Thursday, 20 May 2010

Tineye reverse image search

There will come a point when you will ask yourself, "How can I find out who is using my images". Most search engines are keyword searches so you are only going to find your image if a keyword has been used or if the person using your images has linked to you, then you might be able to use a google search, but its not something you can easily do. However there is a search engine called TinEye where you send it your image and it will search for the image without using keywords.

Its now even easier to use TinEye because if you register with them, you can install a plugin for your browser that will allow you to search by right clicking your image and selecting the search item from the menu.

TinEye isn't infallible as it still has billions of images to index, but it is very fast and sometimes the results are amazing. I got TinEye to search for one of my most popular images and it found several matches. One of which was a photo of a painting of my photo on a German website that had sold a limited edition of paintings. Having found this derivative work I could, if I was organized enough, go and get myself a lawyer to sue for copyright infringement. Of course it wouldn't be simple because I would be crossing national boundaries and derivative works aren't the simplest of cases.

One of the things that I believe the TinEye technology will be good for, is as a search engine for orphan works. One of the things that would be required for workable orphan works legislation is a reverse image search engine. If people could seed the TinEye database with their own images, then they would ensure that their images could be discovered on an image search by someone wanting to use work for which they do not know the author. This seeding of the database could be done automatically by sites like flickr when you upload an image. I can't see orphan works legislation being workable unless something like this is put in place

Why don't you give TinEye a go and if you find an image that has been used without your permission tell us about it in the comments.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Dean Collins: Live at the Brooks Institute

Since getting a smartphone, I have finally come to grips with instructional video. I have bought videos but not watched them because there is always some celebrity reality show or other on that my family want to watch and I if I try to watch them on my laptop I am easily distracted by the chaos at home. But with my android I can now watch them at leisure and on the move.

One of the videos I bought recently was Dean collins Live at the Brooks institute. Dean Collins was a commercial photographer and teacher who sadly succumbed to cancer in 2005. This video is of a very slick presentation he did at the Brooks Institute in front of a live audience

Shortly after the introductions there is a rather brutal cut with a screen announcing that Promotion and darkroom printing were ommited from the original program. I found this quite disapointing because when the video resumes, there is a complex diagram on the screen and a photo of a black knife on black paper and Dean starts talking about three dimensional contrast refering to the image and the diagram as though he had been talking about them for a while. I also suspect that the cut portion of the presentation would have also resolved some confusion over the chromazones portion of the presentation later on.

The presentation itself is very slick. Dean had three projectors on the go, often with a setup shot, the shot and a diagram all at once. The man is also very funny, full of anecdotes and jokes. If anything he reminds me of Bill Hicks. There's another reason for resenting the cut portion of the seminar, missing out on all that humour.

He discusses concepts of three dimentional contrast: the shadow, the diffused value ,the highlight and the transitions between the three. His example images are taken from real shoots that he did for clients like Laura Ashley. The images do look a little dated, but thats because its an old video shot in 1991. But don't let that put you off because you will still learn plenty.

The reason I bought the video is because I wanted to learn more about his Chromazones system. Its an empirical system that he uses to reproduce colours from a swatchbook on any neutral toned background be it black or white. You really do have to listen carefully for this bit and I had to watch it several times before I really got it. But this is another area where I suspect the missing portion of the presentation would have helped. It occurred to me that he only had three stops from middle grey to pure black, and this confused me because there should be more. But the reason for this is that the print process the system is designed for, only has a three stop range in either direction before you hit pure white or pure black. This may be explained in the missing section, but I guess I'll never know.

You'll learn stuff from this video that is very different from what you'll learn from a news based photographer like David Hobby where there are different considerations. Dean talks about the difference between lifestyle and catalogue and how to get consistent backgrounds across images when the backgrounds are different in tonality.

All in all its a great little video despite some flaws, you should learn plenty from it assuming you don't know it all already and best of all it will make you laugh. I also think that its good value for money even though its more expensive than buying a book, it engages with you in a way that makes the information more likely to stick.

You can purchase the video from and there is a clip available for viewing

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Composition: David Prakel

Composition is another book by David Prakel in the basics photography series and as with the previous book that I reviewed Lighting, the organisation of the book, in common with others in the series, is very well thought out and logical. The book is broadly split into six areas: The Basics, Formal Elements, Organising Space, Organising Time, Application and Originality.

Starting with the basics there is a general discussion of the need for composition. One particular statement impressed me in the introduction.

Photography should be like jazz - an improvisatory form of music where personal expression is everything but that expression is based on a solid structure of learned chords and chord progression

I like that. With the solid backing you can then experiment within the structure and you can bend it and break it too. The basics section then goes on to discuss such things as the rule of thirds, perspective and viewpoint.

The next section talks about formal elements that pre-date photography. Line, shape, form texture, colour and so on. Again very easy to follow and fairly comprehensive encompasing ideas such as figure ground reversal and implied lines. The section on organising space is all about framing, balance, symmetry and depth of field and then organising time is about how to create an impression of the passing of time. There is a section on application which discusses how various compositional techniques are applied to different forms of photography.

Throughout these sections the book is illustrated by photos not only by the author but also from photographers like James Nachtwey and Cartier Bresson.

Overall its a pretty good read, its not quite as comprehensive as The Photographers Eye but having said that, it has one advantage over it. Composition will actually fit in a coat pocket. Its just a little larger than a paperback, which makes it a lot more convenient for reading on the move.