It is amazing how many photos I have sitting in my archives that I never found the time to process. I've been trying to work my way through some of them.
December 2006 we got caught up in the big Denver blizzard(s) during our Christmas holiday at Steamboat Springs. We ended up renting a car (we got the very last one!) and driving home because after three cancellations the next available flight wasn't until the following week. When we hit Utah I thought it would be a great idea to spend the night in Moab and catch Arches National Park at sunrise before continuing on.
We agreed that we had enough time for me to have two hours to shoot before we had to get back on the road. It is unbelievably cold in December in Moab before dawn. Absolutely brutal. It wasn't much better after the sun came up. Bill refused to even get out of the car it was so cold. Since I had never been to Arches NP before and it was so early that the visitor center wasn't open yet, I used my predawn time to scope things out and decide where I wanted to be for sunrise, which was The Three Gossips and Sheep Rock. That was a good call because the light was beautiful on those formations.
I did grab a few shots before the sun came up, and these are two of my favorites. I'm not sure where/what formations the first one is, but the second is Parade of Elephants. Looks rather phallic, don't you think? I can really picture that first one wrapping a CD.
Heading up to the Sierras this long weekend (Coyote Flats/Funnel Lake area) and plan on doing lots of shooting, especially more night photography. Oh yeah, and maybe some glamping shots. ;) Hehe. Not.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Spent a few hours this morning at Lido Island cursing the fact that every time I hit the beach early we're socked in by marine layer. Bill laughs, says he thinks I'm jinxed. Drove along the coast back home anyway just hoping that it might burn off, or that maybe there was a little hint of sun further south. It didn't and there wasn't, but at Corona del Mar I found a picture that had been in my head for years.
Bill says he doesn't get it.
Nothing after the jump.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
If you like to play with your photos and dream about new ways to use them, Microsoft Live Labs finally released Photosynth yesterday. Photosynth uses 2D photos to create a 3D environment, and a lot of people have been anxiously waiting for its release since it was introduced at the Web 2.0 Summit in 2006.
It's still in its very early stages and the servers are getting overloaded with all the traffic (they even had to take it down for a few hours, but it's back up now) so it's slow and clunky, but essentially you can take a series of photos of an object or environment, upload them to the Photosynth server and Photosynth will create a 3D environment eerily reminiscent of old computer adventure games. Very old games. A lot of the stuff that is being uploaded is from people just trying out the technology for the first time so if you're smart you'll skip over those synths. I recommend taking a look at the ones done by National Geographic (I found them under Explore Synths > Popular). Here's one of the Sphinx and Pyramids:
It's still not as quite cool as I was hoping it would be. I guess I was hoping that it would be seamless, but I have to remember that this is new technology and this is just the first release. Hopefully as people test it out, gain a better understanding of how it works and how to take photos to create synths, and also provide feedback to Microsoft, it will grow into how we envisioned it when it was first introduced. This has the potential to be very cool, it's just not there yet.
There is a pdf and a video tutorial on the site to teach you how to create your own synth. As of right now all synths must be uploaded to the site and made public. If you try creating your own synth(s), post a link here so we can check it out. But be warned that Microsoft is advising that synth creation is taking 40 minutes or longer right now due to the load on their servers.
When you think about the future potential, the possibilities are mind boggling. If I remember correctly, one of the initial ideas for Photosynth was that it would actively crawl the web for images and work on creating an entire 3D world from the photos posted on the web by everyone. Like a virtual world, only the real world. First Google Street View, next it's a Photosynth World. If ideas like that fascinate you (yup, I'm a sci-fi geek, too), take a look at this thought provoking video from TED* of Kevin Kelly talking about the next 5,000 days of the web:
*If you're not yet familiar with TED it stands for Technology, Education and Design, and their site features "Inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers". Some very cool and fascinating stuff here and well worth checking out.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
I was sitting in the backyard getting a little sun, enjoying a cold drink and watching the hummingbird dogfights when all of a sudden one of the Anna's started going crazy right behind my head. For a minute I didn't think anything of it - it's not unusual for one of them to do a flyby and buzz my hair and sometimes they'll come right up to my face and do a little hummingbird dance. Not sure whether it's because they're grateful that I feed them, or if they're being aggressive and telling me to get away. Probably the latter, but I like to think they're just playing with me.
