Tag Archives: photography

Recommended Reading for August 10, 2010

Wheelchair Dancer at Feministe: On the Cover [trigger warning for discussion of violence]

Regardless of how disability plays out in Aisha’s world, the vast majority of readers of TIME live in a culture that understands disability as tragedy. As shocking. As among the worst things that can happen to you (bar death). Mainstream American culture thinks it knows disability and knows how to read it. Ms. Bieber has a history of photographing disabled bodies[. . .]But the work she does in the Real Beauty series does not come through in this photograph — perhaps because of the context and placement of the image. Here she (and or the editor) uses Aisha’s disability to trade upon the readership’s sympathies and their horror: this and other unknown kinds of disability are a direct result of the US departure from Afghanistan. This is not about Aisha; it’s about the message of the article.

Cripchick at Cripchick’s blog: tell me who i have to be to get some reciprocity?

don’t feel the way white supremacy creeps into your life and plops itself in the center?

in the last wk, white ppl have:

  • told me how to rearrange my words as to be more approachable.
  • made my need to have ppl of color time about them.
  • asked me invasive medical questions about my body.
  • thanked me over and over for teaching them about oppression.

Cara at The Curvature: Disabled Student Assaulted on School Bus; Bus Driver Watches and Doesn’t Respond [trigger warning for description and discussion of severe bullying]

Most readers here who have ever ridden a school bus will have at some point been on at least one end of bullying and harassment. Many will have at different points throughout their childhoods and adolescences acted as both bullies and victims — myself included among them. Big news stories since I stopped riding a school bus have left me with the impression that little has changed. School buses are places where bullies, harassment, and violence thrive. And as all current or past school bus passengers know, students with disabilities, particularly cognitive or intellectual disabilities, are especially vulnerable.

Daphne Merkin at the New York Times Magazine: My Life in Therapy

This imaginative position would eventually destabilize me, kicking off feelings of rage and despair that would in turn spiral down into a debilitating depression, in which I couldn’t seem to retrieve the pieces of my contemporary life. I don’t know whether this was because of the therapist’s lack of skill, some essential flaw in the psychoanalytic method or some irreparable injury done to me long ago, but the last time I engaged in this style of therapy for an extended period of time with an analyst who kept coaxing me to dredge up more and more painful, ever earlier memories, I ended up in a hospital.

William Davies King at PopMatters: In Defense of Hoarding

To be sure, a special label like compulsive hoarding seems required by many of the heart-rending cases they recount, people neck-deep in the slough of their despond, overwhelmed by more whelm than can be weighed. But sadness and dysfunction are hardly rare or new. What is new is the social imperative to ram open that front door. Bring in the wheelbarrows, the commanding case worker, and the camera—especially the camera, which enlists us all in the drive to evacuate these cloacal dwellings. Reality TV rolls up its sleeves, puts on the rubber gloves, and hoards the evidence while [authors] Frost and Steketee stand alongside the labyrinth, notepad in hand, giving that Skinnerian nod.

Accessible Tech: Canon Digital Rebel T1i and Hand Disabilities

One of the things that really annoys me as a person with disabilities is that reviews of technology and other products I am interested in buying rarely discuss things from a disability perspective. Hence, the introduction of Accessible Tech, an intermittent series at FWD where we’ll be covering the things most reviewers leave out. If you’re interested in submitting a post to Accessible Tech, please email guestposting at disabledfeminists dot com; reviews of all kinds of technology (including technology specifically designed for people with disabilities) are welcome!

After I wrote my post on blind photographers last week, I bought the bullet and bought a new camera, a Digital Rebel T1i (aka the EOS 500D). This is something I’ve been researching and thinking about for a while, and one of the things I was concerned about was how well my camera would play with my hand disabilities. One of the reasons I went with a Canon is because I have been buying Canons for years and I’ve always been very pleased with them and because I’ve had a chance to play with other people’s Canon digital SLRs and I got an idea of how they feel in the hand.

On Monday, I took my new camera out on a little test drive to get familiar with the settings, and along the way, I noticed some things that I thought might be relevant to other people with hand disabilities like tremors and contractures who are contemplating a camera purchase.

The bad: The camera controls are very tightly packed on the body. If you are the kind of person who uses full auto settings, this might not be a big problem for you, but if you prefer full manual control, you may want to consider a larger bodied (and unfortunately much more expensive) camera from the EOS lineup; I personally ended up with hand cramps after about 45 minutes of use, but that was also after a full day of work (think typing about 16,000 words), so my hands were not at their best at that point. If your fine motor skills are not the greatest, I think you may find the T1i really frustrating because it looks easy to mash controls and some of the controls feel like they would be hard to activate if you have significant hand weakness or poor motor control.

