Tagged: Dan Ellis

8th May 2014 – Table Top Photography and Patent US 8676045 B1.

Apologies one and all for the previous absence of this post, it was written and competed 11th May but for some reason butterfingers here didn’t press the right button and it has sat on WordPress as a draft – and I’ve only just noticed? Doh! Whereas I am certain that you felt less-than-deprived I really wanted to share a great evening with those who couldn’t make it, and thank those who made it possible so I am publishing it now. This weeks will follow in due course. Ian G.


May 11, 2014 @ 12:33

The table top/macro photography evening returned last Thursday and, as ever, was well attended. There were a variety of stations and a good number of things to try. From an unscientific example a goodly percentage of people learned something new. The club showed its strength by playing to the wide range of experience within it. Thanks to everybody who made this possible as from Dan E’s Lego via Eddie H’s Dalek through Gerry’s flora (and personal thanks from me for the use of the lights and soft box) to Eddie D’s dog Ella and much more we weren’t short of materials to photograph. Thanks are also due to Ian C and Hanneke and anyone I have inadvertently omitted.

Luckily most – and if anyone is asking ALL – of our photographs were taken against a BLACK background. Why is this important? Well if they were taken against a white background we could be owing Jeff Bezos some serious dosh because a patent has been issued in the USA covering the taking of photographs against a white background. No, it’s not April 1st. If you take a photograph against a white background using a studio set up you owe could Amazon royalties (in the USA), patent US 8676045 B1, issued 18th March 2014 which grants intellectual rights to Amazon Technologies Inc on the taking of photographs against a white background, specifically:

 a background comprising a white cyclorama; a front light source positioned in a longitudinal axis intersecting the background, the longitudinal axis further being substantially perpendicular to a surface of the white cyclorama; an image capture position located between the background and the front light source in the longitudinal axis, the image capture position comprising at least one image capture device equipped with an eighty-five millimeter lens, the at least one image capture device further configured with an ISO setting of about three hundred twenty and an f-stop value of about 5.6… (US 86,76,045 B1)

As techdirt has so precisely pointed out, this ground breaking technological event essentially is comprised of four distinct actions:

1. Turn back lights on.

2. Turn front lights on.

3. Position thing on platform.

4. Take picture.

Abuse of the patent process? If patents are for novel and innovative inventions then this really does look abusive of the system. However, because the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has decided to be a sweet shop for those with expensive lawyers (again, see the smart-phone case referred to below) this is the law, at least in the USA. If you are doing any of these things with a camera against a white backdrop you owe Amazon money for the use of their intellectual property and it’s enforceable in the US civil courts but – good news – not internationally (yet) because of agreements on intellectual property rights still have to be registered internationally for protection in other juristrictions, and can be horrendously expensive. Amazon have deep pockets.


Other good news is that it would be unlikely in the UK, given the HTC v Apple Inc. patent case on the slide-to-unlock for locking/unlocking a phone or app that was judged insufficiently innovative. That probably lasted in the Judges mind all the way to when he swiped open the catches on his expensive briefcase to get to his sarnies. A Bart Simpson “Oh, yeah”, moment if ever there was one followed by a horrendously expensive “Doh!” from Apple a couple of weeks later. Unlikely, however is not impossible and you really do not want to be the poor soul on the end of a High Court Writ.


In a way this patent issue has a direct route back to William Fox Talbot and his photograph of the oriel window in the South Gallery of his home, Laycock Abbey, in 1835 from which he developed Talbotypes a.k.a. Calotypes. They required over an hour’s exposure time. He required good light and a steady position from which to take image which remained an absolute essential of taking a photograph for many decades after. Fox Talbot put a lot of time, effort and money into the development of the process and along with his partner Nicolaas Henneman made a sort of business out of it in Reading. The prompt for Fox Talbot applying for the patent to his invention was the arrival of the Daguerreotype, invented by Louis Daguerre in 1839 using a different process and though the Calotype became the norm the Daguerreotype has enjoyed a long if minority history. Fox Talbot’s patent was issued in September 1840 but Daguerre’s invention was given free to the world in all but one country – the UK, where his agent had it patented.


