gill moore photography

Monthly Archive for June, 2008

What makes a great photograph? … “how long is a piece of string?”

This year, for the first time, I am entering the Shot Up North Awards.  These UK awards are for photographers based anywhere from the Midlands northwards including Scotland.  The Awards used to be affiliated to the Association of Photographers (AOP) however SUN is now a stand-alone organisation aimed at celebrating and promoting Northern photographers and their work.

I started to ponder what is the key thing that makes an image a great image.  First port of call was viewing some of the previous winning images from Shot Up North.  Though hugely inspiring, I was struck by the variety and disparate array of images selected for the Top 50 over the years.
Studying the photograph at first-hand is always the ideal and what usually happens is you have a gut reaction upon initial viewing and this surely provides the key to answering the question.
I then took a read of the always excellent blog by J M Colberg “Conscientious” which featured a really in-depth piece: “What Makes a Great Photo?” with many gifted photographers and creative’s discussing their own take on answering that question.  After that I just jotted down lots of random thoughts which I list below.

  • emotional kick “wow” factor/connection/memorable tho it also may not wow it could linger and not go away.
  • tells a story/intrigues/shows a voice
  • captures a moment
  • has a sense of style/atmosphere/beauty
  • makes you think/question/can challenge or inform
  • has a high degree of individuality/fresh perspective
  • compelling blend of colours/form/composition
  • intimate – can open a direct channel viewer/photographer.  It communicates.
  • evocative/memory
  • has depth, image encourages/demands repeat viewing
  • reveals something new of the subject; a person/object/environment
  • has an ability to move and touch the viewer
  • element of mystery
  • powerful … it transports you to another place

Sure, it is a bit like asking “how long is a piece of string” but it is such an interesting question with no right or wrong answer; just more for the mix and people react so differently and that it what is so fascinating.

UPDATE : Newer post featuring my Special Edition image and other winners at Shot Up North plus details of the SUN exhibition can be found here.

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My Hotmail account hacked – all my contacts spammed !! How to avoid it happening to you.

Last week my Hotmail account was hacked and every single one of my email contacts was spammed. The email was sent from my actual Hotmail address (copies were in my Sent Mail folder) so for anyone receiving the post I am afraid it looked very authentic.

I have been with Hotmail right from the very start even before it was bought by Microsoft and until last week I had never been hacked before. Hard to believe I know, but way back then there were not many web-based email sites and I think Hotmail tempted me with access to a huge Mailbox for storing all messages.

So I thought I would post about my experience in an effort to make people aware that web-based email is vulnerable and is now seen as a relatively easy target for various scams and to procure valuable ID details. I know some people who run their business using web-based email, they chose it for its flexibility and low cost but just think what could happen if you were the victim of a Spam Scam. The credibility of the business could be severely dented.

Though I was understandably annoyed and it caused people on my Contacts List some confusion it could have been a whole lot worse. Once I started to look at other Hotmail members “hack horror stories” I felt rather relieved. For a start, the scam was selling iPods at bargain prices in the Far East … imagine the embarrassment if the links had pointed people over to some porn site or viagra boutique? Or sent a virus to my friends accounts? Or locked my Hotmail Account and wiped out all my Contacts? C-net has some more information and examples on their site.

It is not just limited to Hotmail though, here is someone blogging about their own hack which happened whilst using Googlemail.

To try to avoid your own web-based email getting hacked these are the two most important things you can do:

1) Pick a strong password. If you are with Hotmail you can do this by logging in with your email address and then Options>More Options>view and edit your personal information>password reset information. Here there is a password checker which will give an idea of the strength of your password.

Non-Hotmail users try visiting this blog which is a fascinating read. Did you know 20% of passwords are so poor even I could guess them!!
eg 123, “password”, pet’s name, favourite football team, your city, date of birth.

We all know that the longer the password the better, but just look at this table below, it puts it all beautifully into place illustrating how long a password might take to crack depending on the number and style of the characters used.  My own password is now 19 characters long, with characters, numbers and letters.

