Category Archives: Photography

Requiem For a Lens

I recently bought some new camera gear, and now I’m thinking of selling a couple of my old lenses. One of them is a Sigma fish-eye lens (10-20mm f4/5.6 for Nikon DX) that I use for extreme wide-angle photos. It’s a trick lens, and while some of the images are interesting, I never really used it as much as I hoped to.

The other lens, however, is the original Nikon DX super-zoom (AF-S 18-200mm f3.5/5.6 VR). It’s not a high-end pro lens, especially in low light, but it has a very versatile focal range. Under most common conditions it replaces a whole bagful of interchangeable lenses. I used it all the time.

It’s amazing how we can become attached to things. I’m not talking about the kind of attachment that leads to gaudy levels of conspicuous consumption. I mean the way we become attached to the useful objects in our lives.

Probably the most common example we are likely to share is our first car. Mine was a Plymouth Volaré, a car that so spectacularly failed to live up to expectations that its production caused the downfall of Chrysler Corporation in the 1970s and ultimately helped destroy the reputation of the entire American auto industry. It was not a fun car to drive or maintain, but it was my car. It gave me freedom and control that I had never had before. I never loved it, but I have fond memories of the places I went and the things that I did and the people who road with me. I felt bad about getting rid of that car.

I felt the same way about the first computer I ever learned to use, a VAX 11/780 at college. I eventually got the job of running it for the school, and it became my job to sell it when we upgraded to newer computers. I remember when it was waiting to ship out — 4 or 5 refrigerator-sized racks of electronics standing in the hallway — and I remember feeling like a piece of my life was going with it.

I’m feeling that way now about that 18-200 street zoom. I own a few other lenses, but I don’t use them nearly as much as I used that lens. Almost every photo I shot with my D200 was through that lens — maybe 35,000 images altogether. I carried that lens everywhere, and I used it to do cool things. It’s not a feeling I’ll ever quite experience again.

My Photography Day Bag

Original photography has been a part of this blog for almost ten years. If you’ve met me in real life, then probably at some point you’ve seem me carrying around my camera bag. I thought some of my readers — especially other amateur photographers interested in the kind of photos I take — might find it interesting to see what I’ve been carrying around all that time.

The bag itself is a Tamrac Velocity 8 sling bag. I like it because I can throw it over my shoulder for easy carrying, but when I need to get something out of it, I can swing it around to the front and it hangs with the top up for easy access. I tried a few other solutions, but this was the one that has worked best for me, and I’ve been happy with it for years. It’s out of production now, but Tamrac appears to have replaced it with an updated model.

The bag has side mounting straps for accessories, and you can see a small filter bag mounted on the right. I also sometimes bring a spare lens bag, shown separately on the left here.

Inside the main bag, the one indispensable part of my day kit sits right on top:

That’s a Nikon D200 DSLR. It has a DX-size imaging sensor, which is about the size of a small postage stamp. It’s about 1/3 smaller than the FX-sized sensor, which is the size of a traditional frame of 35-mm film, but it’s several times larger than the sensor in the compact point-and-shoot camera I upgraded from, and much larger than the sensor in my iPhone. The sensor is 10 megapixels, which isn’t much by today’s standards — compact cameras have 12 to 20 MP, and the new iPhones are 8MP — but it was pretty good at the time, and the larger pixels allow each photosite to collect more light, which makes the sensor more sensitive than a compact camera and better able to take photos in low light. Also, for the kinds of shooting I do, 10 MP is more than enough.

The D200 was what’s sometimes called a “prosumer” camera — filling the gap between the entry-level DSLR cameras and the high-end professional gear. Generally speaking, the more professional cameras don’t produce better pictures, but they allow photographers to get good pictures in a broader range of conditions. Among other things, they operate more quickly allowing photographers to time photos better, and since everything that moves under electric power involves magnets, faster cameras have bigger magnets, mostly in motors, meaning professional cameras are heavier. They’re also more durable, with weather sealing and hard metal cases, adding to the weight. The D200 was not Nikon’s largest camera, but it’s pretty hefty.

You might think all those buttons would be intimidating, but they’re just another way to speed up photography. Most of them don’t do anything you can’t do with all but the cheapest cameras, but when I want to change a setting, I just push a button and turn a dial instead of hunting through several layers of menus. Not that the D200 doesn’t have a lot of menus for customization. If a photographer knows he’s going to be shooting one kind of photo for a while, he can set the camera up to make it easier and faster.

