Warning: Gov’t Rights Grab – NPS Photo Contest

Posted April 23rd, 2012 by
Categories: California, Newsworthy, Photo Contests, Photos, Rants and Raves

Picture: Rain storm clouds at sunrise over the still waters of Emerald Bay State Park, a National Natural Landmark in the South Lake Tahoe region, California

Image: Rain storm clouds at sunrise over the still waters of Emerald Bay State Park, South Lake Tahoe region, California

Ack!! I can’t believe it’s been nearly four weeks since my last post, but I’ve been very busy with a couple assignments and trying to get my book out the door. However, I saw something today that I thought was important enough to raise a flag of caution. It seems the National Park Service, a division of the Department of the Interior, is holding a photo contest to help promote its National Natural Landmarks. I noticed in last year’s winners selection of images a shot taken by someone from my old neighboring hometown of Lafayette of spring poppeis on Mount Diablo. Curiousity, the devilish feline side of me wanted to find out just what kind of rights this contest was asking for. Shocking, but true; if you enter the contest, your entry becomes the property of the NPS to use or sell. What do you get in return? Perhaps a small token prize if you’re in the top three, and (10) copies of the calendar if your image is used. (Hooo-Rah!)

The ‘offending’ terms:

Submission of an entry shall constitute the grant of a non-exclusive, royalty free license to the National Park Service, and its’ sublicensees, to reproduce, display, prepare derivative works, distribute to the public by sale or other transfer, and to utilize the photograph submitted for any governmental purpose, including but not limited to publication on the World Wide Web, interpretive publications, and commercial uses.

So if the National Park Service sells one of your entry images that wasn’t even selected for use for $1,000.00, you’ve just given the government a thousand dollars, and you won’t likely even receive a notice of the use or sale, much less a handshake or a “Thanks you.”

I’m happy to support the National Park Service, primarily through my purchase of an Annual Pass, but I’m not sure I want to just hand them over any of my images on a silver platter.


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Modernglyphics

Posted March 28th, 2012 by
Categories: ART, City Scenes, Fossil Beds

Picture: Graffiti and reflection in standing water inside an abandoned building, Berkeley, California

Image: Graffiti reflection in standing water inside an abandoned building, Berkeley, California

While I continue to be very busy, I at least wanted to poke my head above water to let you know about something I recently had the fun opportunity to document. I spent a day on my own, wandering around an old 3-story abandoned building in Berkeley, documenting all the profuse graffiti which appeared on nearly every reachable surface. It turns out that the person who hired me is a patron of the arts, and hated to see some of the more impressive graffiti art fade into oblivion as the building was being readied for renovation. My job was to capture some of those more artistic presentations. While much graffiti we see in our daily lives is mere tagging by juveniles or gang members, some of the work in this building was definitely worthy of the title “Art.” I was honored to be asked to document these modernglyphics, and to preserve the work as Art.

I’ve photographed graffiti tourists have left in national parks, including carvings in sandstone next to Native American Pictographs. All of these, from Egyptian heiroglyphics, to gang tags in public restrooms, to tourists leaving “The Smith Family was here – 2006″ in the Grand Canyon, all stem from the same inner desire; to leave some permanent remembrance of our own transient existence; something that says, “I was here.”

I suppose my rhetorical question after seeing all these variations would be, “at what point does something cross the line between being graffiti or visual pollution, to something of historical significance worth saving?” Let’s say you’re in Utah, when you spy a rock carved with the initials “RLP was here ’70.” What would you automatically think; “Dumb kids,” right? Would it make a difference if that rock graffiti was made by Robert LeRoy Parker back in 1870; a.k.a. a 14 year-old Butch Cassidy?


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Hey, that’s my picture in your painting! (Derivative Use)

Posted March 9th, 2012 by
Categories: Copyright, Legal

Picture: Side by side comparison of my “Native Spirit; Bird flying past El Capitan in Yosemite Valley” photo and a screen capture of a derivative use painting.

