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Red Bull Leighton to Lighthouse Winner Oliver Bridge Time 21:08.9 Photos Bohdan Warchomij December 9, 2019

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Photo Bohdan Warchomij

Oliver Bridge, the three-time Men’s European Champion and seven-time Under 21 World Champion won the race in 2014 and 2017 and has won the title back from his brother Guy Bridge who continues to hold the race record of 18 minutes, 49 seconds for the 19km crossing.

The slower speed of the crossing in today’s race was reflected in the high winds of over 20 knots, making the ocean notably choppy for the 138 starters.

Olly, aged 22, said it was one of the toughest Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton races he’s competed in.

“It was the most amount of seaweed I’ve ever seen in the channel, so it was about jumping, getting seaweed off, but trying to go fast at the same time and not crash and it was nice and windy at least. Yeah, a good race,” – Olly Bridge

21-year-old Jean de Falbaire from Mauritius came in 2nd fastest at 23:11, and the fastest West Australian competitor was Lincoln Sullivan in a time of 23:22.

Crunch Time for Getty Images: The Seattle Times December 5, 2019

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Craig Peters is the chief executive officer of Getty Images, an international photography agency based in Seattle. A big part of its business is stock images, and Getty’s new pricing policy for them has drawn criticism. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

With its vast archive of more than 350 million images, a stable of award-winning photojournalists, and annual revenues of nearly $1 billion, Seattle-based Getty Images may be the most dominant player in the picture business.

It is also, arguably, the most controversial.

Getty has been criticized for selling the rights to photos that are freely available in the public domain. It was infamous for an aggressive copyright strategy that until recently included cease-and-desist orders and debt collections against anyone, even churches and small organizations, that used its images without permission.

And, critics say, Getty can be tough on the people who make those images in the first place.

Just over half of Getty’s revenues, according to industry estimates, come from distributing “stock” photos — images of generic subjects, such as “house” or “orange juice” or “corporate executive,” that a commercial client might use in brochures, websites or advertisements.

The stock photo business is highly competitive, with Getty and its rivals, such as Adobe and Shutterstock, steadily cutting prices to keep market share. Last month, for example, Getty announced plans to move entirely to a “royalty-free” pricing model that would make stock images even cheaper for clients.

But if lower prices have benefited Getty’s customers, they’ve also meant less money for stock photographers, who have seen their earnings steadily fall — in some cases to as low as a few pennies per image.

Craig Peters, the new CEO of Getty Images, is unrepentant. He says Getty’s pricing simply acknowledges that the stock business is no longer dominated, as it was 20 years ago, by “a small group of photographers supplying a small number of customers at relatively high price points.”

To the contrary, as megapixel smartphone cameras and inexpensive broadband have saturated the market with ever-better, ever-cheaper images, Peters says, older business models have fallen aside, as have players who depend on them.

He points to Corbis Images, Getty’s one-time crosstown rival, which Getty acquired parts of in 2016 and which, Peters notes, was tenaciously sticking to an outdated pricing model “right up until the end.”

Others are less matter-of-fact about the industry’s changes.

It’s “race to the bottom,” says Francis Zera, a Seattle-area commercial and architectural photographer who sells stock images through Getty and other agencies. (He actually shot Getty’s Seattle offices, in the Chinatown International District, for the company in 2013.)

Getty’s new pricing strategy, Zera says, simply encourages customers to expect stock photography for next to nothing. “It’s the old joke, ‘Why buy the cow when the milk is free?’”

Jim Pickerell, a veteran stock photographer and industry critic, agrees. Getty’s latest move, he says, can only accelerate the slide of the stock business toward “a strictly low-income, part-time, amateur endeavor.”

Critics also note that Getty, for all its forward-looking rhetoric, hasn’t entirely escaped its own past — not least the 2008 decision by founders Mark Getty (grandson of oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty), and Jonathan Klein to sell out to a private equity firm, which saddled Getty with more than $2 billion debt.