But this one was being extremely vocal and seemed to be trying to get my attention. When I turned to look I saw the biggest snake sneaking right up behind me. At least 3.5 feet, I think closer to four. At first I thought it might be a garter snake, but after doing a little more research I'm pretty certain that it was a California Kingsnake in the striped phase that is common to the coastal areas of southern California. They're not venomous, so I quickly ran to grab my camera but of course it had already disappeared into the brush on the hillside.
So I took a quick snap of one of my hummingbirds (even though the light was at it's back and I really know better), and I promised to stop complaining that lately the feeder needs to be refilled daily as long as they keep warning me that snakes are sneaking up behind me.
Nothing after the jump.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I realized a few weeks ago that having spent most of my life on the beach, be it one coast or the other, I have grown rather complacent about it. I take it for granted. When I first moved to California after having spent a few years inland, I couldn't resist taking my camera to the beach. Unfortunately the $1500 digital camera I was using then didn't create images that were any good for much more than posting to a scrapbook. Once I discovered the desert, it was so new to me that it was all I could think of and I forgot all about the coast.
So I figured I should spend some time trying to look at the coast/beach/beach towns with a new eye. I don't want cliched postcard pretty images that everyone else takes, and they are all too easy to create here in beautiful sunny southern California. I think that's why I got so jaded, kind of a "been there, done that" thing. Too many people making the exact same images. When a place is over-photographed it starts to get boring. I know it's going to take a lot of work and practice to break out of that and find a new way way to see things, and sometimes it gets frustrating.
We took a ride south along the coast yesterday (topless and doorless in the jeep)and stopped for lunch at the Oceanside Harbor. Patio table at Rockin' Baja Coastal Cantina, Tacos Chingone for Bill and lobster/shrimp combo Tacos del Patron for me, but of course we shared! Life does not get any better than sitting in the warm sun eating seafood tacos and drinking a margarita rocks/salt with the one you love. Then we took a nice stroll along the harbor to work it off.
Photography-wise it was pretty much a bust. Not too much to grab my interest, something I've really been struggling with lately and I'm just going to continue to try to push through. I'm just stuck in this mindset of wanting something different and not quite knowing what it is. I don't think it helps much that I just don't like the light we've been having lately, although 3:30 in the afternoon is still a little early during the summer.
I guess I just can't stay away from simple geometry and color. Seems to be a common theme of mine. I really fell in love with these blues offset with the white.
Nothing after the jump.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I can't help it - I've got a thing for clouds. I love big fluffy white clouds, dark ominous storm clouds, pastel-colored morning clouds, and bold, dramatic sunset clouds. And I can't resist photographing them.
I even started a gallery on my website for them (click on any of these photos to be taken to the gallery). I haven't been doing a great job uploading them, especially considering how many images are on my hard drive. So I added three this morning as I was contemplating a redesign for my entire site and will go through my archives and upload more soon.
Although we get lots of cloudless skies here in SoCal, my house is in a great location for cloud spotting when we do have clouds. To the north/east I get big billowy, mushrooming clouds that grow right before your eyes like the ones in the photo above, especially right after a storm.
To the west when the sun is about to set I can get some really dramatic underlighting. Of course, every time I see this I slap myself because I didn't run down to the beach that evening and I know I'll never make down there before the sun actually sets. Every time I do head to the beach in anticipation I get boring skies (although last weekend we saw the most unbelievably intense rainbow colored afterglow about a half hour after sunset, but I was on the phone with my Dad and couldn't get my gear set back up in time!).
This is a typical sunset cloud formation seen from my backyard. Just one or two thin lines of low, gently twisting and rolling cloud.
