Archive for the ‘Photo Issues’ Category

Protesting in the rain

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Protests, particularly those over climate change, seem to rather often take place in the rain, and it causes problems both for protesters and photographers. Bad weather cuts down the number of people who come out to protest, leaving only the hard core; few of us like getting wet or cold or both and those who are wondering whether they should make the effort to take part are likely to take a look out of the window and think to themselves that perhaps they will go on the next protest and give this one a miss.

And of course photographers like myself do sometimes check the weather forecast and if its an event I’m wondering whether or not to cover it can be the deciding factor. I don’t like the cold or the wet, and I don’t really like working in the dark either, though I’m prepared to go out and do my best if I think it is really important.

Protesters can sometimes shelter under umbrellas, though it can be hard to carry a placard or poster as well as a brolly. It has to be pretty extreme before I’ll try to hold one while I’m taking photographs; really I need both hands for the cameras and an umbrella just gets in the way too much. It’s an accessory that really needs to come with an assistant to hold it.

While printed placards normally stand up to the rain, hand-made ones, usually of more interest, often have images or messages that run, or glued on letters or pictures that fall off. Most of the cameras I use are reasonably weatherproof, and some of the lenses are also said to be so.

I’ve tried using various kinds of plastic bags to keep cameras dry, including those manufactured and sold for the purpose, but have never found them much use. And of course you can’t put them over the part that really matters, the front surface of the lens.

I generally now work holding a chamois leather (vegans could try a microfibre cloth but they don’t work as well) balled up in my hand pressed against the front surface, taking it out immediately before I want to take a picture, and replacing it after I’ve pressed the shutter. But it’s surprising how often a rain drop can fall while you are focussing and composing the image.

When I know there is to be prolonged heavy rain I’ll think about wearing a poncho and then it’s easy to simply lift out the camera and take a picture then put it back in the dry. But my bag isn’t big enough to hold the poncho and I don’t like having it hanging around my waist. Usually I have a jacket and can put one camera inside on my chest, though it does mean opening the zip enough so I get a bit wet.

Lens hoods help too, at least with long lenses, but those on wideangles and most zooms give little protection against rain falling on the front element.

Something I’ve not heard much talk about, but has often been a real problem for me in wet weather is condensation on the inside of the lens. I can’t really understand why this is such a great problem for me, as I would only expect it to happen when warmer air saturated with moisture meets a cold glass surface. But it seems to happen whenever I’m working for a long period in wet conditions, at first simply giving flare and reducing contrast in all or part of the image and then when it gets worse making the lens unusable until I spend some time in a warmer place and it evaporates.

By the time we had got from Parliament Square to Piccadilly Circus, both the lenses I was using were beginning to steam up, and I decided it was time to get somewhere warmer and dry if I was going to cover the second event in my diary. This was in Kensington and fortunately my the time I had travelled there with a little help the lenses were clear again. One of the lenses changed its length when it zoomed, and so pulled air in an out helping the drying – and I also wiped any moisture off the lens barrel that became exposed when zooming out.

Students march for climate


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Requiem for a Dead Planet

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

The Daily Mail was banned by Wikipedia as an ‘unreliable’ source in 2017, and fact checking sites and organisations regularly find that it published materail that is known to be untrue. But of course there are stories in it that are factually correct, though even these often have misleading and sensational headlines.

It has a long history of support for extreme right views and its proprieter in the early 1930s Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere was a friend of both Hitler and Mussolini and ensured his papers published articles in support of the fascists and in 1934 wrote and published an article ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ urging young men to join Mosley’s thugs. The family still have a controlling share in the Mail group, which includes the Mail on Sunday and the daily free Metro. Northcliffe House in Kensington where this protest took place is now also the home of Independent, London Live and the Evening Standard.

Extinction Rebellion had organised the protest to urge the press to stop publishing denials of climate change and to tell the truth about the climate emergency. They want the press to “put the full resources of their papers behind saving humanity from climate catastrophe and ecological collapse, and protect what is left of the natural world. “

As well as stopping publishing fake science, this would also mean changing the content of the papers to remove advertising and editorial material that promotes high-carbon lifestyles, whether about fashion, travel, food or other consumerist content and so enabling government can take the drastic action needed.

It was a protest where a great deal of thought and effort had gone into visual material, including skeletons, banners and lilies, as well as having classical music from XRBaroque who performed inside a large gazebo.

It was still raining most of the time, heavy at times, but Northcliffe House has a large projecting porch over its entrance which kept the rain off most of the protesters, and at least some of the time from photographers too. And it meant that most of those who took part in the die-in had a fairly dry pavement to lie down on. But there were still times like the die-in when to stand where I needed to take pictures meant standing in the rain. My lenses had dried out on the journey from Piccadilly Circus, but after taking pictures for an hour or so here I was having trouble with condensation.

