On the wrong side

In my job I’m usually the one behind the camera but last Friday I ended up in front of it being interviewed live on Sky News.

They came to film me outside of my work place after the story about the incident in Sunderland broke in the news. They had a small truck with a dish on top parked out on the road which uploaded the pictures back to the studio.  Even the camera had a wireless link back to the van! I was all hooked up with a wireless microphone and a earpiece so I could hear the studio and I waited in the cold like that for nearly half an hour!

While I was waiting I could hear the News program that was going out and the story before me was about 17 people being killed in Afghanistan by suicide bombers which made my story feel a little trivial in comparison! After the live interview I had to do a recorded interview and then the shot some cutaways of me using the phone (HTC please note free publicity) so in all I was out there for about 45 minutes and was absolutely frozen by the time I went back into the office to collect my things.

The ironic thing was that I ended up making all the mistakes I usually pick the subjects of the interviews I shoot up for – like looking away from the camera. I will bear that in mind next time I’m shooting an interview!

Then today BBC South East came round to film another interview in my living room.

Read all about it

Well what a few days it has been since I posted my blog about the incident in Sunderland! The first inkling something was up was when my webserver crashed. At first I assumed that the power had gone off but that turned out not to be the case. Then I noticed there was a steady trickle of comments on that blog. Reading through them one mentioned a site called Boing Boing so I checked it out and sure enough there was a story with the link to my site.

Reading through it I was a bit miffed as the story had been changed in a few places, I suspect either down to sensationalism or just plain sloppy journalism. Also my pictures had been used without my permission.

Apparently according to the widget on the page the article has been shared 964 times on Facebook!

Then today the server crashed again and while I was working up in London my Dad phoned me. He said that a journalist from the Sunderland Echo had been on the phone and could I call him. About the same time I got a text from work saying that someone from Sky news had been trying to contact me. I’d also been getting e-mails from another journalist in Dublin!

Then tonight I discovered that the story was now on two more sites – a site called Bitter Wallet had printed the story (and again the pictures) and a Photography is not a crime site in Florida had as well with the image of the security guard. I also discovered that there was a thread on Flickr about it too.

And just before starting this blog I had to reboot the server again.

Apparently the Bridges are directing all enquiries about it to their PR company – the Sky news man said they had issued a statement but I haven’t seen it yet and they have made no attempt to contact me. I bet the Police are getting a bit sick of the enquires as well!

What a can of worms I seem to have opened!

It’s a small world – 8mm to be precise!

New toy

A few months ago I saw an advert on Freecycle for a Super 8 camera which I replied to and to my delight was given it. I haven’t had a chance to use it yet as film is so expensive but over the last week things have taken a couple of unexpected turns.

As it was half term I had taken a few days off work and we had gone up to Sunderland to visit my Dad and my Gran. I had taken the video camera I had bought on ebay for £9.99 and was videoing the kids in the living room. A little later my Dad disappeared and came back with something I had forgotten about – My Uncle George’s cine camera.

Rondo zoom 8

My Uncle (or more accurately my Great Uncle) had two cine cameras – I remember when I was about 6 or 7 he came round to my Gran’s house with it and we were so confused by the fact that we could move while he took our pictures. He died in the mid 70’s and we had both of the cameras for a while but another relative took the better one and the projector back. I had completely forgotten about the fact that we still had it.

My Dad reminded me about the time we took it on holiday, the year we went to Venice. I remember my Dad sitting in a doorway turning the film around (The camera is standard 8 and takes a 16mm reel of film which is run through the camera and then turned over and ran back through the camera to expose the other half. Then when the film is developed it is slit down the middle and spliced together to give a 50′ reel). He was having problems getting the film to run onto the take up spool and I remember him saying “Ok shit or bust” and opening the film compartment door and then just saying “Shit!”

The good thing about this particular model is that unlike the Super 8 camera it is completely manual. Even down to the fact that you have to wind it up to make it run. As well as the Venice trip (which actually came out despite my father’s fumbling) I also remember taking it to a Lindisfarne concert at the City Hall in Newcastle. I must try and find those films some day. the only disadvantage of the standard 8 format is that the films aren’t as readily available as the Super 8 ones but they are still available.

