Mount Rainier Sunrise

Early morning light on Mount Rainier and a wildflower meadow above Upper Tipsoo Lake – in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington State, USA

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Mount Rainier and a meadow of wildflowers above Tipsoo Lake

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   Showing up early in the morning at Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier National Park I was not surprised to see a number of photographers lining select parts of Upper Tipsoo Lake. Unfortunately, “the shot” people seem to want from there is off the trail, which is the second reason I probably will never have “the shot” from that location. On this morning, however, all the photographers were grumpy and lamented to me about the wind that was destroying any chance they had of getting a reflection. I pointed out to a few of them that climbing the hill might yield something interesting (this was the reason I was there). Nobody followed me. I am not necessarily against “trophy hunting” photography, of course I photograph some iconic locations as well. I do think those photographers would have been well served to climb the hill behind the lake to see what other perspectives might be available – especially after conditions were not favourable to their initial plans. The photograph above has a few elements I enjoy – nice light on the mountain and wildflowers in the foreground. I have already published one photograph of the same Mount Rainier sunrise from my climb of the hill. Neither of these would have been a photographic opportunity I would have had if I’d retreated to my car after failing to find the “the shot” I saw online.

More photographs of Mount Rainer National Park can be found in my Image Library.

The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

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   The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge at Lynn Canyon Park in North Vancouver is always best photographed on gloomy days. There are fewer reflections off of the trees and the metal floor of the bridge. Each time I visit this bridge I am reminded how much more satisfying the experience here is compared to the more famous, larger, Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge in Lynn Canyon is not only free, it offers a much more scenic and natural location and without any of the “tourist trap” feel of the Capilano Bridge. On my trip here last fall I did some hiking and also photographed Twin Falls which is just downstream. If you visit I highly recommend you head down the stairs, stairs and more stairs to the falls, though I be aware it is probably full of fence hopping swimmers in the summer months.

Narada Falls at Mount Rainier NP

The base of Narada Falls at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State, USA

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Narada Falls in Mount Rainier National Park

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   During the summer of 2012 I was in Mount Rainier National Park on a photography trip. As with many days at Mount Rainier – the clouds rolled in and you couldn’t see the mountain – not even the Tatoosh Range. On my first trip there in 2009 I remember explaining to some German tourists (who were excited to see Mount Rainier) while standing in the Paradise parking lot that actually the mountain IS right there… you just can’t see it. I suggested some of the waterfalls but they weren’t interested – they must not have been photographers! So with similar conditions presented in 2012 I photographed Narada Falls instead. There are only so many points where you can see the falls, so doing all that much creative with wider angles is not easy. For this photograph I pulled out the 70-200mm lens to find some details I liked. I have a number of photographs of some other details of Narada Falls but I think my favourite is this photo of the water hitting the rocks at the base..

   I also chose this photograph to again play around with some black and white conversions. This was my favourite iteration of Narada Falls in black and white from my experimentation. Does this monochrome version work for you?

Vancouver’s Downtown Buildings

Vancouver’s Canada Place and the Trade and Convention Center building in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Downtown Vancouver – Canada Place and the Trade and Convention Center

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   Last fall I was again in Vancouver and made this and a few other photographs of downtown Vancouver from Stanley Park. This panorama features the “Sails” of Canada Place, Harbour Center, the Vancouver Trade and Convention Center and other downtown buildings. I think my “Blue Hour” photographs of Vancouver are still my favourites, but these conditions are a close second.

You can see more photos in my image library gallery: Cities and Buildings.

Spring Day At Pipers Lagoon

A grove of Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana) and Woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum) growing along the shore of Pipers Lagoon Park in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada.

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Pipers Lagoon near Nanaimo, BC

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   Pipers Lagoon Park is a great park to visit if you are near Nanaimo, British Collumbia. While not very large, Pipers Lagoon packs a lot of interesting plants, trees, and wildlife into a small area. When I was there in June of 2013 I saw a wide variety of marine birds, large numbers of shore crabs, wildflowers, and even some Garry Oak groves. You can see some Garry Oaks on the left hand side of the photograph above, and some Woolly sunflower plants growing in the foreground. Not an easy location to photograph wildflowers though, being right on the water there is always a bit of wind.

