• Colin Anthony

UK-2020: a dishonest media?

Updated: May 27

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For sometime now Jo and I havebeen watching how the media, here in the UK, has reacted to the Corona virus epidemic. It has not been inspiring. Respective, compound questions for which we already have the answers... Pathetic, fifth form, attempts to trip up politicians during the daily briefings. And, loaded questions, intended to offer false binary choices. It's been truly disappointing. We were hoping that the media would be part of the national effort to get through this COVID 19 crisis. I now realise that they are a lost cause and the dwindling leftie within in me is now officially set adrift. So why am I posting this on my Photography Blog? We have specifically noticed a phenomenon, or technique that the media have adopted to illustrate a lack of social distancing. They use highly selective images to make random accusations about individuals, and or, groups in the images. It implies, at best, a lack of attention, or care, by those individuals, and at worst, a disregard for themselves, others and current public policy. In that context, the choice of these images is shameful and the media should be called out. Not only is this practise abhorrent, in a time when people are dying, but they know they are doing this. It is an editorial choice, and I would go so far to accuse them of deliberately selecting these images to whip up fear and discord amongst their viewers here in the UK, who may not be aware of such photographic techniques. For those of you not familiar with lens compression and the effect that has on the images they use, I thought I'd explain it and then demo it for here for you, so that you can spot it when you see these images.

The perceived distance between your subject and the rest of the scene is dependent on two things: where you stand relative to your subject to take the photo and the focal length of the lens you choose.

Not interesting Col! True, it's an academic, technical statement, so here are some images taken today in Richmond Park to graphically illustrate this illusion of proximity:


Above, we have four people sitting in the park looking mighty close to each other. This shot is very deceiving. It is shot using a long lens. The effect is to compress, or squeeze the subjects closer together... (400mm Lens)


Above, we have the same people, no one has moved, but now there is significant distance between them. Everyone can see this, including every picture editor in the world. (55mm Lens) This is approximately what your eye would see if you stood on the spot from which I snapped this image. It is honest, in that respect.


Above, we have an interesting image that increases the distance. This is a wide angle lens. It makes people look further apart than they really are. Not quite so close now are they? This is also not honest. The effect is to increase the distance (24mm Lens). Again, no one has moved.


Note regarding the bicycles in the shots. The subjects did not ride their bikes into the park. They walked them in. These images were taken very near Kingston Gate. All subjects were following government guidelines and current restrictions on cycling in the Royal Parks.

Here above is the image from the news item on Sky News today. The people in the image are far apart from each other and where they are not they are most likely from the same household.

Above is the image the BBC selected for their story just before the lockdown. Look how close the trees along the path appear to be. Then look at the people on the path. You know that the parks plant trees well apart from each other along avenues.


When the same media want to show empty streets to talk about the economy they use images like this below:

Super wide, just like my shot in the park...

Using images in this way is simply not honest. Note: I do understand that some people are not social distancing, of course there are people breaking the rules, but the overwhelming majority are not breaking the rules, even after the lockdown had ended and we have entered phase one of the recovery. It may well spike again, but judging other people's actions by reading what the media are putting out and making judgements on the images they select to illustrate the point is like tilting at windmills. I hope some of you find this information useful Regards C

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