Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Bits and Pieces, Odds and Ends

Permission to Reproduce: If In Doubt, Don’t (2)

As mentioned in a previous post all the images I have reproduced directly I have obtained the permission of the author or the estate.  I noted that where you can get in touch with a living photographer everything is easily sorted but for the estate of a deceased photographer that tends to be a different matter.

For some research regarding the context of a picture I wanted to use an image from W. Eugene Smith’s photo essay Country Doctor.  After quite an amount of detective work I mailed the agency that worked on behalf of the Estate of W. Eugene Smith and received, for me, the following disappointing reply:

The Estate of W. Eugene Smith requires that we charge a minimum of $300 per image for any reproduction of his work.  Under that restriction, we are not able to honor your request for unpaid use of the material.  Over the years they have had too many requests for free use of their material for academic purposes and minimal payment offers for the same purpose.  They will not change their policy for individual requests“.

This reply raises a number of points:

  • firstly it is in the right of any owner of an asset to get a return on that asset.  In this case Smith’s body or work there is no point owning it if it is not going to generate an ongoing revenue stream.
  • secondly it looks like there has been some history or previous issues where the Estate has said enough is enough and here is our policy from that point on.
  • thirdly it does seem a shame that key works are not being allowed for use for educational purposes.

The irony is that my link to the host image most likely has not paid the appropriate fees yet there it sits on the internet.  More than likely fair usage for educational purposes would be cited if challenged but that would not hold because the Estate have such a restricted policy.  Having done quite a bit of reading on the subject most articles end up with a disclaimer that reads some thing like “To avoid problems, if you are in any doubt, you are advised to always get the permission of the owner, prior to use” [1] which basically translates as Permission to Reproduce: If In Doubt, Don’t.

The interesting point which I will follow through is that as the picture was published as part of a photo essay in LIFE magazine, LIFE own the copyright of the photo and combined text.  I may well get in touch with them to see if I can reproduce the full page which will also contain the photograph.  I’ll see how that goes.



[1] (2004) Copyright Law fact sheet P-09 : Understanding Fair Use, UK Copyright Service [available online] [Last Accessed 28th Oct 2015]


Personality Determination

The beauty of this section is that it can be used to record thoughts without the necessity of the full justification that either the exercises or assignments warrant. In other words is a true blog of ideas and passing thoughts and the following is a good example:

I recently met for real a photographer whose work I was aware of via the internet and his personal web site. During the conversation he posed a question that went along the lines of “so what does my photography tell you about me”. Without listening to the question correctly I answered what I thought about him as a photographer. At the end of my discourse he asked the question again. Once I had really listened to the question, it left me stumped in that any response I have in looking at a body of work is in context to what I am seeing. I had never considered what the images were telling me about the personality of the photographer. Should it? Am I missing something here? Or was the photographer using his work as a medium to discuss himself as a person rather than what he was seeing.

While perhaps getting a little too philosophical here it did leave me wondering that if I thought this way would it be some stepped change in the process I appreciate photography and photographs. I think the answer is yes and no. If the body of work is a true personal project then yes I think there is an argument that you can determine the personality of the author, however for any professional or commercial work then I would argue this is not the case.

Maybe once I have built up a few personal projects I will canvass random people to see what they think about me via my work. It should be somewhat interesting especially so if their view does not line up with my self-thoughts.

Before, After and After

Within this Miscellaneous section of the Blog I use this almost as a notepad to myself.  An electronic Learning log.  Here I am just recording the development of an image that was used in Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment.

This is the original colour image.  No post processing has taken place other than sharpening, and exposure correction.  In this state the image in terms of colour looks weak to me.  However in my mind’s eye the image always was intended to be in black and white so when seeing the image through the viewfinder I did not think in terms of colour, but just in the placement of the elements.


After Post Processing

The image was then converted to black and white in Lightroom.  I brought up the contrast, removed spots, took out a shadow in the bottom left, vignetted the corners and sharpened the image a little more.  It was taken full frame and remained full frame.  Overall I was pleased with the result (as my Lightroom skills are still developing) and used it as part of my submission for assignment 3.


After Tutor Report

After receiving the tutor report back a couple of recommendations were made about this image.  While liking the composition my tutor recommended that the stairs in  the lower right hand corner and the pavement/stonework left and top left should be burnt in much more.  The highlights were too bright and almost burnt out.  In a strange sort of way I think I knew I should have done this in the first place but I suppose some of this reticence is inexperience therefore not being brave enough with my image.  There is definitely a balance between a great picture and one that is overcooked.  I suppose I am still finding that balance tipping point and remaining on the cautious side.  That said the image was further processed as advised and show below.  Yes in my view the image is stronger and works very well.


Proof Reading

Before I publish anything on this learning log I read, reread and read again to ensure that there are no grammatical errors.  Yet when I refer back to something a few weeks later, maybe changing an assignment after the tutor’s comments, there staring me in the face are obvious typos.  Typical ones are the small words such as for some inexplicable reason on is either in or an.  When you read the passage it is plainly obvious that the word is wrong because the sentence or statement becomes complete nonsense.  Also even worse instead of tying if I have typed i which Word automatically corrects to I.  Again when reread it is so obvious.  Therefore the question then comes why I do not spot it first time through.  To be honest I have absolutely no idea.  So when in doubt a quick scour of the internet helps.

