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All posts for the month November, 2012

So… Elk in abundance. You get enough of them quite quickly, exactly for that reason. After awhile it’s no longer a challenge, or any fun to shoot them (unless of course if you get them in a better location then right off the road where everyone with their cell phones photographs them ;) ).
But there’s plenty of other wildlife to be found.

Blue Jays I’ve seen before. They’re around in abundance as well. But at least they have some stunning colors to speak for them. Every time I see them I’m surprised by how vibrant blue their feathers really are. It never fails to amaze me.
And I just love how curious they are :)

Blue Jay sitting on a branch in a spruce

D800, ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

Two Blue Jays sitting on a branch in a tree

D800, ISO1600, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

There were other birds still (more about that later).

The snow came in very handy to help us spot these. You don’t really see them in the field when there’s no snow, unless they’re moving around quick and obvious, but they do stand out well when they’re jumping up and down trying to dig out the mice from under the snow. Just like this one.

Coyote hunting for food in the snow in a field in the Rocky Moun

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

Coyote hunting for food in the snow in a field in the Rocky Moun

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

Coyote hunting for food in the snow in a field in the Rocky Moun

Crop of the above, see the mouse’s feet sticking out? Poor thing ;)

Coyote chewing on a mouse it caught in a field in the Rocky Moun

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

Coyote chewing on a mouse it caught in a field in the Rocky Moun

Crop of the above. Quite the dental work, hasn’t he? :D

Then on the other side of the Rockies, in Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, we ran into another animal.
Quite a careful animal, but then again… It took off when we saw it from the walkway, but when I went into the bushes and sat there for awhile it came back out, curious as it was.
Of course other passers-by had to ruin the close encounter, and it took off again.

Deer cautiously walking through the bushes in Garden of the Gods

D800, ISO1600, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm

Oh, and there was this little fellow still. Also ran away first, but curiosity won him over and he turned around to see what that funny dude with the camera really wanted :D

Rabbit in Garden of the Gods, Colorado, USA

D800, ISO800, 1/500 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 70-200mm

There’s plenty of it. I’m not going to say we saw it all. Or that we got the best pictures ever. There’s plenty we didn’t see, and there are plenty of better pictures out there, but still… We did get some nice stuff.

Surprisingly, no moose. I’m not really mourning the lack of moose. We have them plenty here. But it would’ve been fun to have seen some in a different environment than the Finnish.
Elk in abundance. Elk was new the first day. You see a herd, you grab the camera as quick as you can and you go clickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclickclick. And you have 300 pictures of elk. I deleted about 60 of them to make space on my card when I found out that the other two Kingston cards didn’t work. When I got home I deleted another 200. That was my first day “in the office”. I guess that’s how it goes all the time. You go to a new place and you get all excited and think you’ll never see those things again, so you just keep the finger on the button. I should’ve known better, after about 15 years of traveling with camera gear.
The funniest thing was all the other photographers. Elk is easy, they’re on the side of the road, shy, but not so shy that they won’t venture closer to the road. So wherever you see a row of cars parked on the shoulder, you can be fairly certain there’s a herd of elk roaming around. And the driver/passengers of the car are standing either behind, beside or in front of the car, taking pictures with their pocket camera and flash, or even better, with their cellphones, of elk standing anywhere from 200-500 meters out in the field, in semi-dark, foggy weather.
I was shooting with a D800, 70-200mm + 2x teleconverter. Below is what I got (this is the average scene you’ll see, in a few variations). Keep in mind with what gear it’s shot, and add to that, that I shot it at 400mm (the 2x TC), ISO3200, 1/500 sec @ f/5.6

Herd of elk walking along the treeline in the Rocky Mountains

D800, ISO3200, 1/500 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

A crop from that scene looks like this:

Herd of elk walking along the treeline in the Rocky Mountains

Crop of the previous picture

So that looks already quite noisy and soft. And the above picture was already cropped and adjusted in Lightroom from its original, which looks like this:

Herd of elk walking along the treeline in the Rocky Mountains

The original, much darker. Even at ISO3200 I still had to adjust the exposure with almost 1,5 stops to get up to the first image.

