Before-and-after photos from childhood

Nice idea, this: grown-ups reenacting old photos:


iPhone signals the death of SLR photography

The iPhone has single handedly transformed how easy it is to take and share photos. So good is the quality, so easy is it to take and edit photos, that for many photographers it has replaced the point-and-shoot pocket camera they keep as backups.

It’s remarkable how quickly this has happened. When the iPhone first came out its camera was a nice addition to a transformative device. It took poor quality stills with lots of noise and artefacts; the fact you could quickly email them to friends, though, showed its future potential. But with the latest iPhones, the quality is now so high, and the software available to tweak/improve/modify photos so advanced, that many professional photographers are using them as part of their workflow or, in some cases, their main device entirely.


Anyway. All this came to me while sitting in Starbucks, of all places, escaping the humdrum of the office and playing with SlowShutter, an app which makes low light and slow-shutter photography ridiculously easy. For 69p. Has the iPhone signalled the death of photography or the generation of something new?

Excusing India’s defeat

I’m in India, hence the total lack of any posts here (bar Ian’s – thanks), but while I was wolfing my breakfast this morning I read a curious sub-header in today’s Hindu. I don’t have it in front of me now, so forgive me if it’s not entirely accurate, but it said of Dravid’s decision to field first: “Probably due to extensive cloud cover”. The partisanship here is like no other country. Face it; England outplayed you.

The channel I watched it on contained commentators who shared a mixture of English and Hindu. But when Sachin was scratching around, as is his modern wont, any drive which pinged off his bat was met with “What a shot! What a shot there from Sachin Tendulkar…and it’s fielded in the covers preventing the single”.

Anyway, it’s a topic for another day. Here’s the brilliant contraption in which I was pushed up 46kms of India’s “Blue Mountains,” the Nilgiris. It really is spectacular here.

A steam train, the Nilgiri Express, pushed us up the mountain

Street cricket in London

It’s more common to see street cricket from the alleys of Pakistan or India, but here’s a game being played in London:

Street cricket in London

Let’s start a revolution. (photos found at Guy Atherton’s Flickr)

Photo journalism revisited

Following my post yesterday on photo journalism, Shane Richmond, News Editor of the Telegraph, has responded – and makes a very valid point:

Writing on his own blog, Will from The Corridor wrote: “Words can be mistaken, misinterpreted, altered, subbed and disagreed with – part of its joy and appeal – but photography, especially wartime photo journalism, has no such luxury. A dead kid is a dead kid; an elephant is, well, just that.”

Unfortunately, Will is wrong. Photos can be deceiving in all kinds of ways. They too can be mistaken, misinterpreted and disagreed with. But Will is right about their power, which is why they provoke such passion.

Many people don’t think we should publish photographs showing dead bodies or seriously injured people because they think it is in bad taste. They feel that it’s inappropriate or exploitative to show such images.

That was the case with the ‘falling man’ image taken on September 11th, 2001. It was used in many publications following the attack on New York but, such was the outcry from the public, it is seldom republished.

Of course photos can be mistaken and misinterpreted and, as Scott rightly points out, tweaked in Photoshop too. I hadn’t given any thought to what I wrote (a common problem with blogging in general. Or is that just me?) and, in retrospect, my remarks were rather flippant and ignorant. Perhaps my point is thus: whereas a paragraph, or even an entire story, might helpfully convey the background to a situation, an accompanying photo adds so much more to the story. The two are intrinsically linked and compliment eachother.

Shane has entered into a lively debate with a political blogger who argues, or rather questions, that these photos (and perhaps photo journalism of wartime conflicts “in general”) are contrived or staged. Call me naive but I simply cannot agree with this. Political propaganda is as old as the hills but, as Shane points out, there are simply too many photographers all competing for the same shot. What chance of staging such a shot and getting away with it? Despite the rise in citizen journalism, no Tom Dick or Harry can rock up with their favourite Canon EOS, masquerade as a journalist, avoid being killed by falling bombs, conspire with their chosen favourite warlord, stage a photo and get away with it.

Anyway, rather gone off topic here, but I remain fascinated by the decisions behind what is published in newspapers. Blogs like the Telegraph’s – to a lesser degree the BBC’s, too, although I find their style surprisingly cocksure and sickly – really are demystifying the often shadowy world of newspapers and their editorial decisions. As someone who is now in that industry, albeit dedicated to one sport, I find it all pretty fascinating to say the least.

Choosing a photo

You ought to know by now my fascination of photography is nearly boundless. Working for Cricinfo – and listening and watching the fine folk of The Wisden Cricketer magazine a few desks away – has opened my eyes to the decisions made in the decision of which photo should be published.

Given that we’re running a news site our task is pretty easy: fresh, fresh, fresh. Keep it relevant to (one of) our main headlines and/or relevant to the day’s main stories. Similarly with the magazine, a photo should correspond (and add to – and entice people into reading) a certain story. We are, though, talking about cricket which, despite our best efforts, remains a mere game. Although, approaching the first anniversary of that Test match, I’m reminded of its significance to our lives!

