The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com


Friday, 23 December 2011

Intellectual Property ...

One of the most crucial things that you can teach a young photographer is awareness of their Intellectual Property rights.

My daughter started photography at the age of 5.  I showed her a camera, explained the basic way to take a shot and let her go free and do her own thing.  I saw potential in the things she was snapping so I go her a better camera.  She's 15 now and has just got her hands on a DSLR to back up the bridge camera she uses and is doing a GCSE in Photography.

She recently asked if the old website photos were still live anywhere and the answer was 'yes' but in a very bad state.  She wanted to show here teacher the website.  The teacher's was alleged to have said, 'That's not yours it's a professionals, it has copyright written on it.'

Dear teacher - it had copyright on it because copyright is automatically granted to someone when they create something.  Something that a teacher should be aware of.  What's the point of teaching someone GCSE Photography and leaving out their rights surrounding the Intellectual Property that your students have created?

So, just for teachers, students and anyone else looking to get into photography, I've setup some information pages: http://www.wolf-photography.com/html/IP-UK/respectIP.html.

Feel free to spread the word and empower yourselves.

Anyone of any age has copyright on works that they have created.

All the best


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Belluno Region, Italy ... and 'Little Fish' ...

It was nice to get away and spend time with Alesandro, Sandra and GianLuka (AKA 'Little Fish') - their six month old son.

It was the usual combination of good company, good food, good wine and some education about the area that I was photographing.

Unfortunately the light wasn't brilliant but the scenery was still breath taking.  There's something about mountains that draws me to them, particularly when covered with snow.  You can see the full set of images by clicking here

The main purpose of the trip was to meet GianLuka.  He was born shortly after my last visit.  He's a very lively, active chap with a beautiful voice.  You can check him out working his vocal chords on: http://www.facebook.com/RespectIP.  I get the honorary title of 'Uncle Wolf' which is cool as they make me feel a part of their family.

Grow strong, grow well Little Fish

Uncle Wolf :)

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Two sides of the coin ...

Whenever I hear about the war efforts in various parts of the globe, the majority of images and videos show injured troops, troops under fired or dead troops coming back.  It can be easy to forget something fundemental: our troops are there doing a job, for which they get paid.  It's a tough job and they deserve our support ... as long as they do the job right.

I was in a support situation not long ago sitting in and listening to other veterans.  One of the guys was very vocal about the 'Argies'.  The british forces slang for the Argentinians.  It was clear that his experiences in the Falkland Islands had scarred him and that there was much unresolved anger within his core ... but there was also some deep seated racism.

Whenever I encounter such things in a 'supportive environment' that is offering me some treatment it makes me very uneasy, especially when I consider the fact that as far as ethnic appearances go, after a photoshoot in a place like Egypt, my skin tone is the same as an Iraqi or an Afghan.  To the ignorant we're all the same.  It doesn't matter that I'm a veteran and served my country;  they don't even like me referring to England as my country.

I'd sit and wonder how long it would be before someone had a reaction to my presence and how the organisation concerned would deal with it.

I often wondered what other ethnic groups would come under attack in that room or even if words were said about me in my absence.  It underlined one of the realities of serving in Her Majesty's Armed Forces as a British Asian.  'British Asian' seems to be the most comfortable way for me to describe myself, when I look at all of the different ways that all the different organisations try to describe us.  Of all the different ethnic groups it felt as if we were the least trusted by some areas of the heirarchy.

I served 2 years in Northern Ireland but I have never stepped over the line while carrying out my duties ... and even though some of the terrorists are now politicians and a major global power involved in the 'war on terror' actually funded terrorism in Northern Ireland ... I can shrug that off.  My duty was to keep the peace; nothing more - nothing less.  The world keeps turning.  I would say that my problems were mostly due to my side not looking after me properly; bad equipment, a bad CO and possible some collusion with the local bad boys which compounded the incidents I was involved in.

There's an important element missing out of all of this though:  the majority of civillians in the various conflicts  had nothing to do with the various conflicts.  In my experience it's always the minority causing problems.  The civillains are the ones that have to live in the communities, walking the knife's edge between obeying the law and doing as they were told to by the terrorists on pain of death.

I feel that serving personnel need to have this knowledge reinforced ... and Veterans too because when I see  images like this  http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/in-the-midst-of-a-horrific-scene-tears/  - as a caring human, I have to ask the racists how they can't feel compassion for the innocents caught up in our battles.  When I saw those images I didn't see the ethnicity of the people, I saw victims around a bomb blast, a toddler, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters ... just like the victims of a blast in Belfast while out shopping one day.

The job was to fight when the situation called for it ... but not to hate. 

Hatred doesn't belong in the treatment centre ... neither does racism - especially if becomes a barrier as to why a veteran from a different ethnic group can't access treatment there, even though the 'Argie' may have shot and killed the other veteran's friend.  The Argentinians were soldiers too.  Many of them young conscripts.  The anger belongs at the door of the politicans that start wars.  The rest of us are collatoral damage.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Are you a 'Geek'?

I am ... have been for years.  There was a time when the term 'geek' was considered derogotary but I don't think it applies to the current age and words like 'nerd' seem to be afflicted on those poor souls.

To be a geek you HAVE to be passionate about something and you have to want to do whatever it is to the best of your ability, always striving for excellence, within the realities of your physical and mental strengths.

I think the first thing that I was geeky about was military aircraft back when I was at school.  The next would be computers and all things computer associated - although I feel that one has gone now and doesn't qualify anymore as computers are too mainstream.  They're everywhere now!

The same can be said of my third bit of geekyness: photography - in this era everyone's a photographer!  I can hold onto it as a wildlife photographer I guess - simply because not many wildlife photographers (when taken as a whole) would spend hours and hours in a cold hide waiting for a glimpse of a potential target (which is often the case when I'm sat in my portable hide somewhere with a tiny hole in the soil for a piss-pot and a packet of sandwhiches with a bottle of water to last me the day).

I'm geeky about practising Shotokan too.  It's come to regulate my routine for three days a week now, providing exercise, discipline and another way of coping with PTSD.  I really missed it in those years that I couldn't train after the road accident; especially those times when a KUGB event would be on the box and you'd see Sensei Enoeda kicking off the proceeding (quite literally) with a demonstration against assailants.  Sadly, my body has too many injuries now to do as well as I could before the road accident in 1995 and I know that I will have to train less often.  I need to push myself just now though and train through the pain.  The last training session was so bad that I had to stop during the warm up a few times.  I've had my monthly accupuncture today though - so fingers crossed!  If you suffer from PTSD - give Shotokan Karate a go.  You can find a local club from the link on the KUGB website - the direct link is here.

According to Wikipedia:

In a 2007 interview on The Colbert Report, Richard Clarke said the difference between nerds and geeks is "geeks get it done."
Other definitions include:

A person who has chosen concentration rather than conformity; one who passionately pursues skill (especially technical skill) and imagination, not mainstream social acceptance.

A person with a devotion to something in a way that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest.

The main thing that I have found though is that 'geeks' are sound people.  I haven't met a bad one on my journey yet.  It's good to be passionate about something ... embrace your 'geekiness' and strive for perfection!  Be an individual ... within the laws of your country ... but don't be too mainstream - explore avenues for yourself.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

As the 11th day of the 11th month and the 11th hour approaches ...

... my thoughts turn to the men and women that I've served with and met since as Veterans.  People from varying backgrounds that had performed a wide range of tasks, everyone one of them an integral part of a big machine, carrying out their duties and responsibilities - sometimes in extremely difficult situations.

