Pissedpoet Pics - The Blog: January 2006

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Top Cop Defends Photographer's Rights

The Melbourne (Australia) daily, The Age, reported Tuesday “A spokesman for Police Minister Tim Holding said there appeared to have been a misunderstanding on the part of the officers because there was no law prohibiting people taking photos in a public place.”
The full story can be seen at geelong snappers on the watchlist.

Two Geelong Photographers, Joe Mortelliti and Hans Kawitzki, received visits from the police after taking photographs of the local oil refinery. As Hans said “In my case I spoke to one of the company guys told him what I was doing and that I was a camera club member etc. He took my car rego number "for security reason" and hour or so later 2 police officers rocked up at our door step, it was about 9.45pm and dark outside when my wife opened the door.
She thought that something must have happen to one of our kid's but it turned out to be about me taking a photo at Shell. It's quite a scary thing to see the police on your door step at night>”
The Police informed Hans and his colleague Joe Mortelliti, when they visited him for the same offense, that they shouldn’t be taking photos of industrial sites and they should pass this directive onto their colleagues at the Geelong Camera Club.

Along with their colleagues at the Geelong Camera Club, they took the story to their local paper, The Geelong Advertiser, which ran a full, page 5 story. The story was picked by the metro dailies and by the National broadsheet, The Australian. The Australian’s story can be seen here

Civil Liberties group, Liberties Victoria, entered the fray with president Brian Walters SC saying “Police directives about what could and could not be photographed were an abuse of power and should be ignored.”

As a good pollie Tim Holding started to back peddle the next day in a second story in the Age which can be seen here. The electronic media picked up the story and ran with it for 2 days.

Joe and Hans along with the colleagues at the Geelong Camera Club received on line support for their actions in the forums of Passion for Pixels, the online presence of the Melbourne Camera Club. Photographer’s rights had been a matter of concern within the forums at P4P for some time.

It would seem that photographers do have a friend in the 4th estate, which is understandable. The freedom to photograph, if curtailed, would seriously impinge on their ability to report the news. One hopes that other photography forums would support their members rights if a similar situation were to develop else where.

The final line of this saga must go to the Geelong police. When asked, by the Geelong Camera Club, for a list of industrial installations that are off-limits to their lenses, their request was refused on the grounds that such information was secret

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Norton Virus

My main puter has been brought to its knees by the Norton Virus. Whether it is the bastard or programmed child of its parent Norton Anti Virus I have no idea. But upon trying to un-install the parent it crashed my Netscape & Opera browsers and although IE continued to operate, access to secure sites was a No, No.

The only fix available is a complete reformat, but the Norton Virus has made the backing up of files problematical, to the extent that I have had to ship the CPU off to the store of my local geek. (I know save often and back up as often)

This is being written on my son’s machine without access to a lot of my material. Consequently the updates here and on its sister site The Expat are a bit erratic. Hopefully things will back to normal very soon; it’s been 2 days so far. Who’s breaking out in a sweat and hands are starting to shake.

Does make one wonder, if there were no virus’ would there be a need for anti virus software and if there was no need how would anti virus companies make a quid? Especially those that charge serious change for their services as opposed to the public spirited companies that offer their anti virus software for free.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Photographs Rights

We have all seen the scene of the photographer being surrounded by the heavies, the camera being confiscated and the film being thrown on the ground. Makes for great dramatic footage but in most jurisdictions such behaviour is illegal unless accompanied with a court order.

Essentially if you are in a public place, you can shoot away to your heart’s content. Even in the paranoia of post 9/11 and officers from security forces both private and government saying otherwise. But do use some commonsense, taking pics of military installations is just dumb as with any other sensitive government building.

However you will have to exercise restraint with regard to a person’s privacy or expectation of the same. The person seen in the window of your shot of that lovely composition of windows could land you in trouble if they took exception to being in the pic. Conversely, the same person walking down the street would be fair game.

An excellent article on the state of play in the US by Andrew Kantor, published in USA Today, can be found here. As he says, “If you can see it, you can shoot it”. He also refers to a downloadable PDF by Bert P. Krages The Photographer's Right.

In England things a little more complicated, not only do you have to take English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish law into account, which can vary from place to place, but the European Convention on Human Rights also gets a look in. An extensive over view is the The UK Photographers Rights Guide

There is no such guide available for Australia at the time of writing although the information available from the Art’s Law Centre indicates that taking photos in public places you can just click away. Justice of the Peace, Barry Daniel spells it out a lot more here and in essence says. “The general rule in Australia about photographing in a public place seems to be that, unless there is a legal prohibition such as a statute or ordinance or a legally authorised sign indicating photography is not allowed, you can photograph virtually anything you wish.”

