Uncategorized

We had the luck to be on Bali during Nyepi, Silence Day.
I have some images of the parade, not the spectacle in the end, because health got in the way, but some pictures I have. They’re in the edit queue.

But what I didn’t want to keep from you was this:

Milky Way

D800, ISO3200, 15 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 14mm

The parade is the night before Silence Day, and on Silence Day everyone is… silent. Yes. No one is allowed to work, no one is really even allowed to leave the house. No lights are allowed to be on, save for maybe some small candles (I’ll tell a bit more about Nyepi in the other post with the parade pictures).
And that makes this kind of photography fantastic. Absolutely no light pollution and the Universe at your feet. There are SO many stars visible, it’s hard to fathom. And the Milky Way is right there, at the tip of your fingers.

It’s breath-taking, it’s beyond words. To enjoy this in silence, to enjoy the silence of this.
Marvelous!

This was a crazy month! Whoa!
Everything came at the same time. Move of the domain to a different provider, me and partner’s move abroad, issues with the transfer. And now I’m still sitting on missing links to all the imagery on the blog. I’ll try to fix that, but I don’t know if, how, and how long it will take for that to happen, so bear with me.

More posts in the coming days WITH pictures.
In the mean time, I’ve changed themes. Thought while I’m changing providers and have to set up everything again, I might just as well change the layout a tiny bit. Nothing big or spectacular, but a bit different to keep things fresh.

I’ve started a business with the Better Half.
And for that I made a few ads that I wanted to boost on Facebook to get a larger reach. You’d think that’s a straight-forward piece of design, right?
WRONG!
Facebook has a few rules to live by when you want to boost posts on their website. That’s fine, of course. And if it was all logical, it would be even finer (is that even proper English? ;) ).
But it’s not as fine as it sounds.
The rule over which I kept on tripping was the 20% text rule. In order to be allowed to boost an ad on Facebook, the ad is not allowed to have more than 20% text. And that’s where everything goes south.
I don’t know if there are actually PEOPLE checking the posts submitted, or if that’s a totally automated “optical character recognition” kind of thing, but there are two major flaws in the system where Facebook fucks up royally (excuse me my french).
1) They don’t understand logo fonts. So everything that has a logo in it consisting of text, is seemingly considered as… text.
2) They work with a grid system. A 5 x 5-box grid. Regardless of the size of the ad, everything is divided in a 5 x 5-box grid and you’re supposed to click the boxes in the grid that contain text. If you have more than 5 boxes clicked, you have more than 20% text and your ad is rejected for boosting.
The problem with this is, if I have only ONE letter in one box, that WHOLE box is considered to have text. If that letter happens to be exactly on the division of the grid, it will be in two boxes, and thus TWO boxes are considered to have text.

Facebook Ad Example 1

An ad that would -supposedly- fail according to Facebook’s 20% text rule

Left a 125 x 125 mm square made in InDesign with the letters on the grid division. Right the grid from Facebook where you have to indicate what boxes contain text. When done properly, it indicates that this ad has 40% text. Of course that’s not true, and if there are ACTUAL people checking this, you will get away with it, because it has maybe 5% text. But a computer is stupid. If this is done automatically by OCR, then you’re screwed.

Another problem with this system is, that they use this grid, the 5 x 5-box grid, on EVERY ad. Regardless of its size. So I put out another test.
In InDesign I made a document of 150 x 2500 mm, so a super long, narrow document. I put a bit of text in the top and in the bottom. See what happens:

Facebook Ad Example 1

Another ad that would -supposedly- fail according to Facebook’s 20% text rule

Facebook’s app to check your ad squeeeeeezes that complete document into a smaller space. The text is somewhat stretched, so it’s unproportionally scaled, but according to the boxes checked, that ad still has 40% text. And that’s nowhere near right

The initial add that I posted DID have more than 20% text.

Facebook ad, rejected

Initial ad that was rejected because it had too much text.

So that was right. But then I changed it, took away the majority of the text (two versions in between), until only this was left:

 

Facebook ad, rejected

Ad that was initially accepted, but then rejected after all.

So this one was initially accepted, it ran for about an hour, and then I STILL got a mail that it was rejected, due to the 20%-text rule.

So I really believe that they have no clue about logo fonts. In this last case the ACTUAL text is only in the red stamp and next to it, and those fall exactly in the second row of the grid. They clearly calculated the diver’s log, which is a logo font and the Reconnect Discover logo as text.
But then again, if you look at it closely, and look at the EFFECTIVE amount of text in the image, so the part that is really text and not the boxes that Facebook has indicated as being completely text, then all that is left is maybe… 10-12%? And in the example below I’ve even added the logo font that is Diver’s Log (which isn’t text, but a logo / image):

Actual text in the image

The actual amount of text in the image in blue, the text in the image according to Facebook in red (Diver’s Log not included in this).

