Posts tagged: photography

Aug 09 2011

Dawn smoke

The Sony centre that got torched during the night is about 5.1mile due north of me. Dawn’s breaking now.

Hard to see in the dawn light, another day I might think it was a bonfire or something, but it’s actually a massive warehouse on fire over five miles away. That smoke plume’s gotta be a thousand feet high.


EDIT: YouTubed about 40seconds of video. Doesn’t need to be more. It’s just there.

Jul 29 2010

Making new photographic lamps

One issue I’ve had with both taking photos of people and close-ups of items is the lack of light. A couple of small halogens really doesn’t cut it, so I’ve been thinking over affordable and adaptable replacements.

I picked up a couple of clip-on lamp holders cheaply from EFG Housewares, a wholesaler I use for some of my shop supplies. I wanted to get some simple reflectors for them, but couldn’t find any at a reasonable price online. Even simple one-piece pressed aluminium shades seem to carry excessive prices. So it was off to the 99p Shop in Walthamstow High Street, where I found a couple of suitably shallow 30cm cheapo stainless bowls.

I next borrowed one of my dads Q-Max sheet metal punches. They’re very nice and provide a clean hole in sheet metals very easily.

I used a 30mm punch, but really should have used a 28mm or so. I measured from the inside of the lamps collet, not the thread. Whoops. But that’s alright in the end. I used my home-made centre-finder to mark out the bowls. It finds centre well on circles, but I also forgot the pegs on it weren’t the same length, so on the bowls curves sides it skewed the centre. So the error on one was enough in the end to correct for the error on the other! There’s a lucky break, eh?

Next up, a 10mm hole is drilled so the bolt of the punch can go through. The bolt is tightened and pulls the cutter into the punch block from the other side of the metal.

Voilà! A nice clean hole! (can’t say the same about the bowl)

I took some burrs off with a hand file and did the other bowl to match, then took them back indoors to fit the lamp holders to them.

Next I ordered some energy-saving high-brightness “daylight” bulbs off ebay. It took a few more days and a trip to the sorting office, but I got them this morning.

They’re 36Watt (180Watt equivalent), rated at 2160 Lumens, an 8000Hr lifetime and a colour temperature of 6500! They’re also wide mushroom-shaped coils, so should give a fairly diffuse light with no harsh shadows.

Without new lighting

With new lighting

And finally, fitting them they work perfectly. I was a bit worried the light would be too directional, but it’s both bright and pleasantly diffuse. I’m sure my opinion will refine the more I use them, but for the moment I’m pretty happy with the results!

(auto-exposure doesn’t like looking directly at them when they’re on)

Total cost:
Lamps – £1.65 each (Total £3.88 inc VAT)
Stainless bowls – 99p each (£1.98)
Lamps – £4.29 each (Total £12.06 inc Postage)

TOTAL: £17.92

That’s about the same as for a single studio lampshade. A complete lamp runs to about £50.

Jul 01 2010

UKFur Ladies Shirts Photoshoot pics

After some umming and erring, I’ve managed to whittle down the few hundred pictures taken on Saturday to just 18 of the best ones.

I managed to arrange a photoshoot with “Halo Husky” to help advertise the new ladies-fit variants of the ever-popular UKFur T-shirt designs, as I’ve previously blogged.

Lighting has proven to be the biggest issue in most, so I will have to invest in a portable reflector to help get rid of some of the harsh shadows in future as well as UV and polarising filters to reduce glare in other places.

Some shots had some very delicate tweaking of the gamma and saturation levels to get them up to spec. I’m very happy with the results so far.

Again, the uploaded pics are reduced to half size for the web. I have yet to pick which of the images will go on to be the new example images, but it’s satisfying to know I’m happy with all the options.

Please find the images here:

Jun 29 2010

Eye-Fi and mobile phones – instant remote backup of photos?

When I first heard about the Eye-Fi SDHC a couple of years ago, I was very intrigued, but saddened that it seemed so locked in to one service. But time’s gone by now, and it looks like they’ve opened their doors a lot wider.
The Eye-Fi is an up to 8Gb SD card with a built-in 802.11n wifi functionality. The idea is that when a photo is taken, it’s stored and also uploaded by any open wifi point to the web service. And now there’s a number of services including YouTube, but more importantly I feel, the open-source Gallery 2. The Gallery 2 option means it can now upload to your own personal webspace, located in the country and legal protections of your choice.

However it still requires you to get within 27meters (max) of an open wifi point. And with the spectre of an un-redacted Digital Economy Act looming, open wifi points may soon become rather thin on the ground.

However, one of the things that came up in the original discussion of the Eye-Fi was the idea of using a data-enabled SmartPhone with wifi as a bridge. Eye-Fi talks to your phone via 802.11n, phone talks to the internet via 3G or other mobile broadband. It’s a delightfully simple and compelling concept, but one that has apparently seen little development. Perhaps I’ve simply not found it yet, but it’s hard to find discussion of the subject past 2007.
Certainly you could use a laptop for the same purpose, but that shouldn’t be necessary, particularly as open-source phones such as the Android now exist, where the necessary programming should be relatively simple. And in any case, the uptime comparisons are unlikely to favour it.