There was so much media hype last year about Veterans and the lack of thanks that they get for 'services rendered'.  It fizzled away as we all knew it would to be replaced by the usual curtain of indifference, apathy and ignorance of the plight of some of these men and women that can't fit back into civillian life ... but who can never go back to military life.  Amongst the most misunderstood are those afflicted with Post Taumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The press and other forms of media tend to sensationalise things and draw on the extreme for their articles and documentaries, the downside of which is that everyone with PTSD ends up stereo-typed as the person depicted in the aricle being viewed or read.  When one considers the social stigma still connected with the term 'mental health' and the ingredient of PTSD is added into the pot, what's stirred up and served is a discriminatory barrier that affects every aspect of the afflicted person's life; jobs, family, friendships, intimate relationships, medical care and just about every other area of human interaction that you can think of.

The result of this distancing and misunderstanding results in isolation.  Isolation isn't good for anyone and I draw a distinction between those that prefer solitude.  Solitude is sought where as isolation, in my mind, is something that is put upon someone without giving them a say in the situation.  In this scenario the isolation that results from sensationalism is something associated with fear.  Fear of the unknown.

If you're in a relationship or a friendship with a Veteran, and they have a bad episode with their PTSD, the chances are that you will already know that giving them their space is the best thing to do.  Never push them emotionally or threaten them with violence.  Talk calmly and respectfully and walk away ... without closing the door on them. Let them know that you're still there for them and give them their space.  They'll come back and talk to you when they can - if they want to ... it might be in an hour, a day, a month, a year or longer.  It will depend on the severity of the their reaction to what happened ... and on the context of your interaction with them.

The world of the military is 'Black & White', most Veterans with PTSD live the same way.  It's the only way they know how to be, the only way they can cope.  The 'Grey' that exists in civillian worlds isn't understood or respected.  Mind games are never tolerated, direct and open communication are valued.  If you remember these simple rules, you hopefully won't have a problem if you're ever in a situation with anyone afflicted by PTSD.  If you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, leave 'gently' and allow things to calm down before returning to them.

If you work for a company or organisation, remember that Veterans may not be perfect, but when 'debriefing' yourself about an incident involving a Veteran or any person suffering with PTSD (or any other health condition), ask yourself what you could have done differently to avoid an inflamed situation?  One key reason for problems will be organisations or companies acting either dishonourably or unprofessionally.  Listening but failing to 'hear' the message and take appropriate action comes under the heading of 'unprofessional'.

Military personnel are professionals when at work.  They can operate under extreme circumstances. They will recognise inappropriate or unfair behaviour in your organisation if subjected to it.  If your company does something unfair towards such a person, the chances are that there will be a reaction from the Veteran.  The counter reaction of the average company operative is to terminate the phone call or withdraw in person when a situation turns ugly.  This will serve to trigger the worst symptoms of PTSD in any individual and then consequence could be dire.  By default, all companies and organisations should be polite, helpful and respectful of the needs of ALL their customers or users.

Spare a thought for your Veterans.  Most of them aren't 'war mongers', they did a difficult job and some of them served in arenas where your safety was threatened.  Above all remember that troops go where they are ordered ... military service doesn't operate on democracy.  Remember also that many of them may be 'home' but are lost and adrift, still trying to make sense of their experiences.

I'd like to convey my thanks and respect to those of you that are or have provided care and support for Veterans over the years and have looked beyond the stereo-type; especially towards those that are our friends, relatives or partners.  You're a very important part of our lives.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Progress on website - www.wolf-photography.com

I've been finding images from trips that haven't been processed and catalogued onto the site yet - including Guacco Heron, Pied Kingfishers and Egrets from Egypt.

Other albums are being added and updated too.  Once all the new images have been added, more background work will start to make sure that any relevant keywords have been added to different images (eg mountains, trees etc) in order to help people narrow their search requirements.

On the minus side I took a hard hit on the eye while training last week that has loosened up some fluid  in the rear of my eye and caused floaters and flashes of light to appear.  Luckily there wasn't a retinal tear but it has to be monitored now as there's no cure for this and I have to be vigilant over symptoms.  I've not been out with the cameras since the incident occured, so I'm a little anxious as to how it will affect my camera work.  Let's hope some good light comes into play tomorrow so I can find out.

I'm getting itchy feet re some photography too - time for a trip somewhere!

All the best


Monday, 24 October 2011

Mammoth task ...

I've been re-writing the website over the last 2 weeks.  The changes were necessary in order to protect my Intellectual Property on my website and to work towards making my images more 'searchable' via Google etc.  I'm having problems locating a simple java/html search engine to use on my site for the specific purpose of making all of my images searchable.  If anyone knows of a good 'freeware' or a reasonably cheap  program, please drop me a message.

The maintenance image warning of ongoing work has been removed and the site should be fully operational again.  Please do report any dead links or missing images?

The work's taken my mind off my injuries and allowed me to rest my body for a little while.  Unfortunately, the pain's been getting worse in the newer injury areas.  I'm having serious concerns about the grading that I'm working towards in December - will my body be able to move properly and do what's required?  There's only one way to find out.

On the plus side, I've seen more of the kingfishers and am looking at ways of getting specific types of action shots.  While tolerant of the hide, kingfishers are still wary of humans and it's a time consuming process that makes use of more than my allocated share of luck; so it's good when other photographers are there for the same thing - perhaps our accumulated luck will give us what we desire.

Have a pleasant evening.


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cold day...

The temprature's definitely been more like autumn or even mild winter today.

I spent my time between watching and photographing fallow deer at Wollaton and Kingfishers.  It was agony though as the accupuncture makes the pain worse before settling it to a managable level.

I was watching 'One Eye' fight another stag. They walked around together, side by side, but every now and then one of them would initiate an attack. The antlers of a Fallow Deer can be just as deadly as a Red Deer when you watch how they use them. After the fight they simply walked back to the herd together and One Eye carried on bellowing at the other deer and keeping the stags away from his harem.

I had 5 sightings of the Kingfisher today but it didn't settle long enough for me to get a shot.  Fingers crossed for next time.

I've spent the evening plugged into a TENS machine which helps a lot.  I must remember to take some hand warming pads out if I head out tomorrow.  I'm hoping to be able to train at the dojo on Friday.

Bon nuit,


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Fighting on...

I had my accupuncture today ... and not before time.  The pain's been off the scale this week.  I saw my pain consultant today as well and I'm being encouraged to stop practising Karate.  I can't though.  Have you ever done something in your life that feels 'right'?  You click with it?  That's how I've always felt about Karate.  I wish I'd been able to afford to grade etc when much younger.

I'm at the stage where I was in 1995,  Getting ready for a 1st dan grading.  Except then I was hit by a stolen motor vehicle that found me in it's path on the other side of a hump backed bridge.  I was waiting for traffic to clear.  An elderly couple were slowly getting out of a taxi.  My son was dozing in the back in his baby chair.  He was about 8 or 9 months old at the time I think.  He may have been older. 

I was on my way to pick up my ex partner from work.  The taxi hadn't parked properly so oncoming traffic couldn't clear the spot either.  My steering lock was on full lock to the right and I was waiting for a gap to escape in.

The next second my mind registered that moment that says something dangerous is about to happen and I saw a flash of light in the rear view mirror and a split second later my ears were tinkling with that odd cacophony of twisting metal and breaking glass.  My car was an old Ford Escort mark 2 with no head rest.  I was later told that my fitness through karate was what saved my life as the whiplash was severe, so severe that it still affects me now, 11 years later.

I remember getting out of my car and the red mist descending over my vision.  I ripped open the driver's door as he was trying to make his getaway and grabbed him by his throat and started to lift him out of the vehicle.  He floored the accelerater and my grip on him was broken as he sped away.  I don't remember seeing his face ... I just remember feeling, 'you could have killed my baby boy'.