Although DSLR cameras allow you to swap lenses, I took almost all of my photos with the lens you see here, Nikon’s AF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED VR lens. It’s not a high-quality pro lens, but it sure has a versatile focal length — it’s a “street zoom,” intended for unplanned photography where you might take wide shots and telephoto shots one after another, and it would be inconvenient to change lenses. It does occasionally creep the focal length in and out from the weight of the elements when I tilt it far off the horizontal. Nevertheless, I’ve really put it to work, and if you want a great all-in-one lens for DX format, I highly recommend it. I’ve heard that the modern version is just as good, and it fixes the lens creep problem.

This photo also shows my Op/Tech Pro neck strap and a separate Tamrac hand strap. I’m paranoid about fumbling the camera. It’s tough, but a 4- or 5-foot drop onto concrete would probably break it.

All those big motors and fancy electronics use a lot of power, so I keep several recently charged Nikon EN-EL3 batteries in the bag. I see one of these is actually a knock-off battery from the late great ill-fated Calumet Photographic. They were located in Chicago, and I live a few miles from their Cherry Avenue store.

I also carry a pack of memory cards, in addition to the one that’s always in the camera. At the time, professional photographers overwhelmingly used the Compact Flash format cards, which are rather large. I didn’t think to put something in there for scale, but to give you an idea, the folded-up case is just a little smaller than an iPhone 4.

These cards are made by Lexar, which at the time was considered one of the few brands reliable enough for professional photographers. Note that each card was a whopping 2 Gigabytes. Shooting high quality JPEGs, I could put about 425 images on each one, and I have on occasion filled all of them (burning through several batteries in the process). Cards that small are dirt cheap these days, but you don’t want to know how much I paid back then.

Next to the camera and lens, the most important item in my kit is the external flash, a Nikon SB-800 speedlight. I almost never use the camera’s built-in flash. It’s comparatively weak, and since it’s located so close to the lens it tends to flatten images and when shooting people it exacerbates red eye. Having the flash head a little higher seems to help. The head also tilts and swivels, allowing me to bounce light off parts of the room to light the subject broadly from an angle that makes the 3D shape stand out more in a 2D image.

Like all of Nikon’s modern flash units, the SB-800 participates in the Creative Lighting System, which means that the units can be controlled remotely by other flash units, including the built-in flash on Nikon cameras. When configured correctly, they participate in Through-The-Lens metering and can be programmed to provide different levels of exposure in the image. I have a few more of these speedlights that I can bring along in a separate bag if I need to.

The flash is pictured here with its built-in bounce card extended. The bounce card is handy when I’m photographing a person and I’m bouncing the light off the ceiling. It catches some of the light right at the flash head and throws it directly at the subject, giving their eyes a bit of a sparkle.

Also in the picture is the diffusion dome, which can be used to scatter light around the room, so the subject picks up natural looking light from all directions.

The flash uses a lot of power, so I always carry emergency batteries that will allow me to keep shooting if I use up the batteries inside. Although these are Alkaline batteries, I normally operate the flash on rechargeable batteries to keep costs down. I use Alkaline batteries as spares, however, because the rechargeable battery chemistry of the day did not allow for batteries that could keep their charge for months of sitting in a camera bag.

The bulge on the left is an attachment to hold a fifth battery, which makes the speedlight capacitor charge faster between flashes, at the expense of bulk and weight. I can’t help noticing, however, that the number of batteries I’ve been carry around lately is not a multiple of 5.

I also carry a stand for the flash in case I want to set it up somewhere and trigger it remotely from the camera. I almost never do that with this unit, although I do sometime use additional standing flash units to add more light.

I also carry a folding miniature LumiQuest soft box to soften the harsh shadows caused by direct flash. It greatly reduces the distance at which the flash is effective, so I only use it in special cases.

I carry around this cable so I can take the flash off the hot shoe on the camera. I mostly use it with the flash bracket (coming next), but I can also use it to hand-hold the flash further away from the camera.

Here are the parts of the flash bracket assembly, consisting of the round flash bracket itself, the orbiting tilt mount used to hold the flash, and the nodal slide rail used to mount the bracket to the camera. Disassembled like this, the bracket ring fits in the side pocket of the bag, and the other two parts fit into one of the internal compartments.

That photo shows the L-bracket I keep permanently attached to the bottom of my camera. I can use it to quickly mount the camera in my tripod, but most of the time it serves as a place to attach the flash bracket, as seen in the next shot.

