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July 19th, 2012

New Gizmos at the Olympics: AP’s Robotic Cameras

Major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Olympic games are the incubation grounds for new camera technology, because news organizations are jockeying for competitive advantage and a chance to show off. And the Summer Olympics in London are no exception.

Associated Press has posted this promotional video touting the robotic cameras it has developed for this year’s games. Remote cameras are usually fixed, but operators of AP’s remote robotic cameras will be able to pan, zoom, and swivel the camera up and down using a joy stick, as they monitor the view on a computer screen–and click the shutter at decisive moments.

AP says it will have a robotic camera in each of 12 different venues. Anticipating where all this might be leading, we asked whether a single operator will be controlling several cameras at once, and whether operators can work from far-off locations–say a desk in New York–similar to the way the military flies its drones.

AP spokesperson Paul Colford says there will be one operator per camera. He adds that according to AP director of photography Santiago Lyon, the operator has to be at the venue where the camera is located, “because otherwise there would be a delay in what the operator is seeing.”

July 2nd, 2012

Your Cellphone Is Not Your Friend, and Other Security Tips For Conflict Zones

The surveillance of journalists covering Syria has heightened concern about the risks journalists face in relying on mobile communications and cellphones. In February, journalists Remi Ochlick and Marie Colvin were killed when shells struck the press center that they and other journalists were using to transmit their stories; the Syrian army may have used satellite signals from the center to target it.

More recently the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that  Syrian security agents in October arrested a British journalist, seizing his laptop, cellphone, camera and video he had shot while interviewing anti-government Syrian activists; several of these dissidents have been arrested, one has fled the country and another has disappeared.

In the wake of these incidents, as well as attacks on journalists and their sources elsewhere, several journalism organizations have been hammering on the need for journalists to take precautions when using cellphones and laptops in certain areas, to protect the contact information they store electronically, and to make sure their communications are secure.

Several guides to protecting and encrypting your data are available online for free:

- The 2012 edition of CPJ’s Journalist Security Guide from CPJ has added chapters on how to protect your communications from surveillance and secure your data. You can download the guide here.

- SaferMobile.org, a non-profit helping journalists, has a new Mobile Security Survival Guide. It covers topics such as how to disable the GPS in your phone, set up secure communications and protect sensitive information. It also has links to best practices for using satellite phones.

- The web site Media Helping Media recently posted “Tips for Staying Safe on Mobile,” which includes information on staying anonymous while using social media, uploading photos and stories safely, and browsing the internet securely.

- If you want a condensed summary of these and other security tips,  Lauren Wolfe, a former editor at CPJ and director of Women Under Siege, Tweeted tips from two seminars on journalism security held on World Press Freedom Day. You can find a Storify of the information she gleaned here.

Here are a few precautions suggested in all these guides:
-Take the battery out of your phone (don’t simply turn it off) to make sure it’s not transmitting its location to the cellphone network. (Don’t take an iPhone to meet sources who may be targeted.)

-If you connect to social media or other major web sites from the field, install HTTPS Everywhere browser extension, which makes your web browsing more secure. Make sure your smartphone supports sites with the https:// prefix.

-Download contacts, captions and story notes to a secure computer when possible, then wipe your phone, including the log of calls and SMS messages.

-Text messaging is one of the least secure ways to communication. Encryption software is available to encode your messages. But note: CPJ’s Security Guide and other resources point out that using encryption may call attention to your communications.

Paranoid? Sure. But it’s not only your own safety you have to be concerned about.

Related articles
Were Journalists in Homs Targeted for Bombing?

Survival Training for Conflict Zones

 

June 14th, 2012

Photog Celebrates 30th B-day by Raising $30K for Charity

An image of a young boy at GLIDE San Fransisco by Lisa Wiseman.

Lisa Wiseman created a series of portraits of GLIDE clients, staffmembers, founders and executives as part of her The 30Love project.

San Francisco-based photographer Lisa Wiseman has created an online photography project that she’s using to help raise $30,000 in 30 days for GLIDE, a San Francisco social services organization that provides food, healthcare and training to needy people.

To raise the funds Wiseman, who has volunteered with GLIDE for several years, and a group of 12 cohorts created “The 30Love,” a Web site/art project where they are collecting donors’ photographs and statements about “what love means to them.”

Says Wiseman of the site: “We honed the concept over time and built a unique interactive photography constellation as the vehicle by which users engage with The 30Love participants. When the constellation is zoomed out, the constellations’ dots ‘run away’ from your mouse cursor. As you zoom in, the dots have less resistance and become images, each of which represents an individual 30Love participant. Once zoomed in far enough, you can click on any photo and you’ll be able to view that user’s photo, name, location and quote about what love means to them. In this way, The 30Love is a global time-capsule of what love means.”

In creating the project, Wiseman was inspired by a close friend who frequently uses holidays and other occasions “to do large-scale, fun, charitable projects,” and by writer Colleen Wainwright, who last year raised $50,000 for a charity in 50 days to mark her 50th birthday.

