Sunday, February 27, 2011


The question of what public areas are okay to photograph keeps coming up in various photography discussions that I monitor. This morning I decided to find out how the FOIP (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy) Act governs the average photographer.

Apparently, every province has their own idea of what the FOIP Act means. Each province seem to have a web site dedicated to the topic. I haven't found the Federal Government's information, yet, but I did some perusing through the Alberta Government's web site where it appears the law is relevant only to records keeping organizations (medical, legal, employers, etc.).

However, there were some areas that might interest photographers. The following is what I found on the Alberta Government: Service Alberta web site. If you're interested here are pdf and html versions of the FOIP law available for viewing on the Government of Alberta Queen's Printer web site. Ignore the cost listed, just click on the pdf or html links.

To keep life simple, I guess the best idea is to follow the rule of thumb "when in doubt ask" when taking photos of people and their maybe not so public buildings.


I didn't spend a whole lot of hours looking, but here's what I've pieced together from the html version:

Purposes of this Act
2 The purposes of this Act are
(a) to allow any person a right of access to the records in the custody or under the control of a public body subject to limited and specific exceptions as set out in this Act,
(b) to control the manner in which a public body may collect personal information from individuals, to control the use that a public body may make of that information and to control the disclosure by a public body of that information,
(c) to allow individuals, subject to limited and specific exceptions as set out in this Act, a right of access to personal information about themselves that is held by a public body,
(d) to allow individuals a right to request corrections to personal information about themselves that is held by a public body, and
(e) to provide for independent reviews of decisions made by public bodies under this Act and the resolution of complaints under this Act.

personal information” means recorded information about an identifiable individual, including
(i) the individual’s name, home or business address or home or business telephone number,
(ii) the individual’s race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religious or political beliefs or associations,
(iii) the individual’s age, sex, marital status or family status,
(iv) an identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to the individual,
(v) the individual’s fingerprints, other biometric information, blood type, genetic information or inheritable characteristics,
(vi) information about the individual’s health and health care history, including information about a physical or mental disability,
(vii) information about the individual’s educational, financial, employment or criminal history, including criminal records where a pardon has been given,
(viii) anyone else’s opinions about the individual, and
(ix) the individual’s personal views or opinions, except if they are about someone else;

local public body” means
(i) an educational body,
(ii) a health care body, or
(iii) a local government body;

record” means a record of information in any form and includes notes, images, audiovisual recordings, x‑rays, books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers and papers and any other information that is written, photographed, recorded or stored in any manner, but does not include software or any mechanism that produces records;

Disclosure harmful to personal privacy

(2) A disclosure of personal information is not an unreasonable invasion of a third party’s personal privacy if
(a) the third party has, in the prescribed manner, consented to or requested the disclosure,

(3) The disclosure of personal information under subsection (2)(j) is an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy if the third party whom the information is about has requested that the information not be disclosed.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Experiment: Aperture and Depth of Field

The following is a super simple demonstration of how aperture works and how to create depth of field in your photos. If you want a little more detailed information I’d recommend reading Aperture – Everything you wanted to know but thought it was uncool to ask” by

This was originally posted to the Start to Photograph Meetup group where experienced members were welcomed to add their knowledge in the comments.

For this experiment you will need:

  • a digital camera that has an aperture priority setting (either AV or A) If you are unsure about where to find the aperture priority setting, refer to the manual that came with your camera.
  • a standard 50 mm lens (works best, but any lens you have will do)
  • a bright, consistant light source
  • 3 objects

    First, I’ll cover some basic terminology and then get into some easy step-by-step experiments that you can do anywhere.

    What is Aperture?

    Aperture is the lens shutter that opens and closes allowing a certain amount of light to reach the sensor of a digital camera or, in the case of an analog camera, the film.

    The amount that an aperture opens is the aperture size and is measured in “f-stops.” F-stops can range in size from f/1.4 to f/36. A lens with an extremely low f-stop number (like 1.4) is considered a fast lens. There is a technical mathematical reason for this. Unfortunately, because I am numerically challenged I choose to remember that the lower the f-stop number the faster the shutter speed I’m able to use. Most cameras will default to the lowest f-stop when set to Program or Automatic.