Right now I’m a bit at a loss. If they really do also consider the Reconnect Discover logo a bit of text, there’s no way this ad would ever get through.
If they would only consider the top part text, I would have to design it like this:

Facebook ad, approved?

I’m a designer. A visual artist. I create nice things.
And that idiotic 5 x 5-box grid of Facebook prevents me from making nice things. No designer in his right mind would make something like this. By default any design would cover exactly the division of grids. It’s a rule of thumb. That also goes in photography. You put things on the division lines, because instinctively that’s where your eye draws to first.
And Facebook is putting a plug in that.
So F**K YOU, Facebook.
Now… Since this is my own website, and I can freely advertise anything I want here, I’ll put the original ad here once more.
Go check out the website, and go get your Diver’s Log. It’ll be one of the best decisions you’ll make in 2014. I promise :)

Facebook ad, rejected

 

Edit to add, at 13:39.

Just for the fun of it, I boosted this post on the fromadifferentangle.net Facebook page.
This was at 12:09:

FB ad approved

At 12:09 I boosted the post on the fromadifferentangle.net Facebook page. It was approved.

Then at 13:39 I get a message from Facebook, saying that the ad to boost my post was rejected. It had, by that time, generated just over 600 views and I was charged $ 1,32 for it.

FB ad rejected

At 13:39 I got a message from Facebook saying that the ad for boosting the post was rejected, because there was too much text in it.

So first the boost was approved. I’ve boosted a good number of posts on the fromadifferentangle Facebook page, and they have ALL -without any exception until now- been accepted. Why? Because it’s a LINK. It’s a link to a post, not an image ad.
Now one can start thinking: WHY did they reject this boost? Was it because I was badmouthing Facebook? Or was it because I was basically promoting the ad that they wouldn’t let me promote through Reconnect Discover Facebook page?
It’s a very dubious case.

Do leave your input, if you know the answer.

Most of you probably haven’t heard about it.
That’s ok. I hadn’t either, until today.

It’s a LinkedIn term. It refers to a “new” feature that LinkedIn introduced about a year ago. The abbreviation SWAM stands for Site Wide Automated Moderation.

LinkedIn apparently initially introduced this feature to reduce the amount of spam being posted to the LinkedIn groups in such a manner that if one group moderator would indicate someone’s a spammer, this particular person would automatically be put on a “blacklist” for ALL groups to prevent him from also spamming other groups. That way all group moderators would help each other weed out the bad seeds.
However, this backfired massively, because people all over the world are wrongfully SWAM-ed. If it happens so that you get into a quarrel with a group moderator over something completely insignificant and the group moderator blocks/deletes you just because to him/her you are a nuisance, this will affect your input in ALL the groups you are a member of.
Anything you post into any of your groups (unless you’re a moderator of a group yourself) will go into the “Pending Submissions” queue and will most likely stay there until your dying day.

A little background story, which I will tell with name and shame, just because this is annoying on very many levels.

It started out on the Photography Group, a sub group of the Adobe Photoshop Group, both for which I’m one of the administrators.
A person by the name of Victoria Cavendish-Hamiliton opened a thread in the Photography group with the header “i-need-photographs”. This person pretended to be some sort of art-mediator, buying photography for her clients. She had a 500+ network of people (which of course doesn’t mean very much, but still). In her thread she inquired with the members about their interest in joining her group and from there we could see if there was material in our portfolios that would be suitable. A good number of people indicated interest, and I was one of them. The photography business is a very competitive business, and every connection to clients is a potential source of income, so… Of course, being photographers and being paranoid as hell, we all had our questions, which we posted in the group. Some were answered, some weren’t, or only vaguely.
The group was private, and myself and a number of photographers joined and were accepted.

Along the way the group name changed into The Photographers Innercircle (or something along those lines, I can’t quite remember).
In this group Victoria asked people to put the link to their portfolio, so she could see some of our work.
Everyone did so, as did I.
I entered my www.stockphotography.nu.
It was not posted.
I tried again, and noticed that my posts (and probably all others) were pending review. So I sent Victoria a private message on LinkedIn:

Hi Victoria,

I keep on trying to add my portfolio -as requested- to the Gallery thread, but apparently it doesn’t get past the review stage.
Is there a problem with my post?

