Wednesday 17 October 2018

Photography at Public Events, Model Releases and Where YOU Stand!

I was asked recently where photographers
stand with regards to taking photographs in public
and at events like parties, concerts, festivals and carnivals.

I was asked on Facebook recently where photographers stand with regards to taking photographs in public and at events like parties, concerts, festivals and carnivals, and whether or not you need a Model Release. 

Basically, you do not need a release form if you are not selling the photos. If it is a public event, you do not need permission to photograph there either, unless it is a private event and unsolicited photography is specifically prohibited by the event organisers under privacy and private property laws. You can post photos for sale editorially without permission, and to your social media, but not for sale commercially. 

One could argue that if someone is willing to pose for a photo they are giving their "implied consent" but I would ask them if they were ok with it, just to be polite. A model release gives you permission from the model for you to make commercial gain from the photos and also releases you from any legal implications like royalties, privacy and copyrights (of the model); they basically sign the intellectual property rights over to you and agree not to sue you later for it. You do not need a release for everyone at a public event, that would be ridiculous, unless everyone has agreed and has arranged to be there as a model in advance. If you went around everyone at the party asking them to sign a release form giving you permission to sell photos of them forever, they would probably tell you to bog off. However, if you want to sell the photos commercially, you WILL need a signed Model Release form for EVERYONE in the photos that you want to sell !

You can take photos of a carnival for example, and post the photos on social media and you don't need anyone's consent because it is in public. The same way you can take a photo of a busy street with people in and share the photos and you do not need permission from everyone in the photo. What you cannot do is sell the photos for financial gain and without permission unless it is for editorial (newsworthy/educational) purposes. The same is true for any trademarks or logos in the photo, shops and storefront names, cars and registration plates. Note: Individuals can request not to be photographed under privacy laws and you would need to be aware and respectful of any requests of that nature.

You also need to be a bit careful about using the photos for advertising your business too. It is ok to say, "Here are some photos I took at... etc." But you would need permission before using them for product packaging or in a logo design. Since events like ComicCon and Carnivals are on public display, and are newsworthy, it would be ok to sell the images to newspapers or to upload them for editorial use, but not as stock photographs without a signed release.

This is by no means an extensive guide and you will need to read up on the actual laws regarding copyrights, privay and photography, but I hope this helps clear up some of the doubt and ambivalence photographers sometimes have around photographing events or anything in public.  

Have fun and enjoy the event - and be respectful of others privacy - is my advice.

 Matt Blythe

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Shanklin Chine Harvest Moon - SPECIAL OFFER - Limited Edition Print

"Shanklin Chine Harvest Moon" Limited Edition Print on Canvas - ONLY £20.00.

As a thank you for all the interest and likes on my photograph of Shanklin Chine on the Isle of Wight, taken during the September Harvest Full Moon, for the whole of the month of October 2018, I am offering to print this image onto Canvas and send it to you for ONLY £20 (30x 20cm approx. A4 - includes postage)!

To take advantage of this offer simply click the link to find out more. Larger sizes (60x40cm and 90x60cm) also available. Limited time offer. Available while stocks last.

Offer Only Available through October 2018.

Copyrights Matt Blythe, 2018.

Saturday 8 September 2018

How to Shoot Event Photography Using On-Camera Flash

Click to Enlarge

One of my favourite photos from last Fridays shoot at my niece's cousin's 18th birthday party, captures the fun atmosphere perfectly! To take indoor party shots like this candidly, you need to know your flash's "distance range" (how far the flash is effective) for the strength of the flash you are using and make sure the camera's aperture matches up and is set accordingly for the exposure you want. In this case, the flash was good from 6 feet to about 25 feet and the aperture was set to between f5.6 and f8.0 depending how close the subject was to the camera. If the subject was less than 10 feet away I was at f8 and further away than 10 feet I opened the aperture to f5.6 to let in more light. Further away than 25 feet required me to increase the ISO by up to one stop. ISO was set to 100 most of the time. 

Click to Enlarge

The shutter speed is not really important because at close distance the flash "freezes" the motion and the subject is sharp even with longer shutter speeds. If you want a sharp background, stay within cameras flash "sync speed" (usually 1/200th second or slower - faster causes shadows in the image) and if you want movement in the background with warmer/softer/more saturated colours, set your shutter speed to between 1/25 to 1/2 second; the subject in the foreground will still be sharp due to the fast flash burst.

