Monkey see, monkey do…

This photograph was taken on one of photographer David Slater’s cameras.

The story is amusing – David explains that while he was taking photographs of a small group of monkeys, one of the older monkeys picked up one of David’s cameras and took a few photographs of itself – the famous « monkey-selfie’.

When David discovered the image, he thought, rightfully, that he had an interesting image and that he would be able to find someone who would buy it.

However, this has created a ridiculous situation, in which David is now being sued by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who maintain that the monkey holds the copyright. Apparently in the US there’s nothing in copyright law that says a monkey, or any animal, can’t hold copyright – but there’s nothing that says they can, either. Strange.

In addition, this is causing huge financial problems for David, who, in his defense, simply wanted to sell a charming photo of a monkey – now he’s being sued for a substantial amount of money – just for doing his job.

Personally I think that PETA are wrong to drag this through the courts – it won’t help anyone, much less the monkeys, if they win or lose. In my opinion they are doing this for publicity, and risk creating a precedent which will only harm photographers, particularly wildlife photographers, who will eventually have to get a signed release from the wild animals personal lawyers before taking any pictures.

Sadly people like PETA, for whom I used to have respect, are their own worst enemies – and create problems far greater than what they are actually there to protect. I’ll just go and put on my plastic sandals, and get out my wooden clothes…

 

Star Gazing

If you have looked at the first page of this site recently, you may have noticed a photo of star trails. I decided this was something I needed to add to my repertoire so I waited for a clear cloudless sky (Saturday evening) and loaded up the car with tripods. My chosen spot was actually not far from the house – there’s an agricultural lake surrounded by tall poplar trees – seemed like a good idea.

This is the lake with the moon rising – before I started what I was there for…


The process to create ‘star trail’ photos is relatively simple – the Earth moves, and with a sufficiently long exposure, the pinpoints of starlight will create lines. Suffice it to say a sufficiently long exposure to create decent trails would be in the order of one or two hours – but the downside would be a severely over-exposed image. The best way, according to Internet, is to take multiple images, and them put them all together with a program adapted (Photoshop) for this. The advantage of this approach is that only the elements that change (i.e.; the light of the stars) will be ‘added ‘ to the initial image – thus avoiding an overexposed foreground.

After a few exposure tests, I decided I would use 1/20s at ISO 1600 and aperture f/4.0 – this example was 60 images.

As you can see, I managed to ‘trap’ a shooting star as well!

I tried another angle for the following shot.

Buffoon?

Very interesting article by Michael Brendan Dougherty in the National Review regarding the Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions ‘situation’. One paragraph, to me at least, is priceless

« Instead, Trump is proving another theory correct: namely, that he is an incompetent and politically unreliable buffoon. He is not loyal to people who risk their reputations for him, and his promises are worthless. The wall isn’t going to be built, and Mexico isn’t going to pay for it. »

Nikon – the future

While I have to admit I’m not really a fan-boy to the extent of constantly ‘predicting’ what the next offering from Nikon will be…I have to admit the 2014 launch of the D750 has got me thinking…

Up until now, new ‘groups’ of cameras were fairly well spaced, with the number increment climbing at a reasonable rate: D3000, D3100, D3200 etc.

The D3*** group are amateur – first DSLR type cameras

The D5*** group are moderate/advanced amateur

The D7*** group advanced/pro etc.

Then the D750 was launched – this is supposed to fall into the avanced amateur/pro group which started with the excellent D700 in 2008.

The D8** series started ok – D800, D810 and now a huge jump to the D850

For me the writing is on the wall – a new ‘M’ series will be making it’s appearance soon – ‘M’ for Mirrorless – why? Well, as increments go, the D750 can go to the D760, D780 but there’s not much more scope until it hits the D8** group. The D850 (as and when it’s actually launched) has more ‘breathing room’ in that the D9** is open (for the moment) With the number of lenses available, it seems likely that this series (and the Pro D* series) will be maintained as the advanced/pro DSLR options.

All this to say that I get the distinct feeling that the D7** series will be slowly put to bed, the D8** and D* series maintained, and a new ‘M’ series started as an advanced/pro mirror-less body, possibly even with a new lens mount (requiring new lenses, or existing lenses with new ‘M’ series mounting rings)

I am not the Angry Photographer so I don’t have any proof for any of these mumblings – but logic would point us towards a pro series mirror-less development…let’s see what the future will hold…

Oh, the tension….

The pressure is building….Nikon are about to launch a new camera….the fan-boys are eager to get their hands on, well, no-one really knows for sure, but the announcement is imminent…

We do know that whatever it is will be called the D850 – this is pretty much a foregone conclusion as the Angry Photographer stated that it will be called the D820 – what is less sure are the specifications. This is the amusing bit, as the rumour mill has been active for the last few months ‘predicting’ what the new camera body will be capable of.

