London Is Anti-Fascist

When right wing nationalists plan a march, the Liberal left counter-marches on the same day. It creates a massive problem for the police though, and many of London’s busiest streets become closed to traffic to accommodate the protests.

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I spoke with a lovely Chinese woman at a bus stop and she asked me whether the protests were legal. I’m really grateful to be able to say that in the UK we have the democratic right to protest. I’m also excited to be living in such a diverse and multicultural city.

The democratic process means that all citizens have a right to protest. I don’t agree with the nationalist movements, I consider them to be racist and discriminatory, but I believe that they have a right to protest as well. If we pick and choose which citizens and groups can demonstrate then we break away from being a democracy. However, the police must enforce the marches so that demonstrators do not participate in hate crime. There is a difference between free speech and incitement to violence and/or hate talk.

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I’m not a nationalist, I believe that all people were created equal, I value diversity, and I’m in favour of asylum, immigration and economic migration. So it was a pleasure to witness the anti-fascit groups marching today.

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Limited Understanding Of The Male Gaze – Improving Macro Photography

Several women’s football clubs have recently dropped the name … ladies, i.e. Arsenal ladies are now Arsenal Women. This is a huge step to women being treated as equal to men, and progress towards becoming citizens.

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When women are referred to as Ladies they become a myth, they are symbolised as being pure, virginal, chaste and as needing special treatment by men (mustn’t swear in front of a lady, must hold a door open or give up a seat for a lady). This is objectification. This may appear as respect and decency but it is not. When women are objectified in one area they are treated as non citizens. According to the declaration of Human Rights, All men are created equal, and this gives them status as citizens who are given the right to freedom and protection under the Nation’s law. As women are revered as an untouchable, mythological being, they are therefore not equal and human rights are not afforded to them and neither is citizenship. The objectification of women, may appear loving and protective, but as soon as this objectification happens it opens the door for women to be objectified in a myriad of ways.

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With regard to justice it means that women are less likely to go to prison and be given a lesser sentence than men for the same crime. But it also means that if a woman is convicted of a serious violent crime or murder then she is vilified. The case of Ruth Ellis is a good example. Having committed murder she was humiliated in the press, her sexual conduct was brought into question, she was seen as disgustingly promiscuous, immoral and was tried very quickly and hanged. Because she had broken status with the mythological pure woman she was demonised. Also it wasn’t until the 2002 amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 that promiscuity by women was removed as a treatable mental disorder, and during the late 1980’s it became a crime if a man raped his wife. Before this there was no such thing as marital rape, a man had the right to sex with his wife, whether or not she consented. Currently a woman’s sexual morality is still used against her in some rape trials even though it is not permissible to do so. An immoral women will not be successful in gaining a conviction against the man that raped her. Rape trials have an extremely low conviction rate and consequently many allegations of rape never go to trial.

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Objectification in one area creates objectification in others. Women can be seen as sex objects, the object of a man and an object to be owned, an object to be persued for ownership by men. A lady is mine, you cannot have her, I can treat her as I wish.

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As an untouchable object that is persued for male possession women are romanticised, beautified and glorious, to be viewed by as precious, beautiful sex objects with special status. Their beauty is then subject to art, to sell products, advertising, photography, film and pop. This male gaze is either overtly or covertly sexual in nature and is clear evidence that women are not equal, not citizens and consequently unworthy. The sad truth is ladies are glorious myths worthy of honour and protection, who are also slaves and subject to all manner of abuse.

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Removing the status of the lady and becoming women, is a step towards equality.

Being on holiday, connecting with nature and slowing down has cleared space in my brain to understand Ariella Azoulay’s description of the male gaze in her book The Civil Contract of photography.

Slowing down in nature has meant that I have been photographin birds and making macro photography of flowers.

 

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It’s often said that having a new camera or new equipment will not improve your photography. For a complete beginner this is true, however this isn’t the case once you have gained some small knowledge with regards to making good photography. Having just purchased a prime macro lens the quality of my macro photography has improved considerably. The photos on this post are from my phone not from my Olympus and new prime macro lens.

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Having already learned something of good and bad macro photography from my previous set up, I have been able to make some truly “wonderful to me” photos of flowers. Distractions moved out of the way, knowing whether I’m documenting the flower (neutral background), creating a pretty scene (aesthetically pleasing background), using aperture to make a beautiful background and sharp, crisp subject, avoiding moire, and exposing for the highlights (ignoring cameras exposure guide and using settings based upon what I see in the view finder). All of this means I can now make macro photography of a decent standard.