For street photographers, overcoming the invasion of another’s personal space is a greater concern. It does take some nerve to get in close and personal with a stranger. Although being completely legal, the subject’s reaction could be down right illegal. If it comes down to a choice between a broken/stolen camera and a broken photographer, I know my choice.

Fortunately it rarely escalates to that extreme and in 5 years of street photography it has only happened to me once and that was my own fault. I was so intent on what I was shooting I didn’t notice the agitated subject in the lens, who was incidental to my shooting. When he turned up a short while later with 2 large mates in tow, well a stolen point & shoot isn’t high on the police crime statistics.

If you do find yourself the subject of a street photographer, ignore them. It isn’t you they are shooting it is the scene, which you just happen to be a part of that is their point of interest. Unless you are providing a street performance, in which case its free publicity. If you’re embarrassed by your performance, should you be doing it in the street?

Canadian street photographer, John Brownlow has some very good advice regarding overcoming shyness when engaged in street photography, it can be seen here. Nitsa, another very good street photographer suggests taking a friend along on your shoots, not only are they good back up but can help distract a subject from giving you their photo face. More of her thoughts and tips can be seen here.

In this post 9/11 time of terrorists under the bed, shooting infrastructure will be sure to attract attention. As happened to a colleague in Australia, who became enthralled by the way the light was working the local oil refinery. He stopped to take some shots and a couple of hours after getting home the local gendarmes were on the door step with the mandatory who, what, where and especially why.

It escapes me why the person with the big, black SLR is such a subject of official concern. Any self respecting terrorist is going to go to some trouble not to be noticed in their activities. If they can’t get what they want with a Google search, one would suspect that a cell phone would be their camera of choice. But such are the times we live in.

Although here in the Philippines, which has a very real terrorist threat, it is one of the most photo friendly places around. So much so that often a shot is ruined by a very helpful Filipino with a big smile jumping into the shot to give it some human interest. Especially if you look like a tourist and have a big camera.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What's it Worth

Out of the blue a business contacts you wanting to use one of your pics. They have seen it at your web site, on your blog or at an exhibition and are requesting availability and price. After the warm glow wears off how do work out what it is worth? What can you ask for and still get the sale? But you don’t want to give it away, do you?

Firstly they are not buying a print. They are requesting the right to use your pic a multiple number of times in a way that will enhance their business and their sales. They will handle the printing side of things you are just providing the image. So the question really is what is it worth to them?

To determine this you need more information.
What is its intended use: Advertising or editorial?
Specific use: Newspaper & magazine ads, packaging, point of sale, brochures etc for Advertising (remember if it is for advertising you will need model releases for any recognizable people); Books, newspaper or magazine story illustration, news letters etc for Editorial.
Size and Placement: Full page, ½ page, ¼ page or spot, front cover, back cover, inside.
Distribution: How many impressions and/or times will it be used. If in a newspaper or magazine what is the circulation? If it is packaging, how many bottles of wine will your image label?
Exclusivity: Can you sell the image to a competitor or does the company want exclusive use and if so for how long?

Once this information is in place you are in a position to calculate the value of your image to the company. There are several places on the net that can help, Stock Photo Price Calculator is one. Use of this calculator will get you a high, average and low price based on current market expectations which you can use for your negotiations.

When I contact the enquiring business for the above information I usually ask, in that initial email, what their intended spend is on the project. Mainly to get an idea of how professional they are. If they indicate the overall budget for the project, 20% to 25% will be for resources, just be aware that your image is part not all of the resources. If they don’t have a budget, mmmmmmmmm.

If the business is unknown to you or it is your first dealing with them, asking for your money up front is not out of the question. It can also be a face saving tactic when being pushed for a lower price that you feel is their top offer. If you are offering payment at a later date, it is essential that you include on your invoice “licensed rights are not assigned until the invoice is paid in full.” This will give you some sort of fall back position if the money never arrives.

Beware of the old chestnut of “we will be buying a lot more of this type of image in the future, can you do something about the price”. My response to this one is along the lines that I give discounts to regular buyers and a regular buyer is one with a history of 5 or more purchases. To the exposure I will get, just think of the dollars in the bank in the future, argument my response is I have to pay my bills now. I mean who really does the read the photo byline on a wine bottle label?

Don’t forget this is a business negotiation, the buyers job is to get the image at the lowest price they can, your job, apart from making the pics, is to get the best price you can for your image.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Candles in the Wind

7 candles,
one for each of the deadly sins?
What happens when they all go out?
Gonna be kinda dark.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Cathie T Come on Down - A reprise

Cathie mentioned two images she was trying to decide upon in her comment to the first
"Cathie T come on down".
In an attempt to keep you in the loop gentle reader those two images are displayed in this reprise.

