Castles Castles Castles

August 31, 2011 · 8 comments

4-960-984  stock photo of Czech Republic, Cesky Krumlov, Castle Round Tower

Everybody dreams of castles, grand old-world opulence, majestic homes of lords and royals, with elegantly decorated rooms, defensive fortifications and ornate architecture flourishes. Now, of course, we only visit castles as tourist sites. Many ancient castles are now protected as national treasures and historical landmarks, where we can walk through and try to imagine what life was really like in those centuries, whether it was really as luxurious as the fairy-tale stories (most certainly not).

Here’s a gallery of castle images selected as a trial run of two new product offerings I am testing, RedBubble for t-shirts and stickers, and Cafe Press for mugs and greeting cards. These are in addition to my standard offering of fine art prints through Pictopia.

Please try them out and let me know what you think, what you’d like to see more (or less) of in the future.

Note: Empire Avenue shareholders get an additional 10% discount on prints.


3-954-41  stock photo of Germany, Munich, Oktoberfest, Looking through the fence

Here are three essential tools that I use to help search for images on the web. Each one is a Chrome extension allows you to select an image on a web page using a contextual menue and find other places online where the image is used.


Canada Day 2011

July 1, 2011 · 0 comments

5-750-8029  stock photo of Canada, Quebec City, Chateau Frontenac

Today is Fête du Canada (Canada Day). A full 144 years of Canadian independence. Congratulations to my Canadian friends and contacts. And for everyone else, if you haven’t been, go….

5-750-9045  stock photo of Canada, Quebec City, Fetes de la Nouvelle France, Parade

Coming up next month the Festival of New France (Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle France) will celebrate the origins of French Canada and Quebec. This year it will be held from August 3 to 7, 2011.


3-754-26  stock photo of England, Chelsea Flower Show, Yorkshire Forward Garden, Woman viewing garden

At long last Google announced this week a new Search by Image feature where users can identify a candidate image and Google will return a set of matching images. Toronto based Tineye has had this feature for years and has 2 billion photos indexed, but Google is clearly an immediate strong competitor with many billions more images already indexed.

For photographers who are concerned or intrigued about the distribution of their image on the web the Google service is a very promising offering indeed. There are several benefits for searching for your own image online. One is to find unauthorized uses for which you can bill the user (negotiate usage, or if need be take stronger measures). For non-commercial uses a photographer may instead choose linkbacks, photo credits and explicit recognition. And for authorized usage such as ads and book covers it is helpful know where the images are used if a stock agency doesn’t report details.

Even with a few spot checks it is apparent that Google Search by Image will be very effective. One of my most popular images of Laos showed up with six unknown usages in addition to my own site and two known publicity sites. One was a travel book cover I did not know about, most likely licensed through Getty Images (I will check). Tineye on the other hand showed two distinct other uses, one known and one an aggregator

Both services allow upload of candidate images or entry of a URL. With respect to ease of use, Google Search By Image has several nice features. The ability to drag an image from the desktop onto the browser is incredibly convenient. Also identifies other similar but not identical images of the same subject which can be helpful in identifying the subject matter. Google also allows you to add identifying text in some cases to improve match results.

Tineye still has several features that distinguish it. Logged in users’ searches are automatically saved online and given a dedicated URL. Also Tineye is much stricter, returning only exact matches and not near misses. Google may return lots of similar images of the Golden Gate, but Tineye will return the one with the exact same cloud and shadow formation. This gives photographers and photo buyers a much finer screen when looking for a specific images. Tineye also allows the user to submit an entire webpage and then pick the desired image to match from images on the page.

In addition to benefitting photographers image search gives users the ability to find out where an image is used or sourced. Anyone seeing a photographer’s image online, if it is not credited, can use Image Search to find the original source. Photographers can take advantage of this by being sure their own site is indexed by Google Images and clearly identifies them as creator. A third vendor, Picscout, recently acquired by Getty Images, has a distinct advantage in this respect in specifically identifying the licensing agent . On the other hand Picscout only finds images agents have submitted to the system.

An interesting sidenote to the release of Google Search by Image has been an alarmist reaction by some in the photographic community who seek to find fault with Google at every turn, and feel threatened by the technology rather than seeing the opportunities for photographers. Search by Image is a definite step forward in helping both users and photographers to get correct attribution for images.

Have you used Search by Image or Tineye to find your own or other images? Please post your impressions in the comments below.