Last year, in what was widely seen as a turnaround effort, the Getty family acquired a controlling share in the company, promoted Peters to CEO and raised $600 million in outside capital for much needed investment.

But the turnaround has been slow. Although as a privately held company it doesn’t publish financial data, industry insiders say Getty’s earnings before taxes, interest and other expenses in the first half 2019 were up barely 3 percent over the same period in 2018.

That points to Getty’s larger challenge: The supply of new photographs and videos is exponentially outpacing what producers or distributors can charge for each one.

Peters says that, since the late 1990s, the volume of licensed images Getty distributes annually has probably grown by a factor of between 30 and 60, while company revenues have roughly tripled.

“The amount of imagery that you need to  provide [today] — the economics of that have completely shifted,” he says.

In some respects, Getty Images is suffering from its own success.

Getty and Klein founded Getty Images in 1995 in London when the stock photography business was an inefficient but lucrative seller’s market, with small agencies selling premium images for hundreds and even thousands of dollars and splitting the proceeds with photographers.

But early on, Getty and Klein saw how digital technologies were disrupting the photo business. In 1997, they acquired Seattle-based PhotoDisc, a pioneer in web-based photos, and two years later, relocated their business to Seattle, which was emerging as a center of digital image technologies.

Over the next decade, as Getty snapped up stock firms and archival collections and built out an “editorial” operation to supply news, sports, and entertainment images to media outlets, the company embedded these assets in a digital platform that made it cheaper and faster to get images from producers to clients.

By 2006, Getty had 2,000 employees, large offices in New York and London, and profits of more than a $130 million.

But the digital-image market Getty had helped launch was now moving beyond its control. “Microstock” agencies such as iStockphoto were stealing market share with lower-end, often amateur-produced images that sold for $15 or less. Even after Getty bought iStockphoto in 2006, growth was becoming harder to sustain.

In 2008, Getty and Klein sold the business for $2.4 billion to private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, the first of Getty’s two private equity owners; the second, Carlyle Group, bought Getty in 2014 for $3.3 billion.

The private-equity era would bring more ambitious acquisitions, including Corbis’s image assets, in 2016. But it would also bring some critical missteps.

Getty’s private-equity owners had financed the purchase of Getty with massive debt — $2.6 billion in the case of Carlyle — which became Getty’s debt. With much of Getty’s cash flow now going to service debt and pay dividends to private equity investors, the company struggled to invest in new technology. That posed a potential problem in “a business where you’re being disrupted by new technology and new competition,” says Gregory Fraser, a senior analyst with Moody’s Investors Service.

At the same time, to generate more needed cash, Getty tried to raise prices on its midmarket, or “midstock,” images. But that ill-timed move, coming just as cheap micro-stock was flooding the market, hurt Getty’s business and lost it $100 million in annual revenues by 2016, according to Moody’s.

Some of that damage has been reversed since the Getty family came on board last fall. The firm had already begun introducing more competitive pricing, including monthly subscriptions.

It has also rolled out a host of new technology initiatives. The company is beefing up its distribution platforms, and now needs less than a minute to get news, sports, entertainment, and other editorial images from photographers’ cameras to its news media clients, who still make up 30 percent of Getty’s total revenues, according to Moody’s.

On its commercial side, Getty is using AI-assisted technologies to help clients more efficiently search Getty’s vast portfolio. Getty even has an initiative to algorithmically adjust clients’ image searches so that historically underrepresented stock subjects — such as “female physicians” — turn up more often.

Yet whether these initiatives will deliver the results Getty Images needs is still uncertain. The company’s debt, though reduced, remains substantial.

As technology and competition continue to drive down the costs of making and distributing images, customers will expect to pay even less. To compensate, Getty and its rivals have little choice but to keep boosting volumes while keeping costs down.

Industry experts say that means Getty Images and its rivals will continue pushing down the prices paid to stock photographers.

