Tuesday, September 17, 2013

WARNING: Poor quality images on this blog

This blog is now packed full of low-res images thanks to a Posterous > Wordpress > Blogger import.

Thankfully hi-res images can be found at www.gazcook.com but on this site you will just have to squint and pretend the images are sharp*.

*NOTE: Though, strangely, if you click on an indicudal image a larger, sharp image can be seen.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Best camera mobile phones (August 2013) includes iPhone, Samsung, Nokia, Blackberry

I've done some research on the best cameras on mobile phones. I did this just so anyone wanting a good camera on the cell phone can Google this page and choose an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy or Nokia Lumia and be very happy with themselves.

And so, from the best three websites reviews I have found, comes this list:

Best five cameraphones according to Which?
1 Nokia Lumia 925
2 Apple iPhone 5
3 Samsung Galaxy S4
4 Sony Xperia Z
5 HTC One
Best six camera phones according to Techradar.com
1 Nokia 808 PureView
2 HTC One X
3 Samsung Galaxy S3
4 Sony Xperia S
5 Apple iPhone 5
6 Nokia Lumia 920
Best three camera phones according to PCAdvisor.co.uk
1 Samsung Galaxy S4
2 iPhone 5
3 Blackberry Z10
Techradar review from march 2013, which may account for the Galaxy S3 being reviewed. 
The iPhone is already renowned for its great camera. The Samsung Galaxy is obviously as good if not better. Interestingly, in Which?'s general mobile phone reviews the Samsung Galaxy comes out better than the iPhone. In my mind, this make the Galaxy the better option. It is also a cheaper alternative.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Palestiniana the book is out now

Palestiniana, my book of words and photographs, was released earlier this month (August 2013).

You can read more about it at the dedicated Palestiniana blog which is here.

But for now here is the front page and one or two images which from the book (apologies if they've been published on this blog before).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Marsden Grotto sea rescue, South Shields, South Tyneside

 Top two photographs: Police arrive on the scene and speak to the stranded man. They ascertain exactly who is stranded: two people and two dogs.

Nine police officers attended the scene on the beach, plus a police helicopter, four coastguards and four paramedics. There were other members of the emergency services up on the hilltop, taking the number of people involved in the rescue to at least over 20.

The couple were rescued by an RNLI lifeboat.

Both form Jarrow, they were Michelle Ellison and Thomas Smith. The dogs are called Spot and Alfie.

NOTE: Please don't use these photographs without permission. And don't bother asking if you want to use them for free. Any unauthorised will result in some lovely emails from the National Union of Journalists.

And this is the moment (below) when the intrepid Tom Cook attempted to rescue the stranded victims. When he saw half a dozen police officers marching down the beach he immediately began climbing down shouting: "I was only messing around." He thought the police had come to arrest him. The two kids also thought they were in trouble.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Palestiniana, the book set for release

My story, with images, on Palestine is about to be released in book form and on Kindle.

To find out more about it and to see some of the images, see Palestiniana's own blog.

The blog includes the final cover for the book, which is not the cover shown below.

This image was taken in Qalqilya, in the West Bank in November 2012.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happier days in Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey


As it all kicks off with protests, tear gas and government crackdowns, all I can say about Istanbul is that it is one of the most tourist friendly, cleanest and well-run cities I have visited.

Yes, the place is rammed full of traffic. It can take hours to get across the city in a car.

But the main city itself is easily negotiated by foot - if you don't mind hills - and has an excellent tram service.

The temples are sensational, the views across the Bosphorus brilliant. Food is sensational, culture coulorful and the city is safe. Which all makes the current (May/June 2013) troubles all the more disappointing for what is a progressive, developing nation.

Images taken in September 2011.

More on Istanbul here.

And there is also a Love Town travel video podcast This Is Istanbul here on iTunes.

Or it can be viewed online here.

DON'T READ IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR FUN IMAGES ETC: Mozilla Firefox, Apple Mac, image processing, jpegs, bleaching problem, colour profile

Having a few image processing problems with Mozilla Firefox again.

