Pages

Monday, 15 August 2016

Editing the Gymnastics and Usain Bolt at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games August 14, 2016

In addition to editing the Gymnastics I was lucky enough to be part of the team editing the Men's 100m final. Photographers Lucy Nicholson and Kai Pfaffenbach both shooting the finish line. In total 11 cameras firing simultaneously at 16-18 frames per second for a race that took less than 10 seconds. First on the wire was Kai's remote picture below, moving to the wire in about 190 seconds.


As you can imagine my screen was busy. At first a strange calm and quiet, a nervous pause when nothing is coming in and you fear the sudden rush of data will crash the servers. Then the exhilarating rush of pictures. The art is not to panic, don't miss the window with the first finish line picture (it can come in any of the 11 windows) and then edit carefully. There are going to be a lot of pictures and other editors are looking at the work of other photographers. You move too many pictures and you drown the good ones, making it hard for clients to find the best; too few, and you may miss a key shape or moment.  


My favorite? Hard to say, so many great pictures. I love the fact that Google used Lucy's picture of the classic Bolt pose as their lead image. This would have been seen by millions with a Google search of Bolt or Rio Olympics. Hundreds to chose from and Lucy's picture is the one chosen - respect.  Shame about the toes and fingers being cut off  but more about that later as that's one of the key struggles shooting and editing in the gym.


Usain Bolt poses for a picture as he celebrates winning the Men's 100m Final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 14, 2016.    REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

But the Men's 100m Final is about winners and losers, so I think my favorite is the chest thumping Bolt who looks calm and triumphant in victory while the faces of his competitors faces are taut with spent energy and defeat. It would have been even better had the white pole not been in the background but as I have said previously we don't live in a perfect world.




Usain Bolt of Jamaica (L) win the gold medal as Justin Gatlin of the USA come second to take the silver in the Men's 100m Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games August 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

To see more of the day's action in pictures at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games click here 






Friday, 12 August 2016

Editing the Gymnastics & Archery at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games August 12, 2016


Very much a change of pace today as the Trampoline took centre stage at the Rio Olympic Arena. The pictures take on a rather erie sense of calm as the athletes seem to fall gracefully from the skies only to be propelled up again twisting and turning. Switzerland based photographer Ruben joined Mike to help cover the competition in the gym.


Rana Nakano of Japan competes in the Trampoline Gymnastics Women's Qualification Round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   REUTERS/Mike Blake  

I am very drawn to this almost abstract image and it took me a while to work out why. I think I like its graceful confusion as the eye jumps around the picture with no time to pause while the athlete is timelessly suspended at the peak of their performance. The eye moves from the highlight of the feet against the black background and red of the leotard, then simultaneously out right and up and left and down to the hands that both seem to float in space, severed from the body.  The position of the hands then beckon you back into the image towards the Olympics Rings, soft in tone and focus, in contrast to the black, white and red.  The image then comes together to make sense just before the athletes twists and falls.

Ruben's picture is wonderful in its timing and design. Athlete Nicole perfectly horizontal as she falls past the Rio 2016 logo.  The judge to the far right has his head tilted slightly left to mirror the judge on the left forming a visual bracket bringing your eye into the centre of this letter box shaped picture.


Nicole Ahsinger of the USA competes in the Trampoline Gymnastics Women's Qualification Round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.  REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Later in the day I also edited Lucy's pictures who was shooting the heats of the 1500m, 400m and 100m at the Track and Field. No finals tonight, so relaxed and fun, the detail of the Olympic Rings earring catching my eye in the mass of flowing hair.


Rosangela Santos of Brazil wears Olympic ring earrings as she competes in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Women's Preliminary 100m Round 1 at the Olympic Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.      REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 

To see more pictures from the day's action at the Rio 2016 Olympics click here

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Editing the Gymnastics & Archery at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games August 11, 2016

As a follow on from last night's post I am pleased to see that the Wall Street Journal enjoyed Kai's picture as much as I did. A big showing for the German who takes visual risks.


For the few that are concerned about my diet (and there are one or two) a slight improvement as a break between Archery Individual semi-finals and the start of the Women's Individual All-Round final gave me time to hunt out something green.


I thought I'd take the time to describe a little about my workflow. Each photographer has two or three Canon 1DX mk2 cameras which are either cabled or connected via wireless. The pictures are streamed from the camera directly to our servers. These cameras shoot 14 to 16 frames per second. As you can imagine I actively encourage the photographers to keep their fingers off the button. This below gives you an idea what a second's worth of pictures looks like.



