The Monkey Holds The Copyright
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
If you're a little rusty on the ins and outs of copyright, maybe you can learn from a monkey. In particular, you can learn from the monkey in the case of photographer David Slater vs. Wikimedia, the nonprofit organization that runs the Wikipedia web site. Slater was photographing crested black macaques in Indonesia a few years ago when one of the animals approached him and made off with his camera. It then snapped off several pictures, including a hilarious grinning selfie that spread across the internet like wildfire. The problem started when Slater tried to exert copyright control over the image by asking Wikimedia to remove the photograph from its free-for-all Wikimedia Commons image database. Wikimedia refused, on the basis that the photographer does not own the copyright—the monkey does. Well, that's a bit of an oversimplification. According to British copyright law, an animal can't own a copyright, and so therefore the image is in the public domain. It appears that Slater is going to take the case to court in the hopes of eventually taking control of, and finally profiting from, his photograph. The lesson that I take away from this isn't about being careful around monkeys, but rather to remember the first tenet of copyright: when it's created, it's copyrighted. If you take the pictures (in most cases) you own the copyright outright. And if you borrow someone else's camera to do it, it's still your picture. And if someone asks you to shoot it, it's still your picture. When you create it, you own the copyright unless and until you make other arrangements to transfer it legally to another party—which probably cannot be a monkey.
One Photographer’s Take On His Photo “Going Viral”
Monday, August 11, 2014
This is the interesting and somewhat frightening story of what happens when one of your photographs goes viral, courtesy of the photographer it happened to, known online as Kris JB. It all started in 2012 when Kris (or Mr. JB?) created a pretty great photo from the top of Mt. Fuji in Japan. The image showed the shadow of the mountain itself falling away in the distance. He posted the photo on Reddit, and things escalated quickly from there. To read his story, which touches on how hard it is to limit access to an image online and the tiny, if any, benefit that comes from being "internet famous" for 24 hours, read his story at Petapixel.com.
The Snapshot Photo TV Show
Friday, August 8, 2014
If you're fortunate to live near San Diego you've probably got a long list of beach- and weather-related reasons why life is pretty good. But I'm here to add another item to that list, and it's the new TV show that airs on Thursday nights on local public television station KPBS. It's called Snapshot and it stars commercial photographer Tim Mantoani, following him on assignment as he explores interesting places and meets unique people. The show uses photography as subject matter on occasion as well. That's what it did in my favorite episode, which explores wet plate collodian tintype photography and civil war reenactments. Sometimes photography, and Mantoani's assignment, is just an entree into a fascinating discussion with an interesting San Diego subject. Thankfully for the rest of us who don't live in SoCal, episodes are also available online at the show's web site. It's a great program that's well worth watching, whether you're interested in the Southern California exploration, the photographic education, or just because like so many things on PBS, it's downright smart programming. See more at snapshotsd.com.
Mastering The Art Of Panning
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Panning the camera is the best way to introduce a feeling of motion via a blurry subject or a blurry background. And while it's a fairly straightforward technique, it does take a while to really master. So here's a group of nine useful tips for photographers who are trying to master the art of panning. It covers the basics—like how you've got to use a slow shutter speed in order to pan—as well as some subjects that aren't so simple. Did you know, for instance, that your image stabilized lenses might actually aid you in making a beautifully blurred pan? When IS was new, the best advice was to simply turn it off so it doesn't interfere with the pan by counteracting it, but these days the best lenses offer the ability to dial in the correct axis for the lens movement to ensure that the associated panning will create motion blur, while movements in other directions won't. For more on this, and eight other great tips, visit http://www.lightstalking.com/master-the-art-of-panning-with-these-9-useful-tips.
Photography And Mental Illness
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
The Broken Light Collective is an online gallery intended to provide a supportive environment for photographers affected by mental illness. It was started in 2012 by Danielle Hark, who found that even amid a terrible bout of depression, while curled up crying on the bathroom floor, she started taking pictures and quickly found herself feeling better. In the New York Times article linked below, Hark discusses how her growing online gallery—now with contributors from more than 150 countries—has become a place where photographers suffering from mental illness in any form can come together, share their work and support one another. Hark makes no medical claims, but she says the ability to share with fellow photographers offers a wonderful benefit for everyone involved. It' a good read, courtesy of the Times Well blog.
Aerial Photographer Seeks Crowdfunding
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
No matter your political views, most of us agree that it's inspiring when photographers use their cameras to bring attention to important causes that are close to their hearts. Aerial Photographer Alex Maclean may be familiar to Digital Photo readers as the artist responsible for creating beautiful photographs that depict the spaces where man and nature intersect. Though much of his work is beautiful and colorful, even downright playful, Maclean has always been interested in making viewers consider how our decisions, both individually and collectively, impact our natural world. His newest project partners him with science writer Dan Grossman to study the impact of Tar Sands exploration in Alberta, Canada and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. The preliminary images MacLean has made are quite striking, and the team has created an Indiegogo fundraising campaign in order to drum up the $10,000 it will take to fully execute the project. They're over halfway there, but still have some ways to go. If you'd like to learn more about the project and consider pledging, or simply to see more of the photographer's take on this important, albeit divisive issue, visit the Indiegogo page at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tar-sands-truth.
The Richest Photography Prize In The World
Monday, August 4, 2014
If you're going to enter a photography competition, why not enter the competition with the biggest prizes in the world? The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award is a photographic competition open to photographers all around the world who will vie for more than $400,000 in prize money, including a $25,000 first prize in the contest's 2014/2015 primary theme category, "Life In Color." Based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the competition features four categories, including Night Photography, Faces, General and the aforementioned Life In Color. The contest is open for entry until December 31st, so check out the rules and read the FAQ, then submit your entry to any or all of the categories. Then cross your fingers that your work will be recognized with a prestigious reward, and a big, fat payday. Read all about the contest, and see the results from past years, at the web site below.
A Surprising Fix For Loose Light Stands
Friday, August 1, 2014
I love my Manfrotto Stacker light stands. They fold up into a considerably more compact form than most stands, and they clip together for better portability to take on location. The official "Stacker" lineup has been discontinued, though the company still makes light stands that utilize the same "Quick Stacking System" to collapse into a more compact package. The biggest difference, it appears to me, is that the original Stacker stands used compression clamps for adjusting each section of the stand. A lot of people must have had the same trouble with those clamps as I've had. That is to say, over time they start to loosen up, and suddenly the stands don't stand up tall and strong like they used to. With a typical twist knob at each section, you can simply crank them down harder to get a better grip. But this style of tension clamp uses a binary "all on" or "all off" system, with essentially no gray area in between—and no way to crank them down tighter. For years I used these stands and struggled to find a thin walled socket head that would fit into the tiny nut on the side of the clamp in order to adjust the tension and make them hold fast again. I couldn't find that socket, though, and so I had to settle for a less than rock solid extension on some stands. Until, that is, a friend and fellow photographer pointed out to me that the little black plastic cable clip (officially, the Manfrotto model #064 Cable Clip) that shipped attached to each stand, and which I knew could be used to hold a hex wrench or secure a strobe cable, was actually also a wrench itself. On the side of the cable clip is a tiny little thin-walled socket that fits perfectly on the tension adjustment nut. This discovery has given new life to my stands, making them literally as good as new. So if you have old Stacker stands, or any other Bogen/Manfrotto stands, for that matter, that use a tension clamp on the risers, take a look to see if you've got any of these cable clips laying around or stuck to the legs on some of your stands. If not, you might consider investing in a few; they're sold for a couple of bucks apiece and could breathe new life into your old light stands.