10 stories

Metadata Equals Surveillance

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Back in June, when the contents of Edward Snowden's cache of NSA documents were just starting to be revealed and we learned about the NSA collecting phone metadata of every American, many people -- including President Obama -- discounted the seriousness of the NSA's actions by saying that it's just metadata.

Lots and lots of people effectively demolished that trivialization, but the arguments are generally subtle and hard to convey quickly and simply. I have a more compact argument: metadata equals surveillance.

Imagine you hired a detective to eavesdrop on someone. He might plant a bug in their office. He might tap their phone. He might open their mail. The result would be the details of that person's communications. That's the "data."

Now imagine you hired that same detective to surveil that person. The result would be details of what he did: where he went, who he talked to, what he looked at, what he purchased -- how he spent his day. That's all metadata.

When the government collects metadata on people, the government puts them under surveillance. When the government collects metadata on the entire country, they put everyone under surveillance. When Google does it, they do the same thing. Metadata equals surveillance; it's that simple.

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1848 days ago
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6 public comments
1843 days ago
great perspective
San Diego, CA, USA
1847 days ago
Now I have an easy metaphor for why this is important.
Philadelphia, PA, USA
1848 days ago
Preach on Bruce!
Baltimore, MD
1848 days ago
Right to the heart of it.
Denver, CO, USA
1848 days ago
Moscow, Russia
1848 days ago
Well put
New York, NY

When asked about a 5 year old hack

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by kecky

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1851 days ago
It's always the same old story.
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Hogwarts In Manhattan: The 1,000 Gargoyles & Grotesques of City College

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Last week, I took a trip up to 138th Street and Amsterdam to scout a location I’ve been meaning to visit for the longest time: the City College of New York.


City College is one of those great places in the city where you step through the gates…


…and suddenly feel like you’ve been transported far, far from Manhattan.


I was walking around the north quadrangle, which consists of the original four campus buildings built in 1906…


…and as I was heading into Harris Hall, I suddenly got the strangest feeling that I was being watched. I turned to my right…


…and this guy was sticking his tongue out at me!


And he wasn’t alone. Above me, a frowning professor-type was beckoning me in…


…while on my left, I was being laughed at:


There were even more faces buried in the arch…


…all watching with mocking stares.


Finally, two owl statues were positioned on either side of the door.


In total, that’s 9 bits of statuary crammed around a single entrance. Amazed, I stepped back and looked up…


…and realized I was being watched…


…from every direction I turned.


City College has over 1,000 (yes, 1,000!) grotesques and gargoyles covering its buildings, and each has such individual character that it’s hard to kick the feeling they’re on the verge of coming to life Hogwarts-style to mock you as you walk around the campus.

I spent about an hour or so trying to find as many of the bizarre and wonderful creatures as I could – here are some of my favorites.


When it comes to the traditional demon-style grotesques and gargoyles, City College has some great examples. Several winged creatures are perched around the top of the tower at Compton Hall…


…each a completely different style from the next.


The most haunting, in my opinion, is the gargoyle on the west-side, which features a human head disturbingly attached to an eagle-like body, its mouth agape in a pained screech:


Another favorite demon can be found perched on the corner of Harris Hall…

160 - HH01

…a horned figure holding a book with the initials FD written inside. I’d love to know who or what this is in reference to (thought for a minute the F might be for Faust, but as far as I know, Faust never had a surname beginning with D).

161 - HH

Another demon can be found above the clock on Harris Hall…


…a strange robed figure leaning in an ear to hear the students below:


A shield-holding demon:


But there are more than just demons at City College. In fact, much the statuary follows a particular theme. For example, look closely…


…and you’ll see a laborer drilling into the side of the building:


Another literally screws into the corner of the building:


This guy is yanking out a stray nail with a hammer:


Another is hammering on an anvil:


Still another has at it with a sledge-hammer.


Working the bellows (thanks, Martin & Violetsrose!):

Not sure what this one is up to:


Whereas these literally seem to be taking part in the construction (or deconstruction?) of the building, still another group of grotesques are meant to represent the various disciplines and arts at the university.