At the gymnastics we have five photographers. Each photographer has a 'window'  that is pointed to their folder in the server. One photographer, who operates the remote cameras that are overhead, can have up to five separate windows. The photographers send short bursts of pictures at the end of a routine. As the pictures come in I open each folder, scrolling through the pictures full screen, looking at every image. I mark the picture I intend to crop and file with a blue mark and when I reach the end of the photographers last burst of pix I mark it brown. This is what my screen looks like. The Archery event at the top, as which happens at the same time, just to make it even more complex.


Once the image is open in full screen I decide on the crop (see below) and send it to the processors, Darrelle or Gary. They check it for quality, caption it and add the codes that send it to our global clients. We call this the wire. On average the pictures move from gym to clients in about 90 to 180 seconds. We are fast. Tonight I looked at 5000 pictures.


Here is the picture from the example above as it moved on the wire. I have cropped it to leave a clean background. As part of the Olympic Ring logo has been cut off in the original picture I decided to balance it by cropping in under the rings to remove the microphone at the bottom of the frame. I cropped in close to the right so Simone 'looks' down into space to the left of her face.


Simone Biles (USA) competes in the floor routine of the Women's Individual All-Around Final August 11, 2016 in the Rio Olympic Arena, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

This is what I do, this is what I love, so sounds easy, doesn't it? Believe me, miss a picture a photographer loves or a key moment from the event and you are as popular as a ref who gives an away penalty in the dying seconds of a game the home team have to win.

To see more pictures from the day's action at the Rio 2016 Olympics click here

Editing the Gymnastics & Archery at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

What you can almost be certain of as an editor is that you wont be working in the rain. That cannot be said of photographers at many Olympic events, especially those who are covering the archery.  I really like the effect the water on the lens adds to Leonhard's picture and how this changes the visual structure of what is actually quite a detailed, complex and confusing image. The rain circles draw the eye back from the storm clouds and the central flood lights to the soaked archers on the left. The reds and the white of their clothing holding the eye long enough to enable you to understand what is happening. The dark clouds top right keeping your eye to the left. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the water on the lens might also be a plea for sympathy from Leonhard - "it's raining and I am all wet". No sympathy here, done it, been there.


Robin Rameakers of Belgium and Juan Ignacio Rodriguez of Spain compete in the Men's Individual 1/16 Eliminations 

See the latest pictures from Rio 2016 Olympic Games here

Monday, 8 August 2016

Editing the Gymnastics & Archery at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

I am lucky enough to be part of the Reuters team covering the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. My role is to lead the edit team and edit the Gymnastics and the Archery. It's hard work but the pictures are amazing. I thought that occasionally I'd share some thoughts, pictures and inside information during the tournament.


Here is the team, eight editors who chose the images from the photographers and nine processors who add the caption details and publish to clients. I am well hidden at the back.

In short the photographers stream their picture directly from their cameras at the venues to our edit system, the editor chooses the best frame and then sends it the processor. He or she checks it for quality, captions it and then sends it to Reuters global networks.

For the opening ceremony we had a sweep to guess the number of pictures we moved to the wire. The sweep was $170 won with a bet of 2555 pictures that was nearest to the total.

I will try to update this daily. Here is a catch-up from day one and two.



Spent the day looking at thousands of great pictures from the team of Dylan, Mike, Damir and Athit. The obvious picture to share is Samir's broken leg after his fall at the vault (yuk) or the bent double Swiss athlete Hegi, but I have gone for the smoking hands of japan's Kohei Uchimura as he falls from the Horizontal bar by Dylan Martinez. It reminded me of my processors Darrelle and Gary's hands as they rush the pictures out.

It was great, the next day to see it being well used.



August 9, 2016

Here is my view today waiting for the start of the men's finals.



It would be hard not to include Dylan's picture of the Japanese team celebrating their gold win as my favorite tonight. Love the upward motion of the shape of the picture and the sheer joy on their faces. Add the Japanese flag coming in from the left and the small detail of the Olympic rings on the bottom right we have a great image. Would be nice if the cameraman on the right was not there but life is just not perfect.


Second placed Russian's is always hard one one to illustrate. Needless to say the team are happy they have won silver, who wouldn't be, but it must have the slight bitter taste of not winning the gold. How do you illustrate that? My view is that Mike's picture of the team with the logo on the right in the pace sums it all up, team spirit.



