Archive for December, 2010

Essential Photoshop for Photojournalists

20th December, 2010

This one-day course, organised by the London Photographers’ Branch, will demonstrate how to use Photoshop, Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW (the three linked programmes that make up Adobe Photoshop) to:

  • Make corrections of brightness, contrast and colour balance to out-of-camera RAW files (using ACR) and JPEGs (using adjustment layers)
  • Make local adjustments to parts of an image
  • Rename, batch caption and keyword images
  • Set up a batch resizing action

It will also cover the basic elements of good workflow, including file naming, image storage and back-up.

The course is aimed specifically at photojournalists, and will not explore methods of gross image manipulation that might be employed by commercial photographers or graphic designers. The course will be tutored by freelance photojournalist, digital imaging lecturer and branch member Martin Shakeshaft.

Please note: participants will need to bring their own laptop and software.

Wednesday 19 January 2011
Amnesty International, London

NUJ members: £95
NUJ members (student/reduced subscription): £75
Non-members: £120
(Prices include lunch)

Places are limited. To register, please email training@londonphotographers.org by 11th January 2011 at the latest.

“We can do anything under the terrorism act”

10th December, 2010

NUJ press release on branch Chair Jess Hurd‘s successful IPCC complaint:

The NUJ has hit out at police claims they ‘can do anything under the Terrorism Act’, following the success of photographer Jess Hurd in a complaint to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC).

Ms Hurd, one of the founders of the ‘I am a photographer, not a terrorist’campaign and Chair of the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch , was stopped by police officers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 whilst filming the wedding reception of a traveller couple in the City of London, as part of an on-going documentary project.

Despite confirming she was a member of the press and showing a valid Press Card she was subjected to a stop and search under the controversial legislation.

Section 44 does not require an officer to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ in order to carry out a search and has now been found by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the grounds that the powers were too broadly drawn and there were inadequate safeguards against abuse.

Following an outcry over the use of the law against professional and amateur photographers the Government has amended the police’s powers pending the outcome of a review of counter-terrorism powers, including the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography.

The IPCC acknowledged that in relation to the suspension of the use of Section 44 “it is cases such as this that have helped in bringing about such changes”.

NUJ Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

“It is an abuse of power that the police acted in this way and we congratulate Jess for challenging them and helping to bring pressure to bear to get these powers scrapped”.

Ms Hurd’s solicitor Chez Cotton said:

“It is critical that the police are not allowed to use very serious counter-terrorism measures as a general stop and search provision as has happened in my client’s case and has happened in many other cases involving NUJ members and amateur photographers alike. The use, or threatened use, of terrorism powers against journalists has had a chilling effect on their ability to report freely and without fear of arrest.  The current review of key counter terrorism and security measures must be used to ensure any powers given to the police cannot be misused in an arbitrary and discriminatory way, otherwise such powers will not enjoy the support or confidence of the public.”
NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:

“We welcome the IPCC’s findings in Jess Hurd’s favour. These events should never have taken place in the first instance. The role of journalists, including photographers, as the public watchdog, must be respected. It is one of the essential elements of a democratic society that journalists are entitled to inform the public, which itself is entitled to be informed. In addition the police should not store information on journalists who are doing their job and have committed no crime.”

NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said:

“NUJ member Jess Hurd was detained for more than 45 minutes by police during a wedding in London’s Docklands, her camera was forcibly removed and she was told the police can do anything under the Terrorism Act. The NUJ believes legislation should not be abused and no journalist should be singled out by the police. The police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographer’s work. The NUJ will continue to take action in support of our members when they are targeted by police, we welcome the judgment from the IPCC especially the acknowledgement that the use of stop and search powers are not seen as fair or effective.”

The complaint made by Ms Hurd:

Police officers, who were aware that a wedding reception was taking place at the hotel in London Docklands, and had seen Ms Hurd filming guests as they were leaving, approached her to see ‘what she was doing’.

Although Ms Hurd could see no legitimate reason for their interest, she wished to co-operate and resolve matters swiftly, and explained to the officers that she had been professionally engaged to cover the wedding and was an accredited photojournalist.