Image: Side by side comparison of my

On top of all the other stuff that’s been keeping me busy lately, guess what I found? While re-writing a section of my current book project, I wanted to make reference to artists like Albert Bierstadt who were known for their paintings of Yosemite Valley. In particular, I was looking for something related to El Capitan. I went to Google Images and searched for “El Capitan Artwork.” A little ways down the page, an image suddenly caught my eye in a very familiar fashion. It was a painting of a bird flying past El Capitan. My immediate thought was, “Hey, that’s my photo in your painting!” Clicking on the image took me to a page on the Fine Art America web site where the artist was apparently selling copies of ‘his’ painting. But the problem is, it isn’t just his painting he’s selling. He’s selling a work which was created directly from my photo. In the copyright and Intellectual Property circles, that’s known as a Derivative Use. Technically, that means he needs my permission if he wants to sell the original or copies of the original. That permission is granted through a Derivative Use License, which like any other license, provides an allowance to use an image in a certain manner, in exchange for a fee or some other form of compensation.

I wasn’t in a great mood when I found this; lots of other stuff was going on at the moment, and this was something I really didn’t have time to deal with this. Yet it needed to be dealt with. Thus began the time investment needed to rectify the situation; who was this person, how can I contact them, are they selling this anywhere else? These kind of things happen often, and my goal is to resolve the problem quickly and easily.

I posted a copy of the above comparison image on Facebook and G+, where I received many supportive comments, along with a few which revealed some common misperceptions about copyright and derivative uses. The most pervasive of these is the idea that if it’s not an *exact* copy, if someone changed or added something, by perhaps as little as some arbitrary amount (10%) that they’re in the clear. They think the ‘copy’ now becomes their own, and they can do what they want with it. This simply isn’t true. This idea of changing something to make it your own touches base on the concept of creating something new based on something that already exists. According to the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) web site:

In law, it does not matter whether the change is great or small, or whether the result is recognizably like the original; what matters is whether your creative process began with an existing image.

Another considerations where permission is needed include the nature of the new work, the amount of the original work copied, and if it’s being used or sold commercially. There are also Fair Use factors which don’t require an original creator’s permission before using an image. These include whether an image is of notable newsworthiness, being used for commentary or criticism, parody, or research or educational uses. But even all of these are still considered somewhat gray areas, as each is judged on a case by case basis.

In this case, I emailed the artist at every possible contact point I could find, and asked him to immediately stop selling copies of his painting since it constituted an unauthorized derivative use. I’ve licensed images for derivative uses before, and generally it can be done as a one time fee, or like poster and book sales, it can be done as a royalty based on sales arrangement, often with the original artist getting an advance on royalties. Typical royalty rates can be anywhere between 5 and 25%.

Within the week after making contact attempts, I was prepared to issue a DMCA notice. Fortunately, I heard back from the artist, who had over 1,500 pieces of art for sale on the web site, wrote back with an apology. It turns out he admitted copying the image from when it appeared in the Smithsonian Magazine. In fact, I had offered him the chance to purchase a retroactive license for a very reasonable fee if he wanted to keep selling it, which he apparently declined. He removed all the sales info, left the image in place with a credit / description which read:

Gary Crabbe’s photo was featured in the July 2008 Smithsonian.
As a beginning artist this watercolor is a loose representation.
Painting is for demonstration purposes only and is not for sale.
See Gary Crabbe’s beautiful photography at Enlightphoto:

http://enlightphoto.com

I’m good with that. It’s nice to know that people like your work. It’s often said that “Imitation is the best form of flattery.” That may be true, but if you want to sell work that’s based on someone else’s art, I’ve revised that statement to read, “”Imitation accompanied by money is the best form of flattery.”

Check out my special page for more information and links about legal and copyright issues.

Relentless

Posted February 21st, 2012 by
Categories: Books, California, Coast, Photos, Water

Picture: 40′-high wave splash after hitting rocks at the base of the coastal cliffs, Bonny Doon Beach, Santa Cruz County, California

Image: 40'-high wave splash after hitting rocks at the base of the coastal at Bonny Doon Beach, Santa Cruz County coast, California

Relentless; A good word…

You may have noticed my web postings have been more quiet of late, especially here on the weblog. I’m currently wrapping up the writing for my current book project on photographing in Northern California. Writing has been relentless. Self-editing has been relentless. Fact checking (a.k.a. “Righting”) has been relentless. I just want to give a special shout out to my Father-in-Law, Richard, for his help with editing, my wife, Connie, who’s incorporating the changes into the manuscript, and to Laurent, the publisher, for his patience and understanding as we bring this baby home.