This problem first arose over two years ago where images uploaded on to this blog were being bleached ot in some web browsers, mainly Mozilla Firefox.

The same problem is happening again, though strangely not with every image I process.

This latest batch - all jpegs - were being viewed in Firefox on an Apple Mac.

To cure the problem, simply re-save your image in image-editing software, and when the Save As box pops up, uncheck the box called:
'Embed Colour profile: Nikon D2Xs Generic'

NOTE: BOLD ITALICS denotes my camera - yours may be different.

Thanks now. Bye. 

Penwortham Town Gala (2013)

Parade! It's parade season in Britain where communities come out in force to watch floats full of kids, brass bands and outrageous self-promotion by local businesses.

I ignored the children wearing estate agent's signs and, as usual, focused on the crowds. Most of these images were taken on Cop Lane and Hurst Grange Park, both in Penwortham, near Preston, Lancashire, England.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Nikon will fix grey market cameras! Broken camera, broken lens - and how to fix them (Nikon and Tokina)

NOTE: This factual blog post is about servicing and fixing your Nikon camera and Tokina lens. It includes important information about grey market cameras (those bought outside the country of residence).

My six year-old Nikon camera needed a service. My Tokina lens needed a clean, plus the helicoid (a thin plastic guide which the front of the lens runs on) was also damaged.

Finding someone to do both jobs was not easy. I received quotes of varying prices. For the lens cleaning alone quotes ranged from £80 to almost £200.


The major problem for my camera was that it was bought from Hong Kong and falls outside Nikon's UK warranty service.

On their USA website, Nikon state:

'Nikon Inc. USA cannot provide any technical support or warranty service on Gray Market items. Additionally Nikon Inc. USA cannot perform any fee-based repair work on Gray Market items. Please do not contact Nikon Inc. USA for help with any Gray Market products. Please contact the reseller or importer of your Gray Market items for warranty and service information as well as software updates and downloads'

Their European website says the same:
'Nikon European offices cannot provide any technical support or warranty service for Grey Market product, additionally they may not perform any fee-based repair work on Grey Market products. Contact the reseller or importer of your Grey Market products for warranty and service information as well as software updates and downloads.'

Basically Nikon refuse to deal with grey market cameras. However, I emailed Nikon UK and got a positive response.

I got this email from Nikon Europe Support:

'Dear Garry,

Thank you for your email.

I am sorry to learn of the problems that you have been experiencing with your Nikon D2Xs. I would like to confirm that we provide out-of-warranty service regardless of the original region that the equipment has been purchased in.

We request that you register your camera for repair via the URL listed below. Once you have completed the form you will receive an email advising you to print the return label, giving you free postage through your local postal service. The return address will be included on the label.

Please note that the Service Department will need to inspect your D2Xs before they can submit an estimate or quotation. We can therefore unfortunately not advise regarding cost at this stage. The turnaround time for professional equipment is approximately 10 days, however may vary due to part availability, testing requirements, etc.'

I promptly downloaded the repair request form and sent my camera away to be fixed. A full service cost around £100. They even left some test images on my memory card from their service tests (below).

Tokina lens

I contacted Tokina's official European service team, which their website says is Kenro. However, Kenro no longer service Tokina.

I eventually found an independent repair man called Alan Marlow (cam-rep.co.uk). An ex-Konica service technician, Alan has been running his business for 27 years.

With excellent email communication, Alan quoted me a low price for cleaning my lens and then also advised me on my faulty helicoid which he fixed also. Total price £85, which I was very happy with. Below is an image Alan sent to me to help explain the helicoid problem.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

IndieFlix and supporting documentary filmmaking

The hardest part of documentary photography is getting your work seen.

I’ve written before about how some of the world’s documentary photographers struggle to get their award-winning published. There simply aren’t enough news-focused magazines to support the medium, financially or otherwise.

For those who have not gained a foothold at the picture desks of the British supplement magazines or the American and German markets, the challenge of getting their work scene is even more of a personal Everest.

Those who turn to the internet find shrinking hope. While online platforms are able to display images beautifully, the reality is that a personal website generates only passing glances.

