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Time lapse in the work place

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Offline JvdP

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Time lapse in the work place
« on: 07 / September / 2013, 08:42:25 »
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In case you are not interested in "the long story", here's what I like to discuss in this thread:

Is time lapse photography (for internal and external marketing reasons) in the work place ethical?

What are your experiences and opinions on doing time lapse photography in places where people are involved?


The long story
We have a large factory where I work. For many years I have had an obsession with making a time lapses of our production processes. Earlier this year, I won over the chief communications  and he arranged allowance from the unions to do such time lapses. The unions would have to review any material before it would be published (internal or external) and of course we would respect people's personality rights.

A few weeks ago, I bought 3 Canon Ixus 240HS, installed CHDK (thanks nafraf) and hung up 2 of the 3 camera's running the ultimate intervalometer script (thanks waterwingz and reyalp). Then I made sure that the people working in the area knew of the time lapse and they seemed OK with it. After a few days, all hell broke loose...

When I'd come to work in the mornings I would notice that the camera's were off. Since I had little experience with CHDK and scripting I thought maybe it was my own fault, but I have reasons to suspect that the workers turned off the camera's.

I was aware that there were workers with strong negative opinions of the cameras but I never expected as much "resistance" as I faced the past few days. Things developed quickly from there on and I found myself having discussions with the VP Operations and the chiefs in factory. Most people were on my side though. The problem? Some people considered the camera's "surveillence" and this is not allowed according to the law, unless there is a security risk. We hadn't checked the law because we never were of the opinion that this is surveillance. So we looked it up and indeed we found out that, depending on how you interpret (!) the regulations, the kind of photography we were doing could be illegal.

We rang the "Data Protection Authorities" and explained our plans. They confirmed that it would be against the law, even though the purpose of the camera's wasn't surveillance. There seemed to be no way to allow the type of photography we had in mind, not even with the signature of every single worker in the factory. The unions had no right to "allow" the project in the first place.

Since I didn't want to upset the workers, I removed the camera's. But soon things escalated even further. For some people in the company, this time lapse project is of high value and now the company lawyers were thrown into the ring. They are going to find out how we should interpret the law on surveillance and whether we can justify the time lapses.

My biggest disappointment is not the cancellation of my time lapse project but the resistance and useless negative feedback I received from the workers. It's very difficult for me to understand how they can be so negative. After all, we all work for the same company and good marketing (in the form of amazing time lapses) will eventually benefit them as well.

I really hope there's a way I can continue the time lapses, because I have looked at the material and it looks freaking amazing. When I walk through our factory, my mind explodes from the millions of time lapse ideas I get. Time lapses are awesome, why can't everybody just acknowledge that?! ???

Re: Time lapse in the work place
« Reply #1 on: 07 / September / 2013, 10:18:34 »
We rang the "Data Protection Authorities" and explained our plans. They confirmed that it would be against the law, even though the purpose of the camera's wasn't surveillance. There seemed to be no way to allow the type of photography we had in mind, not even with the signature of every single worker in the factory. The unions had no right to "allow" the project in the first place.
Laws change in different countries. However, I think I understand why it might be illegal.  You might have the best of intentions, but would everybody? Abuse happens - that's why so many laws exist in the first place.
Ported :   A1200    SD940   G10    Powershot N    G16

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Offline ahull

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Re: Time lapse in the work place
« Reply #2 on: 07 / September / 2013, 10:38:25 »
Photography and the law can be a complete minefield.

Naturally Wikipedia has an article on the subject.

You don't say which country you are in, but I would suggest that like most things done in factories the world over, any change is looked upon with suspicion. In a previous job,  I visited an awful lot of factories (and a lot of awful factories I might add), and often encountered resistance to installing computers (for whatever purpose) as people often assumed that they were there to keep tabs on them.

Even fitting a computerised door entry system, to ensure that everyone was accounted for in the event of a fire was viewed as "The Management" keeping tabs on "The Workers". Changing peoples perception of this is very difficult.

 Fundamentally it is human nature to assume that something which could be used to spy on you probably is being used to spy on you, especially in light of all of the recent disclosures about the dodgy practices of the various government sponsored privacy intrusions by the likes of the NSA in the USA and their counterparts in the UK.

