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Portraits of Christmas: readers' share their festive artworks

We asked our readers to share their drawings and photographs of Christmas scenes with us over the holidays. Here are some of our favourites

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Weird Science: Olympus BioScapes 2014 winners

DP Review News - Mon, 29/12/2014 - 14:00

Each year Olympus hosts an international competition for images captured through light microscopes. Entries come in from around 70 countries and number in the thousands, revealing the weird and wonderful microscopic world otherwise hidden from the human eye. See this year's winning entries

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Photographer of the year 2014: Bulent Kilic – in pictures

The Guardian picture desk has chosen Turkish photographer Bulent Kilic, of AFP, as our hotly contested agency photographer of the year. Here’s a look back over 2014 through his lens, showing unrest in Ukraine, the refugee crisis on the Turkish-Syrian border and the harrowing MH17 air crash

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Best photographs of 2014 – in pictures

From the Ferguson riots to the school attack in Peshawar, a Missouri ‘firenado’ and hailstones in Siberia: the Guardian’s features picture editor Sarah Gilbert selects the most compelling images of 2014

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The weekend in pictures

A selection of some of the best images from around the world this weekend including darts fans in fancy dress and preparations for New Year’s Eve in New York

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My Favorite Year: A Sony shooter's inspiring 365 day project

DP Review News - Sun, 28/12/2014 - 14:00

With start of a new year, many photographers will take up a '365 challenge', creating and sharing a photo every day of the year. If you're looking for inspiration to start your own, Toni Ahvenainen's 'Year of the Alpha' project is the perfect place to start. He's a DPR reader, an enthusiast photographer and, of course, a Sony shooter. In our Q&A he tells us how the project started, how it evolved and what he learned along the way. See gallery

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Jane Bown remembered: ‘We had fun, didn’t we?’

Over 60 years, Jane Bown produced some of the most recognisable portraits of the world’s most famous faces, but remained an enigma, even among some of her closest colleagues

For a long time my hall boasted three photographs by Jane, taken over consecutive days in America in 1994. One was of the Coen brothers, arranged geometrically in the doorway of their Manhattan apartment, and laughing. Another was of the feminist thinker Kate Millett, in shorts and muddy boots on her farm in Poughkeepsie. The third had a becapped Michael Moore thrusting his hands into his jacket pockets. They represented by no means the peak of Jane’s long career. Although the Coen brothers wrote to say it was the best portrait they had ever had, Moore’s was only a bit better than a snap. I did, however, regard them as mementoes of an apex in my professional life, unlikely to be exceeded. I had been bouncing around New York, city and state, with not only the best portrait photographer in Britain, but a friend. As Jane would say: “We had fun, didn’t we?”

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Jane Bown: The lady behind the lens

When Jane Bown donated her life’s work to the Scott Trust, Luke Dodd was assigned to help her archive the vast collection of negatives and prints. He recalls the friendship that grew over several years of them working together, allowing him to see the formidable talent that hid behind her unassuming persona

Thinking back about our unlikely friendship, I realise that Jane, ever reticent, ever watchful, tested me in gentle ways until trust developed. Early on, there were trips to her house, introductions to family and friends, the ritual of the Thursday curry in the staff canteen, the joy in showing me contact strips fresh from the darkroom, the visit together to a man near the British Library who serviced cameras, a trip to Glastonbury to take photos of rock stars. Jane had to be sure of me because I was the person she had agreed would slowly dismantle the numerous filing cabinets of negatives and prints, fortress-like, around her desk and transfer them to the archive created by the Scott Trust to preserve the histories of the Observer and Guardian.

These cabinets held Jane’s life’s work, each series of negatives carefully annotated with the subject and date in her elegant script. It was a painful process, a tacit acknowledgment on Jane’s part that she would not be able to take photographs indefinitely – she was in her late 70s at the time – and a growing awareness that this had been an immense support to her in a way she had always taken for granted. Long after she reached that point and when all the contents of those cabinets were carefully repackaged and catalogued, her weekly pilgrimage to the office continued – her last one was in August this year.

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Jane Bown: the eye had it

The legacy of a shy, self-effacing and funny woman who worked for the Observer for more than 60 years is an astounding gallery of black and white portraits

There was never any mistaking her, the late great Jane Bown, who died on 21 December at the age of 89, but whose presence lives on in her extraordinary pictures, and in the pages and the spirit of the Observer, her second home for over six decades. A small, round figure with a shy smile and a deceiving air of vagueness, carrying her camera in a wicker basket; the least tricksy and most mysterious of photographers, the most singular and haunting.

I have several prints by Jane, collected over the years. There’s one of St Mark’s Square in Venice, empty in the early morning light except for an upward flutter of pigeons; a child’s foot in a scuffed dusty shoe; a young girl standing on a railway track, forlorn; a gypsy child; an anxious schoolboy in baggy shorts standing on a chair to reach the blackboard and you want to rescue him; several photos of my children when they were younger – and how did she, in those few seconds, recognise something in their faces that I had not seen myself until then? How did she manage to catch them in that sudden and startled moment of stillness? These images, taken at various periods of her life and all very different in their subject matter, all carry the unmistakable imprint of Jane Bown.

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Jane Bown: the final image

‘That’s the picture I want for my obit. It’s perfect, it’s me’

I was 15 when I first came across Jane’s work. My sister had been given Jane’s book, Faces, by her teacher as a school leaving present. I was snooping around her bedroom when I found the book and as soon as I looked at it something just clicked. I wasn’t into photography but I remember thinking, “I want to do that.”