If someone asks me, what advice do I have for others who might want to do something similar? Simple. Consider how much time you think it will take you, then double it. Then triple that amount. Why? It’s beginning to seem pretty consistent; everything feels like it takes about 5 times longer than I thought it would.

So what can you do about it? Also, simple. Just keep moving forward. Relentlessly.


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Could you two move back a little further?

Posted February 1st, 2012 by
Categories: Animals, California, Fossil Beds, Outdoors, Photos

Picture: Bull Elephant seal coming ashore at Año Nuevo State Park, near Santa Cruz, California

Image: Bull Elephant seal coming ashore at Año Nuevo State Park, near Santa Cruz, California

“Could you two move back a little further?” – You might think the title of this blog post refers to the two seagulls standing in the way of this bull elephant seal coming ashore at Año Nuevo State Park. Well, it could be…, but it’s not.

Last week I had the fun and good fortune to chaperone (read: chauffer) my son and his friend on a school field trip to see the elephant seal colony at Año Nuevo State Park, just north of Santa Cruz. We were on the first tour of the day, having left home at 5:30 Am. Halfway through the 1.5 mile walk to the beach, we met up with the naturalist who would be leading our group out to the elephant seal colony. (Naturalist-led tours are the only way to visit the elephant seal colony during mating season, which runs from December 15 to March 31.) I had my trusty 28-70mm f/2.8 lens on my camera to get pictures of our hike through the sand dunes.

We arrived at the edge of the seal colony, looking out from an overlook on top of a sand berm. The naturalist was pointing out and explaining to the students all the various animal behaviors we were seeing in front of us. To get pictures of the most populated portions of the colony, I switched lenses, opting to use my big, 500mm f/4 fixed-length lens. (Think: Football sideline photographers) We were then met by the Ranger who was there to protect everybody, and the second tour group of students. All of a sudden, the cry goes out, “Fight!” Read the rest of this post »

Froggy reminds me to

Posted January 21st, 2012 by
Categories: Fossil Beds

Picture: Plastic “Meditate” froggy perched on a rock in my Zen Garden in my backyard.

Image: Plastic

I’ve been in a bit of a self-imposed exile recently while trying to complete the manuscript for my latest book project, which will be on Photographing Northern California. Unfortunately, because of business and life. etc., I’ve been a bit behind where I want to be, so I’ve been keeping the stove on high this month. Froggy reminds me to take appropriate moments for myself and to keep things in perspective.

And speaking of perspective, I did feel it was important to take some time out of my life to help the widow of another professional photographer who felt the time had come to part with her late husband’s camera gear. I felt truly honored she thought of me, and trusted me with this duty. She had saved a bunch of his climbing stuff, and some of his other travel gear and books, but she wasn’t going to save any of his camera stuff. With great respect, I handed her back his old F3 film camera with a single fixed 55mm lens, and told her this needed to be saved and put in a place of honor, seeing how photography was such an important part of his life. She was absolutely delighted with this idea, admitting she hadn’t even thought of that herself. So with her one treasured keepsake back in her hands, I’ll try to sell his gear once I’m done with my book.

But if anyone (readers of this blog) wants a heads-up; I’ll be selling his:

(All Nikon)
Nikon D200
17-35mm f/2.8
70-105 Micro Nikkor
105mm Macro
80-400 f4.5-5.6 VR 1

Assorted flash equipment, cords, tripod, and filters.

If you think you’ll have an interest, shoot me an email.

I shot froggy while testing the lenses. They all work great, but the 17-35 has a stiff, but still working zoom ring.


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A bridge to somewhere

Posted January 9th, 2012 by
Categories: California, Photos, Transportation

Picture: A railroad trestle and counter-weighted draw bridge in the the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta at sunrise, California

Image: A railroad trestle and counter-weighted draw bridge in the the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta at sunrise, California

I spent the Holidays working on the writing phase of my latest book project, sharing and posting my Top Images of 2011, and revised my New Work Portfolio. Now I want to get back to just sharing some of my other images.

I’d been busy shooting a nesting Cormorant rookery in the fog next to this ugly old train bridge. As soon as the fog began to lift, suddenly I glanced over and the bridge was bathed in this beautiful soft, yet warm light. What was ugly just minutes before was suddenly transformed into something picturesque. It just goes to reinforce what I teach all of my photo workshop students:

“A boring subject in great light will always make a better photo than a great subject in boring light.” – Me.