She offered her Press Card so that her credentials could be checked by the police, there being in force nationally agreed Guidelines between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and media organisations (see resources at the end of the press release).  Each accredited NUJ member has a unique PIN number and photographic ID, and the police have access to a 24 hour ‘hotline’ that they can call to verify the personal details and identity of a legitimate member of the press. The Guidelines set out that the police will recognise the holder of a valid Press Card, issued by the UK Press Card Authority Limited, as ‘a bona fide news gatherer’.

The Guidelines are comprehensive and should be known and followed by all police officers.

A second officer, aware of Ms Hurd’s status as a journalist and that her footage had been obtained through legitimate journalistic activity, said he wished to view the film.  He said she was being stopped under ‘Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act’.

Ms Hurd protested that she was clearly a journalist and as the footage was professional they could not interfere.  Ms Hurd was then told that she could have been ‘doing hostile reconnaissance’, although this was entirely at odds with the circumstances confirmed by Ms Hurd and supported by the evidence of the reality of the situation.

Ms Hurd’s camera was forcibly taken from her by the officer, despite her protests that there were safeguards in place to ensure a free press. The officer’s response was: “We can do anything under the terrorism act”.

A third officer took the camera and watched footage with a further officer who was still in the police car, some distance from Ms Hurd.  She was fearful that her entire days work could be wiped and was by now feeling intimidated, as she was in a dark car park being questioned in an intimidating way by police officers.

Ms Hurd was informed that she could not use any footage of the police car or police officers and that if she did there would be ‘severe penalties’, although these were not specified.

The officer concluded the matter confirming to Ms Hurd that if she did want to use the footage then she would have to go through the Metropolitan Police press office, as it was ‘his copyright’, and, although the officers were not undercover at that point, they might be at some point in the future.

In relation to Ms Hurd’s complaint, the IPCC accepted that:

“Arguably with the assistance of hindsight the officers could have handled this incident differently, from a public confidence and satisfaction perspective.”

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.

Parliamentary Seminar: Who’s Afraid of Photographers?

10th December, 2010

Wednesday 27 October 2010 saw the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) seminar “Who’s Afraid of Photographers?” held in parliament. The meeting was set into three themed elements with an introductory speech by Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster.

MP Don Foster spoke of the importance of both professional and amateur photography, highlighted the misuse of various laws by police to restrict and stop public photography and called for Section 44 of the Terrorism Act to be repealed.
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Branch member wins £30,000 compensation for G20 assault

10th December, 2010

Press release from Bindmans about branch member David Hoffman‘s successful legal action against the police:

The well known and highly respected National Union of Journalist member David Hoffman, who is represented by Chez Cotton, head of the Police Misconduct Department at leading civil rights law firm Bindmans LLP, has received £30,000 damages today from the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.

Mr Hoffman was working in a professional capacity covering the G20 protests.  Despite being out of the way and not interfering with any police operation, an inspector in full riot gear ran towards Mr Hoffman and hit him in the face with a shield, fracturing Mr Hoffman’s teeth. As well as paying compensation and the cost of the extensive dental work that has been required, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has also apologised to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and has confirmed the force’s recognition that journalists have a right to report freely.

Mr Hoffman’s solicitor Chez Cotton says:

“Journalists such as my client are critical in disseminating information into the wider public domain. Reporters and photojournalists play a significant role recording political unrest, political events, which includes recording protest and, if it arises, police wrong doing. That my client was assaulted by a police officer when carrying out this essential function, and brutally so, is shocking. Fortunately with photographic and film evidence of the incident and detailed testimony, Mr Hoffman has succeeded in holding the police to account. It is absolutely right that the Metropolitan Police Force has paid significant damages, given an apology and confirmed recognition and respect for a free press.”

The apology from the Metropolitan Police states:

“On 1 April 2009 well-respected social issues photographer David Hoffman was recording the G20 protests in the City of London. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recognise that Mr Hoffman was entitled to report on that day but was caused injury by an MPS officer during the event, preventing him from doing so. The MPS confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS apologise to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and have paid compensation.”

NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:
“David Hoffman suffered very painful injuries as a result of this entirely unnecessary gratuitous and violent assault on him while properly and professionally going about his work. The role of journalists, including photographers, as the public watchdog, must be respected. It is one of the essential elements of a democratic society that journalists are entitled to inform the public, which itself is entitled to be informed. The NUJ has fought for this to be recognised, and is pleased that the Police has now accepted responsibility and properly compensated Mr Hoffman.”

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary said:

“No journalist should be singled out by the police and the police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographer’s work. Journalists have a duty to record and report on public protests as well as the behaviour of the police.  David’s case is a shocking example of police brutality and totally unacceptable. We believe that attacks on working journalists are attacks on democracy and on society’s ability to make informed decisions. The NUJ will continue to take action in support of our members when they are targeted by police.”

Background to the case

Mr Hoffman, a well respected social issues journalist and member of the National Union of Journalists, attended in a professional capacity to report on the G20 protests on 1 April 2009 in the City of London. Throughout the event Mr Hoffman was carrying professional equipment and had his Press Card clearly visible around his neck and was obviously a journalist.

Mr Hoffman took photographs at various sites throughout the day.  At around 4 p.m. police in the Bank area stopped Mr Hoffman and others from moving forward and tried to push everyone back.  However, due to the size of the crowd behind Mr Hoffman there was nowhere to move back to.

After about ten minutes the police intensified their action and started to push Mr Hoffman and the others in the crowd using their shields and batons aggressively, even though there was still nowhere to move back to. Mr Hoffman was standing beside a line of police officers and was for no reason pushed hard by an officer, to one side.

Mr Hoffman saw a space and was anxious to avoid any further trouble.  He moved to one side so that he was further away from the police. Whilst doing this, Mr Hoffman was suddenly hit for no reason with considerable weight in the back by a policeman using his shield. This threw him violently into the back of a man in front of him.

Mr Hoffman moved even further away form the police and was  partly shielded by some builders’ boards.  He remained in this position, out of the way, and watched the events around him with his camera raised, ready to report. He was doing absolutely nothing wrong and was photographing without interfering in any police operation.

A few seconds later a heavily built inspector in full riot gear suddenly left the group of police officers he was with, ran directly towards Mr Hoffman, and deliberately hit him hard in the face with a shield. The shield made contact with great force, causing Mr Hoffman considerable pain and causing one of his cameras to fly round where it was knocked, causing damage to the equipment. Mr Hoffman was shocked and in pain from the shield hitting him and was thrown backwards.

It was subsequently confirmed that Mr Hoffman’s teeth had been fractured.  Mr Hoffman instructed Chez Cotton of Bindmans LLP to act on his behalf and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Proceedings were issued and the claim was settled shortly after the Particulars of Claim were served. The terms of settlement were agreed by Consent between the parties. The Central London County Court sealed the agreement at the beginning of December and the Commissioner of Police has today paid the damages in full.

December Branch Newsletter

7th December, 2010

Christmas Party

14th December 6pm at Headland House.

Our last meeting of the year will be a short one to deal with branch business, before adjourning to the pub for some festive drinks and mince pies. We will also be running a slideshow of members best images and videos of the year. Send no more than 3 JPEGs at least 2000px on the longest side or 3 video clips, no longer than 15 seconds each 720×576 16:9 to jasonnparkinson@gmail.com.

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Photoshop Tutor Needed

6th December, 2010

The London Photographers’ Branch is looking for a tutor to deliver a one-day Photoshop course in January 2011.  The course outline (below) was drawn up following a survey of branch members earlier this year.  Anyone interested in teaching it should email training@londonphotographers.org, including details of relevant experience, by the 13th December.

Essential Photoshop For Photojournalists

A one-day course which will demonstrate how to use Photoshop, Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW (the three linked programmes that make up Adobe Photoshop) to:

  • make basic corrections to brightness, contrast and colour balance to out-of-camera RAW files (using ACR) and JPEGs (using adjustment layers)
  • make local adjustments to parts of an image
  • rename, batch caption and keyword images
  • set up a batch resizing action

It will also cover the basic elements of good workflow, including file naming, image storage and back-up.

The course is aimed specifically at photojournalists, and will not explore methods of gross image manipulation that might be employed by commercial photographers or graphic designers.