You can view more photographs from Vancouver Island in my Vancouver Island Gallery.

Locked Behind A Gate At Silver Lake

   In early December 2013 British Columbia had a cold snap. This isn’t unusual in winter, but came a bit earlier and slightly more severe than usual. On the day I headed to Silver Lake Provincial Park with Steve Cole the temperatures in the area were around -12°C (10°F) ignoring the windchill. I hadn’t really considered the possibility of seeing the lake frozen over, but Silver Lake was covered in ice. Unlike a few nights of winter photography I enjoyed a few years ago at Chilliwack Lake – I was properly dressed this time. One tends to learn a lesson after 4 hours in such weather wearing jeans and tennis shoes. Well, hopefully.

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Winter at Silver Lake in Silver Lake Provincial Park

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   At some point during our photography along the edge of Silver Lake some “hunters” stopped on the opposite side and starting shooting into the lake. I presume this was an exercise in shooting the ice trying to break it or determine its thickness. Or perhaps some people just like shooting guns. I didn’t think to much of this until I started throwing rocks onto the ice (after we were finished photographing) to see how far they would go. I guess I revert to being 5 when around a frozen lake, as it doesn’t happen often. Rocks on frozen lakes can travel quite far apparently, which made me think about whether a bullet could skip/slide across a lake. We decided to walk aback through the woods rather than along the lake shore for this reason. I had no desire to catch a bullet from idiots trying to kill some frozen water.

   When we got back to Steve’s truck I was momentarily alarmed as I didn’t spot it right away – and there was a truck driving away down the road. Turns out his truck was there, but I didn’t like the momentary thought that we could be stuck this far from anywhere without a vehicle. There was one car and another truck parked outside the main park gate when we left.

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Frozen shoreline plants at Silver Lake Provincial Park

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   Driving down the short road to the junction with Silver Skagit Road took just a few minutes. It was not a nice feeling to discover that the gate at the Silver Skagit Road and park road junction was LOCKED! We got out, and sure enough – there was a nice padlock sticking up freshly applied to the chain and metal post. This was not a calming moment. The options seemed to be freezing in the truck all night or walking the roughly 9km (5.5 miles) for the one way trip back to Hope, BC. Neither sounded like any fun in dropping temperatures (it made it down to -15°C/5°F that night). I was sufficiently pissed off that I contemplated acts of vandalism, but we drove back to the two other vehicles to see if those people had any appropriate tools to extricate us from the situation. The other truck and car were already on their way out of the park. The lady we talked to expressed some panic over the situation, had no tools, but also indicated she had just talked to someone about gates. She pointed out that she and the other man had talked to the people in the truck we saw driving away. They had discussed the gate, but nobody had indicated to her that they were about to lock it, or that it would be locked in the future. These two were locals from Hope, BC and regularly visited the park on weekends – and had never seen the gate locked before. In my own trips to the park in the fall after closing I had never seen that gate locked either. There are also no signs indicating that gate is ever locked, could be locked, or is locked during certain times or seasons.

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Silverhope Creek flows past a frozen Eureka Falls

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   At this point Steve and I indicated to the man and woman that we would go back to a makeshift campsite we had seen along Sowerby Creek where I had seen various rocks and the remains of a post with a cement base. I wouldn’t dream of vandalizing property in most other circumstances. However, when someone locks 3 vehicles in an area that far from town, with temperatures that cold – ON PURPOSE I will certainly consider it. When we drove back towards the gate we passed the woman who was still there but the gate was OPEN! She didn’t know what had happened, but my presumption was the guy had busted through the gate somehow – probably using his old truck. All of this certainly has made me think of what tools and supplies I have in my own car when I go on such excursions!

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Ice patterns along the shore of a frozen Silver Lake

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   In the following days I was sufficiently ticked off by this incident that I contacted BC Parks asking who was in charge of this gate. The BC Parks website for Silver Lake Provincial Park indicates the following:

The Silver Lake Provincial Park campground is now closed for the season and will reopen May 2014. Those wishing to enjoy the lake may still do so by walking the 1 km in from the main gate.

