Shades Of Sepia

Photographic art & community shared thru photography.

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Cell Phone Photography: Cluttered Buildings

It was a beautiful day for a walk today. My first “power walk” of the new year. All of a sudden, I was inspired to whip out my cell phone and shoot some shots. This particular shot I feel is a bit cluttered; yet at the same time a synergy exists in this photo. Despite the fact that all the buildings look like they’ve been smashed together, when I look at the buildings as a whole rather than individual, it becomes a whole new art onto itself. This is what it mean to tell a story with your photos. This is what photography is about, the art of making photos.


  • Aperture: ƒ/2.2
  • Camera: SGH-M919
  • Taken: 15 April, 2015
  • Focal length: 4.2mm
  • ISO: 50
  • Shutter speed: 1/668s

Today’s Retail Experience

Nikon_F4_F4s_Guigiaro_Design_Austin_Calhoon_PhotographI had no idea what title I wanted to give this post. Let me start off by saying, I realized over the years that sometimes purchasing any piece of technology can be stressful (especially from a retail store in particular). I find that I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find the most basic electronic parts, and I had absolutely no idea why! Something as simple as a pack of blank Blu-ray discs were no where to be found. Until it dawn on me, a lot of the big named stores I used to purchase my computer/smart phone supplies are either closing down, or they are selling exclusively via web. One company that comes to mind is a company called “Newegg.” If I remember correctly, it cost them way too much money financially to keep their stores here in New York, so they’ve gone exclusively online. They’ve been doing VERY well since they’ve made that decision. Although I am glad they are still in business, as a customer, I still like physically going to a store and touching and experiencing the product for myself. There are just certain things that you don’t want to order from the internet (and computers & parts is one of them, unless you have knowledge of them before hand).

But the other thing is, the level of rudeness when you ask for help is off the charts! Not only that, sometimes the attitude comes from employees working in stores that are already going out of business. You’d think they would offer better service to stick around as long as they can. So I’m writing all this to say, we are now living in an age where you really have to do your own homework. So many sales people don’t have any clues about much of the technology today. Personally I’ve gotten to the point where I prefer to order my electronic things online; it appears that you get so much more customer service than in person. Not only do we get more detailed product information; we can make our own comparisons rather than solely relying on the retail employee; we don’t have to deal with that o’l “bait and switch” that is so common amongst many retail stores; we also no longer have to deal with a retail trying to charge you full price for a unit that is obviously “open box.” It’s a good thing tho, because this means we are empowered to make better decisions. But I also think the better customer service I’ve always received online is probably due to the fact that, there is a lot more mail order competition. However even then, I can’t tell you how many customer service reps I’ve talked to that had absolutely no no clue (sometimes that includes tech support). And when I say “no clue,” I don’t just mean about them not knowing their product, I lot of them don’t use the technology either. This includes companies like Sony and Samsung. However, much to my surprise, Nikon has always been spot on point with all their answers! So, in essence try to get as many camera magazines, and computer magazines as you can possibly stomach; cause retail isn’t the same as it once was. In fact, most technical support is now done exclusively through email; so you must have a basic understanding of technology in order to receive the help you need.


Cropping: The Big Debate

cropNot too long ago I saw a Facebook post about cropping an image. I thought to myself, this would be a good subject to post on my blog. There has always been this huge debate when it comes to image cropping between the traditional film photographers, and the new age digital photographers. Now personally, I think this is such a silly debate because to crop or not to crop is strictly up to the individual photographer. However, I draw the line when a traditional photographer uses the kind of language that suggest that someone who does crop is less than a true photographer. This in my opinion is not about someone teaching their photographic experience; but of someone usually with a hugely inflated ego. Again, photography is like any other art; it is about expression either derived from the heart, deep emotion, the deepest corners of our imagination, etc. So art is VERY personal. Regardless of your tools, or theme, or subject, whether you use a model, or an inanimate object, it is still creative expression through the eyes of the photographer. It’s about the photographer’s ability to see the story that needs to be told through your camera lens. To speak as though your better than someone else because “you don’t have to crop” is rubbish. What that actually is telling me is, that person really don’t understand the true benefits of digital photography. The idea that cropping prevents photographers from actually “working for their photograph” is also rubbish! The idea that we spend less time in lightroom to develop a photo, then developing film in a dark room is also rubbish.

Nothing against the more traditional photographers, but their is a reason why many have ditched film and gone digital. People have gone digital not because they’re lazy; but because we are now living in a world were digital technology and mindset are now necessary. Have you ever thought of the possibility that cropping can give us the opportunity to actually create several shots from one photograph? This is the problem when dealing with many traditional photographers; as open minded as they may be when it comes to finding that great shot, they are also extremely one dimensional when looking through their viewfinder. Every living thing on the planet as more than one dimension to themselves; every none living statue has different dimensions to it; and every inanimate object has several dimensions. Perhaps we cannot see it because it is my view that most people function with a one tract mind. The reality is most people crop, it’s not a bad thing unless you make it a bad thing. You are the creator of YOUR own art; therefore you make your own executive decisions as well as execute them; which makes © copyright that much more meaningful.



What Is Public Domain?