This morning I saw popcorn clouds a few minutes after sunrise (I like to drink my coffee outside and watch the sunrise every morning that I can).
I've only seen lenticularis clouds once so far, and I had a wide-angle lens on my camera so you can't really tell that's what they are (darn it!). Still hoping to someday see Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds and a fallstreak hole.
If you're a cloud geek like me, a really cool site to check out is The Cloud Appreciation Society. Lots of great photos of some really cool cloud formations, including most of the rare ones.
Yeah, I know...I haven't been out on a trail in what seems like forever. Since May, actually. Too much going on lately. But very soon, trail run in the Sierras!
Nothing after the jump.
Monday, August 11, 2008
First I need to apologize because you couldn't see the image on yesterday's post. I forgot to enable external linking, and since the image was already in my cache I didn't realize it wouldn't show up for any one else. I also saw the image in the e-mail subscription version and didn't realize anything was wrong until I came back to do a new post today and realized the image wasn't showing. It's fixed now.
I've had a few people inquire about my baby owls. They have all fledged, but surprisingly enough the youngest has decided to stick around! He (she?) roosts in that same palm tree in front of the house every day. Some evenings one of the others will stop by for a little chatter before they go off hunting for the night. I love peering up into the tree and seeing that cute little face peering back down at me, but it means we still have to clean up owl pellets (yuch) on a daily basis and you don't want to park on that side of the driveway if you know what's good for you. He must have mastered the art of hunting because he certainly appears to be eating well! He/she has officially been christened "Coconut Butt". Don't laugh - see, before I realized I had baby owls I was peering up into the palm tree to see what was going on and something caught my eye that looked like a coconut. Wait, I thought, this type of palm tree doesn't grow coconuts! When I looked closer I realized it was a baby owl butt. I guess every time I spotted him with his back turned to me, I must have made some comment about his butt looking like a coconut because Bill came home the other night and asked how Coconut Butt was doing.
Are You Ready to ShakeOut?
With 22 million people living and working in southern California, a major earthquake in the region could cause an unprecedented catastrophe. What we do now, before a big earthquake, will determine what our lives will be like after. With earthquakes an inevitable part of southern California’s future, Californians must act quickly to ensure that disasters do not become catastrophes. With this in mind, the Earthquake Country Alliance has organized the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a week of special events featuring a massive earthquake drill at 10 AM on November 13, 2008.
The ShakeOut drill centers on the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, a realistic portrayal of what could happen in a major earthquake on the southern end of the San Andreas Fault. Created by over 300 experts led by Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey, the scenario outlines a hypothetical 7.8 magnitude earthquake originating near the Salton Sea, which would have the potential to devastate the region.
With a goal of at least 5 million participants, the ShakeOut drill will be the largest in U.S. history. To participate, go to www.ShakeOut.org/register and pledge your family, school, business, or organization’s participation in the drill. Registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill, connect with other participants, and encourage a dialogue with others about earthquake preparedness. There are many ways to take part, but at the least participants should “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” at 10 A.M. on November 13. It all begins with registering, which is free and open to everyone.
I registered today and placed a banner ad in my sidebar so hopefully more people will join in what will be the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history. We (Bill and I) are probably better prepared than a lot of people in terms of emergency and survival gear, but there's still a lot more we should do, and the experts have been pretty vocal about expecting a devastating earthquake to hit this area in the very near future. Since I last reviewed our kits when the wildfires were ragingnearby last October, at a minimum I need to change out the water, probably change out some of the food supply, and make sure our paperwork (insurance policies, etc.) are the most current. And although we have a fairly decent Plan A, if we can't meet back at the house we don't really have an agreed upon Plan B. It's a little harder with all of our family on the other coast.
If you live in Southern California please click on the banner ad to visit the Great Southern California Shakeout website. Even if you don't register to participate there is a wealth of information on earthquake preparedness available for families, businesses, schools and other organizations. Help spread the word!