In a world where police can illegally demand or force you to delete the video and images from your camera, I for one would treasure the warm inner glow from knowing that while the originals are gone, identical copies have already transferred to my phone and on to a secure server on the other side of the planet.

So if anyone knows of a bit of software to turn your SmartPhone into a passive wifi access-point/bridge, I’d love to hear about it, as I’m sure others would.

Jun 29 2010

Misuse of police powers, case analysis

As nice to start the day online with some annoying news. Thanks to BoingBoing for the link this..

Two police officers stopped a teenage photographer from taking pictures of an Armed Forces Day parade – and then claimed they did not need a law to detain him.

It requires a bit of attention, but I recommend listening to the audio recording the teenage photographer made. The particulars of what the 16yo photographer (student and part-time freelance journalist) is doing wrong changes at least twice a minute. In order it goes:
(actual accusations are in BOLD, items of note are in ITALIC)
Unclear portions in [square brackets].

  • Taking photographs of children – Public event in a public place, not illegal.
  • Taking photographs of military personnel – Public event in a public place, not illegal.
  • Implying he’s not answering questions properly/to their satisfaction – Unknown prior to where the recording starts.
  • Taking photographs of the officer questioning him is “drawing attention to himself” – True, but not illegal. Mr Mattsson states it’s due to them grabbing his arm.
  • No answer to what law he’s being asked for his details under, just more demands for the details – Possibly illegal to not provide details, but only if officers have provable grounds for suspicion (IIRC).
  • At the fourth time Mr Mattsson asks “Under what law are you taking my details” the officer replies “[we] don’t have to have any law to take your details” (@1m into recording) – Strictly speaking you could argue that you don’t need a law for the act of taking someones details if offered, but these details are being coerced, and secondly as they’re being taken by an on-duty police officer are subject to both the law and data-protection act.
  • Identified as taking photographs [of the event] and that “he can’t be doing that, unless he’s been given permission to do that” – Untrue, public event took place in a public space.
  • “When you’re asked to stop taking photographs of children, it becomes a little bit of a grey-area, yeah?” – Again, not true when it’s a public event in a public place (unless they’ve got some particular reason to suspect ulterior motives, I believe).
  • “You’re not being detained.” “Then why did you prevent me from leaving?” “Because you were acting the silliest[?]” “But that’s detaining.” “You know you were[n’t?], you were running around, being stupid [again/ and gay].” (@1m41s)
  • Is told he can go if he stays in a particular area, because they’re trying to form up the parade. Re-states that it’s a public area. – Probably the most legitimate complaint on the polices part here. If they’re trying to get the parade set up, having someone wandering through taking photos could get in their way. Not illegal, but rather rude if Mr Mattsson is actually getting in their way.
  • The above is probably the longest single argument, and does seem to be the nub of the matter. The police want everyone out of the way while they set up, which is understandable. However it rapidly descends back into attempting to force Mr Mattsson to leave by illegal threats rather than just asking. Possibly if the officer had just asked if he could step back to clear the space, rather than threatening him…?
  • Claims by police that Mr Mattsson needs signed parental consent forms to take photographs of the children present – Not true when for editorial use.
  • Breach of the peace (@3m30s) – Debatable, but unlikely when accused is only repeatedly asking what he’s being held under.
  • Hazard to the public (@3m35s) – Again, unlikely as no physical acts have occurred. At worst, he’s being a nuisance to the parade set-up.
  • Tells him that he will get trampled by soldiers (@3m45s) – I thought this was a childrens/cadets parade?
  • “We are concerned about terrorism at this event. Taking photographs of police officers and police staff is a criminal offence under these circumstances.” “No it’s not.” “Right, I’m John Fisher, I’m in charge of this parade. I’m not going to enter into a state with you [illegible]” (@3m53s) – Now escalating into terrorism threats?
  • “Can you tell me what law it’s an offence under?” “Young man, you are an agitator. [illegible] You clearly are. You are recording what I’m saying for later reference. I have better things to do; go away.” (@4m11s) – I agree that John Fisher has better things he could be doing.
  • Told he will not “disrupt” the parade and that he has to stay in a specific area, and he will not pass. Told that he’s not being detained but that he will not walk past him (the officer). (@4m48s) – It is a public space, and strictly speaking the officer has no right to block his way unless he genuinely believes someone’s in danger (again, IIRC). Does then state “I am concerned for your safety.” (@4m58s)
  • “You know what? I consider you a threat under the terrorism act young man.” “Hey, give me my camera back! Give me my camera back!” -sounds of scuffling- “Under what law am I being detained officer?? [muffled]” (@5m22s)
  • Fisher: “Right [I’ve/we’ve] had enough..” Mattsson: “Hands off me please! Hey, give me that camera!” Fisher: “[illegible] walk this way..” Mattsson: “Under what law am I being detained officer?! Under what law am I being detained officer?? Can you please take your hands off me and tell me under what law I am being detained? Hands off me! If I’m being arrested you have to tell me what law it is under! Is that correct? Oi! [a yell and sound of a fall into echoing space] Fuck! Did you just PUSH me down the stairs??” Fisher: “It’s a public order offence to swear in this area.” Mattsson: “You pushed me down the stairs!” (starts @5m23s) – That’s the sound of three Metropolitan Police Officers taking the camera from a 16yo journalist and pushing him down some steps, then telling him off for swearing once.
  • Mattsson: “The officer just pushed me down the stairs!!” Officer: “And you stay down there.”
  • Officer: “Please do not take photos of me because it will prevent me from doing covert operations in the future.” (@6m48s) – Untrue. Only covers officers currently engaged in covert operations (IIRC).
  • “Under my public privacy law I do not wish you to [take my photograph – talked over]” “No, in a public space there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.”
  • Mattsson: “Breach of the peace, how?” Fisher: “You know what you were doing.” Mattsson: “I took a photo and that’s my right to do so.” Fisher: “It was, and we support your right to [?] this parade is a reasonable way. However what you will not do is purposefully disrupt..” [interrupting] Mattsson: “I did not purposefully disrupt! One of the uniformed staff..” Fisher: “[?] ..Look, you’re recording what I’m saying. [stop recording. – muffled]” Mattsson: “No, I’m not going to stop recording.” Fisher: “I’ve told you why you’re detained. You ARE detained. I’m the inspector Fish[er?], under my authority, to prevent a breach of the peace, because of the anxiety you were causing to members of the public back there..” Mattsson: “The anxiety I was causing taking pictures?” Fisher: “Fair enough. I’m obliged to [? – something “for transport”?], you are detained for acting in an anti-social manner.. [illegible]” [interrupting] Mattsson: “I have not been acting in an antisocial manner. Under what law am I going to supply my details?” Fisher: “Under the breach of the peace law.” Officer: “[illegible] ..down at the police station, you’re under arrest.”(@7m08s)
  • Video ends on some of the shots Mattsson took at the parade.

