Police filming English streets in 1935

This film illustrates an early example of technologically-mediated visual surveillance: the use of cine cameras by the British police in 1935 in the English town of Chesterfield in an operation to crack down on illegal street betting. The film accompanies an article by Chris Williams in Surveillance & Society 6(1) which explains what was going on and why… You can read the abstract or the full article Police filming English streets in 1935: the limits of mediated identification(Chris A Williams, James Patterson, James Taylor).

Chris A Williams, James Patterson, James Taylor

The Prince’s Rainforests Project and Sony World Photography Awards 2009

he Prince’s Rainforests Project and Sony World Photography Awards 2009 

  • Deadline for amateur submissions extended to 28 February 2009
  • Final call for professional photographers

Budding amateur environmental photographers now have until 28 February 2009 to submit their work to The Prince’s Rainforests Project (PRP) Award, a major new initiative for the 2009 Sony World Photography Awards. 

A selection of the best images by amateur photographers will be displayed in Cannes during the Sony World Photography Awards in April 2009, and these images will be used by The Prince’s Rainforests Project and Sony on various initiatives throughout the year to help communicate this important message.

Photographic entries are judged by a panel of experts including: Stuart Franklin, photographer and President of Magnum (UK); John Sauven, Director of Greenpeace (UK); Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier, Executive Director, International League of Conservation Photographers (USA); Helena Christensen, model and photographer (Denmark); Roberto Smeraldi, Director and Founder of Friends of the Earth – Brazilian Amazonia (Brazil); David de Rothschild, environmentalist and explorer (UK), and Kathy Moran¸ Senior Picture Editor of Natural History at Natural Geographic Magazine (USA).

This distinctive panel will be chaired by renowned British photographer and author, Tom Stoddart.

In his appeal for entries to the awards judge David de Rothschild commented “Creative expression through photography is a very powerful tool. It not only has the ability to present the facts and tell stories, but it has the capacity to give insights that can turn reflection into change. The Sony/PRP Awards are an ideal platform to harness creativity to implement change and in turn inspire, educate and engage individuals, communities and industry to take positive action for our planet.”

Fellow judge Roberto Smeraldi added “While we usually quote figures and studies to show how critical the forest is for our lives, it is crucial that we actually also show the link between the forest, the people and everyday’s life. Prince Charles’ initiative offers to us, in Brazil, a unique opportunity to demonstrate why action is dramatically required and why we have an amazing comparative advantage in this field.”

The professional Sony/PRP Award winner will be announced on 3 February 2009 and the amateur photographers selected to have their work exhibited in Cannes will be informed in March 2009.

Further information about the Sony World Photography Awards and details of how to enter the competition can be found at www.worldphotographyawards.org

Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony World Photography Awards (WPA), launched in 2007, lend a global platform for the photographic industry and community. Through a variety of international programmes including the week-long Festival @ The Sony World Photography Awards, the launch of an online magazine and a gallery, an international student programme and a touring exhibition, the WPA will continue to discover new talent and create avenues  through  which to reward photographers with the support and expertise of industry professionals. The winner of L’Iris D’Or – the best photograph for both the amateur and the professional awards – will be announced at the awards ceremony in Cannes on 16 April 2009.

The WPA website – www.worldphotographyawards.org now features an online magazine and gallery. It also includes comprehensive information about the awards, the categories, a current list of World Photographic Academy members, and key dates. Images from the 2008 awards are available via the website’s press centre.

The Prince’s Rainforests Project

The PRP consists of a team of 20 working out of St. James’s Palace who intend to leverage the convening power of The Prince of Wales to work with bodies ranging from Governments, international business and NGOs to the rainforest nations themselves and the people who depend on these forests for their livelihoods.

PRP’s objectives are to find a way to:
– Establish true economic values for the services provided by the rainforests;
– Identify possible sources of finance to pay for those services; and
– Develop efficient and equitable transfer mechanisms, alongside the necessary technical and institutional capabilities that may be required, to ensure that the funds aimed at conserving rainforests also contribute to improving local people’s long-term livelihoods
More about the PRP in www.princesrainforestsproject.org

Dear Mr Pepsident:


Dear Mr President‘ is PEPSI’s advert (thought and thus, it would be so much cooler if it was Mr PEPSIdent); you are suppose to answer this question: ‘what would you say to the man who is about to refresh America?’. PEPSI then becomes the channel, the messenger, the carrier, the pigeon, the media between the audience and the target. Very clever. An banking on one of the most widely liked presidents on the history of the United States of NorthAmerica, that is also clever. You can see there loads of videos and short textual messages from famous and the rest of us. 

