It -again- has been quiet here.
A lot has been going on in the past months and although I’ve been doing a lot of internet stuff, I haven’t updated this blog very much.

I’ve tried one of those 365-day challenges before, but that didn’t really work out. This time, though, I think I can pull it off.

You’ll see a few repeats, from a few posts that I posted awhile ago, but there’ll be lot of new material passing by. Enjoy!

Today is day 1.

Stony coral – isopora palifera
Photographed at approximately 4 meters depth.

Stony coral - Isopora palifera

D800 in Ikelite housing, ISO100, 1/500 sec @ f/11, Sigma 15mm fisheye, Ikelite DS161 strobe

I’m trying my best to get the names right, but if I’m wrong, feel free to correct me in the comments section.

My Better Half bought me a GoPro Hero3+ for my birthday (that’s already a while ago, but a lot has happened in the past months).
I tried videography with my D800, but I must honestly admit it is not my thing. It’s too bulky and too much of a hassle, and really, my heart’s not in it. I’m a still photographer.
But with the GoPro things are very good, very easy, not a hassle and especially now that I’m diving so much, the GoPro is quick and easy to take a long.

But there we ran into the problem. On land the GoPro is fabulous. Fantastic colors. But in the water, as soon as you get below 3-4 meters everything turns blue.
I’m kind of at a loss that GoPro themselves doesn’t supply the necessary filters with this. They supply the craziest things as accessories with the little camera, and Hero3(+) comes by default in a waterproof housing. So you’d think that the good people at GoPro made this thing to go under water.
But…
Blue…
I started Googling red filters for GoPro. A couple of hits came out of that, but the one that stood out for me was the PolarPro link.
I was a bit hesitant at first, but decided to go for the Switchblade, which is a combination of red filter and macro filter.

And see here. The difference is remarkable.

The video above was a quick test just for the sake of showing the difference with filter and without filter. It was shot at about 5 meters depth.
It works really great between about 4-15 meters. When you go deeper, the effect of the loss of light will be heavier, and the red filter won’t be able to compensate as much as it would at shallower depths. The compensation will stay closer to the camera and further away the blue will still come out.
But nonetheless, it really works wonders.

Being a photographer, and having much experience with macro photography, I must say that the macro filter doesn’t do much for me personally. There is a slight difference, but just slightly. Close focusing will still render the video out of focus.
Now when I go out with the GoPro I will just leave both the red filter AND macro filter on. It doesn’t make much of a difference anyway.

Customer service
Initially getting the package was quite an operation.
I’m at the moment located in quite a remote location and having the package sent over proved to be quite a challenge. The postal service in this place is marginal at best, and delivery of anything seems to be subject to the mood of the post man. So when, after a month, I still hadn’t received the package, I contacted PolarPro and asked them about it. Since I hadn’t received a tracking number, I had no way of tracing the package myself. But they could, and I was told that the package had been stuck in customs.
But no worries, they would resend a new package with DHL, and it should arrive in 5 days (“yeah, right”, I thought). And indeed, 5 days later the package arrived. I had to pay some taxes and duties, but I had my package.
And I was eager to try. The next day I wanted to give it a try, and to my (unpleasant) surprise I found that the filter did not fit the Hero3+. The package read SwitchBlade 3+, and I ordered it from the Hero3+ accessory section of the website, but after inquiring again with PolarPro we found out that this really was the filter for the Hero3, which has a slightly different case around the lens. It’s still unclear how this mistake occurred, but the great people at PolarPro did not hesitate to send a new package, again with DHL, and sure enough 5 days later the new package arrived. And this one did fit.

PolarPro requested I return the other filter, which in any other case I would happily do, but like I mentioned before, the location I’m in is quite limited with its services, and right now even the ferries to and from the island are mostly out of service (until further notice). It would cost me two days and about 200US$ (excluding sending the package) to get to a location to return the package from.
I wrote PolarPro a mail and explained this to them. I told them if it was possible they would just charge my credit card for the extra filter (it was only 60US$), because that would be way cheaper for me in the end.

I promptly received a mail back from them telling me to never mind, it was ok. No need to worry about anything, no need to pay or return anything, and thank you for shopping with us.

You want customer service?
This is it.
This is the kind of customer service any company can set as an example.
This is the kind of customer service I haven’t received in a very long time.

Thank you, PolarPro!

So since a couple of months I’m a PADI dive instructor.
Diving was love at first sight for me. I’m sure everyone who’s diving for the first time is in awe of what they see. I’ve talked about it before, and I could keep on repeating myself all the time. Underwater photos are beautiful, but until you see it yourself for real, you won’t “get it”. As a long time photographer it was a privilege to be able to see this and to be able to start photographing this.

