05 March 2010
Here's a photo I took at Gloucester Cathedral last year:
But wait! What's that figure in the foreground? Is it the ghost of a small girl in Victorian clothing, perhaps risen from its burial place beneath the cold stone floor, and destined to walk the corridors in search of rest?
Or have I tampered with the picture?
The answer to that should be obvious, but both The Sun and the Daily Mail were hoodwinked by a similar picture. If you're quick you can read the full Daily Mail article here, and The Sun's story is here. The photo is credited to Hull News & Picture, which says it does "editorial digital photography".
The photographer John Fores is a builder, and took his photo at a school he was demolishing. He claimed that he took photos to record the demolition work, but that the apparent ghost of a boy in a flat cap in one image made "the hairs on the back of [his] neck stick up". He said: "I didn't believe in ghosts, but since I got this picture, I am not so sure."
Fores has clearly been deceptive here: The Mail says that he insists he has not edited the photo, which means they asked him and he denied it. The Sun's picture of him on the building site with his mobile phone shows him with a beaten up old camera phone, and not the iPhone he used to create the image. Derren Brown would be proud of such an artful misdirection.
But surely the press should use more common sense than that? Just because a member of the public says they have a picture of a ghost, that doesn't mean it's true. Even if the story were included as a bit of fluff, its tone could be different. The Sun opens with "A builder demolishing an old school discovered this eerie image of a young boy in a mobile phone picture taken of the site", which effectively endorses the builder's story. The Daily Mail said: "The ghostly image of a young boy was captured on camera as builders demolished an old school building. John Fores, 47, insists the spectral figure was not present when he took the picture..." To use the picture as some light entertainment and keep their credibility, the papers could have taken a more sceptical angle, or even softened their reporting by saying the photographer claims he took the photo normally, rather than just reporting that he did. (There's a guide to handling of uncorroborated statements in the context of press releases, here).
One reason this reflects badly on the newspapers is that many of their readers know exactly how the pictures were taken. Although a lot of people immediately suspected Photoshop had been used, it took just three hours for someone to comment on the Daily Mail that the shot was created using an iPhone app. That app is called Ghost Capture, which costs 59p and enables you to add ghosts to your pictures. It can also be used on the iPod Touch to edit photos loaded on the device. I used the free lite version to make the picture above.
At the time of writing, neither newspaper has corrected their story to make clear that it's fake, which sends a strong signal that they don't care about accuracy or truth. Next time you read a story in those papers, ask yourself whether you are being lied to.
26 February 2009
24 February 2009
I don't know what bothers me more - the fact that they felt they had to explain how socks work, or the fact that this "offer" is only subject to availability.
03 February 2009
02 February 2009
27 January 2009
I was working from the Boston (US) office on the day of Obama's inauguration this week and we watched it streamed over the web. From his opening line ("My fellow citizens" - reaching out to everyone living in America, not just the born or naturalised Americans), it was clear that this was the start of an era of change. There was a great spirit of optimism in everyone I met. At a concert in a local bar on Friday, the biggest applause was not for the band, nor the singer, but for Obama namechecked at the end.
When I returned home, the Amnesty International magazine in my post tray was calling on Obama to close down Guantanamo. He'd already started. It remains to be seen how much he can achieve how quickly, but he promises a return to values-led politics, something which has been lacking in the US (and the UK) for too long.
06 January 2009
Happy new year everyone.
In December I visited New York City, and I've just uploaded my gallery of New York City Photographs. It was a great time to be there - the city was decorated for Christmas, including giant baubles and giant Christmas tree lights. There was also a great vibe around Obama's recent election - some people had their Obama campaign stickers left on their jackets with pride, and he was on the cover of nearly every magazine, and on t-shirts on many a street corner.
Here's one photo that didn't make it into the main gallery:
According to the shop owner, there are actually three wigs in this window display. Incredible.
18 December 2008
This sculpture of a snail by Salvador Dali is an extremely limited edition, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Most of the time, it is shown in the hallway of the museum, with a small plaque on the wall above it.
When the gallery owner goes to lunch, it's used to block the shop doors.