So I believe that people standing outside their cars with their pocket cameras and cell phones, all with minuscule sensors and a basic wide angle lens on it (hurray for digital zoom!) would see something like this when they download their pictures at home to their computers (where the white area is more grass and trees, because that’s what you get with wide-angle):

Herd of elk walking along the treeline in the Rocky Mountains

The herd of elk taken with compact camera or cell phone

I guess it wouldn’t strike as very funny to people who aren’t photographers or know about photography, but this just always gets me going. Shooting wildlife -which is already almost out of reach of a professional camera with a zoom lens- with compact or cellphone. And flash… :D :D

Anyway… I’ll get me coat.
More wildlife in the next post.

I can write loooong pieces of text about the landscapes.
They’re gorgeous. And they’re many. And they look different every day, especially when you have a sunny day one day and snow the next, and sun again the day after that.
Have a look:

Valley with a river running in between two mountain ranges

D800, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

Yellow line dividing the road running off into the distance

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 70-200mm, Nikkor TC2

Boulders on top of a mountain in Rocky Mountain national park

D800, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

Logs in the partly frozen water of a lake

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

Dirt road leading into the fog and into the Rocky Mountains

D800, ISO100, 1/30 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Waterfall in a small stream covered with fallen trees

D800, ISO400, 1/4 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

Water fall in a small canyon in Grand Lake in the Rocky Mountains

D800, ISO100, 8 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND

Sunset over Grand Lake

D800, ISO100, 1/1000 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

There are funny signs all over the world. I’ve collected a good number of them over time. The warning sign for Slow Turkeys Crossing (I wonder if there are also Fast Turkeys crossing the street anywhere, but I’ll not get that discussion going) was only one of them. In any case… The Grand Lake area in any case also has Slow Children. That’s documented:

Warning sign for slow children

D800, ISO400, 1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

And Colorado Springs has the following combination, which I found rather funny (not the deaf and blind children of course, although the sign is somewhat… well… in your face, but the combination of the two):

Warning sign for deaf and blind children

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

Equally funny is the combination of signs in the following picture:

Deer crossing

D800, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

And there were still a good number of more signs, funny or not, that I didn’t have in my collection.
But the one that stole the prize… Really… I mean… REALLY!!! The one that stole the prize was this one:

Sign warning for Bigfoot crossing the street

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

I get it… In a country like the United States of America you have to make sure you’re covered against any possible law suit by people who are trying to squeeze money out of the most impossible things. But seriously.
I do believe the possibility of a creature like “Bigfoot” existing. As I do believe that there’s something swimming around in Lochness. Smoke… fire… too many sightings of the things to be just a fable.
But you’re just making a total fool out of yourself by putting that text under the sign. There’s no explaining text under any wildlife sign. I’ve seen horse signs, deer signs, bighorn signs, moose signs, deaf and blind children signs, slow children signs, slow turkey signs… In other countries I’ve seen duck signs, owl signs, beaver signs, otter signs… No explanation needed. And then this…
Owwell… It gave us a good laugh (and some hilarious pictures after that :D ).

Bigfoot

D800, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm

After all the fuss with the cards and then the image theft, I finally got around to do something with my images.
I’ll spread it out over a few posts, so I don’t have to write everything in one go, and you get to take your time looking at the scenery ;)

The initial idea was that we were going to photograph the fall colors. But my Buddy had already warned me to take warm clothes, because the weather was turning around rapidly.
And so it did. I flew in to Denver late one night. We slept a night, and went for a ride in Rocky Mountain National Park, slept for another night and went back along the same route.
These were two completely different days. Two completely different worlds. It was both amazing and stunning. But I’ll let the pictures do the talking:

Colorado River (as a baby)

D800, ISO400, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

And 24 hours later:

Colorado River (as a baby)

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 14-24mm

Traffic sign without snow

D800, ISO200, 1/125 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm

And 24 hours later:

Traffic sign after a night of snow

D800, ISO200, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm

Awhile ago I wrote a little piece about how you can find your pictures in the weirdest places. A few of my self portraits were used on other people’s Facebook profiles and a few of the portraits I did of other people were also used as Facebook and Twitter profile pictures. After getting no response from the people in question I contacted Facebook and Twitter and those images have been removed. Other pictures I found have been traced back and were sold by one of my agents’ sublicensors. Not fully according to the rules they were bound by, but in any case I’m getting paid for those images.

