I was relieved when I checked in our slang dictionary to find that there was as yet no definition for the term ‘osborne‘ or ‘osborned‘; otherwise it might have been confusing for me to propose a new usage.
An osbourne is clearly a kind of fraud or confidence trick, based on the use of dodgy statistics, false assumptions and long-winded speeches, and aimed at benefiting the wealthy at the expense of the poor. And on Nov 25th last year we were clearly ‘osbourned‘. The letters at the protest on the previous night spelt out clearly (at times) that it was a N I G H T M A R E.
It was also something of a nightmare to photograph, as the area where the figures were standing was probably the darkest point in Trafalgar Square, with most of what light there was falling on the back of the figures – as you can see from the shadows they are casting on the paving in front of them. I’d taken the 20mm f2.8 and it was only wide enough to encompass the group when used from one side – had I moved back you would have seen a pack of around 20 people with cameras and phones all trying to photograph the same group. The few pros possibly had lenses wide enough to encompass the whole group, but on most of the phone images it probably said GHTMA.
I didn’t need to use flash, as there were several people with lights on video cameras – who could pan across the group to reveal the whole word, though I did see one who appeared to be reading it as ERAMTHGIN. Annoyingly sometimes their lights went off or turned away just when I wanted to make an exposure. With their lights I was able to work with the D700 set at 1/60s, f/4 and ISO 3,200; as usual to get things looking like night I needed to dial in an exposure adjustment – this time -0.7Ev.
Then someone had the idea it would better fit a still image if the word was split into two and the two put one above the other. I think it made a better picture, but now there was someone shining their video light at me from the edge of the frame. As normal I preferred an oblique view, and for this image I did use flash, working with the 28-200mm on the D810 at 42mm in DX mode – equivalent to 63mm.
Later the protesters marched down to Downing St for a rally opposite and there isn’t a great deal of light, so most pictures needed flash, particularly for the speakers, where you need a relatively fast shutter speed to capture gestures and avoid subject movement. It didn’t really need the 1/640s that I appear to have used for this image – I was working in S mode and my random wandering finger appears to have shifted the main control dial backwards and forwards rather a lot.
It was perhaps a little fortunate – because as a slower speed – such as the 1/125 I probably intended, that pointing hand might have shown more blur, and the windows behind in the Ministry of Defence would have bee more of a distraction.
Back in the old days of course, flash sync at 1/640th with a focal plane shutter was simply impossible; most cameras were limited to 1/50 or 1/60s, and setting a higher speed resulted in only a part of the frame being exposed. Now with the Nikon D810 if you have custom setting e1 set to Auto FP High-Speed Sync you can use flash at any shutter speed.
I took some more pictures of people in the blackness of the crowd without flash, including some I felt were perhaps just a little to noisy – like the one above. Taken with the camera set at ISO3200, it had a ‘grainy’ effect, which wasn’t unpleasant, but was very noticeable in larger versions of the image than web size. Writing this, I thought this was a good example to try out using the noise reduction of the now free Dfine in the Google Nik Collection
I applied the filter in automatic mode on the full size file, and the difference was pretty remarkable, with the noise virtually entirely removed, and Photoshop’s ‘Despeckle‘ filter cleared it a little more. I can only just see the difference even in the two reduced size jpegs in this post, but on larger images the difference is very apparent.
There very little apparent loss of image detail in the treatment, and removing the noise makes what detail there is clearer. After I made the small jpeg to use in this post, I did clean up the larger file using Photoshop’s ‘Dust and Scratches‘ filter, with a radius of 2px and a threshold of 5px. The resulting image is remarkable for an image in such poor light.
It’s a shame that the Polaroid ‘Dust and Scratches’ filter which often worked rather better than the Photoshop equivalent is no longer available and doesn’t seem to work in Photoshop CC. It will still run as stand-alone software under Windows 7 and can be used to produce even smoother images when applied to the results from Dfine2. But it does so at the expense of a little detail
A double pass can remove both white and black specks, but you need to convert images to sRGB before using it, and it does lose some detail, so need to be used with caution. And of course such processing is time-consuming and largely unnecessary. The Polaroid filter is best kept for use with scanned images where the dust is usually rather larger.
More about the event and more pictures at Osborne’s Nightmare Cuts.
The following day as George Osborne got to his feet in Parliament to deliver his speech I was outside his family interior decoration business on the King’s Road in Chelsea with Class War – as you can see and read at Class War at Osborne & Little.