Here’s the complete flash bracket attached to the camera and ready for shooting. At the very least, it raises the flash up a bit more, which reduces red eye and throws the subject’s shadow further down behind them, where it’s less visible. But it also allows me to rotate the camera to portrait orientation while still keeping the flash above the camera:

This bracket is especially helpful when I want to bounce the flash off the ceiling, because it allows me to quickly rotate the camera between landscape and portrait orientation while keeping the flash head aimed in the right direction.

As I said, I rarely switch lenses, but I do sometimes clip on my extra lens bag to carry this trick lens that allows me to take super-wide-angle pictures. Because of that, I wasn’t too concerned with the quality of the image — it’s necessarily distorted by the nature of fisheye lenses — so I saved myself a bunch of money and bought this Sigma 10-20 mm D f/4-5.6 instead of a more expensive Nikon lens. It’s worked out just fine.

If I’m bringing the extra lens bag (the weight hanging off the side throws off the balance of the bag more than you’d think, or I’d carry it all the time) I usually also throw in one of my two cheap fast prime lenses. These only have a single focal length — they don’t zoom — but they have a larger aperture so the can work in much less light without a flash. Usually I take the 35mm f/2 D, which has a very natural look with a DX sensor, but the 50mm f/1.4 D is also nice.

I bought these lenses new, but they’re based on a design that is almost 25 years old, so they might not produce quite the high-quality images a modern lens does. They are both, however, awesome for the price. The pro-glass Nikon 35mm f/1.4 G prime is $1600, which is more than twice what I paid to get both of these lenses.

Inside the external filter pack I have three filters. I don’t carry color adjustment or special effects filters, because in most cases I could do the same thing in Photoshop or Lightroom. I carry filters for things that can’t be done in post.

On the left is a polarizing filter. Light reflecting off of shiny surfaces is polarized, so by rotating this filter to match the polarization of the reflected light, I can reduce glare. That’s nice when shooting water or shiny metal objects, but even things you wouldn’t think of as shiny, such as leaves and flowers, often have a subtle amount of glare. Since glare generally doesn’t pick up the color of the surface it reflects from, it tends to wash out colors in images. A polarizing filter puts it back, at the cost of absorbing some of the light, requiring more exposure. Polarization is not recorded by a camera sensor, so I’d have no way to remove it in post. It has to be done at the time the image is captured.

The standing filter is a neutral graduated filter, shading into darkness on the top end. I got it when I was shooting landscapes so I could keep the sky from washing out. It’s turned out to be a little weak, and if I do more of that kind of shooting, I’ll probably want to get one that darkens the upper half more. I could darken the sky in Photoshop, but if the sky is completely washed out, there’s no color information for Photoshop to recover, so I have to use a filter to keep the sky color.

The bottom filter is a neutral density filter, which simply reduces the amount of light getting in the lens for any given aperture. I got it because…well, to be honest, I don’t remember. I must have had an application. There must have been something I wanted to shoot in bright daylight with the aperture wide open for dramatic effect, and I wanted the exposure to be long enough to get some motion blur. Since this is all about camera operation, Photoshop can’t help, so I’d need this filter.

My main 18-200 lens has a 72mm filter ring, but I have an adapter so I can use 77mm filters, which is a standard size. You can see the adapter attached to the polarizing filter.

I also keep this mini-tripod in the case. It’s come in hand a few times when I wanted to take a steady shot (or a selfie) and didn’t have my main tripod.

This was an infrared remote that I got for use with the tripod, so I could easily include myself in group pictures or avoid touching the camera to trigger the shutter. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work from more than a few feet from the camera, even indoors. It’s basically useless, and I shouldn’t have been carrying it around so long.

This is a dual-use item from PhotoVision that I use for shooting in natural light. On one side, it’s an exposure and white balance calibration target I can put into a scene when I want an accurate read of the light temperature. (Although I have my doubts that that’s really 18% grey in the center like it’s supposed to be.) On the other side, it’s a reflective panel that I can use to fill in shadows on sunlit scenes. I haven’t used it much lately.

This is for cleaning the DSLR sensor in the field. Just squeeze to get a gentle stream of air. It seemed like a good idea, but I never use it. For one thing, since my main lens is so versatile, I hardly ever swap lenses, so there’s little chance for dust to get in. Also, I rarely review images on a computer in the field, and the monitor on the back of the camera is too small for dust specs to show up unless I zoom in to look for them, so I don’t ever notice dust on the sensor until I get it back home. And at that point I can use a proper cleaning kit on the sensor.