Since it was ‘A Requiem for a dead Planet‘ some of those attending had come in suitably funereal dress, including one man in black with a black hat and dark glasses. I noticed these were reflecting some of the banners on the floor and as he moved around the white XR symbols on a black banner werem at times reflected in the lenses. There was a short period of time when there was a suitable banner behind him too, with skulls, and I took a whole series of pictures trying to get the effect I wanted. It would have been tricky to even set this up and I was pleased to get one frame with exactly the effect I wanted. People who were there have said to me “I didn’t see he was wearing glasses with the XR symbol on them” and I’ve just smiled.

More pictures at Requiem for a Dead Planet at Daily Mail


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Fuji or Olympus?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

This is the question I’ve been asking myself for some weeks or months. For a year or so I’ve been finding a camera bag full of Nikon gear too heavy to carry for the length of time needed to cover events in London. It’s mainly standing around that I find a problem so far as my health is concerned, and I have to remember to either sit down or to keep moving to stop my ageing veins becoming inflamed. Walking is a little better, though I do get tired much more quickly, and while I used to walk for the length of a working day and perhaps cover ten or a dozen miles, now I get tired and give up in half the time.

I can still run when I need to, though not quite as far or as fast as when young. Last Saturday when I saw a march going down Whitehall from in front of the National Gallery I ran to catch up with the front of it, around 600 yards in the fastest time I’ve done for some years. But still slow compared to my youth, when before smoking took its toll I recorded some decent but not outstanding times. I once won a quarter mile at the local youth sports in a world record time and at least fifty yards ahead of the next runner. The timekeepers ran up to me pointing at the time on their watches, and in a perhaps stupid fit of honesty I told them that the race officials had put the finishing tape in the wrong place. I was very annoyed as the conditions had been perfect and I would surely have recorded a personal best on the day over the full distance.

But no I feel a great need to cut down the weight I carry, and the Nikons are only for special occasions (the D810 is now my slide scanner – more about that one day in another post.)

For some years my holiday cameras have been Fujis. I started with the fixed lens Fuji X100, then went on to an X-E2, followed before too long by an X-E3. I swapped my Leica M8 with a friend for an X-Pro1 because I wanted to work in colour without all the fuss that the M8 needed. All of these Fujis were good in their way – and if I could be satisfied with just a say 28, 35 and 50mm equivalent lenses I would have been happy with the X Pro1. But I really got serious with Fuji with the X-T1.

I tried working with the X-T1 and one of the Nikons. It was still a fairly heavy combination, but the X-T1 was pretty good (if occasionally mystifying.) Its 10-24mm wideangle zoom was an improvement optically than the Nikon 18-35mm that I’d bought when the 16-36mm gave up the ghost (it remains on my desk with an equally almost certainly beyond economic repair D700 as an expensive paperweight) though sometimes a little slow to focus. It was good to have the extra wide angle that its 15-36mm equivalent provided – I sometimes found the Nikon’s 18mm not quite wide enough.

But things were still too heavy. And when I saw an Olympus OMD M5 II selling new for just over £400, Micro Four Thirds seemed to be the answer (as one of my colleagues had been telling me whenever we met.) Along with the body I bought the absurdly small and light Olympus 18- 150mm, also going cheap. Just over 3 inches long and only 10 oz. I don’t own the Nikon equivalent, but it is half as long again, weighs almost three times as much and costs over twice what I paid for the OM lens.

And using the M5 II usually turned out to be a great experience, except for a few quirks – the most serious of which was perhaps the ease with which the main control dial could be inadvertantly moved. Working in shutter priority it is far too easy to find yourself taking pictures at 1/8th rather than the 1/250th you have consciously selected. Though with its effective in-camera stabilisation the pictures were still usually sharp unless anyone moved.

I don’t make a great deal of use of long lenses, but this August I spent some time testing the Nikon telephotos I do have, an elderly 70-300 and a couple of shorter zooms (one a DX) against the Olympus. Despite the much smaller 4/3 sensor, this gave the sharpest images and I could see no difference in the amount of detail.

For the past months I’ve been working almost all the time with the Fuji X-T1 and the Olympus M5 II. I’ve bought an expensive Panasonic Leica wide angle zoom for the Olympus, and can chose either camera for wide-angle or telephoto use, and can’t quite decide which I prefer. Both cameras have their quirks and neither is as straightforward to use as the Nikons. And winter weather and working in poor light have made some limitations felt, particularly with the noise in Olympus images at ISO over 3200. The D750 gives noticeably better results at ISO 6400 and focuses better in low light.