My car was badly smashed up but I chased him for 2 or 3 blocks before my son's cries got through the red haze and I seemed to be coming out of the mist.  Then the pain hit me.  It started around my neck and then radiated down both arms and it was severe.  I started shaking owing to the seveity of it and the onset of shock.  I saw a telephone box and stopped by it and called for a police unit and an ambulance and then set to calming my son down.  Those baby seats are brilliant; Joshua was fine, just shaken up.  I couldn't lift him though as I now couldn't move my fingers or my hands and all I could do was talk to Josh, my arms limp by my sides and the most severe pain was ringing my neck.

The ambulance arrived first and strapped me down to a stretcher to immobilise my neck as they feared any movement could have serious consequences at this point.  Josh started crying again and the medics couldn't calm him.  I told the medic to put him on my chest which he reluctantly did ... and Josh calmed down straight away.  My boy was safe and I was grateful.  We blue lighted it to the hospital, where they examined me, kept me in for a few hours and then released me with some heavy painkillers and a soft collar for my neck.

For the next few days I couldn't grip anything to dress myself and the pain killers were pretty useless.  I was Josh's primary carer in those days, around my part time job with Kingswood Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).  I was their tribunal case worker and my workload was always a heavy one.

I remember going back to work ASAP and swallowing the pain and trying my best to ignore the discomfort it caused.  The armed forces attitude of 'go'til you drop' got me through it.  Incidentally, it was owing to the difficulties caused by this road accident that a very switched on GP interviewed me and referred me to the appropriate mental health team.  After some probing they told me that I had been suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since serving in Northern Ireland between 1983-1985.  This was a moment of enlightenment regarding an earlier chapter of my life and the missing pieces of the jigsaw about my past clicked together for the first tiem in over a decade.  The MoD had never conducted a discharge medical on me, even though my Sergeant was aware of ertain difficulties I was experiencing close to my time of leaving.

I don't think it was all that long before I went back to Sensei Ed Stark's Dojo in Bristol.  The problem was that every punch and kick I did felt like it was re-tearing the injury.  I was told that I had a severe soft tissue trauma of the neck.  I kept trying to train but the pain was too much and I felt I was going one step forward and two steps back at all times.  I had no option bu to stop training.  It wasn't long before I moved back to Cornwall again.  A job came up as Manager of Truro CAB and I went for it and took the post.

I went back to train at the Newquay KUGB dojo that I had done all my gradings with until 1992 or 1993.  We'd gone up to Plymouth to be graded by Sensei Otah every 3 months and then 6 months for the 1st kyu grading.  Unfortunately my body was still generating too much pain and I couldn't do any consistent training, as the pain was too much and it kept ripping open the old wounds.

My pain consultant asked me about the Karate today, and why I wouldn't consider doing something like Tai Chi instead.  I told her that I need this one battle.  If I can get my 1st dan, I can slow down the training after to a more realistic level for my injuries ... but between now and December I have to be resigned to maximum pain.  Unfortunately, the pain got so severe on Sunday that it stopped my 'flow' with a kata as the pain was making me tense way too much on some moves and I ended up in a downward spiral.

The grading is a battle within - it's as if I'm saying something to the Road Accident - maybe I'm making a statement to myself.  I'm not as sharp as I was in those earlier years - I'm older, still in a lot of pain and my short term memory's been severely affected by the PTSD.  I don't know even know if I'll be able to do the grading if there's a break between segments as the pain gets a lot worse if there's a break or a lot of pauses between movement.  My body starts to lock up and stiffens really quickly ... to the point that I can hardly walk without a high degree of pain.  But I don't show it if possible ... Veterans' pride; we walk tall and whenever we can ... and some of us have faced worse things.

I have had to accept something today though: I can't keep pushing my body to this level.  It stops me doing my therapeutic work ... which is what I live for as it helps me to cope with the PTSD which is my main disability.  I also have to retain some degree of mobility to be able to interact with my children and I don't want to end up in a wheelchair being a burden to them.  So I know that I may never be able to do another grading again after this one.  I'll try my hardest though and will see what happens in December.

I suppose I'd better get on with some work ...

Have a pleasant evening.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Confusion reigns...

Do you ever get one of those days where there's so much going on in your head that you end up on a full stop?

All the old skills of prioritising the workload, taking frequent breaks, taking a break to walk into the garden or to do a few sit ups, none of them seem to help today and the brain feels 'sluggish'.  Maybe I need a lettuce leaf or something.

The website rebuild is truly a numbing task.  I'm halfway through the process of rebuilding all the image albums.  I've had to change all of the image names, redo the keywords and make the new titles 'searchable' because I want to place a search engine on my site that will help visitors locate specific images as well as catering for the visitors that are happy to spend time browsing my site (http://www.wolf-photography.com/).

I also setup a limited company to protect the company name and am working on other areas to protect the business name.  If my son or daughter decide to take over the business in the future, I want the structure to be correct and protected for them.  The limited company will be dormant and I'll continue operaing as a sole trader unless things do actually pick up one day.  It would nice to be able to break even at the end of every financial year ... but that hasn't happened to date.  I remind myself that art and profit don't always go hand in hand and that I'm grateful if I can earn enough to keep working.

A legal issue from my past that needs to be addressed is to the fore but the way forward for me to get satisfaction and closure is cluttered with red tape.  The implications are a constant drain on my soul but it's something that I can't let go of.  Sometimes something can happen that goes beyong 'wrong' or 'unjust' and needs tackling.

Work is moving slowly on the exhibition front.  I've gotten behind as I had to rebuild my PC and then reinstall all the programs I use, as well as retrieving my data from backup sources.  It's all here and working now.

Karate is moving along at a reasonable pace.  I'm not sure whether I'm improving as the existing injuries are getting worse and I seem to be picking up new ones every now and then.  There are times when I can feel the old flow and times when everything locks up and I can't move my body because the muscle memory is pulling my body one way and the mind is telling it to do something else.  I do my best though and my Sensei's aware of my difficulties and doesn't make me feel inadequate in anyway as a result of my disabilities.  It was good to hear some of the club members talking about ethos, honour and responsibility as we sat around a table supping on blackcurrant and sodas.  The 'Dojo Code' lives within them.  It takes me back to the first dojo I ever trained in.  I think it was at Humberstone Gate, in Leicester.  The whole class would say the Dojo Code out loud before the class started.  I'd attend in my ATC uniform, change into a t-shirt and jogging pants and train at the session before heading  off to a cadet session with 51 Squadron of the Air Training Corps (I was preparing to join the Royal Air Force).  I couldn't afford a 'gi' (karate suit) in those days and used to use my work money to pay for karate lessons and other bits and bobs.  I couldn't afford the licence or grading fees either.  It was good of the Sensei to let me train there.

The memories come flooding back:  Going to school early to tidy up the classroom - which also doubled as our chess club, going to work in the chip shop straight after for 50p an hour and then going home to do my homework before finally heading to bed for about 2am.  I realised my dream though and escaped an abusive home environment on 11 March 1981, the day I set off for basic training at RAF Swinderby.

I am grateful though: I have a home, I have clean water and food ... and I can still continue to do my creativity.  Spare a thought for those that have none of the above.

I need a break  - somewhere with clean air and near mountains.

Onward and upward - I hope your day is a good one.


Saturday, 1 October 2011

Dreamshots of Kingfishers ...

Imagine the scene: a high pitched tweet a blur of blue and orange and it's gone!  That's all most people get to see of kingfishers as they fly off on the hunt for small fish.

I was very fortunate the other day.  I was in a place that I'd been using since spring to try and photograph these amazing hunters.  Yesterday it paid off!

