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Monthly Archives: Jul 2015

The Law and Street Photography in South Africa

The Law and Street Photography in South Africa This blog has been adapted and shared from here. First the disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, or qualified in any way to give legal advice. This article is the result of my research and is offered for informational purposes only. If in doubt, consult a registered legal practitioner in your area who specialises in this field. What does the law say about photography, and street photography in South Africa, here is the bottom line when it comes to taking photographs in public places in South Africa. In South Africa, any person can take a photograph that includes any other person, without permission. A photographer does not need your permission to take your photograph, if he or she is on public property when he or she does so. It does not matter that you may be on private property at the time, for example, on the upstairs balcony of your home and a person walking past on the public pavement outside, snaps your picture. Privacy Law Seen From a Public Area You have the right to take photos of anyone or anything if it can be seen from a public area. This includes parks, city streets and sporting events or concerts. This also allows for any private property or buildings to be shot from within the public domain. Any person and member of the public is basically wavering their right to anonymity or privacy by appearing in these areas and is therefore fair subject matter for images. "Whoa! Hold on!" I can almost hear you scream. "There must be some exceptions." Yes there are. Members of the public only have rights in a place where privacy is a reasonable assumption. Put your camera away in restrooms, private houses, changing rooms etc. Trespass Laws Once we leave public domain and enter private property we are subject to their rights of admission. Only Restriction The only other restriction on what may or may not be photographed is that specifically placed there by government and covers matters of national security. This usually means military installations and infrastructure and can include police stations, airports, bridges, consulates, embassies, transportation facilities and border crossings. Taking a photograph of any of these is illegal and will likely end you in hot water. The problem in many cities in South Africa, unlike other cities in the world, is, most of the places where members of the public gather, are privately owned. Shopping malls immediately spring to mind and there, photographers are subject to the terms and conditions laid down by the owners or managers of the property. Often this includes a "no photography" condition. Most shopping centres have “no photography’ signage posted at all their entrances and can refuse you permission to enter or ask you to leave. Security guards are within their rights to prevent your taking photographs and ask you to leave but they may not confiscate your equipment, destroy images or detain you in any way. Should you refuse to leave they may bring a charge of trespass against you. It is important to bear in mind many locations that seem to be public places are, in fact, privately owned. Two examples are the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. It would be prudent if you are doing landscape photography to "meet and greet" the farmer of the lands you wish to photograph; with crime levels and farm murders as they are, you certainly wouldn't want to be shot at whilst shooting a wonderful vineyard scene etc. Okay, so you've shot an awesome image of someone on the street, what are you allowed to do with the image? Fair Use Images of people for personal or "fair use" purposes include: news, satire, works of art and informational or educational purposes. This means you can legally publish the image on your news or photographic arts blog. You can also sell that print as an artwork, without the subject's permission. However, the photographer may not use an image in a way that misrepresents the subject. That is to say you cannot publish the photograph in a context that directly states or implies anything about the subject that is untrue. This would constitute an act of libel and may lead to legal recourse against the photographer. If you plan to use the image for commercial purposes (create an advertising campaign or sell it to a stock-photo agency, for example,) you will require a model release signed by the person photographed. An individual has sole rights to their persona being used for commercial promotion. In a nutshell for street photographers: I have broken no law by making a photograph of you. I am under no obligation to explain to you what I am doing or why I am doing it. I am under no obligation to show you the photograph I have made. I am under no obligation to identify myself to you. The photograph I have made is legally my property. Although I don't do it, I am fully within my rights to continue making photographs of you while you are in conversation with me. If you attempt to