In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog December 11th, 2010

Boat Trip, Chiang Kong-Houei XAI to Luang Prabang/TP-Link TD-W8960n WIreless ADSL2+ Router Modem, A Review



I have some unfortunate news to report on this project and total 100% transparency is how I feel this should be handled. My planned beneficiaries of this project, innocent very much in need children at a certain orphanage, have fallen victim to their local manager who we have found cannot currently be trusted and I doubt this is likely to change. Decisions need to be made if we're going to carry this project forward and if so who the new beneficiaries will be. I do expect this project to generate significant revenue so I take it very seriously. As you read this I'll be back in the Mae Sot area investigating further. I'll keep you informed. For now I'll still collect images with the intention of making the best most meaningful mosaics possible and as always, I'm asking for and will greatly appreciate your help with the images.

We are still accepting (and pleading for) images of children from SEA. No matter how terrible you think they are, please send them in anyway. These images will be used to complete a set of 3 high quality mosaics which will be sold to benefit the Karen and Burmese Orphans living in the orphanages and refugee camps. The more images the better, I can use all you have. Please take the time to go through your images for anything you think might help. If you missed the "No Place to Call Home" special, you can click on the link and read more about this. Thank you! [email protected]


Quick Click Links

Feature Photograph Boat Trip, Chiang Kong-Houei XAI to Luang Prabang TP-Link TD-W8960n Wireless ADSL2+ Router Modem, A Review Photography News of Interest

Readers Submissions Readers Questions A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review Infocus Blog, Lolita Scourge!T


Feature Photograph *menu

Tom Tweedel is a good friend with significant experience in China and has self-published several interesting volumes of his travels in China complete with many great images and informative narrative. Last year he visited Thailand for the first time and I had a great time showing him around the area. Somehow he found time to put together a like 340 page book of his travels around Thailand and you can get your copy here! I've got a copy of this book and I can tell you it's well worth it, especially for first time travelers or if you haven't seen more of Thailand than downtown Bangkok.

When Tom agreed to become part of our small select product review team I was both excited and grateful. I hope you enjoy this and future reviews by Tom. For those whose plans include extended travel in Thailand and China I’d recommend contacting Tom and inquiring into obtaining copies of his books. Tom Tweedel is an Austin, TX based photographer and can be reached at: [email protected]

From time to time you manage to get shots that really stand out, sometimes by design, sometimes by accident or a combination of the two. Recently I got a great sequence of my daughter dealing with a cockroach that she found at the house. She’s at that age where she hasn’t learned to be afraid of bugs and snakes and other such things girls are not supposed to touch. I wanted to capture some of that innocence before it’s gone.

To catch such precious moments it’s important to be able to be able to quickly deploy your equipment and make important decisions. I had to make choices about focal length and how that affected framing and composition, I went with 150mm. Choosing the aperture with regards to depth of field (DOF) was critical as DOF wan an important element to this composition. I went with F5.6. ISO 800 ensured a fast enough shutter speed for a good shot in that condition.

Looking through the viewfinder I and keeping in mind my limited DOF I had to choose her face or the roach as the focal point. Went for the roach knowing her face would be blurred out to a degree. It was a challenge since she and the roach were moving.

I captured at least a dozen images in this sequence knowing I’d have at least one keeper. For me this was the best of the batch because of the compositional elements which more than make up for the technical weaknesses. When shooting people lines are one of the most important elements to consider. Lines show relationships and connections. In this case the lines created by her staring at the cockroach. When you view the image you move back and forth between her eyes and the cockroach, then back again to her eyes and facial expressions. The image captures her expressions, thoughts, and feelings.

Processing presented more decisions about how to interpret the image. I processed for the stronger points of the image keeping the “lines” in mind. The crop was my main tool which framed the image while eliminating the extraneous. White balance, levels, saturation, sharpness and more helped to bring out the subject. As an extra touch I used the localized editing brush in Lightroom to slightly desaturate the background. Then I did another mask on the roach and adjusted the settings to make it pop. Overall I really liked it.