I met a fellow photographer in the morning who told me that he'd got some good shots of a kingfisher in the morning.  I met him about 10:30am.  Four hours later I was blessed with this site:

I was lucky enough to watch this lovely creature catch a fish, kill it and then eat it.  The full sequence is on  http://www.wolf-photography.com/albums/Wolf%20Photography%20-%20Nature%20-%20Kingfishers/index.html.  The first two images are of a kingfisher in Cornwall.  The rest are from the other day.

I still haven't gotten over the shots myself.  Everytime I load them up they make me smile from deep within.



Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Get ready for winter...

It's looking like it's going to be another bad winter.  The indications are there already:  many wild garden birds are on their second or third clutches and the berries are looking bigger and brighter.  I guess there's another sign that I'll be watching for - the colouring of the autumn leaves.  If you get really lovely colours in autumn leaves, it's another sign of a harsh winter to come.

Here are some things that we can do:

Put wood chipping over your plants - especially if all your plants are in pots like mine.
Put the more vulnerable species of plants against the walls of your house and bubble wrap the pots.
Leave piles of logs and some clay pots covered with fallen leaves for frogs, toads and newts to hide in.
Put up a bat box if you've seen bats flying in your area at night.
Make a hedgehog shelter if you've seen them frequent your garden.
Leave places for insects to hide - more log piles etc.
Leave plenty of water out for garden birds (thirst during winter is one of the biggest killers of garden birds).
Put up your bird feeding stations and think about what they need to get through winter.

As for the foods they like, this is my list just through observing the different species in my garden:

General bird seed: sparrows
Nyjer seed: greenfinch, goldfinch
Black sunflower seeds: sparrows, bullfinch, great tit, coal tit, blue tit
Fat balls: sparrows, blue tits, long tailed tits
Suet pellets: robins, sparrows
Mealworm: robins, sparrows, starlings
Peanuts: great tit, coal tit, blue tit, great spotted woodpecker, grey squirrel
Bread: black birds, thrush, crows, wood pigeon, collared doves, magpies
Baby slugs: frogs and toads
Wood chippings will allow insect to survive as well which will feed some of the above.

As for me, autumn's the time I contemplate the last year and ponder the lessons learned, as well as the changes that I want to make ... that I can make.  Winter's the time when I plant the seeds of those changes for the year to come ... while withdrawing more into the den of the wolf.

Feel free to add your own observations re animal info and what they eat etc.

All the best


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Protecting your Intellectual Property Rights on Facebook...

Do you use Facebook?  Do you upload photographs and videos on the site?  Did you know that by doing so you are granting them a licence to use your images and videos commercially not just for themselves but to any other commercial company worldwide?  This means that they could be selling your images on and violating your rights under the Human Rights Act.

If you want your images protected and your copyright respected ... click the 'Like' button on http://www.facebook.com/RespectIP.

Everyone has copyright, not just professionals.  You have automatic rights of copyright assigned to certain things that you create.

Protect your images and videos and join the cause.  All you have to do is click 'Like' on the page above ... simple.



Saturday, 10 September 2011

Using martial arts to control PTSD ...

It can play havoc with my physical injuries but there's no denying that training in a good 'Dojo' that operates within the structure of a national organisation helps me to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I train with Sensei Rob Manning at the South Notts Shotokan Karate Club which operates under the umbrella of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB).

One of the problems with PTSD  is that the body sometimes reacts before the mind has had time to analyse the situation.  To give you an example, a friend was once play fighting with me and without my consent.  I said that I didn't want to but he didn't listen. After the second strike to my body I stopped him in his tracks with a throat strike.  I didn't want to do it, I hadn't planned to do it ... my body reacted independently with a light throat strike that stopped him in his tracks.  I'm sure there are experts out there that will argue that your body can't act without thought.  I have a question for them - do you consciously instruct your sphincter to open when you're having a dump or is it a function that the body just does?  It's the same with self defence - the moves become embedded deep within you.

Every now and then I meet a civillian that doesn't know anything about me and chooses to taunt me or to threaten me.  My biggest fear is hurting someone through an automatic reaction.  As veterans we're used to reacting without thought.  I guess that was part of the conditioning at basic training.

I've been training with the KUGB since 1991.  I took a long break owing to a serious road accident.  The injuries are still with me and cause problems when I train but it's worth the pain because of the way that it helps me have a 'safety catch' over the PTSD 'triggers' that I live with.  The main reason for this is the spiritual side of Karate and the associated culture:


Exert oneself in the perfection of character

Be faithful and sincere

Cultivate the spirit of perseverance

Be respectful and courteous

Refrain from impetuous and violent behaviour

You may find difficulties with regards to short term memory problems or perhaps your body will lock because your reflex action is to do one thing while your mind wants you to do something else ... but it's worth perservering.

If you live with PTSD, irrespective of whether or not you're a veteran,  give Karate a go ... it can help you in a number of ways.  It helps me.


A lot has changed since this piece was written.  I achieved Shodan, gained my instructor qualification and opened up a dojo in North Nottingham.  Please see www.meiyo.co.uk.  If you live with PTSD or have had a bad experience that you survived or affected you in some other way ... please feel free to come in to the dojo and have a chat.

I still train at least twice a week and I learn from different senseis in the region or further afield.  The learning never stops!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Bird Feeding issues with squirrels in the garden ...

The season's changing and autumn approaches.  A young photographer expressed his frustration at squirrels getting to the bird food on his feeders and asked for advice on how to deter them.  This might be relevant to you ... anyway, it made for a light moment as well as relelvant advice:

"I have the same problem. I got around it by using a metal bird feeding station and caged feeders. I also created a square patch under the feeders and filled it with soil so that the dropped seeds can be picked up by other birds (no cementing necessary - just push a few breeze blocks together and put the soil in. It should look lovely with sunflowers in the summer).

Re the feeders - you can try these:

http://www.streetendfeeds.co.uk/productdetails.asp?id=359 for peanuts (I hammer my nuts to make it easier for the birds to get at them) (no double entendre intended here! Plus I wouldn't refer to women as birds and I don't want to hear about a young man at Casualty/ER with a hammer and bruised body parts!).

http://www.streetendfeeds.co.uk/productdetails.asp?id=421 for other seeds including sunflower seeds.

For fatballs - I found a similar cage but put a thinner container inside it to stop the squirrel getting to the fat balls in case they transfer anything harmfull through their saliva when eating.

The squirrels leave my feeders alone now."

Good luck ;)


Friday, 2 September 2011

Democracy in action - NOT!

Artists who rely on copyright were given an opportunity to submit evidence to the UK Business, Innovation and Skills Committee which will begins its review of Hargreaves Report.

Hargreave's recommendations completely ignored moral rights as assigned to artists by 2 different forms of Human Rights Legislation:

It is right that my work should be protected by the law. United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 27 (2) states:

'Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary

or artistic production of which he is the author.' Please click here for more information on this subject http://www.stop43.org.uk/pages/news_and_resources_files/9f95e713e47225fa4d19f9a80ee738a2-107.php

It follows that any proposed legislation to enable the commercial use of orphan works or the extended collective licensing of copyright works, which is intended to result in a copyright holder in practice being 'deprived of his possessions' without his knowledge or consent (which Mr. Justice Arnold has judged to be the consequence for rightsholders of piracy of their copyright work) would breach Article 1 of the First Protocol of the Human Rights Act 1998.

Interestingly the Human Rights Act 1998 restrains the Government from introducing legislation that is not compliant with human rights legislation, and indeed reading Section 6 it may be unlawful for civil servants even to draw up such legislation. When asked at a pre-consultation meeting on 23rd August 2011 attended by Stop43, among others, Matt Cope of the Intellectual Property Office confirmed that new UK legislation must be compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998.