Arno

A few days later I get a reply:

Hi Arno,

It is because it’s stock footage. We can’t support any stock footage site because of the rates they pay to photographers. Sorry Arno.

This leads me to believe that she hasn’t even checked the contents of the website, because if she would’ve, she instantly would’ve seen that the URL is merely a marketing tool, and that “my rates” are totally fair, because I’m paying myself, and I have to pay for my living. And I reply as such to Victoria in another private message:

I’m a professional photographer, Victoria, just because my portfolio has “stockphotography” in the URL doesn’t mean I charge like iStock and Shutterstock.
My rates are professional rates. If you were to buy one of my images, you pay a “normal” fee, because I have to pay my bills. I don’t do this for a hobby.

If I would’ve lead you to the same portfolio on Flickr, you would not have said a word and have publish the link.

Arno

After that I indeed post the link to my Flickr pages, which have the EXACT same images, and surely that link was promptly allowed.

There were some discussions in that group, which were deleted after a day or so. And then Victoria put up another thread.
In this thread she explained that she was going to make a book (emphasizing that she would hire someone to make this book, all on her own expense) and requested the members in the group to all send her ONE (only) high-resolution tif image to put in the book. She said that she had no intention to publish the book, only make one copy of it, and the participating photographers would not be compensated for the image they supplied for this book. The book was solely for the purpose of showing her clients the material she was able to deliver, so she said.
She did add that photographers could order their own copy of the book, and in that case she would try to get some of the production costs of the book reimbursed.

Well before this point a good number of alarm bells had started to ring in my head already.
I’ve been around for some time, and I’ve been creative (or so I’d like to think ;) ) for quite some time already. I write poetry at times, and in my previous Life -”back in the day”- I wrote a good number of blog posts (just around the time that the word “blogging” became a well-used word, and that blog is no longer up and running) about Vanity Presses. Back in the day that was for example Poetry.com, National Library of Poetry, National Library of Photography… All companies that had the strategy to use someone’s ego against him or herself. You wrote or created something, and you got a mail which basically told you that you were the next best thing and they wanted to publish you. And you were so up in the clouds about being published that you bought a 60$ book without a second thought (yep, been there, done that :D ).
So when Victoria explained her plans about getting pictures from everyone to put in a book, and that we -the photographers- could buy that book, all the red flags went up.
I didn’t tell her straight that I thought it was a very dubious plan, but I simply replied in the thread with a couple of questions about her plans with the book.
For example that I thought it wouldn’t be really correctly representing the photographers if we could send ONLY one image, because that one image would instantly categorize a photographer into something he may not ONLY be. A photographer can have a wide portfolio and not be “just” a landscape or portrait or studio or wildlife photographer. I also suggested to her that maybe she should consider a spread per photographer, including a bio of the photographer, several images and a link to his or her website. Additionally I questioned her idea of making only one book and using this for her clients. Since I assumed that her clients don’t all live in her street (or even her town), and she wouldn’t really meet with most of her clients in person, the purpose of ONE book to show clients didn’t sound very practical.

Obviously, THAT post also never made it past her review, and again I wrote her a private message.

Hi Victoria,

I get the impression that you really don’t handle criticism very well.
My comment was fully constructive criticism, which everyone has a right to read.

Is there a valid reason why you deleted that from the queue?

Arno

To this I didn’t get any reply.

I reproduced a similar response as what I had intended to post in her group and posted it in the thread in the Photography Group on LinkedIn where the whole “i-need-photographs” story started off.
Not very long after that the whole thread disappeared. She deleted it.Subsequently I copy-pasted the response in a number of other LinkedIn groups where I was a member and she had posted the exact same thread, and what I didn’t realize then, was that at that point I was already SWAM-ed, blacklisted, because she had blocked and deleted me from her Photographers Innercircle group.
Because of the beauty of this feature from LinkedIn I was now automatically put on a moderation list for ALL groups I was in and for future groups I would sign up for.
As a result my replies in the other group never made it past the moderation queue, because I guess most moderators/admins don’t really check those messages for content.

I sent her one more private message, which was still delivered, but I found out a bit later through a LinkedIn message that “this user has deleted his or her account”.
So there was definitely something very shady going on with this.

But now what…?

This SWAM feature on LinkedIn clearly isn’t functioning as intended.
The problem, however, is that it’s a non-reversible action, unless LinkedIn decides to disable it. Many people have fallen victim to this thing, and the only thing LinkedIn support tells us is that we have to individually contact the moderator/admin of the groups we’re a member of to beg and plead if they can take us (manually) off the moderation list again. These messages will go in the moderation queue, which most likely won’t be read, so we’re stuck in a vicious circle.
Basically f you piss against the wrong tree, you’re fucked with everything you do on LinkedIn. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re a paying member with a premium account or just a user of the basic account. This SWAM hits everyone once you get deleted and blocked from a LinkedIn Group.

