Category: editorial

Purple haze tutorial

iphone 5I rarely cross-post things from one of my blogs to another, but now my sarcastic howto edit photos for an iPhone 5 look is somewhat on-topic here, so if you want to make a bit of fun about the defective iPhone camera while learning a tiny bit of GIMP editing, go read it.

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Halfway

The first half of the Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 is done: photo submission ended, not is the time for the second half, jury enters the action to select the winners.

So far it exceeded the expectations, in Romania we collected over 8750 images from about 270 participants, a significant increase from around 5800 images in the previous year. The international contest is also well, the grand total is over 360000 images and still counting (some imports are undergoing), more than double compared with the previous year.

Some serious ass kicking happened!

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On religion and my photos

If there is one thing I try hard to avoid is being a hypocrite, this is why I question myself often. Now is one of those times 🙂

I deeply and sincerely believe religion is evil but I do photography, contributing to things like Wiki Loves Monuments I take and publish a lot of pictures of churches, monasteries and various other religious things and I also take photos at events like weddings and baptisms, where religion is a very important side. I know churches and monasteries are the bulk of historical monuments here (in medieval times very little culture happened in Romania outside the religion) and I know the society make the religious part that important in life events, but still feel a bit uneasy.

religion
religion

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The Wiki Loves Monuments photo competition

In only a few days the Wiki Loves Monuments photo competition is starting: from 1 to 30 September everyone is invited to submit too Wikimedia Commons pictures of the historical monuments in the country, they will be used to enrich Wikipedia with facts about our country.
The top 10 pictures from Romania will be awarded prizes and will go for the international contest, with its own round of prizes.

wiki loves monuments 2012

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On Ars

I learned today about one of my CC licensed pictures being used on Ard Technica on an article about software patents. Of course the usage is properly made, with credits and linking back, that’s how it is supposed to be (still not perfect, they didn’t say CC-BY-SA about the picture, but that is said on the link they provide).

ars

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Referendum

The political situation in Romania turned as bad as expected, with the democratically elected president suspended by a rogue government and we are heading for a referendum this Sunday. Fortunately, the European Commission acted and made the government to respect the law (the government tried to put a government order in place of the law and eliminate the presence threshold for the referendum), so in the light of this, the most effective way to act against it, Romanians who want to preserve the democracy have as the best option to boycott the referendum, this way it will be invalidated in the case of a small voter turnover. Hopefully, the fraud won’t change the numbers from a projected 30% presence to the 50%+1 they need.
In support of the democratic action, I made a few images based on my old photos encouraging people to avoid a communist future for the country by boycotting the referendum.
Personally, I won’t vote and on top of that I will be out of the city for the next few days, I am going to the sea side (expect pictures).

referendum
referendum
referendum
referendum

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Activism

Until this week I believe I never did politics on this blog, so is natural for the reader to wonder why I become active in this area so suddenly, do I plan a new career or received some incentives? That’s not the case.
I believe in freedom and freedom of speech, I want to live in a modern and democratic society. And for those to happen, there is the need for a free press, which is lacking in my country:

  • the public television is controlled by the government coalition, USL, they recently changed the management and filled the directory council only with their people (before it used to represent the political spectrum proportionally;
  • the largest media group is owned by Dan Voiculescu a leader of the government coalition who is also known as a member of the secret police in the former communist dictatorship and is tried for corruption (the trial was nearing a verdict which was delayed by maneuvers of his government);
  • Another media group supporting the government is owned by Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, who is currently imprisoned for blackmailing a former business partner;
  • other media groups are controlled by politicians and businessmen close to the governing coalition, like Dinu Patriciu.

In such conditions, if one want the truth to be heard, it has to bypass the traditional media and put the reality directly on the internet, where those powers can’t reach it and alter the truth. Traditional media is bought and full of lies, always hired to follow someone’s agenda. We are free.

activism

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Basescu

Later today the communist coalition controlling the government and the parliament will move to impeach the democratically elected president, Traian Basescu. He will be suspended from his function until a national referendum.
I think this particular impeachment is a bad thing for a number of reasons, I think he was the best post-revolutionary president, but this does not means much, since the others were absolutely awful, he did a lot of mistakes and bad things, but at least under his mandate also happened positive things like the country had at least an independence of powers in the state (legislative, executive, justice), the press was free (unlike the previous regime) and we had, for the first time in history a formal condemnation of the former communist dictatorship (while that is not much, is infinitely more than the previous regimes).
So I am not a fan of the president, but I think for the moment he is the best alternative. This slogan from yesterday’s meeting at Piața Revoluției are very close to my own position “I don’t cry for Basescu, I cry for the rule of law and constitutional order”.

basescu

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My photos in Cancan (no license, no credit, no nothing)

Cancan is one of the most known local tabloids focusing on celebrities and such stuff (to judge its level, the article I am talking about here is about a Facebook fight between a dancer and the nephew of a rich guy) and I just discovered back this January they used a couple of my photos for an article, here’s a screen capture from their website:

cancan

Obviously, they had no legal right to post them, neither from the photographer (me), nor the model (Alicia), it looks like they just lifted the images from a Facebook album of mine (stupid them, they could have obtained better quality from the g+ equivalent album) (the model has also a copy, but she put on her profile only one of the two images used by the tabloid).