Finally, know your camera and the settings you are going to use well, by testing them on different subjects in advance of the shoot, because in the moment people will be willing to stop what they are doing and pose for about 3 seconds before they stop smiling and want to continue what they we're doing! During that time you will need to raise your camera with the correct settings, compose your shot, focus and release the shutter. Most shots will not be candid if you need to recompose, adjust you settings and take another shot. This entire shoot was taken with an old school high voltage hot-shoe flash and adapter to make it safe for modern DSLR cameras, with a flash recycle time of about two seconds and with the following settings: 1/25 sec, ISO100 to 200, f5.6 to f8 on manual throughout with the AF set to either centre point or matrix focussing. Also note, the flash was only average strength and pointed directly at the subject. Using a modern, stronger flash, might require you to bounce the flash from the ceiling (if it is low enough) or to diffuse the light in some way, to give a softer light. Keep in mind though bouncing the flash will effectively double the distance from the flash to the subject and you will need to set your exposure accordingly. The flash strength is usually adjustable on modern on-camera flashes, although in this case it was not. 

Just FYI I took about 150 photos of which about 120 were worth publishing. Not a bad hit rate! Click the images to enlarge...

You can see the entire shoot on my Inner Vision Photography Page |

Copyrights Matt Blythe, 2018.

Saturday 1 April 2017

Colour Space - Best Practices for Displaying on the Web


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I was asked recently why files uploaded to the internet, that were saved in a colour space other than sRGB, might not display properly on the internet.

We have all been there! We have all spent hours perfecting an image only to upload it and find it will not display properly because we saved it in a colour space other than sRGB.

Most web browsers display best in sRGB. ProPhoto, aRGB and CMYK can all present display problems depending which software you use to display them. The most commonly accepted colour space is sRGB - all monitors are RGB. For print files, the colour space is CMYK since all printers print in CMYK. Converting between the two can cause problems. The best way is to open the files in their original format and save them for web use ie. sRGB. Other profiles have a greater colour gamut which is good for editing and printing but not necessarily for displaying on the internet. The problem is the greater range of colours are not displayed in the the sRGB colour space, so images saved in anything other than sRGB look fine in Adobe but appear dull when displayed on the internet.

You might also want to look into what your browser says about displaying images too.

sRGB is the standard for displaying compressed jpeg files on the internet, generally speaking. If the files are saved and uploaded in another colour space they might not display properly. If they are converted to sRGB "in-house", and the gamut of aRGB or ProPhoto is not supported, then the additional colour range is converted to greyscale, hence the slightly dull/dark look when displayed on the web. Even if the files are not converted to sRGB (which is usually the case) and are displayed in the colour space they were uploaded in, most web browsers will not display the colour space properly in true colour, by default.

Image editors like Adobe Photoshop have no problem with colour space but if you are working in aRGB or ProPhoto and you save the file in sRGB there will still be a degradation of colour quality.

It is generally good practice to be working in the colour space you want to save the files in, that way you don't lose anything during conversion, apart from the jpeg compression of course.

Some people prefer a different colour space for different reasons. It all depends what the file is being used for. If you are printing files, the best colour space to work in is CMYK since all printers are CMYK. If you print from any other colour space there will always be a conversion (and that is why printed files do not always look the same as they do on the computer).

And also why sRGB, although the oldest technology and the smallest colour space, is still pretty much the standard for web display. aRGB and ProPhoto were Adobes attempt to move the technology forward but the rest of the internet didn't run with it for some reason.

Just to answer the question. Most web sites 'probably' display the files in the colour space they were uploaded and possibly your browser has changed in the last few years? I don't speak with authority for all image hosts but it is unlikely ProPhoto was even available as a colour space when a lot of them began displaying images on the internet.

Since it would involve either a colour space conversion or to check the exif of every file uploaded on the hosts end, I would say it is the responsibility of the contributor to make sure the files are uploaded in the format they would like them displayed. It is also possible that uploaders view the files with software that CAN display the correct colour space and the file wouldn't even appear differently until it was displayed on the web. Basically, you need to upload in sRGB if you want your files to display in their correct colour space on the internet. Especially important if you want to sell those files and have them look attractive (and not dull) to buyers.

The main reason anyone saves their work in ProPhoto "by mistake" is if they are using Lightroom, as (for reasons best known to Adobe) this is the default colour space for editing jpeg files. You can change this to sRGB in the settings if you want to make sure your files are saved and displayed in the same colour space you are working in. Lightroom also does funny things like convert the file you are working on to a .TIF format in Photoshop, which is huge since it is uncompressed, and then converts it back into your jpeg colour space for working in Lightroom.

Lightroom is also a resource hog! And considering it is only a simple photo editor (compared to Photoshop) for that reason I prefer editing my files in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop. Lightroom has its uses. The lens correction profiles and vignetting can be useful. The shadow/highlight and noise reduction algorithms also seems to be more effective than Photoshop. But for me it just seems to slow my computer up and becomes "laggy".

As stated before, it is generally good practice to be working in the colour space you want to save the files in, that way you don't lose anything during conversion, and the files appear more or less as you saved them on your computer (depending on your monitor/calibration).

