1,000 words — and then some: The stories behind the shots

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Produced for Canon by AP Content Services, the paid content service of The Associated Press.

Curating the most unique perspectives from some of the world’s leading photographers, “1,000 words and then some” is AP’s monthly photo series that takes a look beyond the lens and camera data at the stories behind some of our favorite shots.

This month sees largely a selection composed of contrasts: the light of fire against the shadows of the night, a glimpse of humanity in a time of conflict, a dueling dance between two ballet-like athletes, as well as a break from stoicism with a moment of celebratory showmanship.


Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Focal length: 400mm
F-Stop: 9
ISO speed: 400
Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec

From the photographer: “We were flying over the town of Amatrice about six hours after the earthquake,” says Borgia. “We had to stay at 10,000 feet so as to not interfere with rescue efforts, and from that altitude the town looked almost intact with no damage at all. Once I put my eye to the camera with a 500mm lens though, I was shocked. Everything was leveled to the ground and the scene really looked like it was struck by a nuclear blast. The only color that you could see was the grey of the rubble and a red building, which was one of the few that resisted the power of the quake.”


Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Focal length: 105mm
F-Stop: 4
ISO speed: 3200
Shutter speed: 1/60 sec

From the photographer: “I traveled for eight days to a rebel camp in the jungle of Putumayo, Colombia,” says Vergara. “Days later, I realized that many rebels had their pets in the camp. They had dogs, parrots and other animals. I noticed this particular rebel put his dog on his shoulder, and when he was resting, I decided to take the photo. The hardest thing was to get enough confidence with the guerrillas to enter their privacy.”


Model: Canon EOS-1D X
Focal length: 200mm
F-Stop: 22
ISO speed: 1000
Shutter speed: 1/500 sec

From the photographer: “The photo was taken on the top of a small hill where people hang out and see the N Seoul Tower,” says Young-joon, “which is located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul. I often visit to take weather photos and that day was a cool day after some scorching hot summer days. For this photo, I was waiting for the moment of her running toward her father but I wasn’t expecting her father to throw her up in the sky.”


Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Focal length: 20mm
F-Stop: 5.6
ISO speed: 6400
Shutter speed: 1/2000sec

From the photographer: “We have been using an underwater robotic system for the past four years,” says Phillip. “The system allows us to pan, tilt, zoom and transmit images in real time. After shooting the swimmer diving into the pool, I then reposition the camera to shoot action of the race. Being able to move the camera has really helped in diversifying our coverage. Before the underwater pan/tilt, we simply mounted a camera on plate and shot the same photo over and over for each race. After the session, we would retrieve the camera and download images for use on the wire. The underwater system has really been a game-changer and is now the standard for most agencies.”


Model: Canon EOS-1D X
Focal length: 24mm
F-Stop: 4
ISO speed: 2500
Shutter speed: 1/800 sec

From the photographer: “Normally during the award presentation, the winner spends several minutes posing for photos with the champion’s belt and trophies, and doesn’t show much emotion,” says Takahashi. “Concepcion suddenly dashed to the corner of the ring and climbed up the ropes. I thought he would play to the crowd a bit so I aimed my camera at him, but then he leaped from the rope and did a backflip. I didn’t expect him to show such acrobatic jubilation on the ring, but I was lucky to capture a frame that shows the contrast between the celebrating champion and his staff standing to the side, nearly emotionless.”


Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Focal length: 40mm
F-Stop: 2.8
ISO speed: 250
Shutter speed: 1/8000 sec

From the photographer: “It’s pretty common sight at various spots of the Pyongyang Central Zoo to see men on horses that people can have their photos taken with,” says Alangkara. “At one corner of the zoo, though, right by the donkey pen, I saw a lady with a camel. It immediately caught my attention as it really stood out among the men on horses. The zoo was quite a lively place; school children came in groups, families sat on mats picnic-style in the shades of trees, and some even had portable gas stoves to cook simple hot meals. I saw lots of smiles that day and got a sense that people came there to have fun, and they did.”


Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
Focal length: 70mm
F-Stop: 2.8
ISO speed: 3200
Shutter speed: 1/2500 sec

From the photographer: “This was accomplished using a multiple exposure feature found on most newer higher-end DSLR cameras,” says Riedel. “This sandwiches a number of individual exposures onto into a single frame. It is a great technique for showing motion under the right circumstances. Basically the subject needs to be something mostly light on a dark background, or something mostly dark on a bright background. Fencing was an optimal place to do this. The trick was determining how many frames per second to set the camera on so you capture a full range of the action in the image. There was a lot of trial and error to get the right frame rate to capture the four images with the right separation between images. Once I had that down, it was just a matter of shooting a couple dozen frames before it all came together. To me, it captures the almost ballet-like quality of the sport.”


Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Focal length: 24mm
F-Stop: 1.6
ISO speed: 1250
Shutter speed: 1/40 sec

From the photographer: “I took that image in the very first light on the day,” says Balilty. “It started before sunrise around 4:30 a.m., and I was waiting for some blue sky so as to not only have the candle light against the black sky. I only had about 15 minutes of that perfect light and I was lucky to have it at the moment when the nuns stopped their march for few seconds before joining another group. I had to shoot with a slow shutter speed to get the image using only the candlelight.”


Model: Canon EOS5D Mark III
Focal length: 1000mm
F-Stop: 10
ISO speed: 160
Shutter speed: 1/200 sec

From the photographer: “This image was shot from my home balcony: the 9th floor on the other side of the Nile, East Bank,” says Nabil. “It’s actually one of the reasons that I selected this apartment 15 years ago: that I can view the Nile and the Pyramids from far away. Twice a year from my balcony I can see the sun set directly behind the pyramids. Each time I’m following and watching the sun like a hunter to capture my images. This day, I was well-prepared with a tripod and long lens and took several shots including this one.”


Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Focal length: 70mm
F-Stop: 4.5
ISO speed: 4000
Shutter speed: 1/6400 sec

From the photographer: “When I left to be embedded for two weeks with Proactiva Open Arms off the Libyan coast, I never imagined I would find those shocking stories that I did just a few days later,” says Morenatti. “On Aug. 29, I witnessed a tense operation to rescue hundreds of migrants traveling on a flimsy boat off Libya’s coast, and by the end of the day, more than 3,500 people were rescued from about 20 boats unequipped for the voyage across the Mediterranean to Italy. Proactiva Open Arms joined together to start working for this cause just one year ago, and on this trip I witnessed how the help of ordinary people can contribute to make a better world.”



This post was produced for Canon, AP’s exclusive vendor of still photography equipment, by AP Content Services, the paid content service of The Associated Press.

AP photographers were interviewed by a third-party reporter on behalf of Canon.


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