Nothing after the jump.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
I have come to the conclusion that the most tedious post job is a white-on-white silo cut out. No one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. Well, except for a composite, but I don't do composites. Wouldn't even try. I'd be afraid that I'd end up on PhotoshopDisasters.
A lot of people struggle with getting a clean white background when they shoot silos, so I thought I'd pass along a few pointers that work well for me.
First, and most important, is that many people tend to underexpose the main subject when they first try shooting silos. It's important to remember that if you are relying on your camera's internal meter, that nice bright white background tricks your meter and your camera is going to want to expose it as 18% gray. Just like when you are shooting snow, you need to compensate for this either by spot metering on the subject itself, setting your exposure compensation +1.5 - 2 stops, or by setting your manual exposure accordingly. You may want to bracket a few shots to get the best exposure.
Once you've selected your shot and you're ready for post, the key point to keep in mind is that you need an absolutely spotless true white (255,255,255) background. The point of a silo is that the image should blend seamlessly on a white magazine page. What looks like a pure white background to your eyes probably isn't 100% until you do some work in post.
After processing in ACR and opening in Photoshop CS3 I make a duplicate so I'm not working on my original. I make a curves adjustment layer, then I hold the ALT button down as I move the right slider to the left. Holding down the ALT button puts a black mask over your preview image, and as the highlights blow out to pure white you will see it on the preview. If your main subject has no white and no specular highlights, you can usually blow out most of the background this way. Move the slider to the left until as much background as possible is blown out without blowing out the highlights on your subject. Of course, depending on the particular subject you may be able to mask out an extreme levels adjustment by painting in black on the layer mask. I find that is really dependent on the amount and location of the blown out area. Anyway, as you're making the adjustment pay careful attention to the edges of your subject. It's better to do too little than too much because we can always fine tune in the next step.
Looks pretty good already, doesn't it? But we're not finished, and here's where the tedious work comes in. I mentioned that what looks like pure white to your eyes isn't necessarily so, and I've learned a neat trick to help you see this in an image.
First, depending on your workflow preference either flatten your layers and Control-j or Ctrl-ALT-Shift-E to copy merged and then Control-j. I prefer to keep all of my levels intact on my master file. Next make a Levels adjustment layer and slowly move the left slider to the right. As you do so, the parts of your image that are not pure white will begin to change color and you'll see the areas that need to be cleaned up. Pay careful attention to the areas along the edges of your main subject. Don't worry about how this looks - we're going to delete this layer later and it won't have any effect on your final image. It's just a tool to help you see where you need to clean up your background. You can toggle it on and off as you're working by clicking on the eyeball. Just make sure that the actually work you are doing is on the merged layer below it.
Click on your merged layer (below the Levels adjustment layer you just made) so you can clean it up. I've learned two different ways to clean up the background, and depending on the colors of my main subject I may use either or a combination of both.
The first and simplest is to use Select-Color Range, feather your selection slightly and adjust the levels (move the left slider) until the stray areas have gone to pure white. You MUST pay careful attention to your main subject when using Select-Color Range; if you have areas of white or specular highlights in your main subject they will be chosen too. You most likely don't want to blow these areas out. I can tell you that this method definitely does not work for subjects like brushed silver cellphones! So while this method is the easiest and quickest, I personally find it somewhat clumsy and use it only when there is no white or specular highlights in my main image and even still I find I need to do some touchup work.
The next method is my favorite. I'll either use this method instead of Select-Color Range, or after Select-Color Range to fine tune. Working on your merged layer, select the Dodge tool, set it for highlight and choose an appropriate sized brush. I usually set Exposure around 25% to start. Start dodging over the areas that need to be cleaned up, changing your brush size and exposure level as needed. Use a larger brush to get close to your subject, then a smaller one as you work nearer to the edges.
