Category Archives: copyright

Brave New World of iBook Publishing

This post is sort of about photography but it also is about Apple, it’s about iBooks and it is certainly about diversification.  One reason I have been very quiet of late is that I’ve been head down on learning how to use iBook Author to put together a new book called “How to be successful at iPhone Photography”. In a past life, I use to write very dry technical books on geeky things like network security, Linux and Cisco stuff. If you were a network geek, you probably read one but for the average Joe, not so much.

Now, with photography as my life, it came to me that I could recycle my writing skills into something more than just blog entries. I decided to write a book on using the iPhone since it would be somewhat more easy than writing for Android phones and I happen to own an iPhone. This made it even a more simpler choice on my part. The reason is in the past several months, I’ve become quite the enthusiastic shooter using the iPhone. I am always amazed at just how good it can be and what can be done with a smart phone and some clever apps.

The book will be finished in a few weeks and then submitted to the black hole of Apple approval which I’m told can take weeks and weeks if I’m not so lucky. The price will be very cheap, between 1.99 and 2.99, I have not made up my mind yet. The goal is to make it a good book and high value for less money than a decent latte would cost you.

Now, some of you might sneer at the idea of using a camera phone for anything other than quick and dirty snapshots. I mean, a real photographer uses a brand name DSLR with a five pound chunk of glass hanging off the end. A few years ago that was true and I would have said it myself. But, with the advent of the iPhone, in particular the iPhone 4, 4S and now the 5, the onboard cameras are very capable systems indeed.

I have exhibit A which is a photograph I took using my iPhone 4S and a cheap ETX telescope. I did upgrade the eyepiece from the OEM Mead ETX eye piece to a nicer but still inexpensive Parker Silver Series eye piece. Good glass is good glass whether it be a camera lens or a telescope. But, that was the extend of my “upgrades”. I did not use anything special on the phone and most of the post processing was actually done on the phone standing in the front yard using Snapseed and PhotoFX. I did load the image into CS5 for a high pass filter and resizing of the image. But this image looks better than many I’ve seen taken with much more expensive equipment.
New Quarter Moon September 23 2012 taken with iPhone and Mead ETX telescope

As you can see from the image, the quality is very good. And this was without any real magic or special tricks or high priced hardware. It’s this type of shooting my new book will show you how to do for cheap.

Here is another iPhone picture and this time, I broke a few hearts with it. It’s the expected “ring shot” but this time I used the Olloclip Macro lens on the iPhone 4S to take an ultra close up of the wedding ring. Then I processed it in CS6 just like I would any other deliverable image. There is virtually no difference in quality of using the iPhone vs. using a DLSR with the 800 dollar lens.

Wedding Ring Shot using iPhone 4S and olloclip macro lens

So here are a few samples from my upcoming book. You will get a sense of the book and how it’s going to look. And being an iBook, it will be interactive unlike traditional print books.

Chapter 1 of How to be a Successful iPhone Photographer

Sample Chapter Content of How to be a Successful iPhone Photographer

So stay tuned for my announcement of my booking being approved by Apple for sale in the iTunes catalog. It’s been alot of fun so far in writing it and I hope when I get it done, you will find it an enjoyable read and inspiration.



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D300 firmware update now has copyright info

This is just a fast post to encourage you to upgrade the firmware of your D300. The overwhelming reason is that you can not enter copyright information to be embedded into the EXIF data of all your images. There are some other fixes like a bit faster focusing and higher shutter speeds in automatic mode. But the copyright info is a biggie to anyone who shoots for a living, or even if you dont, you should put in your info to show ownership on the chance that someone “borrows” your image.

You can download the new firmware from here at Nikon.

To set up the D300 for copyrihg information, follow these directions:

D300 -> Setup Menu -> Copyright Information

“Attach copyright information” setting checked

“Copyright information” setting to “ON.

The information can be entered in upper and lower case plus you can use symbols.

Here is all the details of the upgrade:

