Even the mini-dogs are chic!
Street scene in the old town. The old lady in the middle of the frame is quietly awaiting her bus.
I’ve got a few hours to kill at Changi International Airport in Singapore, en route from Hanoi to Cannes for the Sony World Photography Awards Festival. If you have to kill a few hours in an airport, this has to be one of the very best. Free Playstations and XBoxes, massage, movie theatre, gardens, designated nap areas, free WIFI, and, most importantly, an absolutely amazing scotch selection at the duty-free shops, where the shopkeepers offer free tastings of bottles that cost over $200.
A few years ago, Bangkok opened its much-anticipated Suvarnabhumi International Airport, to much acclaim for its progressive design. No doubt the Thai government was seeking to match or even replace Changi as the region’s main travel hub, and they spent quite a lot of bhat to do so. But since its opening, its all been downhill, as frequent flyers using Bangkok as a hub quickly learned that renowned designer Helmut Jahn probably doesn’t actually do a lot of flying himself – Suvarnabhumi is now widely considered to be one of the worst-designed airports around. Add the fact that there is almost nothing to do once checked in, there is no free WIFI, and all the shops cater to ultra high-end handbag fetishists, and the whole experience is very painful.
Changi, on the other hand, offers free internet, free gaming, even free booze! Gotta hand it to the Singaporeans – they know how to manage an airport.
Berna and the good people at Fotorim magazine must have been a bit starved for content for their April issue, as they kindly produced an interview with me, discussing a project covering HIV/AIDS in Vietnam and thoughts on photography in general. You can read the whole thing in both Turkish and English over here on the Fotorim site.
I’ve been really overwhelmed by the positive response to the diving images that won prizes at both World Press Photo and the Sony World Photography Awards. I want to thank everyone for the kindness, I’m really humbled by this experience. When I entered these competitions, I honestly didn’t envision winning. I really only entered to gain some experience in the process, to become more connected with the global photography community by just participating. Winning certainly wasn’t on the agenda.
I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking exactly how I was able to capture those frames as I did, particularly with regards to the dark background. I won’t go into too much detail (gotta save a little mystery), but I will say that it was a pretty quick and dirty solution to getting the images to look right under very tight deadlines. It was the Olympics after all, and there’s no time to dither in Photoshop. Since I shoot for a wire service, these images went out minutes (sometimes seconds) after the divers’ freefall hit the pool.
I can’t imagine how these images could have been made even a few years ago, and this is due purely to technology, not technique. Both Canon and Nikon make cameras now that can make great pictures at extremely high ISO’s, which you need at an event like the Olympics where the lighting is often quite poor and you have to ramp up the ISO so that you can shoot at a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action. Digital cameras also now allow you to compensate for dull artificial light with in-camera contrast and saturation controls. A few quick turns of the dial, and I was able to really make the divers pop against a dark background.
As for that dark background, this was not the result of burning in Photoshop. I purposefully positioned myself so that I was shooting at an angle where the divers, at their apex, were in front of the deepest, darkest, most recessed area of the stands (the nosebleeds), where the already poor lighting didn’t really reach. So as they spun through the air, I was concentrating only only a fractional moment when they were in front of this small little black hole.
I envisioned this series initially in black and white, but shooting under deadline for a wire, this is not an option. So for the competitions submissions I was finally able to bring to life what I had originally envisioned. A simple BW conversion, plus some basic contrast and sharpening, and that was it.
Today the Sony World Photography Awards were officially announced, and I won first place in the Sports category. My winning entry was a tighter edit of a series that placed 3rd at the World Press Photo competition a month ago. This is really exciting news, especially as the organizers are going to fly me out to Cannes, France, for the awards festivities in April.