The good news is, or the web site I probably biasedly selected is that actually I am not suffering from incompetence or word blindness but in fact by brain is working optimally. (Ed: Yeah right!].  Evidently the science is that our brains do not need all the data to make the connection to understand the meaning.  In fact it needs the minimal amount of information and fills in the blanks.  This information can also be misspelled and we still understand.  We effectively read words as a whole and even better we understand sentences as a whole.  Therefore our brain automatically corrects the incorrect on, in and an etc.  The following link which explains things a little further has a great paragraph where virtually every word is incorrect yet we totally understand the meaning.

So the point here I suppose is that to ensure what I publish is ‘correct’ then a second set of eyes should read the article.  Their purpose should be from a purely typographical viewpoint and not try to understand what is written else they will fall into the same trap as I do when reading.  Therefore If anyone does see typos in any of my posts please let me know.    The irony is there is probably a typo lurking in this post but my brain (not me) just can’t see it.

Permission to Reproduce: If In Doubt, Don’t (1)

Plagiarism has a clear and simple definition:
“an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author” [1] Simply put taking someone else’s work or idea and passing it off as your own.

I would have thought that copyright, in this case the right to reproduce an image would follow similar stringent rules.  However the more I read the more I become confused.  It seems to be OK if it for education purposes, it seems to be OK if it has a certain level of Creative Commons agreement, and then there is the mine field of the Fair Use exceptions (e.g. for criticism and comment usage) but when you get down to the small print on all of these there are tight restrictions.

The law gets even more complicated when you use copyrighted images but create a completely new work out of them such a collage for which you own the copyright but for now we won’t even go there.

I want to comply with the albeit confusing law so I have adopted the stance of if in doubt or I do not have express permission then I do not reproduce an image.  As a result I feel my Learning Log is a little spartan and  bereft of displaying direct sourced images and in many cases looks very text based.  Yes there is a link to take you to the image but can the viewer be bothered and are they turned off just by seeing a sea of text?  Perhaps.

For all the images I have reproduced directly I have the permission of the author or the estate.  What I find pleasing is that where you can get in touch with a living photographer direct usually in one email and a reply everything is sorted.  When it is for the estate of a deceased photographer that tends to be a different matter.  Just to reproduce Robert Frank’s Elevator Girl was a long string of emails, restrictive clause form filling and text submission before permission was given.  Many a saint would have lost patience during the journey but the secret is don’t give up.

Yet you look around OCA blogs and probably most internet sites (Pinterest and Tumblr are prime examples) and Elevator Girl is splashed around like there is no tomorrow.  I would assume 99.9% of these instances do not have permission.  Maybe I am wearing a hare shirt and taking the moral high ground on this one but I would hate to see an image of mine mercilessly reproduced over the net without the minimum any reference or acknowledgement to me.  Therefore why do people do it to other people’s work?

The interesting thing about the law is it has to be enforceable with redress. My searches reveal that there are very few legal cases of copyright infringement (because of the effort for enforceability) for non-commercial usage but they do happen.  But when you do look into the financials the cost of the case far outweighs any recompense so the average photographic authors are very reluctant to take things further other than just asking for a Take Down notice.

While a little off-piste but still related I notice today (19 June 2015) there is a report of a mother posting an image regarding the joy of parenting her Downs Syndrome daughter to her own site only to find the image was lifted illegally (a nice way of saying stolen) by a stock photo agency, then to be used legally from the stock company by a medical company to promote their pregnancy screening tests.  Needless to say both mother and medical company are taking action against the image stock company. (Click for link)

In conclusion (for now at any rate) while there are many debates even on the on the OCA Forums and in posts the best advice seems to be assume that something is copyrighted until proven otherwise therefore if in doubt don’t post, just link.  The irony of which, it is totally acceptable to link to an image that may be breaking copyright infringements.  Funny old world.

Looking forward to any comment.


[1] (nd) Palgerism, {on line] {Last Accessed 19th June 2015]

Thought for the Day (1)

I suppose stating the obvious but the thing I like about this course is how it is a voyage of discovery.  Of course it is about learning but I like those surprising experiences you pick up on the way.  If it were not for this course I would have more than likely never discovered Sato Shintaro and his superb work Tokyo Twilight Zone.

Word In Line Spell Checker – A Cautionary Tale

Being probably one of the world’s worst typists I tend to miss-hit the keys and then have to spell check later.  Microsoft is smart and recognizes there are people like me and have developed the in line automatic spell corrector.  Thus when you have obviously typed a word incorrectly it will correct for example: hte corrects to the.  Also it has the ability to ‘learn’ your common mistakes and correct those accordingly.

Recently i just finished a piece of work: no red underlines for spelling mistakes, no blues lines for grammar issues, excellent  During a quick final scan to my horror I discover that my mistyping of photographer had become pornographer.  Whilst admittedly it was somewhat amusing and spiced the passage up a little it is also great that Word also has a Replace All function for people like me.