

I don't know what it means. You can see these sneakers thrown over telephone wires all over London and there are loads of urban myths about their significance but so far I haven't heard a credible one; gang territory, drug dealers spot, street art, someone died, the list goes on. Got any ideas? In Rotherhithe there's a large tree that is actually full of them and it all seems very mysterious to me, I'll see if I can find* a pic of that to update the post with.

On Monday I will go down to the PPY event at the National Theatre. I recommend all those in London to go and check out the exhibition, it runs from July 12 to September 19, a whole nine weeks. Last year it was seen by 250,000 people!

*Updated 25/7, below is the previously mentioned tree in Rotherhithe.

© Magnus Andersson

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Remembering 7/7

People stand outside a TV shop on Edgware Road to watch the coverage of the London bombings, which happened only yards away. © Magnus Andersson

This morning, five years ago to this day, I was in a job interview for taking pictures for an estate agency (I didn't get) in zone 4, west London, when I got the first text message. 'Are you OK?'
I was embarrassed; I'd forgotten to turn the phone to silent during an important moment. Then another one. Then a call. By this stage I had my phone turned to 'silence'. And they kept coming. I couldn't understand this sudden interest from my friends, all at the same time. Then I told my interviewer that something seemed to have happened in central London, possibly something terrible. The interview was cut short when word from their office finally confirmed that there was an attack on London.

The entrance to Edgware Road station at midday. © Magnus Andersson

I got back to my flat in Wandsworth via train (they were still running at that point), grabbed my kit bag and jumped on the bicycle to central London. It was raining and it felt cold. I pushed as hard as I ever had on a bike. Got to Edgware Road station but alas it was midday before I got there, cordons were up for miles, the injured had been taken away already but I did what I could, being a humble photojournalism student.

During heavy rain, a police officer lets a member of the press inside the cordon on Edgware Road. © Magnus Andersson

Only one of my friends got caught up in the bombings and she was OK. She was one of the first to surface from King's Cross as she was on her way into work at BBC. She simply called the office and ended up being one of the first quoted online that day.

A few hours after the bombings I blag my way into the Scotland Yard, where Brian Paddick received yet more intel during the press briefing. © Magnus Andersson

Today all the victims are remembered.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

PPY 2010

London Mayor Boris Johnson tumbles into the Ravensbourne river during a photo call. © Magnus Andersson

You'll have to excuse me if its been a while since posting but I've taken time off work to care for a loved one who is in hospital. There is a lot of waiting involved so yesterday, as usual, I perused Twitter to pass some time. I noticed that the winners of The Press Photographers Year 2010 had been put online so I browsed through the winning entries.

To say that I was surprised when I saw my name and one of my pictures is an understatement! I had been one of the 'selected' (i.e. not a winner) in the News category, but I had no idea until that very moment, killing time in the hospital.

I had to do a double take. Usually local press photographers get short shrift when you go up against the international photojournalists, so I'm doubly pleased and honoured to have been selected. Massive congratulations to the overall winner; David Bebber of The Times!

The original blog post about the picture can be found here, and if you go the PPY website, it shows up as #81 of #119 in the 'slideshow' option.

Here's a previous post from the awards night of PPY 2008, when Daniel Berehulak scooped the big one.