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Friday, 16 March 2018


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aa17999c9f45e68e4843f15766efc244--plate-camera-minnesota.jpg by John Runk, I believe.


Now that's a logging picture!

In the Szarkowski book, are you referring to the Jacob Riis photograph, A Plank For a Bed? The hand sticking out to the far right is the hand of the assistant who had just lighted the flash powder, and was likely an accident.

I think the urge to copywright partially stems from the lack of understanding as to what makes a “great” photograph. For example I like photography and induge in it but I don’t appreciate what makes, for instance Gursky’s work or Eggelston’s tricycle “great” so perhaps I and others feel the photos we make could possibly be found to be “great” and warrant protection.
As you say “just sayin”

As a reminder, no one has to do anything to copyright an image - it’s automatic, as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium.

Registration, of courses, offers more recourses when there’s an infringement, but the principal of copyright is written into the Constitution. No one ever knows when an image might become useful.

Wow, I didnt know you have leprechauns in your part of New York! ;-)

Everything I run through Lightroom ends up with copyright info embedded, because I am too lazy to change my default import settings (except once a year, when I change the year).

(By the way, I think it's hilarious that everyone copyrights every random snap they happen to make.)

I cannot speak for anyone else, but that is my default setting for every image that I import into Lightroom. For me, my photography is only for personal recreation, and I suspect that if any of my images are worth copyrighting, it is probably just by random chance. However, they do represent my personal view of the subject matter, and my use of a copyright notice is just a way of saying to other people that they do not automatically have permission to use my "intellectual property" without at least talking to me about it.
Frankly, since those images do not feed my family, I can think of only a few circumstances in which I would not be happy to provide that permission. On the other hand, in a couple of those circumstances - such as for political purposes by someone whose values I find repugnant - I would strongly object to such use of my work.

On a more mundane level, by putting a copyright watermark on my images that includes my name and the year, there is a tiny, tiny chance that it may be of use to someone in my family some decades in the future. I have a couple of family b&w prints from the 1930s where a similar note on the back in pencil is very helpful. It's surprising how useful that just knowledge of the year of the photo can be, on occasion.

- Tom -

It's not that "they copyright them"; they're inherently and automatically copyright when first fixed in tangible form, which explicitly includes recording to a memory card.

That's a nice photo of the leprechaun on the tree Mike. Must be a North American variety - the Irish ones wear green coats.

Yes, everyone copyrights their pictures because that is what they are told to do to protect their images. I too find that funny, mostly because they are snapshots that may be meaningful to the photographer but not necessarily to anyone else.

I suspect they are the same people who buy sport cars fitted with automatics!

That photo also appears in 'The Frame' section of J. Szarkowski's 'The Photographer's Eye' - a book that is always a delight to delve into.

On documentary and vernacular stuff. I was leafing through Fred Herzog's color work from Vancouver in the '60s through '80s and read which office building now covers each of the more colorful tracts. It made me look at some of the densely occupied, unlovely parts of my own city with new eyes. There's a life there that could be captured before it becomes all slick and similar to the rest of the upscale developed world.

Mike, are you finding time to capture some of the Mennonite/modern world interface that surrounds you? And Mormon missionaries? Of course, you are where their religion started.

The photograph of which you speak was taken by John Runk somewhere near Stillwater, Minnesota and it does appear in the wonderful John Szarkowski book that you mentioned and linked to.

Much of Runk's career in photography was devoted to documenting the logging industry in the St. Croix River Valley from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries. It is wonderfully rich material and has been published in both book-form and video.

"a photograph was an occasion, and usually required a subject that was significant in some way or other even if one had to be contrived."

This is seminal to the attraction of cell phone cameras. It used to be that being photographed required an occasion: Sr Portrait, wedding, family gathering. Or you had to be seen as important enough to have someone want to photograph you. These were generally done by pros or devotees of the craft. They required planning, vetting of the photographer, and waiting around for the results.

Now we can always be an occasion and important. And we don't have to wait, or pay anyone. The idea that the image has all of those qualities is seen as success. Quality is qualified at a superficial level, achieved by automation, and existence temporary, but that seems to be beside the point with these shooters.

Check out russbarnes.co.uk landscape photographer woodland series FALLEN, all on trees. Really impressive

That piece of wood should have some monetary value. Fiameter. Straight length.

"I think it's hilarious that everyone copyrights every random snap they happen to make."
I concur.
I have studied some of the world's most relevant copyright systems and found most of them make a lot of sense in what concerns photography. Generally speaking, the most influent European systems - as well as the European Union law itself - mandate that the photography has to be original in order to be copyright-protected. Common Law systems demand a minimum standard of effort as a requisite for granting copyright protection to a photograph.
As Mark E. Johnson stated above, copyright is automatic - in the sense that it doesn't depend on registry or any other similar formality in order to exist -, but that doesn't mean the court will actually protect every photograph people take. Not all photographs are copyright-protected, and neither should they be. You can't pretend a selfie, or a shot of your dinner plate (as so often featured on Facebook and Instagram...) are photographic works. Where's the effort, the quest for originality, and the mark of a creative mind, in a selfie, or in said food plate? One thing is registering a photograph at the local Copyright Office, another is getting the court to declare it a photographic work.

It’s in Szarkowski’s The Photograper’s Eye (MOMA), another fine little book, p71 in ‘the frame’ section.

BTW, it’s credited as...
John Runk: Pine Boards and Frank Stenlund, South Stillwater (now Bayport), Minnesota, 1912. John Runk Historical Collection, Stillwater, Minnesota.

Mike, even if the tree is rotted in the middle, there may be usable (or even stunning) lumber to be had from it. (Google for images of "spalted oak" to see the sort of thing I'm talking about)

If you're interested, I could post on Lumberjocks (a woodworking forum) to see if there's anyone in the Finger Lakes region with a portable mill who'd be willing to come scavenge it.

I’m left-eyed as well as left-handed. All my cameras end up with a grease spot on the back from having my nose mashed against them in the course of a day’s shooting. And I’ve never enjoyed the supposed advantage in using a Leica M of being able to view and shoot with both eyes—that’s for right-eyes people only....

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