It starts simple, with a basic professorial-type reading a book:


I love this glasses-clad professor leering down at students entering the building:


A mathematician. If you notice some of the grotesques have a decidedly more human appearance than the typical caricatures, there’s a good chance they were based on members of the faculty.


Then we hit the music department…


…and you have nearly a full band…


…playing above you:


My favorite is the drummer:


Then on to the sciences: love this guy examining a butterfly with a magnifying glass:


A Dumbledore-like chemist mixes a potion:


And of course, painting, represented by quite possibly the angriest-looking artist in New York:


I’m guessing that this figure contemplating an hourglass represents philosophy:


Another figure, clearly based on a real person (how great would it be to be forever immortalized as a grotesque?):


Still more fascinating examples can be found surrounding the entrances to buildings. Above the door to Baskeville…


…is a professor holding out what appears to be a test in geometry:


A key-holder…


…and beside him, another life-like representation:


There’s something so wonderful about mixing such staid architecture with such whimsical figures. This guy may be in charge of holding a formal shield, for example, but he could care less about it:


Perhaps he’s having a conversation with his neighbor?


In fact, no one’s all that happy at this entrance:


A few final ones. In the corner of Wingate Hall…

200 - HH

….a guy flips his feet over his head while precariously holding on:


Nearby, an impish-looking fellow holds onto a ring:


And beside him, an older-looking grotesque holds the seal of the college:


In fact, quite a lot of the figures are being acrobatic on Wingate, which makes sense since it used to be the original gym (thanks, EG!): Wingate:


As you head into the main entrance at Harris…


…this guy is screaming at you:


If the grotesques look to be in immaculate shape, it’s thanks to a restoration program that began in 1986. At the time, many of the terra cotta figures had fallen into total disrepair (some had even smashed after falling from their perches).


Each figure was restored to its original condition, recast by hand, and returned to its place, at the time considered to be the largest terra cotta preservation effort in the country. You can see a bit of the process in this Facebook post – the picture below shows just how badly this particular figure had deteriorated (the white areas are the restored pieces that had broken off):


The replacements should weather the elements much longer than their predecessors.






These pictures show a mere 50 or 60 of the 1,000 grotesques and gargoyles covering the north quad at City College – and I didn’t even get into the cathedral-like Shephard Hall.


The campus is open to the public, and is absolutely worth a trip to admire these amazing works of art. If Hogwarts had a satellite campus in New York City, I’m pretty sure City College would be it.


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1854 days ago
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1854 days ago
It says something about the density of STUFF in Manhattan that I used to live 30 blocks south of this and had *no idea*.
Pittsburgh, PA
1854 days ago
How do I go back in time and attend college here?
Wake Forest, North Carolina
1855 days ago
Princeton, NJ
1855 days ago
Too bad he didn't show the actual main building ;) The NAC may not be as beautiful, but just as interesting, having been designed by prison architects (at least I was told that it was).
1855 days ago
OK, I finally followed this blog. It's so good!
Brooklyn, NY
1855 days ago
CCNY as Hogwarts. Awesome.
New York, NY
1855 days ago
Maybe Faust and Dante?

103 Things I’ve Learned About Street Photography

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By Street Photographer Eric Kim

Calcutta 2013 2

  1. A good photo asks more questions than provides answers
  2. 35mm as a focal length is generally ideal for most street photographers. 28mm is too wide (most people don’t get close enough) and 50mm is too tight.
  3. My keeper ratio : one decent shot a month, one shot I am proud of in a year.
  4. “When in doubt, click.” – Charlie Kirk
  5. When in doubt, take a step closer.
  6. You will become a better photographer by asking people what they don’t like about your shots (rather than what they like).
  7. A harsh and constructive critique is better than a pat on the back.
  8. A good photo critique needs (at least) 4 sentences online. Preferably 8 sentences or more.
  9. It isn’t the quantity of social media followers you have that matters, rather then quality of followed you have that matters.