In that same search I also found another of my images used, and that was a bit of a nasty surprise. It wasn’t the best image, and even if paid for, it wouldn’t have been the golden goose. Or turkey in this case

Traffic sign which warns for crossing turkeys

The image in question

I found the image on the website of the Berkeley Daily Planet. An online news paper. It was used in an article written by Tom Butt on April Fool’s Day in 2010, so it had been online for about 2,5 years when I found it.

Screenshot of the article on the Berkeley Daily Planet website

Screenshot of the article on the Berkeley Daily Planet website. All copyright lies with the respective authors / copyright holders (source: www.berkeleydailyplanet.com). Except for the Turkey image. That’s mine!

See… I’m a guy of principles. I get it if a company uses your image and tries to get away with the excuse that they thought everything on the internet is public domain and free to use for everyone. It’s a shit excuse, and they try to pull it every time when I contact a company which has used one of my images, but I pretend that they don’t know any better and I explain to them how it works, even if I know that in most cases they know exactly how it works. It’s kind of a game. They try. I patiently laugh about the joke, and in most cases we come to an agreement.
And in most cases I’m very reasonable (I think). I don’t charge them tenfold (even if -according to copyright infringement cases the penalty for each case could be 10x the original value of the image- I’d be legally entitled to do so). I may up the price slightly from its original level, just as a slap on the wrist, but we’re not talking thousands of euros/dollars.
But in this case it was different. This is a news paper. This is an institute that deals with copyrighted material on a structural basis and they know EXACTLY how things work. They can’t hide behind the “I thought everything on the internet belonged to the public and was free”, and if I’d rip an article from their website, they’d come at me faster than I can say news paper. So…

I wrote a mail to an email address I found on their website: opinion@berkeleydailyplanet.com:. And guess what? No reply.
A week went by and I sent a copy of the email again to opinion@berkeleydailyplanet.com and to another address I found on the website: news@berkeleydailyplanet.com.

Dear Sir, Madam,

I recently came across an image of mine on your website.
The image I’m referring to is the image of the turkey sign in this article http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2010-04-01/article/34956?headline=Point-Richmond-Turkeys-Headed-for-the-Soup–By-Tom-Butt-Special-to-the-Planet by Tom Butt.
The image is credited to Tom Butt.

Now I realize there are probably tons of images out there with a sign of a turkey crossing on it, but I would say it’s extremely unlikely that Tom Butt and I would’ve been on exactly the same spot at exactly the same time to see that car coming out of the street from the right behind the sign.
My image is here: http://arnoenzerink.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Signs/G0000O8NK4Y4iCz0/I0000k0Dl9iMVLO8
I’m not sure where Mr Butt has obtained this image, but seeing the low resolution quality of the image, and that I haven’t got a license for the use of this image archived to either Mr Butt or the Berkeley Daily Planet I believe we may have a slight problem here.

The fact that you, the Berkeley Daily Planet, are a news source which handles copyright protected material on a daily basis, makes this all the more a very awkward situation. I realize you are not a national paper, although with the coming of the internet everything’s gone worldwide, and I do believe a compensation for the use of this image from April 1st 2010 until now seems very reasonable to me.

I would gladly hear your opinion on this.

Kind regards,

Arno Enzerink

So Mr Tom Butt wrote the article, snatched a thumbnail of my image (the quality of the image was so bad that it was clearly not a hi-res image) from my website or from one of my agent’s websites, blew it up, added his name to it as credit and uploaded the article to the Berkeley Daily Planet.
There would’ve still been a slight hint of my understanding if he at least put MY name under the picture instead of his own. But that was too much to ask…

Honestly, I didn’t expect a reply. But I did get one. A few days later the following message waited for me in my inbox:

It was given to me by Mr. Butt– he says he got if from somewhere on the internet but can’t remember where.  I’d be glad to change the attribution if you wish, or to pull the photo if you prefer.

[Mr. Butt, Tom Butt, was the writer of the article and his name was put as a credit under the image]

No “Hi”, no “Bye”, nothing. Just these three lines.

