As we peer over the edge at the pool of radioactive water, our dosimeters let out a warning squeal. If we stand too close for too long, we'll get a dangerously high dose. CNET Executive Editor Roger Cheng and I are six stories up on top of a reactor that's still melting down. It's our second full day exploring inside the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and it's a wild place to be.
And there are photos that need to be taken.
CNET relies on bold visual imagery, along with stellar writing, to tell the stories of technology and innovation. Here, we're showcasing some of the finest photography work by CNET staff in 2019.
The rules to great photography are simple. Research, learn and understand your subject before you go. Distill and then simplify; listen, then learn; and pare it down to express the emotional rhythms of the people, places and things you're reporting on.
Repetition breeds skill, leading to stories that pull you in. What can I learn from this person? This situation? Often that experience, familiarity and preparation come together in a single image, a photograph that becomes a symbol.
This is our simple intention.
Strong environmental portraits are a signature of CNET. Dara Kerr's weeks-long traversing of the Texas-Mexico border took a closer look at tech being used as a political tool.
You can find these stories and more as we look back through some of our favorite photography of people, products and places CNET visited and explored in 2019.
Chris Wylie, a data consultant, blew the whistle in the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica affair, which revealed that data on nearly 70 million Facebook users was co-opted for political marketing purposes. Now he knows what it's like to go from relative obscurity to the face of a controversy that involved divisive events including Brexit and the 2016 US presidential elections.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, virtual reality relies on people wearing headsets, and one of the best known pieces of VR gear is the Oculus Quest. With its passthrough camera, fantastic controls and full positional tracking, Scott Stein says, "there's no better mobile VR experience than the Oculus Quest, and its full-motion untethered design feels like the future." This image captures that bold reality.
This image of the HP Reverb virtual reality headset won an award for CNET in the 2019 Communication Arts Photography Awards. The Reverb is a case of companies targeting their VR headsets at businesses, not just consumers, more in 2019 than they were a few years ago. This image conveys both the real and the virtual experience, always a challenge to present visually.
Microsoft initially pitched its HoloLens mixed-reality headset as a way to get work done and play games like its world-building phenom Minecraft. Now it's saying the HoloLens is an easy way to transport employees anywhere in the world. Or a way for a worker to do something complex without having to learn the process beforehand, by having virtual information overlaid on the real world.
We sat down this year with Microsoft's Alex Kipman at the company's headquarters. He described HoloLens as giving people superpowers. "This is a concept that's been in our dreams," he says.
Some of the most creative photography at CNET is born from our reviews. We see hundreds of products pass through our studios each week, and being able to control the lighting and pay attention to the details, or even offer a more conceptual portrayal, leads to some of our favorites.
In a space typically seen during the bustle and buzz of an iPhone launch event, we captured a much quieter moment alone below ground inside Apple's Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. This image won CNET a first place Graphis Gold Photography Award, in the Architectural category.
Uber faced challenges this year from all sides. While riders endured safety issues, drivers became more organized in and protested around the world, and regulators in London refused to renew Uber's operating permit. This image captures drivers' frustration and anger at ride-hailing services.
Mark Zuckerberg's keynote at Facebook's F8 conference is his biggest speech of the year, akin to a State of the Union for the social network. This year's conference came during the most tumultuous period in Facebook's history. The social network was still reeling from its role in helping to spread disinformation in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as efforts by state actors to sway subsequent elections. Facebook has also taken flak for what critics have called a cavalier approach to user data.
This image of Zuckerberg on stage proclaiming "The future is private" was a bombshell for a figure who once touted the goal of making the world "more open and connected." Zuckerberg said this year that Facebook would refocus the entire company on privacy, saying the infrastructure of Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger would be more technically integrated and would prioritize end-to-end encryption and other privacy features.
The iPhone 11 Pro, with its triple rear cameras, night mode and new selfie camera, was surely meant to be Apple's counterpunch to Android's three camera kings, the Huawei P30 Pro, Google Pixel 3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 10. But the newest iPhone also has to show existing iPhone owners that there's a step up in terms of camera features (such as Deep Fusion) and photo and video improvements over last year's iPhone XS.
As part of a road trip through Scotland, CNET photographer Andrew Hoyle shot this painterly landscape at the Kylesku bridge. Photographed with the iPhone 11 Pro from the top of a cliff face, this image used the panorama mode to capture a wide scene and zoomed in using the telephoto lens. The photo was shot in RAW, allowing a broader scope of information with which to edit the image afterwards.
As part of a FolioMag award-winning feature, Dara Kerr traveled hundreds of miles along the Texas-Mexico border, looking at President Donald Trump's push for a physical wall as the main line of defense and how locals feel about that. Here, a US Border Patrol agent wades through thick brush near the Rio Grande in Laredo, Texas.