Of course the X-T1 is quite an old model by now – and the M5 II is now being updated as the M5 III. It would be easier to work with two cameras from the same marque, and I’ve been wondering which way to go. The M5 III seems only a minor upgrade on the II, and annoyingly takes slightly different batteries. I’ve been thinking of getting a second M5 II instead of waiting for the III, and the price is now even slightly lower. The X-T30 looks much more of an upgrade on the XT1, and is even lighter than the Olympus, but is not weatherproof, and I have more Fuji lenses… With some special offers and rebates the difference in cost isn’t great…


Paris Pictures

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Sometime in July 2017 I stopped getting my daily e-mail from l’oeil de la photographie – The Eye of Photography and though I missed it, soon forget to rejoin their free mailing list, which I’ve now done as I write this.

A post on Facebook linking to the site today, reminded me of what I have been missing, as well as to the end of the oldest photo agency in Paris, Roger-Viollet. Founded in 1938 by two “passionate photographers”, Hélène Roger-Viollet and her husband Jean-Victor Fischer it remained at its premises at 6, rue de Seine until now. After the founders deaths in 1985 they left the business and its huge collections to the City of Paris, and in 2005 it became a part of the local public company the Parisienne de Photographie, distributing works from the unique Roger-Viollet collection of nearly 4 million negatives and 2 million prints as well as those from the huge collections of many Parisian museums as well as some foreign historical collections in France and several independent photographers.

You can get an idea of the range of their work from their web site, though it may not remain on the web long. It truly is a remarkable collection, particularly of photographs of Paris from the 19th and 20th century. I particularly enjoyed looking at the pictures from the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris.

As ‘l’oeil‘ says, the city council of Paris voted to close the Parisienne de Photographie on November 15th because of its large losses, incurred in part by the costs of digitising the huge image collection. Surprisingly the collection has been handed to a private company which does not publish its accounts, NLDR, rather than a public company or state institution.

The article also states that ‘the museums and libraries of the City of Paris will soon adopt the “open content”, that is to say the free availability of images‘ though I can’t understand why this should make NLDR a more appropriate choice. It now has been given an already digitised collection with an annual turnover of over a million euros and a public grant of 482 000 € to exploit.

What worried me rather when I ‘Googled’ “Roger-Viollet” was that “roger viollet getty images” came up several suggestions above the actual agency. Getty gets everywhere, and has had a disastrous effect on lowering image prices, not just for agencies but also for photographers. It is the basic reason that so many other agencies have already disappeared – and for the pathetically low reproduction fees now paid by most publications.

The Eye of Photography is a bilingual site, and one where I always find much of interest whenever I visit – and today was no exception (and it delayed writing this post considerably.) I look forward to receiving their daily e-mails.

Daido Moriyama’s Desire

Monday, November 18th, 2019

I’ve long been a fan of Daido Moriyama, and also of Photo District News (PDN), which was required reading back when I was paid to write about photography on the web for a US-owned web company, and whose web site remains on my list of sites to visit when I have a spare moment. The magazine is still available in print – and you can also subscribe for a digital edition, but you can sign up for free to read the articles on the web site, which include Daido Moriyama’s Street Photography Advice Sounds Sexy (and It Works) which I found a few days ago thanks to a shorter post on PDNPulse.

One of the thicker blocks on my overloaded bookshelves is Provoke: Between Protest and Performance, published in 2016 and I think my ‘Book of the Year’ (and now selling used on Amazon for four times what I paid for it.)

Eikoh Hosoe takes a picture at Alcatraz in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, 2005

Moriyama in 1961 became assistant to Eikoh Hosoe who I was privileged to meet in Poland in 2005. In 1968 and 1969, together with Takuma Nakahira, Takahiko Okada, Yutaka Takanashi, and Kôji Taki he produced the three issues of the magazine ‘Provoke’ around which the book is based. Since then he has produced so much more – and you can see just a little on his web site.

The article on PDN is an excerpt from his latest book, Daido Moriyama: How I Take Photographs, written by Moriyama and Takeshi Nakamoto. It stresses the need to be open to experiences and to really look at things and react to them. Like him I’m a strong believer in the importance of “desire”.

Big money

Sunday, November 17th, 2019

Blogger and photojournalist Avi Adelman has just hit the jackpot in the US with a settlement from Dallas Area Rapid Transit system (DART) of $345,000 for his wrongful arrest for criminal trespass when he photographed a person on the ground being treated by paramedics for an overdose at Rosa Parks Plaza, in public in a public place which is DART property. After the arrest he was detained for a day, but a week later the charge was dropped and after an investigation the arresting officer was later disciplined.

