Infrared Film

I’ve been reflecting on what influenced my life as a photographer recently, so I thought I’d share a memory.  By the way, that’s me, in the “orange” no. 33 jersey playing ball. I loved sports.

Sometimes, looking back is a good way to move forward and grow, but it can also be nostalgic. I always enjoyed my fathers photographs, and I recall he always had his Nikon to document our family. Looking back at some 35mm photographs he had taken years ago, I found a few infra-red photographs of me as a kid playing football on our front lawn with some friends. I’m guessing I was eight or nine.

Some pretty creative photography that I’m thrilled to have. The memory of that day is long gone, and only one of the faces in those shots is recognizable. A kid named Scott who was from a family we met while on vacation at the New Jersey shore one summer. I have a faint memory that Scott and his parents were invited over by my mother, so we played while our parents had a get together. It was probably the last time our families hung out and I can only guess was due to the inconvenience of living far away.

I wonder why my father chose infrared film to shoot this, but his eye was excellent, getting shots in tight or back away but in a position to tell a story. He was an amazing photographer who’s influence I’ll carry with me forever.

At 90, soon to be 91, he is in declining health and soon, in need of full time care. I’m looking forward to be back to visit and spend some quality time shortly.  the same home and yard where these shots were taken so many years ago.

The takeaway is, go back and look at old family photos and scan them. You may be inspired and find some pleasant surprises as I did here!

Ivan

 

 

The best beach!

 

On the east coast where I lived and grew up, there sits a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina known as the Outer Banks. Well known for taking the brunt of many east coast storms and hurricanes, it’s a beautiful place with wild horses and it has tons of charm, fantastic food and famous southern hospitality. For a half dozen years, we did the twelve-hour road trip from Northern New Jersey to the Outer Banks for our annual week-long family vacation to Corrolla, on the northern end of the island. To get there is not easy, there’s no connecting bridge from Virginia Beach, so you have to make a long, round loop inland before heading eastward, over the Wright Memorial bridge, then onto the Outer Banks. Of historical importance, Kitty Hawk is known for the Wright Brothers whom in 1902 solved the problem of powered and controlled flight. On the very site of their first flight is the Wright Brothers Memorial as a tribute to them. The National Park Service has a ranger station there with historical artifacts, a replica of the first flyer, markers and the rails where they launched the first flight and park rangers give regular talks at the visitors center. It’s well worth a visit to see this amazing place.

Here’s a satellite view of the drive-on beach just north of Corolla in Corova, using GPS coordinates in Lightroom:

GPS Corolla Drive-on Beach

I was not much of a photographer in 2006, only reserved for documenting family activities and life events, and cell phones did not have cameras that were any good. My camera of choice was a Canon Powershot Pro1. A pretty amazing point-and-shoot with a fast f/2.4 lens that happened to be an “L” red ring zoom lens affixed to it. A sweet camera, it had a whopping 8 megapixel sensor, which was large for it’s time. I wish I still had it, but unfortunately the zoom motor broke when I loaned it to my daughter and it was not repairable.

I shot the panorama above with the Powershot Pro1 in 2006, using the auto-stitch pano feature. For a 2006 camera, not bad, but I certainly can do better shooting the pano manually if I shot it today. If you zoom in, you can our Jeep Cherokee Laredo on the beach!

Since moving to the west coast last year, we’ve visited some wonderful beaches, but I miss the charm and beauty of the Outer Banks the most. Sorry LA, so far the outer banks has you beat in my book!

Cheers,
Ivan

In case you didn’t know.

Beloved by many, 500px was founded and developed in Toronto, Canada in 2009 by Oleg Gutsol and Evgeny Tchebotarev (to whom I was lucky enough to meet on a photowalk in NYC).  I learned recenlty, 500px was purchased by VCP, know as the “Getty Images” of China. No doubt, a big pay day for Oleg and Evgeny. VCP also bought Corbis. For those who are unfamiliar, Corbis is a high-quality digital stock image provider, developed by Bill Gates of Microsoft. I used Corbis many times in my graphic designer days, and I’m on 500px and love seeing the best photos there.

Why does this matter? I’m not sure, I hope it’s good, but not so good that China is now the world leader beating out the U.S. in acquisitions of advanced technology, development of new technologies, manufacturing, and surprisingly, clean energy. Yep, they’ve woken up and realized they need a cleaner environment and are leapfrogging into renewable energy at a fast pace.

Currently in the U.S., we can’t even pass a simple bill to protect our kids in schools from assault weapons. Shame on us.

Read more on 500px’s acquisition by VCP on fstoppers’ web site.

My WordPress theme crashed!

During a maintenance check of my blog, I received an alert that my current theme was out of date and required an update. Unfortunately, during the update, my blog crashed!

Oh no! I was afraid I lost everything! Fortunately, all was ok and recovered after a tech call to GoDaddy. They’ve been great helping me fix occasional issues. Unfortunately, my  beloved theme I worked so hard to customize, was no longer usable. I had to find a new theme and retro fit my content and re-configure it, including all my social media links. UGH!

So. Welcome back to my blog and it’s new look! It’s pretty close to the last one, but more important, content is back and working as it did. My apologies for any inconvenience.

Cheers,
Ivan

Lenticular Clouds

While driving home on California State Route 14 from Nevada, the winds began to gust and I noticed some unusual cloud formations. I was nearing Red Rocks Canyon State Park when I pulled over and took this shot. These are rare lenticular clouds, and yes, those iridescent purple hues are real. if you’ve never seen these clouds before, they are spectacular! I hope you get a chance to see them some day.

Cheers,
Ivan

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

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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