Saturday, August 27, 2005

Copyright issues

I can't believe the number of people who still don't understand the fundamentals of copyright. Daily I see copyright being abused. Mostly it's due to ignorance. So here's the short and sweet of it.

If you write something that comes out of your own head or if you take a picture of something then you own the copyright. That means nobody can reproduce or copy what you've done without your permission. Simple right? Apparently not. I see the things people have written, for example the lyrics to a song, copied and placed in someone else's text without the slightest attempt to attribute where the original came from. Why do so many people try to pass other authors work off as their own? To get back to the crux of the matter. You make something of your own, then it's yours. But beware.

There are the exceptions. If your picture features someone else's image and it forms the major part of your image then you've probably infringed their copyright. For example if you photograph a billboard and a viewer can't see from your photograph that you've actually taken a picture of a billboard then you've infringed the original photographer's copyright. However, if your main subject is a person walking in front of the billboard then you will not have infringed copyright as the billboard is just part of the urban landscape and your picture is about the person walking past.

The best way in layman's terms to understand when you've infringed copyright is to ask yourself whether someone viewing your image would reasonably conclude that you're the author of the main subject matter of the picture. It comes down to common sense. Have you copied something from someone else or is what you've done completely your own idea? Or put another way, are you taking credit for someone else's work.

I've tried to explain it simply but if you want to get into the legal side then check out these sites:

http://copyrightservice.co.uk/
You can register your works with this service to protect copyright but please note you do not have register anything anywhere to own copyright. Copyright is automatically yours by law when you create something.

http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html
USA readers may find this site helpful. The principles apply to the UK too.

http://www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/
This is one of the UK's official government supported websites containing a wealth of information on intellectual property rights.

http://www.beyond-the-lens.com/

Generally I steer well clear of advertising products but this book may be of use to UK photographers. I have not bought a copy so cannot vouch for it but take a look at their website and decide for yourself whether you think it would be of use to you.

If you have any questions I will, as always, do my best to answer them.

Paul Indigo

Friday, August 19, 2005

Strategies for street photographers

The world is a stage upon which all of us perform as we go about our daily routines, often oblivious to the moments of pure chance that occur so randomly, like passing a stranger and exactly matching their stride, attitude and way of holding something.

As a photographer I enjoy observing and in a sense ordering these events by choosing to push the shutter at the decisive moment.

When it comes to street photography you can broadly speaking adopt two strategies. Chase after a subject by keeping on the move and hunting for the right coincidence to occur in front of your lens. Or you can 'set the stage' by looking for an interesting background or scene, and then just wait for life to unfold in front of your lens.

I like doing both but I think that you stand the most chance of getting something valuable if you adopt the latter strategy. It allows you to consider the elements of composition and light carefully. You can even prefocus. Wait patiently and something will happen. The picture below is part of a series taken where I used this interesting slice of the city as my stage.

Paul Indigo



Capturing the decisive moment.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Aerial photography

Aerial photography is not easy. So much depends on the right atmospheric conditions, the quality of the light and especially the visibility. I love flying and would really like to do more from up there.

The camera's shutterspeed was so fast it froze the propeller, which you can't see normally with the naked eye. It was reasuring to know we still had one.

Paul Indigo


Flying up the Humber estuary toward the Humber Bridge.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Another Urban Guerilla image


Another urban guerilla image. See the article below. This one is unmanipulated, just as I found it.

Urban guerilla photography

There's something tremendously liberating about prowling the urban 'scape looking for subjects that show our environment in a fresh way. It's a voyage of discovery. Everything has meaning. The city environment is determined almost totally by its function, in contrast to the raw natural landscape which is shaped by the elements.

Everything has a purpose in the city. Some of it we discard and other parts we treasure and protect. There are images everywhere based on strange juxtapositions, vibrant colour, interesting shapes and so much more.

I'm overwhelmed by the wealth of material. All it takes is an eye for such things and the technical ability to capture the image.

Most of my stuff is pretty straight but the image below was manipulated. Some people like it. Others are less keen. From a photographic point of view I think manipulation can work if it helps to free up something from within an image and evoke an emotion.

What do you think?

Paul Indigo


Urban guerilla photography. Overhead structure and lines on railway station in Leeds.