Pickerell, for example, estimates that the average price for a stock image today has fallen to around $29. John Harrington, a Washington, D.C.-based photographer and expert on the photo industry, thinks it’s even less — in “the sub-$10 range,” and that some stock photographers are getting per-image royalties of fractions of pennies.

Peters, while declining to discuss average photo prices, acknowledges that with more competition and a larger base of photographers working today, the stream of total royalty payments has “become more diffused, and so certain individuals have seen their individual pieces going down.”

None of which is encouraging for stock photographers themselves. Zera, the Seattle-area photographer, says the downward price spiral has made stock photography all but untenable for professionals like him.

“Everybody wants pretty pictures — as long as they don’t cost anything,” he says. “And that’s not a very solid business model.”

MH17 Photo near Torres Ukraine by Bohdan Warchomij METAPHOR IMAGES PERTH


Paul Roberts:  proberts@seattletimes.com;  on Twitter: @Pauledroberts.

World Birds: British Photographer Tim Flach December 2, 2019

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British photographer Tim Flach has spent years scouring the globe for the world’s most striking and endangered birds, shooting highly-controlled portraits of them.

Some of the photos are shot in a studio while others are shot in the birds’ natural environment. Some of the birds are critically endangered while others are more plentiful on Earth, but all are incredibly beautiful.


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Photo Emmanuel Angelicas

Fashions come and go in photography, but Emmanuel Angelicas remains a constant. With an extraordinary mix of in-your-face documentation and dark fantasy, leavened with images showing genuine affection for family and friends, Angelicas celebrates fifty years of photography in Sydney’s Marrickville. From film to digital, Angelicas roamed the streets on his doorstep with the confidence of a local and the passion of a provocateur. There are some classics, but this black and white exhibition is bursting with startling new images from his previously unseen archive. The ‘bad boy of photography’ in Sydney doesn’t disappoint!

MH17 Telephone Links to Moscow Leadership Bohdan Warchomij November 15, 2019

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Photo Bohdan Warchomij METAPHOR IMAGES

An international investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlinesflight MH17 has released a series of phone intercepts, including one between a top aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin and pro-Russian rebels accused in the crash.

Calls between officials in Moscow and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukrainemostly took place via secure telephones provided by the Russian security service, and intensified ahead of the disaster in the first half of July 2014, the Joint Investigation Team (Jit) said.

“The indications for close ties between leaders of the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and Russian government officials raise questions about their possible involvement in the deployment of the (missile), which brought down flight MH17 on 17 July 2014,” the Jit said.

MH17 was shot out of the sky over territory held by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 on board died.

The Dutch-led team said the intercepts showed two leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), who were charged with murder in June, had been in contact with Vladislav Surkov, a senior Putin aide, and Sergey Aksyonov, a Russian-appointed leader in Russian-annexed Crimea.

The Russian government, which has denied involvement in the plane’s destruction, said on Thursday it could not verify the authenticity of the intercepts.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing in Moscow that the intercepts followed a wave of “fake news” on the subject and should be regarded with scepticism.

The Kremlin and Mr Surkov did not respond to requests for comment.

The investigation team published the telephone call intercepts on its website and appealed for witnesses to come forward.

In a conversation on July 3rd, 2014, prosecutors said Mr Surkov indicated reinforcements would be coming from Russia: “On Saturday they are already departing for the south to be combat ready.”

There were calls between rebel forces and authorities in Moscow “on a daily basis to discuss administrative, financial and military matters in the DPR”. The Jit released a series of phone numbers, asking witnesses to help identify the callers.

Investigators have previously found that the missile that hit the airplane originated from Russia’s Kursk military base, not far from the Ukrainian border. In June, the Jit charged three Russians and a Ukrainian with 298 murders.

The rebels and Moscow have denied involvement in the downing of MH17. Russia also denies Western accusations that it sent ground troops, weapons and funding to the rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The four suspects are due to go on trial in absentia in a Dutch court on March 9th next year.