The images we consume online these days are increasingly social media-led – either images from friends (Facebook and Instagram) or through apps, a kind of curated best of which often only considers work made available through agencies. The independent artist has been slowly squeezed out of the picture.

But perhaps there is a glimmer of hope.

For documentary filmmakers, who for so long like stills photographers are underpaid, underexposed and undervalued, there is an organisation created in 2005 called IndieFlix.

IndieFlix says about itself: “For far too long, filmmakers have been forced to either sell out or starve. Thousands of brilliant, creative minds submit their works to festivals, hoping to catch a meaningful audience. Fewer than one per cent actually break through. As if finding the financing and making the movie wasn’t hard enough in the first place. We’re here to level the playing field.

“Founded by filmmakers, IndieFlix is part champion, part curator. We’re so inspired by independent filmmakers and the work they produce, we’ve created a stellar platform for you to discover the best and quirkiest around.”

NOTE: IndieFlix asked me to review their service in May 2013

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Novel Use = Nominal Payment. Alamy's low fee system

It was six years ago when I signed up with Alamy, the stock photography website.

I remember not too long afterwards it passed the 10million figure for images available to buy. If you're reading this anytime after April 2013 Alamy will have passed the 40million mark).

Shortly after signing up I sold a photo, of a black pug to be used on the cover of a 1,000 print-run calendar in Japan, for just over $600 USD.

One of the most recent images I have sold - shown here - was sold under the Novel Use scheme. For $1 USD.

Alamy markets itself on its great rates for photographers - it used to be 60per cent royalty rate in the photographers favour but is now 50per cent. But some hidden charges (such as Alamy Distribution Commission*) mean you never see the payment you're expecting after they take their cut.

So what is Novel Use?

Alamy themselves explain it like this:

We use the Novel Use collection when we are entering into deals that require a high degree of flexibility and are usually a departure from our core business. However, sometimes we may also work with familiar customers but in new and different ways as their businesses evolve.
If this all sounds very vague, I'm afraid that is intentional because the entire scope for Novel Use sales is impossible to define. New revenue opportunities present themselves as emerging businesses find a need for imagery and as technology continues to develop.
Our previous communications on Novel Use include the line below; your reaction to which should be the key driver behind your decision to sign up or not.
If you sign up to the Novel Use scheme you are giving Alamy permission to sell your images at any price and by any method we feel is appropriate.

Some of Alamy's contributors have discussed Novel Use on its own forums:

Frankfitz said in April 2012
'I recently withdrew from the Novel use scheme as it is simply not worth it. I had a 0.50 cents sale for an image which does not even cover the cost of charging a camera battery. Neither did it make any contribution to the other costs associated with getting to a location. That sort of very low fee is insulting to the professionalism of both photographers and Alamy and neither party can make any reasonable reuturn. Is it not time to scrap the Novel use scheme as the only people who benefit are buyers? Moreover, the amount of information supplied for a Novel use sale is derisory so photographers cannot be assured that their images are not being used by organisations which they may have ethical or moral objections.' 

Pkphotos said in reply:
'if you want to operate as a charity by all means opt in to novel use. Otherwise it has no place as a sales option on alamy.'

For my own $1 image, I would love to know how it was used. So if anyone sees it on a billboard, postcard or sticker, let me know.

*Alamy Distribution Commission is a further 15-20per cent charge. As far as I can tell, it does not apply to Novel Use.
** Signing up for Novel Use is optional for all contributors. Withdrawal can be done every April. Don't ask me why.

Monday, April 01, 2013

A very quick guide on how to move a website name from one blog to another


Quick guide this.

It's because Posterous is closing that some of you may have to move your lovely domain name from there to a new blog. Possible new destinations are Wordpress (best found by searching for 'wordpress blog') or Blogger.

This is how to switch your .com or .co.uk etc domains from Posterous to Wordpress (other switches should be similar):

In Wordpress go to Dashboard > Store > domains 

Click on: Add a domain (which you already own). This costs 13 dollars.

Then log on to the website where you registered your domain (this will be 123reg, GoDaddy etc).