The Barbed Wire Cat

and the the one she chose


It goes with the curtains
sob, sob, sob.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

If you can’t beat them, make them the subject

When I first came to the Philippines the omnipotence of the power lines had me in their thrall. There were so many of them and they dominated the skyline as can be seen in the above pic.

After a few days this visual pollution just became part of the background noise. Only came to the surface when I forgot to shoot round or under them and the black lines slashed across the image. A frustration, an ugly element to be avoided.

Subsequent visits and the decision to reside in the Pearl of the Orient and they are becoming an integral element of my pics. I now find myself looking for ways to include them in my images. In fact I find myself making images in which they feature as the dominant element.

The challenge is to find the beauty, the abstract quality that they can add to the image.

In art, as in life, finding ways to incorporate what we cannot change is the way to go. The trick is to know the difference between what is changeable
and what isn’t.

The above may not be a silk purse but it is a pretty damn fine pig’s ear.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Does Size Matter

When making prints of your images it seems to me that the smart way to go is to print to the size of the available frame. Obviously taking into account any mat you are intending to use.

When displaying images a frame is essential and for paper based works being under glass goes without question. If you’re printing on canvas and mounting the work on a stretcher it becomes another story, although if digital printing is used putting it under glass might not be a bad idea, longevity of the inks etc.

With computers printing to the required sizes is so easy it is a no brainer. And the cost savings can be considerable, like about a tenth.
There are a myriad of kit frames out there, like wise the mass produced pictures sold in department stores come in a range of sizes within pretty decent frames. The picture may have the value of squat but that is not a bad frame. Then of course there are second hand and junk shops with frames going out for a song, they just need a bit of a clean up.

This becomes especially true if you are planning an exhibition. The cost of custom framing when you have a lot of pieces can do serious damage to the piggy bank.
Have been there and done that.

This can also be a selling point when selling your work on the net. Offering customers a custom print size can enhance the experience for all concerned.

Monday, January 02, 2006

When is a photograph not a photograph

This image started life as a photograph of a discarded length of plastic pipe on a building site. It was heavily manipulated in Photoshop using a variety of tools and filters.

In this form can it still be considered a photograph?

I know its history, as do you dear reader, but to the casual observer at an exhibition or here on the net, without the explanation, its photographic credentials wouldn't even be considered.

It would be considered an abstract image, end of story.

This image has more of a photographic feel about it with some recognizable elements that fit within the photography genre.

Those with an intimate knowledge of photography would recognize these elements, the motion blur, the chromatic fringing and the double exposure.

But, to the average viewer it would be considered a semi abstract if not just an abstract and again end of story.

This third photograph is closest to "real" photography of them all and I suspect would be recognized as such by most viewers. It has an abstract feel to it but the subject matter is quite recognizable.

That all 3 have had post production in the digital dark room in their creation, to varying degrees, is fairly obvious. Although the last one has had no more done to it than the usual tweaking of any photograph by a photographer with access to Photoshop.

For me the final image is what it is all about, how that is achieved is secondary. What the image says is all, be it a black & white photograph straight out of the camera or an abstract that any resemblance to a photograph is purely co-incidental.

When implicit rules are laid down about the authenticity of the photographic process being the judgment criteria of an image I am left cold. So much so that in my usual conversation I tend to leave photograph out of my vocabulary and refer to images, pictures or pics instead.

Cathie T come on down

Making a NYR that you can keep for a year without any effort and then break it at the last minute, just for hell of it, definitely appeals to the pissedpoet mind set. Sounds like a great pre-requisite for a career in politics. Can really confuse the voters with core, non-core promises.
Congrats Cathie, head on over to pissedpoet.com and pic away.

Megan, good try but I'm into Spanish wines at the moment. Although did have a glass or 3 of Mr Morris' dry red in the black box on NYE. Talk about rough red, it was a panadole morning.

Dianne S, what can I say? Your NYR was hooked onto the wrong post and wasn't found until after all the shouting had died down. Silly, silly girl. Too much of Mr Morris' RR the night before?

Anyhow thanks to you all and have a great 2006 and you never know when the generosity bug will bite again. So keep on coming back, you hear.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Black & White Street Photography

Lead Steps by Terri Dow
The above pic is one from a series of photographs from the Silent Screamers gallery at pissedpoet.com. Pissedpoet.com is honoured to be given the opportunity to present these street photographs as part of the guest gallery's section of the web site.
Terri's careful observation and skill in capturing the moment shine through in these pics. Her empathy with the subject matter enable the viewer to enter their world and walk a mile in their shoes.
To see the full series click here to go to the gallery.