Posts Published in April 2010

Photographer and Civil Liberties Group Sue Department of Homeland Security

The New York Civil Liberties Union has teamed up with amateur photographer Antonio Musumeci in a lawsuit that challenges a federal ban on photography. Musumeci, a software programmer, filmed the arrest of a protester outside of the Manhattan Federal Court last year, and then was himself arrested.

Musumeci was standing in a public plaza when he was arrested, but he says a Federal Protective Service inspector told him that it was illegal to take photos. The inspector then made Musumeci sit on a sidewalk for 20 minutes while his camera and memory card were confiscated. He was then ticketed for “violating the regulation barring photography.” Though his ticket was later dismissed in court, his memory card has not been recovered.

The man returned to take footage at another protest, during which he deliberately stood on the public sidewalk, but says he was threatened with arrest once again.

Now the NYCLU has picked up Musumeci’s case to challenge the ban on photography near federal property by suing the Federal Protective Services, FPS Inspector Clifford Barnes, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Executive director of the NYCLU wrote in a statement:

“In our society, people have a clear right to use cameras in public places without being hassled and arrested by federal agents or police… We understand the need for heightened security around federal buildings, but the government cannot arrest people for taking pictures in a public plaza.”

New York law enforcement has a track record of misdealings with photographers after a 2009 arrest of an off-duty metro employee.

But if the UK Parliament’s recent reversal of the controversial Section 44 is any indication, the NYCLU’s lawsuit may stand a chance in US court.

Current TV Wins Back $588 in Photo Case

It happens all the time, but does that make it acceptable? According to a court decision this week, what Current TV’s vice president Michael Streefland calls “standard practice in digital media” is legal after all.

Current TV and photographer Ken Light have been entwined in a legal debate over an image which belongs to Light but was used without his permission on the media company’s website.

Light brought his case against Current TV to small claims court, charging the company with unfair competition. The photographer won initially, which included $500 for compensation and $88 for court fees.  Soon after, Current TV appealed the decision, which was subsequently reversed by a San Francisco Superior Court judge.

According to Light, the court’s change of heart stemmed from the technical details. Current TV’s chief technologist testified that the site used in-line linking to the image on the New Yorker’s site, and did not technically copy the photo.

Furthermore, the court ruled that the image qualified as fair use, and the root issue was over the photo’s copyright, which is a federal court case. Light told PDNPulse that he is at the end of the line in state court and doesn’t know whether he will  proceed with a copyright suit.

Although the case may not make it out of the state, the suit has garnered national attention,  including a piece in the New York Times. Times writer Scott James wrote in favor of Light, calling the case a “David vs. Goliath” situation, and suggesting:

“Imagine if Mr. Light’s photograph had been in a frame — few would say it was O.K. to borrow it without permission, deny the artist credit and exhibit it and collect sponsor fees.”

In spite of the loss, Light said he is pleased with the widespread publicity and ensuing discussions the case has sparked. He says he hopes the case sets a precedent for other photographers and journalists to fight for due compensation.

“Yes, I lost, but I think waving the flag is important,” Light said. “We have to keep [pushing] this until we get some protection.”

Man Turns Photobooth Portrait into Mask

If you use a Mac, you’ve probably taken strange photographs of yourself using the fun house distortion effects that come with Photobooth. Brookyn-based designer Mark Pernice decided to take one such photograph and turn it into a unique looking mask of his own face. Knowing the context, the mask is pretty funny and awesome. If I just randomly woke up in the middle of the night and saw this, however, it’d probably be one of the creepiest sights ever.

Photo Booth Mask (via PopPhoto)

Sitting, Staring, and Crying with Marina Abramović at MoMA

There’s some serious artiness going on over at MoMA. Artist Marina Abramović has a new performance called “The Artist is Present” that involves her sitting silently across from museum visitors. The show runs from March 14 to May 31 and, with the exception of a few days, Abramović sits from before the museum opens and continuously through when the museum closes. MoMa also provides a live stream of her performing.

So how does this have anything to do with photography? Photographer Marco Anelli has been creating portraits of the participants for MoMa and uploading them to a MoMA set on Flickr. Below each portrait is also the length of time that person sat in front of Marina. At the time of this writing, there have been 759 fascinating portraits uploaded.

Most people participating sit in front of Abramović for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. One woman sat there for a whopping six and a half hours.

There’s also a good number of people with teary eyes, whether from the stress of sitting and staring, or from being moved emotionally somehow through the performance:

Wikipedia has a description of a previous performance Abramović did with her ex-boyfriend Ulay (who happens to be the man crying above in the upper left hand corner pictured here):

To create this “Death self,” the two performers devised a piece in which they connected their mouths and took in each other’s exhaled breaths until they had used up all of the available oxygen. Seventeen minutes after the beginning of the performance they both fell to the floor unconscious, their lungs having filled with carbon dioxide. This personal piece explored the idea of an individual’s ability to absorb the life of another person, exchanging and destroying it.


For more on this performance, check out Jason Kottke’s coverage in which he documents interesting happenings (including an appearance by Lou Reed).