(This said, the Angry Photographer has also stated that ‘he knows’ that the new body will have « a shutter release and a bit for putting lenses on » so this actually brings into doubt much of what has been predicted…)

Given that the D800 from 2012 initiated, for Nikon at least, the high density camera sensors with the 36Mp Sony sensor, it’s likely that this new model will increase the pixel density – possibly interesting for landscape or sports photographers (albeit for different reasons) but certainly much less interesting for those among us who do a lot of low light photography. It all boils down to simple physics really – the smaller the photo-sites (pixels) the less photons of light  they can capture, thus making high-density sensors much less sensitive. Arguably the increase in performance of the amplifying software can help, but you can’t amplify what just isn’t there – when you try, you create noise – as can be seem by some of the silly maximum ISO values on cameras nowadays.

The announcement is supposed to be today – 25th of July – more as it happens…

The Addams Family remake

It seems plans are afoot to remake the popular 1991 film ‘The Addams Family’ – the parts of Morticia and Wednesday  have already been cast…

In a significant change from the original script, Thing , which used to be a disembodied hand, has evolved into a disembodied bottom…


Which apparently has also already been cast…

And you think France is screwed up?

Recent news regarding car parking charges for employees at a large UK hospital made us (ie; expats living in France) sit up and listen.

A large hospital somewhere in the UK has 6000 people working for it – sadly there are only 1300 parking places, for employees and visitors,  so quite a number park illegally – just to go to work. The company employed by the hospital to manage the car parks has finally decided to take to court all the people who have parked illegally over the years, resulting in claims of £128,000 for some of the nurses, who up until now have simply ignored the tickets. This basically means that some people will be obliged to sell their their houses to pay parking fines.

If this situation were ever to occur in France, the hospital would have been closed long ago – we don’t pay for visitors parking here, so there’s no-way the actual employees are ever going to pay to park. In very large hospitals there is generally a shuttle bus, or nearby metro (as the largest hospitals are generally in or near large cities) and park-and-ride schemes. So why does this situation exist in the UK?

Well one reason is that the hospitals are now run by accountants – who see parking as a money-making opportunity – and as soon as they employ a third party management group to organise this, ‘reasonable’ goes straight out of the window.

Another example of ridiculous reasoning is happening at the BBC – it seems that they now have to publish the salaries of their ‘top’ earners, and these people are rightfully feeling that there will be a backlash from the ‘commoners’ who pay the licence fee, and thus, their salaries.

Here is an example:

Credit: Getty Images

It seems that this is a ‘Chris Evans’ – no-one has been able to tell me what it does, or even what it might be good at, but it seems the BBC pay £2,25 million a year for the priviledge of having one. I have heard that it’s a pretty nasty piece of work, and stamps it’s feet when it doesn’t get it’s own way – I can do that too, but I can guarantee I’ll be cheaper – all I’ll need is a reserved parking place at Broadcasting House and I’ll be there. I’ll leave you my number…

 

D’Artagnan

Anybody who has visited Auch will know that we have a statue of one of Alexandre DUMAS creations d’Artagnan. While the stories of « Les Trois Mousquetaires » are fictional, DUMAS was inspired by the memoires of Charles de Batz de Castelmore (born in Lupiac, Gers around 1611,) on which to base his fictional personage.

Auch has recently spent a large sum (of predominantly American money…) to restore the Monumental Staircase which leads from the lower town (Basse ville) to the upper town (Haut ville) where the statue of d’Artagnan can be found on the first landing (climbing up from the lower town)


On the fourth landing (from the bottom) can be found the memorial for the tragic flooding that occurred in Auch in 1977 where six people died. Designed by Jaume PLENSA « L’Observatoire du temps »  is interestingly one of his earliest commercial works.

Another of his sculptures « l’Abri Impossible » is situated not far from the lower end of the monumental staircase, on the  banks of the Gers.

Bastille Day

The 14th of July – Bastille Day – is a very popular day here in France – not only is it ‘férié’ (we don’t work) but there are generally ‘things’ going on like firework displays etc. Generally a good excuse to get out and drink heavily…

Here our day started comparatively early at 11h35 when four Rafale jets returning from the military celebrations over Paris, overflew the centre of Auch on their way home to the airbase at Mont de Marsan. I was perched on a hill overlooking the city, with a long lens on my camera – I knew they would probably fly at an altitude of around 300m, but had no way of accurately measuring this…so I guestimated…

For the past three years the fireworks display has been held right in the centre of the lower part of the city, along the river Gers. This year was no exception, and although I would have like to be up-close, decided to return to ‘my’ hill – with a bit of luck I might be able to get some images with the display and the cathedral in shot.

(Interestingly, if you enlarge the first image you can see people lining the Escalier Monumentale in the centre of Auch to watch the display)

I’ll get closer next year…