mobile phone

The unlikely and serious consequences of teenage sexting

An 18 year old and a 19 year old are in a relationship. They're committed to and respectful of each other. They enjoy consensual sex and every now and again they share a naughty photo. A 16 year old and a 17 year old are in a relationship. They're committed to and respectful of each other. They enjoy consensual sex and every now and again they share a naughty photo.

What's the difference? Both couples are over the age of consent and no one is being forced into doing anything they do not wish to do. Yet the younger couple is breaking the law. By sharing photos of themselves, they're distributing indecent images of children. They are, of course, under the age of 18 and therefore still children. That they are accustomed to each other's bodies in the flesh means nothing when they're pixillated.

The penalty for distributing indecent images of children is much more serious than a slap on the wrists, too. It can result in being placed on the sex offenders' register. For anyone, that is a life-altering punishment; for someone who is 16, it could be life-ruining.

This issue has been brought into the public consciousness again (it raised its head towards the end of last year) after Nottinghamshire Police sent a letter to schools in the county asking them to advise their pupils about the potential consequences of 'sexting'. Recently, the police have dealt with several cases where sexting has taken a turn for the nasty, and while they've not prosecuted the young people involved, the outcome could have been different.

That's quite enough!

Much of what I've been reading around this topic today—for it seems to be overtaking the BBC—involves admonishing young people not to be so stupid or to consider the consequences of their actions should these photos make their way onto the Intergoogles; invokes despair that young people are capable of such recklessness and disregard for other people's feelings and reputations; or it criticises their lack of self-respect and gutter behaviour. There's also a great deal of concern about the pressure that might be applied to young people to take and share lascivious photos when they really don't want to.

Some of these concerns are valid. The teenaged equivalent of revenge porn can be deeply painful and horribly humiliating with tentacles that spread much further than school. While its perpetrators might be content to wreak harm and havoc on those whose images they share, I doubt that they realise just how extensive the consequences can be. As for coercing young people into sharing pictures that they probably wouldn't want to show their parents; it's another of those pressures of conformation piling up on young people: to be thin, to wear particular clothes, to smoke, to drink, to have sex. Between Snapchat and Slingshot and WhatsApp and any other means of sharing an image, we have for ourselves the social media age incarnation of 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours,' behind the bike sheds, except with potentially longer-lasting and farther-reaching consequences.

We cannot and should not tell young people what to do; it's about giving them the skills, the self-confidence, and the information to make their own choices and about providing them with non-judgemental support when they have to live through it. Vilifying them for a lack of self-respect is unlikely to achieve very much.

It's a naked body, but not as we know it, Jim! (Photo by Haje)

These are all pertinent points for anyone under 16 who's legally regarded as not being able to give consent. Indeed they remain valid for anyone over the age of 16; but there's a particular issue relevant to 16 and 17 year olds that seems to be overlooked.

There's a disconnect between the legality of their engagement in consensual physical sexual activity and the illegality of recording that same consensual physical sexual activity. A law that's designed to protect young people from exploitation has the potential to criminalise them. I hope that those who have to enforce it apply some common sense to any situations that come their way.

What's Nokia brought to the mobile photography landscape with its new phones?

There's been a lot of love for the cameras that Nokia have been squishing into their mobile phones of late. It isn't just about the 41 megapixels found in the Lumia 1020, but more about their cameras' quite impressive low-light capability, image stabilisation, and the control that the camera app affords you. With the anouncement of the Nokia 1520 and 1320 in Abu Dhabi today, has anything new been brought into play in the smartphone landscape? Let's start with introduction of a Windows phone-compatible Instagram app. Instagram is hardly new to smartphoneography and if filtered, shared photos don't float your boat, it'll hardly seem like a big deal. However, for people at Microsoft and Nokia, the lack of an Instagam app on their phones was considered to be a significant factor in holding back sales of their devices when compared against Instagram-friendly iOS and Android. The Windows phone has now been opened up to a wealth of people who might otherwise have dismissed it out-of-hand, and with it, its camera's capabilities and functionality have been pitted against those of other manufacturers.

That's the 20 megapixel Lumia 1520

Lots of the other toys might not bring anything revolutionary to the Lumia cameras, but they are fun and functional.

The new Refocus app isn't new to camera technology—it's the same idea as a Lytro, allowing you to refocus your images after you've taken them—and something similar is available for iPhones, with the Focus Twist app, but it is bringing more functionality to Nokia phones and giving more options to users. Refocus also allows your Facebook friends (and other socially networked people) to fiddle with your photos and interact with them.

The Beamer app and the Storyteller function are meant to make Nokia phones more interactive, too. Beamer will allow you to share photos with anyone whose screen is compatible via a via social media, email, or SMS link. Storyteller creates a temporal story of your photos, placing them on a map along with chronological notation.

Previously, there were two separate camera apps in Nokia phones: Smart Cam and Pro Cam. These have now been combined into a single Nokia Camera app, which should make shooting quicker and simpler.

But the introduction of Raw file support does signal that Microsoft/ Nokia does mean business with its cameras. If they can do it, why shouldn't or couldn't any other camera manufacturer? We're seeing the gradual adoption of larger and larger sensors into smaller and smaller camera bodies; why not the introduction of Raw files into smartphones as standard?

Triggertrap goes wireless

When Team Triggertrap headed to Photokina in September with their universal camera triggering device and app, one of the questions most frequently asked of them was 'Will there be a cable-free option for the app soon?' Being able to use your mobile phone to remotely control your camera is awesome, but having to use a connection cable can be a bit of a bind.

Without trying to give away too much, Matt and Haje would smile and nod and say that it was something that they were thinking about. They've been thinking about it very hard, in fact, and developing, and testing, and testing some more, and finally some updating. From today you can update your Triggertrap Mobile app, either Android or iOS, so that it can trigger your dSLR or EVIL camera wirelessly.

And it's all down to Wi-Fi.

Your mobile acts at the master device whilst the Triggertrap dongle interfaces with your camera as the slave. If you'd like to control several slave devices from one master, that's possible, too.

Of course, this is all hunky-dory if you happen to be shooting somewhere with a Wi-Fi network, but what if you're in the middle of Nowheresville without one? You can create a personal hotspot using your master device's data network, assuming of course that you have one of those. Ta-dah! You can go forth and wirelessly create time-lapses and distance lapses, or trigger your camera using sound, vibration, or the correct number of faces in the scene.

The update is available for free for existing Triggertrap Premium app users and included in new downloads (Android is here; iOS is here). Don't forget, you will still need the dongle, though. (And yes, I'm still inclined to snigger every time that I hear the word 'dongle'. I don't expect that to change any time soon.)

World's first 16 megapixel mobile phone sensor


The megapixel race among camera phones continues as Sony just announced the world’s first 16.41 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor for mobile phones. While the sensor’s specs may rival, and exceed, those of some point and shoot cameras, it remains to be seen if it will actually result in higher quality images.

Keep in mind that a high megapixel count isn’t the only ingredient in the recipe for a crisp photo. If the small sensor doesn’t retain high light sensitivity or benefit from a proper lens module, the only thing those 16 megapixels will capture is an unaware public obsessed with pixel count.

However, Sony claims to have improved on high sensitivity and low noise in developing this new sensor. New and improved technology, or marketing ploy? We shall see next year as Sony plans on shipping these sensors in January of 2011.

Read Sony’s press release for more details.