There was a second picture in the sequence that was also a winner, in fact it might have more technical and artistic merit. It has stronger focus and compositional elements. I processed it with selective desaturation to really get the effect. Same sequence but a different set of expressions. Which one is your favorite?

BOAT TRIP FROM CHIANG KONG-HOUEI XAI TO LUANG PRABANG *menu

Eyal hails from Israel where he works hard half the year, saving to spend the other half of the year using Thailand as a base to travel throughout South East Asia. Eyal has had a strong interest in submission writing and photography and has corresponded with me for years, asking questions, taking notes, and working up to this submission. Writing in a second language is never easy, and often it's very difficult. For some of us impossible. To keep such good records and document the trip so well, and then to put the work in to share with the readers is very much appreciated. I hope to see more of his work grace future columns. You can contact Eyal via email at [email protected]

One of the border pass between Thailand and Laos located in north Thailand on the Mekong river. In the last few years this place become more and more important since a road was built from houei xai to louang namta.

For Thailand it has a lot of economic importance. As a matter of fact this border is the gate to China. It means a lot. A border pass between Thailand and Chines industrial areas.

During the day hundreds of tourists cross the Mekong from both sides. There is an option to takes buses to the Laotian side, or to try the boat trip. Two kinds of boat trips. The speed boat and the slow boat. I took the slow boat in a package deal. It cost baht 1700. Sailing on the Mekong River to Luang Prabang the northern city of Laos.

This package deal includes transportation in a minivan for 4 hours or so. Rest in the guesthouse for few hours. Breakfast. Transport to Thai immigration office. Passport stamped at the exit from Thailand and across the boat to the side of Laos. Laos Visa is made at the border. After all this procedure. There is a transportation to the ship. About 12:00 AM the boat starts its way on the Mekong river .

This is a fascinating journey in the river Mekong. The Mekong River is the lifeline to many people and villages near the river. I almost didn’t see cars or roads near the river all the way until Louang Prabang. It's a complex and difficult mountainous area to traffic. Therefore, all the traffic is associated with river life. Traffic in the river only during the day is done. Due to the fact that throughout all areas of the river there are lots of rocks. Ship movement requires skill and knowledge of river experience.

I sailed in the boat slow. Voyage takes about two days. There is also the possibility of sailing the boat fast but it seems unbearable to sit next to noisy engine all day. It looks like one big headache and not a fun experience. Views are most spectacular. Wild. Life balance of humans and nature. Due to the simple non- Man does not seem to beat nature. But perhaps this is one last opportunity for us. The government plan to build ten dams to create electricity on the Mekong River. It would violate any existing balance.

All in all this two days was a fascinating experience. Not easy and convenient. Memorable with lots of interesting photos.

Early morning in Chiang Kong. after departure the Thai immigration. We start to move to the Mekong river to the boat .

Many small boats on the bank of the Mekong river. For passengers nearby a bigger boat to move trucks and cars. This border is the gate to China.

On the Mekong river. Soon we land in Laos. This city name is Houei Xai.

That’s it. Finally in Laos. Making the Lao visa. Prices between 30-35. Depends on which nationality. On the distance its Chiang Kong. Goodbye Thailand.

The ship. Cruise on the Mekong began. Here are some of the passengers. The background trucks are delivered on the Mekong.

Another Look at the ship and passengers. This is a pretty long trip not comfortable conditions. Bit crowded and exhausting to sit there on the small wooden benches.

Two days of sailing along the Mekong. Where are rocks in the water. The captain needs great skill and knowledge of river to navigate between all the rocky areas.

On the Mekong River. And the wild scenery around the river.

Hands up. Who wants to drink Lao beer? In one of the river stations we stopped at a place. Quickly young vendors were all over the boat selling beer and snacks. This Lao girl is one of them . She is a beauty.

This is how the small station on the river look like.

Throughout the voyage many local passengers join up the ship and left on villages along the Mekong. That's a lot of people.

After quite a long journey suddenly see Motor vehicle come out of nowhere and collect some of the passengers on the ship.

