Archive for October, 2010

No terror arrests in 10,000 police stop-and-searches

A really interesting article in today's Guardian about the total pointlessness of the Section 44 stop-and-search tactics the police have employed against all manner of innocent people in the last few years – including many, many hapless photographers. Even the Government's own man, David Davis, is calling this what it is: lunacy. 

More than 100,000 people were stopped and searched by police under counter-terrorism powers last year but none of them were arrested for terrorism-related offences, according to Home Office figures published today.

The statistics show that 504 people out of the 101,248 searches were arrested for any offence – an arrest rate of 0.5%, compared with an average 10% arrest rate for street searches under normal police powers.

The figures prompted the former Conservative home affairs spokesman David Davis to call for the controversial policy to be scrapped.

"This astonishing fact of no terrorism-related arrests, let alone prosecutions or convictions, in over 100,000 stop and searches, demonstrates what a massively counter-productive policy this is," said Davis.

Hopefully statistics such as this, together with Home Secretary Theresa May curtailing the police's Section 44 powers, mean that we photographers will be free to move about – and photograph in public spaces – without fear of pointless police harassment. 


Yet another silly photo contest / rights grab from the NYT

I was sent a link to a travel photo contest over the weekend – the New York Times’ annual Why We Travel competition. Great, thinks I, I am sure I have a photo or two which would fit the bill here. But a couple of things have stopped me in my tracks. 

Firstly, the opening paragraph contains this proviso (emphasis mine): 

(Please limit your contributions to one or two photos, and do not submit photos that have been altered in any way.)

Really? Not altered in any way?  

So this means that all of the RAW photos I’ve taken in the past few years, that I took at capture time with the explicit intention that I was going to crop, rotate, adjust brightness, and saturation, and remove dust spots, are all ineligible? Really? I don’t do kooky thinks like erasing telephone poles, nor do I composite in things that aren’t there. But I do maintain that the alterations I perform are non-destructive, help me ensure that the final image is as I remembered it, and they are an essential part of my photographic toolkit. Disallowing this sort of basic, minor RAW workflow-type correction of photos just seems silly. 

Besides which, using their logic, if you are a JPEG shooter, does the fact that you typically override camera defaults for sharpness, saturation, white balance etc, invalidate your photos from contention? And if it doesn’t, what’s to stop you setting the picture style in-camera to Vivid or some other highly stylised setting? 

The second thing I have a problem with is the fine print at the bottom:  

You are agreeing that we can use your submission in all manner and media of The New York Times and that we shall have the right to authorize third parties to do so.

Ouch. So by submitting, not only are you giving the NYT the rights to make all kinds of money off of your work (with not a penny to you) but you’re giving them the right to then redistribute your work to anyone else they want! That’s just cheeky. 

So go ahead, submit your unaltered photo to the NYT. There’s a slim possibility that you may end up in print in their august journal. But there’s 100% chance of you getting ripped off, and every chance you could see your work staring back at you from a motivational calendar in a gift shop. Next to the poster with the kittens. 

New York City in photos – Sept/Oct 2010

After a relaxing few days in Cape Cod, we headed down to New York City, staying 3 nights in Manhattan and 2 nights in Brooklyn with my sister. As it was my girlfriend’s first trip to NYC, we did a whole lot of walking (and a fair bit of eating and drinking, too) – and it was a good excuse to do a couple of touristy things I had never gotten around to doing, such as go up the Top of the Rock. 

Below is a selection of some of my favourite shots from around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Yes, some of these are cheesy, but they’re mine and I like ’em. 

I also managed to do a few decent-quality panorama shots while out and about, even getting one off the Staten Island Ferry that I wasn’t sure was going to turn out.

Bizarrely, after all of that intensive photo-taking – I came back with 1200+ shots from NYC alone – it was only on the very last day, in the last few minutes of free time, that I might have gotten the shots of the trip. As we were returning to my sister’s apartment in Brooklyn in a mad dash to collect bags and head to the airport, that we noticed this intense sunset over in the direction of Manhattan. I couldn’t resist and grabbed my camera bag, running up to the roof. I knew the car was waiting so didn’t have time to unpack the tripod, but I still managed to grab some fairly sharp frames of this extraordinary skyline. I have done a little cropping and some minor saturation adjustment, but this is pretty much as we saw it. A special moment for sure. 

These and more shots can be found in my New York City 2010 set on Flickr. 

Photos from Cape Cod

In the first instalment of photos from our recent trip to America, I will share some shots I took both around Cape Cod and in the ocean immediately north of the Cape, where we were very privileged to go whale watching. 

Cape Cod – Chatham, the National Seashore and Provincetown

Whale Watching with the Dolphin Fleet in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
As I mentioned, we were extremely privileged to be able to go on a whale watching boat, not only spotting 12 individual humpback whales, but feeling very lucky to see several whales breaching (leaping out of the water). Seeing bus-sized animals leaping out of the water is not something that one will soon forget…

There are more shots to be found in the Cape Cod 2010 Photoset on Flickr.

Still to come: the post-edit of my New York City shots. And I have some serious work to do….