The Compact Flash memory card format is so old that nothing else supports it. I use an adapter at home, but if I want to get images off the camera in the field, I have to use a USB cable connecting the camera to a PC.

That’s about it. About 90% of all the photos I’ve taken with this camera required nothing more than the gear in this bag.

If any of you have suggestions, or want to tell me about photographic gear you find useful enough to keep with you all the time, I’d love to hear about it.

Photos By Jim Jurica

As I’ve mentioned, I’m in the process of porting Windypundit to the WordPress blogging engine, and I’m going to need a new site design since this template is specific to Movable Type. I’m using this opportunity to do a redesign. I’ve chosen a new photo for the header, and I’m using it to select colors for the rest of the page.

And since I’m changing all this stuff anyway, I decided it’s time for some new author photos. I liked the dark, high-contrast look when I created it, but I’m tired of using it now. 

I want a photo that is more friendly, or least less brooding. And I have this vague idea of maybe using several different photos for different sections.

The thing is, I really didn’t want to have to take pictues of myself. It’s a pain in the ass. I have to setup the camera on a tripod with a remote control cable, then walk out in front, take the picture, walk back to look at it, discover I wasn’t standing in the right location, walk back out…over and over until I get something I like. Or until I get tired and declare what I’ve got good enough.

It would be a lot easier if I got someone else to take the pictures. Ideally, someone with real studio lighting instead of a bunch of speedlights, and nice white studio backdrop so I could get full-body isolated cutouts.

I ended up going with Jim Jurica, Editor in Chief of BeautyLook Magazine and an accomplished stock photographer with over 150,000 sales through iStockphoto. I picked Jim because I knew that with his background, he had the technical skills and equipment to produce a nice image, the experience to understand what kind of photo art I’d need for a blog, and most importantly, the ability to direct inexperienced people standing in front of a camera.

Normally, Jim takes pictures of beautiful young women, such as the lovely Jax, pictured above on the cover of the first edition of BeautyLook. However, he does occasionally take pictures of male models and, more importantly, is used to working with completely inexperienced models.

Like me.


It was fun. And I think I have a few pictures I can use.


When the Camera Matters

Photographers like to tell amateurs that “your camera doesn’t matter.” What they mean by this is that if you want to take nice pictures, you probably shouldn’t get too hung up on the technical differences between cameras. For a broad range of photographic subjects and conditions, the pictures you take with a $5000 digital camera aren’t that much better than those you’d take with a $500 camera, which aren’t much better than what you’d get with a $125 camera.

That’s not to say there aren’t any actual differences in digital image quality, but unless you know how to look for them, they only make a difference in extreme photographic situations. For an amateur like me, the biggest photographic limitation is not the quality of the camera but my own skill and experience.

Still, every once in a while one of those extreme situations comes along. A couple of days ago I went out with a bunch of my coworkers on what we’re calling a “team-building exercise.” It looked something like this:

I decided to see how good a picture I could get of one of the clay pigeons being hit by the pellets from the shotgun, and when I got home and loaded everything into Lightroom, I found this:

I think that’s a pretty good picture. It could be better, but it does a nice enough job of capturing the violence of the shotgun blast blowing apart the clay pigeon.

Probably the trickiest part of getting a shot like this is the timing. If you’re shooting a basketball game, you can see the ball heading for the hoop, and with a little practice you can time your shots to catch the ball as it hits the net. But in this case, I had no control over when the shooter pulled the trigger, and once he or she did, the shot reached the clay in less than a tenth of a second, far too quick for me to react.

The only way I could get a well-timed shot is to put the camera in automatic mode and fire off a burst of photos as the clay neared the top of its arc (which is where people tend to shoot it) in hope of getting lucky and catching it at the right moment. Since my D200 camera body can take 5 shots per second, I figured I had a fair chance of one of the images catching something good.

The clays are about the diameter of a DVD disk, and this one was about 80 feet away from me when it got hit. This is a close-up crop with only about a 2-to-1 sensor-to-image pixel ratio at this size. If my camera had less resolution, the image wouldn’t be this clear.

In order to freeze the action this way, I needed an exposure of about a thousandth of a second. That comes with a trade-off in tolarance for distance errors in focus. At a slower shutter speed, my focus wouldn’t have to be as accurate. That’s a problem because the clay was such a small target against the background that the autofocus couldn’t find it quickly. Fortunately, my camera can autofocus in a locking mode, so I can press a button to set the autofocus on the grass where all the clay debris is landing. Then I just follow the clay up from the thrower and hold the shutter button to take a bunch of pictures at that distance.

