New Space, New Place

My_Desk
New workspace!

Our move to a new place in Los Angeles is done. The exciting work of re-establishing myself and meeting new friends has begun. I’m excited about the change, but being a life-long east coaster, it’s going to take some time getting used to the culture here. Admittedly, I’m home sick. I miss my old house in Plainfield, and all my friends and family back in NJ, but LA is my new home and I’m committed to giving it a chance and to do the best work possible, give back to others, and make a new life here.

Cheers,
Ivan

My Heart Hurts So Much

House Bill 610 has been introduced.

This bill will effectively start the school voucher system to be used by children ages 5-17, and starts the defunding process of public schools. Please understand this will NOT benefit those they say it will.

In addition the bill will eliminate the Elementary and Education Act of 1965, which is the nation’s educational law and provides equal opportunity in education.

ESSA is a comprehensive program that covers programs for struggling learners, AP classes, ESL classes, classes for minorities such as Native Americans, Rural Education, Education for the Homeless, School Safety (Gun-Free schools), Monitoring and Compliance and Federal Accountability Programs.

The Bill also abolishes the Nutritional Act of 2012 (No Hungry Kids Act) which provides nutritional standards in school breakfast and lunch. For our most vulnerable, this may be the ONLY nutritious food they have in a day.
The bill has no wording whatsoever protecting special needs kids, no mention of IDEA and FAPE.

Some things ESSA does for Children with Disabilities:
-Ensures access to the general education curriculum.
-Ensures access to accommodations on assessments.
-Ensures concepts of Universal Design for Learning
-Includes provisions that require local education agencies to provide evidence-based
interventions in schools with consistently underperforming subgroups.
-Requires states in Title I plans to address how they will improve conditions for learning including reducing incidents of bullying and harassment in schools, overuse of discipline practices and reduce the use of aversive behavioral interventions (such as restraints and seclusion).

Please call your representative and ask them to vote NO on House Bill 610 (HR 610) introduced by three Republican reps.

PLEASE copy and paste, don’t just share. That limits it to friends we have in common. Thank you.

It’s Time to Speak Up

For those of us part-time activists, here’s a useful digest:

Behind the Russian-spy-drama headlines, the following bills have been introduced:
1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran

Please copy/paste and share widely. Call your House Representative and ask them to not only vote “NO”…but to speak up for our rights, health & safety, and our beautiful country.

If your senators and reps aren’t saved in your phone yet, text your zip code to 520-200-2223. You’ll get a text back with everyone’s contact info. It gives you Federal and State. PASS IT ON (cut and paste, don’t share, for maximum views). This is something like democracy at work.

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act — EVERYONE will be affected

For those celebrating the forthcoming repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): Just a reminder that even if you are safely ensconced behind employer-provided insurance, the protections set forth in the ACA apply to you, too–and if those protections are repealed along with the rest (or any part) of the program, you will also be affected.

That means you may be trapped in a job, because your pre-existing condition may mean you will not qualify for new insurance offered by another employer, and the cost of private insurance would be prohibitive. If your employer shuts down, lays you off, or even changes insurers, well, you are out of luck. (The Senate GOP voted this week that they would not require an eventual ACA replacement to protect against discrimination for pre-existing conditions, which was the standard before the ACA.)

It means that you (a young adult under the age of 26) or your adult children (over 18) may find yourselves without the protection of insurance, as the Senate GOP voted last night that an eventual ACA replacement will not be required to allow young people to remain on their parents’ insurance up to the age of 26.

It means that if you have a high-risk pregnancy, or life-threatening illness such as cancer, you may not be able to afford all the care you need, because you may hit lifetime or annual caps. If you have an infant born with any kind of severe medical condition, or premature, they may hit their lifetime insurance cap before they are old enough to walk. The Senate GOP voted last night that an eventual ACA replacement program would not be required to prohibit lifetime insurance caps.

It means that if you are a struggling parent who is un- or underinsured, you will no longer be able to count on at least your kids getting the routine medical and dental care they need under the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). The Senate GOP voted that CHIP is not required to be protected by an eventual ACA replacement.

These provisions of the ACA affect everyone in this country, not just those without insurance through their employers.

If you are not okay with these changes, call your representatives and let them know what’s important to you. Nothing has been set in stone yet, but our legislators have shown us a map of what they plan to do if constituents don’t make their voices heard loud and clear.