02 December 2008
14 November 2008
Here's a load of pumpkins I photographed in Cambridge the other week (er, around Halloween time, funnily enough). I'm a bit behind on posting photos, but I've got a selection I'm keen to share, so I'll try posting them over the next few weeks. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I can say with some confidence I won't have time to write a thousand words any time soon.
13 July 2008
I hadn't seen a human fruit machine before, but it's something of a staple for the village fete around here. I took this summery photo a few weeks ago.
22 February 2008
Be honest. Read that advert and tell me the first bodily function you thought of was blowing your nose.
29 December 2007
Many people decorate their houses on the outside with lights, but few go to the trouble of erecting a wooden facade in front of the garage and painting a Simpsons nativity scene on it. My neighbours did. The front garden also includes a life size Santa who moves his head, waves his arm and sings; a sleigh and an inflatable reindeer.
UPDATE: Come to think of it, a better Bartism for the headline might have been 'You would even say it glows - like a lightbulb!'
23 December 2007
I've just returned from a trip to Paris visiting friends, where I had an opportunity to play tourist and 'do' the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Arc de Triomphe.
On my city walks, I also came across a shop that sold shop dummies, a plastic waiter wearing a feather boa, and a war monument shaped like a country into which someone had drilled an eye hole so it looked like a bunny rabbit. You can view my Paris photographs here. The light was fantastic: the sky was blue and the sunshine was crisp, although it faded early.
Here's one of my favourites - a photo of a saxophonist busking, which was taken from a balcony on the Pompidou Centre.
22 April 2007
Last weekend I visited Valencia as part of a work project. The hotel was next to this space age landscape, an arts and science park, all curved buildings and reflecting pools. It was relaxing to walk around, and I spent my free time wandering around it and taking photos. I've put 15 photos online today. Here are two of my favourites:
09 April 2007
I'm not usually one to hype things, so you know you can trust me when I say that this weekend I saw not one but two truly amazing sights. They were as moving as they were bewildering. One could only look on and ponder the mysteries within.
Stonehenge: a wonder of the world. Where did the stones come from? How did they get there? What do these mystical symbols represent, and who decided on their strange arrangement? How can we best preserve this awe-inspiring view for future generations?
Gnomehenge: Where did the gnomes come from? How did they get there? What do these mystical symbols represent, and who decided on their strange arrangement? How can we best preserve this awe-inspiring collection for future generations?
Oh, and why does this one seem to be making an obscene gesture?
29 March 2007
Yesterday I was one of 128 lucky fans to witness a private showcase of Jean-Michel Jarre's new album 'Teo & Tea'. The event took place in a TV studio in Lint, about an hour's train ride from Brussels. Going out on the first Eurostar and returning on the last made for a long day, but it was fantastic. Docklands in '88 was the first concert I went to, and Zoolook and Rendez-Vous were the first albums I bought. I got Revolutions, Cousteau, Chronologie and Metamorphoses on the day of issue and they have soundtracked my life. I still dip into them all today.
I've seen JMJ three times in concert, but never like this. Usually it's a massive spectacular, or at least an arena gig. There were only a couple of hundred people at this gig and JMJ was able to get in among the crowd and really interact with them.
I had only heard the album twice before the show. It didn't strike me at first (I was probably too distracted trying to work out where Kontich station was), but it has a subtle beauty as well as some stomping rhythms. It's all the more special now that it reminds me of the gig. After seven relatively quiet years, it's good to have JMJ back.
We were allowed to take photos, provided no flash was used, which I thought was an enlightened attitude. I wonder whether bands are realising that the benefits of having their photos all over the internet and sustaining a buzz among fans far outweigh the risk that some might end up on unauthorised merchandise.
You can see my photos and review here. Please leave any feedback in the comments below.
17 March 2007
Last week I went to see the Inspiral Carpets at Shepherds Bush Empire. I've uploaded my photos today.
I was right down the front, which was hard work (it was a rough crowd) but worth it to feel so involved with the music. At one point Tom took my glasses off and put them on. The whole band looked like they were having a great time and the fans were really into it. If you don't already know, Carpets fans 'moo' between songs.
