Submitting photographs to the CIRCLIST Archive
CIRCLIST welcomes interesting, relevant photographs depicting circumcision. However, we need something more informative than “Here’s a picture of my willy!”.
To qualify for admission to the Circlist Archive, your image should...
- be legal in terms of content. Read the detailed advice in the next section and, if still unsure, contact the CIRCLIST Google Group Moderators for individual guidance before uploading your image.
- be on-topic. We are looking for photographs of circumcisions, not piercings or tattoos (however proud you may be of them). Images depicting bondage, sado-masochism or body modifications other than circumcision are unlikely to be archived.
- be of reasonable quality, especially in terms of sharp focus. Again, detailed advice appears below.
- be either your copyright or copyright-free. If you have discovered an image of exceptional interest that is not yours to copy or distribute, please contact the Moderators. We will make enquiries to determine whether it can be reproduced within the terms of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. As a not-for-profit organisation, CIRCLIST enjoys certain exemptions not available to organisations engaged in trade.
- depict something new, remarkable or unusual in terms of style, method, cultural context or whatever.
- have a file name that conveys useful information. Examples: "Indonesian_mass_circ", "Ultra-low_cut", "Healing_day-9". If you feel the need to say more than this, post a message in the 'Discussions' section of the Google Group creating a new topic on the same day as you upload the image. Matching the dates helps our archivist link the message to the image and thus create a correct index entry.
Due to storage and bandwidth limitations, images in the archive are stored in files with a typical file size of 50kB. This means that it is not
necessary to use the latest multi-megabyte professional camera equipment. Modest equipment proficiently used will produce images that are more than adequate for the purpose.
If you upload using a larger file size, we will shrink it for you as part of the process of transferring the image from the group’s Files page to the archive. The archive is accessed through the group’s Pages section, where you will find a searchable index.
To upload a photograph you have to be a member of our Google Group. (For details, follow the link to "Discussion Group" in the Navigation Bar below.) Sign in, make your way to the Files section and use the upload link on the right-hand side of the page. The Moderators reserve the right to delete without warning any image that breaches our guidelines. Acceptable uploads are not guaranteed a place in the archive and the archive itself will be subject to 'weeding' from time to time, as the standard of available material builds. Therefore you should always keep a backup of your own images. Do not rely on CIRCLIST as a secure storage facility.
Improving your photography
There is plenty of advice on the internet relating to basic photographic skills. What follows is not intended to be a beginner’s tutorial, more of a follow-on to enable you build upon basic skills and thus take good photographs of circumcisions.
Your picture should satisfy all the following criteria before you declare yourself content and offer it for display it to the rest of the world:
- Focus. The principal subject matter should be in sharp focus. If your camera is fitted with auto-focus, learn to control it effectively. Just jabbing at the shutter release and hoping for the best won’t do. Remember that ancient maxim “If all else fails, read the instructions!”. If you have lost your camera’s instruction manual, look for a copy on the Internet.
- Depth of focus. Deliberately placing the background out of focus is a good way of preventing it from being distracting. Learn how to control depth of focus (also called Depth of Field) by selective use of the aperture control.
- Lighting. Diffused natural daylight is almost always best, but not always available. If working by artificial light, remember to allow for the colour temperature of your light source. Neglect that and the colours of your image will suffer in consequence. This is especially true in respect of skin tones, which may be crucial to making a point about - for example - scar position.
- Flash. Turn it off if it is not needed! If it is needed, beware of its tendency to produce harsh shadows and to give flat surfaces a somewhat washed-out look. Shadows can be avoided by use of Ring Flash (which has been around for years) or TTL (Through The Lens) Flash, which is a more recent innovation.
- Shutter Speed. You are not photographing high-speed action here, so the shutter speed need not be fast. Just correct, so as to arrive at the correct exposure.
Old hands at the game will realise that all the factors mentioned so far are interactive. The skill is in balancing them. Because we are dealing with a substantially stationary subject, shutter speed should be determined by the other factors (rather than being the determinant of them, as would be the case in, let’s say, sports photography).
