Would love some critique...
The government has expressed its "sincere regret" and "deep sympathy" to the victims of the thalidomide scandal.
Health minister Mike O'Brien made the apology in a statement to MPs - it comes after he unveiled a compensation package for survivors in December.
Pregnant women were prescribed the drug in the 1950s and 1960s as a treatment for morning sickness or insomnia.
It was withdrawn from sale in 1961 after babies were born with limb deformities and other damage.
Mr O'Brien said: "The government wishes to express its sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those affected.
Developed in Germany in the 1950s
Prescribed as a 'wonder drug' for insomnia, coughs, colds, morning sickness and headaches
Link with birth defects shown in 1961 leading to the drug being taken off the market
Affected babies commonly suffered missing or deformed limbs and severe shortening of arms or legs
The drug also caused malformations of the eyes and ears, heart, genitals, kidneys and digestive tract
Scientists believe the drug harmed the growth of new blood vessels in the developing embryo
"We acknowledge both the physical hardship and the emotional difficulties that have faced both the children affected and their families as a result of this drug, and the challenges that many continue to endure often on a daily basis."
His public statement follows the decision by the government to make more money available to the 466 thalidomide survivors in the UK.
The drug's UK manufacturer, Distillers Biochemicals, paid around £28m compensation in the 1970s following a legal battle by the families of those affected.
This has been subsequently topped up over the years by successor companies, although the average payout to the 466 survivors in the UK remains below £20,000 a year.
The government's £20m funding package is on top of this and will be shared out over the next three years.
It reflects the fact that survivors are living longer than expected and as a result will have increasing health needs.
The UK was the second biggest user of the drug after Germany. About 2,000 babies were born with problems linked to the drug with half of them dying within months of birth.
Another 5,000 were born elsewhere in the world.
Guy Tweedy, of the Thalidomide Trust, which distributes aid to survivors, described the apology as "absolutely wonderful".
Thalidomide campaigners' reaction to the decision
"I'm highly delighted and so glad that it actually came, 50 years too late but never mind.
"It's an apology not just to thalidomide victims but to the parents who lost their children in the early days."
Mr Tweedy added the apology "means as much in some ways as the money".
Nick Dobrik, a thalidomide victim and campaigner, added the apology was "very significant".
He said in particular it meant a lot to the parents of children who had died as it was a way of saying it was the "government's fault, not theirs".
Stephen O'Brien, the Conservative health spokesman, said: "I welcome the minister's remarks. Many thalidomiders have indeed waited a long time for this."
Your story is incomplete - survivors of what? Your story hints at thalidomide but isn't clear about it (not everyone will have heard of it either).
ap4a - I would guess that critique on the picture rather than the story is what is being looked for here. It would have to be someone who is pretty much out of touch with the news and the world not to know about the drug and it`s consequences which is obviously what these people have survived despite it`s effects!
However in terms of critique of the photo it disturbs me. Not because of the drug effects but because your processing has given a cartoonish aspect (Dragan style) to a survivor when a more straight forward mono conversion with the message on shirt and the stare to camera would have sufficed for me.
[QUOTE=jinky;10939]ap4a - I would guess that critique on the picture rather than the story is what is being looked for here.[/QUOTE]
This kind of photography is supposed to tell a story, and when there's a back story provided to help guide the interpretation of that story it's helpful for important points such as that to not be omitted. It saves on assumptions, and a good journalist will try to be as unambiguous as possible.
Thanks to Polaroidsky for filling in the blanks, it puts the back story properly in to context.
With respect to the photo, the expression, stance and low key lighting give the image an angry feel which isn't out of place when presented in the context of being a victim of Thalidomide use. However it doesn't at first seem appropriate given the news of the payout as, initially, you would expect that would be well received, and so there's a conflict between the two aspects of the story being presented. However there's the possibility of some residual anger for it taking so long for the apology and payout to happen, or at the size of the payout which could explain the statement being made by the subject's demeanour. In regards to the processing, I think it's sympathetic to the angry feel that is initially experienced.
Thanks for the comments... I feel ap4a's summisation is perfect.
RE the processing... this is almost SOTC... hardly any processing... pictures do look very different on screen depending upon the monitor you use, I use a calibrated LCD... and the prints look just like a regular film print... this shot was made in natural light with a D200... if you're looking an a laptop for example... this image will look AWFUL... about 10 percent of what it "really " looks like... I am actually shocked at how images degrade or look fantastic depending upon what type of monitor you use as a viewer... maybe Photoradar could do a feature on the best monitors to use when processing and viewing images... as I have found that finding the right monitor to work with maximises the resulting prints immessurably : )
Yes I was looking on my LCD monitor too and it was the facial features that I thought had been emphasized through processing with the facial lines and eyes having that Dragan style look that suggests further processing. If you are looking for critique on story linked to photo rather than just photography itself then I agree it does not seem in synch with the story outcome outlined.