“Beyond fundraising, this project allows me to explore my interlinking passions for photography and technology,” Wiseman says. “Knowing that people all over the world will spend a moment thinking about what love means to them is my core personal motivation. I hope the project engages on a global level so that viewers can visit the website to explore the various dimensions of what love can mean around the world.”

For more information, and to contribute to the project, visit The 30Love.

May 4th, 2012

New Pinterest Credit Feature Does Little to Protect Pinterest Users

Several days ago, Pinterest announced a new feature that automatically credits and links back to content that Pinterest users re-post from Vimeo, YouTube, Behance and Flickr. The announcement was part of Pinterest’s campaign to counter perceptions that copyright infringement is part of its corporate DNA. But the announcement amounted to little more than window dressing, and could give Pinterest users a false sense of security.

Pinterest, as we pointed out in a recent story, puts all the liability for infringement squarely in the lap of its users. The service enables those users to “pin” content from anywhere on the web onto a virtual bulletin board. Average users don’t realize that what Pinterest encourages them to do–copy and re-publish digital content without permission–is a copyright violation. Not surprisingly, Pinterest doesn’t go out of its way to make that clear to its users.

The automatic credits and link-backs to Vimeo, YouTube, Behance and Flickr don’t give users any added protection. For one thing, content owners post videos and photos to those four sites expecting–no, encouraging–others to share their content. In other words, most people who use YouTube, etc. would sooner thank Pinterest users for re-posting (“pinning”) their digital files than sue them for infringement.

A real accomplishment on Pinterest’s part would be to add a feature that automatically credits and links back to every item re-posted by a Pinterest user. That might satisfy content owners who don’t mind others re-posting their photos, etc. as long as they credit the owners. And it might help people who object to having their content used without permission discover the unauthorized uses and put a stop to it: They could send a take-down notice to Pinterest, and demand payment from the Pinterest user who violated their copyright.

That would be bad for Pinterest’s business, of course. But Pinterest risks little by its very limited credit/link feature, which could ultimately hurt Pinterest users by sending them a dangerous message: that it’s OK to “pin” content without permission as long as you give the copyright owner credit.

That isn’t the case, as any copyright lawyer will tell you. Copyright law says you can’t re-publish a work without permission from the copyright holder. Giving the owner credit is no substitute for permission. Pinterest still has much work to inform its users of their legal risks, and help those users protect themselves.

Related:
Copyright Watch: The Liability-Proof World of Pinterest

March 1st, 2012

Photo Editor Explains How Vintage Photos Lead the New York Times Onto Tumblr

Earlier this week The New York Times made its first foray onto Tumblr with The Lively Morgue, which showcases vintage photographs from the newspaper’s print archive, which is known as “the morgue” for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, according to the Times.

“[Launching a Tumblr blog] made sense for a lot of reasons,” says deputy photo editor Meaghan Looram, who was one of several Times staffers who worked on the project. “Obviously Tumblr is a super visual platform and on top of that, from what I understand, vintage photography is really popular on Tumblr.”

In addition to showing the scans of vintage photographic prints, The Lively Morgue’s custom design also allows viewers to inspect the backs of the prints, where they can see editors’ markings, original captions and other information about the images, and the way the newsroom trafficked and filed them.

“For someone that’s not interested in that level of detail they can appreciate the fronts of the images,” Looram notes, “but I think [showing the backs of the prints] gives the project a really nice level of sophistication and added value. And for people that are interested in photo archiving or photo history or the history of the paper, I think it’s just a really interesting level of detail.”

Through its first few days, the Times‘ Tumblr has featured photographs from the 1930s, 50s, 60s and 70s, ranging in subject matter from sports to fashion to crime. As of Wednesday night, the blog already had roughly 10,000 followers, Looram says. Several of the images had hundreds of notes and reblogs.

Looram notes there is some concern over the amount of control the Times is relinquishing, because Tumblr allows for rapid sharing and dissemination of content. To encourage people who like the images they see on Tumblr to buy prints, The Lively Morgue features a link to a Times store where prints can be ordered. “In a lot of cases these are prints that you can buy through our store, so we’re hoping that people will do that,” Looram explains. “But I think that that’s something that we have to be concerned about even with images on our Web site.”

Though The Lively Morgue links to a print store, Looram says the project was “primarily motivated by an interest in editorially getting these images seen, and also finding an appropriate foray for us into Tumblr.”

The project, which was based on a series of posts picture editor Darcy Eveleigh created on the Times‘ photojournalism blog, Lens, originated with Heena Koh, a member of the Times’ digital design team, and Alexis Mainland, the social media editor. Looram says everyone working on it is doing it “in addition to their own duties” because they are excited about the platform and the opportunity to share the archive.

The social media success of the Lens blog, and of the Times‘ photography in general, also generated energy, Looram says. “I think we’re very encouraged by the popularity of the Lens blog and the amount of sharing in social networks about our photography and photography that we’re highlighting, so that’s definitely encouraging to us and probably was a good indicator for the level of interest we would see in a project like The Lively Morgue.”

