Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Bada Bing!

April 4th, 2014
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

As an Apple user of 23 years’ standing, I obviously prefer to use the Bing search engine from Microsoft rather than any goggle-eyed alternative. It has a very rigorous porn filter, so when I search for Gwyn Headley (come on! don’t we all?) I get 31,000 results as opposed to 64,000 from a rival search engine.

But the main reason I like to use Bing is that it looks so nice. And one of the reasons it looks so nice it because they buy photographs from fotoLibra to use on their home page. Here are two fotoLibra images they’ve recently chosen:

Three baby scops owls, by Linda Wright

Three baby scops owls, by Linda Wright

 

A herd of Oryx

An oryx herd, by Paul Benson

 

Congratulations to fotoLibra contributors Linda Wright and Paul Benson.

And what’s more, Bing pays decently as well. Full marks.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

On this morning’s BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme there was an interesting piece about holiday photographs. The interviewees first commented on the vast number of photographs that are taken nowadays, then went on to advise listeners to take fewer photographs and instead to enjoy the moment for what it was. Well actually they urged us to take less photographs, so we corrected their grammar for them.

The piece was directed at amateur photographers, not the pros and semi-pros that make up the fotoLibra membership, but there were still Lessons To Be Learned for us all. For a start, they urged listeners to do what we’ve been asking you to do for years — try and photograph things that are ephemeral and change, such as streetscapes. Photograph your bread. Photograph the baker’s shop. It may not be there next year.

It was worth listening to, and for the next seven days (ending Monday 5th August) you can hear it by clicking here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b037gxx1 Click where it says ‘Listen now 180 mins’ and scroll through to 2:23:56.

Some years ago in Assisi we saw two gay men photographing a stuffed toy bear in front of the cathedral. Intrigued, we asked what was going on. “This is Hector,” they told us. “He’s been photographed in front of the Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, Tower Bridge — he’s been all over the world.” And they had a photographic record of his travels. I have a sinking feeling that they went on to publish a very successful book about Hector’s travels.

We never know what’s going to sell. That’s why we don’t impose our tastes on what members upload to fotoLibra. But we will ask this:

  • • Don’t photograph sunsets, photograph things seen in sunsets
  • • Don’t photograph the Taj Mahal, photograph the hawkers and vendors in the street leading up to it
  • • Don’t upload 20 photographs of the same object at fractionally different angles — ‘sisters & similars’, as they’re known in the trade. Upload only the best
  • • Please take more photographs of people — not just portraits, but people doing things

We’re busy with our final preparations for fotoFringe London 2012, the picture buyers’ fair which is being held tomorrow in King’s Place, a newish office block and conference centre where The Guardian have their offices, near King’s Cross.

And it’s an article in The Guardian that I want to write about. A friend in Euskadi alerted me to this one (thank you Peta) because it’s one of my favourite topics — the freedom of photographers to use their cameras.

Stonehenge, Trafalgar Square, National Trust properties, a whole bunch of places in the USA — the list of places where photography is banned or restricted lengthens daily. Now, unsurprisingly, we can add the Olympic park in East London to the list.

I’ll never get to see this place because all my ticket applications have proved unsuccessful. However I am permitted to contribute substantially towards it through a hike in my London rates over the next ten years. So I’d like to see some pictures of it.

The Olympic venues are technically private property (purchased using our money, but when did that ever restrain our dear leaders?) so control can be asserted over what can and can’t be photographed within the precincts. But not on the public spaces surrounding the venue, of course.

The Guardian thought this could be interesting, so they sent a couple of photographers and a video to test the temperature of the waters. They struck lucky straight away when they ran into an incompetently and incompletely briefed security guard whose debating skills and command of English were no match for the fiercely well prepared Guardian hacks. He simply attempted to stop them filming in a public place. They refused. Reinforcements arrived.

And here — well, you know I’m on the side of the photographers, but this was outright provocation and harassment. The Guardian hacks were milling around, pushing for a reaction. But they came up against an intelligent, articulate and reasonable security supervisor who conceded they had a right to photograph on public land but as this was a sensitive area — the Olympic Park’s security centre — it would be most awfully kind of them if they could possibly desist.

The Guardianistas hectored and interrupted. They tried to photograph the armband name badge of an old fart security guard who looked worryingly like me, and he tore it off to prevent them. Bad move. The hacks loved it.

I want photographers to be able to photograph what they want when they want where they want, within reason and without causing offence, upset or danger. Yes, there are security concerns. Yes, there are privacy issues. I’m less impressed by the “we own it, therefore we should profit from it” brigade. I personally find papparazzis distasteful, and I believe they were the major contributing factor in the death of Princess Diana.

Our cause isn’t helped by photographers manufacturing an incident where none existed. But every movement needs an obnoxious vanguard.

Doesn’t it? What do you think?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/apr/23/olympic-park-security-guards-journalists-photos

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This is getting ridiculous.

Utah, the American state founded by Mormons, is banning the photography of farms and farm animals.

