Monday, November 30, 2009
And we opened a new Etsy shop here: CLICK which so far only features the pendants. They're pretty cool, I like them. I see why others like them. The process turns a photo into a little jewel. Because you wear it it becomes highly personal.
The process of making them was difficult and took a lot of time. That makes these "limited edition" and it is pretty likely that they will each be one of a kind, never produced again-- but we shall have to see about that. Sheryl got excited and wanted to make a bunch more. Will she actually do it ? Don't know yet, but I kind of doubt it.
Friday, November 27, 2009
This is not a new image either, just a reminder to me that it is one of the few framed images I ever sold on Cafepress, back before they turned to the dark side and succumbed to unreasonable greed ( they reduced our income by two-thirds with a stroke of the pen ). Having that shop for as long as we did-- I supposed we learned that cheaper, novelty type items will sell much more readily than a framed print. On more than one occasion I sold a single greeting card or a sticker, and noted that it had shipped overseas, which gave me a laugh and about a dollar profit. Cafepress mostly sells T-shirts, and T-shirts are usually adorned with slogans, sayings, jokes, or political messages. We quit them because they began stealing more and more profits from the artists and designers, but really we weren't doing all that well over there because we didn't participate enough in doing slogans and jokes-- I'm guessing-- we do know that the fine art and photos don't seem to sell well in that venue. I have a lot of appreciation for product design, and clever wordplay. It's just a different skill than fine art or photography.
Again I've had this image for years but never did anything with it until just now. Bit of a visual joke, makes people laugh. I titled it "Friends." So, in a way it's a crossover image: I'd expect to sell it on a greeting card before it sells as a framed print, and yet it's not just a throw away snapshot either. The light is good and I was pretty meticulous with my editing. I think I cropped in this tight because of the subject matter, otherwise I would have tended to frame a bit wider. Selling is on my mind a lot lately. Christmas is coming and it's a good time to be busy advertising and producing.
But something else is nagging at me and I haven't quite put my finger on it. Sheryl and I know that we need to make some changes but it still seems that change happens so slowly and by incremental steps. We went to Flagstaff recently on business, bit couldn't help noticing how much it reminded us of some of the nicer parts of the Bay Area. It felt like home. Maybe that's what started it, and there is more change in the air than we yet realize.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Invert Moon by Paul Hood
Summit entertainment is hard at work protecting their intellectual property rights while restricting yours.
How funny, "Summit Entertainment" who owns the rights to the movie "Twilight", and the recently released "New Moon" among other holdings, just blocked my right to publish a photograph of the moon, which I shot at twilight. I described my image as such. The notification came through "Zazzle". As far as I know, no corporation owns the time between daylight and night. Nor have they yet laid claim to the moon itself, or the fact that we call it "the moon". They don't own the word, "twilight" either. I probably wouldn't depict an image of a new moon at twilight, or any other time though, because it would just be a solid, blank canvas-- so I guess Summit Entertainment is pretty safe there. My piece was titled "Lavender Moon", similar to the one pictured above. It's a nearly full moon. I wouldn't call it a threat or an infringement of any kind, and I would challenge Summit to make a real case if they think otherwise. Sending a threatening email to my print shop after they searched the word "twilight" is irresponsible and it does harm to my business. Sorry but I blame Zazzle too, for caving in without even checking on what they're doing. They started deleting my images before I even had a chance to answer the email that they sent me, and when we asked them what the supposed violation was. . . they didn't even know. They "guessed" that it was the words "moon" and "twilight" associated with an image for sale. That's pretty weak.
Sheryl and I are already writing articles on the subject. It's an interesting enough situation to warrant a press release. Sheryl might write one of those too. And we definitely mention the names "Summit Entertainment", "Twilight", "New Moon" and any and all other associated words and terms in the interests of being thorough. Might have to mention those words several times. And as we all know, that tends to get picked up by search engines. you know, repeating words like Summit Entertainment, New Moon, Twilight or, what the heck, Astro Boy, The Hurt Locker, words like that. I see that these films are currently in theaters:
It absolutely costs me money if I can't accurately describe the content of my artwork. I think it's still America. I can still take photos of the new moon at twilight and I can still talk about it, write about it, publish my art and call it any damn thing I like. I have not produced a movie titled "New Moon" or "Twilight", haven't tried to represent my work as being in any way related to Summit Entertainment, their films "New Moon" nor "Twilight". Why would I ? I have not seen either one. I might indeed enjoy these films, but can't very well afford to attend if the holding company is so paranoid as to harass me out of making a few bucks on my own creative, original material.
Let's see, a huge entertainment corporation with really deep pockets illegally infringes my first amendment rights by blocking me from publishing a photograph of the moon with the descriptive term, "twilight" in it. This could be the best Christmas ever.
My friend Dawn informs me that "The big movie that opened over the weekend, "New Moon" is the sequel to a best-selling teenage novel, "Twilight." They're probably thinking that you are trying to capitalize on the movie's popularity, but you go get 'em! You can't copyright a word or a naturally occurring phenomena. I hope it IS your best Christmas ever. Ka-ching!"
