If you’ve been following along, you’ll notice that I have not been very active of late on here, HJW Photography, or anywhere else online for that matter. The reasons are many and varied, and if you’ll kindly indulge me I’ll explain a bit, since I haven’t talked about it much prior to this.
First of all, I’ve kind of been in a bit of a creative funk where my photography is concerned. I’ve gotten bored with the things I’ve been shooting, and I’ve just been unable to pull out of it yet. I will though…I just have to figure out what the next big thing is going to be for me and my camera. The weather hasn’t helped, and I suffered more this winter and spring from the cold than I ever have, for reasons I’ll explain later.
Second, work has been rough of late, and by the time I get home, I just feel like keeling over, and I find that even on the weekends, other than the exercise I force myself to do, I have been a potato…hold the butter and sour cream please…
Finally, and is THE biggie for me, I’ve been working very hard on getting healthier and back in shape. Last July 4th, I got home from our annual fish fry and fireworks show feeling so terrible that I literally felt like I might die. As I laid there in bed, I promised myself that if I lived through the night, I was going to making massive changes in my lifestyle. I’m thrilled to say that not only did I survive, I’ve had great success in making those lifestyle changes. I’ve lost a full third of my body weight since last July, my blood pressure is down 40 points and my cholesterol is down 60 points. I’m down to my high school weight (175 pounds – I started at 263), and even better, I’m now in better shape than I was then as well, at least endurance-wise. I have recently run 1 mile and 5k times faster than I’ve ever run them, including when I was in high school. To contrast the before and after, the first 5k that I actually timed (and completed) back in August took me 1:03:00. That’s an hour and three minutes for those who don’t feel like counting. My latest 5k time came in at 00:28:24, meaning that I’m more than twice as fast as I was. Last month I ran a 7:57 mile, which was a huge milestone for me. My previous fastest mile was 8:32 – when I was 16 years old. I haven’t reached all my goals in the health and fitness department yet, but it’s getting better all the time, and I feel better than I have in years, or maybe even decades. The only downside has been the loss of my insulating layer. Cold just KILLS me now, especially my hand and feet. Hopefully I’ll adjust to that. Oh yeah, and my butt. I had a very plush, built-in seat cushion for years, but sitting on hard or flat surface now is a trial. But hey, it’s a price I’m willing to pay!
Anyway, that’s where I am, and where I’ve been. With work still being ugly, and now with a back injury compounding my misery (it’s getting better though), it’ll probably be a while before I get back to shooting and posting regularly, but now at least everyone knows I’m not dead and have not in fact fallen off the edge of the world.
The photo here is a before and after. The first one is on July 4th of last year. The second one was taken last month. I have a series of shots I took over the months that illustrates my progress even better, but I’m not quite comfortable sharing that with the world – at least yet.
Some people treat the internet as if it’s some impenetrable safety barrier, protecting them from any asinine act they might perform online. Time and again though, that’s been proven quite untrue, and it happened again yesterday. This time it involved a photographer friend of mine.
Some idiot named Patrick (or Patric, depending on which page of his site you believe), an alleged photographer claiming 20+ years of experience (or 30+, depending on which page of his site you believe), went on a rant about the virtues of a very popular portrait photographer, namely Lisa Holloway. Now, any of you that know me also probably recognize that name, because she does the kind of people shooting that I aspire to. I’ve taken one of her processing classes, and it was worth every cent and every minute spent. It’s also the kind of work that many other people aspire to as well, because she has well over 80,000 followers on Facebook, and it’s a contingent that is extraordinarily fond of her work. Not Patric(k) though.
This gentleman is allegedly a photographer for a studio which I will not name. Now, this person’s site is touted as a portfolio site, an exemplar of his skill, but also contains a blog from which Patric(k) spouts his inanities. It also contains a sad collection of images that even I would be embarrassed to put out to the world, but that’s a whole different story. In a blog post called “Who to Hire”, rather than something along the lines of “hire me because I’m great, and I’ll tell you why”, instead this joker rants on about who you shouldn’t hire, particularly those who post-process their images, and more specifically Lisa, who although not mentioned by name, was represented by two of her own shots, which, by the way, had the watermarks removed.