physically restrain me from doing so by touching my person, you are breaking the law. If you do not wish to be photographed the only legal way you can prevent it is to move away from the scene. If you threaten me physically you are breaking the law. Judgement A smile and an explanation will diffuse most situations. Showing the subject the image and offering to email it to him or her, goes a long way and will often result in an invitation to take more photographs. But, in the end you need to make a judgement call. Trying to explain your legal rights to three, steroid-addled, bouncers, who insist you delete the photo you shot of them while they stood outside on the pavement, may be an exercise in painful futility. Only you can decide if the photograph is worth the hassle. Copyright Law Copyright only applies to physically manifested work; this can be in the form of a photograph or a digital file. It does not apply to a thought or idea or concept for an image. Whoever ‘reduced such ideas into material form’ will then be the person holding the rights to that work regardless of whether or not it was their concept. The person who holds the rights to an image is therefore its creator, and does not need to be the person responsible for pressing the shutter release on the camera specifically, but rather the person responsible for the artistic input, which includes styling, lighting, sets and composition. Where South African law differs from international law is in the line “commissioned photographs are owned by the commissioner (client)” This means freelance photographers have no rights to their work. This is a contentious issue that may be covered in further articles and forums. But fortunately this issue can be circumvented by mutual agreement even when it takes the form of a verbal agreement.  The act allows for negotiation of these default terms, and consequently any agreement negotiated comes under contract law which then overrides the Copyright Law. Copyright is automatic; you do not need to take any action to ensure your photograph is protected by the law. Adding the copyright logo to an image only serves as a reminder that the creator reserves rights on the usage of the image. Secondly it allows interested parties to know who to contact if they want to obtain rights for an image. Marking an image with copyright information should include the copyright owners name, the year the image was first made public or was published, the copyright symbol and which rights are reserved. (These can include all rights being reserved or commercial use, uses other than for educational purposes, print and publication more than a single form of media etc.) Copyright is valid for 50 years from when an image was made public or the first date of publication. Conclusion You can take a photo of anyone, anywhere as the act of taking a photo is not illegal. There are few exceptions which pertain to government installations that carry restrictions. The photographer has to carry out his shoot being mindful not to infringe on others right to privacy, accommodate trespass laws and should be cognisant not to infringe on the copyright of other artworks. Bearing in mind the taking of photos and the publishing of photos are two separate issues. References Streetphotographer Digital Photography Courses McLarens Attorneys Smit and van Wyk Attorneys Photo Secrets If you have any questions or comments feel free to participate in on the comments below; check out my Facebook page and like to receive regular image and news updates.


How to Find the Milky Way

How to Find the Milky Way This interesting artical was written by Ian Norman of Lonely Speck, and is used  under the  Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike 4.0 International License. If you want to photograph the Milky Way, the first thing you’ll need to know is how to find it. In this article, I share some of my favorite tools and tips for finding the Milky Way’s galactic plane and more specifically, the bright galactic center. Using either smartphone apps or by memorizing important constellations, you’ll be able to find the Milky Way with or without the use of technology. I remember my first failed attempts at trying to shoot the Milky Way, and I recall one of the most basic and obvious challenges: I didn’t even know where to point my camera. One of the most important factors that contributes to the visibility of the Milky Way is the time of observation. It moves across the sky throughout the course of the night and the position of the Milky Way will differ depending on the time of year. Seasons of the Night Sky Still today, I receive the occasional email from a reader asking for help with finding the Milky Way or from photographers who have set out on their first excursion in the dark only to find that the bright galactic center, the part of the sky we all expect to see when trying to shoot the Milky Way, was not visible at that particular time of year. As it turns out, the night sky has seasons. The best times to observe the bright galactic center of the Milky Way, in any part of the world, tends to