In the end I’m not really dying from this, I’m an administrator for the two groups that I am most active in (and yes, I have also deleted and blocked people, but only those that are blatantly breaking the Group rules, like those irritating “Get a job online now, work from home and make 5,000$ a day!” type of posts). But sometimes I do feel the need to reply to posts in other groups, and that possibility has now basically been taken away from me, even if I didn’t do anything wrong.

LinkedIn has been made aware of this problem, but until now has refused to do something about it.
Let’s see where this is heading…

 

Oh, by the way…
I really did a number on the poetry.com thing back in the end 90s. When I found out I had been scammed, I put up a name and shame website and wrote the whole thing down, with correspondence, and proof and everything. The best part of the proof was one of my best works so far, which was selected to receive an Award of Excellence and ended up being the second runner-up in a Washington D.C. poetry convention (but only if I bought the book that it was going to be published in, which I was not going to be published in if I didn’t buy the book (see where it’s going? :D) ).
I wouldn’t want to keep you from this literary masterpiece (I kid you not, I still have the invitation and selection letter somewhere that it was selected and all that shit :D ).
It had the very catchy title “Gawaa… Aghwawawa!” and it went like this:

Rasaa kagavalaa awawawawaaa
Brrrrgrrrrwaaaaa awawaaa
Grababababa awaaa grababaaa
Knsieieie mrraaa wababaa
Swggggieieieieie
Trrrblieieieieie
Konnokonnokonno wafwafwaf
Derrewerrewerrewed

This was a poem
by the talking horse Mr Ed

(I kid you not :D ).

Another dive with camera.
This was actually a “coincidental” “fun” dive.
I could do a little background story, bare with me, because I will be spewing A LOT of frustration.

Before I left to the Philippines I had lunch/coffee with a Dive Intructor friend of mine, whom I asked for advise and tips on what to do and what to get. She gave me plenty of useful tips and advise, pretty much all of which I took to heart, save for 1 thing: do NOT buy anything that has MARES on it. She did stipulate that it was her personal opinion, and she also heard about people who had only good to say about them.
With that in mind I did buy several things with Mares on it.
1) a mask
2) a dive computer (Matrix)
3) a knife
4) a BCD
5) fins and boots

With good hopes and a good mood I took off to the Philippines to start my Dive Master course.

First few dives… The mask. Brand new. It bubbled worse than a Japanese Jacuzzi and upon going deeper than 6 or so meters it started leaking water in from the seams where the glass is attached to the plastic frame. My first experience with the solid quality of Mares.
I thought it may have just been bad luck, getting a Monday Morning Mask. It happens every now and again, and I’m fine with that.