After a snide introduction, during which he abuses some unknown photographer’s landscape shot (claimed to be a stick photo) and a picture of a velvet Elvis, Patric(k) goes on to post one of Lisa’s shots (a child), along with a commentary that not only disrespected Lisa’s work, but the subject of the shot as well. He then posted a second shot of hers, a baby shot, and went on for nearly 500 words abusing the shot, the child, the processing, and even fitting in some disparagement of Anne Geddes and a comparison to a $50 Craigslist photographer.
Finally, he goes on to post HIS idea of great photography, which consists of several mundane mid-20th-century shots in grainy black and white, in fact just more shots which he obviously didn’t take himself. He finished off the post with a recommendation of himself, of course, but apparently not because he’s good, rather than everyone else he just discussed is bad. Sounds like a ringing endorsement to me.
As you might imagine, someone found this post and relayed it to Lisa, who first contacted the site and demanded her images be removed. They were, but not without even further rude comments. The comment that replaced the first image was thus:
(pic removed because the alleged owner whined about it. But just imagine a disinterested girl in an evening gown standing on some nauseatingly over saturated red rocks in the desert )
The second was replaced with this:
(again, pic removed because the alleged owner of the image had an issue with their photo being used in a negative context)
Lisa then took this guy to task on her own Facebook page. Predictable results ensued. Within hours, Patric(k)’s Facebook page was gone, his site was locked down to comments, and he continued to spout his asshattery from behind the safety of his web page, while Lisa’s less-tolerant supporters dragged our little bitter blogger and his studio through nine kinds of mud. Evidently, this included emails and even phone calls (at least according to him), which were apparently of a less-than-flattering nature. Our intrepid blogger still continued to post, albeit while whining to everyone to please stop bothering him, threatening everyone with legal action, and blaming Lisa because she had the temerity to actually call him out publicly. Lisa was in fact kind enough to remove her post, but Patric(k)’s magnificent foot-in-mouth performance had already been seen by thousands and recorded for posterity.
So, friends and neighbors, what this should serve as is a cautionary tale about taking care what you say on the internet and who you say it to (or about). Firstly, a true professional would never, ever (EVER) say such disparaging things about another professional, especially on their own business site (then again, neither would any decent human being). Secondly, even a clearly inadequate, jealous, bitter, non-professional should know enough to realize when you whack a hornet’s nest, you’re going to get stung. Finally, if you’re really determined to throw rocks, you should make sure your own work will withstand the inevitable scrutiny. Our beloved Patric(k) failed miserably on all three counts, and now he’s dealing with the resultant shitstorm. Lisa will go on pleasing people with her wonderful work, and Patric(k) will eventually crawl back under whatever rock he emerged from, sadder and hopefully wiser for his experience (although that I doubt). All I can say it that it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Because of my continuing obsession with photography, I’ve found myself wanting and needing a dedicated home for my works and thoughts. Techniverse became that home by default, simply because that’s what I had available. As I continue the journey, I’ve decided to move the bulk of my photography related stuff over to a new domain, one better-suited for the subject matter. Techniverse has been around for ages, and will continue to exist. I’ll still post here, but probably only sporadically. If you’re looking for all my new stuff, than look no further than my new corner of the web, HJWPhotography.com. I have also spun up a Fine Art America account where I can now sell prints of my work! You can fine that at http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/howard-weitzel.html.
A bit over a year ago, I had a picture that got featured by Google, and to say it kind of took off would be an understatement. Typically, my shots on G+ garner around 1500 views, give or take. Some get a good bit more than that, but that’s about normal. This shot though, is currently well over 15,000,000 views, and still rising.
I recently got curious about the shot, and did a Google reverse image search for it. The results surprised me. The shot returned literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of results. Most of them, oddly enough, were of people who were using it as their profile photo on their YouTube accounts. There were also plenty of results for pretty-picture and wallpaper websites as well. Happily, what I didn’t find was anyone trying to use it to make money by some means (although I’m aware that many of those YouTube accounts are little more than click-bait). I don’t do this stuff for money, so I have no problem with people appropriating my shots for their own personal use, but someone misrepresenting it for their own personal gain would piss me off.
Here’s the thing, though. Every one of those people that are using my image, for whatever reason, are breaking the law (at least they were until today). I could, if I so chose, sue those people for copyright infringement. I don’t have to warn them, or give them a chance to remove it, or file a DMCA takedown notice. I could simply lawyer up and go after them. Could I win? Yes. Would I actually do it? Not likely. Could I get anything meaningful out of it even if I did? Almost assuredly not. But a simple fact remains; the existence of an image online does NOT give you the right to use it. To be sure, there are many, many images out there that are free to use, but not anywhere all, or even most, of them. And to take it a bit further; if you DO use an image whose provenance you are not sure of, you run a risk, small though it may be, of being sued. It doesn’t matter where you found the image, whether you give credit for it, whether you make money on it or not, or whether you take it down or not.