Its all here.

A Photographic Share Economy?

President and First Lady Obama at the Inaugural Youth Ball

At the Inaugural Youth Ball, the new President of the United States of (North) America and the First Lady Obama salute the crowd.

What an amazing image!
While the event is happening, we the audience indulge in its consumption by recording it, rather than experiencing the event itself. We engage the media, the channel, the interface, and not the message. This image speaks volumes about how we experience reality, about our relation with the image world, and about ownership. I saw it recently on Coscientious (through TomorrowMuseum, Venture Beat, Ekstasis, Constant Siege). Although we have seem similar images or may have even experience this ourselves, specially during concerts, perhaps because of the event, Obama’s new presidency celebrations, it may have reached global values.

It is obvious that such mass-recorded events could not have taken place last century, without the advent of new technologies that could facilitate both the mass production and the mass distribution of the photographic apparatus. But it was bound to happen, as more and more people become owners of digital cameras.

There is a double intrinsic idea in the photographic act: not only you think it is worth recording, but it is also worth owning. The image Im taking is precious both because I was there and it was important, and because I desire to be the owner of that document.

A while ago I read about Kevin Kelly’s essay Better Than Owning, that arrived to me in a much shorter version in Boing Boing feed, that I read about again in Share Economy, and I think it is worth repeating here:

Very likely, in the near future, I won’t “own” any music, or books, or movies. Instead I will have immediate access to all music, all books, all movies using an always-on service, via a subscription fee or tax. I won’t buy – as in make a decision to own — any individual music or books because I can simply request to see or hear them on demand from the stream of ALL. I may pay for them in bulk but I won’t own them. The request to enjoy a work is thus separated from the more complicated choice of whether I want to “own” it. I can consume a movie, music or book without having to decide or follow up on ownership.

For many people this type of instant universal access is better than owning. No responsibility of care, backing up, sorting, cataloging, cleaning, or storage. As they gain in public accessibility, books, music and movies are headed to become social goods even though they might not be paid by taxes. It’s not hard to imagine most other intangible goods becoming social goods as well. Games, education, and health info are also headed in that direction.

It is hard to chew a way forward in terms of a Photographic share economy, though while it seems excessive for mankind to record the same event with millions of cameras, we all want to have one, to take one. Maybe the issue is there, in the sharing. Or perhaps we have to relax and enjoy what we are experiencing rather than recording it (remember how we became slaves of our video-cameras in the 80’s?), is it then a matter of education? a cultural construct?

Focal-plane Shutter

 What do these two images have in common?

Car Trip, Papa at 80 kilometers an hour, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1913.
‘Car Trip, Papa at 80 kilometers an hour’, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, 1913.

A cool shot by Robin Blandford
‘Missing Person Search & Recovery’, by Robin Blandford.

Ok, the title of the post is a bit of a giveaway, but the answer is the shutter. Well, this is technically incorrect, as the photo of the helicopter was taken with a mobile phone, a Blackberry Bold, and such cameras do not have a shutter – at least not that I know. So then, how is it possible to get such an effect? 

Most european helicopters main rotors rotate clockwise, but the one in Robin’s photo rotate anti-clockwise, as you could guess by the shape of the blade. If it rotated clockwise, the blades would be ‘C’ shapped. Thanks to this you can tell how does his mobile’s camera records, line by line, from top to bottom, left to right. Interesting. 

Ica Reflex, 1913

Lartigue used a Ica Reflex for 3 1/2 x 4 3/4 inch glass  negatives, with a Zeiss Tessar 1:4.5 150mm objective. This camera had a top mounted focusing screen, and the peculiarity of sporting a horizontal focal-plane shutter, which would explain the elliptical form of the wheels. Lartigue followed the motion with the camera, thus the sharp figure of the car and the drivers against the blurred background. 

“Cameras with this type of focal-plane shutters also produce image distortion when photographing fast moving objects or panning rapidly. Depending on the direction of travel, the recorded image can be seen to be elongated if motion is in the direction of the shutter blades, or compressed if travelling in the opposite direction to the shutter blades”, says Wikipedia 

Blackberry Bold, 2008.

As in the case of Lartigue’s image, the distortion on the Blackberry’s image creates a fascinating effect. So we can see that the digital world can still yield some beautiful analog-like aberrations. Would be an interesting test to shot a speeding sports car with the Blackberry…