The point here is both Daguerre and Fox Talbot made something novel. Yes they used and experimented with others chemical discoveries and observations but they made their own and for a clearly discernible purpose using their own resources outside of the world of the Patent Lawyer. They changed the world. I can’t for the life of me see what Amazon intend on doing with this patent apart from annoy every serious amateur and professional photographer within the patent’s jurisdiction, or as they would know them “Potential customers” across a whole range of products, indeed their entire range of products. Unless, as  ‘Dodge & Burn’ posted on the Techdirt comments section, they make it a term and condition of their suppliers that the white background product photograph has to be taken according to the Amazon Patent, or has been taken according to the Amazon Patent therefore they demand a royalty for it. Quite possibly another way to exploit its monopoly position. Could be made to work world wide too if they insist that all images are pre-screened through their US based HQ.  Only if they are as devious as me, I suppose.

Reflex Open Competition Results

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Reflex Open Competition Results

The winners and runners up in the 2012/13 season of the Reflex Camera Club Open Competition. Congratulations to you all and a huge thank you to everyone that took part.

Novice Trophy

1st Suzanne King 65 points

2nd Maurice Thompson 39 points

3rd Julia Simone 37 points

Projected Image

1st Richard Price 37 points

2nd Mark OGrady 27 points

3rd Angie Nelson 25 points

Printed Image

1st Suzanne King 44 points

2nd Richard Price 38 points

3rd Angie Nelson 36 points

Photographer of the Year

1st Richard Price 75 points

2nd Suzanne King 65 points

3rd Angie Nelson 61 points

Best Digital Image (Stan Scantlebury Shield)

Alison Davies

Best Printed Image (John Hankin Shield)

Mark OGrady

The following Novices are promoted to the Advanced Section:

Suzanne King, Julia Simone, Wendy OBrien, Dan Ellis, Gary Horne, Maurice Thompson

Image of the Year Results

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Thursday we had the results of our John Hankin & Stan Scantlebury Shields. Which are for Best Printed and Best Digital Projected Image of the Year. We kind of sprang a bit of a surprise on everyone when they realised that we had put the Novice and Advanced images in together. After all there can only be one best Digital or Printed image of the year can’t there.


On behalf of the Committee I want to thank everyone that has taken part in the Reflex Open Competition this year. The standard of your images has been superb. I know it takes a lot of time & effort to take part in the ROC and we appreciate you all making the effort. It’s probably one of the most nerve wracking and difficult things to put something you have created in front of a room full of people and wait for someone you don’t know to tell you what they think of it. If you’ve been paying attention to what the judges have been saying (or at least most of them) then you will realise that they have been pretty constructive in their comments. So if you didn’t take part this year I hope that looking at the images and seeing just what is needed has inspired you to enter next time.

The Judge

Pete Weaver was our judge for the evening and decided to judge them cold on the night which was a brave move that many judges would not even contemplate. He started off with the Printed Images and it soon became clear that the pile of images he liked and wanted to award placings to was going to be a lot larger than the ones he didn’t like. After the Prints he worked his way through the Digital projected and he picked quite a few to receive Highly Commended spots.

The Results

John Hankin Shield

(Best Printed Image of the Year)

1st: Forever Autumn by Mark OGrady

2nd: Up the Hill, Down the Hole by Alison Davies

3rd: Blackened Light by Mark OGrady

Highly Commended: Tranquillity by Alison Davies

Highly Commended: Tulip after Spring Rain by Suzanne King

Highly Commended: Alpine Butterfly by Suzanne King

Stan Scantlebury Shield

(Best Digital Projected Image of the Year)

1st: Utterly Drenched by Alison Davies

2nd: Dungeness by Steve Hallam

=3rd: There Bee a little pollinator by Suzanne King

=3rd: Reflex by Mark OGrady

Highly Commended: Severn Sunset by Roy Williams

Highly Commended; Reflection by Gary Horne

Highly Commended: The Watcher by Ian Coombs

Highly Commended: Lonesome Jug by Barrie Brown

Highly Commended: Marching Pylons by Dan Ellis

Highly Commended: Summer Stroll by Roy Williams

Highly Commended: Multiplicity by Gary Horne

That’s the Reflex Open Competition finished for the 2012/13 Season. But who has won? You will have to come to the Prize Giving on the 30th May to find out.