Tag Archives: photo

The Namoa Pirates

Kowloon Namoa Pirate Behading_tuhmHaving grown up in Hong Kong, thinking about colonialism and imperialism quickly gives me a headache. At the root of this is an unbridgeable sense of cognitive dissonance: on the one hand these two forces created an amazing city which I love as my home, and on the other I know that using force against others for your own gain is morally reprehensible.

Certain British historians have tried in the past to get around this by claiming that the British Empire was less brutish and more beneficial than other contemporary empires, but this seems to be skirting the issues to reduce collective guilt.

With this personal context in mind, I am immediately interested in any historical images of Hong Kong, especially older ones which might offer insight into what life was like under imperial rule. And so it was that the following image really caught my eye:

Kowloon Namoa Pirate Behading
Image via Historical Times, under Public Domain

Viewing only the top half of the image it seems like some kindly old gentlemen on a rural day out, posing for a photo. Look then at the bottom half and witness beheaded humans lying in the dirt. Should we feel for the “pirates” who have been executed? Did they deserve their fate through wrong deeds, or did they simply upset the wrong imperialists? What are passers-by thinking: are they relieved that justice has been dealt, abhorred by the brutishness of these gwai lo (foreign devils), or fatalistically indifferent?

Of course, we will never really know the answers to these questions, but they are worth discussing all the same. I duly filed the image away for later use, shared it on Twitter and moved on. Much to my surprise, a couple of teachers (@vanweringh and @PaulGrace9) who are now in my PLN saw the image and started sharing and researching  ideas on it.

Reading these articles is revealing. It seems like the pirates were genuinely dastardly, but they make up only 6 of the 15 beheadings. Also of interest is that some of the beheadings were carried out by a 15-year old boy. How times have changed.

Our collaboration finished up with suggestions to use HistoryPin and the image below to further explore this area. As was mentioned in our discussions, the topics of piracy and imperialism are so interesting to study as they are still relevant today.

 

Misleading Images

Doctored_Stalin-LeninThis lesson aims to introduce students to the concept of misleading images, and to try and engender in students a certain skepticism when interacting with media. This lesson could potentially be used in a range of subjects including ICT, Media, History, Theory of Knowledge, PSHE/Pastoral etc.

In the past this has proven to be one of those lessons that really gets students sitting up, listening and discussing, as most of them have no idea they are being constantly manipulated by the mass media.

 


Misleading Images

In general we trust photos in a way that we would never trust words: we know that photos can be faked, but we don’t usually question what we see in the media and on the Internet. Let’s use some fun examples to see what we can and cannot trust:

The resources below look at how photos can be misleading, either through accident, doctoring, creative photography or omission. Digital photography and computer technology make this process much easier and more powerful, but it is important to keep in mind that these exact issues have been relevant since the dawn of the photographic era.

Of particular interest is the process by which images are “photoshopped” (i.e. digitally manipulated), and just how much transformation is possible. The videos below give an insight into this process (they are accelerated, it really takes much longer to do this, and lots of skill too).

We can look at the impact of misleading photos from different perspectives, including:

  • Political – what might a country gain by manipulating photos of its enemy at war?
  • Individual – how does unrealistically attractive portraits in magazines make me feel?
  • Society – how have misleading photos changed our expectations and measures of beauty?

In the end, how do we know what to trust if we cannot trust what we see?

Old & Rare Photos

A shell shocked reindeer looks on as World War II planes drop bombs on Russia in 1941This collection of fantastic old images was shared with me by my father-in-law, and is too good not to share onwards. Sadly, I could not find a web-based version of the list, so I have decided to host them here. Enjoy, a visual feast of 20th century history.

Credits: Most of these images are old enough to be out of copyright and so are free to use. For the newer ones, I am sharing them under assumed fair use for educational purposes. The text has been copied from the original email. If you feel this post infringes your copyright, please let me know.

Images to Inspire

Recently I have been thinking about how I can set up my classroom to inspire my students. I was looking online for some interesting posters, and to be frank, there was very little that appealed to me. I was mulling over the idea of producing my own posters, when I was struck by an idea that now seems very obvious: why not get prints of great photos from the web, and have them framed.

The images are related to my role within the school, which is not only to teach ICT, but also to promote environmental awareness and positive values amongst the students. I am thinking of grouping the images into two collections: Our World and Personal Heroes. The remaining two photos (which are very large) will be displayed on their own. Once the images are up, I will post some photos here.


Despite the fact that many teachers have rejected Wikipedia, I maintain that it is one of the richest resources available to teachers. As proof of this, consider the fact that all of the images shown below are from the Wikimedia Commons, which acts as Wikipedia’s media gallery. What’s particularly neat about this is that the images are all provided under permissive licenses (such as Creative Commons): this means that all of this work is legal, provided I follow a few simple rules.

People At Work

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/at_work.html

An interesting, visual look at the work people do around the world every day.  If you are studying globalisation, the importance of labour, production techniques, issues of scale, culture or photography, this resource ought to be of interest. Like it or not, the work we do has a huge impact on how we are perceived, both by our selves and by others: looking at the huge range of work being performed can help put things into perspective.