Here's the sting in the tail:  having spent the last few days networking with colleagues in the Artists Bill of Rights, http://the1709blog.blogspot.com/, http://www.creatorsrights.org.uk/, http://www.stop43.org.uk/ and the NUJ, The Arts Council, the Disability Alliance, The Art House, Embrace Arts and more - we find ourselves in a rediculous situation - the mailbox at biscom@parliament.uk where the submissions need to go is FULL!

The cynical amongst us may feel that this has been a purposeful act.  I can't comment.  If you have taken the trouble to do a submission - PLEASE send it in by recorded delivery post guaranteed arrival for Monday, to:

Committee Assistant

Business, Innovation and Skills Committee
Committee Office
House of Commons
7 Millbank

In the meantime, colleagues are working on getting Parliamentary staff to address the email issue.

All the best


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Time for all artists to get invloved in the Government Review of Hargreave's Copyright Proposals

The UK government committee is about to review Hargreaves copyright proposals. The select committee is populated by MP's who appear to have little knowledge or interest in the world of online business, orphan works, copyright clearance etc. If you care about the issues as artists, please write to these MP's to educate them ASAP.

Your submission can be sent by email and doesn't have to be a huge document, in fact short, relevant submissions are better. We have until Monday 5 September to make written submissions to the UK Business, Innovation and Skills Committee which will begins its review of Hargreaves recommendations and the government's plans to implement them.

If Hargreaves is implemented this is how the UK landscape will look to artists -

•The moral rights of authors will still not be automatically granted as in other EU countries.
•Moral rights will still not be made unwaivable as in other EU countries.
•There will still be no sanctions for the removal of digital copyright information from digital works.
•Orphan works will be used for commercial purposes.
•That remedies for unauthorised use will be restricted for those who have not registered their works.
•Creators are not given a level playing field with industry in contract and other matters.
•Artists rights will still not be recognised as human rights.

The implications are just as dire for all artists using any form of digital storage for their art (eg writers, photographers, musicians etc).

The above could be the synopsis of a horror story, we should fight to prevent this. We have published a simple step by step guide to making a submission to this committee at http://bit.ly/qKN8Fq

I know this is a pain, but it is important, and we have made it as easy as possible for you short of writing the submission for you. It has to be in your own words, but we have given you all the info you need to do this.

Remember, the last day for submission to the UK committee is close of business on Monday 5th of September 2011, you have time to do this, your help is needed, and from all your creative colleagues.



Thursday, 25 August 2011

Online PC Doctor Scam

Had a phone call like the one on this link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOn0vW5814g from a company calling themselves 'Virtual PC Doctor' from India?  DO NOT engage them in any dialogue, DON'T give them your credit card details.  DO NOT under any circumstances allow them to remotely connect to your computer.  They will try to trick you into doing this by getting you to check a system report that will show errors.  Those errors have always been on your system and it works fine, so don't be reeled in by this.

DO NOT go to a website that is http://ww w.support.me/.

DO make a note of their name, telephone number, confirm their company name, try to find out how they got your phone number.  Ring your internet service provider (ISP), register the matter as a 'scam' and ask your ISP to investigate the matter.

If you feel that you have been taken advantage of and have given the company any of your personal details - especially credit/debit cards - you must contact your bank or building society straight away and cancel your current cards and request replacements.  You may also want to contact your local police force and lodge a complaint with them.

Please tell your friends and family about this scam straight away!

Be safe,


Saturday, 20 August 2011

British politics through the eyes of a Veteran ...

I see a lot of pain nowadays, physical, emotional, spiritual.  It multiplies with the number of humans that come onto the planet.  Events like the recent riots in England add to the cyclone of negative energy that can affect lives in ways so deep that sometimes the fight back to something that some people would term as 'normal' simply isn't possible.  That doesn't stop people trying though.

But what is 'normal'?  Does it actually exist?  Isn't it a subjective analysis based on our own attitudes, values and frames of reference which are an amalgamation of our own life experiences?  I smile when I see people use the word 'normal' because in the area of human life experience it doesn't exist.  There are too many variations and at an age when we should be celebrating diversity and exercising tolerance, many people still seek solace in division and xenophobia.  The Romans ruled through the policy of 'divide and conquer' and our governments still use the same policy.  While we're divided on our expectations of society, nobody wins, progress is slowed down to a crawl and we keep repeating old patterns as the pendulum of power swings back and forth from one extreme to the other which is wasteful and non-progressive as we trudge along entrenched in the wheel tracks of our former mistakes...rather than coming together and examining our mistakes, learning from them and moving forward in an energy of mutual respect, awareness and tolerance. 

The same pendulum that gave so many rights to children over and above those needed to stop abuse by failing to differentiate between abuse and discipline, broke down family units, gave us rioters and brought heart ache to local communities.  One can understand the calls asking for 'National Service' to be reintroduced to provide some discipline into our youth accross the board.

This is the second time that the tories have been in power in my lifetime that I know of.  I remember seeing the riots, education, social and medical care cuts, the loss of many industries, the privatisation of national services and nation of inventors and industrialists were brought to their collective knees.  The unions were rendered less affective and, I feel, never recovered and traded sides; more and more of their membership suffering because political decisions were made on some cases rather than fighting on moral and legal grounds.

Politics became more deadly than the sword as those too weak to do their own fighting relied on the greed of others to supply fighters, either through the promise of wealth or ideology.  As technology advanced, it became easier to start wars, sacrifice our youth and hide behind lies in the halls of power, safe in the knowledge that contacts in positions of influence would save you should anything untoward happen.

And we're still doing it.  Some western powers in fear of not being able to supply natural resources to sustain the current habits of its populace with regard to the consumption of gas and oil have, I feel, created scenarios and manipulated events to further their goals: the acquisition of more natural resources and the maintenance of a global intelligence service.  If it was a global intelligence network for the greater good, I wouldn't have a problem with it ... but everything in this day and age is materially driven whe it comes to war, otherwise we'd have combatants in war torn countries of Africa instead of UN 'observers'.

Enter the common man or woman in uniform.  Some chose the life as a vocation, some through the love of violence and others for whom being an honourable peace-keeper in defence of their own realm or the protection of people under their duties as members of the United Nations...but all of whom are subject to misuse by politicans, some returning with emotional and/or physical scars.

Can you imagine how some of them feel as they return home to be ridiculed, ostracised and discriminated against?  Some are labelled as lovers of violence when they've never hurt anyone during their service, others are considered 'blinkered' in their views because they chose to don the uniform.  Others will be stereo-typed because they have the same ethnic appearance as the 'enemy'.  The most common thing that a veteran will feel if left unsupported, is betrayal.  You don't have to be a veteran to understand how that feels, it happens in families, relationships, work and business all the time.  The difference is that the veteran, by signing on the dotted line said, 'I understand that I may have to pay the ultimate price while wearing this uniform...that I may lose my life...and I am ready to do so'.  Doesn't that same system have a duty to care for the people that survive but end up in difficult circumstances as a result of their service?  The system could argue that it does provide adequate care and support.  My experience suggests otherwise.

What's the average age of our people in conflict situations?   I don't know nowadays but in my day it was 19.  We're still developing as children at 19.  Some cultures say that a male isn't regarded as a man until he reaches 40.  When I look back over the experience that I've accumulated over my life time, I agree with that sentiment.  Our societies create a lot of smoke screens and the majority of people don't have the ability or the inclination to seek the truth of the matter.  Ignorance can be bliss.  Our politcal rug has had so much dirt swept underneath it that it resembles a huge hill.

How do we move forward from such a situation?  The first stage has to be for the populace to make democracy an effective tool rather than a toy given to the masses to pacify them.  The next thing that has to go is 'one party government'.  How can we have a governement that represents our people as a collective if they're only providing policies and services that only serve a fraction of the populace?