I can assure you that this is Carls appearence... no processing to enhance his features at all... just looking in my gallery at the other shots from this series confirms this... the last thing I would do is "enhance" Carls features for any reason... its a straight mono process.
As for critique, it was a critique upon the image rather than the image and story I was looking for... I just added the story info as it was in the news the day I posted this image and I found it interesting as its exciting news for any person effected with Thalidomide, as Carl is.
Regarding the reaction, I will say there is a HUGE ammount of bitterness from sufferers towards the goverment and pharmecutical companies recognizing this tragedy so late... an image that was all smiles and happiness would have absolutely been false and totally misrepresentitive of the reality of the situation.
One thing for me that leaves this particular iimage lacking is having had to use a f3.5 lens... its a very soft finish and the lens is not the best in low light such as this shot was... but as I don't have the money to afford a really fast glass with a wide angle... (This was made with a 18-70mm lens, spot metered on the brightest light, wide open at 18mm) it was the best the kit and available light could manage.
Since this image I have made more with a 28mm 2.8 and the results are vastly different... as with the shots made with a 50mm 1.8.
I would say calibrate your screen... as I have no notion of anything "cartoonish" or over processed upon my screen or the resulting prints : )
If I were to critique this image it would be with composition. Lowering the camera so that there was a tad more bottom and less top space would have been better. Personally I would have gone for a full portrait myself and exposed to show a bit more detail in the shadow areas. Other than that the image isn't bad, but only tells part of the story, which is why it needed the back story to paint the full picture. As a set up, I would have used two models in the shot, one male and the other female. Perhaps showing them holding hands in their own way and looking lovingly at each other. But each of us have different ideas on this.
(This is a new shot made with Carl)
Thanks for the comment!...
RE comp and exposure... my lens and the shape of the room did not permit me any more leeway in composition... I had my back to a wall... and this window was the only source of natural light in the room... exposing for the dark areas would have over exposed the face completely... so I spot metered a highlight upon the left of Carl's forehead to compensate for the bright sunlight there... sometimes we just have to work with what we have got!
As for "setting up" this or any other shot... thats a distinct no-no for me... to gain trust and confidence from someone and be given the honor of photographing them... is something I value and I don't place my ego onto the situation and try to arrange the truth... and the truth here is Carl has had a very painful and lonely life... so your suggestion of a setup... I feel very far from reality... and would for sure have made Carl very, very uncomfortable...
I hope to make portraits that reflect honestly the people I am photographing... not impose my ideas or constructs of what their life and life experience might be like... how could I ever understand what life has been like for Carl?... but like you suggest, we all have different ideas on this!...
I never intimated that I wanted the story and the image critiqued as one intertwining piece, the story is there purely to explain Carl's condition and the story was in the news the day of my initial posting... the B&W was taken months before the announcement of the Governments apology to victims of the Thalidomide scandal.
My biggest struggle is, I love to shoot in low natural light... so fast glass and a full frame sensor would be great... or a really good film SLR but I just can't afford kit like that!... so I try and do the best I can with what I have got.
As for my own take of the B&W... taken during our first ever session together and very informal, maybe only 4 shots taken during conversation... I like and respect Carl's defiant stance... he takes hold of the camera with his gaze into the lens.
To have the life he has had and has... and still have the courage, inner resolve and strength to face life and face a camera leaves me speechless... I feel he's facing the camera and the subsequent audience with grit and courage and defiance... and I am sincerely proud of him and incredibly honored to have been permitted to make his portrait.
We met as tentative strangers and through photography have become friends... the photographs we have made have given him a new confidence, and a sense that he is able to redress the balance of how people view him... that he is able to be seen for him, the man he is... rather than how the world so often imposes an identity or character upon him and that he knows that my camera in no way judges him and that for me is the greatest reward possible.
You could have got down on your knees or sat on a chair to take the shot. Exposure wise you could have exposed for the shadows and locked exposure - if you you have exposure lock on your camera, or did four shots: 1 at 0 and then + 1/3, 1/2 or 1 full stop. Never mind. It's still a fairly decent picture in my view.
I understand about the set up. That was me just trying to think creative...lol
Yes I too like to work with window light. This link to one of my Flickr window shots of my granddaughter was taken by locking exposure on a midtone area of her face. [url]http://www.flickr.com/photos/amazonsandimages/3445677492/[/url]
Keep up the good work.
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