As the gate that was locked is beyond 1km and is closer to 2km from the lake, I had assumed that the main, locked, park gate was the gate in question above, and I still believe that. BC Parks contacted me, expressed concern about this incident but also told me they are not in charge of the gate that was locked. The BC Parks area supervisor indicated to me that the gate was under the control of a logging company (Tamihi) and that their supervisor had told him he would talk to me about the incident. A few weeks of calling and a few voicemails later I’ve gathered the impression that this willingness to discuss the issue has waned, as I was never able to have that conversation. It is possible the truck driving away that had discussed the gate with our fellow prisoners did not contain those who locked it, but it does seem pretty coincidental. Perhaps the brave ice hunters we heard shooting across the lake locked it, but that seems unlikely.

Skutz Falls on the Cowichan River

Skutz Falls along the Cowichan River at Cowichan River Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada

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The Cowichan River’s Skutz Falls in Cowichan River Provincial Park

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   A panorama photograph of Skutz Falls I made last spring during a visit to Cowichan River Provincial Park. Judging from other photographs I have seen it would appear this day had rather high water levels in the Cowichan River. I suspect a return trip some fall when there is nice autumn colours will be in order. I suspect the water levels will be about right at that time of year.

You can view more photographs from Vancouver Island in my Vancouver Island Gallery.

I’ve Found A Copyright Infringement! Now What?

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Blueberries – apparently infringers love Blueberries

If you’ve been searching for your images on the internet and have found copyright infringements – what do you do next?

   For many photographers finding our photographs on the internet in places we did not intend for them to appear can be frustrating. I have written this post as a follow up to my earlier post “Finding Copyright Infringements on the Web“. My previous post illustrated one method for finding your images in use on the internet, while this post tries to cover some of the options for what you can do next. I of course should point out that I am not a lawyer, but many cases of infringement are below the threshold for when we may get lawyers involved.

   Your first step should be to first verify that this is actually an infringement. If you have never sold an image license, uploaded to any agencies or even told people they can use an image then this probably isn’t a concern. If you have, however, double checking your licenses beforehand can save potential embarrassment later on.

   There really isn’t a “one size fits all” answer for what to do once you have discovered a copyright infringement. What you choose to do is up to you, and people may see some forms of infringement as no big deal, while others will not. Those sharing their images with a Creative Commons license such as “Attribution Non-Commercial” probably will not care if one of their photographs shows up on a non commercial blog. Some photographers who share their “All Rights Reserved” images will not want their images shared without permission or license in any location other than their own sites. What you are able to do also changes depending on the copyright laws in the part of the world where the infringement occurred. So I can’t tell you what you should do specifically, but I’ll outline a few potential responses that may fit your situation.

The Easy Method – Do Nothing

   I bookmark most infringements that I find, but with many I wind up doing nothing about them. Sometimes an infringement is just a personal blog with little following and no advertisements. Perhaps the infringer even gave me image credit (rare). While credit is worth next to nothing really, sometimes it will mean I simply move on rather than take the time to do something about it. Sometimes I will find an infringement that I would normally do something about, but the server is based in a foreign country where copyright laws are nonexistent or not enforced. Usually this means I am out of luck. While this can be frustrating, sometimes I just have to forget about it and move on. This gets easier the more it happens.

The Removal Request

   This is an option I only reserve for completely non commercial infringements. In a perfect world this kind of request would be met with a positive response and honoured. In my experience, however, most friendly requests for image removal are ignored. Very few actually respond by removing the image, or perhaps giving image credit if that was requested. The remainder respond with the sort of vitriol I won’t repeat here – but you can use your imagination. Whatever the form of non compliance, this means I have to write another email to their web host, or issue a DMCA takedown – which takes even more of my time. For this reason, in instances where I am not pursuing payment, I go straight to the DMCA notice – or email the webhost/social media site directly. I would rather communicate with people in a friendly manner, potentially even educating them about image usage… but it just has not been worth it in the majority of times I have tried it.

The Payment Request

   I always request payment from uses of my images that are even vaguely commercial. I sometimes handle this on my own, and sometimes use a company called ImageRights (more on them later). My usual first contact is fairly gentle. I explain that there must have been some sort of mistake as I have no record of a license for the image use. I then outline that they are infringing on my copyright and give them a price for a retroactive license. If paid, this only give them a license up to the current date. If they want to use the image going forward I point out a new license can be negotiated. Some times this “gentle reminder” goes ignored, but often it is successful and most communications I have had with reputable companies have been fairly civil. Those who ignore my initial letter receive a follow up with much sterner (but still professional) language. Often those who ignored the first letter respond to the second.