8-550-2, Laos, Vientiane, Monks on riverbank
Laos, Vientiane, Monks on riverbank on cover of Südostasien, Stefan Looser Travel Handbücher

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Cumberland Gap

June 4, 2011 · 2 comments

7-740-744  stock photo of Kentucky, Southeast, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Morning fog

My wife Sally grew up in Middlesboro, Kentucky, near the tri-state border with Tennessee and Virginia and adjacent to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. In the 1750s the early American settlers looking for more land in the West (as was Kentucky in that time) discovered the low mountain pass across the mountains which became the immigrants’ gateway to Kentucky and north to the Ohio Valley.

For this shot I drove into the park well before dawn to reach the highpoint, Pinnacle Overlook, while the fog was still settled in the mountain valleys. As sun rose and began to warm the air, the fog gradually dissipated, revealed the bright autumn foliage carpeting the ridge.


4-130-21  stock photo of Tibet, Monk circumambulating Labrang Monastery, Xiahe

No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen. — Minor White

One of my all-time favorite personal images, this scene of a praying monk circumambulating the Tibetan Buddhist Labrang Monastery shows both movement and stillness. It is one of those times when I realize that photography is not just a one-directional process. There are times when you go out to photograph and something happens,as if in response to your seeking, perhaps a hint of serendipity or a sudden awareness of connectedness, that suggests the universe is indeed co-operating in your creative ventures far more than you can ever expect or hope for.


Memorial Day 2011

May 29, 2011 · 1 comment

4-524-9  stock photo of California, San Francisco, Military Cemetery, Presidio, GGNRA

We haven’t had many war veterans in our family. My mother served as a nurse in the British Army during World War II and was initially stationed in Normandy just after D-Day. She knew that her uncle Reeves, my great-uncle, had died in Normandy during WWI and undertook to find out where he was buried, visiting all the British cemeteries in the area until she found his grave. He would only have been 20-some years old, if that, when he died.

This photograph is a dawn shot of the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio, part of GGNRA and a peaceful resting place for US war veterans on a hillside overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

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7-678-5285  stock photo of Shipping, Containers stacked on container ship, view from stern

When I first started in photography what interested me most were landscapes, sunsets, dramatic light, interesting colors and subjects. It came as quite a surprise then, when I turned my attention to industrial projects, and found a similar experience of excitement and engagement with my subject.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a surprise. Training as a photographer meant developing the capacity to see – to see beauty in everyday things, to notice the quality of light, to observe light and texture, movement and moment, and to simplify the image by removing everything that doesn’t need to be there. This is exactly what makes excellent industrial photography (and even portraits for that matter).

In the coming days then I’ll be putting together a portfolio of shipping and industrial images from past projects. And I’d be interested in any of your thoughts about the crossover from travel and landscape to commercial industrial and shipping photography.

1-490-10  stock photo of California, San Francisco Bay, Tanker Gaz Master approaching Carquinez Bridge

California, San Francisco Bay

5-700-4897  stock photo of Sweden, Goteborg, Container ship

Goteborg, Sweden

7-620-9251  stock photo of China, Shanghai, Crane in shipyard

Shanghai, China

7-678-5923  stock photo of Shipping, Container being lifted by crane



5-469-13  stock photo of South Africa, Cape Town, Table Mountain and city at dawn from Lions Head

For an article on the Business of Travel Photography in the June 2011 issue of Shutterbug magazine now on the newstands, Maria Piscopo interviewed me along with travel shooters Glen Allison, Justin Bastien and Lorne Resnick. Here’s an excerpt from my intial interview. For the full story pick up and issue or subscribe:

The world of travel photography has undergone profound changes in the last few years with the introduction of digital media and distribution channels. First, an ever increasing supply of travel images available online has saturated the market for many types of imagery. Second, as result of competition and the introduction of microstock, the average price for licensing images has declined. Third, the recession has constrained many travel company and tourist board budgets. Fourth, with circulations and ad revenue down, travel publications are in difficult straits. Lastly, there is an increasing move towards crowd-sourcing images from amateurs and semi-pros in low end markets.

The consequences for travel photography are that many of the traditional avenues for revenue are no longer viable. Where does that leave the prospective travel photographer?

Some guidelines:

  • Familiarize yourself with the industry, online and print publications, travel and tourist boards, other travel photographers and teachers
  • Develop specialty expertise (geographic, cultural, technical etc.)
  • Work on your own photo projects and present them online.
  • Offer multiple services to a client, not just images but editing, web design, video, communications consulting, subject matter expertise, social media campaigns
  • Develop your own voice and point of view on your website.

Some classical strategies are still important:

  • Show only our best work. Edit tightly. Master Photoshop and post-processing to be sure your images are presented as well as possible.
  • Once you have a body of work online, then you can approach magazines and travel companies who use the kind of images or stories you produce, and the stock agencies who sell to them.
  • Take advantage of professional associations (ASMP, APA, SATW) and a variety of online communities (ASMPstock, FLICKR, Lighstalkers)

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