If you look back over the last three decades or so there has been a pattern in british policies: Labour build up core services until there's a recession pending and the Conservatives then come in and reduce the nation's expenditure making brutal cuts until it's time to hand over the reigns again. 

How would british politics look if we had 'proprtional representation'?  Would such a government be able to take a holistic over view of any situation affecting the nation and so govern more carefully and wisely rather than have a blinkered approach dictated by a single manifesto?

Would it mean less avoidable deaths of armed forces personnel or perhaps the sanctioning of force where it's actually needed to protect people?

Greed and materialism sustained by corruption and fear are at the heart of the nation's problem.  You only have to look at the events of the last few years to see how many people in positions of power have abused their roles.

My feeling is that, like councillors, MPs shouldn't be paid. They should get an honorarium and their travelling expenses.  It should be an honour to serve your country as a politician, not a means to feather your own nest.  I realise that there are some 'honest' politicians out there in different walks of life but experience suggests that they're in a minority.

Have a good Saturday...


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Discount period ends soon...

I'm offering discounts on all my products to people and organisations that have clicked 'Like' on http://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer.

Full details of the plan are on: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=231443733564594. It's my way of saying 'thank you' for supporting me.

The discount period ends on 18 Aug 2011 at 23:30 hrs GMT.

Please drop me a message here or on Facebook if you have any questions.



Thursday, 11 August 2011

Discounts for Facebook users...

As a thank you to those of you that continue to support my work, there will be periodic discounts on books and prints for those of you that have clicked 'Like' on http://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer on Facebook.

How it will work:

The discount periods will last 1 week and be publicised as an 'Event'. Simply send me an email at: wolf (at) wolf-photography.com and tell me what you want to buy, having located the image on http://www.wolf-photography.com/. You'll need to tell me the name of the album and the image if it's a print. If it's a copy of my book - Words of a Wolf, just state whether you're a UK or Worldwide customer. Please state that you've clicked 'Like' there and the order will be processed through Paypal when you're verified on the 'Like' list.

Once we've confirmed what you'd like to buy, I'll generate a Paypal money request. The same terms and conditions apply to these sales. Once an order has been placed, it can't be cancelled as third party companies are involved. By placing an order, you agree to the terms and conditions of business on: http://www.wolf-photography.com/html/terms.html.

For discount prices and full details, please go to: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=231443733564594.

The first 'discount event' is live now: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=258667000828570

Many thanks

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Tailoring Facebook to my needs...

It's been an interesting view days of testing out new coding and trying to find an effective way of using Facebook (FB) to it's fullest potential on my website.  Originally I had FB pages for my book and my photography as two sepeate interests.  I have since amalgamted both pages and have just one FB page now:  http://www.facebook.com/Wolf.Photographer.  So please come and support me by hitting the 'Like' button and become a 'follower' of this blog too.

I've used the coding to create a stream on my website to keep visitors up to date with events, images and thoughts.  I'm very pleased with the way that it looks.  This isn't a replacement for the blog as the updates are limited in terms of numbers of characters allowed.  The 'full article',  if there is one, will still be on the blog.  Thanks Facebook!

Time to get some shut eye...



Thursday, 4 August 2011

Royal Photographic Society (RPS) closes forum discussion at the mention of racism and WW2...

As part of the discussion on an RPS thread on the issue surrounding Intellectual Property, I made the following response to address the comments, "We can't turn the tide", "The world has changed and we can do nothing about it" & "Images are readily available".

That kind of attitude would have lost us WWII, would never have addressed racism in this country through the 'Race Relations Ammendment Act' and would allow countless other forms of morally wrong actions to still be done without some recourse. It is also a very narrow view in that considering images only is ignoring the abuses that are foisted on other creative disciplines, such as musicians and writers. Campaigning for ethical, moral, and legal principles is always right, no matter how tough the task. Once you stop doing that the rule of law breaks down and dishonourable behaviour is given free scope. Associations representing creative people should be doing their utmost to protect their members 'Intellectual Property' rights.

The paragraph was demonstrating that sometimes we know that the battle for change is an uphill struggle ... but we have to get on with it and do what needs to be done to facilitate the change and restore a degree of morality to a practise that is damaging the world of the artist.

I was quite alarmed to read the following responses:

"Undoubtedly - but I would be very careful about comments like this - not everyone agrees that there are ethical / moral / legal issues at stake here, so either you are lumping those people with Nazis / racists etc. (which is very dodgy ground!) or you have to accept that not everyone has the same view and therefore you can not claim an absolute ethical / moral / legal position..."


Wolf there is no censorship involved here, the last thread you raised on this topic was closed by me as the argument had gone round in circles at least twice and no new information was forthcoming.

I will remind you however, that incorporating comments on World War II and racism is inappropriately emotive in this context, and any further use of similar language in a post will result in that post being pulled. You are obviously very passionate about this subject, but please keep your comments within bounds.

and last but not least:

It's good that you have taken the time to express yourself on the forum and your issues have indeed been noted and will be passed on to the council.

However, I don't think that  ******  has acted out of hand in his comments. He has replied to your comment from his own perspective as a photographer and has only switched to "Moderator Mode" when you started bringing WWII and racisim into the thread (Ed - which is chronologically incorrect when one examines the thread).  Which I have to agree is going too far on a photography forum.

I have to admit to feeling lost here as to how three seemingly reasonably educated people couldn't grasp the comments within the context they were written.

How is mentioning two examples of difficult struggles for changes that benefitted modern day society 'going too far'?  No one accused anyone of being a racist or fascist.  So why the spin? 


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Lulu and copyright infringement..

'Words of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran' was published last year.  It's a collection of images and poems that I put together to shed some light on living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Part of the process was to do a quality control check by examining samples from different printers.  One of which were 'Lulu' (http://www.lulu.com/).  Lulu have a london office but are an american company.  I looked at producing two versions of the book with them: paper and an eBook.

The paper version was of a very low quality compared to the UK company that I eventually went with.  The eBook was acceptable.

However, before launching any major campaign re the book in the USA, I had to get some tax paperwork sorted out and had to apply for a tax number under the USA Inland Revenue guidelines or I would lose 30% of any royalties by default as tax payments.  There are certain tax provisions between the USA and the UK that allow this to be addressed and I followed Lulu's initial advice and went down the route, filled out the necessary forms and a few months later - voila!  I had my US tax number.  Lulu now failed to provide adequate advice on what to now do with it - which was a complete turn around after my initial enquiries into the matter.

The matter was complicated, convoluted and stressful.  So I contacted Lulu and deleted all my projects with them and asked for all my associated 'coprighted' files to be deleted.

First they said,

Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2011 19:16:37 +0000

From: existing_ticket@lulu.com

To: Wolf
Subject: [ ref:00D56zQ]
Dear Villayat,

 Thank you for your reply. All of your projects have been deleted. Some of the files that are in your account cannot be deleted in the full sense of the word. They are tied to the orders that were placed in the system and deleting them would be harmful to the file database. When you close your account, all files inside of the account are locked away with that account.

We will never access these files; they remain stagnate in the system. You retain all copyright rights to your book. We will not use or distribute the files once the account is closed. We are sorry, but once the files used in a project have been tied to an order, there is no way to delete them. The best we can do is quarantine them if you like. This will place them in a file-system of no return. Please let me know if you would like us to quarantine your files; it is as close to deleting them as we can do. I hope you have a wonderful day.

 Kind Regards,

 David K.

Lulu Enterprises, Inc.

Now bearing in mind that I am both the author and publisher of the book and had sufficiently copyrighted the material, I was a little annoyed with their failure to respect my copyright and wrote the following response:

Morning David,

I'm writing in response to your email from my business email address. I suggest you escalate this matter to a manager.