It is imperative that you work at 100% to clean up your background. Sometimes more depending on how fussy you want to be. It is amazing what you notice at 100% that you would never see on a smaller sized image, and if you've never worked on your photos at 100% before it will be an eye-opening experience. I worked on the above image at 200% with a brush as small as 3 pixels.
When you are finished (take your time and be patient!), delete that top Levels adjustment layer and voila!
The true test is to post your image on a white web page or print it on white paper. Your subject should appear to float on the page with absolutely no evidence of the background.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
If you publish or share your images on the web you owe it to yourself to check out TinEye. It's like a search engine for images, but even better. Through some amazing algorithm they've developed, TinEye is able to locate copies of an image even when it has been drastically cropped or otherwise altered. For photographers (and other graphic artists) that means it has the ability to locate even heavily modified copies of your photos. Click on the slideshow above to see an example of 97 different variations of the Mona Lisa, complete with the website address where they were found.
So, how about the ability to locate violations of your copyright? Lots of photographers have been reporting in the forums of photo sites of their success in using TinEye to find violations. At the very least you can send a takedown notice, if you're a pro you can send an invoice. If you're one of those people who don't care about those things you can at least ask for credit and a link back to your site. If you give your images a Creative Commons license you can verify that people are complying with the terms.
Or if you sell images through a stock agency that doesn't tell you who is licensing your images, how cool to actually find copies in use?
Or maybe you're a parent who uploaded family photos before you realized just how wild the web can be and want to make sure that your cute teenage daughter's face isn't plastered someplace it's not supposed to be.
You can upload images to the TinEye server to run a search or you can use the (highly recommended!) Firefox add-on that lets you just right-click on any image and run a search. They also recently added a bookmarklet that lets you run a search from a bookmark in any web browser.
TinEye currently has over 7 million images in its database and they continue to crawl the web and add to that number every day. Your search results may not find images that you know are on the web (that's happened to me), but you can suggest new websites for the TinEye spider to crawl.
TinEye is in beta and right now it's free. You can request an invite and be put on the waiting list, or if you want to go to the head of the line you can send me an e-mail with your e-mail address and I'll send you one of my private invitations that will grant you instant access. I only have three invitations to give out, so first come first served!
Nothing after the jump.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The first time Bill and I drove down to San Diego and saw this sign we couldn't believe our eyes. We just weren't quite sure what to make of it. I had to find out the story, and learned that after numerous fatalities of people attempting to evade border security, especially at this most-deadly location where the first sign was installed just south of the border checkpoint on I5 near Camp Pendleton where people would run for the beach, the signs were installed in the 1990's to warn motorists to watch for pedestrians fleeing from vehicles before reaching the checkpoint. Text signs were too difficult for passing motorists to read, so it was decided that a graphical sign was needed. Known as the Running Family, the sign was designed by graphic artist John Hood. The signs soon came to represent the increasing tension over US-Mexico border policy. While many Hispanics considered the signs to be racial stereotyping, many Californians used it as a symbol of protest against illegal immigration and others just thought it quite funny. Soon the sign could be seen on T-shirts, coffee mugs and stickers.
Whenever we had visiting guests we were sure to point out the sign (since a trip down to San Diego is always part of the plan) and have a good chuckle while everyone shook their heads in amazement. So of course, when my parents visited last month we looked for the signs and I couldn't find it! How could I miss it? I had three of us keeping an eye out for it, and it's huge and yellow!
A few weeks pass and I'm going through my archive today and I came across this photo I took in 2005. That prompted me to do a little research and I found out that the signs had been decommissioned earlier this year and have been removed. With the increased security at the US borders since 9-11, fatalities are no longer the concern they had been in the 90's and there was public pressure to remove the signs.
So this is my only photo of the Running Family sign, in the first original location, taken on September 11, 2005.
One of the signs is now on display at the Smithsonian.
Mom and Dad, sorry you didn't get to see it in person. You'll have to settle with this photo or a visit to the Smithsonian.
