Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Last Christmas For Britain’s Free Press?

Happy ChristmasSO ANOTHER YEAR PASSES, and over the Christmas Turkey, Christmas Pudding, wine and port we can all reminisce about the last twelve months and just how long it took for us to break our last New Year Resolutions.

Fortunately, I did not break mine; because I did not make one. I am much too long in the tooth to believe that leopards can change their spots; and, in any case, I am perfectly happy with my own coat, which I judge to be both warm and silky.

I am aware, of course, that many of those whom I write about do not share the same opinion. They would rather I report their numerous fine words – without comparing what they say to their actions. But such is the quest of journalists, seeking to portray facts to their readers rather than engaging in their subjects’ public relations spin.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Why Permit Someone Else To Process Your Valuable Work?

bjp4I ADMIT IT: I am a perfectionist, and it is not unknown for me to miss an important deadline because I think one or more of an article’s accompanying photographs could be improved with an appropriate crop – especially when I am informed that space is scarce. I have little trust in many photographic editors to crop or modify my work, and I would certainly never hand-over my DNG files to anyone else for post processing; so I was particularly interested to find this article in the BJP’s online magazine about some photojournalists whom do just that.

Now, it must be difficult for a digital lab; because they have to take a view of the client’s image and decide if the underexposure (exhibited in the examples provided) was intentional or not. Should they attempt to recover the detail? Or should they use their experience to interpret the mood and improve upon it if possible?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Choosing A Digital Camera

Relative print and image sizesIT WAS SO MUCH EASIER to choose a camera in the days before digital appeared on the scene. The choice of format was already decided for you by the market you were supplying; but, these days, many photographers base their camera purchasing decisions.upon the size of the pixelated image – often in the expectation that more pixels result in bigger and better images. Few, it seems, consider the fact that the sensor size determines the overall image quality – just as format defines that particular attribute in film.

The other mistake, which is easily made, is to believe that the pixelated image achieved from the camera, and which exceeds the size of most computer screens, will be the same size as a print. Unfortunately it does not work like that; because a large, glossy, magazine photograph is viewed by reflected light, and does not transmit it like a computer screen. Under transmitted light, the individual pixels that make-up the image tend to blend together because of the brightness of the screen; but, in a print, there is no transmitted light to create that effect, and the individual pixels are seen more easily. In order to resurrect the image and maximise its contrast and sharpness, pixelated images need to be printed at some 266 dots (pixels) per inch.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Brighton Rocks

Grand balcony in rainAS CHRISTMAS APPROACHES I cannot help but feel rather satisfied with myself this year. I closed the Canvey Beat file to concentrate on a more lucrative project; took a long break at Brighton’s Grand Hotel to be fed and pampered by their admirable staff while my girlfriend and I recharged our batteries – and finally transferred all my remaining transparencies and negatives to digital when I returned home.

Friday, 9 December 2011

No More Nightmares

ClickFree C6COLLEAGUES will know that I have never been too fond of the Windows operating system, which has always left me stranded at the most inappropriate times. My worst experience was back in the nineties when I was revising my first book, and it is that memory that continues to haunt me whenever I have a deadline to meet. I distinctly remember the dark screen, the whirring of the hard drive, and the complete failure of my emergency floppy disk to bring the hardware back to life.

I had thought that things were getting better in the Microsoft camp. I have been running Windows 7 for some time now, and have been suitably impressed at its ability to recover from the odd glitches that still appear at times; but recently I was forced to reinstate a system image when a Belkin mini Bluetooth adaptor failed to properly install -- and somehow managed to corrupt Outlook. (Needless to say, the MS Office Repair feature did nothing to cure the problem).

Friday, 8 July 2011

So NoW The Politicians Direct Their Anger At The PCC!

Rebekah BrooksIN THE FAST MOVING SAGA that has led News International to close its most profitable title, the News Of The World, this weekend, Britain’s political elite – as usual – has chosen to blame the messenger for its own incompetence and innate corruption.

First, it was the Telegraph that exposed the MP’s expenses scandal, which was berated for daring to publish the full extent to which many went to feather their own nests at public expense – and then, while the new influx of MPs in May’s general election quietly went about dismantling newly introduced rules to ensure proper accountability, it was the Guardian whose investigative pieces regarding the cosy relationship between Murdoch’s News International and the coalition government became the target of politicians’ scorn.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Photography Or Fraud?

OriginalI AM OFTEN ASKED why I use a hyphen when describing myself as a photo-journalist, rather than just combining the two words into one; but the answer itself lies in the hyphen. I consider myself a journalist – who just happens to carry a camera.

Early on in my freelance career, I found that it was much easier to sell a feature accompanied by suitable photographic coverage than it was to sell copy alone. (And it also pays more in the process).

My decision to combine both skills, which is now very fashionable in the freelance market, did not particularly endear me to the UK. My NUJ application was turned down because I was not a full-time journalist – and they also explained I could not be admitted because I was not a full-time press photographer either.

