Today is the last day of the month, and the second full moon of the month, which is called a Blue Moon. There have been a number of fancy moon images marking the occasion on the web, but I haven’t learned how to overlay images yet, so my Blue Moon is just the moon. I managed a fairly well-focused hand-held shot of the moon by setting my automatic digital camera on Twilight, and then I “cooled” the image to a nice blue using the “Cooler” tool in iPhoto Effects. I re-sized it and added the watermark using Photo Bucket. As always, the watermark will be removed for purchased prints.
I know I really need to watermark my photography and art that I am posting on the internet, even including work posted here on my blog. I was reminded of that last week when graphic artist and printer Alison Bailey, of ABC Creations, warned us about internet theft of our art. She was the guest speaker at a Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County luncheon. She showed us the excellent quality of reproductions she was able to produce using images posted by local artists on their websites.
A myriad of software is available to create watermarks, and I have purchased several applications, including an app for my iPhone, called Impression. But I have been pretty lazy about watermarking, and have also become more prolific with uploading my photography, especially to Facebook. So as my work gets “borrowed”, I am starting to learn my lesson.
Facebook provides a “sharing” tool whereby you can re-post someone else’s image while still giving them credit for their original. And when you upload an image, Facebook asks you if the image belongs to you. When someone downloads an image and then re-uploads it as their own, they are going beyond bad manners — they actually are violating copyright law. All images remain the copyrighted property of the photographer, even if they are publicly displayed.
A watermark identifies my work as mine, via text written on the image, so that someone intent on “borrowing” it would have to do some editing in order to pass it off as their own. Some artists plaster their watermark right through the center of the image, but that completely ruins the image for ordinary viewing as far as I am concerned. I prefer a less obtrusive watermark on one of the corners of the image, even though it can more easily be edited out. As an example, my sunset image at upper left is watermarked on the lower right corner of the image. I don’t normally include the date or copyright symbol like I did here, but my practice of using one is still evolving.
Below you see an image I shot at a painting demonstration, which I posted on Facebook as a part of a series on the workshop. And below that you see my same image posted on a local merchant’s Facebook page, appearing to be the property of the local merchant, having been downloaded and re-uploaded without giving me credit. Facebook’s simple “share” function would have left my name attached, as it should be. It actually is a little more work to download and then re-upload a photo than it is to simply “share” it, so it is pretty obvious that it is intentional when someone does this. If I give an image away, that is my choice, but if someone “borrows” it without my permission, especially when they are using it to promote their merchandise, then it is theft. A merchant pays the photographer when photos are used for marketing purposes. Then the image belongs to the merchant. Without compensation, the photographer or artist’s name must remain associated with the photograph or art on Facebook, which by definition is a social (sharing) network. As a point of clarification, my website is not social media, so art and photography posted on my website is not permitted to be reproduced or re-posted without my express permission.
My name attached to my work is my own advertising. So yes, I am learning my lesson, that I need to watermark my photography.
A professional photographer composes and controls his or her image. The styling, positioning, and lighting are planned to the nth degree. But today, almost everyone can be a photographer, capturing those elusive moments in time without necessarily planning any part of of the photo.
If you have a cell phone today, then chances are it has a camera. I’d like to encourage you to use it, and not merely to record events as cameras traditionally have been used, but also to start documenting visual imagery that you find interesting. There is probably no better way to become more aware of our visual world than by capturing bits and pieces of it, and nothing is more immediate than a camera image. Much of what becomes your camera sense simply starts out as what you feel comfortable with, whether capturing elements of design – line, shape, size, position, color, texture, density – or elements of composition – balance, rhythm, and harmony. As for me, my sense of composition is somewhat instinctive, not something I can put words to, so that my photographic decisions are mostly about positioning myself so that light hits the subject in an interesting way. Certainly, I know about the rule of thirds, and a few other compositional tricks, but in a complex composition such as the one pictured here, the rules of what not to do probably outweigh the rules of what to do.
To enhance the dramatic lighting and create a vintage effect, I used an app called Hipstamatic, with my favorite lens, Roboto Glitter, on Float film. The result is a mostly dark image with overexposed whites tending towards yellow, anda few turquoise highlights. The border is black. In an image with more light, the edges of this film would look spotty, sort of mildewed.
I watermarked this image with my website name, in the lower right corner, and probably should do that more often, particularly when I post something on social media. Facebook makes it very easy for someone to download an image onto his own computer, and then re-upload it, which then drops the attribution to the original photographer. If people simply “share” the image, the photographer’s name remains on the image information, but if downloaded and re-uploaded, the attribution is lost. This particularly offends me when someone uses one of my images on their own website. I post a lot of paddling photography, and tag many standup paddleboarders, so they might have their website developer use one of my images of them racing or doing some activity on a paddleboard. I don’t think people realize that images are copyrighted from the moment they are made, and that you cannot use an image without permission. If asked, I always have given permission for my photography to be used on someone’s website, but I ask the person to give me written credit. I have given only two of my best friends cart blanche permission to use my images with or without attribution.
A good photographer makes a shot look spontaneous and easy, but even if posted on social media, that doesn’t mean the image is public and free for the taking.