The Dive Computer, a Mares Matrix, required some custom settings, and a piece of software called Dive Organizer to transfer and log the dives from Matrix to laptop. Came with a USB cable and all. I did the custom settings in both Dive Organizer and Matrix (and noticed when I went through the log book that the dive computer had THREE logged dives already in the process. Typically one dive would be for testing purposes, but *should* be deleted before the dive computer would go in the box for sales. I contacted the store where I bought it, who didn’t know how that was possible).
I had my first two dives logged, and I wanted to transfer them to my laptop. I fired up the laptop, the Dive Organizer, plugged in the USB and Matrix and tried several times to have the Dive Organizer find the computer, all of which failed.
I gave up.
I went for another two dives the next day. The second dive, just before the safety stop (short and blunt for you non-divers: this is a built-in routine with every dive to allow your body to get re-accustomed to the shallower depths and allow the gasses that (may) have accumulated in your body at deeper depths to escape) at 5 meters the Matrix died without any form of warning. I had to stay on 5 meters for 3 minutes, so all I could do was hope that my guestimate of 5 meters and my 1-mississippi 2-mississippi 3-mississippi was slow enough for the 3 minutes to pass.
I contacted the shop where I bought the Matrix, and Mares support straight. I was in contact with Mares Nordic, which was a very good experience and all looked very promising. The contact person at Mares Nordic, whom I had told exactly what the problem was with my Matrix, was going to be in touch with Mares Philippines and he was talking about them getting a new Matrix to the location where I was and then I could return the faulty one to the store I bought it from after I came back from my trip.
Then I received a mail from someone at -apparently- Mares Philippines. Few words more than “Hi, I need more details.” and the signature.
I asked the person kindly what information he had received from my contact at Mares Nordic and what additional information he needed from me. No reply. I asked with the contact person from Mares Nordic. No reply. Two days pass. Nothing. I send another mail to Mares Nordic asking what the status is on the issue of my Matrix. No reply. A few days pass.
Then I get a mail from another person at Mares Philippines. No Hi, no introduction, nothing. Only “Contact the General Manager [name here] of the Philippines.” No contact info, no email address, nothing. So I write a mail back asking about a phone number or an email address. I send it, and then I started thinking… WTF?? It’s not MY job to contact the General Manager to solve an issue. It’s not MY job to try to get in touch with someone in upperlevel management to try to get a solution for a faulty instrument or to have it replaced. I indicated a problem to the source where I was initially sent, and it’s THEIR job to make sure this is fixed. And I’m most certainly not going to call a General Manager in the Philippines or Australia (or wherever Mares Asia is located) with my Finnish phone and boost my phone bill to astronomical heights on top of a 500€ malfunctioning device! I got seriously annoyed.
I sent a mail to both the store where I bought the Matrix (who have been totally patient and understanding all the way, kudos for that!) with a CC to Mares Nordic explaining the situation and uttering my frustration with the way Mares is handling this. I get a prompt mail back from the store where I bought the Matrix, with apologies and the promise that we will in any case fix it when I get back from my trip. I of course do understand that THEY can’t do anything from Finland as long as I’m here. The shopkeeper told me he had also been in touch with Mares, but I guess not very successfully either. And not a single word from Mares.
A few days pass… Then I get a mail from Mares: “we haven’t heard from you in 48 hours. If we don’t hear from you in 72 hours, we will assume your issue has been resolved and we will close your ticket.”
G-sus FF-ing Crisp. I reply to the mail, more and more frustrated, saying bluntly that me waiting for a reply/solution from THEIR end doesn’t entitle them to close a ticket, just because THEY are so slow.
I get an automated reply: “I’m on holiday until the 3rd of July. Please contact me again after that.”
%#&/”(?)!&#)/=!#%!!!
I reply again to the first mail, even more frustrated and even more bluntly, saying that if they want to have things solved, they better not forward mails to people who are on holiday, or they should get their logistics better sorted out.
It’s been almost a week now, and I haven’t heard anything from them anymore. I guess that means they’ve assumed my issue has been resolved and they have closed the ticket. Dammit.
Anyway… The Matrix… I let the battery drain completely, and was able to recharge it. The dives seem to log with the correct information, but -I tried once or twice after that- when I hook it up to the computer or charger, all the custom information I set, like time, date, second time, etc. is erased and factory reset. According to the manual it should manage 2 weeks of standby time or 10 hours of diving. I manage max 6 hours of diving before I have to recharge. It’s a piece of junk. And I will not recommend ANYone to get one of these. Aside from all the problems I’ve had with this thing, I would not get a computer you’d have to recharge after 10 hours of diving. It may just happen that you’re on a liveaboard or somewhere remote where there’s no electricity and you’re stuck with an empty diving computer after 10 dives. That kinda sucks.

I also got a knife from Mares.
The other day we were on a dive in a sanctuary where fishing is prohibited. I brought my knife so I could legally vandalize stuff :D Cut up fishing cages and let the fish out. Destroying stuff with permission and saving the environment. That’s fun. A few days later we went to a second sanctuary and I wanted to do the same thing. I had strapped the knife in its sheath around my right lower leg, checked if it was clipped in tight, which it was and went for the dive. We didn’t encounter any cages on this dive, so I didn’t need the knife. I came back to the boat after an hour or so, I got back on the boat and found the sheath empty. My 60€ knife lost somewhere along the way, because the clip didn’t hold. I didn’t hook behind anything, didn’t do anything funny or stupid underway… It had *just* slipped out.

So… Now the reason for the coincidental fun dive…
We went back to search for the knife. And I took my camera. Made that a fun dive on the way.
We didn’t find the knife, but I got some really good pictures.

Porcupine pufferfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Banded pipefish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Transparent Salt and Pepper Shrimp

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/4.2, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Moray eel

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Frogfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Frogfish

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Seahorse

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/3.8, Tamron 90mm, Ikelight DS161 strobe

Seahorse

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Octopus

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Octopus

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Octopus

D800 (in Ikelight underwater housing), ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/4, Tamron 90mm

Oh… And then… Tomorrow (day 23)… I will get EVEN more frustrated, because the zippers of BOTH my weight pockets of the Mares BCD will break. Next thing I’m awaiting to break are the boots and fins.
But I’m done with Mares already. I will exchange everything I have from Mares into something else.
It’s a pile of junk and no one really should buy it.
Things would’ve been less frustrating if support had been better, but that just added hurt to insult.
I’m not quite sure how this company is still in business.