I am told that the NUJ’s rules are now less stringent and more freelance friendly; but I have never reapplied given that union’s militant stance over Wapping.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Stunning Photographs Do Not Depend Upon The Subject –They Depend Upon The Light

Must not feed the trollsEARLIER THIS MONTH I found myself sympathising with Scott Bourne as he explained to his Blog’s readers why he had taken the decision to remove EXIF data from the photographs he published. Like Scott, I too have received my share of comments from those expecting to reproduce my photographs by simply visiting the location and dialling-in the settings used for my own exposure in their cameras!

One thing that you quickly learn from setting-up your own Blog is that it will inevitably attract comments from trolls whom have such a low opinion of themselves that they redirect their anger and stupidity upon anyone challenging their preconceived ideas or self-image.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Should Have Used A Polariser? Maybe…

Unpolarised WavesSOME OF THE MOST DISAPPOINTING PHOTOGRAPHS to be found on the Web are those depicting the seaside. Like the original photograph, inset here, the combination of sun and sea forms a moist atmosphere containing millions of tiny water droplets that reflect the light in all directions. The effect is even more pronounced when you try to capture the foam produced by breakers, which toss many more droplets into the air and bleed the frame of colour.

The standard solution is to use a polarising filter to cut-out all the unwanted reflections in the scene and recover the natural colours; but it is those sparkling highlights that often give the image life.

Monday, 16 May 2011

1,500 Years – And Counting

CIIP supporters race to the pollsFOR 1,500 YEARS, since the fifth century AD, Canvey Island was predominantly used for sheep rearing; but now it consists of a small, urban sprawl of some 40,000 residents - whose voting majority, judging from the latest local election results, shares much in common with those docile, bleating creatures. On 5th May, 2011, there was no change in Castle Point Borough Council’s landscape – and all the existing Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) blaggers retained their seats.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Three Rules To Successful Political Campaigning

TOP SECRETWHATEVER TOMORROW’S LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS, the Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) will have proved that it is possible to cajole a significant proportion of the population into voting for them, by simply applying three familiar rules:-

  1. Always misrepresent the facts.
  2. Always seek to discredit your opponents, and
  3. Never answer any questions.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Canvey Island: England’s Bastion Of Gullibility

Echo health warningFOR THE PAST TWO YEARS, I have been questioning how a scheming bunch of political activists – with no agenda other than to be constantly elected as local councillors and thus benefit from the generous allowance system – can actually form a political party; promote all its members as ‘independents;’ and then set about its task of hoodwinking the public to vote for them based solely upon a platform of continuously misrepresenting the facts.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Last Chance To Capture Those Empty Urban Landscapes?

Urban DawnJUNE AND JULY, this year, could be the last chance for British photographers to capture those peaceful urban landscape shots that are devoid of human presence.

If the Coalition Government has its way, British Summer Time will move forward another hour and the spectre of early morning commuters, joggers, and newsagents opening their premises will, in future, spoil the frame. This summer may be the last opportunity we photographers have to capture images like the one inset here.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bloggers Huff And Puff Over Arianna’s Millions

HuffPo Front PageTHE NEWS that Arianna Huffington will be pocketing around $100 million from the $315 million that AOL will be paying for her news aggregation site, the Huffington Post, will be accompanied by some resentment from the Bloggers whose free labour has served to create her financial fortune. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find much sympathy for those whom place so little value upon their work.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Facebook Traffic: Is The Effort Worth It?

FacebookTO BE HONEST, I have not paid too much attention to those individual visitors arriving at the Canvey Beat from Facebook; because I just look upon the social media site as another way of supplementing the former’s RSS facility. Facebook users, I reasoned, may wish to have updates posted on their individual Walls, rather than subscribe to an RSS feed – and the main reason I added the ‘Recommended On Facebook’ plug-in was to obtain some idea of what posts Facebook users were sharing.

Upon further examination, however, it is interesting to note that Facebook users do not interact, with the Canvey Beat Blog, like its regular guests in any way.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Brief Sojourn Is Over

BirthdayAS JANUARY COMES TO AN END, and I prepare to mark my 60th birthday next month, I am again preparing to put the Canvey Beat into cold storage.
Canvey Island’s political news is becoming so repetitive that I am beginning to find the process of writing it up quite boring.
The same old people make the same tired statements, and the local Echo publishes the same staid pieces, which invite the same groaning responses.
The whirlpool that is the island’s political ‘news’ threatens to drag me under.

Friday, 21 January 2011

What On Earth Was I Thinking?..

The thinkerMAYBE IT WAS THE NEW YEAR that lay behind my conciliatory mood, last week, when I handed-off a hot piece on Canvey Island’s Town Council to the local Echo. And maybe it was the thought that, at the beginning of a year, even the most hardened villains often choose to turn-over a new leaf.

I first started criticising the Echo when it failed to publish details of Bob Spink’s fraudulent office expenses – to which I directed their attention. But I had hoped that sufficient time had elapsed for that ‘newspaper’ to have recovered its moral integrity.

No such luck.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

A Week On The Beat

On the beatTHIS WEEK, and for the first time, I was able to devote myself full-time to the Canvey Beat. As it turned-out, I really needed a fortnight; but I decided to hand a piece off to the Echo so I could still begin a photo feature planned for Tuesday.

I spent the seven-days playing local reporter – putting together some island background and making some calls to develop several pieces on the local Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) that runs the Canvey Island Town Council.