On the legal side, the photos on Facebook are just put there, so they are full protected by copyright, according with the Romanian law. On Picasaweb/Google Plus, where there is such an option, I have put them under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike, which still require an user (Cancan in this case) to credit the author and keep the license. Is true I did a mistake: forgot to add a watermark, which I do with images like this which are likely to be misuses, but the presence of a watermark was no influence on the law and copyright (copyright is applied by default) and the tabloid modified the crop anyway. They act like everything is online is free to use, which is false but used by other media outlets from the entire world.

So what I am doing next? Nothing, I won’t sue the tabloid (probably they expect that much, people to be busy with other things to sue them), but I will post the pictures here, for reference and for people to be able to see the original, compared with the tabloid editing. I do like to share content and I do it all the time, but under the rules I want, which means most of the time a Free license.

alicia
alicia

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Retro

I genuinely hate the way people damage their phone-taken photos with crappy effects made with Instagram, so last weekend when I took part in a photo hunt in the Cișmigiu Park under the “Retro” theme, I was really unhappy with the requirements: put your camera to shoot on sepia and gives the photos like that. Why I consciously damage my photos by permanently erasing the color information? But those were the rules…

We had 7 points we had to cover, all with pompous names, and in the end my team selected my pictures in 4 cases, they were as such: easy reading

retro

The tree from the water

retro

Crețulescu Alley panorama

retro

and Sun under the bridge

retro

The pictures weren’t that good, the team didn’t win anything, however in the end my team mate Laura won the special prize for the best picture (sorry, her picture for in the shadow of the lost time is not online at the time of this writing).

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Self service

Calssara was one of the special guests at Otaku 2012 and she had a session talking about cosplay in her country, Germany. She told they never pay the photographers (as the photographers are the one needing to pay the models) and they prefer to learn and do the shooting and editing themselves, since after a 2 hours session, the photographer will give only 3 photos. It was not the time and place for me to try to intervene, telling how is a 2 hours session is a good thing if you get 10-15 good photos (publish worthy) and how bad photos are not useful for the model.
Actually I see this conflict: models pushing for all the photos (“I had a pretty smile in that one, does not matter my legs and arms are unflattering”), while the photographer refusing to put his name on pictures less than his intended level (any photo session, from any photographer, will produce some bad photos).
After all, Calssara do some decent pictures, so learning is always a good thing. Still, I think some people have to learn more about the TFCD concept.

cosplayer photographer

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Easter in the land of the Stupid

Romania is one of the poorest country in the European Union, while is also one of the most religious one, this is not a coincidence: people wait for “someone” to come and solve their problems instead of putting their asses to work and get done what is needed. I was reminded of this Saturday night at the Easter mass, when, despite the rain, churches in Bucharest were flooded with people wanting to “get the light”, it was one of those moments there is no hope and the indoctrinated masses have no future.

Ironically, a couple of days later, I meet a few kids on a park, having a whiteboard and asking people to write down a reason they think “Romanians are beautiful”. I turned-down the offer, Romanians are sheep.

easter

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Lens uses protection. It is super effective

Saturday we had snow (if the time allows, I will post some pictures later today). Sunday it got a bit warmer and we had sleet, a lot of the snow melted. Then last night was freezing cold. As a result, today morning everything was covered with a layer of shiny, slippery ice.

It happens and it happened to me: I slipped on the ice and felt directly on my butt. No problem, it is fat enough, I got no damage, but my photo backpack was obviously on my back. With one camera and an extra lens inside. Both took a frontal hit. Net result: the protection/UV filters are broken in tiny pieces, the real glass looks intact. After a frugal testing, the lenses and camera seems to be in working condition.

All the thanks to the photographer who told me once how never is a bad idea to have a cheap class in front of your expensive glass, you don’t know when the disaster will hit, as in my case ~50€ protected ~2000€ worth of equipment.

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Against censorship

Yesterday this blog was inaccessible, it was intentionally blacked-our as part of the worldwide strike in protest about the two cesorship laws proposed for the USA Congress: SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), which, if passed, would grant the American government free reign over the Internet, practically the ability to close any website on the planet. Many websites joined the protest, some notable examples being Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit and many more.

stop sopa
funny protest from TheOatmeal


Wiki Loves Monuments

Ramping-up the launch of the Wiki Loves Monuments contest (Free photography for Wikipedia):

Stay tuned.