Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tools of the Occupation (The Camera)

One of the camera manufactures has the slogan. "Preserve the moment". Sound advice when dealing with status quo. Without a record the 1% can do anything they want and when someone kicks up a fuss, there is no record and their statement has validity.  But with a photograph or a video, well they end up looking like the lying bastards they are. Because of this a still and/or video camera is an essential tool in our struggle.

Time was, and not so long ago, all cameras were film camera. The process was you would take some pictures, drop the film off at the drug store and several days later you would get your pictures back printed on photo paper. Tricky part was there was a negative and only one or two prints. The image was not in a digital format and it was hard to share with others.

That was then, this is now. Today you would be hard pressed to find a film camera and a place to get it processed. Almost all consumer cameras are digital and they are so advanced that just about anyone can produce a reasonable picture. Not that the new digital cameras will turn your Aunt Jane into Ansel Adams but the images will be mostly in focus with a good exposure.

Since manufactures have started putting cameras in to cell phones and the price of a reasonable point-and-shoot camera is now hovering around $100.00 every activist can and should have a camera with they at all times. But just because you have a digital camera that does not mean that you can just point & shoot and get great pictures. There are a few things that you need to do to be prepared.

Batteries -- All digital camera rely on batteries. Weather your camera uses a built-in battery or replaceable batteries one needs to carry spares at all time or make sure that the internal battery is fully charged up. If your camera uses an internal, non-replaceable battery one needs to know exactly how long the battery will last. For this reason field replaceable batteries are preferable.

The lens -- The heart and soul of any camera is its lens. The better the lens the better the camera. Modern cameras come in two types when it comes to the lens; there are those that when the camera is turned off the lens retracts into the body and a shutter cover the lens. This type protects the lens from any damage when the camera is off. The down side to this is that the lens on the camera is the one you are stuck with, you can't swap it out.

The other type of camera has a lens that is not protected by a cover. These usually are the more advanced types that one can swap out the lens for another one. The way to protect this lens is to put a neutral filter on the lens. Take your camera into a camera store and ask for a neutral filter, they will know what you want. They generally cost between $10 and $15, cheap insurance for your camera's lens.

The care of a lens is critical. Never, never, ever touch the surface of the lens with your finger or anything else other than a cleaning cloth. Your fingers have oils on them that are not good for the lens coating. Get a lens cleaning cloth at a camera store, it will run you between $5 and $10, and have the people at the store show you how to use it. Then carry it with you at all times. Don't remove the neutral filter, keep it on at all times, but keep the filter spotlessly clean at all times.

The setup -- The default settings on your camera may be good enough but a quick check is a good idea. Most camera have a built-in calendar/clock, make sure yours is on and set to the correct time. The higher end cameras are starting to come with a built-in GPS, if you have this turn it on and make sure it has synced to your location.

Most cameras record the image in a JPEG format, some in a "raw" format and some record both at the same time. If your camera will record in the raw formant you do want that. Think of the raw format as a negative. There is a lot more information in a raw then a JPEG. A JPEG is a processed image and some of the information is lost in the processing.

While we are talking about image formats, you want the largest format you can get. This will preserve lots of detail so that if you blow up the image it will still be workable. Yes, they take up a lot of space but that can easily be fixed by buying the a large fast SD card for your camera. A fast, 16GB card will set you back $50 but you can get many large images on it. While at the camera store get a large memory card. They will be able to match the memory card to your camera.

Saving the image -- Now that you have the images copied from your camera to your computer its time to do a backup. You could copy the files to another directory but that is not a backup. Should the hard drive in your computer fail you have lost both copies of those images. A better solution copy the images to an external drive. A 500 GB USB external drive can be had for around $75. Yes, it is a little pricey but it is cheap insurance. Another suggestion is to use one of the on-line storage sites. Dropbox, Box and Adrive all offer free on-line storage.  A drive seems to offer the best deal.

Keeping your images on your computer at work is a bad idea. Most employers don't mind a few pictures of family members on a work computer but large numbers of images could be a problem. Most employers regularly scan the computers hard disks and these scans do get looked at.

Publishing -- The number of on-line photo site is just amazing. The big ones like flicker and photobucket offer large amounts of storage for free. A short list of other sites can be found HERE. These sites can be used to inform others of our struggle while at the same time documenting the abuses of those who attempt to shut us down.

You should choose 2 sites for your images and sign up using 2 different names and email addresses. There will come a time when the status quo will attempt to silence us by removing evidence of their deeds by compelling those sites that host our photos, videos, blogs and other materials. By having your images on multiple sites this will slow them down.

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