I don't accept your (Lulu's) reasoning or excuse for not deleting my files.

The only reason that Lulu could have to not delete a person's files would be to keep them for future use when the copyright protection runs out.

I'm a member of the Royal Photographic Society and the European News Agency.

Copyright is a very hot issue right now.

I want my files deleted ASAP. You have no customers around these 2 publications apart from me, your records and mine coroborate this fact. I purchased copies to 'quality control' the product. You are not authorised to sell any of my books. You therefore have no reason to keep my files on record.

I draw your attention to my copright notice contained within both titles:

'All poems and images remain the ©copyright of the author, Villayat Sunkmanitu. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means: electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.'

You do not have my authority to store my work. Your function was as a printer and distributor. I am the author and the publisher. I have worked in the IT industry for a number of years and know that there is no reason stopping you from being able to delete my work files.

I will start reporting on this issue via various outlets within 24 hours if my files are still on your system. I suggest you delete my files ASAP.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu LRPS.

The next response was from one of Lulu's managers:

Sent: 03 August 2011 16:14

To: wolf-

Subject: RE: FW: [ ref:00D56zQ6.]

Hi Villayat,

Thank you for the details and your concern. Even though you are the sole buyer of the materials, the back-end systems do not allow deletion as they are tied to an order and allow us to remain compliant in auditing situations. Technically you are correct, a file can be deleted from the servers manually. This is not normal practice for us when someone closes an account.

Once you close your account, or when you make your content Private access only, we are no longer able to distribute or sell the content, regardless of the files stored in our internal systems. This is against the member agreement, and we never claim to have copyright access to files made available on our site by our authors. That is what we are all about, author control of copyright.

As you mention, we store and distribute based on how you set up your projects. Again, once "deleted" or put in Private access only, we will not sell or distribute to ANYONE or any channels, whatsoever.

At your request, we will quarantine your content as David suggested to ensure no one within Lulu can access the files, which would be against our policy, regardless.

Have a nice day.

Rachel Braynin

Manager, Customer Voice.

So, my files relating to the book that are protected by copyright reside on a server and the company refuses to respect my legal copyright and delete the files.

I wrote to them a few minutes ago and gave them 7 days notice to delete all my files and copied the UK Intellectual Property Office into the message, having discussed the matter with them over the phone.

Let's hope that Lulu delete the files.  Had I known that these types of problems would arise with regrds to my files relating to my titles, I never would have used Lulu and it certainly puts me off dealing with any other online printer with regards to my future books.

I found the comment 'Technically you are correct, a file can be deleted from the servers manually. This is not normal practice for us when someone closes an account', very worrying indeed and wondered if authors with Lulu realise the implications of work remaining on their servers long term.  What happens to all the written work in 70 years time?


Friday, 29 July 2011

Does the Royal Photographic Society adequately support professional photographers?

This is a question that's currently playing on my mind.  It all follows on from the debate surrounding photography competitions that harvest images for free AND assume full rights to allow them to do what they will with the images in the future.  This has a negative effect on the earning potential of a professional photographer.  Why would a company buy images if they have thousands of them saved in databases from photography competitions?

You don't need a lot of foresight or experience in the professional photography sector to see how these competitions are damaging an industry, even more so in the nation's current financial crisis.  It's a difficult enough occupation for freelancers without competition organisers pulling the rug from under their feet by immorally grabbing the rights of the image creators with terms and conditions like these:

Entrants will retain copyright for their photos. However, by submitting a photo to the competition entrants are granting a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence for their entries to be edited, published, reproduced and used by Fight for Sight and Park Plaza London hotels for any purpose, free of charge.

I wanted to discuss this matter on the RPS Forum (see http://www.rpsforum.org/index.php?/topic/11097-another-competition-grabbing-images-and-full-rights/) and to get the RPS to support the Artists' Bill of Rights (http://artists-bill-of-rights.org/).  I was left with the feeling that the thread was prematurely closed.  A discussion normally involves parties bouncing their ideas back and forth and repetition, to some degree, is inevitable...but this felt wrong and left me with the feeling that I wasn't party to some important information.

I have since found a couple of links that shed a bit more light on the issue for me, particularly on the RPS's stance on the issue:



I have to say that I was alarmed that the RPS had even considered running a competition that would have harvested images in the same way as some as these rights grabbers and was relieved to read that the organisation changed their minds after feedback from some members and other profesionals in the field.

I am left with a nagging question though ... in light of the articles on the links posted above and the split attitude towards the protection of artists rights ... do the RPS have the interests of amateur AND professional photographers at heart or are professional photographers better off with other organisations such as the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) (http://www.bipp.com/).

One of the indicators are this:  both the BIPP and the RPS are members of the The British Photographic Council (BPC).  The BIPP and the BPC openly support the Artists' Bill of Rights (ABoR) by proudly displaying their logos on the ABoR website.  The RPS won't join the campaign and I have to ask why?  The politicians within the RPS will say that they're already supporting the ABoR as the RPS are members of the BPC.  I don't accept that.  If you support a principle or cause, you should sign up to it properly.

The Artists' Bill of Rights campaign (http://artists-bill-of-rights.org/) promotes the adoption of a set of ethical standards for competitions and appeals to which creative works are submitted, for example, photographs, music, film, illustrations, graphic design and literary pieces such as stories and poems.

As a professional photographer I need to belong to one organisation that can help me to develop my photographic career and look after my interests.  The RPS is supposed to be looking after the interests of photographers, both amateur and professional.  So I find myself asking the original question: Does the Royal Photographic Society adequately support professional photographers?

What can you do to help?

Support the Artists' Bill of Rights (ABoR) by logging on to http://artists-bill-of-rights.org/ and get involved in whatever way you can owing to your time restrictions.  At the very least, follow their presence of Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artists-Bill-of-Rights/122794251148479).  This is for ALL creatives - not just photographers.

Check the Terms and Conditions of all competitions that you enter - if they state anything similar to:
Entrants will retain copyright for their photos. However, by submitting a photo to the competition entrants are granting a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence for their entries to be edited, published, reproduced and used by ....   Don't enter it!  They're harvesting images and killing the industry. Copy the webpage of such competitions onto http://www.facebook.com/pages/Artists-Bill-of-Rights/122794251148479 and give ABoR a heads up, whichever country you're in.

While you're happily clicking away at Facebook 'likes' - give my page a click too would you? http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolf-Photography/215943295114638.

All the best


Monday, 18 July 2011

The Artists Bill of Rights - The debate continues...

Some colleagues in the Royal Photographic Society feel that the Artists Bill of Rights is a bad idea because they feel the bill is not necessarily a good or democratic thing.  Others feel that photography and art are open to abuse and that's just the way it is.

For me it brought about a sense of awareness that the issues weren't being examined further than the immediate moment.  Are photographers exploited by competition organisers?  Almost certainly, though some do use very good terms and conditions of entry that don't abuse your copyright. 

If you are serious about selling your shots, you should never display them anywhere higher than 500 pixels in size and you must always have a copyright tag on the image somewhere - whether it appears as text or a watermark.

Don't be tempted to enter a competition for your image if the terms and conditions state anything that resembles the following:

"Entrants will retain copyright for their photos. However, by submitting a photo to the competition entrants are granting a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence for their entries to be edited, published, reproduced and used by Fight for Sight and Park Plaza London hotels for any purpose, free of charge."

In the world of photography you can charge companies amounts of money to use your images - please see http://www.wolf-photography.com/html/pricing.html for an example.  This is why photographers use copyright tags.  You are letting the viewer know that your work is protected by law and that they cannot use your work without your express permission, which usually requires payment.  Commercial organisations that may want your image know that they will have to pay you and they may decide to buy the image off of you to ensure other companies can't use the same image for their marketting campaigns etc.