I've had a long relationship with the the music of the Inspirals, which goes right back to when I was at school. I first saw the band at Alexandra Palace, around the launch of The Beast Inside. I'll always have a soft spot for that album, so it was a treat to hear 'Sleep Well Tonight' last week. I saw the band in Norwich too, where my friend Mark, who introduced me to their music, was studying. We had recorded the then forthcoming single 'Dragging me Down' off the radio so we could familiarise ourselves with it before the show. I also saw the band at my own university and on the recent reunion tours, and at the launch party for the 'Cool As' compilation.
This tour was to promote the release of a new download-only album of b-sides and rarities, but the only concession to that in the setlist was the inclusion of 'Plane Crash'. The gig was the fan favourites, with a few surprises thrown in (including Cobra). I particularly enjoyed upbeat comeback single 'Come Back Tomorrow' as well.
This was the first gig I've been to since last May. I've had problems with my hearing lately, so for this show I was armed with earplugs. For the support acts, I wore the standard foam earplugs you can buy in any chemist (for about £2 for two pairs). They made a massive difference in cutting the volume of sound, and had tested well in my highly unscientific experiment trying out earplugs in front of my stereo. They did deaden the sound a bit though.
I also had some plastic earplugs which are made especially for concerts and clubbing, but which didn't seem to do anything at all when I tried them at home. When I tried them at the gig, I was surprised to find they were excellent. When I swapped the earplugs over, the dedicated concert ones had clearer sound and still dramatically cut the volume. It's possible I lost some of the music, or some parts might just have been mixed low. But it's the first gig I remember, where my ears weren't ringing the next day.
So, if you want to get some good earplugs for a concert, try the Elacin ER20-S which cost about £15. The manufacturers' website has a list of stockists. The RNID has created a website called Don't lose the music to help music fans to protect their hearing.
11 February 2007
This site celebrates its tenth birthday round about now and to mark the occasion I've given it a spring clean. Some content has been removed, but nothing you're likely to miss (do tell me if I'm wrong - perhaps I'll bring it back again). I've improved the design, particularly the navigation. It should be easier to explore and find what you're looking for now.
I've also added lots of new/old stuff from my archives.
I wrote, I think, the first big story in a UK web design magazine about accessibility, published in Internet Magazine in 2000. Today any decent website designer is aware of accessibility, but back then few people were interested. The editor at another magazine turned down a pitch on the subject, saying it was a minority issue of no interest to businesses.
Over the years, awareness of accessibility has increased. But I know many people still struggle to understand why they should and how they can create a more inclusive website. And I know a lot of designers can't be arsed, and their clients, who are ultimately responsible for the accessibility of the sites they buy, let them get away with it.
I've now added some of my later articles explaining accessibility to my webmaster tutorials. I hope that they will inspire more people to consider users with disabilities in their website designs, and will provide some helpful guidance on eliminating the biggest barriers.
The accessibility stories (new and old) are:
- Jakob Nielsen on why accessibility matters
- 17 Steps to an accessible website
- Access? That'll do nicely
- Making Flash accessible
- Accessibility Excellence - case studies of three accessible websites
- Tesco launches visionary website
In the journalism resources section, there's a new article about writing for the web.
The quality of the scans of rock and pop photos has been dramatically improved, and this is now reflected where they are used in the music articles too. My list of places where you can promote your music has also been refreshed.
Finally, there's a new gallery of photos of Sydney, Australia. One of my pictures of the Opera House was part of an architecture exhibition in Paris last year. There's a much cleaner scan of that too.
If you want to see what the first version of this site looked like, there's a screenshot of this site from 1997 here. It would have looked right at home on geocities.
Here's to the next ten years. Cheers!
02 February 2007
I've had a few happy weekends scanning old photos recently, and I've now updated my Rock and Pop Photography gallery with the results. New acts include My Life Story, Babybird, Noel Gallagher, Whale (pictured above) and the first incarnation of The Lovers. The photos were all taken in the late nineties, which I realise in some cases means they're ten years old. What can I say? I've been kinda busy.
I used to enjoy using the dark room, but I was never particularly patient or precise, so it was hard to get good results. People wearing black clothes in low light in front of a black background aren't the easiest subjects to print. So it's been a joy to see how the scanner has made light work of this (ho ho) and enabled me to make 'prints' that were too difficult using chemicals.
It looks like the site's been quiet in January but I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning behind the scenes. Excuse my dust during the renovations. There will be more new content coming soon. If you use an RSS reader, please subscribe to the RSS feed to be kept informed.