Mekong's wild landscapes

A lot of places that look revealed. Sand dunes on the banks of the Mekong River. This indicates that the original water level. Perhaps it was the rainy period water level. It is also possible that the dams were built in China so that the water level has changed significantly.

What to do such a long voyage? All in one image appears. Reading books. Card Games and smoking.

The beauty of simple life. Live in a bamboo hut on a sand dune. Boat near. It looks like a dream.

At the end of the first day we got a tiny town called Pak Bang. Here we stop for the night. It's a major stopping point for all ships in both directions

The next morning. Fog in the morning on the Mekong River.

Early morning. Monks walk around the town of Pak Bang and accept donations from residents.

Back to the ship. Leave town Pak Bang. Residents are watching the movement of people into boats.

Are closer to the target to the end of the journey.

Pass one of the attractions for tourists who come Louang Prabang. It's about an hour from the city. A cave with lots of Buddha statues

After two long days come to the docking of river ships. End of the journey on the Mekong River. It was worth it.

Eyal – I can't imagine how difficult it is to do this in a second language, but I'm sure the readers really appreciate your efforts. I know I do. You gave a good look at this boat trip and what to expect if we make the trip ourselves. I wish the pictures were just a bit larger, but otherwise the photography is adequate to get the feeling of the voyage. Thank you! Steve

TP-LINK TD-W8960n Wireless N ADSL2+ Modem Router, A Review *menu

Introduction

In last week’s column I talked about the issues I’ve had with the True supplied Billion Sky Modem and the Humack modems they carried previously.

Basically, despite many visits by True technicians, I could never get these two to work without dropping every few hours, often needing to be power-cycled to reset, and how after as little as a month old they’d progressively get worse. I have a box of over 10 of these, all in various stages of remaining function. The point with this was, even a brand new Billion Sky from the box resulted in the more than occasional drop and often needed to be power-cycled.

Finally I went to Pantip Plaza and asked for the best modem they carried. The True technicians had already told me the Dlink was the one to get, and the shops at Pantip confirmed this. At first I was excited with the Dlink DSL-2542b. More speed, no drops, and a reasonable price of baht 1800. Even though it took two True technicians two days to get it to work in a bridged mode with my Linksys WRT-350n Wireless N router, I was still happy because it was the first modem that worked without dropping. Then after less than 24 hours it dropped and required power cycling. It seems that every 24 hours, give or take, the Dlink would drop until it was power cycled.

A reader wrote in explaining that when running torrents the modem required an unusual number of connections and they probably weren’t clearing from the buffer without a power-cycle reset. This makes sense, though I had no way to verify. Thank you!

I’d already ordered another unit, just in case, and it was on its way from the US. In the few short weeks it took for the new unit to arrive, the Dlink DSL-2542b’s performance degraded noticeably. Speed decreased, power-cycle resets were required every 4-5 hours vs. every 24 hours, and it started dropping like the Billion Sky from True. I exchanged it at the Dlink service center for a new one, and in less than 7-8 days of use it was acting the same.

And then the new unit arrived.

TP-Link TD-W8960n Wireless ADSL2+ Modem Router

TP-Link is a little known Chinese company in Shenzhen China. As most of the big name routers, including the Dlink and Billion Sky are manufactured in China, the TP-Links origin didn’t bother me at all.

Unpackingthe TD-W8960n I noticed it had very clean lines, was small and light, and included the power supply, two antennas, two RJ11 phone cables, one RJ45 connection cable, and a single ADSL splitter/filter in the event you use a phone on the same line.

The TD-W8960n is a single band (2.4ghz) wireless N/B/G wireless router with four physical Ethernet RJ45 ports, a standard phone line connection, and is rated to handle up to 24mbps download and 3.5mbps upload. As my connection is only 16mbps download and 1mbps upload this worked out fine.

It includes built in VPN tunnel capability, QoS protocols directly supporting most popular applications, a 300mbps Wireless N transmission rate, and just about any security protocol you can imagine. I won’t go into all of the features, but except for the 802.11a band (5ghz) I can’t think of anything it doesn’t have. I’ve had the 802.11a band on my wireless routers for the last 6-7 years and they never get used so no big loss there.

