Be Careful What You Say…And Who You Say it About

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.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes

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.

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A Word About Stealing Images

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!

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Hello Friends

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…

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It’s a Book!

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.

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Two Years

I just happened to look at the calendar and realize that Tuesday marked the two-year anniversary of Techniverse site reboot. Hard to believe that much time has flown by. And today marks both the third anniversary of the day I quit smoking, as well as the second anniversary of diving down that rabbit hole called photography. I’ll have more to say about photography and time, since both subjects have loomed large in my vision for a while now. For right now, I’m going to repost one of the first shots I put up on the “new” site (and actually, one of the first I shot with my Rebel two years ago), and to contrast that, a shot I took a couple weeks ago at Jenna’s school play. EEK!

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Good Grief!

I can’t believe it’s been 40 days since I’ve put up a fresh post here. Sad, sad. And kind of shameful, too. I haven’t let the site languish this long since the reboot almost two years ago. I wish I could tell you that it’s been a biblical 40 days and 40 nights, and that I spent it on a mountaintop or something at least interesting, but no such luck. In reality, it’s mostly been boring old real life that has interfered. That, and laziness. I HAVE been taking pictures though, and I am going to endeavor to catch up on my PotD project. I also promise no more extended layoffs…

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Phones

I’m definitely a fan of Samsung’s Galaxy phones, and I recently picked up the latest in their monster phone line, the Galaxy Note 2. These are all my Galaxy’s lined up. On the left is the original Galaxy (the Vibrant, in T-Mobile-speak), the Galaxy S2 in the middle, and the Note 2 on the right. It is a serious beast of a phone with an incredible 5.5″ Super AMOLED screen, a quad-core processor, and a kick-ass 8mp camera. Awesome! Is it any wonder that iPhones are no longer the phone the cool kids have? Eat your heart out, Apple-holes.

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Another Year Ends…

When I rebooted this blog a year and a half ago, I had no idea that it would become what it has. One thing I said then was that I would post about things that I was passionate about, and that’s certainly been the case. I just didn’t understand that the passion would be almost entirely photography, and I really didn’t understand what a huge percentage of the happiness I’ve had would come from taking pictures. Honestly, this would have been a pretty bleak year if I hadn’t had my camera to help haul me up out of the depths. To give you some idea of what a major player my camera is in my life now, consider this: In 2010, I took 1600 pictures, nearly half of which were taken during the legendary Spring Break Road Trip with the kids. In 2011, I took about 7700 pictures, after having got my DSLR in May. In 2012, I have taken over 28,000 pictures. Can you see a trend here?

Another piece of my world that has given me a great amount of pleasure is Google Plus. My participation has grown all throughout the year, and it has been such a wonderful experience to be a part of the community there. In October of last year I wrote about my experience on G+ up to that point, and I mentioned how gratifying it was that about 80 of the people that I was following had in turn followed me. It makes me shake my head in disbelief when I look at those numbers now, and see that over 12,000 people now have me in their circles. Very flattering, and very humbling. It’s been a fun G-ride in 2012, and I’m looking forward to 2013.

One can never tell what the new year holds in store, but I have a few goals in mind. One is to start taking better care of myself. I have recently been reminded of my own mortality, as well as my keen desire to be healthy enough to do all the things I enjoy doing for many years to come. My goal for that is to exit 2013 skinnier, healthier, and happier than I enter it. I also want to take pictures. A lot of them. And get better at doing it. I figure the healthier I am, the more pictures I’ll take :-).

On a less selfish level, my hope for the world is that it’s a better place next year than it has been this year. May your 2013 be filled with peace, happiness and music. And on that note (pun intended), I will leave you with the final entry in my 366-day non-project. See you next year!!!

This Ain’t a 366 Project 366/366 – Music in My Heart

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The Ecuadorean Kid

So I mentioned in a previous post that my niece, goddaughter and best bud Cammie left to spend a year in Ecuador, courtesy of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. She’s been down there for approaching a month, and she’s finally settling in. She just got back to Sangolqui from a language camp in the coastal town of Mompiche, and from the looks of it, she had a great time and made lots of new friends. The next challenge for her is school, which starts on Monday.

Cammie’s got her own blog where she is documenting her year-long adventure. You really should check it out.

My Heart is in Ecuador

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Who Moved My Cheese?

Ahem…that would be me. So, the other day, I was looking through some (really) old archive CD’s, and I ran across a bunch of my source and graphics for the web sites I did back in the late 90’s til about 2002. I waxed nostalgic for a short time, but the only lasting feeling I got from it was boredom with the site design that has been in use for over a year. I thought fleetingly about doing a design from scratch, but I really don’t have the motivation or the technical chops any more. I started digging through theme archives, trying to find something that would fit my needs and look decent. It was harder than I expected, since most WordPress designs don’t handle 800-pixel images very well. You’d think that with all the screen real estate we have available these days…anyway, I finally found one, and after some tinkering to get it right, I adopted it as the new theme for Techniverse. It’s a bit wider, which means the right column could be turned on, and it has a search feature that seems to work quite well. The color scheme is darker than the previous look, which is cool, and the relative simplicity made it easier to cobble together something passingly similar for the SmugMug gallery as well.

One final note for those who have been complaining ad nauseam about comments. No, I still haven’t enabled them. I simply don’t feel like moderating a pile of spam, so until somebody steps up and offers to do it for me…hush up. 😉

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Google+ Anniversary Photo Weekend – 6/30 – After the Walk

Well, it only took two weeks to do it, but I’ve finally gotten around to finishing the story of the G+ Photo Walk. It was great fun, and I will probably post some more about it later, but this post will actually wrap up the walk.