Is it enough to make me return the camera? No, but it might be enough to make you think about buying a different camera if you’ve been weighing the Rebel against another option. I’d like to get my hands on cameras in the same class to see if tight controls are just a universal problem, or if the Rebel is particularly bad.

The middle: Changing lenses can be done one handed, with a little bit of practice, and it’s very easy, but the release button is small, and, again, if you have severe tremors or bad coordination, you might find it challenging to hit in a hurry. I do like that there are clear visible guides and a nice audible click so you know you’re not borking your lens change.

The good: Canon’s image stabilisation (IS), which is aces. What the hell is image stabilisation? Short version, from Vincent Bockaert at DP Review:

Image stabilization helps to steady the image projected back into the camera by the use of a “floating” optical element—often connected to a fast spinning gyroscope—which helps to compensate for high frequency vibration (hand shake for example) at these long focal lengths. Canon EF SLR lenses with image stabilization have a IS suffix after their name, Nikon uses the VR “Vibration Reduction” suffix on their image stabilised Nikkor lenses.

One of my concerns with the T1i was that the Rebels have a reputation for not performing so well in low light conditions, where you are typically using a slow shutter speed and hand tremors can become a serious problem. Another issue is that when you are using a telephoto, tremors can also become a significant issue. After testing the camera in a variety of lighting conditions and using the telephoto in an assortment of places, I am pleased to report that the IS came through every time. Some of my pictures came out badly for other reasons, but they were definitely not blurry! This is exciting news, because since I have a telephoto, I would like to be able to use it.

For really low light, I would strongly recommend using a tripod with this camera (or using a convenient hard resting surface). The Rebel does have limitations in dim lighting and you will notice those limitations more quickly if you have tremors, IS or no.

Cognitively, I really like the interface, but your mileage may vary. I found it very intuitive and easy to use, with settings I use a lot easy to access and things I use less frequently buried in submenus. I would like the interface more if it was configurable so that people who want to access buried settings could set them up in a quick launch bar or something. But, overall, the interface seemed to have been designed by someone who thinks a lot like I do in terms of how things should be laid out, what I would want to access, and how I would want to control and represent things.

Once I’ve had a chance to play with the camera a bit more, I will probably be posting a followup review. Alas, the weather has been conspiring against my strong desires to go out shooting.

If you’d like to read a more technical review of the T1i, I’d recommend the very comprehensive evaluation at DP Review.

Here are some photos from my Monday adventures at the trainyard:

A heavily rusting abandoned train car. The camera is looking through the windows, and the interior is filled with rubbish, while the roof of the car is missing large panels, causing shafts of light to pour into the car.

A railroa crossing sign, shot against a bright blue sky.

A diesel locomotive, shot through a chainlink fence.

This was taken with the telephoto!

Creative Work: Blind Photographers

As some FWD readers may be aware, photography is a hobby of mine (which I haven’t had nearly enough time lately to indulge in!). I love being behind the lens, I love looking at the world around me in new ways, and I adore working in the darkroom. I’m mostly working with digital photography these days and I miss the smell of fixer and developer on my fingers and the deep satisfaction of nailing an enlargement and having this whole new world of detail appear.

I love looking at work by other disabled photographers, and when I discovered the Blind Photographers group on Flickr, I was drawn not only to the images, but to the way that people write about photography and their relationship with the lens and the camera.

Poppies growing along with weeds, shot against a white metal fence. A road can be seen in the background. The focus of the composition is on an exuberant weed that fills the middle of the frame.

This piece is by Shmulik, an Israeli photographer:

I was born in Israel. I became blind at the age of 9. I am single and I am fond of trying new things. I am involved in varied activities including cycling, rowing, ceramic sculpting, singing, and more. I take pictures of everything: my close surrounding, objects and people, but especially nature and extreme sports, which I like to practice.

I really like the way the focus plays out here, how the world outside the fence is blurred, and I also adore the composition, with the lone poppy isolated off to the right. More of Shmulik’s work can be viewed on The Blind Photographer, a site which also has work by other Israeli photographers.

A photograph of a young boy in a diaper and nothing else, shot through a spray of water. He appears to be laughing, and the image is full of energy.

‘Frenetic,’ by Bruce Hall. This photograph was featured in ‘Sight Unseen,’ an exhibition at the University of California, Riverside.

Here’s another photographer, Craig Royal, in an interview at Blind Photographers (a site I would highly recommend!) talking about how he approaches photography:

BP: How do you think your images are affected by your eyesight?

