OBITUARIES : Ian Ball

Ian Ball's career as a photographer was remarkable not least because he started taking pictures full time at the age of 60. At 80 he was still working regularly for the Independent, and at the time of his death had plans for several assignments abroad.

After a spell in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, Ball bowed to parental pressure to work for a life assurance company. During his insurance career he had over 400 pictures published in the national press, and on retirement he carved himself a successful career in an area which is notoriously difficult to enter.

He relished far-flung assignments, such as photographing the Tall Ships Race in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, last year. He returned with a picture taken from the crow's nest. He had sent a crew member up the mast with a Polaroid camera to shoot the angles. Then, having chosen the best from the instant prints, he sent another person up the mast to set up a remote- controlled camera to recreate the Polaroid image.

During the Second World War he had taken a classic image of the war at sea - the sun setting behind a sinking tanker, which had been torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Not only did Ball produce this iconic photograph, he also helped to pick up the survivors. He used his naval contacts to secure a place on a British warship during the Gulf war, being winched on to the deck from a helicopter at an age when many people cannot climb stairs. His latest project involved photographing wildlife in Antarctica, an assignment doubly difficult because of the cold and the special skills required of a wildlife photographer.

Ian Ball would go to extraordinary lengths to obtain precisely the result he wanted - whether lying flat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, crawling on the ice in Antarctica or using mirrors to take a photograph face-on of a bullet emerging from the barrel of a pistol.

Ian Ball was among the best newspaper photographers - he leaves behind a body of work which will continue to be published well into the future.

Edward Webb

Ian Ball was the gamest veteran newspaper photographer that I worked with as picture editor of the Independent, writes Christopher McKane. It was no surprise that he was our first photographer in the Gulf war theatre: he had had the foresight to wangle his way on board the destroyer HMS Gloucester in January 1991, just before the hostilities began. Keen though Ian was to return later to the Gulf, I had to tell the editor with my tongue only slightly in my cheek that his heart pacemaker and advanced age (76 at the time) probably made him unsuitable for a combat role.

Some years later he felt badly let down by the Royal Navy when an upstart young petty officer refused him permission to dive from the ship in which he was a welcome guest on the grounds that the Navy could no longer be responsible for somebody of his age. I think the ship was in Antarctica at the time.

"The Admiral's" visits to the picture desk were always a pleasure, not least because behind the quiet and even diffident way in which he would present his latest portfolio lay a young man's enthusiasm for adventure. Sport brought out his technical ingenuity, whether in finding distinctive new ways of covering gymnastics, archery or surfing, or in fitting a home- made gadget to a kayak to photograph it underwater as it rolled.

Ian Ball, photographer: born Dhariwal, India 7 September 1914; died London 19 February 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there