About 25 or so of us ended up at dinner at the Paramount, and we had a great time chatting across the tables and having some great burgers. One of the guys had a fisheye lens, so he got up and snapped a shot of the group.

Photo by Al Steffen

After dinner, there were a handful of folks that still hadn’t had enough shooting, so about half a dozen of us struck out again, shooting the sights along the 16th St Mall. People riding in carriages…

A group that was break dancing….

Not to mention some street musicians…

We headed up Market Street past several restaurants and bars, with the ultimate goal of getting to the Oxford Hotel, which was another location we wanted to shoot. Lots of people…

Nevertheless, we felt safe, because the ever-present security task force was on duty…

When we got to the Oxford, we shot it inside and out, then adjourned to the attached Cruise Room lounge, which was set up to resemble an old cruise ship bar. The lighting was all red neon, and the martinis were pretty damn good.

After the Cruise Room, we all figured that it was time to go home, so we took a mall shuttle back to the other end of 16th St. and went our separate ways. On the way to the car, a couple of the other guys and I were heading through the Art Museum area when we were greeted by the sight below.

It seemed a fitting end to the evening, although in my case the evening continued a little longer. Believe it or not, I got back to the parking garage only to find that, for the second night in row, my car was locked inside. Another long walk on tired feet ensued, and I finally got home a little after 2:00 am, courtesy of Metro Taxi. What a couple of days.

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Google+ Anniversary Photo Weekend – 6/30 – The Photo Walk

The main focus of the weekend was of course the Google+ Anniversary Photo Walk – Denver, and we started gathering outside the Art Museum at around 4:30pm. Many of the people were ones that I knew from G+, some I remembered from the walk last fall, and some were new, and we all just milled around introducing ourselves and taking pictures.

Once Thomas got back from his hotel, he lined us all up against the wall for the group shot. This really on represents about half or two thirds of the attendees, since a number of them caught up with us after the walk started.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

We headed east on 13th Avenue to start the walk, then cut up in front of the Capitol Building to Colfax. From there we headed east again, shooting pictures and shooting the breeze as we went. Kind of strange shooting Colfax from right in the middle of traffic…

After walking east on Colfax for a while, we headed north for a couple blocks, then wound back east through various neighborhoods back toward the downtown area.

One of the highlights was when we arrived at The Church of the Holy Ghost to get a few shots of it, and found that a wedding was just ending. The fun-loving priest blessed us as we banged away with our cameras.

By then it was getting close to dinner time, so we wandered south to the 16th Street Mall, where we shot for a while before heading to dinner at the Paramount Cafe.

to be continued…

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Google+ Anniversary Photo Weekend – 6/30 – Denver Art Museum

After I got a ride down to the Botanical Gardens on Saturday morning to get my car, I tried to get hold of Thomas to see when he would be at the museum. I ran into a little problem with this, which is an interesting anecdote all in itself. At dinner on Friday evening, we were talking about what we were going to do the next day. At one point I told Thomas I was going to text him so he would have my number and recognize it. I texted him one word – ping – and I received a one-word reply – pong. I thought “cool – good to go”. Yeah right.

When I texted Thomas the next morning, and received the reply “Who is this?” Crap. “This is Howard” I replied. “I’m sorry, you have the wrong number” followed. “Is this Thomas?” I asked. “No.” So, I pulled over to the side of the road and searched through G+ posts until I finally found the one containing his phone number. Sure enough, I had fat-fingered the area code. The reply I got the night before wasn’t even from him! Anyway, I finally texted the right number, got a reply, and headed for the Denver Art Museum. Surprisingly, nobody met us there right away, so we started shooting in the new Frederic C. Hamilton Building, not only the art, but also the museum itself, which is beautiful.

By the time we finished the first building, we had heard from a couple other photographers that were on their way. We moved over to the North Building, and ran into two shooters there, Stan Showalter and Al Nesbit. The four of us continued throughout most of the North Building, then ended up back in the Hamilton building shooting a fascinating entryway.

After finishing the museum, Thomas headed back up to his hotel to dump his memory card, and Al, Stan and I headed for the 16th St. Mall to get some food.

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The G+ Anniversary Photo Weekend – 6/29 – Colfax Run

For each of the cities in his 100 Largest City project, Thomas Hawk creates a Google map and starts marking attractions that he wants to shoot. Now, when I say attraction, what that might mean is that a place, like the Botanical Gardens, or it also might mean something far more simple, like a cool sign on the side of the road. There were literally dozens of pins in that map, and not surprisingly, Colfax was dense with them. We left my car at the Botanical Gardens and rode with Justin, starting at about York St. and working our way west, shooting the north side of the street. Most of what we were shooting were neon signs, which is another passion of Thomas’. After shooting a few myself, I began to see why.

We worked our way west on Colfax, driving a quarter or a half mile, getting out and shooting, and repeating the process again. We ended up at Davie’s Chuck Wagon Diner, just east of Kipling, then started back east.

One we got back to the city, we ducked off Colfax to go find something to eat. We decided on a Mexican place called El Noa Noa, which is on Santa Fe down in the Golden Triangle. While we waited for a table on the patio, we wandered over to the Trace Gallery a couple doors down and spent some time shooting the artwork and talking to the owner, Carmine Diaz.

After dinner, which was excellent – the best Carne Asada I’ve ever had – we headed back to Colfax to finish off the run. We worked east all the way to Monaco, then turned back west to end up at the Bluebird Theater, which we had passed before, but wanted to shoot lit up at night.

After the Bluebird, we drove back up to the Botanical Gardens so I could get my car, only to find it locked up snugly inside the parking garage. Sigh…fortunately, Justin was kind enough to give me a ride home afterwards, and I got a ride back down the next morning to rescue the Mustang from the big bad parking structure. It was one hell of a fun day.

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