  • The Highlights playback option has been moved from Display Mode > Basic photo info > Highlights in the playback menu to Display mode > Detailed photo info > Highlights.
  • The size and color of “Demo” displayed in the monitor with playback when No memory card? in the Custom Settings has been set to Enable Release have been modified.
  • The range of settings available for ISO sensitivity settings > ISO sensitivity auto control > Minimum shutter speed in the shooting menu has been increased from 1/250 – 1s to 1/4000 – 1s.
  • When shooting in hand-held live view mode and the frame is magnified prior to autofocusing, operation has been modified so that display returns to the magnified display rather then the full frame display.
  • Images captured with Rotate tall, in the playback menu, set to On, are not automatically rotated for display immediately after capture (image review).
  • A Copyright information has been added to the setup menu. When Copyright information is enabled, the copyright symbol ( © ) is shown in the shooting info display.
  • Recent settings can now be displayed in the place of My Menu.
  • Custom Setting e3 Flash cntrl for built in flash ( e3 Optional flash when an optional Speedlight is mounted on the camera) can now be added to My Menu using the Add items > Custom setting menu > Bracketing/ flash.
  • The degree of the High ISO NR setting can now be confirmed in the shooting info display while the High ISO NR setting item, in the shooting menu, is being applied.
  • Ankara, Riyadh, Kuwait, and Manama have been added to the Time zone options for the World time item in the setup menu.
  • When a GPS device is used and no heading information is available, –.–° is now displayed for the Position / Heading option in the GPS item in the setup menu.
  • When shooting in live view mode using Camera Control Pro 2 (ver. 2.2.0 or later) with a PC-E lens, the aperture setting can now be adjusted from the computer.
  • Focus acquisition performance in dynamic-area AF mode has been improved.
  • Focus acquisition performance with contrast-detect AF has been improved.
  • Auto white balance performance has been improved.
  • The fourth digit in seconds display for GPS latitude and longitude information is now rounded off rather than omitted.
  • The current MB-D10 battery type setting can now be confirmed in the shooting menu display when R6/AA- size batteries are used with the Multi-Power Battery pack MB-D10.
  • An issue that caused an increase in noise when shooting in [M] exposure mode at a shutter speed setting of bulb with the shutter held open for less than 8 seconds and Long exp. NR enabled has been resolved.
  • An issue that prevented shutter release at the specified shutter speed when no operations were performed for 30 seconds in mirror up mode has been resolved.
  • An issue that caused abnormal image display when Image review was set to On and the playback zoom in button was pressed immediately after shooting at the following settings has been resolved.
  • Image quality: NEF (RAW) + JPEG
  • NEF (RAW) recording: Lossless compressed or Compressed
  • Image size: S or M
  • When the Speedlight SB-800 was mounted on the camera with flash mode set to distance-priority manual (GN) mode, and the camera recovered from standby mode triggered by the auto meter off function, the distance information in the SB-800 changed. This issue has been resolved.
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Peek a boo anyone?

It’s a fun phrase we say to our kids to make them laugh. It’s not nearly as funny when it is about your private pictures showing up on the internet for all to see while supposedly locked up on your photographer’s website. This is a very true story which gets to heart of security, poor implementation and the cost of being ignorant of how the business back end is really being run.

Virtually every photographer has an internet presence and many have “private” galleries available for the clients to view proofs and other pictures. Almost every photographer has a hosting service that they pay for and much of the time since the photographer is not really a geek per say, they get a template site and thats pretty much it. In my own case, I am a geek and have been one for the past 25 years so while I started with a template, the hosting service lets me do pretty much what I want to do regarding my site. For example, I installed and built this blog from scratch using WordPress, it was not a canned option that I clicked on. That means I know exactly how my blog was installed, my passwords for the database are my own and not a “default” from a well known script.

The galleries are much the same, you can buy a gallery built from a script or you can build it yourself if you know how or can pay someone to. Most just use what the hosting service provides them, I mean, they are paying for a service provided to them by “experts” right?

In today’s topic the experts were a company called “Bludomain” and they offer some pretty cool canned sites to the photographer. But what nobody knew till the other day was their sites had a serious flaw that allowed anyone with Google and a few key words to find, search and grab any image in the gallery even if it were “password protected”. This is pretty scary when you think about some boudoir shots that are intended to be very private or private modeling sessions etc. Even shots of the under 18 crowd gets to be a pretty serious problem in the wrong hands.

And they are not the only ones, they were on the bigger ones but definitely not the only ones.

With a simple search and a simple string of “wedgalleries“, you get alot of this:

Index of /v1site_images/Wedgalleries/gallery2041 – 2 visits – 10:27pm
Index of /v1site_images/Wedgalleries/gallery2041. Icon Name Last modified Size Description. [DIR] Parent Directory – [IMG] Annie1.jpg 28-Aug-2009 19:39 147K …

When you click on the link, you get this:


You don’t have permission to access /v1site_images/Wedgalleries/gallery2041/ on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Apache/2.0.63 (Unix) mod_ssl/2.0.63 OpenSSL/0.9.8e-fips-rhel5 mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/ Server at Port 80

Forbidden is good right? well sort of but since Google has cached the data, you get this and with this data

Index of /v1site_images/Wedgalleries/gallery2041

Name Last modified Size Description
Parent Directory –
Annie1.jpg 28-Aug-2009 19:39 147K
Annie2.jpg 28-Aug-2009 19:39 147K
Annie3.jpg 28-Aug-2009 19:39 151K
Annie4.jpg 28-Aug-2009 19:39 117K

Ah,.. thats bad, because you can click and go here:

And we can see Annie’s picture whether she wanted it to be public or not. And that is precisely the point, the photographer is responsible in the end for the security of the client’s images. Not the hosting service or the moron that set up the file server, the photographer will be held accountable by the client. At best, the photographer will be yelled at, at worst, they will be sued. Of course, the photographer can sue the web hosting company at the same time but the damage is done to their own reputation by then and the hosting company wont matter one whit.