I got hold of a camera and started taking photographs. Always using black-and-white film and with her book as a manual. I went on to study photojournalism but everything I know that’s important – about light, and emotion – I learned from that book.

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In Pictures: Food for thought

Seoul-based visual artist Sarah DeRemer spent 10 years working as a veterinary technician. When she developed an interest in photo manipulation, she began to experiment with animal hybridising, at first turning animals into other animals – such as penguin seals or cat monkeys – and then into fruits and vegetables. “A lot of the project was a study in colour, tone and negative space,” she says. “Some people have said that it makes meat ‘vegan-friendly’, and that it worsens ignorance about animals. But I didn’t create the series to be a commentary on meat-eating or vegetarianism.”

Visit: sarahderemer.com

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Sport picture of the day – the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow

A dramatic image from a remote camera at Chepstow where the crisp blue sky silhouettes the horses as they thunder over a fence. The positioning of the camera means you can imagine the thud of the hooves on the turf and feel the fence debris flying through the air

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Eyewitness: Frankfurt, Germany

Photographs from the Guardian Eyewitness series Continue reading...
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Landscape and Industry by Michael Collins review – photographs that put the poetry into post-industrial

Pale light and a perfect stillness characterise this collection inspired by the Victorian pioneers

The wooden structure known as the Bee Ness jetty stretches for 2.16 kilometres into the Medway, across the Stoke Saltings and Stoke Ooze, until it reaches water deep enough to float an oil tanker at the lowest tide; the jetty’s length exactly matches that of another that lies just across the Thames Estuary. But Bee Ness has none of Southend’s fame as home to the world’s longest pleasure pier. Few visitors reach here. The oil refinery that the jetty served closed more than 30 years ago; skeletons of the barges that supplied the estuary’s cement works with chalk and mud lie rotting in the creeks; the monumental, coal-fired power station no longer smokes.

The landscape looks overused and tired out, but interesting, too – full of remnants, a place that says that nothing in this world stays the same. The young Pip first met the convict Magwitch not far away. In Michael Collins’s photograph, time and (more particularly) tide have turned the jetty’s wooden piles green with age. The planked walkway they support is twisted, the pipes beneath rusted, the safety rails collapsed; and yet on and on they stretch – an ensemble of the defunct until they meet the horizon, where the tankers never come.

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Our last New Year toast with son Jim, River by Joni Mitchell, and my granny’s lentil soup

Readers’ favourite photographs, songs and recipes

The occasion is New Year’s Eve, the place is my son Jim’s flat in Germany.

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Readers' travel photograph competition: 2014 winners

Over the last year, Guardian readers have entered thousands of fantastic pictures to our monthly readers’ travel photography competition. Here are the best from each month’s theme, and scroll down to see the overall winner and runners-up. The winner’s prize is a fantastic 11-night trip to Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, courtesy of Tourism KwaZulu Natal and specialist tour operator Africa and Beyond. The monthly winners’ and runners’-up photos are on display at the Guardian offices in London until mid January

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The Dozen: stand-out photos from Boxing Day's Premier League action

A feast of tasty pictures from the Boxing Day Premier League fixtures

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That’s me in the picture: Robert Curbeam performs a spacewalk over New Zealand, 12 December 2006

‘It’s amazing how much you can recognise: big cities like London and Paris; the beautiful Amazon rainforest; sandstorms 50 miles wide’

This STS-116 space shuttle mission to the International Space Station in 2006 was my last before I retired. I got to do seven spacewalks in my entire career. In the picture, I’m out on the end of the truss, attached by a retracting wire that you have to constantly check isn’t tangling. The object by my left leg is a remote camera. There are cameras all over the outside of space stations, so if the crew want to look at part of the truss or station, they can pan and tilt the camera to see. It was broken, so I was swapping it for a new one.

That was one of several tasks I had to complete on the 13-day mission. I was the flight engineer, so my job was to keep everything running while we were in orbit and prep the vehicle in the morning for operation. I was also lead spacewalker, so I had to rewire the space station. We did it the way you’d move a lamp to another power source – you turn the lamp off, unplug it, plug it in somewhere else and turn it back on.

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Sport picture of the day: can Wild Oats XI sow the seeds of another victory?

Wild Oats XI sails out of Sydney Harbour as the annual 628-nautical mile race to Hobart gets under way on a warm and sunny Boxing Day. The seven-times winner and defending champion is the most successful yacht in the 70-year history of the race. However, it was race rookie Comanche who set the early pace to take the lead on day one

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Food is to be enjoyed, not Instagrammed | Anne Perkins

The photos look awful and it’s just another way of bragging. Let’s stop feeding our inner oligarchs and bin this unappetising habit

The Russian restaurant-owning oligarch hit London in 2014 and turned eating out into very conspicuous consumption. But being seen by other people in the restaurant was not enough. It became essential to Instagram pictures of your meal to all your friends, too. Food turned into a kind of deviant beauty contest, decoupled from most of the things that food used to be associated with – such as keeping you alive and healthy. Instead, it became another measure by which a judgment could be made. Taking pictures of what you are about to eat is like entering a very particular kind of competition. Please stop it.

For a start, good pictures of food are very hard to take. Usually the amateur version looks flaccid and congealed. This is because food needs careful lighting, rather than the blinding flash most phones come equipped with. Or no lighting at all, which probably means a tripod. The food itself needs to be a bit minimalist. Some photographers spray water over the plate for that just-out-of-the-oven glisten. And then it needs accessorising. OK, maybe not. But my point is that for food to look good in pictures it needs extreme care, time and imagination, not a mobile phone.

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