Strangely though nobody bats an eyelid when you walk round the workplace with a mobile phone with multi-megapixel camera, probably one of the most intrusive devices ever invented.

Personally I think I will stick to time lapses of sunsets, and attempting to take pictures of the local flora and fauna, its much less trouble.
« Last Edit: 07 / September / 2013, 10:41:43 by ahull »

Re: Time lapse in the work place
« Reply #3 on: 07 / September / 2013, 10:41:57 »
Strangely though nobody bats an eyelid when you walk round the workplace with a mobile phone with multi-megapixel camera, probably one of the most intrusive devices ever invented.
Google glasses are going to have an interesting ride.  Sure - there is a visual indicator when they are recording. But how hard do you think that will be to hack?
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Offline lapser

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Re: Time lapse in the work place
« Reply #4 on: 07 / September / 2013, 12:09:15 »
I agree that time lapses of a factory at work are fascinating, and great marketing. This is one of my favorites:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGqymbK3p5g#ws
The actual installation of the floor in New Orleans for the NCAA Final Four is here:


Lawyers mess everything up, don't they? This is my favorite line in my favorite rock and roll song:

The more I think about it, old Billy was right.
Let's kill all the lawyers. Kill 'em tonight!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1H-Y7MAASkg#

I'm not even sure you're safe doing sunsets. I do a lot of sunset videos from Skinner Butte, with a great view of Eugene, Oregon. Is it an invasion of privacy to do a time lapse that includes the windows of hotels and apartment buildings? And time lapses would make excellent surveillance tools considering the high resolution and low light capability. Here's an example of a time lapse that shows the Hilton Hotel in the frame, although I was just trying to show the traffic on Willamette Street. The zoom at the end is digital, so every picture has that resolution.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pozFliELR4w#ws

EOS-M3_120f / SX50_100b / SX260_101a / G1X_100g / D20_100b
https://www.youtube.com/user/DrLapser/videos

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Offline JvdP

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Re: Time lapse in the work place
« Reply #5 on: 08 / September / 2013, 08:59:17 »
Laws change in different countries. However, I think I understand why it might be illegal.  You might have the best of intentions, but would everybody? Abuse happens - that's why so many laws exist in the first place.
Well, I understand why surveillence is illegal, but there are situations where laws just go over the top. The whole PRISM thing is a good example. Sure, we all want a safe and secure place to live but what the NSA is doing is probably a bridge too far. It defeats the purpose.


Photography and the law can be a complete minefield.

Naturally Wikipedia has an article on the subject.
I've read that article and it addresses some of the well known challenges of photography; the law. Most of us know about copyrights, but this is a different discussion

What I'm interested in is the ethics of photography in the work place. When you work for a company, you (should) get paid by the company and thus you will eventually benefit from doing good things for the company. In my opinion, that exceeds the work you are supposed to do and should include anything from


You don't say which country you are in, but I would suggest that like most things done in factories the world over, any change is looked upon with suspicion. In a previous job,  I visited an awful lot of factories (and a lot of awful factories I might add), and often encountered resistance to installing computers (for whatever purpose) as people often assumed that they were there to keep tabs on them.
I know and I'm sorry for not disclosing more information about my whereabouts, but you will understand that I want to keep this to myself considering this situation is difficult enough as it is.

The factory atmosphere you describe is very typical indeed, I have experienced this too. It is something I despise it and I have refused to accept it. When I'm down in the factory, I try to win them over and usually it works. I've made many friends there but it's just not possible to have them all on my side.

Fundamentally it is human nature to assume that something which could be used to spy on you probably is being used to spy on you, especially in light of all of the recent disclosures about the dodgy practices of the various government sponsored privacy intrusions by the likes of the NSA in the USA and their counterparts in the UK.
Well, although I agree with that I must add that it doesn't mean that we can't overcome these conspiracies. I'm convinced that by being honest and involving the people we can win trust and trust is the only thing that could beat the negative perceptions people have.

Personally I think I will stick to time lapses of sunsets, and attempting to take pictures of the local flora and fauna, its much less trouble.
No risk, no gain. Right? So even though sunsets and flowers are (and always will be) beautiful time lapse subjects I think there are so many objects and processes in this world we can capture.