If I’d had a lesser camera, such as a compact pocket camera, I still might have been able to get that image, but it would have been grainier, I would have had a much harder time setting up manual focus, and it would have taken the photos a lot slower, meaning it might miss getting one like this. On the other hand if I had a better camera, such as the new Nikon D4 body (I want) with the latest 70-200 f/2.8 VR lens (I want, I want, I want) it could have taken that photo at a higher resolution, with less grain, at twice the frame rate. And I think the D4 autofocus is fast and accurate enough to follow the clays up into the sky as they leave the thrower, so I wouldn’t have had to fiddle with the manual focus.

On the other hand, reading back over this post, I realized I have inadvertently concealed one pro-tip which I used to make that picture, and which you can use to get better pictures too, regardless of which camera you use: Take a ton of photos. I have about 120 boring images of clay targets in the sky, and maybe 20 slightly less boringimages of tiny little bits of debris scattered all over the frame. The photo above is the only image that gives a real sense of the moment of impact.

Sketchy “Writer” Posts Dumb Commentary

Over at Gizmodo, Jack Loftus (if that is his real name) is getting all alarmed about people taking pictures in downtown Boston:

It’s totally legal and entirely creepy. A gaggle of gentlemen, armed with cameras and an absence of shame, have taken residence in Boston’s Downtown Crossing snapping what they claim are artful “street photography” pictures of everyday people.

Right off, I love the way he puts scare quotes around “street photography” to suggest it’s somehow not legitimate, when in fact it’s one of photography’s most dynamic and original forms. After all, you can paint a landscape or do a charcoal sketch portrait, but you need a camera to capture something as dynamic as a city street scene.

Robert Frank’s book The Americans is arguably the single most influencial work of American photography, and it’s all street photography. Other influencial street photographers include Eugène Atget, Robert Doisneau, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand.

Oh, and upskirts.

Only in his imagination.

Again, it’s totally legal, but apparently the difference between what’s legal and what’s pervy is about as gray an area as you’re going to find in the public photography world. In a WBZ News tipster’s video, for example, one of these totally normal gents bends over behind a group of young women and snaps a picture of what the reporter describes as areas of bare skin. So, just some good clean wholesome photography fun going on in my state capital, is what it is.

Actually, as you can see in the video here, a couple of the photographers do bend over to take pictures, and the reporter speculates that it’s to take pictures of their bare legs, but to me it just looks like a photographer trying to get a low-angle shot of something. It’s basic photogrphy. If you are taking pictures of subjects that are low to the ground (such as children or pets), you will get much better pictures by getting your camera down to their level.

In fact, even if you’re taking pictures of an adult-sized subject, you’ll get a subtly better picture if you lower the camera to avoid the slight distortion that comes from having someone’s head slightly closer to the camera than the rest of their body. Alternatively, if you want a photo to look just a little unusual, you need to use an unusual angle.

(Not actually a street photograph.)

Hypocritically, many of the men…did not appreciate having their pictures taken, nor WBZ video being made of them, and asked repeatedly for the cameras to be turned off. Which doesn’t make them look creepier or ashamed in the least.

I gotta admit, that does seem a little goofy. If you’re going to take people’s pictures, you really ought to tolerate other people taking pictures of you. After all, part of the fun of street photography is catching other street photographers. It’s like when a sniper shoots another sniper.

On the other hand, if you watch the video, one of the photographers points out that the reporter has been repeatedly asking them if they are taking pictures of women and children. There’s a clear implication that this is something creepy rather than an art form that is as old as portable cameras. Perhaps the request to turn off the camera came after a rude accusation.

I’ve done a little street photography, and that part gets tricky sometimes. I’ve been careful not to take pictures near playgrounds or swimming pools, and I don’t talk to anybody’s children. Still, several people have accused me of “taking pictures of children.” I find that a frustrating accusation: I’m taking pictures in a public place, and there are children around. Of course I’m going to get a few of them in my photos. It doesn’t make me a perv.

But that’s a long way from what they’re worried about. I’ve only been questioned by a cop once, and I had no real trouble explaining myself. I could have fallen back on my right to remain silent, I could have pointed out that taking pictures is not a crime, and I could have refused to let him see my photos without a court order. Instead, I just let him look at that photos while I explained that I like to take a few pictures while I’m walking for exercise. He was a decent guy. It ended well.

