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30 November 2011

**Responses from infringers of copyright

I thought I would start a post on responses I get from those who are caught out using my work without the benefit of payment to me, or, as a last resort, permission from me. One of the latest, and probably the most amusing (and less well informed), was one from a company which had published one of my images of a rack of old, but colourful, clothes on their website (no trade marks or trade names visible). They did apologise but were most indignant and pointed out to me that they had not claimed copyright of the image (so that was OK by them!), and in any event, that I could not really sell the image as it contained "product" - hmmm... a rack of old clothes. They also advised me that "product owners have copyright of images and you are a photographer"....and "Any product image(as is in your image) belongs to product owners so it seems that you are taking pictures of other peoples products and saying it is yours and asking money for it. i dont think you can even sell these images because you are not a manufacturer of products." My response was "nonsense"! In a further email they also advised me that "next time you will take image of Statue of liberty and say you can sell it because you have copyright of image. i dont think that case you will need permission of new york city to even make one penny of it." Not having a single image of the Statue of Liberty, I was much relieved but I did respond as follows:

"Darn. That is where I have been going wrong all these years. I am so glad you, a purveyor of coat racks, has enlightened me, a professional stock photographer of many years, a Getty Images contributor and other stock libraries, of the laws of copyright. I will be in your debt and will write off to Getty this minute and advise them that half of their stock library of images cannot be used. I will give them your name so they may thank you personally, especially regarding images of the Statue of Liberty " and sent them a link to the Getty search engine showing at least 1,800 images of the Statue of Liberty.

I wish I had a dollar every time I received the response that "I found this on Google and thought it was free as it did not have a watermark embedded" I really do think that the word "free" should be removed from royalty free image sites.

This brief response from an Australian commercial website who had one of my images on their site "The image has been removed, it was NOT from your website, it was a library photo I do not wish to use it - we have our own" Sigh. Of course, if they had their own, they would not feel the necessity to nick one of mine! No response to my second email and this will probably be passed on to my IP lawyer. Another US web developer who had used one of my most popular images and had sold it to a client, was most apologetic, pleaded that he did not realise it was copyrighted, was a single father and actually sent me pictures of his kids. I have since registered this particular image with the US Copyright Office and I recommend this course of action!


  1. Hello Sheila,
    (please pardon my french and limited english vocabulary)
    I've been on Flickr for a year now. I've been on Getty for a month now. What you just wrote is really waking me up about all the possible steals of any images an artist can take and post. It really is discouraging to see that there is someone out there that will take your work and sell it or post it as his without any permission.
    You know what,... lately, I've been spending more time reading on that subject than doing what I like most...PHOTOGRAPHY. And it's kind of sad I think. Of course, the best thing would be to bring these leeches to Court but .. who has the time and energy to do this and what makes it even more dificult is when you're from another country like me from Canada. Would need a lawyer who knows copyright laws in the US and anywhere else that my work was stolen from....those low life miserable sack of s***t just know that and that's why they will never stop taking advantage.
    Thank you for coping with my frustration.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Francois. There is a list of photographers on my blog both in Canada and the US who can assist on a contingency basis. I would stress that although its a PITA, we should not ignore infringements otherwise we will end up basketweaving!



After Topaz

Using Topaz Spicify, the image has been enhanced in both colour and "pop". This may be a tad OTT but when printed out, it looks rather good (even if I say so myself!!).

Elderly gents

Image enhancing filters

I have recently been experimenting with different filters for post processing images. Topaz has been one of them. Using the adjust filter, one can change rather dramatically an image which may (or may not) need enhancing. Purists argue that one should not enhance or change an image but in this era, we are bombarded with enhanced movies so it seems a natural progression to enhance still images. The pic directly above is the original image (shot RAW and converted using Adobe Camera RAW).

Rather boring shot of Sydney Harbour

I am going to show how a somewhat boring shot of Sydney Harbour (if there ever could be one!) can be turned into something a little more spectacular. Below is the original shot (shot in RAW format with my Canon 5D) and taken off the back of the Manly ferry.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour
Rather boring shot of Sydney Harbour


Using Adobe Camera Raw ("ACR"), I converted the raw image with parameters: Blacks 7, brightness +31, Contrast +61, Clarity +77, Vibrance +7, Saturation 72 and a bit of Curves which brought me to the below image.