Now, Google provides a way to get your pages removed from their cache and while thats nice, not all search engines are so accommodating. And even then there are specialized search and archive engines like the “wayback machine” that will keep the data no matter what. So your scanty and suggestive boudoir pose might end up websites that you really would not want to be seen on.

This is a very  good reason NOT to have your images put up on web galleries. For my own clients, I offer two ways of getting images, web galleries or my preferred method is to use “” where I send files via HTTPS to the client who just clicks and downloads the file.

You can also edit some files on your site IF you are a techie geek photographer or if you not, you can borrow one for a few minutes 🙂  There is a file called “robots.txt” that tells search engines what they can look at and where they can go on your site. Most search engines will use an agent that follows the rules for this “protocol” set out in the text file.

To precent the agents from looking into directories it pretty simple. You need to use a plain text editor to make this or to edit this file. Apps like Word will screw it up so use notepad or Nano or whatever so long as it’s a plain editor.

To block agents, simply enter the following lines into the robots.txt file:

User-agent: NameOfAgent
Disallow: /

Make sure that you enter the name of the unwanted agent exactly as it appeared in your reports or log files, e.g. Teleport Pro/1.29 and that there is a separate entry for each agent. You need to skip a line between each entries. The “/” in the above example means disallow access to any directory. You can also disallow access by spiders and agents to certain directories by name like I show below:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/

In this example, the asterisk (wildcard) indicates “all”. Don’t use the asterisk in the Disallow statement to indicate “all”, you need to use the forward slash instead.

You can get a list of agents here if you want to be more precise about who is being blocked. Once you have made this file, it needs to be in the root directory of your site.

This issue has been written about in a fair amount of detail on Digital Wedding Forum and the author there had the good grace to give warning to the photographers he was talking about. But what about the thousands of others? The ones that do not follow DWF or other sources of information like this?’

As a client, you need to research your photographer in more detail than just if the website or blog looks “cool”, you need to feel comfortable that the photographer understands your privacy and can keep it regarding your pictures. Ask how they host the galleries, ask about this issue and see what they say and ask what recourse you have if there is a problem of data “leakage” from the site.

Many of my peers are not really geeks and they should not be expected to be geeks but they are expected to hire an expert to make sure they and their client’s data is safe or as safe as prudence dictates. Blindly trusting the hosting company is really a bad idea for business and possibly for your pocketbook.

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Copyright and the photographer

One of the biggest areas of misinformation and confusion for photographers is the area of “copyright“. Things like who owns it, when you can own it, how to get it, how to keep it and much more are things that all professional photographers should at least have a working knowledge of to protect themselves and their clients.

The good news is there are alot of places to get good information that is accurate which is probably one of the most important aspects of this. Inaccurate information can end up costing you more than you think in lost images and money.

Not being even close to being a lawyer, I will refrain from “telling” anyone any copyright information for fear of getting it wrong and then it coming back to bite me. Suffice to say that I’m working hard this year at learning my own way around copyright. I am now in the process of copyrighting ALL of my images that I have taken in the past and I have incorporated copyright into my workflow as “things to do after the shoot”. With the ability to file copyright online for something like 40 dollars, there is no reason in the world not to do it. When I did my first filing, the only issue I had was to break my files into smaller uploads due to the time restriction for uploads. The website also a bit confusing (designed by policy wonks I’m sure) but you have gone through it once, it is not so bad.

One way I’m learning copyright right now is a free course on iTunes U from MIT.

MIT OCW: 6.912 Introduction to Copyright Law, January (IAP) 2006

Here is the official syllabus

Course Highlights
This course features video lectures and an extensive list of readings. A description of assignments is also available. This course is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month.
Course Description
This course is an introduction to copyright law and American law in general. Topics covered include: structure of federal law; basics of legal research; legal citations; how to use LexisNexis®; the 1976 Copyright Act; copyright as applied to music, computers, broadcasting, and education; fair use; Napster®, Grokster®, and Peer-to-Peer file-sharing; Library Access to Music Project; The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act; DVDs and encryption; software licensing; the GNU® General Public License and free software.

Another free source is the copyright office themselves (our tax dollars at work) with their fairuse FAQ.

There is another good FAQ found at on copyright.

This is one of the best editorial primers on copyright I have been able to find.

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