The more I read over the specifications the more impressed I became. This unit doesn’t lack for anything!

The front panel LED’s are standard, power, internet, ADSL connection, QoS enabled, and 4 WLAN Ethernet port activity/connection LED’s.

Installation

The first thing I noticed when I carried this small device (8x5x1 inches) to my office where my networking equipment is located, is that it would replace an equally large Dlink modem/router AND a much larger Linksys WRT-350n wireless N router. The extra space and cleaner look is much appreciated.

Back panel connections are standard. One standard phone line port to connect to your phone wall outlet, four Ethernet RJ45 ports, a reset button, a power connector, and an on/off button. The two antennas screw on in seconds.

For me connections were easy. I connected it to my phone line, and then a single RJ45 Ethernet patch cord into my Cisco 8 port gigaswitch already connected to my NAS devices and the 6 cables routed to different locations in my home. I connected the phone line, the one Ethernet patch cord, plugged the power transformer into my UPS device, and screwed on the antennas to their threaded mounts. I powered it on and left the office.

Setup

So far the TP-Link TD-W8960n shined, but where it really shined was in the setup. Type into your browser URL bar “192.168.1.1” and you’re immediately rewarded with the login window. The default ‘admin/admin’ user/pass combo gets you into the main menu.

I’m not going to go into the 50 pages of setup choices the user manual lists. I’ll just tell you I found their user interface totally intuitive and in less than five minutes I’d configured my PPP0E account information (username/password/VPi&VCI (True supplied)) , set my LAN default address, configured my Wireless security protocol, enabled the DCHP server, entered and tested my dynamic DNS account information (needed to run an FTP, IP cameras, etc), and forwarded 5 different ports thereby enabling my NAS devices, FTP’s, IP cameras, and my other LAN devices. I also changed my user name and password information.

Each menu heading expands as necessary into the appropriate sub-headings allowing you to easily find and configure only the areas you need.

In under five minutes I was done and pressing the “update and reboot” button was surprised to see the internet come on-line, the wireless connect to my laptops, NAS’s worked, FTP’s functioned fine, and all this on the first try and without help from the True Somchai’s! What a pleasure.

I will say this, there are MANY menu choices, and even for functions you’ll recognize there will be more choices than you’re previously been familiar with. Looking through the menu choices I saw it was configurable and supported every major VOIP service, game, and device I’ve ever heard of. This is the most complete user BIOS I’ve ever seen.

More, it gives you three login choices. You can assign an administrator with full privileges, a support user/pass set in the event you need TP-Link’s excellent customer service, and a User login if you just want to limit certain users to logging on selected VPN’s or games.

There is also a complete statistics and logging center so you can keep track of line drops, line condition, up time, and about 100+ other line controls. The Diagnostics section tests every line condition for you and the help section explains each test.

What a great User Interface!

Performance

Two minutes to install, five minutes to configure my setup (and I have a complex setup), and a ‘save/reboot’ later I was up on line and I have dropped or had to cycle since!

Usually I don’t review hardware until using it for a few months, but I’ve tested/reviewed enough of these modems/routers to know when one is working perfectly and without flaw and the TP-Link TD-W8960n is without flaw. It’s possible it will fail electronically, and if it does I’ll update this review at the end. If you don’t see an update at the end of this review, it means this device is still working perfectly.

Going to Speedtest www.speedtest.net I confirmed I was actually exceeding my 16mbps download speed. A few months back my True technician told me he’d tweaked the node downstairs to give me 20mbps and now I was actually seeing 20mbps. My upload speed was pegged at the max 1mbps speed. I then went to Pingtest www.pingtest.net and immediately saw I was now pinging all A’s and B’s on my line condition where before the best I could get was a C-, usually D’s and F’s.

But the real proof is in using the net. Page to page loads are much faster, my Slingbox is slinging 30% faster than the best I’ve seen before, and my torrents are moving almost twice as fast! The proof in the pudding so to speak.