be from about mid-March through mid-October, the “Milky Way Season,” as I and many of my fellow astrophotographers have started calling it. Technically, you can see some part of the Milky Way at any time of the year, but when shooting in the time period from September through April, you’ll be limited to the dimmer parts of the night sky as the Sun obscures the bright galactic center. Similarly, where you’re located in the world will determine where the Milky Way will be in the sky. In the northern hemisphere, the galactic center is visible in the southern half of the sky while in the southern hemisphere, it can be positioned directly overhead, particularly in the peak of the “Milky Way Season” around the time of the June Solstice. Most of my photographs are made in the Northern Hemisphere so the Galactic center never rises too far above the horizon. When you embrace astrophotography as your hobby and you really want to produce the best results possible, the thing on your mind most often is not what lens to use or what camera to buy, it’s the awareness of where we are in the astronomical sense: the position of the Earth and the Moon and the Sun as we slowly dance in the heavens. With some practice and observation, it’s possible to track the motions of the heavens and use it to help plan your astrophotography excursions. I’d like to share with you some of my favorite tools and tips for finding the Milky Way’s galactic plane and more specifically, the bright galactic center. Below are my absolute favorite smartphone apps and computer software for finding the Milky Way, as well as techniques for locating it without technology. The Best Smartphone Apps for finding the Milky Way: PhotoPills for iOS SkyGuide for iOS Stellarium Mobile for Android These apps are my absolute favorite tools for finding the Milky Way. I’ve searched high and low and these are the best in my honest opinion. There are many free apps available that try to do the same thing but I’ve not yet found a free one that really excels like these do. PhotoPills for iOS PhotoPills for iOS is a standout application for all types of photography planning. Most notable for night photography is its augmented reality mode and 2D Milky Way planner, both of which are unique to PhotoPills. The 2D Milky Way Planner in particular will allow you to simulate the arch of the galactic plane as an overlay on top of a map. I like this feature in particular because it makes it easy to plan your shooting position in order to align your landscape with the Milky Way. No other app has this tool and for that reason I think PhotoPills is arguably the best overall Milky Way planning app. The PhotoPills team has also put together an extensive guide for planning and photographing the Milky Way that complements a lot of the content available here on Lonely Speck. SkyGuide for iOS I have a particular preference for SkyGuide because it has the most photorealistic representation of the night sky. It was made by an amazing guy: Nick Risinger, creator of skysurvey.org. Nick traveled to two different corners of the globe to capture more than 30,000 exposures to create the most complete and detailed mosaic of our night sky. That mosaic is fully represented in Nick’s SkyGuide iOS app and that makes it one of my favorite apps. It allows you to orient your phone to see where the galactic plane will be. Stellarium Mobile Unfortunately, neither PhotoPills nor SkyGuide are available for Android. That said, Stellarium Mobile, which is a commercial port of my favorite planetarium software for the computer (stellarium.org), is the absolute best app available on the Android Platform. It too uses the skysurvey.org mosaic for representing the Milky Way but it’s lower resolution than the graphics available in SkyGuide. One trick if you’re using Stellarium Mobile: open the “Advanced” settings and turn the Milky Way brightness up to about 7. Just like the PhotoPills Augmented Reality mode and SkyGuide, Stellarium Mobile can use your phone’s compass and accelerometers to allow you to see where the Milky Way will be as you reorient your phone. Stellarium Mobile is also available for iOS, but again I prefer SkyGuide for iOS devices. The Best Desktop App for finding the Milky Way: Stellarium.org Last but certainly not least in my list of tools for finding the Milky Way is Stellarium.org. It’s an open source desktop computer app available for free on Mac, Linux and Windows. It’s the core application that Stellarium Mobile is based on and it’s my personal favorite app for planning on the computer. Finding the Milky Way without Tools It’s kind of a weird thing to write about how to find the Milky Way because we’re technically in the Milky Way galaxy. Every star that you can see in the night sky is technically part of the Milky Way so when I say “How to find the Milky Way,” what I actually mean is “How to find the Milky Way Galactic Plane” or even more specifically, how to find the Milky Way Galactic Center.  