August 10, 2016 - See the latest pictures from Rio 2016 Olympic Games

We have just been talking about the viral picture of the North and south Korean girls posing for a selfie. Dylan's wonderful image of two girls enjoying the global event has taken on its own dynamic in the face of the global politics of the North and South Korea divide. Publications headlines range from Rio Olympics breaking down borders, heart warming unity and The Independent even running an editorial on Dylan's picture. I wonder what impact this image will have on the girls once they are at home?


Lee Eun-Ju of South Korea takes a selfie picture with Hong Un Jon of North Korea

If it's archery it's a sport that South Korea dominate. A visual challenge for Leonhard trying to get a different picture when archery is about the Art of Repetition.


Xhang Hye-Jin of South Korea in the Women's Individual eliminations.

A quick lunch just before we start testing lines from gym, hot dog with BBQ sauce, tomatoes and lettuce.


One of the greatest rewards of editing is when a photographer goes out of their way to say thanks for cropping an image of theirs to make it special. Mike's pictures of the USA women's gymnastic team celebrating winning gold are great especially when you know just how many photographers are fighting to get it. The first picture is full frame, the second is another frame from the sequence with the middle cropped tight. This only works with the right moment and it has to be pin sharp. I love it!!  





Simone Biles of the USA celebrates with her team mates following her floor routine during the Women's team final.

Had it not been for Mike's word of thanks I would have led with Damir's beautifully seen picture of Simone waiting for her turn. The red, white and blue leading your eye from hers to the gold in the top left corner.


....and a quick dinner before bed




And more pictures from all the sports at the Rio 2016 Olympics  here

August 10

Dylan is off to the dentist for root canal work today (yikes) so he is replaced by Alessandro. Kai is also joining the team for tonight's action. No prizes for guessing who this is.... yep Kai.



A quandary for me tonight at the Men's Individual All-round Final. Two pictures of winner Japan's Kohei Uchimura with his gold medal shot from above by Kai. The first picture the medal is sharp, the second the face is sharp. Which one to chose? A new angle on a medal picture so I moved both. Not an easy decision to make risking messing it all up to try to do something very different like this during a medal ceremony. Potentially you could miss everything, but Kai got two cracking pictures.



Last offering from the gymnastics tonight is a picture by Alessandro of an athlete who is very happy. Placed 17th in the final but did Arthur Mariano of Brazil have a great time! The simple shape of the X with the clean background makes this picture an obvious edit. The slightly pigeon toed stance also gives it a sense of real affection too; maybe that only exists in my mind'e eye. I think in every frame I looked of him he was smiling. And why not, he was playing to a home crowd.


Arthur Mariano of Brazil waves after competing on the floor exercise of the Men's Individual All-round Final.

What you can almost be certain of as an editor is that you wont be working in the rain. That cannot be said of photographers at many Olympic events, especially those who are covering the archery.  I really like the effect the water on the lens adds to Leonhard's picture and how this changes the visual structure of what is actually quite a detailed, complex and confusing image. The rain circles draw the eye back from the storm clouds and the central flood lights to the soaked archers on the left. The reds and the white of their clothing holding the eye long enough to enable you to understand what is happening. The dark clouds top right keeping your eye to the left. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the water on the lens might also be a plea for sympathy from Leonhard - "it's raining and I am all wet". No sympathy here, done it, been there.


Robin Rameakers of Belgium and Juan Ignacio Rodriguez of Spain compete in the Men's Individual 1/16 Eliminations 

See the latest pictures from Rio 2016 Olympic Games here


Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Decisive Journey Across The Thames (and back again)

Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of fun. First getting out with the cameras and doing what we demand of our photographers, taking a different look at what is seen every day. Secondly, I enjoyed re-reading 'The Decisive Moment' by Henri Cartier-Bresson; again inspired by his words, “the picture-story involves a joint operation of the brain, the eye and the heart”. And lastly I contributed to a kick starter project for the first time. Congratulations to Peter Densch, his hardback book “The British Abroad” will now be published with a little help from me and a lot more from others.


Captain Dave Watkins in the Wheel House of the James Newton ferry before dawn in Woolwich, London February 5, 2015. 

In short, I have managed to get back to the roots of what drives me to work in the news picture business. A love of picture stories about people.

For quite some time a nagging thought had been growing in my mind. Could I actually achieve myself what we demand of Reuters photographer’s and look differently at something we see all the time? I decided to shoot a local story that had fascinated me, London's Woolwich Free Ferry. The full story can be seen here on the Wider Image.