So I write her back (and sign with my name ;) ):

Dear Ms O’Malley,

I don’t mean to sound blunt and impolite, but both you and Mr Butt are in the publishing industry and you are (or at least SHOULD be) very well aware of the copyright rules on used images. You don’t just “pull an image off the internet” (and “not remember from where”), and then attribute it to someone you know for a fact is not the creator of the work. It has been online for 2,5 years. You make money with your job, Mr Butt makes money with his job, and I’m a professional photographer, which is supposed to pay my bills. Just changing the attribute or pulling the image off the site after it’s been used for 2,5 years is not going to make this go away.

I’m still very much willing to settle this nicely (but properly), but I am asking you a financial compensation for the used image, next to changing the attribute to the used image.

If I would just let everyone “change the attribute” or “pull it off the site” without further consequences I would be a naive and bankrupt professional photographer.

I sincerely hope you understand my point of view and that we can come to an agreement which is satisfying to both of us.

Kind regards,

That went unnoticed. No reply whatsoever, not a sign of life. So after a week (the week I spent in the US shooting pictures in the Rocky Mountains) I figured I could start poking a bit and write Ms O’Malley the following:

Dear Ms O’Mally,

A week has passed since I sent you my last correspondence (10/13/2012). I haven’t heard back from you since then.
I take that silence as a sign of unwillingness to solve this with me directly.
If I haven’t heard from you in a week from now I will contact my attorney and let him settle this with your attorney.

Usually when you start bringing in the attorneys they will get back to you pretty quick. But nothing happens. I go back to check on the website and I noticed they’ve actually taken down the image. I’ll be damned.

I shoot another email to Ms O’Malley:

Dear Ms O’Malley,

I see you have taken down the image. Let me stress again that that is not going to solve the issue.

Aside from the fact that your website is stored online in many edited versions, I have a screenshot of the website with tie image on it, and the correspondence between you and me in which you admit to the use of the image.

I’m still hoping we can settle this in an agreeable way, but if you continue to ignore me I will contact my attorney.

And yes… There we go. Promptly a reply follows:

The Berkeley Daily Planet is no longer published in print. The commercial corporation Berkeley Daily Planet LLC has been abandoned because the tax preparer stole the money he was supposed to give to the government and the government is pursuing a criminal case against him–its funds are totally depleted except what the Internal Revenue Service has a claim on.  The current website is completely non-commercial, created by volunteers working for free.  We neither spend nor collect any money of any kind.You can certainly be paid the same as everyone else for your contribution: nothing.

Please do consult your lawyer,  who will tell you that there’s no point in pursuing this matter, because you and he or she will not make a penny from it, except perhaps what you will pay the attorney to tell you this.  I will not have to pay legal fees myself because for most of my career I was an intellectual property attorney and a member of the State Bar of California, a status which I could easily activate if needed.  Don’t waste your time and money on this pointless quest.

Wow… just wow… All kinds of excuses for why they can’t properly license an image.

Two things that stung me the most and that made me ACTUALLY contact my attorney: “you can certainly be paid the same as everyone else for your contribution: nothing.” and “Don’t waste your time and money on this pointless quest.”

So I kindly write Ms O’Malley a mail back (I fail to write a “Hi” and a “Bye” myself this time):

So that makes it all ok for you to steal images?

As an intellectual property attorney and member of the State Bar of California you do show the right moral attitude…

I will cross-reference this with my attorney and I would be very sorry if you are right and he confirms what you’re saying.

Only once before in my professional career as a photographer did I have to fall back on the help of an attorney. He did so very successfully (and I can warmly recommend him to anyone who needs help in copyright infringement cases based in the US) and I contacted him again on this matter and asked him for advise on what to do. He generously offered his time to look into the matter and see if there was any use to pursue it and he did so without any costs for me.
In the end he laid out all the possibilities, the extremes when it would go ok, but also the extremes if things would get really ugly, and I’m sorry to say that the initial amount of money involved (the license for an image in that particular use would be around 120$, slap a bit of penalty fee on it and it would be maybe 200$) was not worth the head ache and the risk to me.
So I’m  -again- sorry to say that I backed out of this one.

I guess sometimes it does pay off to steal an image. But I hope this post (and I usually don’t wish people bad things, but I sometimes am willing to make an exception) will be spread all over the internet and that it would give the Berkeley Daily Planet, with volunteers Becky O’Malley and Tom Butt, such a bad name that they will have to find another volunteer job to fill up their time. Or maybe Ms O’Malley can pick up her Intellectual Property job again at the State Bar of California.