A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

The Difficulties with Psychic Photography

My recent article in the Mercury exposed a Leicester psychic attempting to scam a punter (well, me) out of a lot of money. We had a bit of an adventure trying to get a photo for the piece.

The Leicester Mercury sent along a photographer who I met at the end of the street a couple of minutes before my appointment. Our strategy was fairly basic: he'd hide behind a car across the road and I'd knock on the door. When the door was answered, I'd bend down to tie my shoelaces so he could get a clear shot of the guy over my head.

It didn't work. The guy was extremely cautious, first checking at the window before answering the door, and then staying way back in the house when he opened the door. Our photographer just couldn't get a clear shot.

I managed to get this quick shot below while inside. The psychic had asked if I could return for another appointment on Monday, and while I "checked my calendar" on my iPhone, I took this snap.

But we needed better quality for the paper. At this point, I owed him £80 for the fine "work" he'd done so far. To give our hidden photographer another chance, I told him I'd left my wallet in the car. As he opened the door so I could pop back and get it, the photographer tried again. Same problem; the guy was too far back in the house.

The photographer and I met up at the end of the street and hatched a second plan. The operation was being run from a terrace house. The street was one-way and with cars parked on both sides and there was only room for one car to drive down the gap in the middle. The plan was for me to drive back to the house and stop outside the house with the photographer following in the car behind. I'd stop to deliver the money and just when the psychic answered the door, the photographer would beep his horn to get me to move. I'd try and draw the psychic out by saying the cash was in the car. When he came out, the photographer would snap him from the car behind. Hopefully he wouldn't be noticed and our undercover photography mission would be complete.

It didn't work. As soon as I tried to draw the psychic out he got suspicious and hid back into the house, closing the door promptly.

I moved the car and pulled over at the end of the street. The photographer overtook and parked round the corner. A couple of minutes later, the photographer walked back towards my car and shrugged his shoulders to signal that he couldn't get the shot. At this point, I noticed the psychic had come out of the house and was walking towards my car. In a panic, I signalled to the photographer "that's him!". Our undercover photography mission lost some of its clandestine value when the photographer proceeded to take multiple pictures of him using a lens the size of a scuba tank from a distance of approximately two metres.

After a couple of seconds, the photographer realised that he had just been photographing a professional fraudster who most likely was not going to be particularly happy about having his picture taken. Looking around, the only clear route for escape was to jump in the passenger seat of my car. However, being equally worried myself, the doors of my car were firmly locked.

For about 5 seconds the I kept trying to unlock the doors while the photographer prevented me from doing so by franticly pulling on the handle. Eventually he got in and the psychic ran off.

We got a nice, clear shot:
(reduced quality for web publication)

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