 

It’s a season everyone is looking forward to. Especially when you live in a country like Finland, where you’re digging your Life through 5-6 months of snow every year. And that’s Southern Finland (let’s not start about going up north).
And yeah… Finally, after many, many months it really does look like spring’s on its way (save for the snow that’s coming down as I write this).

Spring always comes with surprises. The worst part of the snow melting is all the dog poop that is surfacing and accompanying it the foul smell of it. I could go all into detail and describe to you the gooey… but no, I won’t.
A little colorful flower, which has had the power to withstand the weight of the snow that’s been piled up for way too long, and is now breaking the surface of the snow like the hand of a zombie trying to get out of the soil.
Cars that have disappeared under piles of snow with the winter ongoing, and the snow plows shoving all the snow off the street to the side.
And yeah… It can thus happen, that that big pile of snow looks exactly like… well… a big pile of snow. And a snow plow doesn’t really feel the difference when it piles up more snow, and maybe pushes it a bit further off the street and a bit further toward the pavement.

And yeah… If you happen to be the owner of such a car, and you don’t use your car during winter, then it could just happen that your car actually DOES disappear under said pile of snow.
And yeah… If the snow then melts, and your car happened to have been disguised as a pile of snow, you might just be in for a nasty surprise when the snow melts and your car peeks it’s battered head out of the snow…

Demolished mini van

Demolished mini van

Demolished mini van

Demolished mini van

A couple of months ago I wrote a piece on one of my pictures being used without a license on the website of the Berkeley Daily Planet. It was a very sour thing, because I really wanted to pursue this due to Ms O’Malley’s outrageous attitude, but the outcome would simply not outweigh the costs I’d have to make in order to do what needed to be done for this.
I shared the link to this blog post in several groups on LinkedIn I’m a member of and got many comments on how crazy this really was. One of the members advised me to write a complaint to the State Bar of California, where all the lawyers are registered. They would be able to reprimand Ms O’Malley for her idiotic behavior in this case, IF she really was a lawyer as she claimed to be.

I took the advise, and wrote the State Bar a letter. The official complaint form on the website was only for lawyer-client situations, and didn’t offer any options for different situations, which kind of made me think that my letter would disappear in a trash bin, because it was not according to the prescribed format. But anyway… I sent off my open letter, including a screenshot of the website with my image on it and every single piece of correspondence I had with the Berkeley Daily Planet and Ms O’Malley, and I referred also to the contact I had with my attorney Mr Kinne from Kinne IP Group.
Here are the main lines of what I wrote:

I would like to file an official complaint against a lady by the name of Becky O’Malley, who claims to have been, and I quote “an intellectual property attorney and a member of the State Bar of California, a status which I could easily activate if needed”.

The issue is about a copyright infringement case. This lady is, together with a gentleman named Tom Butt, working for the Berkeley Daily Planet, an online news paper.

Just recently I discovered that they had been using since early 2010 one of my images, without my consent, without the proper licenses, and even with Mr Tom Butt’s name as accreditation with the image (screenshot of the web page attached).
At first I tried to settle the matter with them directly (correspondence attached), but things soon got so bold that I asked my attorney if there was any way to pursue this matter officially.
He gave me an outline of the possibilities, and I decided not to pursue the matter, because in the end it would cost me more money and grievance than I was willing to put into it.
The fact that I am residing in Finland and that I only have a raw file, i.e. the file is not registered at the US copyright office, to prove I’m the creator of the piece was part of the decision.
However, when Ms O’Malley so blatantly and shamelessly threw in my face that I should let go of the matter and that I would get nothing out of it, this turned more into a principle matter for me.
The fact that she is, or claims to be, a former Intellectual Property Attorney and a member of the State Bar of California makes this case all the more outrageous. Tom Butt, the journalist in question, has purposefully and knowlingly used one of my images and accredited it to himself, but when I confronted the paper, and Ms O’Malley, with all her knowledge of Intellectual Property and copyright infringement, about it she had absolutely no right to justify it like she did and slam the door in my face.
With the way she behaved, knowingly and purposefully defending, acknowledging, and approving copyright infringement, she has no business being a (former) Intellectual Property Attorney and member of the State Bar of California.