- Composition. Your image should be well composed. The principal point of interest should not be half off the picture, or squashed up in one corner. Although not intended to be ‘artistic’, an informative image should still be visually pleasing in terms of aspect ratio and points-of-interest distribution, even if it does not conform precisely to the theoretical ideals of the ‘Golden Section’.
- Stereo photography. Two additional checklist items arise in respect of stereo (3D) photography - The “Closest Point” rule and the matter of “Depth of Stereo”. These are discussed in the special section relating to stereo imaging, below.
- Video photography. Many otherwise interesting videos are ruined by an unsteady camera position. Whilst image stabilisation can help, it is preferable to mount the video camera on a really sturdy tripod. The only things in the picture that move should be objects that are moving in real life; do things this way and the definition of the whole video will improve as a result. This is because of the file compression methods involved. If the whole background moves, bandwidth is consumed re-drawing the whole image rather than just the action within it.
Photography of circumcisions tends to be done to illustrate a medical or ethnographic issue discussed in accompanying text, rather than as an artform intended to be viewed on a stand-alone basis. To be meaningful for informative purposes, your image(s) should...
- Be on-topic. The image should prominently illustrate the point you seek to make, not be some obscure part of it that most viewers will be unable to appreciate.
- Avoid distractions. The image should not be dominated by (and preferably should not include at all) potential distractions from the main thrust of the reasoning.
- Form sensible sequences. It is often the case that you will want to create a sequence of photographs. For example ‘Before, During and After’, or ‘Progress of Healing’. Decide what your thread is going to be and stick to it, avoiding near-duplicate images as well as gaps in the record of the event.
Legality Checklist (with special reference to nudity)
This topic is a minefield! Laws vary from country to country and it is impossible to cover every eventuality in a web page intended for a global audience. Thus the following list must be treated as being “in outline only” and not necessarily correct or complete in respect of any one jurisdiction.
- Local Laws and Customs. Obey them. The most extreme restriction known to CIRCLIST occurs in Syria, where all depiction of nudity is illegal. That probably means that our website does not get read in Syria....
- Depiction of the genitalia of Minors. In most countries this is not illegal per se, but several strict rules nevertheless tend to apply. For our particular purpose, the image must relate to circumcision and its inclusion must not be gratuitous. There must be no sexual content, even as innuendo. It must not be possible to identify the boy. Stating the country is both relevant and acceptable, on the grounds that cultural issues are a prime determinant of circumcision norms. But naming the boy’s home village, for example, would be inappropriate. The photographs should be strictly 'documentary' in nature, recording only such events as would have happened anyway.
Generally speaking, it is best for the amateur to avoid all photography of naked minors lest their motives be misunderstood. Leave such things to professional medical photographers unless local custom encourages photography of circumcision ceremonies, as is the case (for example) in Malaysia. When travelling, beware of laws of your own country that have extra-territorial application. The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is no longer a reliable legal defence.
- Depiction of the genitalia of Adults. It is unwise to include an adult’s face if his genitalia also appear anywhere in the photo sequence. An exception to this might be a photograph taken at a naturist resort where, by implication of the venue, people expect to be seen naked.
- Consent. ALWAYS obtain consent to photograph someone who is naked. Not to do so is widely regarded as being voyerism.
- Incidental Inclusion (Someone appearing identifiably in the background of a photograph that includes nudity, unless the venue gives implied consent). Avoid it. If necessary, airbrush them out using a computer program such as Photoshop.
- Copyright. Normally this will reside with you if you took the photograph, unless you have waived it in favour of someone else. Problems can, however, arise if the photograph was taken in the course of your employment.
Looking ahead - upcoming developments in photography
The pundits tell us that the next big revolution in the world of TV and related home entertainment will be 3D. That is to say, stereo imaging. The technology involved is rapidly converging with that of stereo photography, such that we will soon be able to show our own 3D photographs on our domestic 3D television screens.
