Wednesday, March 30, 2011

San Miguel de Allende - Part 2

While San Miguel de Allende is an historic town with lots of vivid color, there are other interesting elements besides those great buildings.

Just up the hill of Park Juarez  towards Casa de Sierra Nevada are trees loaded with Great White Egrets this time of year.
In this photo, most likely a male (but I am no expert) is bringing back a stick for female to build the nest with.

When he lands beside his mate, this is the gentle tug-of-war between them for several seconds which can be seen in the photo below.
 She always wins and then starts to add it to the nest.

Just beside the hotel are a lot of steps that lead up to a favorite lookout point. I had to stop twice to rest on the way up.
 From this image it is clear to see that San Miguel sits in a bowl. A giant bowl but lots of steep walking.

The church with spires is 'La Paroquia' and to the left is the 'Bellias Artes', the national institute of Fine Arts. To give the front building more emphasis I desaturated the background a little. Otherwise the important items get lost in the details.

If you continue  up from here, you will find the  'El Charro del  Ingenio' Botanical Gardens.  San Miguel in the winter is very dry, hasn't rained once in 5 months and therefore one would expect more desert like plants. I am sure that in the raining summer months the foliage must explode in flowers before the next drought starts.
 This part of the cactus from above eye level is at least 8 ft long.

 You can also darkened and desaturated background to enhance the yellow new growth
In a dry environment the colors are mainly muted browns and dull  greens. Converting to B&W takes the focus away from the dull colors to stronger patterns.
 You can, with tools in Photoshop, enhance to subtle colors and make them stronger and more vivid. De-saturating the background and darkening helps to keep the focus on the plant.

Throughout the town, the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom. It's a bit strange to see a vivid lilac-purple tree with no green leaves.
 Also, the Monarchs are starting the northern journey and settling in the trees during the night. In the day time with the warm temperatures, they are very active and hard to photograph. I did manage with a long zoom and judicious cropping to get a photo of one of the monarchs.
 I love this place. People are very friendly and the food is great.

Niels Henriksen

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

San Miguel de Allende - Part 1

Well, I have now been in San Miguel for 3 weeks and there has been some adjustment for a person who lives in the cold. But these are the foundations for good stories at least looking from the rear view mirror.

San Miguel is situated at 6,000 feet and therefore the heat from the direct sun is more intense. Even fully clothed it seems to go right through you. The air is thinner and very dry and while you don't seem to sweat you are still loosing a great amount of water.

It is so true what the say here at least for newbies. Drink lots of water and only walk on the shady side of the street.

San Miguel is a world heritage site and once here, it is quite evident why.

Most of the buildings have strong burnt orange and yellow painted exteriors. Here I wanted the tree shadows to add texture and more interest to the strong colors.

Some people are not afraid of strong colors as is shown by the blue exterior accented with yellow and green.

Just having images of colorful buildings after a while can be boring so having other context such as humans, animals of events create that focal interest as can be seen by the worker with his feet dangling out the window. Even his orange vest compliments the wall colors.

I only have my laptop with me and it's not color calibrated and by inherent design, have a strong contrast and high color temperature. It will be interesting to see how the look at home. I will redo the RAW on a color calibrated computer and compare them.

The Laser light show on the 'La Paroquia the dominant attraction in San Miguel de Allende and bordering 'Le Jardin', is quite vivid and interesting to watch. At one point they had vines growing up around the towers and spires.

And we mustn't forget the street dancers.

Scary but fun to watch. These night scenes were all shot at ISO 6400 and are only lit by yellow street lamps. It's therefore hard to extract any true colours.

Niels Henriksen

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I Don't Worry About Image Theft on the Web

It doesn’t mean I don’t think about it or don’t do anything. In my situation it comes down to the potential risk and amount of harm that could incur and then doing as much as is reasonable to mitigate risks. I know there are some photographers who really should worry and don’t do enough.
Behind me is the village of Neddy Harbour Newfoundland in Grose Morne National Park. Distance 14km. The rocky dome in the very background is Grose Morne mountain.
Theft has always been a problem, even before digital images on the web, except then, it was known as 'burglaries'.  We have become good, for the most part, at securing our photographs (ie, locked houses).

The web is effectively still in its infancy and we need to understand the risk and potential harm either from lost revenue or damage to you or someone else's reputation etc.

In my case, the artistic medium of choice is large printed photographs. The web images I show are like showing a snapshot of my son as compared to you meeting him in person.  If you take the snapshot, I still have him.
Here my son is standing near the top of the table-rock formations in Newfoundland. It's late July and there is still snow at the top. The cavern in the dark is the size of those air-inflated dome stadiums.

Since my printed photographs are at a minimum 14” (4,200 pixels) and since there is no program that can create that much new information from a web image, the risk of theft here is minimal.  Also, my photographs are signed and numbered, and this creates impressions in the paper especially heavy mat. For signed images the risk is very minimal.
Goolge maps with elevation set at 2 times. The red arrow is approximately where the snow cap was and where our photographs were taken.

But even the web images have merit and I don't give them away for free. At least not free for the taking. I keep image size down to 800 pixels and use 9 of 12 compression ratio for jpeg. The images are watermarked with a small signature. At least they can say they didn’t know whose images it was. The meta data is kept within the jpeg file and this contains the copyright notice and other information.

You can never stop all theft, just look at the famous artworks in museums but you can reduce the risk.

In deciding risk you should consider:

It seems that there is theft from all walks of life but don’t forget the ones that you inadvertently give away for free like contests, web sites and the famous case on Twitter with the Haiti images. Do read the fine print and especially those sections that deal with Rights or licenses.

Images can range from either a thumbnail image on a web page to the brochure cover.
Size does matter and the smaller the better. With bigger photos there are more places it can be used. If your photos are in demand then 600 or even 400 pixels is not unreasonable. Viewers can always ask to see larger and you can decide on risk.

If your are producing images that are in demand and this changes regularly, they take it. If it's general tourist type, then probably not a big deal. Even sometimes there is a need for nostalgia in a venue. Old and borrowing can become rediscovered and exciting.
If it's cutting edge advertising then watch out.

Harm can come from  monetary loss of a potential sale. Someone sold an image of yours. If you don't make a living by selling your images then harm is not as drastic but still, it is money that should have been yours. They should have come to you to ask. When you post images, do make it easy for anyone to see how to contact you and whether your images are creative commons (CC) etc.

Harm can also arise from identity theft from using image of a person in another's context or even harm from image  identifying scene information that could lead to yours or someone else harm.

That is why I limit my own family and friends exposure.

If I do find any photos of mine stolen I will pursue rigorously as warranted. That is one thing you need to do in order to let courts know that theft is a legal concern for you and always has been and not just now because of large financial amount involved.

Do not forget that theft or loss can also happen if your online storage is your only source and the firm either changes entities or no longer exist.

Niels Henriksen


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