Photo Bohdan Warchomij METAPHOR IMAGES

Venice Underwater: The Highest Tide in 50 Years November 14, 2019

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Venice Underwater: The Highest Tide in 50 Years

The Atlantic: Story Alan Taylor


Yesterday, strong winds and rainstorms pushed water levels in Venice, Italy, to the second highest levels ever recorded. The high water mark hit 74 inches (187 centimetres), just short of the record set in 1966. This exceptional acqua Alta has flooded businesses and historic structures, sank boats, and been blamed for one death so far.


Violence expands in Hong Kong November 12, 2019

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Photo Cupid Producer

HONG KONG — Police fired tear gas at protesters who littered streets with bricks and disrupted morning trains Tuesday for the second day in a row as Hong Kong’s five months of anti-government demonstrations turned increasingly violent.

Protesters and police faced off in and around several university campuses as classes were cancelled. Subways were partially shut down, and passengers on one commuter train disembarked short of the station and were escorted along the tracks in video shown on Hong Kong television.

Recent weeks have been marked by escalating vandalism against shops and train stations and assaults by both protesters and pro-Beijing supporters on the other side.

On Monday, a police officer drew his gun during a struggle with protesters, shooting one in the abdomen. In another neighborhood, a person was set on fire after an apparent argument. The Hong Kong hospital authority said both were in critical condition. Video of another incident showed a policeman on a motorcycle riding through a group of protesters in an apparent attempt to disperse them.

Lam refused to accept the demands for political concessions. “These rioters’ actions have far exceeded their demands, and they are enemies of the people,” she said.

One of their demands is for the government to stop labeling the demonstrators as rioters, which connotes that even peaceful protest is a criminal activity. Their other unmet demands are for democratic changes in Hong Kong’s government, criminal charges to be dropped against protesters and for police actions against the protesters to be independently investigated.

Following Lam’s comments, confrontations between protesters and police continued into the night, with black-clad demonstrators torching at least one vehicle and blocking an intersection in the Mongkok district that has been the scene of many clashes. A taxi driver was taken away by ambulance with head wounds, although it wasn’t immediately clear how he had been injured.

In Washington, the U.S. government said it is watching the situation with “grave concern.”

“?We condemn violence on all sides, extend our sympathies to victims of violence regardless of their political inclinations, and call for all parties — police and protestors — to exercise restraint,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

She urged the government to address the underlying concerns behind the protests and the protesters to respond to efforts at dialogue.

Photo AP

In a widely distributed video of the shooting Monday morning, an officer shooed away a group of protesters near an intersection, then drew his gun on a protester who approached him. As the two struggle, another protester in black approaches. The officer fired at the second protester, who falls to the ground.

It was the second police shooting of a protester since the demonstrations began, although police have repeatedly drawn firearms to ward off attacks. Police said they arrested more than 260 people on Monday, raising to 3,560 the number of arrests since the movement erupted in June.

Few details were available about the burning incident in the Ma On Shan neighborhood. Video posted online shows the victim arguing with a group of young people before someone douses him with a liquid and strikes a lighter.

Police fired tear gas and deployed a water cannon in parts of the city and charged onto the campus of Chinese University, where students were protesting. Online video also showed a policeman on a motorcycle riding through a group of protesters in an apparent attempt to disperse them.

The protests initially began over a proposed law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, where they could face opaque and politically sensitive trials. Activists saw the bill as another sign of an erosion in Hong Kong’s autonomy and civic freedoms, which China promised would be maintained for 50 years under a “one nation, two systems” principle when the former British colony returned to Chinese control in 1997.

The Rechabite is Now Open November 6, 2019

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The Rechabite is Now Open

FED CUP PERTH: Australia versus France Alicia Molik has drafted the newly eligible Ajla Tomljanovic straight into Australia’s team for the Fed Cup final. November 6, 2019

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Photo Bohdan Warchomij

Alicia Molik has drafted the newly eligible Ajla Tomljanovic straight into Australia’s team for next month’s Fed Cup final against France in Perth. And she was quickly onto the practice court at RAC Arena and working on her routine.

