Yeah, I know, I haven’t posted lately. That happens. Sometimes I just hate communicating with the outside world (in real life, I’m pretty stunningly anti-social). I burned out a little bit on photography for a while, which also happens. Went on vacation, and hardly shot any pictures at all, despite the 14 tons of film I lugged around. The stars just weren’t aligned. Also, my beloved Nikon D40 broke a few days into the trip. It’s a shutter issue. I’m not too disappointed, as it’s 3 years old and has shot, quite likely, hundreds of thousands of pictures, but still: a bit of a bummer. Haven’t contacted a Nikon repair person yet to see how much it will cost to repair, but I may be looking at a new Nikon sometime in the future. I don’t really want to spend the money on one, but frankly, the Canon Powershot SX1IS that we also have just doesn’t even come close to the picture quality I got from the D40, even though it’s a few years newer. Not that the Powershot isn’t a good camera, it is, but we tend to use it primarily for its telephoto zoom than anything else.

So, the Nikon died, and the vacation wound up just not being a great one for photos (although I did manage to shoot off a roll of color infrared slide film when we were in Montreal! Potential win!). Conditions were weird, and I felt more like hanging out in the camper knitting than trying to force pictures that just weren’t there.

One of the things we did wind up doing on vacation was hitting up an awesome used book store in Middlebury, Vermont called Monroe Street Books. If we hadn’t had poor Bela waiting for us out in the truck, I think Travis and I both could have spent, oh, a few days inside. As is, we walked out over a $100 poorer, but with a cardboard box full of books and magazines (including, for Travis, a first edition of Michael Jackson’s – the beer guy, not the other Michael Jackson – World Guide to Beer).

I found the photography section at the end, maybe 5 minutes or so before we checked out, and wound up just tossing a few books into the pile based on just a glance. Ansel Adam’s ‘The Negative’? Sure, we’ll get that. Back issues of American Photography from 1938? Could be useful! Travis held up a book with a photo of darkroom equipment on the cover to show me, and without even opening it up, I nodded okay. We were drunk on the used books, and even though I hadn’t felt like doing any photography stuff in the past month or so, I couldn’t stop myself from buying them.

I paged through the old American Photography magazines at the camper, and each issue has at least one article in it that, even though it comes from a magazine over 70 years old, is still relevant now.

I didn’t start flipping through the Ansel Adams book until I got home, but it looks to be uber-technical, which, of course. It’s Ansel freaking Adams. I might be in the mindset at some time to concentrate and read through the book, but right now… no. It got set aside for a later day.

The big win, however, was the book I barely glanced at in the shop, the red book with the photo of the darkroom equipment on the cover. It’s ‘The Darkroom Handbook’ by Michael Langford. It looks like it’s out of print, but used copies were readily available at Amazon. I have to say, after going through this book, if you have any interest at all in doing anything with photographic paper beyond making a simple black and white print, you need this book. If you have any interest in making color prints or doing anything with color paper, you need this book. Seriously. Buy the hell out of it. It’s completely amazing and inspiring. I haven’t felt like doing anything with film or photo paper or cameras at all in the past few months, and I can open this book up to any page and it makes me want to burrow in a darkroom for days just to play.

I really like that it spends just as much time exploring the possibilities of color paper as it does with black and white. I still haven’t tried making any color prints yet, but damn! Now I have a million things I want to try with it. There are techniques that go back and forth, too – making prints on color paper with black and white negatives, using color slides to make black and white negatives or prints, toning black and white negatives with color and printing on color paper, etc. It’s all awesome! The edition I have was printed in 1981, and I’m sure there are chemicals and supplies that aren’t available anymore, but that doesn’t even matter, really. This book is all about showing the possibilities that exist, and by doing so, nudging you to go explore on your own.

So, for the first time in months, I have a few lumen prints going outside, which is nice, but nicer still is that I’m inspired to start doing darkroom stuff again. Maybe that’ll happen!

eta – I can’t believe I forgot to mention this! So, I was on vacation, camping, for a few weeks (as I’m wont to do), and the internet access we had was spotty and/or inaccessible. Also, my netbook isn’t set up to receive emails to all of my email address (I have a ridiculous amount of them). As is, I didn’t get any Flickr notifications until after I got home.

I haven’t been on Flickr in about a month, due to my photography malaise, so when I did have internet on vacation, I didn’t think to check my Flickr page. So, I didn’t receive the following Flickrmail until a few days after they were sent.

I received two from the same person, someone I don’t know and can’t ever having remembered encountered, either online or in real life. The two Flickrmails were sent twenty minutes apart, the newest one being titled READ THIS FIRST PLEASE. Bemused, I opened it up to see an apology from this person for having accused me of copying their photo. They said they had written the first mail before checking their version of the photo first, and could now see that the two were different.

Okay… No big deal – the person hadn’t left any comments on the actual Flickr photo page (or if they had, they had deleted them), and had only contacted me privately about it to begin with. But of course, I had to open up the first Flickr mail to see what it had said.

Just for context, here’s the photo in question:

Blue house

In the caption to the photo, I mention that it was an HDR image from a single RAW image. The photo was put on Flickr in April 2008, and all of the exif data is available to view.

Here’s the original Flickrmail I got accusing me of stealing the photo from this person (name omitted to protect the confused):

“I came across your photo entitled Blue House while I was Google mapping just earlier, and I have to say, I like how you colored it, since originally, it was a black and white photo. You even cropped the cars out of it, and as a result, it looks very nice.

The only thing is, that photo was not taken by you, Ms. Vance-Kuss, as you have asserted in the comments below, but by me. I did it for a Basic Photography class in high school during the fall/winter part of my senior year. I do not appreciate that you have falsely claimed the photo to be yours, however, I am not so petty as to make you take down something that you, too, have put your time and effort into. If you do not believe me, I have the negative (and the original photo somewhere that I developed) to prove it.

As such, I’m simply requesting that you give me some credit in the caption below for the original photograph. Also, I would like to know how you managed to get a hold of my photograph as well.

Thank you for you time,

So… just to be clear… this person saw my color, HDR, digital photo of a house in full public view on Flickr, a photo that has gotten a grand total of 148 views, that I posted over 2 years ago, and immediately thought that:

1. I have somehow seen this person’s black and white photo of the same house.
2. I managed to get my hands on either the print or the negative in some nefarious way.
3. I magically erased the vehicles in the original photo. (in 2008, without the newest version of Photoshop)
4. I colorized the entire thing.
5. I somehow made it magically HDR-y, despite only having a single black and white print of negative to work with.
6. I faked all of the exif data in the file to show up on Flickr like I had actually shot the photo.
7. And I posted it online. Two years ago. For absolutely no financial gain or any other motivation I can discern.

Awesome. Best accusation of copyright violation EVER! Also, I wish I was that freaking good with Photoshop.

Anyway, moral of the story is, don’t accuse someone of stealing your work unless you, oh, I don’t know, maybe actually check what your source material is first? Otherwise, you look like a doofus.

I didn’t write the person back, primarily because I’m still actively going through an anti-social phase – anything I wrote in response to this person, even though no harm was done, was bound to sound psycho. I’m not a professional photographer by any stretch, but still, I have at least a small reputation I’d like to keep intact. So in lieu of sending this person a WTF were you thinking?! Flickrmail that makes me sound crazycakes, I figured I’d just post about it here. Because really, it was pretty funny.

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