You can read the story on Petapixel at Photographer Wins $345K Settlement Over Unlawful Arrest While Taking Pictures.

The arresting officer took action because she beleived that Adelman taking pictures was in breach of the medical privacy law established in the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). But as Adelman says, “The subjective personal opinions of LEO personnel should never be allowed to interfere with lawful and protected First Amendment activities.

The article states that Adelman considers this settlement “a major win for photojournalists everywhere”, but I think he only means photographers anywhere in the United States. Here we don’t have a written constitution to have a “First Amendment”, and certainly any settlement that might have been reached in the UK over such a case would have been for only a fraction of the amount DART paid.

I don’t think either that there was any great public interest in the pictures that Adelman was taking, and probably police and others here would have attempted to protect the privacy of the unfortunate person being photographed. Unless it was someone in the public eye or the police or paramedics were clearly abusing someone I don’t think I would have wanted to take pictures of this incident in any case.

However taking such pictures would probably also have been legal here, as it was a public event taking place in an area open to the public where there could be no real expectation of privacy. Here it’s more a matter of decency than legality. But some other countries attach more importance to personal privacy and photographers who photograph such events could find themselves paying out rather than raking it in.

Elsewhere

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Two recent articles I’ve read on other sites that I think you might be interested in, both with some fine photographs as illustrations.

In Can Photojournalists Be Entirely Objective? on Artsy, Kelsey Ables looks at the problem that photographers have in “today’s social media–oriented political landscape “of following the NPPA Code of Ethics instructions to “recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work” and to “resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.”

If you are a regular reader you will know what I think of photo-ops. A few years ago I was involved in a NUJ attempt to produce a code of ethic and came to very much appreciate the problems involved.

The second piece is more entertaining, and is a feature on Aperture advertising an Aperture/Magnum print sale, now over. 15 Photographers Reveal What’s Hidden in Their Work and the pictures were among the over 120 included with roughly postcard size (6×6 inches) prints selling for $100 a piece with an undisclosed percentage going to Aperture.

I’m not quite sure what makes a postcard size print “museum quality” though these are “signed or estate-stamped“, and quite frankly I think a waste of money.

If you’ve a a spare $100 and want to support Aperture take out a magazine subscription, which will get you many more images printed high quality and mainly rather larger. I subscribed for many years but recently gave it up partly because I already have far too many books and magazines around the house, but also because frankly it just isn’t as interesting as it used to be.

The pictures are accompanied by short comments by the photographers (quotations from previous writing by those who are no longer with us.) There are a few of the 15 I’d hang on my own wall if I had a rather larger than postcard copy.

The Time Is Now

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Lobbies of Parliament are generally not the most exciting things to photograph, but at least ‘The Time is NOW for Climate Justice‘ began with a kind of march, and had at least one very recognisable face in ROwan Williams.

I’m sure some of the other faith leaders holding the banner as they march along the pavement in Whitehall will be recognisable to some, and we can probably work out which faith most of them are representing. It was a rather timid march, moving quietly and sticking to the pavement, which isn’t very wide here and has quite a few obstacles as well as tourists to get in the way of both photographers and marchers.

The front of the march halted briefly for photographs in Parliament Square, though the place just isn’t so interesting with Big Ben (and the rest of the Clock Tower) under wraps. As well as to photographers, this is a disappointment to the tourists who I think should get a discount on their trips to London until the covers are lifted. I’ve managed to partly hide the rather ugly sight behind Lloyd George in his Superman costume about to leap off his plinth, though I have to say his is one of my least favourite statures, looking like some nasty plastic toy that might come free in your cornflakes.

I let the leaders move on and walked back to photograph the other walkers straggling along behind, eventually finding some who were enjoying themselves and making a considerably more lively protest.

A few minutes later I met yet more people marching down Whitehall, this time with some dressed in giant condoms, with the message “Don’t Screw With The Planet” and that it’s no use us cutting carbon footprints if we keep increasing the number of feet. 

‘Population Matters’, of course it does, and it’s a message that is far more important for the richest nations, where people typically have ten times the carbon footprint per capita than in poorer countries with high birth rates. The most effective way to curb population growth in poor countries is to increase people’s wealth and security. While it’s good to make effective contraception cheap and widely available, people also have to want to use it.