16 September 2006
My photograph of Sydney Opera House is due to be one of the images shown in an exhibition opening next week in Paris. 'L'eau, source d'architecture' looks at the relationship between architecture and water. The exhibition is curated by Francis Rambert, director of the French Institute for Architecture in Paris, and
architect Pascale Blin.
The exhibition runs from 20 September to 29 October, open Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is free. After the Paris show (full details in French), the exhibition is due to go to Toulouse.
There are additional photographs of Sydney on my travel map.
15 July 2006
I've added five new photos of Sydney to my travel photography Google Map.
08 July 2006
I've uploaded photos of Radiohead in concert, taken in Birmingham on the day The Bends was released. This is the first time - over ten years after they were taken - that these photos have been published.
That was also the first gig I photographed. I was using a Canon T70 with black and white film and no flash. The photos are grainy and blurred, which contributes to their atmosphere.
24 June 2006
I've updated my World Travel Photography Map with new photos including three of Corfu, two from Brussels and three from Berlin.
I've added extended captions for many older photos. The new captions indicate where it's worth zooming in for a satellite view (eg of the Atomium).
07 May 2006
Yesterday I spent much of the day chasing a 40 foot mechanical elephant around central London with my camera. The Sultan's Elephant is performance art taking part in London over four days. If you're reading this today (Sunday) and can get to London, make sure you go and see it (schedule here). If you can see the puppets on the move, it's fantastic. The elephant was accompanied by a live band as well, so there was quite a carnival atmosphere as people followed it through the streets.
If not - or even if you did - check out my photos of The Sultan's Elephant sightseeing in London.
16 April 2006
I've uploaded a selection of my unpublished photographs of Kenickie, one of my favourite bands. It's the first stage in the renovation of my rock and pop photography gallery, which will see it expanded with more pictures and made much easier to use.
Other news in brief: The Customer Service Pocketbook has been published in Arabic.
25 March 2006
I'm going to stick my head over the parapet now and write something unpopular: Copyright matters.
I know it's trendy nowadays to be all loved-up and say 'hey, man, let the data flow free like a river'. I have great respect for the work of the open source movement, and for the work of the Creative Commons. But just because some people choose to relinquish some of their legal rights, it doesn't mean everybody else should be forced to.
As you might know, I'm pretty defensive of my copyrights. In this post I'll explain some of the reasons why.
Creators should choose how stuff is usedOne of the issues that is often overlooked is one of choice. Even a Creative Commons licence gives you a choice over which rights you give away. You can, for example, say content is free to use provided it's not modified or that it can be used only in non-commercial projects.
But a problem with the Creative Commons model is that it assumes you want to assign permission based on usage, and not on who is making that use. I'm pretty politically aware, and there are some organisations that I would never grant permission to use my creative work. I would never want my work to be used against the causes I believe in. There are even individuals with whose views I disagree to the extent that I wouldn't want to actively help them. The law gives me the right to choose on a case-by-case basis who can and can't use my work.
This has nothing to do with free speech, by the way: Just because I respect and defend your right to express your views, it doesn't mean I should help you express them.
Time mattersAnyone want to mow my lawn for free? Go on. I'll tell everyone you did a great job. I thought not.
Time is the scarcest resource we have. Some of us will have more than others (we won't know how much until the end), but we've all got the same number of hours in the day, and days in the week. Working out how to spend it is what life's all about. Respecting how people spend their time is respecting their lives.
Over the last (nearly) ten years, I have spent a lot of time making content and building this website. Content is quick to consume, but slow to create. Writing games takes days. Writing an article can take half a day, once research is factored in. Even taking and scanning photographs is a fairly big job, even before we've factored in the time taken travelling to places to photograph. And let's not even start talking about how long it takes to write a book.
Don't get me wrong - I love it. That's why I do it. But if I've spent my limited life force making things instead of watching TV, it seems only fair that I choose who benefits from that. The law gives me the right to exercise control over how my work is used.
Derivative works are just thatA derivative work is when you take one thing, and then build upon it to make another thing. It's a more creative endeavour than just copying something, and the people who create the derivative work often add value. But they often cause problems too, and I have a right in law to decide who can and can't make derivative works from my material.