The Lawyer

   There have been a few cases where I have sought the advice of a lawyer but thus far have not been able to have one return my calls or emails. I suspect that the cases I have brought up have been relatively small, and have been based in Canada (these were Canadian Lawyers). A US based infringement of a photograph that is registered with the US copyright office would likely be met with a much different reception. So while it is necessary to suggest you may seek the counsel of a good IP lawyer – I have not yet discussed these issues with one myself. I suspect that if you reside in the United States this would be much easier.

The DMCA Notice

   The DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998) protects online service providers (website hosts, Social Media companies etc) in the United States from liability for the content their users upload. When a complaint is made under the DMCA the service provider usually disables the content in question quickly so as to not become liable themselves. What this means for us is if your infringed photograph is on a US based webhost then having the material removed can be relatively easy. If you decide to go after most image infringements a lot of the DMCA notices you may issue will be on social media sites. Rather than writing an email and finding an appropriate recipient for it – many of these companies have a form to fill out that is much quicker and easier. I’ve included a few links to notable services below and their DCMA/Copyright Complaint forms.

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/about/copyright/dmca/
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/dmca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/208282075858952
Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/forms/dmca
Google: http://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en
WordPress.com: http://automattic.com/dmca-notice/

For most web hosts you can find the DMCA agent (who to contact) on their website, in their terms of service document, and occasionally in their support section. Individual services may also outline the exact language they require in a DMCA notice. While these things are pretty standard, sometimes a web host will require an address and phone number, which is information I tend not to give out unless it is necessary.

The US Copyright website also has a list of DMCA Agents that may come in handy for some web hosts: http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/a_agents.html.

How do I write a DMCA notice and who do I send it to?

   A DMCA notice requires some specific “legalese” to be valid. The article “Two Easy Steps for Using the DMCA Takedown Notice to Battle Copyright Infringement” on the NPPA website explains both how to write a DMCA notice and how to determine where to send it. Written by a lawyer too. I did point out before that I’m not a lawyer right?

   While this article outlines a way to find a website’s host via IP I have found the initial method of a simple whois search to be fruitful at least half the time. The nameservers for a website domain name are often something like ns1.websitehostname.com and this makes determining who to contact rather easy in many circumstances.

   Generally speaking most of these notices are acted on within a week. Some may take longer depending on how busy they are but I have also had takedown notices work in the same day I sent the notice. Do be aware that the sort of person that would have given me a nasty email (see “The Removal Request” section above) occasionally responds in the same manner with a DMCA request. At that point, however, you can pretty much ignore them – the image is no longer on their site. In one case this did mean that suddenly a LOT of my images were suddenly on their site. Another email solved that, and their site never resurfaced online again that I have noticed. They were likely asked to find new hosting.

ImageRights

   US based ImageRights is a company that can pursue copyright claims for you in many corners of the world. I initially tested them out with their Basic service to pursue a Canadian infringement of one of my photographs in a visitors guide. The publishers had asked me to use the photograph, and when I mentioned the image was not free (and quoted my price) they did not return further emails. Later the next year I accidentally happened upon the same photograph used in their guide. This was the first infringement I had found that really got my blood pumping – so I tried out ImageRights for the first time. They successfully recovered a settlement worth many times what the image license would have been. Pleased with that result, I signed up for a Pro account for a year. It is early yet, but I am happy with their progress on subsequent infringements so far. Maybe I’ll write a review of my experience with them after a year of data.

Final Thoughts

   Ultimately this can be a full time job depending on how many images you are finding without licensing or permission. Often just looking through your images with a reverse image search can take a lot of time. This is why I occasionally do nothing – it often isn’t worth hassling personal bloggers or non commercial users. Even writing a DMCA notice for them can take time, and you may not want to spend that time in every circumstance. I do think it is important to take copyright issues with your work seriously, however. If you do not look into these issues at all – you may find an infringement that does get you angry eventually. At that point you may find that your image has been all over the internet for several years, and having all those images removed that late in the game can be difficult or even impossible. I stay on top of this so none of my images get away from me in that manner, though a few still have.

Good luck! If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave me a comment below.