When I started the PADI dive instructor course I knew there was also a digital underwater photography specialty.
Having photographed for hobby since I was 12, and professionally for about a decade now, and having taught photography, Photoshop and Lightroom courses, I knew that I would also want to teach underwater photography. And through an official institute like PADI that would be a fantastic way! I’ve seen people photograph with their pocket cameras on full auto and getting these all-blue, shaken photographs as opposed to something that could’ve been a potentially great picture had they known a bit more about the technique and the settings of their camera.

So… I spent a bucketful of money to do the IDC (Instructor Development Course) and we crammed 10 Specialty Instructor Courses in a few days to get us going (the underwater photography one wasn’t part of it, unfortunately) and I was told that you could get additional Specialty Instructor licenses on the merit of proven experience. So I was not in the slightest worried about my possibilities.
Already before I started the IDC I had over 40 logged dives with underwater camera, I have a portfolio full of underwater images, I have practiced and taught photography (practiced for over 20 years and taught for about 5 years), so after passing my IDC, and passing the Specialty Instructor Courses, I wrote PADI an email, confident that I would be able to add the Underwater Photography to my list of specialties.

But, to my surprise I received an email back.
“You can apply for the Specialty Instructor certification after you’ve certified 25 divers.”

So I wrote an email back.
“I’m sorry, but did you check the link to my portfolio? Did you see that I have taught photography and that I have over 40 logged dives with my camera? Doesn’t that prove I have the necessary experience to do this specialty?”

And I get an email again from PADI.
“You haven’t certified any divers yet. You can apply for the Specialty Instructor certification after you’ve certified 25 divers.”

Now… I know what they mean.
Once I’ve certified 25 divers, I can apply for the Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT), which is the next level after Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI).
An MSDT can teach ANY specialty course, regardless of whether he knows anything about it or not.

Don’t get me wrong, I think PADI is a great institute. They’ve developed a fantastic concept to bring people close to scuba diving and to allow them to experience it without having to go through months and months of studying and practicing.
But the rules for the Specialty Courses are just hypocrite.
I’m a Specialty Instructor for 10 Specialties (I paid about US$600 to get the license to teach these specialties), which we did in a few days. I can teach them, because I can dive and because I can read the study material. Not because I am an expert on those things (of course I know “enough” in order to teach them, but really, barely).
And there I am. Professional photographer. Portfolio full of images. Proven record of dives. Taught photography before. I know more about photography than my three IDC instructors combined. THEY are allowed to teach it. I’m not. Not because I don’t know the first thing about photography, but because I haven’t certified enough divers.
That’s a good load of bullshit, if you ask me.

When I get my 25 certifications, I can teach ALL specialties, even the ones I’ve never followed a course for. Even the ones I know shit about. Why? Because I certified 25 divers.

I’m sorry PADI, but you have your head up your ass with this one.

Of course I don’t need PADI’s permission to teach underwater photography. I can do whatever I want, really.
I just think it would be nice for my students if I could tell them they were certified by a world renown institute for the course that they take with me.
Having finished a course with PADI sounds maybe a bit more impressive than having finished a course with Arno (of course the quality is the same high-standard ;) ).

Porcelain crab

Porcelain crab. Just for illustration with the article. To PADI it doesn’t matter what ISO, exposure time or aperture was used…

Having been in the graphic business for over two decades, I look at things differently than your average guy would, I guess.
And I’ve seen quite a few weird and bad Photoshop jobs pass my desk.
Sometimes you wonder “but… but… HOW??? WHAT were they thinking??” Also sometimes you look at something and you simply KNOW there’s something odd, but you can’t really put your finger on it, because it’s not all THAT clear from the start.

Yesterday I was flying from Denpasar to Manila, a 4 hour flight. Cebu Pacific (excellent company, I’ve flown with them many many times!) has their own in-flight magazine, as many carriers do, and of course there’s plenty of advertising in it. I finished my book, so I had plenty of time to scrupulously go through the whole magazine. And really, when you look at things closely, there’s a surprising amount of really shitty Photoshop work out there.

There was one with a swimming pool, where people and chairs were copy-pasted in, with reflections and shadows in every which (wrong) way, dwarfs and giants living harmoniously together, there were really REALLY bad masking jobs, and so on.
I picked out one of many for you that caught my eye specifically.

This one, supposedly a very upscale real estate company, hired one of Philippines’ most famous models to pose in their imagery. Look how she’s holding on tight with one hand on the railing of the speed boat and with the other hand on the glass of wine.
Oh, but hang on…

Real estate advertisement

Real estate advertisement, copyright belongs to the respective owners.
Snapshot of the advertisement page in Cebu Pacific Air’s in-flight magazine.