I'm considering a new piece, titled "New Moon at Twilight from the Summit", and it will probably look like a big black hole where something should be, but isn't.
Oh, and Summit also made these fine films (many of which I have enjoyed very much )
A Bronx Tale
The Baader Meinhof Complex
Bridge To Terabithia
City of Ember
DOA: Dead or Alive
Dot the I
Fly Me To The Moon (Maximum 3D Experience)
The Great Buck Howard
Honeymoon in Vegas
House of the Spirits
I Know Who Killed Me
In The Valley Of Elah
Inside Deep Throat
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Love in the Time of Cholera
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Name of the Rose
Never Back Down
P.S. I Love You
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Resident Evil: Extinction
The Shawshank Redemption
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Slap Her She's French
Smilla's Sense of Snow
Step Up 2: The Streets
The Hottie & The Nottie
Oh, since I have linked to their website, I think that I really must reproduce their terms of service here, in it's entirety, because apparently you are making a legal agreement with them just by clicking on their URL. And lest there is any misunderstanding about who has a right to reproduce what-- they contacted me first regarding copyright and fair use. I think that they are sorely mistaken, and I am making an editorial statement about their policies and (mis)understanding of the law, but I feel it only fair and prudent to let my readers judge for themselves based upon facts, as opposed to mere opinion, legal though it may be for me to express myself as a US citizen.
Ready? Here it is:
"Revised April 25, 2008
Summit Entertainment, LLC
IMPORTANT! READ THIS ENTIRE AGREEMENT CAREFULLY.
THESE ARE THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS
GOVERNING YOUR USE OF THE SITE.
2. Site Content. . This Site contains a variety of (1) copyrighted material, such as information, articles, opinions, other text, directories, guides, graphics, photographs, illustrations, images, video and audio clips, trailers, music clips, sound clips, advertising and promotional materials, data, software, compilations, designs, graphical interface, and overall �look and feel�, and (2) trademarks, logos, trade names, service marks, and trade identities, including the individual names of motion pictures, or other entertainment properties and providers, and the domain names and URLs associated therewith, whether registered or unregistered (collectively the "Trademarks"), and (3) other forms of intellectual property (all of the foregoing collectively and individually are referred to as "Content").
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(e) A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate, and that you are the copyright owner or authorized to act on the copyright owner's behalf; and
(f) An electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright interest.
Summit's Copyright Agent for notice of claims of copyright or other intellectual property infringement can be reached as follows:
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (with subject "Copyright Complaints");
By phone: (310) 309-8400 (ask for General Counsel�s Office);
By postal mail:
Summit Entertainment, LLC
1630 Stewart Street, Suite 120
Santa Monica, California 90404
Attn: General Counsel � DMCA Agent
(with subject "Copyright Complaints")
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Flight by Paul Hood
This is one of the images I've been working on lately. There's another variation on the same theme if you click on it, it's in the same gallery. And I put another swallow on Zazzle here.
The image above came out looking very like a watercolor. It's not a composite, it is a single photo with adjusted tones and colors.
Friday, November 13, 2009
It's mostly economics. I got curious the other day about 35mm film. Did a strange thing and finished out a roll on a disposable camera that was way out of date. Expired film gives a particular look to the color, if it remains usable at all. I thought it would be fun. It was fun.
While I was at the Walgreens, I priced a few things. The film itself, if you buy a 4 pack, runs about $9.00 for 96 frames, or $2.25 per 24 exposure roll. Maybe a person could do better with rolls of 36, but this was a casual accounting, not an exhaustive search. I think I have old fuzzy memories of $1.99 per roll film going back about a decade. This is pretty standard print film, generic house brand, probably 400ISO. I didn't see a whole lot of choices there, no slide film, no black and white.
Then there's the developing: looked like about $8.00 including a set of 24 prints. Another $3.00 for a CD. When I got back to the Walgreens with my expired disposable camera, I discovered that for only $5.56 including tax, I could get the thing developed and scanned to a CD with no prints. This was for 1 hour service which they pulled off in well under an hour. Not bad, really, but now you have to figure that each frame is costing about 10 cents for the film, plus a whopping 23 cents to develop the negatives, scan them, and burn it onto a CD, and you still don't have any prints. So, about 33 cents per frame. Yikes. When I think of burning a dollar every three frames--- that hurts.
Now, bear in mind I used to shoot a fair amount of film, and somewhere I have moldy old cardboard boxes full of prints and negatives to prove it. If I think of those boxes full of quarters--- and being the good Scotsman that I am I did the math back in the old days too-- big wet Scottish tears go rolling down my cheeks.
Conversely, there's a 650 dollar digital SLR that you can buy at the Walmart across the street. I think it comes with a fair lens. At that price, and let's say that you get a memory card thrown in, how many frames do you shoot before the camera "pays for itself" in film costs ? Let's see, plus tax it's about $700, so times that by three (33 cents per frame for film; or three frames for a dollar ) 2100 frames. As an arbitrary figure, we'll assume that you're a very casual shooter: in a year that averages 5.75 frames per day, or about 40 per week. If you're a wedding photographer you will quite likely use up your 2100 frames in one or two day-long shoots. Sheryl and I did 1000 frames in just a few hours at the last wedding we shot. It was casual, a lot of down time-- nothing hectic. So that's the point really. Not "which is better, film or digital?" but which is more practical.
