The other week I wandered into the Photographer's Gallery, just off Charing Cross Road in London, and was wowed by the photographs of Danish photographer Jacob Holdt, who is on the shortlist for the Deutsche Borse prize.
Holdt travelled in the US in the 1970s taking photographs of the country's underclass and the super rich. I love the one of the Shell sign so much I may try and investigate how easy it is to buy a print of it.
Holdt has a huge website which seems to have hundreds, if not thousands, of his photographs. According to my sources at Wikipedia, Holdt stayed at somehting like 400 homes and his images of poor Americans were so powerful the Russians wanted to sue them as anti-US propaganda.
This is a wonderful building, which has a very powerful atmosphere inside it. I visted just before Christmas, partly because it was arguably the most striking suggestion in the trendy little Paris Wallpaper guide (there were also lots of Le Corbusier buildings). I was kind of happy with my picture of it and then I came across this one above on flickr and realised mine was a bit rubbish. Still I guess that is how you can learn - go somewhere and take pics and then look at better photographers' efforts on flickr and see how you could have shot it.
As Miguel says: "Tthe windows are like automatic diaphragms in a photographic lens : they open up or close down depending on the light intensity."
The Guardian's Audrey Gillan has written a powerful, moving piece about an ambush by Taliban troops against a small patrol of British troops in Afghanistan last year that left possibly dozens of Taliban dead and two British fatalities. "I imagined the structure of the article like a film, starting with this big last supper they have before their tour ends" Gillan said.
Listening to radio coverage of the return of power-sharing in Northern Ireland earlier this year I was struck by a line on the report about how there were no plans to pull down the dozens of peace walls that snake through various 'interface' estates in Belfast and Derry.
I thought it would be interesting to hear what people who lived there thought of how the peace process was going and what prospects there were of them coming down. Obviously peace walls are also nteresting at the moment because of their adoption in Iraq.
I thought a trip to Belfast would work well as a multimedia project with pictures of the walls and voices.
In the end, it was trickier than I thought to get people to talk and very hard to get people to agree to be photographed. But with then Guardian Ireland corr Owen Bowcott and freelance photographer Paul McErlane we created a slideshow. Owen had a good angle on the story as there was a school where there were plans to build a new wall after a house in a Nationalist estate was firebombed late last year.
We didn't really get a chance to look at the graffiti on the walls, which I thought was interesting. Looking at this Belfast peace wall flickr group there is a lot of graffiti on parts of the walls. A lot seems to be pro-peace but not all. I also spotted a "f*** the Queen".
I got up very early and hauled myself to Trafalgar Square and interviewed a retired lady called Shelagh Moorhouse who is part of a group who take turns to do early morning feedings of the pigeons.
The group are warring with mayor Ken Livingstone who has introduced a ban on feeding in the square (the group found a loophole, which Westminster council is about to close). The days of the pigeons in Trafalgar Square do look numbered.
Shelagh was kind of sweet. She said that the birds recognised faces and once got excited when she was there later in the day with a friend, without feed.
It was fun being there during the feedings - I was taking photos like crazy and trying to do the interviews at more or less the same time.
This crazy mass of birds. Thirty minutes later they were virtually all gone.
The ace Guardian photographer Don McPhee has died, aged 61. His obituary in the paper was one of the warmest I have ever read and he is clearly going to be missed by many people who worked with him. I love David Ward's description of the two of them as the "Wallace and Gromit" of Northern journalism. The Times said his work "captured the flavour of life in the north of England for a period of 40 years".
He was one of my favourite news photographers and I was lucky enough to meet him a few years ago when I had a short spell as a reporter in the paper's Manchester office, where he was based - though by no means anchored to, as he took photos from all over the world.
He was very kind and helpful. A while after I was there was when he held an exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery and he sent me a disc of images which we put on Guardian Unlimited. An updated online gallery is now also on the site with a commentary on Don's work from picture editor Roger Tooth.
I often have Don's work as the wallpaper on my home computer and often have spells where I am looking at it, and enjoying it every day. I really like this one of the horses, and also the infamous one of the snowy street and the landscape of the railway lines, as well as the iconic one of the miner with a toy police helmet.