 

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I’m a happy bunny. My smart phone has a pro manual mode which means I’ve also created some good macro shots with this device. The photos throughout this post have been made on my Huawei mobile phone.

My final photo wasn’t taken in pro mode. You know how much I love a windfarm.

 

 

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Proud of Pride

Pride is a celebration of diversity and gender in all of its many forms. It’s an opportunity for the LGBTQ community, friends, family and supporters to gather together and be proud of being who we are. Being visible as a community means that equality and diversity can be promoted and homophobia and discrimination can be challenged by presence and a carnival atmosphere.

Pride Portraits and Organisers/Sponsors Now Online – Lightroom Adjustment Brush and Airbrushing Portraits – Big Tip for Skin at the Bottom of the Page

The series that I will keep for my portfolio will be 24 of my favourite/meaningful photos of the day. I am currently reviewing the contact sheet and will select  the final 24 from 40 over the weekend.

I have uploaded the portraits and the Pride Makers on my website. I will include a few at the bottom of this blog.

Portraits Page OnePortraits Page TwoPride Makers

I have used a lot of the skills that I have learned on Foundations in Photography with making and developing these photos. I am more aware of how ISO, shutter speed and aperture affect lighting, grain and depth of field. With some of the portraits I felt anxious and I didn’t check to make sure that I had all of what I wanted to include in the frame, at other times my anxiety wasnt so bad and it was clear that I took more time.

It wasnt the kind of environment where distractions could be avoided altogether, but the people I photographed were happy to move so that I could light them more effectively or get rid of the background distractions. This was something that got easier as the day progressed and I became aware of how people allow you to direct them once they have consented to their photo being taken.

On the whole I use Lightroom for my developing, and tend to only use Photoshop for clone and healing brush. The healing brush tool is really useful for those times when I have cloned complicated areas of clothing or sky where the cloned section has been lighter or darker than the surrounding area. Clone first, then find smooth toned area with some texture, use the Alt key to select the source, then smooth over the cloned area. The key for me was finding a textured area, as it prevents the healing brush from turning the cloned area into a smudge. That’s a new trick up my sleeve.

Developing portraits in Lightroom has become more intuitive as this process went on. The first thing that I realised was to set the exposure and tone curve for the main subject. Once I had got that right I could then use the adjustment brush on the background. For many of the photos I have used the adjustment brush with decreased exposure and clarity and brushed over the background. This works well for complex scenes, but can look messy on bright white sky’s, however that’s what the grad filter is for.

I Feather, Flow, density and auto mask have taken me quite a while to get used to. Feather is useful for brushing around the outside of a subject as a harsh boundary with no feather creates the halo. I tend to use auto mask in conjunction with the grad filter, and use it as an eraser inside a subject so the filter doesn’t effect them. Density gives me more control of the affect – so a burn of -.3 can be toned down using the density slider and this decreases the incidence of “brush strokes” on light areas.

Airbrushing – using spot heal for blemishes, adjusting saturation, temp and tint on lips, eyes (am amazed at how you can bring out the colour of eyes) and skin. Whites adjustment for eyes. Increase exposure for deep-set eyes or eyes in shadow. Decrease highlights and whites for reflections on glasses. I am also going to change my Lightroon and Photoshop background to white. The sites I use have white backgrounds and the tone appears different to my eyes on a black background than it does on white.

Big skin tip – don’t do a global increase of contrast, it changes the skin colour. I have found that the best results came from a typical ‘S’ tone curve, but with darks at no more than 10% and then increase the mid-tones and bring up the shadows.

Northern Pride Taster Photos – What I Have Learned About Portrait Photography – How I will Publish These Photos

I am going to include 8 taster photos from Northern Pride at the end of this blog.

There were some things that I had planned well for making photography at Northern Pride. I had taken a notepad and paper with me, which means I can now email people their photos, as I took down emails of those that wanted a copy of their photo. This is something that I will do more often at events in general. I had prepared my self to ask people if I could take their photos.

There is something really important that I have learned this weekend, if people have agreed to be photographed they are generally very comfortable in being directed as to where to stand. I did not ask people to pose, but I did move them around so that they did not have objects sticking out of their heads, where possible. It wasnt always possible as the event was very busy. Initially I didn’t feel comfortable with this, but as I became more relaxed then I stepped into the role.