Over in the middle-east, they’re having a crap time of it. So it was fascinating to read the Telegraph’s blogs (which are superb I might add) and the decisions involved in choosing which photos to go to print. While we deal in photos of cricketers, their main headache is death. In the end, they chose these two:

Instead of these:

Apologies for the harrowing imagery but it’s nevertheless fascinating to someone relatively new to the industry; I certainly view newspapers, columns and so forth in a different light these days, and wonder sometimes “who decided that this be published? How many people subbed this article?”. The media get a bad wrap in this country. Often it is deserved. But quite honestly I think they made the right choice here between informing the public of what is going on out there (I still don’t understand it properly) and shielding them from unnecessarily graphic photography. The Telegraph geezer says:

There is no written policy on photo publication at the Telegraph. No two photographs are alike and no two stories are alike so it is almost impossible to write guidance that covers every eventuality.

Where possible we try to avoid explicitly showing dead bodies but the decision lies with the picture editor on the day. The choice of picture depends on the story, what other images are available and – in some cases – consultation with the editor of the paper.

If the story merits it, or if the picture is the best image for the job, then we will sometimes publish a picture which may shock some readers.

The Qana story was particularly powerful because so many of the victims were children. The most striking images of the day showed dead children and it was impossible to tell the story adequately without showing bodies.

The flip side is that arguably they’re wrapping us in cotton wool by not showing us the most violent imagery. As a wordsmith and writer I’ve a greater interest in the pieces produced than the actual photos but, nevertheless, photography continues to aid and influence journalism in every corner of the industry.

Words can be mistaken, misinterpreted, altered, subbed and disagreed with – part of its joy and appeal – but photography, especially wartime photo journalism, has no such luxury. A dead kid is a dead kid; an elephant is, well, just that. It’s quite a restrictive form of reportage in that sense but equally it has a great power and I reckon we’re fucking lucky to live in the digital age, with every man and his dog owning cameras and sharing images all over the place from every nook and cranny.

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Wisden’s Wormsley 2006

Wormsley cricket ground

So here’s Wormsley. Sir John Paul Getty II built it after Mick Jagger introduced him to cricket in the 1980s, and his interest quickly turned into an absorbed fascination about the game. Of course, being the son of one of the richest men on the planet enabled him to construct perhaps the most idyllic ground imaginable.

I arrived there not knowing an awful lot about the place, and was amazed to see it was hidden among his 3,000 acre estate. A chap from Empics told me that he owned the surrounding land “as far as the eye can see” which, given we were 30 miles outside London, is quite astonishing. It goes without saying that the M40, which is perhaps five miles as the crow flies, couldn’t be heard at all.

Jenny preparing to bat

It began with bacon sarnies and coffee, at the ungodly hour of 10.30am when most of Cricinfo is rising from their slumber. And with breakfast out of the way, the Pimms and rum were soon wheeled out by waiters and waitresses who tended to our every need! It was quite unbelievable; I’m not really comfortable with the whole waiter/waitress thing. It’s normal at those sorts of events, and I’m sure they earn more than enough, but it’s nevertheless a bit weird.


No matter, though. I soon recovered from my anxiety at being offered free alcohol, and took full advantage. Meanwhile, some people even played cricket, including the venerable Jenny who took the unusual, but by no means unique, warmup method of downing several cans of lager.

So much fun was had, watching CFOs, CEOs, Financial Execs, Marketing Execs and some bloke who I swear was pregnant, bat, bowl and field with remarkable inadequacy. Having not played for ten years, I opted out of making a complete tit of myself to turn my rusty arm over in the nets. It wasn’t pretty; in fact, it was downright ugly. It took me 18 balls (three whole overs to you and me) to find a length, and not one of them turned. Back to the tent, then, for more Cobra and Pimms and to meet Patrick Eager, who was just wheeling out a lens so expensive that I felt honoured to be sitting two deckchairs away from it. I’m sure you all know Patrick’s work. Suffice to say he’s a bloody decent bloke to boot.

And there we have it. Perks of the job, eh? I’ll stick some more photos up tomorrow.

Abdul and his radio

Abdul, originally uploaded by Arpana.

Regular CoU readers will know of my fascination with photography and, in particular, photos of the “other side” of cricket. Here, Abdul is desperately trying to tune into the cricket on his radio. A quite brilliant photograph, capturing the fervour of cricket in India.

(original comment – Today afternoon, returning from my site and walking down on Abdul rahman street, where almost all shops were closed with huge Demonstration and protest against President Bush visit to India… I could see this little Abdul (Thats what his friends called him as i clicked him) was busy reparing his radio so that he can’t miss cricket series India vs England.)

Cricket in Goa

Cricket in Goa, originally uploaded by Liska.

This shot had the potential to be bloody marvellous. In the end, it’s merely marvellous. Cricket in Goa.

Lots of Photos

Plenty of photos of the Australia vs Sri Lanka game played at Adelaide yesterday, all taken by me. You can see them here.