I sent it, and pretty much forgot about it. A month went by, then another month in which I was abroad.
But then, when I came home from my trip, I actually found an envelope from the State Bar of California.

Response letter from the State Bar of California

Response letter from the State Bar of California

I’ll pick out the piece that matters:

Based on our evaluation of the information provided, we are closing your file. Before the imposition of attorney discipline can be obtained the State Bar must present clear and convincing evidence of willful misconduct. We have concluded that there is insufficient evidence of willful misconduct that would warrant disciplinary action. Ms O’Malley was not your attorney and owed no fiduciary duty to you. In fact, she was not acting as an attorney in said matter, but could activate her membership status if she needed to. Moreover, the circumstances you described are civil in nature. As such, the more appropriate forum in which to address your claim would be through appropriate civil action.

Ok, so I agree that the circumstances I described are civil in nature. But they have concluded that there is insufficient evidence of willful misconduct?
She may have not owed fiduciary duty to me, but with her supposed background in Intellectual Property it was her civil AND professional duty to properly pay for an image that they were using. And also her conduct in the correspondence afterward was in my eyes a very willful misconduct.

So what is wrong with the juridical system of today?
The system seems to be protecting the wrong people…

It’s been quiet a bit. I know. Been busy, and I had my images to process from the trip to the Rocky Mountains. They will come in the following posts.
But first I wanted to write this.

With my D800 (the space-eating, 40Mb per raw image camera) I needed bigger cards. The biggest card with my D700 was an 8Gig (Kingston). That was a conscious choice. I could’ve put in a 64 or a 128, but you never really know when a card fails on you and you lose everything. I didn’t want to take that risk. So rather than having 1 big CF card, I had several smaller cards.
From a local store I bought a Transcend 32Gig and shot with that the first months. Around the house I don’t usually shoot 0ver 500 images, so that card would keep me going until my trip. A Buddy of mine was going to the US and I had him bring back 2 Kingston 32Gig cards, because they are like… half the price at B&H compared to what I have to pay for the same stuff in this beautiful country.

The old "faulty" cards

I’m of the naive type that believes that everything works out of the package. So I didn’t test the Kingston cards in the camera before I left off to the Rockies. I had my Transcend 32, and the 2 Kingstons. I threw out all the other cards, save for one of the 8Gig Kingstons (just for good measure, but I didn’t expect to need that with 3 32Gig cards).
Rocky Mountains came. It was beautiful. It took me about 5 days to shoot the Transcend 32Gig full (about 750 images). Then I had to switch.

I took out the Kingstons and put one in the camera. No joy. I formatted -or try to- the card. Card ERROR came flashing in the display. Uh oh…
Well, that was bound to happen some time. And of course it would be at a time like this. But no worries. I had a second card. I switched cards. No joy… I formatted -or try to- the card. Card ERROR came flashing in the display. %#&(“%//#&%!!!
What are the odds that TWO cards, straight out of the package, don’t work? I got to fire up my Buddy’s laptop and went to Kingston’s website. The FAQ’s on this card mentioned something along the lines of “What if the card doesn’t work in my camera, but does work in another camera?”, which led me to test the cards in my Buddy’s Canon 1D MkIII. And of course… they worked in his camera. I planned on testing it still in my D700 at home, but for now I had to make do with the 8Gig that I had brought (just for good measure and which fit about 120 images of the D800-size).

When we got to Colorado Springs we went to a Best Buy to get me another big CF card (can you believe that none of the other big stores had anything bigger than 4Gig??). They only had Sandisk as a brand (which is fine), but the largest was 16Gig and it cost 87$. For reference: the two 32Gig Kingstons I bought from B&H were 53$ each. One of the clerks came to me and asked me if he could help me, and I told him that I got 32Gig from B&H for almost half the price of his 16Gig. He was eager to help and suggested a price match. He checked on Amazon for the price of the Sandisk and it came in on just over 60$, so he sold me the card for just over 60$. No hassle, no fuss, no struggle. Just plain and simple, friendly customer service.
That’s customer service #1, at Best Buy.

But I’m side-tracking.
When I got home from the Rockies I tested the cards in the D700, and they worked. I find it a tad bit strange that a newer camera wouldn’t be able to read older cards, but anyway… I contacted Kingston, explained them the situation and it took them less than 2 hours to respond to my inquiry:

Dear Arno,
Thank you for contacting Kingston Technology.
We are going to replace your 2 x CF/32GB-U2 with 2 x CF/32GB-U3 that has been tested as working perfectly fine with the Nikon D800.
The CF/32GB-U3 is the fastest of our CF cards range with a speed of 600x.
Could you please let us know if you agree with that replacement?
I look forward to hear from you.
Kind regards,

No “What did you do to your cards”, no “this is your fault and it doesn’t fall under our warranty policies”, not a single attempt to squirm away from their responsibilities, like I’ve seen so many companies do in the past. Just a simple “we’re going to replace your cards with a faster and more expensive card than what you had, do you agree with this?”.
I mean… Duh? Do I agree?