Watermarking, why I think it’s nonsense.

Watermark-NOT

 

This is an opinion, to make the case for NOT UGLI-IFYING your photos with watermarks!

I see it every day, spackled over photos posted on social media sites all over the web. Watermarks are ugly, and they do nothing useful. We already know it’s your photo, you are sharing, right? So why be redundant.

Unless you are an amazing professional, the reality is there’s only a small chance your photos will ever be stolen. And watermarks will not prevent your images from getting stolen regardless of who you are.

Who are those horrible theives anyway?

Most likely, it’s the average person who wants to refresh their wallpaper, or a person who wants to make a print and hang it on their office or home wall. Yes, that’s awful, it’s wrong, they should ask permission first, and pay you, but you can’t stop them, watermark or no watermark. If they want it, they’re going to screen-shot it, or right-click it off your web page, crop or clone out the watermark in Photoshop or other editing software. A more savvy user may know code enough to decipher the HTML and download the original. Those dirty S0#$ of B!#%*’$!!!.

In the rare instance, someone steals your photo for commercial use, again, a watermark will not stop them either. However, there are some things you can do without watermarking to help prevent theft, that I will explain later. But more important, stop worrying about your photos being stolen.

Why are watermarks ugly?

They are distracting, egocentric, and destroy everything that is good about a photo. Leading lines, rule of thirds, golden mean, light, gesture, color, all those traits that make a photo strong, are rendered broken.

But what I dislike the most is the egocentricity. It’s as if you are screaming “This is MY signed masterpiece, I made it, I’m amazing, I own it, I’m great, and don’t even think of stealing my precious jewel. Your lucky I even let you look at it. And while you’re looking, don’t forget to press the “Like” button and “Vote for my photo” buttons.

The watermark is not real ink from a pen, or paint from a brush, and is not personally signed by your very own hand. It’s an electronic font, tattooed into the photo, like a branding iron on the assess of a herd of cattle.

Why should you care?

You shouldn’t. Get over yourself. Does it really matter that someone likes your photo enough to want to use it for wallpaper or a screen-resolution print for their office or home? The quality will be screen-resolution, and horrible quality at best. Do you really think you are outsmarting the bad guys?

Ok smartypants, what can I do to protect my precious masterpieces?

If you are that concerned about protecting your photos from theives, there some steps you can do that are better, actionable, and don’t muck-up your photos with goofy, ugly, ego marks.

1.  Register your photos copyrights with the U.S. copyright office. This way, if you register in time, you may  receive statutory damages up to $150,000 for willful infringment. Legal fees and costs may also be recovered. Here’s the link to the US Copyright Registration website. Ok, I registered my photo, how do I know someone stole my babies and are using them to earn commercial windfalls? This is tough, but there are some tools that can help search the web for stolen photos:

Google Reverse Image Search

TinEye

CopyScape

2. Add your copyright notice to your EXIF data. What is that? EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) is data that is embedded into your photo that contains info such as what camera, lens, focal length, f-stop, aperture, time of capture, GPS location data, and the biggie – copyright, and your name. This identifies the photo as copyright protected and that you are the owner/author/maker. You can add the copyright info, even if you don’t register your photo, and you should. If you are concerned about theft for commercial use, you must register with the government’s copyright office, to be certain. It’s illegal for someone to remove CMI (copyright managment info) in your EXIF data, that identifies your name as author and copyright holder, and the fines start at $2,500 and to up to $25,000 plus lawyers’ fees, if infringed upon. Most people don’t know these consequences.

3. Make it more difficult for others to take your photos without your permission. Disable “right-click” so that novices cannot easily download. READ the terms and conditions of any website you post your photo, particulary Facebook. You can watermark untill you are blue in the face, but once you post directly on certain social media websites, you are likely signing away your usage rights to them. This defeats the watermark, and turns it into just an ego mark. If you disagree with the terms, post a link to the photo from your own website, instead of uploading the photo itself. Be smart about this, plus social media sites often down-sample your photos, which deteriorates the quality and color accuracy. This is huge, no photographer that’s worth their salt wants their photos tampered with. The irony is, posting a watermarked photo on social media, is like saying, I love myself more than I care about the quality of my photos posted here.