The bill is called HB187, and the Utah Senate passed it on a 24-5 vote. Then the Utah House approved the Senate amendments 62-13. The bill goes to Governor Gary Herbert for his signature of approval today.

No doubt it will pass, and become law, and we’ll have another of those quaint old statutes such as a Welshman caught on the streets in Chester after midnight can be hanged, London cabbies must carry a bale of hay in their boots, and you’re not allowed to photograph Trafalgar Square.

Now every rational human — and quite a few irrational ones — will be scratching their heads and asking, “What is that all about?”

Well, as far as I can ascertain, farmers in Utah are fed up with rogue photographers snapping images of their appalling, brutal, barbarous, inhumane and mediaeval practices. Of course, I could be wrong, but that’s the way it looks from this Atlantic shore. By depriving humans of their rights, the Utah legislature is allowing unscrupulous people to go about depriving animals of their rights.

Talking about mediaeval, those Mormons would have been denounced as heretics by the Spanish Inquisition. And everyone knows what happened to heretics. It was appalling, brutal, barbarous and inhumane. And nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Those Americans, eh? What are they like? They describe their country as the home of the brave and the land of the free. Not in Utah, it isn’t. What jolly japes will they get up to next? In the words of Cerys Matthews, longtime resident of the USA, “Every day, when I wake up, I thank the Lord I’m Welsh.”

And I’m not planning to visit Utah any time soon.

Or Chester, come to think of it.

The Cost of Complacency

September 26th, 2011

There was an interesting blog posting by Paoga’s Graham Sadd recently on the perils of ignoring cyber crime.

For the last four weeks someone based in China has been registering as a buyer on fotoLibra.com.

Not once, but approximately every four minutes throughout the Chinese working day. It seems like a manual attack rather than an automated one, because although the fake addresses are all the same — Cherry Street Room 318 Atlanta Georgia USA 30332, which I think might be a lie — there are occasional spelling mistakes. It’s easy for us to block the attacks. But despite failing every time, they continue to trundle in every four or five minutes.

We hope we’re not complacent about online security. We do what we can to protect ourselves against such attacks, but what we can’t get our heads round is what can they hope to achieve through multiple registrations as a picture buyer on a picture library site?

At the very least they ought to try and buy a picture from us.

Coals to Newcastle

August 17th, 2011

We don’t normally comment on sales we make at fotoLibra, but here’s one that caught my eye: we’ve just sold a photograph of the Eiffel Tower to … a Parisian fashion house.

Result!

Update — half an hour later — we’ve just sold a photograph of a Mauritian helicopter to a communications company in … Mauritius.

I love this.

… if you don’t want to see a particularly gruesome image of the assassinated Osama bin Laden.

I’ve put it at the bottom of this blog so you don’t have to look at it without scrolling down, not for any vicarious pleasure, but for the simple purpose of showing what can be achieved with digital image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop (other digital image manipulation applications are available).

What purports to be the shocking photograph of the dead bin Laden which President Obama deemed too disturbing for public view has of course cropped up all over the place, mainly on right-wing conservative American websites. And they are truly scary (the websites, that is).

You will have read in previous postings on this blog that US courts do not allow digital photographic images as evidence because of the ease with which they can be manipulated. Actually as anyone who has battled with Photoshop will know, it’s not that easy, but a truly skilled Photoshop artist can make it look simple — and realistic.

The image is indeed shocking — until you look at the image on the right.

On the left you will see a purported photograph of Osama bin Laden after he stupidly opened the door to some visiting American gentlemen. On the right you will see a much nastier image — Osama bin Laden alive.

Compare the two images.

Look at the angle of the head.

Look at his ear; look at the highlight inside it.

Look at the highlight on the tip of his nose.

Look at his mouth hanging slackly open, doubtless in the process of delivering some deranged spittle-flecked invective.

The images are identical, except that in one he appears to have met with an accident.

It’s the same image. The one of the left has been Photoshopped — it’s a completely fraudulent image. I’m not suggesting for a moment that this is the image that Barack found too disturbing to release; that one is undoubtedly real and I’m sure it’s profoundly unpleasant.

But in lieu of having the real thing, some talented Photoshop artist has been employed to provide slaughter pron for slavering right-wingers. It’s very good — until some clever chappie like David Hoffman unearths the original image.

Unless of course Hoffman has been even smarter and recreated the image on the right from the original on the left!

Now you can see why American courts don’t permit digital images as evidence. The camera lies through its teeth.

Thanks to David Hoffman Photographs for putting the two images together, and for Will Carleton of Photo Archive News for bringing them to my attention.

Wanted Dead Or Alive

 

 

First thing I do every morning is check the fotoLibra website to make sure it’s up and running.

Over this weekend I confess I’ve only shot a cursory glance at it because I have been immersed in rugby, exulting over Italy’s first 6 Nations victory over mighty France, delighting in Wales’s rule-breaking defeat of Ireland and secretly but vainly hoping Scotland might derail England’s remorseless progress to the Grand Slam.