Flood filter conversion

I then produced a "reflection" using Flaming Pear flood filter. For those unfamiliar with this filter, it gives the image a perception of a reflection (poetical!) and I see it often in publications and I find myself examining ALL images with reflections to see if the photographer had used this very handy filter. I have details of the conversion if anyone is interested but to post it would be a tad boring. Flaming pair flood filters can be found here


Sydney Harbour reflection using flood filter

Sea of Hats

I was on my lunch hour when I was strolling around The Rocks area of Sydney when I saw a group of private schoolgirls on an excursion. As soon as I saw their hats, I knew that there was a good opportunity to get a good snap. As luck would have it, they started to cross the street to where I was standing. I knew in my head the image I was looking for and I had to be above them. With an enormous amount of good fortune, a ramp up to a shop in this old area of Sydney was a few metres away. I raced up the ramp and shot this image. It was taken with my Canon 70-200 f/4L at f/5.6 which gave me a shallow depth of field leaving the centre hat in sharp focus and the rest of the hats out of focus. I submitted this image in late 2005 to the Black and White Spider Awards and it won Outstanding Achievement - People and also won me the Photographer of the Year 2005 - amateur. It really is nice to get recognition of one's work and even though I am now a professional, it still gives me a warm feeling when I look at my certificate!

Sulphur crested cockatoo in flight

This is an image on which I have added a "flood" filter. It is quite effective and quite a nice shot in any event. Flood filters can be found here and they are worth every cent. There is always a debate regarding "Photoshopping" images but as long as one is honest about the origin and digital changes to the image, I think its legimate. The original image, taken in our garden, of the cockatoo actually landing on the lawn, had a piece of its left hand side wing missing so I "replaced" it in Photoshop CS4. Cockatoos actually dislike water and when they start attacking the timber balustrades on our verandah, all I have to do is get out the spray bottle and walk towards them. They are endearing creatures, very intelligent but are enormously destructive. They are very long lived (up to 80 years) so don't even think of buying one unless you plan to outlive it and put up with the high decibels of squawking! I really hate seeing them in cages and they must long to be free when they see a large flock passing by.

Surfing the storm

Late one afternoon, I was snapping at Avalon Beach, Sydney, when a storm approached. This did not stop a late surfer. This image is available as a print via my RedBubble site. Click on image which will take you to the print site.

Sydney Opera House abstract

An abstract look at the famous icon. It is very difficult to take any pics of the Opera House as everyone and their brother has done it before. For this particular image, I used Optikvervlabs filter.

Leopard seal

I took this shot of a leopard seal exhaling bubbles at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. This is, apparently, one of the few leopard seals in captivity. Apparently it was found injured awhile back and is happy in its huge enclosure at the Zoo along with its mate. Through a stock library, this image is to appear as a full page in a textbook.


A portrait of an elderly lady
This is one of my favourite images of Alice, an elderly aboriginal lady who sadly is now deceased. I would occasionally see her at Circular Quay in Sydney and she would often smile at me. I used a Dragan filter to bring out more texture to the image. I am often asked if I have ever been challenged when photographing candid subjects. Only on one occasion, I was asked not to take a photograph of a female street performer which was odd as that is where they often make their money. So, of course, I acceded to her wishes. Many buskers or street performers expect payment for taking their photograph and its something I always do as its their living, as taking photographs is mine. One of my most popular galleries on my website is one of Sydney Aborigines and I have many kind comments on my work. I did have one person, a Sydney academic, who actually called me a thief as she was under the erroneous impression that I was selling images of these colourful folk without payment which in fact is not true. I have model releases from many and I have made subsequent payments to them.

The smoker

The smoker
An elderly man puffs on a cigarette

Mudda Mudda

Mudda Mudda
My favourite subject
Mudda Mudda (aka Cedric) is an aboriginal busker who is often found at Circular Quay, in Sydney, accompanying other aboriginal buskers. He has such a great face and this image won me a UK award last year for traditional portraiture here