Wi-fi performance you ask? I’m not only seeing an approximate 40-50% greater signal strength and range, but the speed gains via the Wireless N are huge. It’s like having an entirely new Wi-fi service.

For the next five days I held my breath waiting for a drop that has yet to happen, or the need for a power-cycle which hasn’t happened either.

Because of the feedback and questions I received after last week’s review of the Dlink, and noticing I wasn’t the only one experiencing sub-standard internet service, and because this TP-Link TD-W8960n setup easily and performed flawlessly, I decided to write this review immediately, and if any problems arise in the future I’ll update this review at the end.

I couldn’t be more pleased, there are zero glitches, and anyone can set one of these up. Other than the color (white) I have zero complaints and only praise.

Oh, I got mine on Amazon for $72 USD. I don’t know if they’re available locally, but I’ll take a look next time I take a safari through Pantip and I’ll let you know.

Photography News of Interest *menu

"Doll Streaming" is the new threat! The FBI is investigating Barbie. Barbie VIdeo has a video cam built in which can record 30 minutes of a child playing at a time. I suppose they're worried creeps will use the footage for sexual gratification. Strange. $49 gets you this collectible. Now, if for $49 we only had "IP Barbie" which could stream directly to your computer we'd have something. Inexpensive CCTV coverage. We could strategically place IP Barbie's all over the house.. seemingly staring everywhere. .and we'd have great security. Kinda creepy though. If they can put $49 video cams in a doll.. why can't they make proper $49 security IP cameras? Anyone know of any?

SLR Gear tests the Sony E mount 16mm F2.8 lens. If you own or have been thinking about getting a Sony NEX-5 you’ll find this of interest.

Sony updates the firmware for it’s DSLR-A900 and DSLR-A850. The link only takes you to the UK Sony site where you’ll need to enter your model number to find the firmware upgrade. Questionable website design!

Nikon is preparing improved firmware for the new D7000 , so if you’re experiencing problems keep an eye out for it.

This is fun, a Mob Choir event where an entire choir found seats in the food court of a mall like any other customers.

Then on cue one soloist started singing a Christmas hymm, and soon the other joined in. Watchthis fun video on Utube

to see for yourself.

Adobe announced the final 6.3 version of Adobe Camera RAW (ACR), and you can get your Windows version here, and your Mac version here. They’re also announcing the final 3.3 version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and you can get the Windows version here, and the Mac version here. I’ve already upgraded both and I’ve experienced no issues or problems with either the upgrade process, or the software.

This was sent in by Stick and is weird. If you read it carefully it looks like this Japanese photographer was known for shooting porn in Cambodia and the police wanted to catch him this time. Due to shoddy police work they jumped the gun and only caught him taking innocent portraits of a couple. Now he’ll be set free with a small fine. It pays to know the laws of your host country if you’re going to photographing nudes.

It’s estimated more people are leaving their compact digitals at home in favor of more capable smart phones. How about you? They say this could soon make compact digital cameras a thing of the past.

What an idiot! Unnecessary surgery of any type is uber-stupid, but implanting a camera with a thick cable in your head is just plain idiotic. This Iraqi-born assistant professor at NYU, Wafaa Bilal, will transmit a live stream of images to a museum in Qatar. Who knew Qatarians were so artistically sophisticated that they’d enjoy ‘head shots’ of American students. Just plain weird!

Readers Submissions *menu

Steve:

A few (?) pictures from a day in the thick jungles of Thailand. (The City Park that houses the Butterfly Farm).

Using the NEX-5 with zoom lens and shooting all pictures with the Program Auto setting. The use of the firmware v3 made changing the setting very easy. Your instructions on DOF, exposing, and general support where all very helpful.

They were all shot using the "fine" setting on the camera and most files were 5-8 kb, much to big to email to you.

By using the Resize Magic you reported on a few weeks back I was able to get them into the 1 kb range.

I really like the butterfly picture and the jelly fish looking flower.

