Saturday, 20 of December of 2014

Archives from month » October, 2013

Another Abandoned Place?

Another Abandoned Place?

A little while back, after seeing the photography exhibit “Havana Nights” and talking about the photo montage put together by Kidd of Speed about Chernobyl, I started looking around to see if there were any other famously abandoned spaces like the Zone of Exclusion around Chernobyl or places where it looked like time had stopped as it seemed to have in “Havana Nights.” Well, I should have remembered that natural disasters have a way of moving people out of an area — especially when the region is struck with a man-made disaster right after the natural disaster. Enter Fukushima’s Zone of Exclusion in Japan. While the disaster there isn’t on the same level as the explosion and fire at Chernobyl, it is enough to make anyone who can remember the Cold War shiver with fear.

Back in 2011, a massive earthquake resulted in a tsunami that hit Japan. The water got into one of the Daiichi nuclear power plant’s reactors near Tomioka in Fukushima prefecture. The reactor was damaged by the earthquake which measured a 9 on the Richter scale. The earthquake and the tsunami both contributed to nuclear waste and radiation leaking out of the containment area and into the land around. The Japanese government set up a Zone of Exclusion around the damaged power plant and evacuated many citizens to safer locations. However, just like with Chernobyl, some citizens refused to leave the Zone of Exclusion. They continue to remain there to this day, willing to risk the dangers of radiation to remain in the homes they have held for so long.

Like the area around Chernobyl, the area around Fukushima is safe to enter for limited amounts of time and with proper preparation and gear. Photojournalists have taken many photographs of the devastated area. Normally, something like this would have been cleaned up and much of the repair work would either be underway or mostly finished by now, two and a half years after the earthquake. However, no one is interested in mopping up the damage in the Zone of Exclusion. That gives the photographs from the Atlantic and other news organizations something of a poignant, abandoned feel.

Abandoned places — especially places where people lived until quite recently — fascinate me. The silence there must be deafening and the sense of being completely cut off from time and from the rest of the world must be acute. If I could, I’d visit some of these places myself just to let my mind wander a bit while I pretended to either be a pioneer, seeking to reclaim something from a civilization long dead and buried or a native of the abandoned area who decided to stay put and is trying to make sense of the strange travelers and their fancy new technology.

But then, I’m rather strange. What about you? Would you like to visit some place like that? Let us know in the comments below!

— da Bird

PS — Be sure to check out the 16th image in the Atlantic’s photoessay. That vending machine in the middle of a field is both creepy and fascinating. It’s something you would only see after a flood or a tsunami. The fact that it’s still there over two years later just says how reluctant people are to enter the Zone of Exclusion for clean-up.


Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up

Been a while since we did one of these, hasn’t it? Well, this week has been a pretty full one both for work and for the world of photography. Photographers around the world are out capturing the change in seasons and the shifting colors of the leaves on the trees. Earthquakes, wars, and trips to exotic locales before winter sets in have all been in the news this week. Professionals have also been putting out guides and tips for new photographers as always. There have been plenty of rumors about new cameras that might be announced before the holiday season gets underway and speculation about what will await photographers at CES 2014.

All of these stories and more were featured in our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll hit the highlights for you below!

That’s all for this week, folks. Have a great weekend and see you again next week!

— da Bird


Extreme Photography: Underwater Photography

Extreme Photography: Underwater Photography

Our friends over at Photography Talk have just created another one of their nifty lists. This list is about the nine most dangerous photography jobs. While I have only a few quibbles with their list (really, skydiving photography is probably pretty safe considering just how many checks there are before you actually get in the plane, let alone before you jump out of it at altitude), for the most part, we’re in agreement. War photographers and photojournalists do routinely put themselves in harm’s way in order to bring important stories back home to their readers. Sports photographers can get injured when the action goes out of bounds but, generally, they’re not in nearly as much danger as a war or a storm photographer.

Out of the entire list though, one really stood out to me and that is underwater photography. Underwater photography is probably the most hardcore kind of photography you can engage in considering that it forces you to get special cameras that can survive the pressure for deep dives but you also have to deal with the way that light gets bent in water (if you’re doing an open water dive, that is). You also have to be in fairly good health if you’re going to do much SCUBA work — the gear is not light at all (even underwater the weight is noticeable) and you have to keep good notes in your dive book as well as staying on top of all of your certifications (Open Water, River, Cave, Deep Water, etc). The only certification I have is Open Water (and it’s so out-of-date that I’d need to take a refresher course before I went out on a dive). Of course, if you do SCUBA dive, especially in open water where things are fairly picturesque (near a reef or where there are a lot of colorful fish), then you do wind up wishing you could take a camera with you so everyone who is too afraid of SCUBA diving could see how things are when you’re 30 feet down.

A lot of a photographer’s normal tricks go out the window when he goes under the water. The further down you go, the less reds and yellows you’ll see due to the sun’s shorter wavelengths being absorbed by the water over you. Even if you aren’t down very deep, the further away the subject is from you, the less you’ll see of brighter colors. Light from the flash reflects and behaves differently. Underwater lighting rigs are mounted and set off differently than their above-ground counterparts. However, once you’ve mastered the tricks that come with photographing things underwater, then you’ve pretty much made it as far as I’m concerned. Underwater photography is spectacular even when it’s just shots of the sun reflecting against the surface thirty feet up.

What about you? What do you think is the most extreme kind of photography? Let us know in the comments below!

— da Bird