So on a beery back-to-work morning I powered up my (now obsolete) MacBook Pro and went through the site. I checked the Home Page.

And double checked again.

We’ve gone past the half million mark. We have over half a million images on fotoLibra.

WOW!!

When fotoLibra was just a glint in my eye in 2002, I took Anne-Marie Ehrlich, the doyenne of picture researchers, to lunch. She said one couldn’t really take a picture library seriously until it had about 25,000 images. “No problem,” I scoffed, “we’ll have that many in five years, easy.”

And now here we are. We’re not the biggest picture library in the world — there’s the microstock rabble, and of course Getty, Corbis and Alamy (which has about 40 times as many images as we have) but I think we can say we’re now big enough to count. And our images are the images of fotoLibra members, not compilations of portals of images like the three I’ve just mentioned. With the largest image libraries, the same picture may appear from three or four different sources. I can’t say that never happens with fotoLibra, but you are more likely to find a unique image on fotoLibra than with most other image collections.

If you look at the rankings table in my last blog, you’ll notice that out of twenty leading picture libraries exhibiting at fotoFringe, fotoLibra has many more site visitors than any of the others — excluding the two celebrity stock agencies, because we don’t do slebs.

When I had the fotoLibra concept, I was forced to go ahead with it on the grounds that if I didn’t do it, someone else would. And I would have been kicking myself for the rest of my life. “I could’ve been a contender,” I would have been muttering thickly into my beard.

Well, now we’re contenders. Please raise a glass!

fotoFringe, May 11

March 11th, 2011

When fotoLibra was just an ickle bitty new picture library we scraped all our pennies together and took a stand at the BAPLA Picture Buyers’ Fair. We thought it crucial that we should hang out our faces in public, and meet all those radiant people who would (we were convinced) shortly be buying shedloads of photographs from our wonderful members.

It hasn’t quite worked out like that, although we haven’t done too badly. We’re nearing half a million images online, which although it doesn’t yet match the behemoths of Getty, Alamy, Corbis and the microstock rabble, is still a respectable amount of superb images.

So it was with sadness that we learned that BAPLA would not be holding a Picture Buyers’ Fair this year.

Full marks therefore to the lovely Flora Smith of Topfoto who reasoned “If they’re not going to do it, then we will”. She hired a room and some trestle tables, called the event fotoFringe and invited a few friendly picture libraries to exhibit with her. “What a great idea,” I thought, and emailed Flora to say “Count us in!”

No room.

It was by invitation only, and she’d filled it already. 21 picture libraries, plus media partner Photo Archive News, will be exhibiting at fotoFringe — but not fotoLibra. We’re on the waiting list for a table, but we’re not holding our breath. Of course we’ll be there in person(s) (Flora said we could come), prowling round the room like hyenas and jackals, but we won’t be sitting at the top table.

Sleepless nights haven’t resolved the question of why Flora and Will Carleton of Photo Archive News didn’t think of us when choosing 20 picture libraries to exhibit with them (is it my tendency to dribble? my flatulence? my general nastiness?) but there we go. We will just sit on the sidelines and wait.

fotoLibra strongly supports the idea of fotoFringe, and hopes that every picture researcher worth her salt will attend, despite the formal absence of fotoLibra, Getty, Alamy and Corbis. There’s a website for the event at http://www.fotofringelondon.com, and it takes place on May 11th at the spiffy new Kings Place venue just north of King’s Cross. See you there!

One thing the fotoFringe website doesn’t do is link through to the exhibiting agencies’ websites so you can see what they offer, so as a service to picture buyers I thought fotoLibra could contribute that here.

And rather than list the libraries conventionally in alphabetical order, I’ve listed them in the order they appear on Alexa, the website ranking index standard, to see how close they get to Google, Facebook and Youtube. The lower the number, the more people visit the site.

Although fotoLibra isn’t exhibiting at fotoFringe, it would be invidious to leave my own company out of any listing. So here we go:

LIBRARY SPECIALISM TRAFFIC RANKING
Wenn Celebrities 44,438
Splash Celebrities 90,218
fotoLibra General 149,195
Image Source General 307,297
Bridgeman Art 312,278
Heritage Images Heritage 367,724
Photoshot General 386,375
Topfoto General 442,985
Robert Harding Travel 581,251
Photo Archive News Trade News 824,236
Nature Picture Library Nature 940,390
View Architecture 1,179,000
Camera Press General 1,904,000
Picture Research Association Industry Body 2,080,000
Mary Evans History 2,138,000
Arcaid Architecture 2,216,000
Mirrorpix News 2,424,000
Country Life Heritage 2,667,000
4 Corners Travel 3,590,000
Specialist Stock Environment 7,590,000
Ronald Grant Archive Cinema 8,012,000
Arenapal Performing Arts 9,170,000
John Walmsley Education Education 22,800,000
Writer Pictures Authors no data