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Tag: controversy

Thomas Hawk and SF MOMA or Why I Love my a530

On Equipment

I have a Rebel XT that can take great pictures, It have a couple of Lenses (the kit, a prime 2.8, a 20-70 and 30-300 tele/macro) and I love taking it out on tours of photogenic locations and capturing the world in it’s glassy eye.  I can take pensive, crafted and beautiful pictures with it.  However, it is not the only camera in the world and it is light-years beyond what I may actually need.  Not Long ago someone pointed out to me that Ansel Adams took photos with little more than glass, a box and some film, and it was what he did afterwards that turned a great photo into art.

I love taking photos,  I think Thomas Hawk does too; so it pained me to see that he was being harassed for doing what he loves.  This has led to some discussion online.  I will carefully highlight that it pained me in the past tense, because I am not going to defend either party over here at Local Blogger; it’s not for me to do.  I’m not party to either side of the discussion, save as a photographer, but I’m no professional and cannot fully understand all of the motives and methods that Thomas employs.  Nor am I SF MOMA, large as I can appear, I am no Modern Art Museum, nor am I the curator or an officer of any establishment save the “Kevin Wardrop Museum of Comics and Toys” which has fallen apart as of late, due to my lax administration.  No, I am Kevin Wardrop, Geek.  So I will try to draw a balance in my commentary on all of this.

First some assumptions:

If where you work is covered by CCTV, then being photographed should not be a problem. As I understand things; the reason Thomas was approached was because an employee of the Museum was uncomfortable with the lens of the Camera being on her, possibly pointed down her blouse.  I can’t see why it matters, honestly.  If you are under the lens of a CCTV for 90% of your day, you have had your privacy exploited by a security person at least once or twice this week.  They might not post your picture on the web or sell it to a magazine; but chances are they might.  Why stress over a photographer, at least you can approach them and ask for a card or ask where they might be using the picture.

Buildings built with public money and funded by donation have no right to restrict photography; that being said the SF MOMA is a private not-for-profit entity.  Which means that they can restrict behavior within their walls.  Period.  If they want the negative publicity from ejecting photographers, that’s within their rigths, up until a limit.  Obviously, they can’t be overtly discriminatory against any paying customer.

People assume (wrongly) that a SLR or dSLR means that you are a professional (or a pervert);  I don’t get hassled to often when I go out with my Camera, even when I have the 300mm zoom lens on.  I do get the occasional dirty look though; even “remote hassles” but no in your face confrontations.  If I am close enough, I ask for permission to take photos, but often I like to take candid photos where people don’t know and are unaware of me.  It’s life that I’m photographing, not poses.  To defend myself from the pervert discussion I usually have my family with me when I take photos; people see my daughter and assume that I’m a tourist (which suits me fine).  I assume the same when I see some dude with a kit lens on his far too expensive dSLR too.   To assuage fears I also carry Moo Cards with my name and contact info on them so that people can feel assured that I am not some pervert looking to exploit their image; which then leads to “are you going to sell these?”  I’m not a professional, I would like to make money while taking pictures; but I don’t.  Thomas does; which changes the equation slightly.  If I was a professional and known for my work, I imagine that some people might be aware that I make money off of these photos and should be careful to make sure that I am sensitive to these beliefs when approached by members of the public or worse an authority figure.

As I stated earlier, I wasn’t on hand for Thomas’s encounter and have to go on Thomas’ word and those of other “witnesses” (who may be sock puppets for SF MoMa for all I know); it looks like there was a misunderstanding and miscommunication that led to misanthropy on the both parts.  As a public figure, Thomas should have shown a bit more humility and less self-assurance and simply backed down; Simon, for his part appears to have been overzealous in his defense of his employee/co-worker.  I believe we should chalk this up to misunderstanding and walk away from it.  Mr. Blint may have acted like an asshole; but Thomas should be aware that on Private property, the authority lies with the Janitors before it lies with the visitors.

(I use janitors here as an example of the lowest paid employee or at least least authoritative, not as some statement of their position in society, Janitors are FAR more important than CEOs in the scope of things)

Had Thomas been carrying a point and shoot; would he have faced as much hassle?  All of the signs here point to no; and a short perusal of the discussions of this matter seem to confirm the phenomenon.  People with “good” cameras are hassled where people with “crappy pos” cameras are given free reign.  Why?

Let’s look at my assumptions again; people with dSLR cameras are looked at as either Professionals or Perverts.  In this case, it was Pervert.  Almost always wrong, almost always incorrect, but there it is.  People who are willing to pout money into something like photography are faced with suspicion, where people who just pay a couple hundred bucks for their little pocket camera are treated like “benign dummies”  you can see that in the way people who are hassled talk about the phenomena.  “I had my big Camera… but people with cell phone cameras and little point and shoots were getting a pass”

Clearly there is a kind of class division of photographers that Thomas (and others) have fallen afoul of.  It’s a shame that the proliferation of dSLRs hasn’t removed the stigma of the “big” camera over the the “fun” little camera.  That, however leads me back to my initial point.