There are corners of the internet where people are still cursing me in a foreign language following a dispute over an unauthorised translation of one of my articles. I know that the translator who broke copyright law was only trying to make some ideas more widely available, but the end result could be the exact opposite. Now that I've had the exclusive translation rights stolen from me for that language, I can't license a major publisher to use it (which would have potentially communicated the ideas much more widely). For the record, I tried to reach a compromise where I published the translated version on this website but the translator was unresponsive. The article has been pulled from circulation.
Derivative works also restrict my creative freedom. If I make something, I'm free to adapt and modify it how I like. If somebody else independently alters it and makes new works, I'm having some of my creative options taken from me. Either I can't then do what they've done, or there is another work out there with which I must compete despite creating the original source material.
I do respect the time that people spend in creating derivative works, but request that they also respect the time that I spend in creating source material. If you're interested in translating content or creating derivative works, please contact me. I'll work with you if I can, but reserve my legal right to say 'no'.
Let's talk businessJust because you're not prepared to pay for something, it doesn't mean it doesn't have a value. While many people can and do set up websites for free, I actually write cheques to keep this website online. I also incur real money costs creating content (software, hardware, training). I've put over 300 pages of original content online and nearly all of it is free for you to read.
This is made possible by advertising, and the products I sell, including licences to use my copyright material. By charging people who want to make certain uses of my content, I'm able to publish lots more content for free. If I let people put my work on other websites for free, I end up competing with my own work for the traffic that helps pay the bills. That's the economics of it.
You might think I could avoid all that by just giving the content away, so that other people pay to host it. I can see how this might work for certain types of content. I've allowed unmodified copies of my websafe colour palette program to be circulated freely. But we come back to the control issue again (see above), so I don't allow my other work to be copied in this way.
In certain cases, I will grant a free licence to use my work. In other cases, I will make a charge. You might be surprised at how friendly I am, if you drop me a line.
Copyrights do have a commercial value and they are a part of my wealth. Anyone taking my copyright material is stealing some of my livelihood.
Credit where it's dueIt's a buzz when someone says they like what you've made, or that they found it useful in accomplishing their own goals. Knowing the identity of the creator of a work also changes your perception of it. The law gives me a right to be identified as the creator of my creative works.
There are a couple of common web practices which interfere with this right:
- Linking directly to images on another server. This is particularly bad because it means someone else is paying the hosting bill for images to appear on your website. At the same time, it looks like you own the content or at least like it appears there with the consent of the creator. It's not smart from the point of view of managing your own site, either. The image host can change the image that appears on your site to something unsavoury. Explain that to Mum.
- Framing content. There's a lot less of this goes on nowadays, but in the old days people used to frame other webpages, which could create the impression they were part of the same website.
I really appreciate people linking to this website to help spread the word, but please link to a HTML page and don't use frames. Don't make it look like you own my content. Ask if you don't understand or you're not sure.
Fair useI'm not trying to restrict your rights here - just assert my own. So I don't have a problem with people reproducing short excerpts for the purpose of comment provided they're accompanied by a link to the original source. I don't have a problem with people using images from this site as their windows wallpaper on their own computer, although I do have a problem with them passing those images on to others. You're welcome to print out any material here for your own use, but not to circulate it without permission. If you're not sure what's allowed, please drop me a line.
DiscussionIf you've got any comments, please email me. I'll update this article with them later.
For the avoidance of any doubt, none of the above and nothing in the comments grants you any rights in relation to my content. If you want to make use of my copyright material, you are required to contact me first.
There are lots of 'contact me' links in the above, because I get particularly annoyed when people don't ask. I'll negotiate if you ask. I won't, if you don't.
28 January 2006
I've created a new interactive map for exploring my travel photographs. For many of them, you can zoom in to see a map and satellite image of the area where they were taken. The interactive map includes many otherwise unpublished photographs.
When I get time, I'll raid more old photos to put some more landmarks and cities on the map. I'll also add photographs of new places as I visit them.
Anyway, enjoy the map. And let me know if you've got any feedback.
25 November 2005
I've uploaded a gallery of photos taken in Kruger National Park, South Africa. It includes shots of lions, elephants, impalas and hippos among other animals. It uses a Flash interface I created as a final project for a Flash course I studied recently.