(via Laughing Squid)

Image credit: Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present, 2010 by 16 Miles of String

Google Earth Tour of New York City in 3D

Google recently added high-quality street level photographs to Google Earth, presumably using the imagery captured through its Street View van cameras. While it’s an interesting development, the fact that everything is flat is a bit strange, and makes you feel as though you’re looking at an outdated video game. How many more years do you think it will be until we’ll be able to virtually tour the streets of a city in true 3D?

Amazing Canon 5D Mark II USB Drive

This might be old news for some of you, but I just came across it so I’m guessing many of you haven’t seen it before either. This is a 4GB USB drive that looks exactly like a miniature Canon 5D Mark II, with an EF 24-105mm lens as the drive, and the camera body as the case.

You can find them on eBay by searching for “canon 5d usb“. These little things will set you back about $94 apiece, including shipping.

Don’t need that much power in a USB drive? There’s also a 2GB flash drive that looks like a Canon 450D (AKA Rebel XSI). It actually costs more ($110) and seems to be a bit more rare. The USB drive is also in the body rather than the lens, and it comes with a kit lens rather than a nice L lens:

Seeing as the lens ship from Hong Kong, Canon probably doesn’t have anything to do with these lenses, just like the Canon 24-105 coffee mugs that appeared when the Canon L lens mug became a crazy Internet hit.

Anyhow, if you want to say you have a full frame USB drive and don’t mind spending semi-big bucks for one, this is the way to go.

Top 40 Nature Photographs to Be Auctioned for Earth Day

Prints of some of history’s most recognizable nature photographs will be auctioned at Christie’s today for the 40th annual Earth Day. The proceeds from the “40 Greatest Nature Photographs of All Time” will be given to various environmental organizations.

Among the iconic images selected are Snake River in the Teton Range, 1942 by Ansel Adams, Seeing Double by Paul Nicklen, and Polar Dance by Tom Mangelsen.

The images were chosen by the Internatiomal League of Conservation Photographers, which asked more than 100 experts to nominate images they considered to be the best, taken in the past 100 years.

You can also view all 40 of the selected nature photographs in this Flickr set created by iLCP: Top 40 Nature Photographs.

CIA Takes Interest in Lens Startup

LensVector, a Silicon Valley startup working on novel lens technology, has received its latest round of funding from In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit venture firm that invests for the sole purpose of boosting US intelligence capability by providing the CIA with state-of-the-art information technology.

So what’s LensVector developing that CIA would want? Lenses that focus electronically with no moving parts.

Here’s a diagram by LensVector showing how their tiny autofocus lenses work compared to traditional technology:

Rather than using mechanical parts to focus a lens, LensVector uses electricity to align liquid crystals to a desired shape, which focuses light to a particular point.

Given the CIA’s interest in this technology, it must be working pretty well. Hopefully we’ll see this introduced to consumer cameras that need it (i.e. cell phones) soon.

A fun fact: another startup that received In-Q-Tel funding was Keyhole, Inc., the geospatial data visualization company that was acquired by Google in 2004. Their flagship product, Earth Viewer, was turned into Google Earth.

(via CNET)

Working Thumbnail-Sized Pinhole Camera

This amazing pinhole camera is so small that it’s amazing it actually works. It was created by Francesco Capponi (Dippold on Flickr), the same guy who created the nifty printable 35mm cardboard pinhole camera we featured a while back.

Here are a couple more views of this extraordinary camera to give you a better idea of how it works:

To prove the camera is fully-functional, Capponi took the following photograph with it, titled “my little eye“:

The film used to capture this image was simple black and white photo paper.

Sadly, Capponi doesn’t have a tutorial out for making one of these amazing cameras (they would make fun conversation pieces), but hopefully he’ll post some explanation and/or instructions soon!

(via Gizmodo)

Winners Announced for TIPA Awards 2010

The Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) Awards are among the most prestigious awards for photography equipment, software, and accessories, and this years winners have just been announced.

The awards are given to the best products to be introduced to the market in the past 12 months, and are voted on by 28 editors of the member magazines of the association.

In the DSLR camera categories, Canon took prizes for advanced consumer and “prosumer” cameras, while Nikon took the prize for professional DSLRs:

Best DSLR Entry Level: Pentax K-x
Best DSLR Advanced: Canon EOS 550D
Best DSLR Expert: Canon EOS 7D
Best DSLR Professional: Nikon D3s

However, Canon didn’t fare so well with its lenses this year:

Best Entry Level Lens: Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM
Best Expert Lens: Sony 28-75mm f/2.8 SAM
Best Professional Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

The winners in the compact camera category were much more diverse:

Best Compact Camera: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V
Best Rugged Compact Camera: Casio Exilim EX-G1
Best Superzoom Camera: Fujifilm Finepix HS10
Best Expert Compact Camera: Canon Powershot G11
Best Compact System Camera Entry Level: Olympus PEN E-PL1
Best Compact System Camera Advanced: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2

Finally, Photoshop CS5 and Blurb won awards for best software and best photo service, respectively. For the complete list of winning products, check out the TIPA Awards 2010 website.

Do you think the awards were given to the correct cameras and lenses? Do you own any of them?