Then last weekend we went round to Sarah’s Dad’s house and he asked us to look in the cupboard to see if there was anything we wanted as he needs to clear the house as he is moving soon. There were lots of toys for Ben including a huge crate of lego which we took but when we looked on the top shelf we found a Super 8 Camera, Projector and Film Editing equipment. Sarah’s Dad said he had no idea where they came from and suggested that they may have belonged to Sarah’s Grandad.

In the end we found out that they had belonged to them after all as Sarah’s mum remembered from the mid 70’s. She said that there were probably some films from years ago and sure enough we found some in a bag. So we  got the projector out and set it up. We were going to test it with what we thought was a roll of leader but turned out to be a film. Amazingly, considering how long it must have been stored, it still worked and once we managed to get the film threaded we projected it onto a wall. The film turned out to be of Sarah on holiday about 18 months old which was amazing. I love the flickering images that film produces and the noise the projector makes but sadly after about 7 minutes the bulb suddenly went!

So now I’m keaner than ever to get into shooting some 8mm film. I spent the weekend researching suppliers and now think I have found the best value for films, processing and telecine but as money is tight I will have to take very small steps. i guess the first step will be to make sure the Super 8 camera actually works and then a get a replacement battery for the built in exposure meter. After that i suppose get a roll of film and then think of ideas to shoot with it.

I have considered making a short documentary piece about the Summer of Love festival in July using the video cameras but shooting some stuff on 8mm film would give some very retro looking shots to use so maybe I’ll give that a try. Once I’ve shot it I can get it processed and converted to video so I can edit it together with the video footage on my edit suite Mac or even borrow the editing equipment from my Mother-in-law and edit the film manually!  Ooh I’m all excited!

Talk to Frank

Meet Frank*

Frank is a security guard.

Frank works at the Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland.

Frank thinks I may be a paedophile and is prepared to call the Police to make sure I’m not.

Frank is just obeying orders…..

Here’s what happened

We were in Sunderland visiting my Dad and my Gran. My Dad had given the kids £10 each and Ben wanted to go and buy a toy so we took him into the Bridges shopping centre. While we were walking around we saw a little roundabout with a train on it. Ben loves trains and he went and clambered onto it. The train had a moustache and Sarah was laughing at the train so she told me to take a picture.

As soon as I pressed the button on my cameraphone Frank was by my side. He informed me that I couldn’t take pictures. I asked him why and he said that it was the centre’s rules as I might be a paedophile! I told him that I hadn’t seen any signs saying that photography was forbidden and he conceded that there weren’t any but he was just following his orders from the Centre Management who he would get to come down if I had a problem.

I informed him that in my opinion he was being a little over zealous in performing his duties as the child I had taken a picture of was my son and that maybe he was blowing the threat of paedophiles out of proportion. He said he wasn’t as he was just following orders from on high.

I was getting bored now but was still annoyed about effectively being accused of being a paedophile so I took the picture of Frank so that if I later wanted to make a complaint to the centre I would be able to identify him. I then wandered off to find Sarah who was in the Early Learning Centre.  This is of course ironic that if he really did suspect me of being a paedophile then why did he let me go into a toy shop? And if he didn’t suspect me why then did he make such a fuss?

The other irony is that having being pulled up for using a camera I was then tracked by the centre’s security cameras – I know this because the Police knew exactly where to find me when they arrived a few minutes later. We had moved up the road into another toyshop where, while looking at toys with Ben, I was confronted by PC B*****w who informed me that there had been a complaint.

PC B*****w threatens to arrest me on more than one occasion.

PC B*****w is ill informed about his ability to delete my photographs

PC B*****w doesn’t know what a hyphen is!

So in the middle of a toyshop the confrontation starts again. I’m asked about the original photograph and again I explain that the picture is of my child, again I comment about the lack of signs informing about the “No Photography” rule and PC B*****w agrees with me.  he asks why I took the picture of the security guard and accepts my explanation.

As the discussion is getting a bit heated he threatens to arrest me, saying that I’m causing a breach of the peace. Well come on, what do you expect, I’ve been accused of being a paedophile and had the Police set on me for taking a picture of my own son in a public place – can’t you work out why I’m getting a bit annoyed.

He says he has the right to delete my photographs and I explain that he doesn’t. He backtracks and says he has the right to see them. I tell him he will have to caution me first. He asks for my details which I begrudgingly give him. he asks why I am in the North East – I ask what relevance that has. He explains that he just needs to know!

PC B*****w also informs me that the Bridges shopping centre is a hotbed of paedophile activity and sexual assaults happen there all of the time. Sounds like the sort of place families with young children should avoid IF it’s actually true.