    How does Aperture work?

    Camera apertures and eyes work similarly. It’s all about letting in light. In bright light pupils are smaller to allow in only the enough amount of light needed to see everything. A photographer will use the smallest aperture on their camera to get everything they can in focus.

    In darkness pupils grow large to let in as much light as possible. Pupils also grow larger with excitement, allowing the brain to selectively focus. Ever noticed a cat’s crazy eyes when she’s about to pounce on a target? A photographer can use a wide aperture to selectively focus on their subject, as well.

    What is Depth of Field?

    When aperture settings are used to selectively focus on a subject in such a way that the area surrounding the main subject is out of focus, this is called creating "depth of field." The lower the aperture used, the more area is out of focus, the greater the depth of field.


    The following experiments will illustrate what happens when you change aperture f-stops.

    First, let’s set up:

    1. Set your camera to Aperture priority – AV or A. The camera should automatically select the proper ISO and shutter speeds.
    2. Set up your three objects so that they are about five inches away from each other in a row, one behind the other, but all still visible through your camera’s viewfinder. (Distance apart will depend also on the size of the objects. Larger objects should be placed further away from each other for this experiment to work.)

    Experiment 1

    Question: What happens when you focus on a foreground object and change the f-stop settings?

    1. Focus on the first object.
    2. Set your aperture to the lowest f-stop available for your lens.
    3. Snap the photo then look at what you shot.
    • What do you see? What happened to the other objects? What shutter speed did your camera choose?
      1. Reset your aperture to f 5.
      2. Snap the photo then look at what you shot.
      • What do you see? What happened to the other objects? Did the shutter speed change?
      1. Reset your aperture to the highest aperture setting on your camera.
      2. Snap the photo then look at what you shot.
      • What do you see? What happened to the other objects? Did the shutter speed and ISO change?

      Experiment 2

      Question: What happens when you focus on a middle object and change the f-stop settings?

      1. Focus on the second object.
      2. Repeat steps from Experiment 1.

      Experiment 3

      Question: What happens when focused on a far object and change the f-stop settings?

      1. Focus on the third object.
      2. Repeat steps from Experiment 1.

      Thursday, February 24, 2011

      centre street transit

      centre street transit, originally uploaded by Wanderfull1.

      Playing with the Pentax K-5's in-camera effects. What else is there to do when outside it's -24 with a -35 windchill?

      Sunday, February 20, 2011

      Feeling cold & alone

      untitled, originally uploaded by Wanderfull1.

      It's interesting what you can get when you keep applying "Remove Noise" in your editing. This shot is actually a cropped shot. The original photo shows shadowy buildings in the background and not so much noise removed. It has no comments, as yet. Then again, I haven't posted it to any groups, yet. So far, the best comment for this photo is, "Burr. Makes one feel cold and alone." It "makes one feel!" Wow. It "makes one feel" has got to be the best compliment!

      I've read it in photo books and I've heard it from photo instructors that making someone feel is what you strive to do when creating good photography. Still, when it actually happens... wow. It's such a thrill when my photos have an effect on others. It might not necessarily be the same thing that I felt when making the shot, but still, they FEEL! And that's something!

      Monday, February 14, 2011

      @ the Market Collective - Chris

      So, I'm at the Market Collective in Kensington, looking in on a room for the local independent film group, when two young men ask me to take photos for them. One is from a local entertainment magazine. The other is Chris, a local musician. Apparently, their photographer was AWOL and since they figured I had a good looking camera, I would be able to take good photos of Chris.

      Chris liked this ornate vintage chair. He said it reminded him of the old photos where people posed stoically. Even though I don't consider myself a portrait photographer (not great with the whole posing thing) this was fun to do.

      Unfortunately, the guy from the magazine hasn't gotten back to me about where to send Chris' photos. I figure their photographer must have shown up, he's lost my e-mail, or he hasn't gotten around to it, yet. Patience.