Stereo photography gives depth to an image, making it very much more realistic. It has been said that stereo photography converts the sensation of “I was there...” into the sensation “I am there!”.
But just what is stereo photography? Leaving aside for the moment any personal issues of visual impairment, we see with two eyes. The two images differ slightly, because our eyes are typically 2½" (65mm) apart. In real life, the difference between the two images is used by our brains to judge distance. Stereo imaging tricks the brain into thinking that the 3D image is real in terms of depth/distance.
How to take a stereo photograph - the basics
A special camera can be used to create a “stereoscopic pair” of photographs which, when viewed using appropriate equipment, cause the brain to perceive a full three-dimensional image exactly as seen when looking at the subject matter in real life.
Stereo photography is nothing new. In the left-hand image below you see a camera made in the mid 1950s and designed to take stereoscopic transparencies in the form of two half-frame images. It used standard 35mm Kodachrome film, sadly no longer available. To the right, a compatible hand-held slide viewer of similar vintage.
Vintage 35mm stereo camera equipment, circa 1956
Left: Edixa-Wirgin camera. Photo copyright © 2006 - CIRCLIST Editor.
Right: Nebro stereo slide viewer. Photo copyright © 2010 - CIRCLIST Editor.
Can this technique be brought up-to-date using e-photo technology? The answer is yes... but there are pitfalls. A satisfactory stereo pair of images will not
result from the use of two e-cameras placed with their lenses 65mm apart. This is because no two CCDs (Charge-Coupled Devices, the light-sensitive receptors at the back of the e-camera) are identical across the whole spectrum of colours and the whole range of brightness of lighting conditions. Colours will vary as between the two images, both in hue and in saturation, as will recorded brightness. Such discrepancies interfere with the brain’s interpretation of the images and are frequently bad enough to destroy the illusion of depth.
Rather than hunt down a matched pair of CCDs, the easy solution to this problem is to use one CCD to photograph both images. This can be achieved in at least 3 ways:
- Move a normal, single-lens camera. Believe it or not, this works! As long as the subject remains still, two photographs taken from locations approximately 65mm apart will create a 3D illusion. It does, however, rule out photographing oneself. Also, it is best not to use flash because the shadow patterns will be different.
Care is needed when moving the camera; the displacement should be in line with the top and bottom of the image. One way to achieve this is to use a table, placing the camera on it and sliding it sideways between taped spacing marks.
Don’t zoom in too close. Leave generous borders around the original images so that you can later crop them to match. Matched cropping makes it somewhat easier for the brain to ‘engage’ with the stereoscopic pair; the stereo effect will only work for subject matter that appears in both images.
- Split the image in two, using prisms and/or mirrors. Appropriate camera adapters do exist but are rare; they attach in the same way as a filter or lens hood and therefore require a matched thread on the casing of the lens itself.
Pentax image splitter, circa 1970
Image © 1999 - Michael Kersenbrock.
- Split the image using the latest high-tech equipment such as the Loreo 3D Macro Lens. This clever gizmo not only converts a compatible 2D digital SLR camera into a stereo camera but, by shortening the Stereo Baseline, it also defeats the normal restrictions on close-ups associated with conventional stereo imaging. The resulting image is 3D from the viewpoint of a Lilliputian - potentially stunning for close-ups.
Loreo 3D Macro Lens
Image © 2009
Loreo Asia Ltd.
Rules relating to stereo photography generally
When contemplating 3D photography in any form (film, TV or e-photo), always remember that there is a restriction on close-ups that does not arise with 2D imaging. The illusion of a three-dimensional image fails if this rule is broken:
The distance to Closest Point must be greater than
the Stereo Baseline multiplied by the lens Focal Length
The Stereo Baseline is the distance between the centres of the camera lenses - typically 65mm. Apologies to readers who think in feet and inches, but this rule-of-thumb calculation is best done in millimetres. The implication is clear: Forget telephoto lenses, use wide-angle ones and compose one’s pictures accordingly.