I agree that time lapses of a factory at work are fascinating, and great marketing. This is one of my favorites:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGqymbK3p5g#ws
The actual installation of the floor in New Orleans for the NCAA Final Four is here:

Nice one!

I'm not even sure you're safe doing sunsets. I do a lot of sunset videos from Skinner Butte, with a great view of Eugene, Oregon. Is it an invasion of privacy to do a time lapse that includes the windows of hotels and apartment buildings? And time lapses would make excellent surveillance tools considering the high resolution and low light capability. Here's an example of a time lapse that shows the Hilton Hotel in the frame, although I was just trying to show the traffic on Willamette Street. The zoom at the end is digital, so every picture has that resolution.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pozFliELR4w#ws
Most of us have come to accept the change of privacy with the introduction of internet, street surveillance and other obvious game changers and we are far from seeing the end of it. Google Glass is certainly a good example of a new development in that field but I'm trusting Google to stick to it's slogan, "Don't be Evil". I believe we should focus more on how to get to the small group of people, without making silly rules that restrict not only that small group, but everybody else.
« Last Edit: 08 / September / 2013, 09:01:22 by JvdP »

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Offline ahull

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Re: Time lapse in the work place
« Reply #6 on: 08 / September / 2013, 09:44:29 »
I suppose it comes down to "old school" versus "new school" work practices. By that I mean that most factory work environments involve clocking on and off for shifts, and doing everything in a manner that would have been recognised by a Victorian factory owner, whereas modern work practices are often more flexible. I work from home frequently, and perform, arguably as well as or better in this environment as I do in an office. I am therefore used to motivating myself and putting in the hours without supervision.

A lot of us when placed on a factory floor environment change our attitude, not least because a lot of what we are expected to do is often boring or monotonous. Furthermore things like rest breaks, lunches and so forth are often considered "part of the machine". We are expected to fit in with the factory time schedule, not the other way round, and this causes further resentment. You get the "I'm not being paid enough to care" attitude.

This in turn leads to an arms race of management looking for "skivers" and workers looking for ways to beat the system.

I heard of one case in a well known large Scottish bakery, (many years ago now), where workers were producing their own booze (well you have all the ingredients, lots of sugar, yeast, warm temperatures, water, utensils and so forth, so what else are you going to do while you are waiting for the bread to rise/bake).

They had also built a secret "snooze" room in a hidden ceiling space behind the ovens. A hazardous area where management seldom if ever visited, and where the "grafters" i.e. workers could catch up on sleep, play cards (and presumably quaff a little hooch) during the night shift when there was little management about. This is taking it to extremes I know, but it nicely illustrates the  "them and us" attitude which is a major factor in this kind of problem.

I am not suggesting for a moment that anybody is either "skiving" or "spying" in your particular environment (just in case the high powered Philidelphia Lawyers are listening), but trying to illustrate the nature of the beast we are dealing with.

You might try a different approach, depending on what you are trying to take a time lapse of. If things happen when nobody is there. i.e. if there are down times each day, with no workers about, but there is evidence of things having changed, beteen down times, you could agree to only take pictures at those times..... although this might remove the very element of movement you are trying to capture. Alternatively limit your shooting to areas and distances where machines are moving, lights flashing etc, but no individuals are identifiable.
« Last Edit: 08 / September / 2013, 10:25:43 by ahull »

Re: Time lapse in the work place
« Reply #7 on: 08 / September / 2013, 10:51:44 »
I'm trusting Google to stick to it's slogan, "Don't be Evil".

I would not trust Google, Microsoft/Skype,Facebook or US cloud services.
The stated aim of the NSA is 'ownership of the Internet' and the collection of ALL communications of the World's citizens.
Those who say they have nothing to hide will get the society they deserve, unfortunately their children and the rest of us will get the societies that we do not deserve.
As you will see later today (Sunday), this is not about terrorism, wait for the further revelations regarding the espionage against Brasil.

This may be going off-topic but we are at a crucial point in history  .... CHDK is a pleasant distraction at this time.


 

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