Frederick Douglass - Public Domain

Frederick Douglass – Public Domain

I’ve been meaning to write this for some time. Public Domain is a huge, broad, and a complicated subject, despite what a lot of people believe. If there is one thing I’d like to make my readers aware of, is that your personal beliefs (or things that sound correct in your mind) does not trump copyright laws when it comes to images! Now that more and more regular people like you and me have blogs now; we are literally considered digital publishers! You may not realize it but, online blogging has changed the way the world receives news forever! Not only that, but it allows anyone with a keyboard to have a voice and to build an audience that includes those who can relate to what you’ve written. Once you create a blog, almost everyone around the globe has access to read your blog, therefore I think a new attitude and/or a new way of thinking is necessary when publishing articles. The first attitude is the sense of responsibility, to make sure that to the best of your ability your articles are not only accurate but of your own. If anyone questions you about an article you wrote, you are able to truly speak on behalf of that article because it’s your own. If you can’t put real content that comes from you personally, then why the hell invest time in building a blog in the first place? People no longer want to read about generic news, they want to read opinions with substance.

But what about the images you use to help tell your story? Although I’ve spent many years on reading about public domain and it’s relation to copyrights, I am not a lawyer! Therefore if you got yourself in to trouble and are in need of real legal advice, then you need not to cut corners and see an actual copyright attorney. Copyright laws will be different depending on the situation. In terms of images (and movies), public domain is basically any works of art, where the copyright has expired. If the copyright has expired, anyone can use them as they wish. However, movies are a little more complicated, as music that is contained in the movie can still be copyrighted despite the fact a particular movie may not be. I’m not sure how is it that people assume that because someone found an image on the net that it is “public domain,” I can assure you that belief is incorrect, and if you’re not careful you could risk getting yourself in trouble. You must understand it’s not about whether your making money off the image or not, that’s for the judge to decide. I’m not going to break down various scenarios and what could happen, you need to read up on them for yourself.

Although photography can be a fun hobby for many; it is also a serious business matter to others. People are being sued thousands and thousands of dollars everyday, for both legitimate and non-legitimate issues. Although bloggers are protected by fair use laws, we still need to be careful of “right of publicity.” As long as you are using the image for education or a news worthy purpose (and you do not remove any logos or signatures on the image itself, or use the photo in such a way that it is assumed that you’re the owner of the work taken), the law is on our side. However, that doesn’t stop a copyright holder who may or may not understand what fair use means from trying to take you to court. An artist protecting his or her work is a big deal, but I also don’t like to be cyber bullied either. There are those cases where the copyright holder is charging huge licensing fees for the photo your using. If that’s the case, my opinion is that unless there are no other images you can use, just change it to avoid the drama. Or another idea would be to draw a similar photo of the image you borrowed, because now that would be of artistic expression (remember you don’t want to make it identical, just use your imagination). That drawing would then become your copyright, because you’ve created it. A person cannot copyright their face (or clothes for that matter). LOL

If you want to use an image for something more than just fair use, you should know that it is much harder to research whether a photo is truly public domain or not, because most of the time we don’t have all of the information about the photo on hand; such as artist, time frame, copyright registration, etc. You may actually have to pay for a librarian @ the library of congress to help you look for copyright status (if you have the information mentioned earlier). Sometimes even if you determined that a image is public domain, an estate can still make a frivolous lawsuit for “unclaimed copyright.” It’s a racket out there, what can I tell you!



How Far Would You Go?

Central Park 72nd Street NYQuestion? How far are you willing to go in order to get a shot? That’s the question I thought to myself when I shot this picture. Personally, I would have never tried to get that close for a shot (this particular shot); I would have been too scared I would have fell in to the water LOL. It makes me really appreciate the fact that I have a zoom lens. Mind you, not that a zoom lens would save me all of the time; however I would like to make the point that zoom lenses are not just good for close-ups; they are also great tools for ensuring safety. This is a clear example that more expensive lenses are sometimes worth getting. Again, there exist different lenses for different situations and purposes; and when you’re a street photographer you should always be thinking about safety when you go out and shoot. We all should be thinking, “which equipment I can  purchase, that would allow me to take a shot safely.” Then again, I guess this all would depend on the kind of photographer you are. For example, I am not that kind of photographer, that would practically immerse myself in water, just to take a stunning picture of geese; or get in proximity of a poisonous animal just to get a “fantastic shot.” Hopefully the photographers that do want to do things like that, would take the time to get trained before hand. 🙂



Gary Fong: My Account of the Ridiculous $300,000 Lawsuit

Someone posted this on youtube and I think it’s important enough for all photographers to watch (regardless if your a professional or amateur). This is a perfect example as to why I choose not to be a “photographer for hire,” because I just don’t have the patience for this kind of stupidity. There are just way to many people (and organizations sometimes) that try and take advantage. In essence, Gary Fong tells the story of a married couple who tries to extort money from a photographer. Not only did this couple try to threaten and blackmail the photographer; they tried to also scare him by saying they have connections and they will not have any court fees, he will. These low lives decided they would try to scam a photographer for $300,000; when the agreement for their wedding shoot was less than $3,900. What a bunch of bullshit. Long story short, Gary Fong assisted the photographer with his legal troubles and the photographer won! But really, when you listen to Gary read the threatening letter, the judge would automatically see these two people and the firm representing them are trying to abuse the law. These people don’t know SHIT. I guess they thought the photographer would just make it easy for them and pay the money! NOT!! Read the out come of this case here. Please guys, take the time to know your rights! Especially when  it comes to wedding photography, there is something about this field that photographers get the most complaints, and 9x out of 10 it’s the brides that complain. And for goodness sakes NEVER, EVER give your RAW files to anyone! Unless they are willing to pay a hefty price (and if they do, show your best ones, not the mistakes).

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