Archive for the ‘Photo and Tech News’ Category

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. 

Mortal Coil Blog affected by attack on Posterous

Overnight, the Mortal Coil Blog, like every other site on Posterous, was the victim of a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack against Posterous, the service which hosts this blog. The attack is continuing, but Posterous responded by changing its IP address to a different subnet and I had to follow suit by changing my DNS records as well. Which is pretty easy to do in real life, but not something I was expecting to have to do based on a hacker attack. 

For more on the attack see the Official Posterous Blog post here

Some Friday YouTube fun: 1 second of lightning at 9000 frames per second.

This is pretty epic stuff. Amazing to see that even as slowed down as it is, there is still more happening during a lightning strike than we'll ever be able to perceive. 

Some professionals shoot Glastonbury 2010

In advance of my last, decidedly amateur set of photos being blogged here, I want to point towards some photos taken by actual jobbing photogs, some of which are just stunning. 

As per last year,’s Big Picture (a truly excellent, themed showcase site for press photography) has done a feature on Glastonbury 2010 exhibiting some of the finest pro work to come out of the festival. There’s some truly fantastic work in here. My favourite might just be this one, by Ian Gavan for Getty: 

And as per usual, a significant number of the photos come from Leon Neal of AFP (AKA the Tabasco Kid, AKA @tabascokid on Twitter) who has come out with some absolute crackers. He’s just posted two new blog entries, one focusing on the main areas and concert shots, and one that is more “off-piste” (similar to my own meanderings on my “photo mission” on Saturday night). Leon has been kind enough to correspond with me over the last year or so and it’s been fun to compare notes in the runup to, and aftermath of, the festival. Clearly different approaches, but then my livelihood does not depend on this. 

Annoyingly, Leon has a few shots that are of exactly the same subjects, but executed with just a touch more professionalism, and that’s what earns him an “Utter Bastard” label from me today. Case in point, here’s my image of a lantern sculpture in the Green Futures field:

And here’s Leon’s. Damn him. 

Well, practice makes perfect. 

My final picture post from Glastonbury 2010 will be online sometime Friday. Then I can get on with my life 🙂

Great article from David Bergman about mastering event photography

This is very good advice for any current or aspiring photographers, on how to adopt general attitude of trying to separate yourself from the herd when photographing events. I’ve been confronted with the very same issues before and have had to go out on a limb to get different shots from the pack…

At most of the events I cover, there are a lot of other photographers. The wire services and local newspaper shooters always do a great job covering the event. So what can I bring to the table? If I just shoot the same images as everyone else, there’s no reason for me to be there.

The easiest way to separate myself is to literally move away from the other photographers. I try to take chances and go for the high risk shot. It doesn’t always pay off, but when it does, it’s worth it.


John Nack on Adobe: Video: Sneak peek of Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop

Wow, this is absolutely mind blowing functionality that should make it into a future version of Photoshop. I am sure it will be misused and abused, but it’s still impressive as hell.

World Water Day – The Big Picture

Fantastic shots – as usual – as the Big Picture celebrates World Water Day, courtesy of National Geographic.

TIME Magazine issues The Year in Pictures 2009

TIME Magazine have released their 2009 Pictures of the Year. Understandably dominated by Obama, Afghanistan, and Iran. The Obama inauguration shot is ever-so-slightly messianic.

(Mostly) Amazing 3-D fly-through of London from Skrape

This is pretty good stuff, we are getting close to proper photorealism here. 

Somewhat anal-retentively, and not to denigrate this fine work, but two things slightly spoil this for me:
  1. A few of the “marquee” models, especially Buckingham Palace, could benefit from some more detailed modelling on their shapes. The flying buttresses of Westminster Abbey are correct and present, but the flat front of Bucks Palace looks like one of those drape-over jobs they put on buildings in Europe when they’re being renovated. It spoils the illusion somewhat. 
  2. (very anal) The closeup “helicopter shot” around Big Ben shows two different clock faces simultaneously – and they are showing different times. Doh!