Eventually he goes off to find the security guard and tell him that he has checked me out and everything is ok! A monumental waste of Police time. The lady in the shop is appalled by the situation and admits that even though she works there she wasn’t aware of any “No Photography” policy.

Now I know that there are those who will say that I brought it on myself and I should have just kowtowed to the security guard when he told me not to take pictures. However I disagree – I believe I had every right to take a photograph of my son in a public place and frankly I’m sick of having my civil liberties eroded little by little.

In this country there is no law against taking a photograph in a public space. The shopping centre, although privately owned is still a public space. I know from experience that commercial photography requires permission from the owners but there is no law against the private individual taking a picture in a public space.

The shopping centre could impose a ban on photography within it’s environs but this should be indicated along with all the other things that are banned on the entrance to the centre. There are signs saying no smoking, no alcohol, so skateboards etc but none advertising the alleged ban on photography.

Also there is no law against taking a picture of a child or indeed a security guard in a public place. There is no right of privacy for the individual in this country. So I was well within the law to take both pictures.

Finally there is the presumption of guilt. It has been a long held tradition in this country of being innocent until proven guilty and it is beholden of the authorities to prove a persons guilt. However more and more often it is the individual that is required to prove their innocence. I took a picture of a child therefore until I can prove I am not a paedophile it will be assumed that I am.

The sensible way forward would be only to observe and if I was seen to be taking pictures of more than one child then would be the time to move in but no – in order to protect us from a minority of people everyone must be suspected and prevented from taking innocent pictures of their child. Is this really the sort of world we want to live in?

It’s ironic that at a time when almost every one has the ability to take a photograph using either a camera or a mobile phone, probably more so than ever before, then the ability to do so is slowly being eroded. Fight back – Photography is not a crime. I am not a terrorist, I am not a paedophile, I am a Photographer!

* name may have been changed

Not so taxing any more

Every year I say to myself “I won’t leave my Tax Return until the last minute this year. I will do it as soon as I get my P60 and my P11D”. Then, of course, it gets forgotten about and I suddenly have a mad panic on the 30th January to try and find the documents and my log in details! Then after I’ve done it I say “Next year…..”

So this morning I was quite pleased when I opened a letter from the Inland Revenue (or whatever they call themselves this year!) and instead of the demand for the £3.60 my return said I owed it was a letter informing me that from now on I don’t need to fill in a return any more.

Well I suppose that’s one less thing to worry about!

PG Tits

Have you seen the latest advert for PG Tips? It features Johnny Vegas and Monkey in a spoof of the (in)famous orgasm scene in the Movie When Harry met Sally. Monkey has a sip of his tea and then starts going yes! yes! – all very funny…….


….unless it’s shown on CITV at 8 o’clock in the morning and your 4 year old leaves for school going Yes! Yes! Yes!

All Change!

No sooner had I got all of the PC’s sorted out then I changed them all round again but I have ended up with a much better system at the end of it. It all started when I saw an add on Freegle for a computer tower without a hard drive so I asked for it. I had noticed that the machine I was running as a webserver seemed to be slowing down and when there was a power outage it seemed to be having problems rebooting – I later remembered that when I was first given it there were issues with powering up.

At this point I had:

Pentium III 750 with 534Mb* Ram running Linux
Pentium III 866 with about 500Mb RAM running Xp
Pentium II 133 with about 450 Mb RAM running Ubuntu server
Mac G4 350 with 1Gb RAM

* Although I was convinced that there had been 700Mb in there

So my plan was to use the tower if it worked to replace the server and if it didn’t I would take the useful bits like the USB card out of it. When I picked it up I was not only pleased that it booted but that with a AMD Duron 850 processor it was faster than the machine I had running XP so I thought why don’t I swap them over. The only problem being that the tower only had 256 MB in it and only had two slots. I didn’t want to take any of the RAM out of the Apple as I had only just managed to get it up to 1GB. In any case that would still only give me 512Mb. What I really needed was a couple of PC133 512Mb memory sticks. I has a look on ebay but they were quite expensive as the were comparatively rare so I advertised on Freegle.

I had a reply from someone who had 4 256 and a 128 chip – would I like them? I thought at least that gives me the 512Mb which is better than I’ve got and it would give me some extra chips if I managed to get that spare Mac up and running so I went to collect them. I ended up coming away with not only the memory but some hard drives as well – an 80Gb, a 40Gb and two 20Gb drives.