Also evident in a stereo photograph is the limited depth of the stereo effect. Try to ensure that the depth of focus is always slightly less than the depth of stereo; do otherwise and the result looks dreadful. This means using a larger aperture than one would naturally choose for 2D photography. You must get this right at the stage of taking the photograph; such errors cannot be corrected either in Photoshop or during the projection/display process. It is a good idea to switch off the fully automatic exposure function of your camera and use manual control to specify a wide aperture (low f-stop number), allowing the camera then to choose the consequential shutter speed required for correct exposure.
Viewing stereo photographs on a computer or TV screen
At this juncture you may be thinking that e-photography in stereo is more complicated than doing things the old-fasioned way with film. That’s probably true in respect of taking the photograph, but the payback comes when viewing the images in 3D. Here, a whole range of new possibilities opens up:
- A few lucky people can look at a stereo pair of images on a computer screen and straight away perceive them in 3D without assistance. More can do so if a postcard or similar screen shields the right-hand image from the left eye and vice-versa.
- Peversely, some can achieve such unaided 3D perception if the right-eye image is on the left and the left-eye image on the right, the viewer deliberately going cross-eyed to look at them! This is not, however, recommended on account of the possibility of eye strain.
- A really low-tech device is the colour mask. Sometimes distributed free in advance of suitably adapted TV programmes, this in its most basic form consists of a cardboard sleeve supporting two celluloid filters, one red and the other cyan. The viewer holds the mask to their face and in consequence sees the image in stereo - but also in false colours. Fun to try, but not a serious proposition for quality viewing.
- The best low-cost answer is to buy a viewer such as the one illustrated here - a product of Stereo Aids of Albany, Western Australia:
ScreenScope type SA200VO from Stereo Aids
Left: © 2000 - Stereo Aids. Note the double image on the screen.
Right: © 2006 - CIRCLIST Editorial Department.
The width of the computer screen must equal or exceed the width of the viewing apparatus, which in this case is 9¼" (236mm), otherwise the images cannot be correctly spaced on the display. This precludes the use of small notebook computers for the purpose of viewing with this device.
- Moving into the high-tech market, one encounters electronic shutter glasses. These are the likely way forward for the ‘Home Cinema’ market but are at present rather expensive. The principle of operation is as follows: The viewer wears a pair of computer-controlled glasses that are made of a material that can be switched from transparent to opaque and back again very quickly. For one scan of the computer screen, the left eye’s image is displayed. Simultaneously, the left lens of the glasses is made transparent and the right lens opaque. Then, a fraction of a second later, the computer screen displays the right eye’s image and the opacity of the lenses is simultaneously reversed. Then it’s back to the left image and so on. The natural phenomenon of persistence of vision causes each eye to see its own image flicker-free and the two images together are perceived by the brain as stereoscopic. This works not only for still 3D images but also for movies if that’s what the original recording comprises. Because the system effectively halves the refresh-rate of the screen, it is not recommended for displays scanning at less than 100 frames per second. This system is coming to a TV near you very soon....
Left image: © 2008 Amidror & Wikipedia. Manufacturer: Xpand.
Right image: Public domain. Manufacturer: CrystalEyes.
Cheaper models use a wired USB port connection to control timing and supply power. Better in terms of viewer mobility are those using Bluetooth, WiFi or infra-red signalling, as illustrated.
- At the Ideal Home Exhibition in London in March 2010, a new form of 3DTV was launched that mimics the cinema projection technique’s use of polarised light. The advantage of the polarised light technique over the shutter glasses technique is that each set of viewing glasses is very much cheaper to make. Polarised 3DTV sets should start appearing in the shops in the autumn (fall) of 2010 but are likely to be expensive; furthermore it may be some years before broadcast TV catches up. More here:
It is not necessary to know the intended projection system when the digital stereo photograph is taken. Using computer programs such as Photoshop, any stereo pair of images can be adapted to suit any electronic projection or display system. Therefore there is no reason to delay building up your portfolio of stereoscopic images. Just take each photograph twice, from positions 65mm apart, bearing in mind the special rules about large apertures and not getting too close. Easy, isn’t it?
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