I sent them a mail back to confirm that I -of course- agreed with this, shortly after which I got a ticket number and an address where to send the “faulty” cards.

I sent the cards on Monday, on Tuesday I got a mail confirming that they received the cards. On Wednesday morning I received another mail, saying that the new cards were shipped and on Thursday in the afternoon I got a phone call that the delivery guy was waiting downstairs at the door with a package from Kingston.

The new, faster and more expensive cards

That’s Customer Service, with a capital C and a capital S. From Kingston. With a Royal K.
It is absolutely refreshing to receive this kind of service in a world that has turned so individualistic and profit-based. The client is King isn’t something I would ALWAYS take literally. In the type of work I’m in I’ve seen clients behave like jokers and assholes, but when “the client” reports a faulty product Kingston for me has just set an example of how things are supposed to be dealt with. I’m typically not brand loyal when it comes to smaller accessories for the camera, but this kind of service makes me want to come back to Kingston. And I will recommend them to anyone.

 

I remember when I started being serious about photography (quite some time ago already) there were a couple of things that I had to re-read in order to understand the technique behind it. DoF, Depth of Field that is, was one of them. I thought I could do a little write up about it including an example of DoF with different aperture settings.

So what is Depth of Field, really?
If you google the term a recurring definition you’ll find is “the amount of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear in acceptably sharp focus in a photograph”. That doesn’t tell you much, does it? It didn’t tell me much back in the day when I had to look it up in a book (you know, those rectangular shaped things with this funny stuff called paper inside on which text and pictures are printed ;) ).
What this definition told me was that it had something to do with the distance between the objects in your picture. It does, kind of, but that’s not really the point.
For me DoF bluntly means: part of your image is in focus and the rest is not in focus. And it’s done on purpose ;) The more blurred or out of focus the picture is, and the less of your designated object is in focus, the narrower (or shallower, or smaller, these are all terms used to indicate) the DoF.

Many things can affect the DoF, but the the DoF is mainly controlled by the aperture setting on your camera.
That was another thing that I just couldn’t remember: the larger the aperture, as in the smaller the number indicated for the F-stop, the larger the hole in your lens through which light is let through to the sensor. So larger aperture – smaller F number – larger opening in the lens to let light through. Without this getting completely technical, I’m trying to keep it simple, let’s suffice with saying that things with a small aperture are more in focus because the rays of light that are coming into your lens are less diffused, scattered if you will, by the small hole in the lens before they reach the sensor. The bigger hole with the later aperture allows for the rays to basically go all over the place and thus can’t create the sharp image on the sensor.

Do note that if you change the aperture, you will have to equally adjust the exposure time. A picture taken with f/8 and 1/500 sec exposure time will render the same result in terms of exposure as a picture taken with f/11 and 1/250 sec exposure time. If you stop down the aperture with one stop, you’ll have to open up the exposure time with one stop and vice versa.

Below is a series of images in which you can see what happens when you start with a large aperture and end with a small aperture.

Example of how DoF works

From top left to top right the camera settings were:

1/15 sec @ f/3.5; 1/15 sec @ f/4.8 (I didn’t adjust the exposure time, which shows in the image: it’s slightly darker than the first one); 1/8 sec @ f/6.7; 1/4 sec @ f/9.5;

From bottom left to bottom right the camera settings were:

1/2 sec @ f/13; 1 sec @ f/19; 2 sec @ f/27; 4 sec @ f/38.

We were out on Suomenlinna last weekend with friends. Just for touristing, they were over from Holland, and hadn’t been there before.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we spent a good amount of time sitting on a terrace, on the rocks near the sea and roaming the island.
Not far from where we sat on the rocks, just over on the other side of the hill we happened to see a kite appear every now and again. When we were done with our picnic we went for the round around the island and moved toward the kite.
I’ve done some stuff in my time, but this has been on my list of wanting-to-do for a long time. Not sure how difficult it is, or if you can even do it “just like that”, but well… One should never stop dreaming, right?
Kudos to this guy. The wind was very strong and he made it look so easy.

Kite jumping

D800, ISO100, 1/350 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm (and quite some PS-ing, the sun was great, but the light for photography terrible)