Urban exploration photography has gotten quite a bit of publicity in recent years, with more and more photographers taking their cameras to off-limits and/or abandoned parts of their city in order to see and capture what most people never get a chance to. While it may be a fun pastime of practitioners and one that leads to beautiful images, not everyone is a fan.
Earlier this week, Iran generated quite a bit of media attention after claiming that it had successfully sent a monkey to space and safely brought it back down to Earth. The tiny monkey was reportedly sent into sub-orbital space 75 miles above ground.
To prove its accomplishment, Iran distributed the above photograph of the monkey strapped into its little spaceship chair. Read more…
Judy L. Thomas over at the Wichita Eagle has a piece on why some photographers should spend a little extra time and money to register photos with the US Copyright Office, even though photographers own the copyright to photos the moment they’re created:
“I usually equate copyright registration to an approximate $35 insurance policy,” said [attorney] Tammy Browning-Smith [...] “Should something go wrong and someone takes your work, it allows you to be able to collect attorney’s fees, enhanced damages and the like.”
Registering a copyright is “painless and quick,” Browning-Smith said. To do it, go to the U.S. Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov and fill out the form. It costs $35 for online registration of a basic claim and $65 to register a group of photographs. It takes up to 2½ months to get an application processed, according to the agency’s website [...]
“If you register before any kind of infringement, you get access to the federal courts, but you also get access to statutory damages,” [law professor Andrew] Torrance said. “So instead of having to prove you’ve suffered actual damages, like for example the cost of the photographer, with statutory damages you just need to convince the court that you’re on the high end of the damages and you can get a tremendous amount of money.”
You probably know of the iconic photograph titled Migrant Mother, but do you know the government photo project that led to its creation? Between 1935 and 1943, the US Government launched the largest photo project in the history of the country through its Resettlement Administration (RA) — later called the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The project enlisted the likes of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange to help educate citizens in the East about what was going on in the West, and the giant PR campaign ended up producing over 170,000 photos and one of the most important photo collections in the US. The lecture above by Yale student Lauren Tilton offers a brief history lesson on this project.
Ever wonder how the US government managed to capture spy photos with satellites during the Cold War without the help of digital cameras, computers, or wireless transmission? The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the various techniques that were used:
From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles (100 kilometers) of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.
Last week we wrote about an obscure law in Washington DC that can land a person in jail for doing photography for “more than 5 minutes at location”. The Washington Post published a clarification stating that the law is targeted at people who make a living taking a portrait for strangers on city sidewalks. However, the National Press Photographers Association isn’t satisfied with the explanation, and has written a letter to the city requesting that the “vague” law be repealed:
[...] these three vague and incrementally overly broad sections taken together could be interpreted to mean that any photographer taking a photograph of anything, be it a building, person or inanimate object for longer than five (5) minutes would be in violation of the regulations and subject to fine or arrest [...] We contend that this licensing scheme, based upon regulations that are facially inconsistent with the protections provided under the First Amendment, is unconstitutional.
[...] these facially defective regulations will only further contribute to the erroneous belief by law enforcement that public photography may be arbitrarily limited or curtailed.
The NPPA also writes that they’re concerned that the law could be used against photographers covering events such as “Occupy Wall Street”.
German satire program Extra 3 conducted a humorous — albeit disconcerting — experiment testing photographers’ (and videographers) rights in Germany. They had an actor use a camera at different “sensitive” government locations, doing the exact same things (e.g. film the locations of security cameras) but dressed in two different outfits — first as a European tourist and then as a Middle Eastern man. The result shows that how law enforcement deals with cameras is largely determined by common prejudices.
The Art Institutes, one of the nation’s largest for-profit school systems where people can receive an education in photography, has come under fire. Last month, the US Department of Justice filed a massive lawsuit against the company behind the schools, Education Management Corporation, accusing it of fraudulently collecting $11 billion in government aid by recruiting low-income students for the purpose of collecting student aid money. Whistleblowers claim that students graduate loaded with debt and without the means to pay off the loans, which are then paid for with taxpayer dollars. Read more…
Facial recognition technology has become ubiquitous in recent years, being found in everything from the latest compact camera to websites like Facebook. The same may soon be said about location recognition. Through a new project called “Finder“, the US government military research division IARPA is looking into how to quickly and automatically identify where a photograph was taken without any geotag data. The goal is to use only the identifying features found in the background of scenes to determine the location — kinda like facial recognition except for landscapes.
The North Korean government is the latest to get caught trying to feed a poorly Photoshopped photo to the media. This past weekend the Korean Central News Agency — a state-run organization — released a photo of citizens trying to wade through floodwaters in Pyongyang, saying that heavy rains flooded farmlands, destroyed homes, and caused deaths. After initially passing the image onto its members, the AP decided to issue a “kill notice” (yup, that’s what it’s called) a day later to withdraw the photo, stating,
The content of this image has been digitally altered and does not accurately reflect the scene [...] No other version of the photo is available.
The problem was the fact that the clothing worn by the people in the photo don’t appear to be wet at all — even where the water meets the pants! It appears the water level was much lower, and the government tried to exaggerate the image, perhaps in an attempt to appeal for international aid.