UPDATE : Oct 09.  In the light of the recent Hotmail phishing incident one thing it did allow was an analysis of passwords.  Visit the Acunetix Web Security site for a list of the Top 20 most popular passwords and a breakdown of the password styles that were uncovered by this hack.

2) Run spyware and virus-checker software regularly. This link lists an updated Top 5 for the current best spyware packages. This is a great link for free anti-virus software.

3) Good advice from Google on how to steer clear of phising traps. and maybe take the phising IQ test over at Sonic Wall.

UPDATE : October 2009. Mashable are reporting 10,000 Hotmail addresses and passwords compromised last week and a report on the same topic from the BBC .

UPDATE : January 2010. Good article over at lifehacker.com on password security.

UPDATE: March 2010.  Funny list of the 500 most common passwords, displayed on one page over at Flickr (via TheNextWeb).

UPDATE: March 2010. Useful online tools for remembering your passwords.

UPDATE:  August 2010.  The newly revamped Hotmail site seems to have brought a slew of fresh Hotmail hijacks and spamming.  Hotmail have got some help up there, though it took a while to find.  Link to Hotmail help regarding latest Hotmail account hijacks and spamming. Hopefully some of you may find it useful.

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Editors cover “An End Has A Start” photography by Idris Khan research from sleevage.com website


The days of purring over sleeve artwork are probably long gone for most music buyers nowadays but a good cover can still play a key part in packaging, branding and marketing a band. Over recent times a cover which consistently caught my eye was the Editors “The End has a Start” I don’t quite know why, but I liked the colours and the image and so I decided to investigate a little more.

There is a fantastic website (Australian in origin I believe) which made my task a whole lot easier. Sleevage.com is a fantastic resource which started a year ago and it delights in record sleeve art. Any interesting cover (new or old) can be put forward and the origin of the image or design is discussed with intelligence and insight. If you really love your music there is the opportunity to suggest and submit your own review, in return you can get your hands on free CD’s and gig tickets.

Luckily, the Editors cover was discussed in staggering detail by Ash at Sleevage only a few months ago. For me, the image on the front cover evokes memories of an industrialized area just on the edge of city centre Manchester near the Velodrome where huge gas storage structures tower over terraced houses. For the reviewer at Sleevage it looked like it could be a stadium or a racetrack and just goes to show that what we see is in the eye of the beholder.

The photography is by Idris Khan a controversial UK artist who uses other peoples images to build up multi-layers until a “new” piece is created. I use the word controversial as he has created a bit of a stir due his actual source material being other artists’ work, which raises many questions as regards authorship, originality and copyright. (see also Richard Prince’s work). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Prince

The cover shot was created by Khan using a series of images taken by Bernd and Hilla Becher, they were a German husband and wife artistic team who began working in the late 50′s their work often featured the industrial structures which surrounded them. (Bernd Becher sadly died last year and his obituary can be found here).

Whatever the rights and wrongs, I do find Idris Khan’s work haunting and rather beautiful. The strongest images are those which have the central spine and linear core provided by buildings. On this work the architectural symmetry allows the layers to blossom and creates a real atmosphere and feel that works ‘with’ rather than ‘against’ the originals.

 

“it’s obviously not about re-photographing the photographs to make exact copies, but to intervene and bring a spectrum of feelings – warmth, humour, anxiety – to what might otherwise be considered cool aloof image. Idris Khan.

 

In 2004 he scanned all 1,953 pages of the Koran to create what he believes is his best piece. He discusses this project in a Guardian interview here.

Now I’m off back to Sleevage.com to check out that “Nevermind” cover for Nirvana …

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Own-It, London. Free Event on Photographing in Public Places.

Apologies for the direct lift from the website but I wanted to get this online ASAP. There are 60 places still left on a FREE workshop in London, directly relevent to anyone photographing in public spaces …. yep that’ll be most everyone then !

Click here to go straight to the Own-It site where you can book advance tickets.

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“Tokyo Story” a film by Yasujiro Ozu (Japan) 1953

This is a wonderful film I saw last weekend. I have listed below some random facts and opinions. I hope it intrigues and encourages some of you to see it and do let me know what you think.