Then things got complicated! I then got an e-mail from someone saying he had two 512Mb chips but had considered putting them on ebay. However he was after an external modem so if I had one he would be willing to swap! I explained that I’d seen his previous post regarding the modem and had looked at the time but discovered I must have got rid of the one I thought I had.

Then later the same day he e-mailed me and asked if I would be interested in a tower consisting of,…

2 Ghz CPU, 1 GB PC133 ( 2X 512) 1) DVDRW 2) CD drive. Power supply, AGP graphics card, PCI network card, PCI sound card, win XP sticker, (when I tried to boot this up, NO Post screen however not played with it!) NO HD

Erm yes!

So I now had two machines with no hard drives so I hatched a plan. If I could get the 2Ghz machine running I would swap that for the XP machine but put in the 80Gb drive. I also decided that I would swap the DVD drive with the one in the Linux machine and swap the 2 port USB card for the 4 port USB2 card. This now meant taking three machines apart. But first of all I need some space!


So I had one last attempt to fix the 17″ monitor that I had bought off ebay for £5.51 – I removed the back and disconnect the two VGA cables – I tried these on another machine and they worked fine so the blue cast was obviously something wrong with the monitor. I had been offered a refund but this meant driving back to Sittingbourne which would cost a couple of quid in fuel so it wasn’t worth it, so I put it in the back of the car to take to the dump along with the stripped carcasses of two other machines. this gave me some room to store the duron Tower and the second Mac and putting the old CRT monitor back on the desk created a bit more space and gave me room to work.

Having worked out that the 2GhZ machine was working I decided to go ahead. In an ideal world I would have left the webserver to last but in the real world I knew it had to be first. So i took out the two drives and put them into the old XP machine after stripping out all of the things I wanted out of there. I then put it back together and booted it. It worked so I stripped out all the useful bits from the old server and put that outside ready to join the others on the way to the dump.

However when I checked the web server I could access it from inside the network but not from outside! I thought about this while I went to the dump and Tesco’s. On my return I had a look and found that the network settings were set on eth0 whereas the new machine was looking at eth1 so a quick edit and Bob’s yer Uncle – up and working again and of course much faster!

So I took the Linux machine apart to swap the USB cards and the DVD burners over. While I was in there I thought I’d have a look to see if I could increase the RAM – to my surprise there was a 512Mb PC133 chip in there but for some reason it was only reading as 312Mb. I took that out and put it into the Duron tower and sure enough it took the memory up to 768Mb. It had come as a surprise also to find PC133 in there as I thought it only had PC100. So I had now found a use for the 4 chips I’d picked up the other day and bingo the machine now had 1GB of RAM. I put it back together again.

The final task was to put the 2GHz machine back together again. Once that was done I set about loading all the software again. Then disaster struck I somehow managed to get a nasty worm on the machine so I had no option but to redo the whole set up again. That’ll teach me!

While all this was going on I was having to stop every now and again and attend to the work I needed to get done over the weekend but I was also trying to keep an eye on some ebay auctions – I missed out on getting a 17″ monitor for about £15 by missing the auction end time but I had spotted that I was still winning a 15″ one for 99p. This is quite usual as sometimes I will be winning right up till the last few hours. However this one I noticed didn’t have a power supply (only noticed this after I bid on it) so no one else bid. I figured I would be able to get it working somehow and if I didn’t hey it had only cost me 99p.

99p monitor

It turned out that ages ago I had got a flat screen monitor from Freecycle only to find when I got it home that the intermittent fault it was supposed to have had become permanent! The backlight had gone rendering it useless. So it went to the dump but for some reason I had hung onto the power supply. that itself was in the box of bits I’d been meaning to Freecycle for weeks and luckily for me I hadn’t got round to doing. It turned out that, with a little bit of Heath Robinson that the power supply would power the monitor so that was a bargain.

So after a weekend of toil I now have:

Pentium III 750 with 1Gb Ram running Linux
AMD Athlon 2GHz with 1GB RAM running Xp
Pentium III 866 with about 500Mb RAM running Ubuntu server
Mac G4 350 with 1Gb RAM

and I’ve still got the Duron tower and the second Mac to try and get up and running. The PC is working but I need to finish putting it back together again! the Mac needs the PSU sorting out so that will have to wait!