Image ID#: 111210_DELTA-0160



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First post of 2012 – A huge Thank You.

Posted January 2nd, 2012 by
Categories: Arizona, Clouds and Sky, Fossil Beds, Photos, Reflections, Water, Weather

Picture: A break in the storm at sunrise over Lake Alpine, Alpine County, California

Image: A break in the storm at sunrise over Lake Alpine, Alpine County, California

Now that we’re officially into the New Year of 2012, (and according to some, potentially earth’s last year – if you believe in the ancient Mayan calendar) there’s no better time for this; The very first thing I want to do in the New Year is to offer my most sincere and humble thanks to everyone who has shown, or expressed an interest in my photography, taken the time to comment, acknowledge, share, or otherwise let me know they’ve been enjoying my work.

Those who know me and my Buddhist leanings, may also know it is very difficult for me to stand up and shout “look at me” or to call attention to myself with any overt self-promotional motivations, or with a constant sales message looming in the foreground.The fact that people are taking the time to let me know they like an image, especially if the share it with their online friends and social circles, moreover without any gimmicks or commercial promotional contests, is most gratifying and appreciated.

I’ve never really considered myself an ‘Artist’, but I’m nonetheless very humbled to know that something about my work occasionally moves another person. So thank you all once more.

… wishing all of us on This Good Earth a more blessed and peace-filled 2012.

(Btw – If it is the Earth’s last year, I’m calling dibs on a front row seat on a white sand beach in Tahiti, with a really strong umbrella cocktail in hand.)


Image ID#: 111011a_SRA-0095



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Top Photos of 2011 by Gary Crabbe / Enlightened Images

Posted December 27th, 2011 by
Categories: California, Fossil Beds, Photos

Here’s a collection of some of my top photos shot in 2011. (I’ve posted thirteen, because in our house, it’s a lucky number; both our kids were born on a 13th.)

To see more recent images, visit my New Work Portfolio.

Picture: Lightning Bolt striking the Sierra Buttes, during summer thunderstorm above Packer Lake, Sierra County, California

Image:  Lightning Bolt striking the Sierra Buttes, during summer thunderstorm above Packer Lake, Sierra County, California - ID# 110913c_SRA-0295

ID# 110913c_SRA-0295

Picture: Sunset light streaming down Yosemite Valley toward Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Image:  Sunset light streaming down Yosemite Valley toward Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California - ID# 111024b_YOScr-0004

ID# 111024b_YOScr-0004

Picture: Rainbow in Le Conte Falls at sunset, Tuolumne River Canyon, Yosemite National Park, California

Image:  Rainbow in Le Conte Falls at sunset, Tuolumne River Canyon, Yosemite National Park, California - ID# 110715b_YOS-0237

ID# 110715b_YOS-0237

Read the rest of this post »

New Images Gallery & Happy Holidays

Posted December 17th, 2011 by
Categories: California, Mountains, Photos, Sunset

Picture: Stormy sunset over Faith Valley, near Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada, California

Image: Stormy sunset over Faith Valley, near Carson Pass, Sierra Nevada, California

This last week I sent out my Holiday Newsletter, and announced the addition of a new “New Work” Image Gallery on my web site, along with a new selection of images on the rotating slide show on my Home Page. The New Work gallery showcases a selection of 24 recently shot images taken over the course of the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I hope you’ll take a moment to take a look. I’m offering a special 30% discount on these images through the end of the year for prints 11×14″ or larger.

Also, a quick reminder: If you’re scrambling for gift ideas, consider giving a custom-made Holiday Gift Certificate that can be used for prints, workshops, or consulting. Gift Certificates are available for any amount you choose, and the certificate is emailed to you so you can print it out and give it as as gift in time for Christmas. (Or I can email it directly to a recipient on Christmas Morning.) If you’re thinking of giving a gift certificate for a print, a great idea is to put the certificate in a small frame – like the kind on sale at a local drug store, then gift wrap the framed certificate.

If you want to order a Gift Certificate, use my secure order form and just fill out the bottom Billing Section of the page, using the text box to describe how much ($), and any custom text you’d like placed on the Certificate.

Finally, as we turn the corner into the heart of the Holidays, I just want to extend a personal wish to everyone, hoping you all have a most joyful holiday season, and a very prosperous New Year.


Image ID#: 110913a_SRA-0233



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