So really the pictures are mostly yours because you told me about the NEX, DOF, v3, Resize Magic and everything else about practicing and to just take a lot of pictures. Over 150 on this 3 hour adventure. All I did was push the buttons. LOL

Rickster

Rick –

I (and everyone else) can really see the improvements in your images as you grow more used to the camera and lenses. The NEX-5 is an interesting camera, DSLR image quality with the size and point and shoot characteristics of a small compact. You’ve gotta love it.

I really like the one with the aft half of the small row boat.

Thank you for the feedback that you’re getting something from the column. It’s a fair amount of work, but the occasional feedback like yours makes it all worth it.

Oh.. and thanks for the lunch.. J


Steve

I suspect the readers submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they'd like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

Steve –

What is the best way for me to clean my lenses? A soft cloth and water? Toilet paper and window cleaner? Any hints on the best way to clean lenses, both materials and techniques, would be most appreciated!

Cheers,

Stick

Stick

About cleaning lenses. It depends how dirty they are. Let's start with normal dirty: Fingerprints, rain drops, dust, etc..

My wife made a comment the other day that no matter where she looks, she finds small plastic bags with microfiber clothes in them. Tiger clothes are my favorite. I have a couple in each bag, some in my knapsack, a couple in the car, coat pockets, anywhere.. I while back I splurged for a case of 24 of them and distributed around to be available no matter what I was doing.

Once I use one, I NEVER re-use it until after it's washed, carefully dried, inspected for grains of sand and whatnot, and carefully folded and put back in its plastic ziplock bag. All it takes is a single grain of salt, sand, etc.. and you've got a nice deep scratch on your expensive lens or filter. Many people don't even bother to wash them.. they toss them immediately so they won't inadvertently reuse them. Good ones are hard to find here in Bangkok, my last case I ordered from overseas, so I wash mine up to ten times before tossing them out. This means a case of 24 will last you 4-5 years on average. I also never re-fold a cloth and put it back in the bag. Instead, I just shove a used one in there so I can instantly see if I used it before or not.

I'll never forgot my rookie mistake cleaning my newly painted classic car. I dropped the chamois on the ground, picked it up, shook it out, and used it again. As soon as I swiped down the side I could feel a grain of sand/dirt etching my new paint like a glass cutter. It was enough to make a guy sick. It works the same way with lenses. The chamois should have been immediately discarded from current use and later washed, inspected, and really gone over before being used again.

I don't use chemicals. I breath "hot breath" on the lens until it fogs up, and then clean it with a microfiber cloth. That's it. It’s the best natural cleaner and even helps make them fog resistant in the same way you spit in your scuba mask and run it on the inside of the glass. This technique should do you for 99% of your cleanings.

Every once in a while we drop a lens in the muck or somehow it gets really bad. For these times I carry a Rocket Blower, a very soft artist grade horse hair 1" brush, lens fluid, and microfiber cloths. I use them in that order. I use the Rocket Blower to blow off what I can, the brush to careful "brush away from the glass" all I can, and I might even repeat these two steps. Then I put fluid on the microfiber (never directly on the lens) and dab away anything remaining. Repeat with a new microfiber and it should be ready for the "hot breath" shine and polish process..

I hope this helps..

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review *menu

What an unproductive week! I’ve spent an untold amount of time working on some technical issues with my teaching workstation incorporating a new monitor and some additional software. From a practical standpoint replacing the workstation would make more sense, but I’ve become intrigued by the challenge of tracking down the exact issue. Call me stubborn.

Positive comments continue to pour in about our new look and much faster more interactive site. If you haven’t already checked it out, visit www.bangkokimages.com to see my latest galleries, share your own galleries, participate in the forums, and scour our large repository of photography related articles. The What’s New” page continues to be very popular with almost daily updates and interesting content.

I’m still testing more equipment and have more reviews in the pipeline. If you have any neat gear you’d like to write a review on shoot me an email and I’ll do what I can to help.

Infocus Blog, Lolita Scourge *menu

Canon 1ds Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F1.4 1/500th ISO 400

I struggled with the title so don’t summarily condemn me. The title means “severe criticism of the Lolita subject in general.” I chose this subject this week after reading several more news reports about local photographers being arrested and charged for photographing children in public places such as city parks, beaches, and playgrounds. Real issues we as photographers face.