Calcutta 2013 1

  1. Be consistent : stick with one camera, lens, film, or post processing approach to develop your style.
  2. Great photography projects generally take at least 5-10 years.
  3. Buy books, not gear.
  4. The only way money will make you happier in photography if you invest it into experiences (travel, workshops, teachers) rather than material things (cameras, lenses, gear).
  5. The best camera bag in street photography is no camera bag.
  6. “The decisive moment” is a myth. Even Henri Cartier-Bresson took at least 5 photos of scenes he found interesting and worked the scene to get the one memorable shot.
  7. Most famous photographers are only known for their 1-3 most popular images after they die. If you accomplish the same, you have done your job as a photographer.
  8. When shooting film, it is better to over expose than underexpose (film has more details in the highlights).
  9. When shooting digital, it is better to unexpose than overexpose (digital has more details in the shadows).
  10. Street photos of people just walking by billboards is boring.
  11. To become a great street photographer you must first understand what a great street photograph is. Study the masters.

Eric Kim Color 1

  1. When shooting street photography with a DSLR, micro 4/3rds, or a compact and you don’t want to worry about technical considerations, just use “P” mode at ISO 1600.
  2. Projects are more meaningful than single images.
  3. Creating a photo book is the ultimate expression of a photographer.
  4. Shoot as if each day were your last.
  5. One camera, one lens is bliss.
  6. Grain is beautiful, noise is ugly.
  7. My favorite films are Kodak Tri-X (for black and white) and Kodak Portra 400 (for color).
  8. Bokeh in street photography is overrated. Shoot at f8-16
  9. With film, your first 10,000 photos are your worst. With digital, it is more like your first 1,000,000 are your worst.
  10. The secret of a memorable street photograph : capturing emotion.
  11. A street photograph without emotion is dead.
  12. No amount of post processing will make a crappy photograph into a good photograph.
  13. Wait at least 6 months to a year before uploading your images to the Internet, to truly understand if is a good photograph or not.
  14. When it comes to editing, remember to “kill your babies.”
  15. Cheesy titles in street photographs don’t make them any better.

Calcutta 2013 11

  1. Watermarks in street photographs ruin the viewing experience for your audience.
  2. Buying a more expensive camera won’t make you a better street photographer.
  3. Shooting film will teach you more discipline in street photography (and may lead you to become a better photographer).
  4. Street photography is the most challenging genre of photography out there.
  5. A great street photograph needs strong content (what’s inside the frame) and form (composition).
  6. Shoot for yourself, not others.
  7. Spend less time on gear review sites and more time on Magnumphotos.com
  8. You can never spend too much money on photo books.
  9. You are your worst critic. Always get critique from others, they will help spot the holes in your photography.
  10. Sticking with one focal length for a long time will help you better pre visualize your shot and master framing.
  11. You are only as good as your worst (public) street photograph.
  12. Secret to good multi subject shots : don’t overlap your subjects and look for emotional gestures.
  13. How to improve your framing : don’t crop for a year.
  14. How to become a better editor : don’t upload photos to social media for a year.
  15. Try to shoot at eye level (or extremely above or below) your subjects. So crouch when taking photos of people sitting down, shorter than you, or kids. Or shoot from a very high vantage point.

Eric Kim Color 6

  1. 99% of street photographs are ruined by messy backgrounds.
  2. To get cleaner street photographs, first find a clean background and then wait for your subjects to enter the scene.
  3. If your mom likes your street photographs, your photos are probably generic and boring.
  4. Always carry a camera with you.
  5. Street photographs don’t have to have people in them (but generally are more interesting with them in it).
  6. You don’t need a Leica to shoot street photography. Be grateful for what you have and use what you got.
  7. Spend 99% of your time editing your photos (choosing your best images) and only 1% of your time post processing them.
  8. Style in street photography is a combination of having consistent equipment (camera and focal length) as well as “look” (film or post processing style) and content (the subjects you generally photograph).
  9. It is better to over shoot a scene then under shoot a scene.
  10. “Shoot from the gut, edit with the brain” – Anders Petersen
  11. It is always nice to have a shooting partner when out on the streets.
  12. “Shoot who you are.” – Bruce Gilden
  13. Taking a photo of an interesting character isn’t enough. Try to capture them in an interesting context or with a good gesture.
  14. Don’t take photos of homeless people and street performers. They rarely make good photos.
  15. Don’t worry if your photos qualify as “street photography” or not. Just aim to make meaningful and memorable images.