Look for the DNS link, click on it and change the nameserevers boxers (there will probably be two of them) to: NS1.WORDPRESS.COM and NS2.WORDPRESS.COM 

And you should be done (apart from maybe having to do a save in Wordpress).

Bye and apologies for being so dull.

Friday, February 08, 2013

How to twin the Holy Land with Scotland or Dundee = Nablus

Nablus and Dundee, two cities you would never ordinarily mention in the same sentence.

That’s because the two places, one in the West Bank of Palestine - the Holy Land – and the other looking out across the North Sea in Scotland, could not be less alike.

Nablus, a village inhabited by the Samaritan people before the birth of Christ, has a long and historically important history.

Situated between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it houses Biblical sites such as Joseph’s Tomb and Jacob’s Well, the Roman’s built the city from 72 AD an it was captured by Crusaders a thousand years later.

And then you’ve got Dundee, a Scottish coastal city which famous for Dundee cake, two football clubs and Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue.

Not the most likely town to be twinned with an ancient city in the Holy Land.

This bizarre twinning came about in 1980, with controversial on-off British MP George Galloway leading the link-up.

Galloway, along with now retired Ernie Ross MP and then Dundee Councillor Colin Rennie.

The trio met up with Nablus mayor Bassam Shaka’a in London after he came to London to receive prosthetic legs following a bomb attack in Palestine.

It’s fair to say that issues in Palestine and the Middle East, possibly first addressed by Galloway around this time, have shaped his career.


The twinning was so successful that when Shaka’a needed a second pair of limbs, he came to Dundee Limb Fitting Centre. Naturally.

In 1996 an official twinning document was signed by the Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association. 

Strangely, I have been to Nablus but not Dundee – though I am a big fan of Scotland.

NOTE: In the photograph (above) is Nablus’ current Guvernor Jibrin Al-Bakri, who was the subject of an assassination attempt by Hamas - the Palestinian political party which governs Gaza - two years ago. 
The book Palestiniana is coming soon.

Dundee is also twinned with Orleans in France and German city Wurzburg.
Nablus is twinned with Lille, (France), Nazareth, (Israel), Dublin (Ireland), Como (Italy), Florence (Italy), Naples (Italy), Toscana (Italy), Poznan (Poland), Rabat (Morocco), Stavanger (Norway), Khasavyurt (Russia) and, of course, Dundee.


Facts from the DNTA website:
General Information
Nablus is about 66 km north of Jerusalem, 42km east of the Mediterranean.
Summer is hot and dry, winter moderate and rainy. The temperature ranges from 8° to 26° Centigrade.
One of Palestine’s largest cities, Nablus has a population of 326,752 in 2003, about half in the old city and half in surrounding suburbs and refugee camps.
The City of Dundee is situated beside the River Tay, at sea level. It is at the end of a rift valley, and is overlooked by The Law: a ‘pipe’ or small volcano. It is about 60 km north of Edinburgh.
Summer is cool but sunny, winter is cold. The temperature ranges from about 0° to 20° Centigrade. It is Scotland’s fourth largest city, with a population of about 140,000.(in 2004)
Trade and Industry

Nablus is famous for its soap industry. Also for marble and building materials, pharmaceuticals, goldsmiths, and the making of delicious sweets, the local variety being called ‘knafeh’.
Dundee’s chief business today is in biotechnology, electronics and education. Also computer games, comics, tyres, and call centres.
Both cities have been important trading centres. Dundee's harbours are no longer as busy as they used to be, though it has enjoyed something of a revival with oil business and cruise ship visits. Nablus is at the junction of two ancient commercial roads running north/south and east/west. But in recent years Israeli road blocks have severely hampered imports and exports.

In Nablus there are 66 public schools and 21 private. In the refugee camps and the villages round about there are another 104, with camp schools run by the United Nations.
There are two universities; An Najah University, largest of the universities in Palestine, with 19,000 students, and Al-Rawda National School. Nearly all the students live in the old city because it is impossible to travel daily from the villages through the checkpoints.
Dundee has 52 schools; 10 secondary, 41 primary and one special. There are two universities, Dundee and Abertay, plus Dundee College, with 33,000 students between them.