4. Discreetly inform your viewers that your photo is copyright protected, in a caption, a comment region below or alongside the photo, not ON the photo. Like this: © 2016 Big Shot Photography. Do not use without permission.

5. If you must share a photo directly to a social media site, and you just can’t stop worrying about theft, downsize the photo. Re-sample the resolution/size down to a small, screen-resolution copy. This will make it impossible to use as a print. This may still not stop someone from stealing it for their website, but the smaller size will make it harder for them to want it.

Last words, please stop the insanity, and stop watermarking your photos. Let them be seen in all their magnificent glory, so you the art-tist can be proud. There may be exceptions where you must watermark (I cringe at the thought), but I can’t think of any right now. And yes, a long, long time ago, for a very short time, I too was the a victim of the watermark disease. Thankfully, I got the vaccine and my photos are all clean now.

Sound off! Agree, disagree, feel free to discuss and please do comment.

This is my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

Cheers,

Ivan

I saw the Oculus

The new WTC Transportation Hub

I recently visited the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, with some friends for a photo outing. The hub was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Santiago Calatrava, and it just opened on March 3, 2016. Although as you can see above, construction is still going on.

The design and position of the Hub will maximize the autumnal equinox sun rays, which occur in September, around the anniversary of the catastrophe. Calatrava designed the Oculus to resemble a soaring bird with wings spread, to add a spiritual dimension to the structure.

At the top of the structure is long window to let in light, known as the Oculus.

It is stunning to see, and will no doubt become a destination for tourists when visiting downtown or the 911 memorial museum nearby.

Here’s a few more from my visit:

Cheers,
Ivan

 

 

Mercedes Benz SLR, Before-After

I was attending a conference in Florida a few years ago and noticed this beautiful car parked under the hotel entrances’ canopy. It was the perfect photo opportunity as the canopy blocked the direct sun and most of the reflections. I took advantage and shot a few quick ones. I had forgotten  about the shots until recently, and decided to process one.

Here’s the before-after. Not too bad for a spontaneous photoshoot, using the existing light!

Ivan

Turning a New Leaf

I’m re-inventing myself, and my career, and moving on as self employed. I’ll still be involved doing design, but my full attention will be devoted to photography.

I have much to prove and I’m driven with newfound energy to make this a success. I anticipate some bumps, but failure will not be allowed.

Gone is working for a corporation, the daily monotony, reporting to many, and meetings on top of meetings. There were even meetings to discuss when to setup other meetings! And, the politics, game playing from a few, was the thing I detested the most.

It wasn’t all bad, the first ten-twelve years were wonderful. So exciting as the company grew, and ultimately went public, and the work was interesting and challenging. I will miss the camaraderie with writers the most, and I will miss them.  After fifteen years  as a designer/manager/creative director, I’m moving on and could not be happier.

With the assistance of my sister Linda, a freelance marketing and small business expert, we are developing a business plan. This will be the structure behind the venture, and so far things are shaping up nicely!

Stay tuned for more entries on how I’m proceeding, and an introduction to the new brand. I won’t tell yet, but it’s going to be HUGE.

Cheers,
Ivan

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Time

It slips away fast and before you know it, the face you see in the mirror is not the same.  A few more lines, a little more gray. One thing is guaranteed, nothing stays the same. I always had a tough time with that. I love new experiences, but I like some things to never change. Feeling nostalgic!

Cheers,
Ivan

Old Tractor, Before After

After being inspired by the latest Perfect Inspiration video by Brian Matiash, I remembered a shot I took of an old rusting tractor in 1999. I thought I’d go back and re-visit post processing to enhance the shot further.

I loosely followed the steps on epsiode 16, getting lost, but changed a few things to better suit the tractor photo.

I think you’ll agree, it’s a decent improvement. As I do more, I’ll continue to post more before and after shots.

I used Lightroom 4 to make the initial minor adjustments, then OnOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 6.1 to add the gritty feel, vibrance and selective focus. I created several layers with various blending effects to bring out the rusty decay in the photo. By adding the focal-point, selective blur effect to the background, it brought out the tractor, adding dimension.

Below is the before-and-after. Drag the slider left or right to see the comparison.

Much thanks to OnOne software’s Brian Matiash, for his terrific series of videos that inspire and teach at the same time. It’s helped me learn to use their software.

Thanks for visiting!