He had stopped me because one of the parents in the park had complained that I was taking pictures around children. Prudence kept me from saying anything, but I wanted to point out that I’d lived near that park for fifteen years, and before that I’d gone to high school just a quarter mile away, and before that my mother used to take me to the public swimming pool. All in all, I’d been coming to this park for 30 years. If those parents didn’t want me around their children, they should get the hell out of my park.

Anyway, the news story is really pretty bad journalism. If you pay attention, you’ll realize that the story is almost entirely about what other people suspect these photographers are doing, along with some commentary from the on-air personalities that it’s all so strange. There’s very little attempt to figure out what’s really going on. And it’s kind of ironic that the frickin’ news media would get upset about people taking pictures in a public place.

I don’t want to sound like an anti-TV-news snob, but I’d like to think that a newspaper reporter would not have done a story like this. Not because newspaper reporters are smarter or better, but because a newspaper reporter would have brought a photographer, who would have recognized street photography. After all, photojournalists and street photographers use almost exactly the same techniques, and many street photographers were also photojournalists. I’m thinking here of guys like Weegee or the entire Magnum photo agency.

And listen, I’m all for street photography and the art of that practice. The Sartorialist, one of my favorite photo/fashion sites, has made a name and a business out of it. But, if you’ve ever seen the behind the scenes of how that site works, he’ll always ask permission and identify himself to subjects, whether he’s already snapped the pic or it’s a staged one.

Well, that’s how he works, but that’s not how all street photographers work. If you ask people for permission to take their picture, many people will pose for you, and that’s not going to be the candid photo that so many street photographers want.

Also, when you’re doing this kind of photography, you end up taking a lot of pictures just for the heck of it. The scene is changing so fast that if you stop to think “Is this a picture I should take?” the opportunity will be gone. To get good street photographs you pretty much have to take the picture the moment you even suspect there might be something worth photographing.

Broadly speaking, there are two basic approaches to getting candid pictures of people in public. One approach is to be as quiet and unobtrusive as possible and use a small camera to sneak pictures when they don’t notice. Garry Winogrand used a relatively compact Leica film camera to take something like a half-million pictures this way. Modern stealthy street photographers just use small digital cameras.

The unobtrusive approach doesn’t work for me. I’m a big guy, so sneakiness is not a possibility. My approach has always been to just blatantly walk around taking pictures. After working an area for a few minutes, people just start ignoring me and I can get some natural photos.

In fact, the more obvious I get, the less people are bothered by me. Hardly anybody seems to care what I’m doing now that I have a rather professional-looking Nikon D200 camera, and I make a point to have a lens hood, a flash, and a bag full of gear. If I tried to be sneaky with a compact camera, I’d get questioned by the cops every few weeks. But with all that gear, people just assume I must be there for a good reason.

On the other hand, some street photographers would spit at my pictures because I’m using a long lens. They believe in getting in people’s faces with a wide-angle lens, because the reaction to the intrusion is part of the image they want. It’s not my style, but I have to admit, sometimes the reaction to being photographed is half the picture.

Women street photographers have it especially easy in this sense, because hardly anyone ever questions them. Heck, when I bring my wife along, people offer to pose their children for me. If these guys in Boston had brought along a couple of women, the story would probably have morphed into a friendly lifestyle piece about a fun photographic hobby.

So, on that note my fellow Bostonians, I propose this fun social experiment: Descend on Downtown Crossing yourselves, armed with cameras, and complete my next social photography art project. I call it “Pervature: The Lost Art of Capturing Horny Old Men Taking Pictures of Girl’s Naughty Bits, 2011.” We should probably set up a Tumblr or something.

Yeah. Do that. Really, it’s a great idea that’s truly in the spirit of the artform. Except for the bit where you lie about them taking pictures of naughty bits. As I pointed out at the top of this post, there’s nothing like that anywhere in the story.

What they’re doing is all totally legal. Did I say that yet?

Yes, it’s all legal because of this obscure piece of law called the First Amendment to the Constitution. Check it out sometime.

(Hat tip: Rick Horowitz)

Photography of Public Buildings Still Legal

As has always been the rule, if you are in a location legally, you can still take pictures of almost anything you can see from there, including federal buildings. And now, here’s an official bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security explaining it. I don’t know it it will really help, or if it will just mark me as a smartass, but I’m going to download a copy and keep it with my camera gear.

(Hat tip, Mark Clayson via Rick Horowitz)