Recently there’s been a spate of people getting sued for just such a situation. Often, these are brought about by grievous abuse, such as people ripping off photographs wholesale and attempting to pass them off as their own, but in a few notable instances, it was for something as simple as what I described above. A person found an image online that they liked, put it own their own website, and ended up getting sued for it. And had to pay.
The reason I bring this all up is that I don’t want any of you to end up going through this. I’ve posted almost exclusively my own content on this site, but that wasn’t always the case. In days of old, I posted pictures I picked up all over the internet, just because I liked them. Back then, lawsuits were even less likely than they are now, so I was never in any real peril of being sued, but knowing what I know now, it just doesn’t make sense to tempt fate. In fact, there was exactly ONE image on this site that didn’t come from me (other than a couple I ran as banner ads on behalf of the owners), and that image has been gone for some time now. It’s just not worth it.
So, the moral of the story is this; if you want a pretty picture to post on Facebook or Tumblr or your blog, source it from somewhere where the images really are free. Don’t grab it randomly and hope nobody notices. Do your homework, and avoid the headache.
And just for the record, I now license all my images under the Creative Commons NC license, which means you can do with them what you will, as long as you don’t make any money off them. Have fun!
Did you miss me? It seems crazy, but it’s been four months since I’ve posted, and eight months since I’ve posted regularly, and I’ve been missing my humble little abode on the web. That, along with the fact that the site is going to be celebrating it’s 20th birthday coming up soon, has given me the impetus to restart the engines and get things rolling here again.
All that being said, I’ve hardly been idle online. I slowed down for a few months last year, for various reasons, but I’ve been on Google+ with a vengeance for some time now, and I’ve been posting other places as well. I recently resurrected my Flickr account, which has pretty much been dormant since 2005. There’s also sporadic posting on 72dpi, 500px, the PotN forums, and Reddit. Shit, I even got a Facebook account, although I participate under a pseudonym that I don’t care to share here, which is really no big deal, since I use the account only to follow a local wildlife photography group, which is one that G+ is still sadly lacking.
Funny thing is though, I do the same damn thing on every site. I post pictures. And I look at and comment on other people’s pictures. And I thank other people for viewing and commenting on my own pictures. And I love all that. But one thing is consistently missed, and that is my thoughts. The reasoning and thought processes. The opinions and biases. The whats, wheres, whens, hows, and whys. On most sites, people don’t give a damn what you think, unless you’re someone who happens to have a skill or insight that others covet. Really, people are only interested in what you show them.
Which brings me back home again. Right here, to my humble little electronic cabin in the woods. I got shit to say. I got rants to rant, and raves to rave, and like I’ve always done, I’m going to say it here. So now that the engine is running, I’m ready to take off again, but I think things are going to be a bit different now. In short, there’s going to be more thoughts. Don’t worry though. There will be still pictures. I loves me some pictures. And since posts are always best with a picture to wash them down, here ya go…
Yeah, I know I haven’t been around for a while, but I have not been idle. The most exciting thing that’s happened is that I’ve actually published my first book! “Zoo Portraits”, a book compiled from many of the images you’ve seen on these pages, as well as some new ones, is a photographic trip documenting some of the beautiful faces I’ve seen in my trips to a variety of zoos and animal sanctuaries. Check out the preview below for a sample of what’s in the book.
PotD 2013 227/365 – Warm Light
Aren’t they sweet…:-)
PotD 2013 226/365 – Friends
I think he was looking longingly at the hot dogs.
PotD 2013 225/365 – Dignified Stare
PotD 2013 224/365 – Food of the Gods
Best hat at the picnic…
PotD 2013 223/365 – Nom Nom Hat
Kinda old for a Rambo…;-)
PotD 2013 222/365 – Army of One
It was an odd pic anyway, so I added some lomo filters to top it off.
PotD 2013 221/365 – Taking Wing
You’re lucky you can’t hear me trying to sing it.
PotD 2013 220/365 – Ridin’ Down the Highway
This boxcar’s traveling days are over. It sits as a tourist attraction at the top of Boreas Pass.
PotD 2013 219/365 – Colorado & Southern