February 29th, 2012

Apple Apps Have Access To Your Private Photos, Report Says

The New York Times‘ Bits blog published a report today suggesting that companies that make apps for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch may have access to the photographs and videos you store on your devices.

When apps ask permission to access a user’s location information and the user grants it, the app “can copy the user’s entire photo library,” the Times reports.

Pros who use their iPhones to make images for business or pleasure should consider pressing “don’t allow” the next time an app asks to use your location data.

February 10th, 2012

After Arrest, Photog Recovers Deleted Video File and Vows to Sue Police

There was another photographer arrested last week when police moved in to break up an Occupy encampment in Miami. But this time, police may have grabbed a tiger by the tail.

The photographer managed to capture his arrest–or most of it–on video. Police allegedly erased the video file, which the photographer says he has since recovered. Not only will it exonerate him, he says, but it gives him the evidence he needs to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for violation of his civil rights.

The photographer happens to be Carlos Miller, a tireless critic of police harassment of photographers and the voice behind the Photography Is Not a Crime blog. At the time of his arrest last week, he was shooting for MiamiBeach411.com, a local news and travel site where he works as a senior editor. (more…)

November 30th, 2011

PDN Video Pick: Marco Grob’s Afghanistan Portraits

If you’ve read PDN‘s story on Marco Grob’s techniques for lighting and shooting portraits fast (see “How I Got That Shot: The 3-Minute Portrait” in our December issue) you may be curious to see Grob in action. This video shows Grob using his portable lighting set up and handheld Hassie to photograph survivors of landmines in Afghanistan.

Grob traveled to Afghanistan in February to document the work of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA). More than one million people in Afghanistan have been injured or affected by landmines and other unexploded ordinances left from decades of conflict. Grob documented the work MACCA and UNMAS are doing to clear the Afghan countryside of landmines and to educate the public about the risks these devices pose. Grob talked about his portraits with the UN News Center.

October 5th, 2011

Who Photographers Follow On Tumblr

© Jody Rogac. A recent entry on Jody Rogac's Tumblr.

Photographers have used micro-blogging site Tumblr as a tool to share their work with audiences online, many of them building followings that number in the thousands and even tens of thousands. (For more on how photographers are using Tumblr see our October feature, “Why Photographers Love Tumblr.”)

But photographers also use the site to follow other shooters, keeping up with what their peers are doing and passing along work they like or admire.

JUCO, the photography team of Julia Galdo and Cody Cloud, keep up with other photographers like Noah Kalina, with whom they share a rep, Chris McPherson, Elizabeth Weinberg, Ryan Schude, Dan Busta and the duo Day 19. (Kalina also published a list of photographers who have Tumblr pages, which is useful for people who are new to the site or want to find new people to follow.)

Ryan Pfluger follows Daniel Shea, Tony Katai, Christopher Schreck, Alexi Hobbs, and a Tumblr called “Mull it Over,” run by Jonathan Cherry, which features Q&A’s with new photographers once a week.

Alec Soth, who used Tumblr for a Magnum project earlier this year, says he recently “confessed” to an intern that he likes Terry Richardson’s Diary on Tumblr.

“In my Google reader, there’s a thousand unread things, and I find myself clicking on [Richardson’s Tumblr] repeatedly for guilty pleasure or whatever it is,” Soth says. “But there is a sense that I’ve followed him, I’m along on the ride, and I guess I’m hungry to experience that with other types of photographers as well.”

In addition to following professional photography peers like Emiliano Granado and Jessica Eaton, and an aspiring professional named Megan McIsaac, Jody Rogac follows current and potential clients like the New York Times T Magazine, Rolling Stone and Dazed & Confused to keep up with what they’re doing.

Sacha Lecca, a Rolling Stone photo editor who also posts his own images to Tumblr, says he generally follows photographers who he’s worked with, met or is familiar with. But through Tumblr’s “reblogging” function, where users share the work of others on their own Tumblr page, he can often “find out about someone I didn’t know.”

Related: Why Photographers Love Tumblr

September 7th, 2011

Aperture Asks You: What Should We Be Looking At?

During the next week, the Aperture foundation will create a collaborative, crowd-sourced exhibition that seeks to answer the question: What should we be looking at?

From today through September 17, Aperture is seeking in-person and online submissions for the exhibition. They are also holding a series of roundtable discussions, hosted by Wafaa Bilal, Melissa Harris, Stephen Mayes, Joel Meyerowitz, Fred Ritchin and Deborah Willis, that look to shed some light on a series of questions: “Where should we turn for our information? How can we function as a society with so few common reference points? How can we intelligently sort through all the images and information available to us? In terms of photography and visual information, what should we be looking at?” Each host and their roundtable discussion groups will fill a section of the gallery with Web sites, images, videos, multimedia pieces, drawings and articles, and will also explain why this material is important.

An exhibition of the gathered material, “What Matters Now: Proposals for a New Front Page,” will be on show from September 17–24, and online here.

For more information, and to participate, visit http://aperture.org/whatmattersnow/