I think perhaps the key to this is the point where the article describes the officer as “an adult cadet officer”. Presumably that means he was one of the officers directly organising the event, so there exists the possibility that it was a sense of infringed personal superiority that caused him to threaten Mr Mattsson so. It’s an aspect of human nature we expect police officers to be able to overcome, specifically so we receive fair an impartial treatment in the eyes of the law.

However instead we see the young (in fact, in the eyes of the law, juvenile) reporter accused of, in order; Taking photos of children, taking photos of the military, annoying the officers by not providing details, “drawing attention to himself”, taking photos in a public place without permission, taking photos of children without permission, lack of consent forms, a breach of the peace, being a hazard to the public, that he’d be in harms way from the parade, implying that he might be working for terrorists, of being an “agitator”, of revealing a police officer in convert operations, of a public order act for swearing, another breach of the peace, causing anxiety to the public and finally breach of the peace again (for which he is apparently arrested).

As well as being told he didn’t have to be charged to legally required to provide his details, he’s told to stay in a particular area with no cordon or (apparent) reason for it; in a public space that’s detention without cause. He also apparently has his camera taken from him at one point and is (unintentionally?) pushed down a flight of 4 steps.

Additionally he’s escorted forcefully away as a threat under the terrorism act, before being charged for a mere breach of the peace.

All in under 9 minutes, by three police officers on a 16 year old boy taking photographs of a parade.

Maybe Mattsson is a freak 16yo; a 6’5″ brick shit-house with neo-nazi tattoos all over his face, and the police and public were understandably cautious of him. But from his voice, the fact he’s a part-time reporter as his hobby and has a very complete knowledge of his citizens rights, I don’t imagine that’s the case. I can readily imagine Mattsson being about 5’6″, fairly slim, a bit pale, occasionally bookish, and finding reporting a creative outlet. And possessing a great deal of self control.

The only argument for this sort of behaviour is that Mattsson was a minor nuisance to the officers involved, and maybe Mattsson should have just stayed out of their way as asked. In day to day civilian life, that can be a valid argument; sometimes it’s best to ignore people who’re being officious ass-holes. However these people were the police. The people we’re supposed to defer our own personal defence to. The people we are told by law that we are to rely on for our safety and liberty. So yes, when they start throwing illegal threats around and attempt to bully us into doing what they want with no legal backing, you have to stand up for what’s in the letter of the law. It may seem pedantic to some, but if you don’t then you loose control completely.

In this case, short of rolling over for police officers who were themselves breaking the law, I see nothing Mattsson could have done differently. I can’t think of a better example of police bullying than what happened here. The police wanted him to do something they had no official power to force him to do, so illegally threatened him with everything they could think of.

Jules Mattsson’s own blog of the incident can be found HERE. Praise be, connectivity.

(note: the Independent states Mattsson is 16, his YouTube account states 19. Will see which is correct.)

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