Nothing after the jump.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I think this is my favorite shot from the Page Museum in Los Angeles. The backlit display contains almost 450 dire wolf skulls recovered from the asphalt deposits of the tar pits. When I saw that deep orange glow and the graphic presentation of the skulls this image just jumped right out at me.
I found myself getting a little caught up in Photographers' Rights issues last week because frankly it bugs me that so many companies try to take advantage of amateur photographers who don't know any better. And it bugs me even more that many amateur photographers just don't care. Or, at least, they don't/won't care until a company uses an image in such a way that is in full compliance with the terms of an agreement but in a way that they photographer didn't foresee, such as a worldwide ad.
I don't participate in photo contests, but this one caught my eye so I went to the website to check it out. It was Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photowalk, a fantastic idea that sounds like a lot of fun and is generating a lot of enthusiastic support. However when a few of us read the terms initially posted on the contest page we pointed out that the license we were granting was a bit too broad, "...a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, non-exclusive right and license to use, copy, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, republish, transmit, disseminate, distribute, perform, and publicly display all content, remarks, suggestions, ideas, graphics, or other information in the Submission, in whole or in part, without additional approval, to incorporate any Submission in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, in connection with this Site and Our affiliated web sites and publications...." that applied to all photographs submitted to the contest, not just the winners. Now, I'm sure that's not what Mr. Kelby et al meant, but that is what was posted on the site the first day it went live. The next day the page with the terms was updated and I believe the new terms are very photographer-friendly. I honestly think the first page was on the site in error and was just the generic terms for the website itself, not the contest. I am a bit peeved that Mr. Kelby poked fun at the whole rights issue in a later blog post without mentioning the fact that the terms had been changed/updated/corrected. I would've had much more respect for him if his blog post said "hey I know that some of you expressed concerns about the terms of submission...correct terms are now up on the site...blahblahblah..."
But when some of us pointed out our concern with the terms as initially posted, the backlash from other posters was amazing, and quite frankly eye-opening.
From Nate B.
"I’m not sure why people are complaining about the fine print."
From Carl C.
"Ignore the complainers… I just wanna have FUN!!!"
From Craig S.
"Hey i’m no pro, just a guy that enjoys shooting pics, and personally I’d welcome any exposure my images got. I dont get all the fuss over the rights."
My favorite from Jeff R., who proclaimed himself an expert because he recently blogged about this very issue, and then went on to say:
"also, they want to use the images as promotional tools in the future. I am pretty sure that if they personally called you and said “Hey Bob, would you mind if we used one of your photowalk shots in an issue of PhotoshopUser magazine?” that you would probably have no problem with that at all."
Ummm...actually Jeff R. I might have a problem with that. If it's to promote a future Kelby Worldwide Photowalk Contest, fine. If it's to promote something else or for an unrelated article, I have a standard fee for that use. How many people would buy a magazine that didn't have photos? (Yes, I realize that Photoshop User is only a benefit of NAPP and not for sale, but most people say that Photoshop User the only reason they join NAPP.) If you weren't willing to give away your photo for free, the magazine would have to either pay to hire a photographer or pay to license an existing (stock) image such as that one of yours that they want to use. That is why I read the fine print. I want to see what I'm agreeing to by participating.
My second most favorite was from the guy who told me I didn't know what I was talking about because he worked in radio for 3.5 years some time ago, and knows that by calling in to a radio station contest you automatically grant the radio station the right to use your name. Okay...I'm not really seeing the connection here between radio call-in contests and photography contests, and I've been making money with my photography for 27 years and have spent a little bit of time learning about the business end of it, specifically as pertains to the licensing of photographs, yada yada, but hey, he knows more than I do.