The term “Lolita” was first coined as the title and character in the 1958 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, centering around a precocious schoolgirl subsequently seduced by an older man. The novel was controversial for its time, but perhaps not nearly as much today. Unfortunately, in the age of online porn and instant gratification digital photography, the term has been used to identify/label young children as young as toddlers, exhibited to groups of adults who are sexually gratified by such imagery.

The ease with which such images are captured is stunning, but as photographers I don’t need to tell you that. However, it’s this ease which is allowing such disgusting websites to fill their galleries with unsuspecting and defenseless children. And the parents are outraged! I am too as I’m sure are.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 135mm F2L USM @F2.8 1/5000th ISO 200

Photographs as innocent as school pictures are often lusted over on such websites. Images we’d normally make copies of and proudly share with friends and relatives. But now they’re being used at the lowest order and as parents we’re angry!

So lo and behold ANY photographer, especially with an expensive and capable looking camera anywhere near our children. We no longer assume the images will be used for the innocent reasons of the past, we now KNOW they’ll be viewed by some disgusting hairy old man while masturbating. Yet, obviously, we really don’t know this at all. We’ve just been conditioned to think these things through the reading of news stories both on television and on the internet. My guess is it’s a form of social engineering by concerned entities designed to encourage us to safeguard our children.

I’d also guess such assumptions would be wrong the great majority of the time. Still, we don’t want to even think about that one time we’d be right. It’s this sort of subject.

Nikon D100, 70-200mm F2.8 AF-S VR @F5.6 1/50th 80mm ISO 200

It used to be a photographer would go to a public place where children are known to be present, and practice their photography skills while making nice pictures. After all, young children do make very pleasing photographs. However, these days you’re likely to be arrested or at least questioned while doing so. Many public areas have signs posted saying “NO PHOTOGRAPHY” which is most often ignored for parents with cameras while being enforced for scary guys with big cameras.

The problem with this logic is the pedophiliac creeps who are into Lolita often have children, or are teachers, or priests, or sports coaches. Because of their Lolita preoccupation and pedophilia tendencies they’ve worked their way into such positions. Since I’ve been guessing already, I’d guess Lolita pictures are much more often captured by such people than your professional or enthusiast photographer.

What can we as photographers do about it? A number of things. I think a positive appearance, a clean neat appearance appropriate for the venue, is the biggest thing you can do. Second, try to be in the company of a female assistant or family member. Third, don’t act creepy. Smile, be outgoing and introduce yourself and have your cards ready to hand out. Tell the parents you’ll be posting your pictures on your website and if they see one they like they can email you. The card with your information is empowering to parents, and will go a long way towards making them feel comfortable with you. Fourth, have a good reason for being there. Maybe your child is also at play, maybe you’re testing a new lens or technique, but have a plausible reason.

Canon 1ds Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS USM @F2.8 1/500th ISO 400 (Captured by student during workshop)

In this day and age none of the above is a guarantee, I can only tell you it works for me. Sometimes I’m hired to capture children at play, or to make photographs of them in the park. It helps if the parents are working with me and people can see this, but sometimes the parents want candid’s of them playing with their children so your relationship with the parents isn’t apparent. Fine, you might be approached and questioned or even insulted in a backhand sort of way. NEVER get angry. Just smile, approach the person in doubt, and introduce yourself while providing your card.

I wish I could tell you things will get better, but I think they’ll only get worse. I fear we risk arrest and even physical confrontation in the worst circumstances. Which is why I think we all need to follow the above steps, or whatever steps we feel will help, and help photographers take our reputations back. If you suspect another photographer is a creep, and as photographers you’ll recognize creeps more accurately, then speak up and question the person. Call the authorities if you’re convinced. We need to do all we can to protect our children, and our reputations.

Until next time..

Canon 1ds Mark II, 85mm F1.2L USM @F2 1/250th ISO 400