Please remember that only difference between a professional and an amateur, in my opinion, is that one earns an income from their photography.  Amateur does not necessarily mean a lower standard photographer.  So if you know you have good shots that could be sold - do not enter competitions that abuse your rights and seek to gain your images for free.  Not only are you losing some potential income yourself, you are having a negative effect on the profession of photography.

If you'd like to follow the debate on the Royal Photographic Society's website - go to:  http://www.rpsforum.org/index.php?/topic/11097-another-competition-grabbing-images-and-full-rights/.

All the best


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Le Favole Vineyard...

One of the summer trips were spent with my friends, Ale and Sandra.  They took me to an open day at Le Favole Vineyard which was a new experience for me.

 Every year, local vineyards open their doors to the local populace as a way of thanking them for their support and sell their wine at a discounted rate.

Local businesses were in attendance and there was a nice family atmosphere to the day.  One of the local meat dishes was a particular favourite of mine...unfortunately I can't remember the name of the dish but the flavour lingers somewhere in my addled mind. 

Le Favole only produce about 50,000 bottles per annum, so they don't market within the UK. 

The factory itself is built into the side of a mountain which provides some atmospheric advantages.  I tried some of the wine (under duress as it's not my nature to consume alcohol) and was quite taken by one of the reds but toally surprised at the white wine. 

I have never tasted anything so crisp and fresh before.  I normally avoid white wine, thanks mainly to the white wines that I've had a sniff of in UK bars and restaurants in the past.  This white wine produced by Le Favole was excellent.

I'll see if I can get my friends Alessandro and Sandra to put more details on as a comment as I'm no wine expert.

If you'd like to contact the vineyard, their website is: http://www.lefavole.com/.

All the best


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Paris and Chateau d'Ecouen...

Paris is one of those places that conjures up images of romance and freedom in my mind.  I was surprised at the deep level of intergration between different ethnic groups in the city, particularly in commerce, the police and defense services.  It was a stark contrast to London.

Travel was facilitated by the 'Paris Visite Pass' which can be purchased from the airport when you land from the visitors information desk (http://www.parismetro.com/).  Make sure you get the right zones.  5 days is the maximum travel pass of this sort and for zone 6, costs around 51 Euros.  This covers you for bus, metro and the 'RER' trains (as well as some regional trains).  It also covers you to use the fernicular at Sacre Coeur.

Stock up on bottles of water locally before heading into the city.  Locally you'll pay around 23 cents for a bottle compared to 2 Euros in the city centre.  One tip re food - if you want a steak - don't order 'steak tartare'.  Steak tartare is raw minced meat with a raw egg mixed in!  I made the mistake of ordering it, expecting a lovely steak with tartare sauce.  I shrugged my shoulders when the item resembling an uncooked hamburger turned up on a plate.  My stomach complained for 2 days afterwards.

You can view the Paris album by going to:  http://www.wolf-photography.com/albums/Wolf%20Photography%20-%20France%20-%20Paris/index.html.

I used a website called http://www.homestaybooking.com/.  You sign up and find a room with a family and find a room at a cheaper rate than a hotel.  The other advantage is that you're staying with local people that have local knowledge of the various things that you might like to see. I was staying at a small town called 'Villiers Le Bel' which is approximately 20 minutes away from Central Paris by train.  So if you like avoiding noise and crowds, I'd recommend this area.  Look for the Homestay account of Annabelle Spano.  You get bed, breakfast and an evening meal, free internet access and nice people to hang out with.

Like most cities, there's always something entertaining going on in the summer months.  The 2011 Gay Pride March provided colour, contrast and an uplifting vibe.  I bumped into a new friend, Stephane, who clued me in about some of the events and helped me to find my accommodation on the first night.  Stephene works for an organisation called 'ADES' that seek to educate people about issues surrounding the condition AIDS and the various forms of discrimination affecting gay people.  Although hetrosexual, Stephane is passionate about his work with the organisation.

2011 Paris Gay Pride march images:  http://www.wolf-photography.com/albums/Wolf%20Photography%20-%20PEC%20-%202011%20Gay%20Pride%20March%20-%20Paris%20France/index.html.

The railway station Gare Du Norde was the venue for 'La Tournee Art Battles'.  Basically 4 artists square off for a 2 hour tournament to come up with a piece of art that the public then vote on.  It's the first time I'd photographed something of this nature.  You can view the album at: http://www.wolf-photography.com/albums/Wolf%20Photography%20-%20PEC%20-%202011%20Art%20Battles%20-%20Gare%20Du%20Nord%20Paris%20France/index.html.

The last album was shot at Chateau d'Ecouen.  Joe, one of my hosts at the accommodation told me about the place and that they carry out re-enactments of the era of the renaissance.  We took a drive down and I was treated to a brilliant spectacle of colour and action.  Apart from the narrative, the local drama society provided sword duels and jousting.  The sun was shining and the colours were vibrant:  http://www.wolf-photography.com/albums/Wolf%20Photography%20-%20PEC%20-%20Parcours%20-%20Spectacle%20-%20Chateau%20d'Ecouen/index.html.

I hope you enjoy the images ... and if you go to Paris, have a great time.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

The story continues ...

  1. Well, theye didn't delelte the comment AND left a reply:

    climb says:
    Thanks for your feedback Wolf,
    We ask for the rights so we can display the shortlisted entrants at the end of the competition and have the option to use some of the entries to help promote the competition again next year – we will of course credit all the photographers. If you were to ask last year’s entrants they would say we did not misuse the rights and there were no issues.
    This is an amateur competition and unfortunately not open to professionals and so won’t affect freelance income :)
  2. Hello Climb,
    thanks for your reply to my comments. I draw your attention to the relevant terms and conditions of the competition:
    Entrants will retain copyright for their photos. However, by submitting a photo to the competition entrants are granting a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual licence for their entries to be edited, published, reproduced and used by Fight for Sight and Park Plaza London hotels for any purpose, free of charge. They are also agreeing to their name, geographic location, photo and photo description being published in the My View of London online gallery and, if shortlisted, to be exhibited as part of the My View of London photo exhibition at the Park Plaza Victoria London. All prints of photos so exhibited will remain the property of Fight for Sight and Park Plaza London hotels.

    If you’re involved in this competition, your response isn’t an honest one. If you’d like to see terms and conditions of competitions that don’t steal other peoples’ creative rights – check out the Wildlife Photographer of the year competition the next time it’s on. Your current terms allow you and the hoteliers to use the images for any purpose. Are you telling me that the hoteliers will pass by opportunities to use these images for their own commercial and/or marketting purposes?
    The point of my objection is that competitions like these have a direct affect on the trade of photography as they harvest decent images from enthusiasts for no cost.
    If the competition was genuine with regards to its aims re the images – it would have stated that the images would only be used in conjunction with advertising the competition next year and that entrants would be compensated for any commercial usage.
    The fact that the competition is open to amateurs only is irrelevant. It still has a direct knock on effect on the livliehoods of photographers that are trying to earn an honest day’s pay.
    Competitions like these generate huge collections of images that form image banks for the companies involved. They need to be stopped. I have no problem with amateurs getting income from these competitions…but I have a huge problem with those that exploit the rights of creative people.
    If this competition is genuine, it needs to alter its Terms and Conditions.

    I forgot to add a very important point. In my view there is only one difference between a ‘professional’ and an ‘amateur’ photographer: ‘professionals’ rely on photography to earn an income.
    In terms of image quality, I have seen very high standards from amateurs and some very low standards from professionals.

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Osprey - Nature section
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