As I understand things, Ansel Adams, who is often held up as a standard in photography didn’t have any of the technology that we have on hand today, and that all of his work was technique and style over equipment and luck.  I am forced to admit that I don’t take (for the most part) any better photos with my 800 dollar kit than I take with my a530.  If I take my time and plan it out, my a530 can produce some amazing results, un retouched and uncropped, and it doesn’t set off any warning bells in the minds of most people.  It fits in my pocket and is ready in a few seconds.  Nothing could be easier, simpler and more prone for abuse.  I can easily use my “little” camera to snap candid photos with no one being the wiser, I can control exposure and flash with one hand and don’t even need to put it to my eye to compose a shot.  I love my a530 simply because it is unobtrusive and easy to use.  If anything, people should fear a compact camera more than a big camera because a silent and easy to hide Camera is much more easily used to take surreptitious and exploitive photos than a large camera is.

In the end, it’s not the equipment that defines how a photographer should be judged, its what they do with it, and from what I can tell, Thomas did no wrong with the Camera, but his mouth might have become over exposed.

You and your Flying Purple Pony can get stuffed

Did Muslims react so strongly because they did not understand or believe in freedom of speech? Gallup’s data, which demonstrate Muslim admiration for Western liberty and freedom of speech, indicate otherwise. The core issues of this apparent clash, or “culture war,” are not democracy and freedom of expression, but faith, identity, respect (or lack of it), and public humiliation. As France’s Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk observed in The Associated Press in the midst of the cartoon controversy: “We gain nothing by lowering religions, humiliating them and making caricatures of them. It’s a lack of honesty and respect.” He further noted that freedom of expression “is not a right without limits.”

Islam and the West: Clash or Coexistence?

I’m focusing on this last quote; from Grand Rabbi Joseph Sitruk; it’s fairly naive to ask a religious authority about how people should talk about religion in the public square.  What do you imagine the Grand Rabbi will say about religion;  that satire is satire and we should accept the clowns with the accolades?  No.  Simply no.  Like the Pope or the GRand Vizier, the religious authority is going to fall on the side of the religious without fail.  Therefore there opinion; however florid, is moot and accepted as supporting religion without inquiry.

The “Cartoon Debacle”  highlighted something that I hold dear; the ability (and lack thereof) to laugh at oneself.  It’s a hard pill to swallow when someone makes fun of your hero; it’s even harder when that hero is your personal savior.  This I get; but when someone lampoons my heroes (even the ones that I adore) I don’t feel compelled to violence (any more).  If it is funny; I laugh.  If not, I fume and maybe even give back an indignant remark; but that’s about it.  It seems that people can get very huffy about their heroes, personalizing anything about said heroes as an individual slight.  Not only does this show a shocking lack of character, but it demonstrates a lack of  development on par with serious emotional developmental issues.

Notice that (any more) I dropped in there?  That’s because it USED to be that one could goad me into a tear-stained fury just by making fun of the music I liked.  I hadn’t developed the emotional coping mechanisms that would allow me to separate myself from my interests.  This is probably the kind of lack of development that leads to violent reactions to parody.  I don’t know; I’m not a psychiatrist.  I’m just a Blogger.

That being said; it sucks that people (as a group) can be so easily led to outrage. We all have to just lighten up and tackle real issues and outrages when they come up.  Right?

Thieves and Criminals

While we were out today, (selling my books), I had a brush with CRIMINALS!!! OOOOhhhhh

Actually, it was way after I had already sold my precious tomes.  I was picking up potatoes for tomorrows dinner and was paying when some kids brushed by me to go out the front door of the grocery store (Market of Choice, Represent) two young guys in street clothes pushed passed me and chased them out.  I didn’t think anything of it, but the cashier was watching really close.

When I stepped out, the second guys were bringing one of the kids back in, asking why he took “it” and did he not hav the money for “it”.  Shoplifter.  His friend got a stern talking to, a car screeched up and he jumped in and “escaped”

I saw the kids in the car, with the greasy kid who escaped waiting to leave, I tried to snap a picture, but NiteGirl wouldn’t let me, insisting that she take the picture instead.  She failed to find the button.


Anyway, here’s the unlock all code for GH2


Have fun.

NOTE:  notq added some comments to this blog post that led down a path I just don’t want to go here.  This is my vapid online diary, basically my bully pulpit.  I don’t really want to discuss politics on here (even though I have) I’ve left my blog post up but taken down notqs (and my) replies. I really don’t want to dialogue with anyone about the “reasons” behind what this kid did.  It’s done, I laughed about it, blog over.