Croatian-born Tomljanovic, the Australian No.2, joins team spearhead Ashleigh Barty and Cup stalwart Samantha Stosur for the November 9-10 title decider after only being cleared by the ITF only this month.

Photo Bohdan Warchomij

Young guns Astra Sharma and Priscilla Hon round out the side as Australia chase a first Fed Cup trophy in 45 years in what will be the country’s only final appearance since 1993.

“The Fed Cup Final is a momentous occasion for not only the players and team, but the wider tennis community and Australian sporting fans,” Molik said.

“We’ve had many magnificent moments so far to get us to this point and I’m so proud of each and every member of our team who has been a part of this journey.

“Hosting a Fed Cup Final in your home country is a rare and precious opportunity. It’s going to be a spectacular event and I can’t wait.”

With Barty leading the way, Australia are slight favourites to break their near-half-century Fed Cup title drought.

Unbeaten in Fed Cup play in two-and-a-half years, the world No.1 has won all four of her singles matches plus two decisive doubles rubbers in 2019 to become the first player ever to win six straight World Group matches on the road to the final in the current competition format.

But Molik faces somewhat of a selection conundrum choosing between Stosur and Cup rookie Tomljanovic as her second singles option.

While Tomljanovic has spent most of 2019 inside the top 50 after hitting a career-high No.39 in April, the vastly experienced Stosur boasts the most singles wins for Australia in Fed Cup history and last month also reached her first hardcourt final in five years in Guangzhou.

Photo Bohdan Warchomij

Barty said it’s a good problem for Australia’s captain to have.

“In the last two ties, we’ve shown that it’s taken a team effort,” Barty told AAP before opening her WTA Finals campaign with a 5-7 6-1 6-2 comeback win over Belinda Bencic on Sunday night.

“The beauty of what Alicia has created is we’ve got depth in our team.

“We’ve got belief in every single player and it doesn’t matter who gets the wins on the board.

“It’s about coming together and trying to figure out a way how team Australia can win the tie.”

Regardless who Molik goes with, Barty believes it’s advantage Australia before a ball is even hit.

Photo Paul Kane Getty Images

Professor Jane Lydon, Wesfarmers Chair in Australian History at the University of Western Australia delivered the 2019 Geoffrey Bolton Lecture on the 14 October 2019 October 18, 2019

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Truth-telling, Archives and Human Rights’

Professor Jane Lydon, Wesfarmers Chair in Australian History at the University of Western Australia  delivered the 2019 Geoffrey Bolton Lecture on 14 October 2019


Venue: State Theatre Centre, 174-176 William Street (cnr Roe Street), Perth

Date and time: Monday 14 October 2019 at 6pm

Over recent decades there has been growing interest in the history of human rights and the role of archives in both shaping and documenting this story.  Archives play a key part in helping societies deal with painful histories and in building peaceful futures through dialogue and debate. As Australia continues to grapple with its history of colonial encounters, Indigenous calls for ‘truth-telling’ pose profound challenges to the nation. The 2019 Geoffrey Bolton Lecture will address these issues among others and will also explore the question – if the archive is a powerful source for determining what is true, how do we respond to the silencing of marginal voices, absences and mis-representations that have shaped our past, and instead forge a flourishing and just future?

An educator, researcher and award winning author, Professor Lydon’s books include the edited collection Visualising Human Rights (UWA Publishing 2018), and Imperial Emotions: The Politics of Empathy Across the British Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2019) which examines the way that emotional narratives created relationships across the British empire, throughout the nineteenth century and into the present. She is currently working on a study of the links between the British anti-slavery movement and Australian history titled No Slavery in a Free Land? Anti-Slavery and Australia (Routledge, 2020). Professor Lydon holds fellowships of the Australian Academy of Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries of London, and is member of the Council of the National Trust (Western Australia).

Carol Bolton with Professor Jane Lydon UWA at the State Theatre for the 2019 Geoffrey Bolton Lecture