Details of the real estate advertisement

Details of the real estate advertisement

So basically every element in this adverts is copy-pasted to make this composite of images. And it’s done badly.

I kept on snickering when I paged through the magazine. The people sitting next to me probably thought I was pretty weird :D

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!

I’m doing my IDC at the moment, the PADI dive instructor course. It’s an awesome experience. We’re two weeks into the program and it’s so much fun! :)
I didn’t count with many opportunities to bring the camera down, but we had some dives before the course started on which I could take the camera.

And really: I just can’t stop saying that it’s the most beautiful thing down there.
I never get enough of what I see. And I’m a macro fetishist, I guess.

Baby shrimp

D800 in Ikelight housing, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro, Ikelight DS-161 + Ikelite DS-51

Goat fish

D800 in Ikelight housing, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro, Ikelight DS-161 + Ikelite DS-51

Ribbon moray eel

D800 in Ikelight housing, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro, Ikelight DS-161 + Ikelite DS-51

Nudibranch

D800 in Ikelight housing, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro, Ikelight DS-161 + Ikelite DS-51

Peacock Mantis Shrimp

D800 in Ikelight housing, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro, Ikelight DS-161 + Ikelite DS-51

Frogfish

D800 in Ikelight housing, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro, Ikelight DS-161 + Ikelite DS-51

Nudibranch

D800 in Ikelight housing, ISO100, 1/250 sec @ f/5.6, Tamron 90mm macro, Ikelight DS-161 + Ikelite DS-51

Beauty in all its colorfulness :)

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.

This morning I was surprised by an email in my inbox from the Associate Creative Director of Yahoo Singapore.
That was awesome!
She wrote me a mail saying that they recently came across an image of mine on Flickr and they “would very much like to feature it in a Facebook and Twitter post going live next Monday, and hope that you will give us permission to do so. The post will appear on the following pages:

  • https://www.facebook.com/yahoosingaporenewsroom
  • https://www.facebook.com/yahoomalaysia
  • https://www.facebook.com/yahoophilippines
  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yahoo-Vietnam/50203816661
  • https://www.facebook.com/YahooIndonesia
  • https://twitter.com/YahooSG
  • https://twitter.com/Yahoo_MY
  • https://twitter.com/Yahoo_ID
  • https://twitter.com/YahooPH


And with it there would be a funny text, and they “will add “© Arno Enzerink on Flickr” as an image credit. However, we would first need a copy of this image without the watermark.”
And “The Yahoo and Flickr teams are honoured to have you as part of the Flickr community, and your contribution would be sincerely appreciated.”

My “contribution” would be sincerely appreciated.
I bet it would.

The moment I read this, I instantly was reminded of this precious reply Mr White gave to a large multi-million dollar entertainment agency who contacted him and wanted to use his music for free because they “didn’t have a budget for music”.
You can read about that here: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2013/11/06/whitey

I kindly thanked the Associate Creative Director for her inquiry and told her for the use of the image in the places she indicated the fee would be US$175 and that I would provide them with an unwatermarked image and an EULA when I had received the payment.

I gotta give it to her, she wasn’t as blunt as the example in Mr White’s case.
She kindly thanked me for my prompt response and she “totally understand that you need to charge for this, since you also run an image library, but we’ll have to pass this time I’m afraid”.

She understands that I need to charge for this, since I also run an image library.
REALLY?
Does that mean that people who DON’T run an image library should NOT be compensated for their work?
I know that there are plenty of people out there who would jump a hole through the roof if they were to be contacted by Yahoo with the question if they could use their image, and that for my “no” there will be 1,000 “yes”s.
And I won’t deny that I’m honored that they contacted me (regardless of the fact that the image in question was far from my best, but it was funny, yes). But here comes in the whole misconception again that people should he happy for just the exposure and the credit.
It doesn’t work like that.
Yahoo is a famous, multi-billion dollar company. They should not abuse the power of their name to get people to do stuff for free for them.
THEIR services aren’t for free. They make money.
I have to pay my bills as well, so why shouldn’t they pay for MY services?
And also… I can’t even really claim credit for this, since I just pressed the shutter. This little piece of art was made by one of the great people in the kitchen of Camiguin Action Geckos in the Philippines.

Anyway…
They were going to put up my image wishing everyone a happy Monday next week.
Well… I’ll put up my image here – for free-, and I’ll wish you all a very happy Friday, and a magnificent weekend!

Breakfast of Kings

D800, ISO800, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm

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.