Talking to plants

This photo was in the Guardian on Friday. It is supposed to show a lonely Theresa May in Brussels, in a room on her own waiting for an EU delegation to arrive. But as an informative blogpost by Jon Worth points out, May wasn’t alone in the room at all. She had arrived with British delegation colleagues including Tim Barrow and Gavin Barwell, but had then made the mistake of taking a seat before the EU delegates arrived. Here’s the sequence of pictures, all taken by freelance Geert Vanden Wijngaert, working for AP:

Wijngaert confirmed that May wasn’t alone in the room, telling Worth in an email: ‘She just was the first to go and sit at the meeting table when others were still standing. I framed the image so you only could see her. That’s what press photographers do all the time to illustrate news stories.’ Great work from the photographer, given that he probably only had a few seconds to see and get the shot.


Blown over by Ophelia

This is the scene in the Phoenix Park in Dublin less than 24 hours after ex-Hurricane Ophelia had the whole of the island of Ireland on red alert. Along Chesterfield Avenue, the main road through the park, there are many branches and a few whole trees down. Here, in the Oldtown wood area, a small beech tree has fallen to the ground. It doesn’t look to me as though it will pose any danger to anyone where it lies, so it will be interesting to see what the authorities do when they come round to assess it. Nearby, a large Scots pine has lain unmoved for nearly two years, since it fell victim to Storm Frank in December 2015.

People regularly climb on this massive trunk and I’ve even seen dogs running along it. But it’s obviously been left to go through the same process of natural decay as it would do in a normal forest. A good way of increasing the biodiversity in the park.

Meanwhile the park’s resident herd of fallow deer are getting on with what matters to them most at this time of year, which is the rut. A hundred yards from the fallen tree a small group of hinds were hanging out with a single stag. 

The stags started moving over to this side of the park a few weeks ago. Once the stags have sorted out a harem for themselves and mated with the hinds as they come into season, they will up sticks and move back to the other side of the park. By Christmas the all-male bachelor herd will be reformed. At the moment, it’s a bit like a teenage disco as the lads strut about bellowing and locking horns with each other in an attempt to impress the ladeez. The ones who don’t get a date sit around in the long grass looking forlorn.

Examiner goes for Las Vegas body pictures

Of all the front page pictures in today’s British and Irish newspapers, that used by the Irish Examiner (seen above) is surely the most graphic. No qualms on the picture desk in Cork about using a photograph of two obviously dead bodies. Their faces may not be visible but surely there must be families somewhere who would recognise these two young women by their clothes and shoes? The fact that they are facing each other suggests that they were hanging onto each other as they were killed.

For several years in the early 2000s I taught newspaper and magazine design to journalism students at Dublin Institute of Technology. One of the handouts I prepared for them (see below) was on choosing and using photographs, and I used two newspaper front pages from the same day in March 2003 to show the kind of decisions which picture editors have to take. Both the Irish Times and the Guardian had used shots of a dead child killed in the Gulf War taken by the same Reuters photographer. However in one – that used by the Guardian – the other people in the picture were adding to the composition by pointing to the body of a child.

I remember having some discussion with the students about whether or not unpixellated or uncropped photographs of bodies should be used. I’m not sure whether we came to any definite conclusion, but it is noticeable that since that time it is rare for the press to use such explicit images to be seen. Someone at the Examiner has obviously decided that today is the day for one. A brave choice indeed.

Just out of interest, here is today’s roundup of UK front pages, as shown in the BBC’s blog.