  • Brief Plot : Two elderly parents from a small seaside town in southwest Japan pay a visit to their busy children in Tokyo – a journey that, before the introduction of the bullet train, took almost a day.
  • Released one year after the end of the Allied Occupation of Japan, showing the changes and transitions on the road to a modern Japan.
  • “This film is the Director’s masterpiece: tender, profoundly mysterious and desperately sad” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
  • A classic of World Cinema (BBC)
  • Made post World War II, released in 1953 and shot in black and white.
  • One of the best 100 Films ever made (Time Magazine).
  • Sight and Sound magazine called “Tokyo Story” one of the three greatest films of all time”.
  • The Best Film Ever Made declared in 2005 by Halliwell’s Film Guide.
  • Simple yet universal theme of families and how they can drift apart.
  • 100% Japanese reflecting a very different culture and society values to the West.
  • Many filming techniques are quite alien to those familiar with mainstream movies.
  • Trademark Ozu style: slow and still, low camera angles, minimilist, static camera (as a mere observer), lack of action, uneventful plot, no upbeat ending, landscape or wide-shots are used to allow a “chill-out” and separate scenes, characters often filmed sideways allowing the viewer to feel in the middle of the conversation, scenes often filmed in profile and framed within a building.
  • The Director pioneered “ellipses” where major events are discussed but not shown within a film.
  • “Tokyo Story” was not released in the US until 1972.
  • Ozu made 54 films (26 in his first 5 yrs), which were very popular in Japan but under-appreciated in the West.
  • There is a lack of editing and scenes are often shot in one take.
  • Because of this lack of manipulation the viewer slowly becomes emotionally engaged with the characters and eventually by the end of the film the cumulative effect is that it hits home with power and honesty.
  • Ozu does not point fingers instead he creates more of a contemplative meditation on the transitory nature of life.
  • One of the most sympathetic characters Toriko (the daughter-in-law) is played by Sesuko Haro who features in many of the Director’s other films. The actress never gave interviews and refused to be photographed, she retired from making films at the height of her fame.
  • The viewer is drawn towards the characters through subtle gestures, observation of Japanes social manners and conversation, tiny details echo the bigger picture with wonderful camera framing and cinematography.
  • Sound plays an important part, the rhythm of journey pervades the entire film, from background steamboats to speeding trains. A ticking clock or the sounds of the city subtly compliment the major themes of the story.
  • One of the Director’s favourite films was Orson Welles “Citizen Kane”.
  • My favourite key message “the beauty of life is often found by standing still”
An amazing website detailing images and journals from Ozu’s huge back catalogue can be found here it seems to be part of the University of Toyko website.

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Orphan Works : What is it, where can I read about what is going on in the US with this proposed new Bill?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very simply Orphan Works are creative works which have been produced (including photography, music, articles, cartoons, books, painting the list goes on) but the creator of said creative endeavour (or copyright holder) cannot be found to gain permission to reproduce the work.

At the moment, if this occurs, then the photograph (insert relevant option) just cannot be used but with the new legislation here is what would happen. The hopeful user of the creative work would firstly have to exercise “due diligence” to try and track down the copyright holder. If they cannot be found then the the person wishing to use the work would be able to go ahead but must ensure this useage is logged onto a register. The problem seems to be just what exactly is “due diligence” and is this pushing creatives to have to submit everything they produce onto a register so putting the onus onto the creator to protect.

This is a massively contentious area, many creatives are hugely worried and justifiably confused as there seems to be many arguments and scenario’s. That alone makes me think this is an ill-thought out Bill. I do not claim to understand properly and so I will not try and argue things out but I do urge you all to read more on this subject (as I will) we need to protect our right to own and control what we produce.

Pro-Imaging (a UK-based photographers organisation and discussion list) have an Action Alert on their site at the moment and have sent a lobbyist to meet with Senators and Representatives in Washington to educate them to the dangers of the Orphan Works 2008 legislation. Photo Business News has some interesting discussion on their site and to balance things a little Chase Jarvis’ site has arguments on the other side including a link to the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) site; this organisation have come out in favour of the Bill.

 

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