Eric Kim Color 2

  1. Telling the truth isn’t the job of a street photographer (it is for the photo journalist).
  2. Don’t be afraid to interact with your subjects when shooting on the streets. Not all of your photos have to be candid.
  3. You can make interesting posed street photographs. But don’t pretend to your audience that they are candid.
  4. There is no one “right” definition of street photography. Define it personally for yourself and just shoot.
  5. You often can’t control the scene when you are shooting in the streets, but you can control whether you share the image or not. Case in point : don’t make excuses for the small failures in your photos, just edit out those shots.
  6. Don’t respect the critique of other photographers unless you have seen their portfolio.
  7. Zoom lenses will prevent you from becoming a great street photographer (you will never master one focal length). Stick to primes (preferably a 35mm full frame equivalent). 28mm and 50mm are okay too (if you can use it well).
  8. A single photo can’t tell a story (it doesn’t have a beginning, middle, or an end). Only photo series or projects can do that.
  9. The photos you take are more of a reflection of yourself (than of the people you photograph).
  10. The importance of looking at great photos : you are what you eat. Fine french cuisine = great photos in books, galleries, or exhibitions. Junk food = most photos on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook (not always, but mostly).
  11. 99% of people on the Internet don’t know what a great street photograph is. Don’t always trust the comments, likes, and favorites you get from the Internet on social media sites. Rather, stick around in street photography critique groups (or private ones).
  12. You will find the best street photography opportunities in the least expected places.

Eric Kim Color 4

  1. When you see an interesting person or a scene, don’t just take one photo and move on. Aim to take at least 5 photos (or more if possible).
  2. Beware using telephoto lenses in street photography. Remember, “Creepiness is proportional to focal length.”
  3. Incorporate your own reflections and shadows in street photography. They often make interesting images (look up Lee Friedlander).
  4. Photos shot head on have more energy and drama than photos shot from the side.
  5. A brief list of great street photographers : Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Daido Moriyama, Diane Arbus, Weegee, Bruce Gilden, Alex Webb, Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Josef Koudelka,
  6. After taking a photo of a stranger, make it a rule to look at them, smile, and say thank you.
  7. I never regret taking photos. I always regret not taking photos.
  8. It is better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.
  9. Be confident while you are shooting and rarely will you have any issues. Be nervous while shooting and you will ruin into many problems.
  10. The only person you should try to impress with your photos is yourself.
  11. The benefit of getting eye contact in your photos : eyes are the windows to the soul.

Eric Kim Color 5

  1. Don’t make photos. Make connections.
  2. The best place to shoot street photography isn’t New York, Tokyo, or Paris. The best place to shoot is your backyard.
  3. See your scenes with your eyes and shoot with your heart.
  4. If you are working on a project and photographers discourage you by saying “it has been done before” ignore them. Nobody has done it like you before.
  5. Street photography is applied sociology with a camera.
  6. If you aim to get recognition for your photography you will never get it.
  7. If someone gets upset when you take their photograph, offer to email them a copy. Carrying around business cards always come in handy.
  8. Don’t just look at photos, read into them.
  9. To double your success rate in street photography, double your failure rate.
  10. The photos you decide not to show are more important than the photos you decide to show.
  11. Rather than creating photos to please your audience, find an audience that will be pleased by your photos.

Eric Kim Color 12

  1. Street photography isn’t a contest about how many followers, viewers, followers, exhibitions, books, cameras, lenses, and fame you have. There are no winners and losers. Collaborate with one another instead of competing with one another.
  2. Giving away my prints and cameras has brought me more joy than selling it for money.
  3. The friendships I have made through street photography is mode valuable than any of the photos I have ever taken.
  4. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity – Seneca. Make your own luck.

Check out more from Eric Kim at his Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

103 Things I’ve Learned About Street Photography

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1865 days ago
103 and counting.
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when a simple bug fix crashes the system

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/* by w1ndie */

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1901 days ago
Stop! Hammertime!
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"Much more interested in incest rhino baby than royal incest baby."

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“Much more interested in incest rhino baby than royal incest baby.”

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1909 days ago
Me too.
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