More pictures at:
Time Is Now Walk of Witness
Condoms Cut Carbon

Shot in Soho

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

It’s a while since I’ve been to the Photographers’ Gallery, which once used to be a regular place to call. I was a member for many years, probably more than 30, and used to attend most of the openings there, as well as dropping in occasionally when I was in town, perhaps to have a coffee, lock and the pictures and browse in the bookshop, as well as attend some of the lectures and workshops that took place there.

Back in the old days the gallery had an extensive library, mostly I think donated by photographers and run by volunteers, and it was a good place to visit and study books that were no longer available or too expensive to buy.

Back in the 1980s I was a member of a photographers group that had regular meetings there mainly looking at work that others had brought in, and some well-known photographers would drop in and show a portfolio and comment on our work. It was a part of the gallery’s education programme that that was needed for their charity status, but one that their education officer found hard to handle, and was very pleased to be able to drop in 1987.

I also worked at one time with a group set up to produce educational material there, getting some time release from the college where I was working. I’m not sure that we ever produced any material but it was interesting and fun to do.

There was a different atmosphere to the place in the old days. I used to go to the bookshop or café not just to look at books and drink coffee but for intelligent conversation about photography both with staff and other users. This just doesn’t seem to happen any more.

In those days the gallery was in Great Newport St, just a short walk from where I often find myself with some spare time in Trafalgar Square. Nowadays I tend to go into the National Gallery or the National Portrait Gallery instead. Since 2009 The Photographers’ Gallery is now a little further to go in Ramillies St, but mostly I gave up going because so many shows there held little interest for me.

I continued being a member for some years, even though I only went very occasionally until one year the cost of membership increased significantly for me and others of advanced years when they removed concessionary membership rates. Of course I could have afforded it, though I’m not rich, but the jump in cost made me think whether it was worth it.

What got me thinking about this was an on-line post on the British Journal of Photography web site. Again I was a BJP subscriber for many years, when it was a weekly trade journal and as well as publishing some well-written reviews of equipment and exhibitions had a useful listing of exhibitions. Then the BJP was an essential guide to what was happening in photography in the UK, but at some point it morphed into a monthly doing what other photo magazines already did, often better, and sometimes mainly featuring work which was of little interest to me. There seemed little point in continuing my subscription.

Of course it does still publish some interesting articles on good work, and the article I read on the web site by Marigold Warner, Anders Peterson on Soho, Cafe Lehmitz, and intention is a fine example. 18 images by Peterson are in the show ‘ Shot in Soho‘, along with work by William Klein and several others at the Photographers Gallery, London until 09 February 2019 (more pictures, some rather boring on the press release) and I will be finding time to go along and see the show, probably after 17.00 when entry is free. Usually the gallery closes at 18.00 but stays open until 20.00 on Thursdays.


End Live Transport

Monday, October 28th, 2019

My heart sinks when any event I am intending to document is described as a “photo-opportunity”, or, as in this case has clearly been designed as such by someone working in PR. It’s like when someone tells me “this will make a great photograph” and I’m obliged to take some rather pedestrian images, often of large groups doing something not very interesting.

I’m a photographer, and see it as my role to come up with ways to tell the story and not to be told how to see things, often by people who seem bereft of any power of thinking visually. Of course it’s useful if people have made posters and placards, but very few really add to a scene if reproduced in large numbers. Perhaps the only example of those that do I can think of offhand are those produced by David Gentleman for Stop the War protests.

The idea of a poster showing part of a cow’s face that people could hold up in front of them and complete with the left side of their own face wasn’t a bad one, and it works well when photographing one or two people, but doesn’t at least for me for a whole herd. It simply isn’t possible to see what it is meant to be – and I’ve only photographed around half the herd in the picture above.

Cut down the numbers and you can see it beginning to work, but I think the best attempt I managed was the image at the top of this post, with only two people involved.

Perhaps it could have been even better with just one person, but I chose to photograph John Flack, who recently lost his seat as a Conservative MEP with another poster which made clear by its text what the event was about. I know nothing about his background, but to me he looks very much the image of a wealthy farmer, though appearances are often deceptive and Wikipedia informs me that as well as being an active animal welfare campaigner he was a chartered surveyor and a director of various property companies. After a distinct lack of success in his campaigns for parliament and failing to become an MEP for the East of England in both 2009 and 2014 he rose to that status after sitting MEP Vicky Ford was elected as an MP in 2017.

The event marking Stop Live Transport International Awareness Day was a curiously Conservative one, with as well as John Flack, Tory MP Theresa Villiers speaking. Other speakers were Compassion in World Farming CEO Philip Lymbery , Professor Jo Cambridge of Vets Against Live Export and actor Peter Egan .

More at Rally to end Live Animal Transport.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.