I used continuous shooting mode, and I am glad that I did. People move, they close their eyes, the wind blows the hair across their faces, they talk to people and have weird expressions on their faces when doing so. Having used CS mode I managed to get some good photographs that may have been ruined by movement if I had only taken a single shot. In future I really need to step into the role of being the director of photography. Once you have asked, if people agree, then direct. Slow down and direct.

I made sure that I got photos of the Northern Pride Committee, Newcastle Council, The Lady Mayoress of Newcastle, the main stage sponsor, the security and the police. I believe that its important to demonstrate that I take high quality event photos that show off the organisers and supporters. This is also part of my long-term plan to become a professional events photographer.  Start as I mean to go on.

It would be sensible if I developed a contact card, although it isn’t completely necessary, if I have my pad and take people’s emails if they wish to have a copy that will suffice for now.

I have made a point of deleting photos of people from the march who were not happy to be around a camera. It’s impossible to ask individuals for consent in a large group – but I am not here to make people feel uncomfortable. So their photos are gone, as are others that would show people in a bad light. I don’t see my role as a sensor, but neither do I wish to hurt people who may have had too much to drink, or been caught with an expression that makes them look silly.

The Plan

I have completed two runs of evaluation and categorised photos into three sections.

Series – I am going to produce a series of 24 photos of my journey with Pride. I have selected around twice this many and they include Newcastle, before the march, the march, the venue, portraits and the event makers (organisers, supporters and sponsors).

I will have three pages on my website, one for the series, one for event makers and one for individuals and groups.

The individuals and groups page will contain a lot of photos. I am then going to use Twitter, local newspaper, pride tv, and LGBTQ lifestyle magazines to inform people that they are able to download any photo that they wish of themselves or the day without charge.

I will do similar with the event makers, but I will also use the internet to get e mails from organisations so that I can inform them that they can use my photos free of charge to promote themselves.

The Taster Photos

These are not the strongest photos that I took, I have kept those for the series, but I wanted to get some up here. I like to blog every day.

Northern Pride, Newcastle, July 2017

There are so many technical and creative reasons that I shouldnt like this photo, but I do. Its one of my favourites from Northern Pride. She was very photogenic and agreed for me to take other photos of her on the day, but I like this. It suggests a furtive glance to the camera, but it wasnt. She was engaged with the camera for half a minute or more, when the crowd werent in the way.

I look forward to the developing process, now that I have completed the evaluation, and feel free to let me know what you think works, and what doesn’t and why.

 

 

Amazing Day With Northern Pride – Anxiety Vanished – Thankyou

This is just a short post as I’m exhausted. I’ve left early because talking with so many people is emotionally draining. This has been a well organised, attended and supported event. Lots of happy, joyful, colourful and photogenic people. I’ve lived it.

It took me a little while to get into asking people if I could take their photos – and then you couldn’t stop me. The overwhelming majority of people have happily had me take their photos.

I’ve also been able to take photos of Northern Pride committee members Jane and Chris – Jane has been very supportive in enabling me to take photographs. There were so many organisations supporting the event and I have many photos of them, which I will email and tweet to them. The security was excellent with the local police and Smart Security and although Cleveland Police don’t police the event as it’s out of area, they attend and support Northern Pride.

I have no idea how many people I have asked if I could take there photos but it was a lot. I’m pleased with my self for that. I don’t enjoy portrait photography because of my anxiety, so this is another part of my development as a photographer.

Thankyou to the LGBTQ community, friends, family and supporters, Northern Pride and it’s supporters and sponsors.

It’s going to take some time to develop these photos.

Time to eat.

Northern Pride – My Kind of Britain – Emotionally Preparing to Photo in a Large Crowd

My Kind of Britain is an ongoing project about diversity, equality and discrimination, that I began a few months ago. I intend for it to be an ongoing project. With this in mind I am visiting Northern Pride in Newcastle tomorrow. “Here at Northern Pride we have an overall mission to reduce homophobia, promote awareness of equality and to unite LGBT communities across the region.”

Preparing my photography equipment is straight forward. My mental health is a little more difficult. I’ve had increased anxiety and racing thoughts for a couple of days. I have to build up to talking with people, explaining a project and seeking consent. It terrifies me in the build up and right up until I open my mouth. However once I have started to speak I take on the role of photographer, become present and my mind switches off. Today my emotions are quite intense. It will pass.

I’ve completed a lot of coursework over the past few days so that I could switch off today, and so that I can develop my photos on Monday and Tuesday.

Time now to phone a friend and seek support for the anxiety I’m feeling.

 

References

www.photosociology.info/sociology/ethnicity-and-diversity

www.northern-pride.com