Personally, I think it would be a good idea if ALL browsers and web hosts recognised and supported ALL colour spaces. Which would be a good goal going forward. That way images would be displayed correctly whichever colour space they were saved in. In the examples above, I saved the same image in four different colour spaces: sRGB, aRGB, ProPhoto and CMYK. As you see, when working with very high resolution jpegs (30Mb for the sRGB and 60Mb for CMYK) the differences are subtle but noticeable.

I hope this helps and have a great day!

Matt Blythe.

Wednesday 26 October 2016

How to Photograph the Milky Way - Your True Colours by Matt Blythe

"Your True Colours" by Matt Blythe  
Click to enlarge

Culver downs on the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is a small island off the South Coast of England.
This photo was taken around midnight during the month of July 2014.
I started taking photos originally with a Kodak 110mm "flip" camera and then on my 18th birthday I was gifted with a Ricoh XR-P 35mm. I was gifted with a DSLR for my 45th birthday which kick-started my enthusiasm for photography again. I have always loved night photography and successfully photographing the Milky Way is the greatest challenge because there is so much to take into consideration. Like finding the right spot, taking the right equipment, being safe at night on your own, knowing your way around the camera in the dark, etc. I was thrilled the first time my sensor ever recorded the Milky Way on camera and I still find gazing at the stars a mystical experience.
I parked my car in the darkest spot I could find on the downs that still had some foreground interest. The trees here grow kind of windswept as they are exposed on top of the cliffs facing south, and this made the perfect subject to frame the shot. The light in the Milky Way is starlight only and the lights from nearby Sandown (although technically they are "light pollution") gave a nice silhouette effect to the trees.
This is one of my first successful attempts to photograph the Milky Way and was taken with a Nikon D5200 and a standard 18-55mm kit lens and tripod and exposed for 30 seconds on the widest aperture f3.5 and ISO 3200. It took me three outings with the camera before I could even find the Milky Way! This was about my fourth Milky Way shoot ever and I didn't know much or care about light pollution at the time, which was lucky because it made the shot really. Creativity works like that sometimes, it is better than planning, although planning the shot in advance can be helpful.
In my camera bag
In my kit bag I usually have four lenses, a 50mm prime, an 18-55mm kit lens, a 55-300mm zoom and a 10-24mm wide angle which I now use to shoot the Milky Way. I always pack my trusty D5200 which is a surprisingly good camera for night photography. I also have a cleaning cloth (essential) and a remote shutter release, a couple of spare batteries, memory cards and a few filters. I also take a snack and a drink of water with me at night. If you become overwhelmed on your own at night you need a quick way to boost your carbs and rehydrate, it might be just enough to get you home but it is something to consider if you are going to a remote location.
Editing the Milky Way is always tricky. You need to add quite a lot of contrast to the sky without ruining the foreground or creating too much colour separation. I edited this image using Photoshop CS3 which doesn't have much in the way of noise reduction. I mostly used curves, contrast and some saturation to balance the colours and bring out the details and then sharpened the image using an unsharp mask and then applied the sharpening only where I wanted it with a layer mask. The final touch was cleaning up the long exposure noise and hot pixels in the shadows. I have since taken less noisy shots with a wider angle lens but I am quite happy with this one, as it was one of my first successful Milky Way shots.
Timing is everything when shooting the Milky Way. It needs to be at the right time of year for your part of the world (the summer months in the UK) and it needs to be a very clear night with no clouds and no moon visible. You also need a very dark location with no town or street lights positioned between you and the subject. The less light pollution the better. You also need patience and a way of being able to recognise the Milky Way because it isn't always easy to see it with the naked eyes. You can use an app like Star Walk or better still locate The Plough constellation of stars in the sky and go up perpendicularly from the base of the saucepan. The Milky Way runs more or less parallel to the base of the plough and the bright spot is always looking south. Lastly, you will need courage especially if you go on your own. Things that rustle or or go bump in the night can be quite disconcerting if you are alone in a dark place, so it is advisable to go with a friend. And know your camera! Where the buttons are and how they work because you will need to be able to do this by feel in almost pitch darkness. And remember to dress accordingly. It can be cold at night and two hours is usually enough to get a good set of shots unless you plan on camping at your location. Good luck and don't be discouraged if you don't get the perfect shot first time out. It is a learning curve and ironically, and like most things in life, what we judge to be our worst experiences, can often produce the best results. And either way, I hope this helps you to get the shot you are looking for...

See below for more Milky Way photos from this shoot (click the images to enlarge) :-

My First Ever Recorded
Milky Way Photograph!

July 2014

July 2014


Also check out my web site for more great photographs...

Copyrights Matt Blythe, Inner Vision Photography, 2016.