Sometimes it works.

Yes. If enough people protest they can have an effect.

At the end of last month I wrote about a 'rights-grabbing' photographic competition being run by a UK charity, The National Trust. See here.

There was a storm of protest from photographers big and small, amateur and professional. One renowned UK photographer, Simon Norfolk, even pulled out of a major project with the National Trust in disgust. (See here.)

And what happened?

The National Trust changed the terms.

Before, they read:

"If you submit any material to us, you agree to grant The National Trust a perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide, non-exclusive licence to use your contribution in all media. This includes the right to copy, edit, publish, grant sub-licences and exercise all other copyright and publicity rights over the material."

This means that, just by entering the competition you give all rights to your photograph to The National Trust to use as it wishes, and even sell on without any further reference to you.

Now the terms have been amended to read:

"Entrants will retain copyright and moral rights in their submitted images however, by entering, all entrants grant the National Trust in Northern Ireland, non-exclusive rights to use the images to promote the competition the images were submitted to, to use in regional publications and advertising campaigns, or for similar future use within a five year period of the winners being announced for the competition that the images concerned were submitted to.

The National Trust in Northern Ireland will contact image owners before using any images, to seek permission where it is deemed necessary for any other use. We will not use any images without the owners consent."

Not perfect as they still take certain rights to all entries. But a whole lot better.

So, enough people making enough noise can make a difference.

If you see a photo competition that takes 'all rights' to 'all entries', don't enter. Submit the image I gave in my previous post, instead. Let Copyright Action know, too. And spread the word elsewhere. Tell me, too, and I'll post on here.

It's time big companies stopped taking photographers for a ride.

An Evening of Good Things

Last night, deep in the ancient cellars ... or were they dungeons? ... under the castle in the Swiss town of Nyon, we members of the Leman Poetry Workshop held an evening of readings and music.

It was in celebration of our new website, the publication of our latest anthology Up To Now and a homage to Brian Hughes, an acclaimed poet, founder of the Workshop, and our much-missed mentor.

As well as reading some of my poetry, I took photographs.

Reading your work in front of an expectant audience is a tough challenge but the photography was a tougher. Light levels were very low and, in such a gathering, you can't use flash. The burst of blinding light is too distracting for reader and audience alike.

So, it was a good opportunity to try out the new Nikon 50mm f1.4 prime lens I've just bought.

The lens worked like a dream. With it wide open and the camera speed racked up to ISO 1000 I could hand-hold in the available light:

And, with an aperture of f1.4, the depth of field was shallow, enabling me to focus on one performer whilst showing others, in a non-distracting way, in the background.

The light, though dim, was also beautiful down there and occasionally I got lucky with it highlighting a performer whilst leaving the audience in shadow ...

My one regret with this last photograph is the background line through the performer's head. Could I have avoided it?

I always seem to ask myself questions like that afterwards.

To travel hopefully ...

How about this as an innovative project?

For her finals, UK art student Hannah Hughes wanted to get as many people as she could to take a photograph of the sky at exactly the same time, on exactly the same day, from wherever they were the world. The photos she received would then be published in a book.

Amazingly simple in concept, this is just the sort of thing the internet can do so well. So she posted her request on Facebook, (amongst other places).

I saw it and thought, "Why not?" All I'd have to do would be to go outside at the time Hanna had set - 3pm - point my camera upwards and press the button.

No framing. No composition. Just 'snap!'

The trouble was, at 3pm in Gland, Switzerland, the sky was covered from horizon to horizon by featureless grey stratus cloud. Not a break or ripple in sight. No sign of the sun. No blue. No anything. It's the sort of cloud cover that we can get for days on end down here in the valley of Lac LĂ©man.

"Ah well," I thought. "Too bad. You're going to get a completely blank image from me, Hanna. But you asked for it."

I pointed my camera upwards and ...

Amazing! This was taken at 27 seconds past the hour and at that instant I caught three old and much-loved African friends in my photograph of the sky - a Black Kite and two Barn Swallows.

Sometimes, when you travel hopefully, you arrive at a place you were not expecting.

Test your colour vision

Apparently 1 out of 255 women and 1 out of 12 men have some form of colour vision deficiency.

That's not good news if you're a photographer, you're processing the photos you've just taken and you're trying to get them looking right on the monitor.

But you can test your colour vision here.

On the screen you are presented with 4 rows of coloured tiles, all mixed up, and you have to sort them in to the correct colour order by dragging and dropping, up and down each row.

It's not as easy as it seems! It's best done in a darkened room - which is also the way you should work on your photographs if you're really serious about getting them to look their best.

Why men should have a far higher level of colour vision deficiency than women I don't know. Maybe that's why we men tend to be less concerned about the colour of a car and more interested in its performance.

Rain starts play

When it rains, most photographers pack up their gear and head for shelter.


Rain provides lots of opportunities to get different and unusual shots. There are reflections from wet streets, colourful umbrellas and rain gear, people pelting for shelter, or landmarks with a sheen you've never seen before. Rain changes everything.

If you don't want to get your camera wet you can take photographs from inside, through a wet window ...

But get outside too. Most cameras are a little more waterproof than we realise. If the rain is only a light drizzle you can keep your camera dry under your coat and bring it out to take the shots. A few spots of rain on it won't do any harm.

But if it's really pouring down you can waterproof your camera very effectively with nothing more complex than a clear plastic bag and an elastic band. Put the camera in the bag with the lens poking out through the opening and secure the bag around the lens barrel with the elastic band.

It won't look very elegant ...

... and the view through the viewfinder will be a little blurry. But it's a simple, cheap and effective method. If you use this set-up in conjunction with a good lens hood too, the front element of the lens will be well- protected.

And it's the photos you want ...