Gaining permission for access took time. “So you want to spend time with the crews of a public service to take pictures completely unsupervised – why?” I had to explain what I was doing, who for and why. It was good to have these thoughts cleared in my own head. The toughest question ‘who actually cares?’ Eventually I was handed a green high-visibility ‘VISITOR’ jacket, a pair of steel capped shoes and signed a form after completing a health and safety training session. Job done I thought.

But I thought wrong. I quickly discovered that I had lost my confidence taking pictures of people and technically I had lost it completely. Poor exposure, bad timing and poor focus. Years of driving a desk had taken its toll. What I had not lost was sense of shape and my honed skills as an editor. I did a harsh edit of my work to discover I actually had nothing. I resisted the temptation to switch my cameras from manual to automatic, got up at 04.45 and did it all again and then again. 

Recently I asked a photographer to reshoot part of a story and wondered if it was possible. He said it was but failed to mention it involved a half-day walk and chest deep wade across a flooded river.  Respect to him and a great re-shoot. What is important here is to be honest with yourself when editing your picture stories, if it doesn’t work you have just got to do it again. If you can’t do it again, then sadly it still doesn’t work.




Chargehand for the Woolwich Ferry workshop Terry Hanlan clears the bench in the ferry workshop in London February 5, 2015.  

But there is so much more now to getting the “job done”. Full captions and additional information to give the story context and relevance, we are after all photojournalists. Historical documents and archive pictures, full copyright secured. And then there is presentation and publication in all formats, print, online and hand held devices. Also there is the question of the inclusion or not of video, ambient sound, sound bites and graphics in the final piece.

video



So during my short journeys back and forth across the River Thames what did I learn? I would hardly describe my picture story as groundbreaking, but I am happy with result; I’ve never seen the working life of the Woolwich Free Ferry photographed this way before and it opened in 1889. Viewed in 50 years I hope it will be a sound historical document.  I learned that the opportunity for visual story telling is as great, if not greater, than it has ever been. All you need to do is look, think and see.

The last word to Cartier-Bresson. “Though it is difficult to foresee exactly how colour photography is going to grow in photo-reporting, it seems certain that it requires a new attitude of mind, an approach different than that which is appropriate for black and white”.




Saturday, 22 November 2014

The first photographer to travel on a royal tour - 1862

Everyone involved is long dead but the inquisitive feel, sense of exploration and beauty of the pictures live on. These are the thoughts that stuck me as I looked at the pictures by Francis Bedford of The Prince of Wales Middle East tour. This was the first time ever a photographer was invited to travel on a royal tour. It was 1862. Having been on several royal tours as a photographer I was intrigued.



Rarely, on first look when visiting exhibitions, do I use the recorded narration or read the small labels as I want to come to my own conclusions about the pictures. As the exhibition "Cairo to Constantinople" in the Queen's Gallery, is small I decided to look at it twice, the second time using the narration.

On first look the pictures are beautiful in composition, light, and technical execution. The prints are quite small so you have to peer closely at them. As I looked closer the details that really came to life and fascinated me were the local people. Exposures at that time were long, so to capture people without movement they would have to stand still for quite a while - completely still. I can't imagine for a minute that Francis would ask his Royal host to pose for pictures, under strict instructions not to move an inch for 12 seconds. The locals, on the other hand, would be a completely different matter. This for me, 152 years later, is the strength of these pictures.


The Mosque of Muhammad Ali, Cairo. Francis Bedford, 1862.

Listening to the narration I came across two wonderful gems of information that made me take a closer look at two specific pictures. The first is that the party travelled wearing tweed. Just imagine how hot it would have been riding horseback under the Middle East sun wearing tweed. This picture by French photographer Gustave Le Gray shows the party in their full splendour (the Prince 5th from right).  Le Gary, an important French photographer at the time, was in the Middle East on commission to cover the conflict in Syria but was injured in a horse accident, so joined the royal party up the Nile.


But to discover that Francis Bedford had managed to capture his own portable darkroom in the corner of his picture of the Great Court in Edfu, is truly wonderful. It so reminds me of the desperate and sometimes failed attempts by photographers to clear the background on modern royal tours.


The exhibition is on at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace until 22nd February 2105 and I highly recommend it if you have a spare 90 minutes and a tenner to spend. I even bought the book! If you are interested to learn more on Wednesday 26th November there is a lecture about the work. Sadly I can't make it.