Apart from trying to express my visual reality by way of a visual art form my desire to see more of the detail that surrounds me, though it being after the fact, plays a part in my choices of subject matter. Being very nearsighted I am not drawn to landscape photography.

More of Craig’s work can be found on Flickr.

A train yard, with an orange locomotive in the foreground and two red cabooses in the background on another track.

‘Today’s Engine Yesterday’s Caboose’ is by Riverrat, a member of the Blind Photographers Flickr Group. Although the image is stationary, it’s framed in a way that feels very dynamic and filled with action. I almost except to see the locomotive whisking off to the left.

Riverrat’s profile has a brief discussion of how he got into photography and the tools he uses:

Hi, I am legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa. I was always intimidated by a camera and computer until March, 2007,when I decided to give both of them a try. My photos are just snap shots of my everyday life. I use a digital camera and have Zoom Text on my computer, a magnification and reader program.

All of this looking at photographs to compile this post has me longing for that digital SLR I’ve been lusting after, although one of the interesting things about the Blind Photographers group is that many people are working with relatively inexpensive point and shoots like my trusty Powershot, and turning out really amazing work, illustrating that in the hands of a good photographer, a mediocre camera with a crappy lens can still turn out spectacular photos.

Feasting the Eyes: Visual Art Created by Disabled Artists

This entry in our ongoing series of posts featuring works created by disabled artists is focused on visual artists.

A painting showing part of a golden koi, just one fin and part of the head. Leaves trail into the water around the fish and a series of ripples suggest movement.

‘Golden Koi’ was painted by Jeffrey L Salyers, a retired letter carrier with Parkinson’s Disease. You can read more about Jeffrey and see some of his work here.

A pen and ink drawing of a woman leaning over backwards, her back in an arch. Her hair and long skirts flow around her.

‘Lifted by the Wind’ is a pen and ink drawing by Heather Freeman of Fire Sea Studios. Heather also has a terrific blog where she writes about disability, art, and parenting.

A painting of a white chicken peering around to look at a human figure posed like a chicken, mouth open in a cry. Several chicks peck around the feet of both figures.

‘Self Portrait As Chicken’ is one in a series of intriguing pieces produced by Sunaura Taylor.

I’m also spending a lot of time lately at the Blind Photographers Flickr group, ‘for blind and otherwise visually-impaired photographers. How does having a different visual experience affect our photography?’

Picturing Disability

A little photo field trip:

Three children in wheelchairs, smiling at the camera. An adult is seated to their right. One of the walls in the room is brightly coloured, with a mural of a household scene painted on it.

In the Bahamas, children at the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled preparing for the summer play. Creative Commons-licensed photo by obi1323.

A wheelchair user forced into the street because there are no sidewalks. We see the wheelchair user and attendant from behind, as they are moving into oncoming traffic.

In Athens, Greece, lack of sidewalks and curb cuts forces wheelchair and scooter users into the street. Photo by Flickr user Ermis Kasapis, Creative Commons license.

A person grinning and using a hula hoop.

In Cambodia, a girl after water therapy; you can see more Creative Commons licensed photos from the water therapy session at the Angelfish set on Flickr, put up by the Cambodia Trust.

A wheelchair abandoned at the bottom of a flight of steps leading up to the front door of a house. The house is painted blue; the adjoining building on the left is salmon pink.

In Valparaiso, Chile, accessibility is “an issue my country needs to work on very hard,” according to Flickr user panshipanshi, who took this photo (Creative Commons license).

A wheelchair user who also uses a ventilator in his powerchair, which is decorated with "I voted" stickers. A police officer is examining his wallet to remove his identification for the purpose of writing a citation.

In San Francisco, California, 17 disability activists were arrested in June 2009 for blocking traffic in front of Civic Centre while they protested budget cuts. Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes (Creative Commons license).

A person on crutches, standing and facing the camera, wearing loose-fitting clothing and a snug cap.

A resident of Kutupalong Camp in Bangladesh, photographed by Team Star, a group of refugee children who were given cameras to document camp life as part of Project Einstein Bangladesh. (Creative Commons license.)

A black and white image of a wheelchair user reading a newspaper on Trafalgar Square, London.

In London, catching up on the news while enjoying Trafalgar Square. Photo by Flickr user Steve Punter, licensed under Creative Commons.

A license plate with the blue wheelchair symbol, indicating that it is on a vehicle used by someone with a permanent disability, with 'ENABLD' as the plate number.

Finally, some levity from Virginia, courtesy of this license plate.