To start, let’s take a look at one of my most recent photographs of the Milky Way: That really bright part of the Milky Way? That’s the galactic center, the bright glowing core of our galaxy about which our entire solar system revolves. Our sun moves around the core of our galaxy at an estimated one revolution per every 240 million years. In this image, the galactic plane extends vertically out of the frame. On any dark night, in pretty much any part of the world, it’s almost always possible to see a portion of the galactic plane at some moment of the night. The galactic plane can be found arching across some portion of the sky. Usually the plane of the galaxy is where most of the stars will be visible in the night sky. That’s the part of the sky that we’ll want to photograph. Now if you’re in a dark enough place, the Milky Way should already be visible to the naked eye (though not as obvious as it appears in a long-exposure photo). That said, there are some particularly important constellations to remember so you know what to expect depending on where you point your camera. There are many constellations that can be found along the galactic plane, but these six will help you find the best photographic results. If you learn to recognize these constellations, you’ll have no trouble finding the plane of the Milky Way, even in light polluted conditions when the position of the Milky Way may not be obvious. At least one of these constellations should be visible on any given night, and they tend to be the easiest to learn how to find. Major Constellations along the Milky Way Galactic Plane: Scorpius Sagittarius The Summer Triangle Cassiopeia Crux or the Southern Cross Orion Scorpius Scorpius is probably my favorite constellation in the night sky. It’s specifically characterized by the bright star Antares, also know as “The Heart of the Scorpion” and is accompanied by an arc of stars that form the body of the scorpion-shaped constellation. Antares is notable as one of the brightest stars in the sky and it has a distinctly orange-yellow color which makes it stand out from many of the other stars. The colorful stars and dark dust clouds surrounding Antares are collectively known as the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex. Sagittarius Sagittarius is situated almost exactly at the brightest part of the Milky Way. Since that part of the sky is particularly dense with stars, Sagittarius is usually a bit harder to find, but it’s notable because it directly points out where the brightest part of the night sky will be. Sagittarius is supposed to be shaped like a centaur drawing a bow, but the brightest stars in the constellation form a more recognizable “teapot” shape. The spout of the teapot is located right on the bright bulge of the galactic center. The Summer Triangle The Summer Triangle is particularly helpful for finding the galactic plane in the Northern Hemisphere. This portion of the galactic plane is home to three of the brightest stars in the sky: Deneb (the tail of Cygnus, the swan), Altair, and Vega. These three bright stars are some of the brightest stars visible in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer and are usually visible high in the sky in May, June and July. Deneb in particular is nice to capture in a photograph because it’s located right next to a colorful pink nebula called the North American nebula. Cassiopeia In the Northern Hemisphere, Cassiopeia is visible almost the entire year. It’s easy to find because it’s shaped like a giant “W” in the night sky. It’s one of the most northerly constellations and it’s notable because it’s adjacent to Polaris, the north star. I also use it as a guide to locate the galaxy Andromeda, the nearest full size galaxy to the Milky Way. Andromeda is visible to the right of Cassiopeia in the photo below. Crux or the Southern Cross In the Southern Hemisphere, Crux is the constellation that is visible as an almost perfect cross with some of the brightest stars in the sky. It sits right on the galactic plane. Orion Orion is the part of the Milky Way that’s easiest to see in the “quiet season” of the night sky from September through April. Orion is positioned near the galactic plane almost directly opposite the galactic center. It’s immediately recognizable in the sky by the three bright stars that make up Orion’s belt.  I like shooting photos of Orion because of its large amount of colorful nebula and bright stars. I think Orion is one of my favorite parts of the night sky and I’ve made a tutorial specifically about shooting Orion. These constellations are your tools for finding the Milky Way. Try using your smartphone app to help look for these constellations to learn how to recognize them. After several sessions of night sky gazing, you’ll become more adept at recognizing these important parts of our home galaxy. Now all you’ll need are some clear dark skies and some simple photo equipment like a camera, a fast lens and tripod to learn how to photograph the Milky Way. If you have any questions or comments feel free to participate in on the comments below; check out my Facebook page and like to receive regular image and news updates.


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