Ac­tion and re­ac­tion

Peter Bush talks to Barry Dur­rant about pho­to­jour­nal­ism in­cit­ing ac­tion, and re­flects on his own time chas­ing the var­i­ous Rugby World Cup events

The Shed - - Column -

Ly­ing in bed in re­cov­ery mode af­ter a stint in hos­pi­tal, all food and liq­uids off the menu, I was day­dream­ing about drink­ing my way through an en­tire case of ginger beer while idly flick­ing through The Do­min­ion Post, when I came across a well-il­lus­trated ar­ti­cle about the trash­ing of the his­toric Cone Hut in the foothills of the Tararua Ranges.

The trash­ing of the Tararua Tramp­ing Club’s iconic club hut trig­gered sad­ness and bit­ter­ness in my old friend Barry Dur­rant — a highly skilled pho­to­jour­nal­ist who had cap­tured the im­agery for the ar­ti­cle — and his com­pan­ion Grant Tim­lin, who are both long-time mem­bers of the club.

Al­though the ar­ti­cle did well to ex­press th­ese feel­ings, it was the four-col­umn pic­ture that con­veyed the im­pact of the wan­ton van­dal­ism in the in­te­rior of the hut — white paint lib­er­ally splat­tered over sur­faces, mat­tresses slashed, and ev­i­dence of at­tempts to light a fire on the floor.

Dur­rant dropped in to see me in hos­pi­tal, and told me about the amaz­ing pub­lic re­ac­tion to the Cone Hut story. Many of­fers of help had emerged overnight — one from a he­li­copter com­pany, of­fer­ing to fly in any ma­te­ri­als needed for restora­tion. By the time I was back at home, Barry was al­ready up in the Tararuas, help­ing with the re­build of the hut’s pre­fab­ri­cated wood­shed and other items, with the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion fly­ing in all ma­te­ri­als re­quired for the work.

When I asked how he shot the pic­tures that were in The Do­min­ion Post, Barry said, “The pic­tures from Cone Hut were taken on an Olym­pus Tough Cam­era. It is both wa­ter­proof and shock­proof, which makes it an ideal cam­era to take into the hills, as it will han­dle the rough­est con­di­tions you might en­counter. Ex­po­sure of the in­te­rior of Cone Hut was 1/30s at f/2 on 800 ASA.” He added that the qual­ity was good enough to print at A3 size — the cam­era has a f/2 25–100mm zoom lens.

Barry saved the best bit for last, when he added that, as he had for­got­ten to put the mem­ory card in the cam­era, he had to rely on its mem­ory, which gave him just 10 high-res­o­lu­tion ex­po­sures.

“It felt like I had left my last roll of film at home,” he said.

Apart from my dis­cov­ery of the Cone Hut im­age dur­ing my time of be­ing es­sen­tially house­bound, I be­came in­volved with a pro­ject that I was not ex­actly keen to un­der­take — a re­view of pic­tures taken at the last seven Rugby World Cups.

The first Rugby World Cup I re­viewed was held way back in 1987, with the open­ing and fi­nal games be­ing played at what was then the old Eden Park — now, it would prob­a­bly look like a small sub­ur­ban rugby ground. Back then, New Zealand won that first Rugby World Cup and, it’s strange to ad­mit now, at the time I was con­vinced the tour­na­ment would not con­tinue. How wrong I proved to be.

For the next Rugby World Cup, held in the United King­dom and France in 1991, we pho­tog­ra­phers trav­elled be­tween the venues mainly by train.

Four years later, it was South Africa’s turn to host what I feel was the great­est con­test and most colour­ful spec­ta­cle, set against the back­ground of the emerg­ing rain­bow na­tion of South Africa. The fi­nal game be­tween South Africa and New Zealand — fa­mously won by South Africa — was at­tended by Nelson Man­dela, and the heads of many other coun­tries.

That fi­nal day of the 1995 event was burst­ing at the seams with drama — Zulu danc­ing and throb­bing drums, all back­lit by the high, bright sun­light. It was ex­hil­a­rat­ing. My last­ing mem­ory will al­ways be of that gi­ant South African Air­ways 747, flown by a skeleton crew of just five, skim­ming over the top of the sta­dium.

Sadly, most of my cov­er­age of that Rugby World Cup, in­clud­ing the fi­nal day, was lost when I left many of my colour neg­a­tives with South African pho­tog­ra­pher and good friend, John Rubython, who was mur­dered by a 14-year-old in­truder in his own home, in a truly sense­less act of vi­o­lence.

Fi­nally, who could ever for­get our stun­ning 2011 Rugby World Cup win, back at Eden Park, where it all be­gan in 1987.

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