Nate B. then stated that it's just a photowalk,"it's not like we're shooting the lead story for Time or anything". Hmmm...but I get a lot of good images from just a "photo walk". I'm not sure that people fully understand that once they've licensed a photo as royalty free, it limits what they can do with the image in the future. Once an image has been licensed as royalty free, you no longer have the ability to license it as rights managed. That eliminates a huge potential sales avenue if you just happen to get that "money shot". And remember, as the terms were originally posted you gave away that royalty free license and soon as you submitted photo, whether or not you are a winner. And um, actually Nate B., while it may not be the lead story in Time, there is a reasonable chance that someone could take a photograph that might later end up in Time Magazine. Ever take a look at the photo credits and notice all of the stock images they use? From where/whom do you think they get them?
I understand that a lot of newer photographers and hobbyists are sincere when they say that they just want bragging rights, but I don't understand it. If your photo is good enough to be used to advertise something or in some other commercial manner, it's good enough for you to be paid for it. Maybe there is a misunderstanding in just how much money publications pay for photographs. Why are people so willing to give away something for free that could potentially earn them hundreds or thousands of dollars, and then think it's something that gives them bragging rights? I'm not saying not to give away any licensing rights, just understand be aware of the implications of the rights you are giving away. And don't be confused between copyright and licensing rights - they are two completely different things.
And in the long run, why is the younger generation of photographers so willing to take a short-term look at the business of photography? Even if you never plan to become a professional photographer, if you have the talent to take/make photographs that people want and you do so even occasionally, why not take the long-term point of view and help take a stance in preserving the value of photography? If you have the ability to earn even a couple of hundred bucks now and then, why turn your back on it, especially in today's economy? Why are people willing to give away for free something that is worth thousands? Why fight so hard for the right to take something that has value and make it completely worthless?
I've heard the argument that it's the new way of the world and we old folks need to just stop fighting it. Maybe I'm naive, but I honestly think it's because so many younger/newer photographers really just don't understand all of the implications and it's up to us "old folks" to help educate them. You see examples all the time - people talk about "selling" photos when they should mean "licensing" the photos because they just don't understand how it works. It reminds me of the kid who posted a photo of his friend on flikr with a Creative Commons license that allowed commercial use, then got all upset when Virgin Mobile (actually Host, their ad agency) plastered it all over bus shelters in Australia. Virgin Mobile had fully complied with the terms of the CC license, including attributing the photographer (the lack of a model release for the minor depicted in the photo is a completely different story). The kid never realized the implications of the CC license he chose; he could have earned a nice sum of money if he had licensed it as Rights Managed. Hard lesson to learn.
I can't help but think that twenty years from now some of these truly talented kids are going to wake up one day and wonder why they shot themselves in the foot by working so hard to ruin the value of a talent and assets they own.
If you participate in photo contests you owe it to yourself to read and understand the fine print, but sometimes it's a little tough to make sense of the legalese. One great resource is the Pro-Imaging site. The folks at Pro-Imaging have a lot of good information about photographers' rights and have developed a Bill of Rights for Photography Competitions. When they are made aware of a photography competition they will review the terms and if they believe them unfair to photographers they send the sponsor a Notification Letter. If the sponsor agrees to modify the terms in a way that meets the Bill of Rights they are put on PI's Right's On List. If the terms are not modified and the contest remains an unfair rights grab, the contest is placed on PI's Rights Off List. They ask that photographers worldwide make them aware of photo contests and there is a submittal form on their site. I have had some personal e-mail correspondance with Gordon Harrison at Pro-Imaging and I can attest that he is wonderfully helpful and a true asset to photographers everywhere. Take a look at their site. While membership is open only to professional photographers who have passed a portfolio review, they have a lot of good of information about photographers' rights available to everyone on their website.
Another great resource is Carolyn Wright, best known as the Photo Attorney. Her blog is a wealth of information about legal issues concerning photographers, including heads-ups on rights-grabbing photo contests. Today's post gives information on how to send a DMCA takedown notice, including an example letter, which you must use if you find that someone has "stolen" one of your photos and posted it on another website. If you'll take the time to read the Photo Attorney blog on a regular basis you'll start to realize all of the issues that you really should have a better understanding of if you even take your photography just seriously enough to post your photos on flikr.
Nothing else after the jump.