A few more things worth noting:
A good photographer can get some great shots with a digital camera costing much less than a low end DSLR. Oh and by the way there are DSLRs today which can be had today for less than $650. The reason I priced film against a DSLR has to do with reliability. Most of these cameras are reliable into the range of a hundred and fifty thousand shutter cycles. Cheaper cameras might not be. Yes, you can get great shots with film too, but that isn't the point that I'm making here. Don' forget, film cameras aren't free either, so you have to add that into the cost of film.
I was surprised to discover that my CD from Walgreens had been scanned at disappointingly low resolution: 1800 X 1215, in other words just under 2.2 megapixels. If I ever do want to make prints, I'll be limited to a 4 x 6 inch at 300 dpi. That's really not right. 35mm film will support much higher res scanning than that. Maybe Walgreens assumes that I'm only going to look at these images on a computer monitor ? If that's the case then it does make sense-- as that is about the maximum size that a standard 72ppi monitor will show you, or for that matter a true 1080p HDTV. But man, why assume that ? Maybe I got the CD so that I only print what I want. Crazy. As far as prints go, Walgreens wants 29 cents each for those from a digital source, CD or otherwise. Hmmm. They offer a good price on an 8 X 10 at $3.00, but now I wouldn't trust them to give me a good quality print. If I talk to them about 300DPI as a standard, are they even going to know what I'm saying ?
Personally, I am convinced that my 12 megapixel camera beats 35mm film. I have read very convincing articles that my DSLR, which is the same size, weight and form factor as a 35mm film SLR is equal to Medium Format film in most respects, and far superior in others ( like ISO and dynamic range ). I don't want to argue about that, because honestly, I'd really like to play with a medium format film camera. I really would. Film still looks different than digital; the colors are different, the tones and shadows are different, the way that the highlights blow out-- different. A lot is made about that-- but I can't remember the last time I lost a shot because I blew highlights, unless I wanted to.
Digital noise looks different than film grain, mainly in the perception that one can see "behind the grain" in film. But mostly in my world, I'm dealing with completely imperceptible "noise", so it just isn't an issue. Also, it's very hard to find medium format film these days, let alone processing. I have little doubt that it will be pricier than 35mm if I do find it. Knowing me, I'll probably go looking now, but it will all be mail order-- so is it worth it ? Probably not. Did you know that polaroid film is already gone ? Discontinued, off the market. It's a shame, because that stuff was a real trip.
I'm protesting though, not because I champion digital, but because I mourn the loss of film. We have prints around the house of family members, long dead now. . . turn of the century black and white photos which will knock your socks off. The clarity is amazing, the smooth continuous tones, it's all there. These are prints from large format cameras: 4 x 5 inch and 8 X 10 inch negatives. It's the right stuff. We never should have let 35mm take over like it did amongst the general public. Easy, yes, relatively small and compact cameras-- absolutely. But damn, did we ever lose something in the process of embracing convenience. I'm somehow annoyed and excited at the same time, that digital is catching up to film, slowly but surely. 35mm is not entirely dead, but dying. Medium format is on the ropes. Large format ? Stands to stick around amongst the specialist die- hards for quite a while yet: but traveling with a large format camera is similar to schlepping around my laser printer in a backpack. I'll probably avoid it if I can.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Something I re-edited from Bellingham.
New treatment on my sunflowers still life. Shot in Santa Cruz.
Getting a bit more abstract/experimental with the shot above. Called "hound".
I've been wanting to re-work this image for a long time. Pretty happy with it now.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
And it's warm again ! Had to have been 75 degrees today. That's just the kind of strange weather we get here. The photo above, I got before the snow all melted away.
We dropped by the local college today and checked out some of the facilities. The Internet connection they have definitely beats our satellite connection. It's got to be at least 3 times faster, feels like ten times faster. The good news there is that I discover that my various websites indeed load plenty fast and run smoothly if you've got good bandwidth. Not too many students there looking at books, most are huddled away the back corners where the computers are strategically placed-- you can see the librarian coming from a mile off. Hmmm. Doing school related research ? I think not.
We also picked up the college art and lit magazine, though I have barely glanced at it yet. There's a play or two there we'd like to see in a couple of days. Seems you have to be "in the loop" at the college in order to get word of these things.
Looked at the Smithsonian magazine today. Interesting article on Vincent Van Gogh's night paintings. The most famous of course being "Starry Night." Learned something interesting: that Vincent thought this painting to be a failure.
Hardly. It's just that the poor guy and his brother, Theo, had a very difficult time selling any of his work during his lifetime. Well, he was a visionary. I'm not making any direct comparisons between my work and the work of the great masters, I simply take my inspiration wherever I can find it.