Watermarking photos - brave new world.

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Patrick Sun, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I think it's time for me to start watermarking my photos (mainly pop culture convention photos), not to obscure them with an obnoxious watermark (semi-opaque) in the center portion of the photo, but just a small semi-opaque one along the bottom edge for promotional/informational use.


    I'm struggling with using my own name on each photo, or my personal webpage URL which has links to other sites like Flickr, Facebook, etc. on it. I'm leaning away from using my typical online nom de plume on the photos.


    It's weird to actually put your name on your photos, as I think it'll make me think twice to upload photos due to wanting to self-impose a higher quality standard due to my name/URL being on the photo itself. I'm not looking to turn pro, or anything grandiose like that, but I know people do seek out my photos here and there, and it'd be easier to do so with a non-intrusive watermark on the photos. I'm fully aware it'll be easy to crop the photo to leave off the watermark if the photo grabbers wanted to a cleaner image, I can live with that.


    The budget is a bit stretched, so I may get Photoshop Elements 9, but I think I'll hold off on Lightroom 3 due to costs. I did find a shareware program Faststone Photo Resizer that does batch watermarking which is another alternative. Then it comes to actually deciding on a simple text watermark with a copyright/year included, or a more stylized graphic image of my own design. Maybe I'll do a graphic that includes both my name and URL.
     
  2. Adam Gregorich

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    For a long time I used a program called arles image web page creator, if I was still uploading photos today I would still be using it. It's more of a standalone program but its pretty cool. You just come up with a layout through the gui, tell it what watermark you want to use and hit go and it will create all the HTML, thumbnails, watermarking, etc. Its fast and easy. You just need to upload the files to your site when its done. You can download a free trial version to play with: http://www.digitaldutch.com/arles/


    Since you aren't sure of your name, I would just use your URL.
     
  3. Ed Moxley

    Ed Moxley Cinematographer

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    For someone with Photoshop, here's a link to watermarking your photos. It works great for me, when I use it.

    http://www.thelightsright.com/WatermarkingYourImagesForTheWeb
     
  4. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I think watermarking is a terrible idea but irfanview does a great job of batch watermarking and is free.
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Adam, if I was still carving up disk space on my own website, the arles program is pretty nice, but I now just upload stuff to Flickr with a pro account, and hope to ride that pony until Yahoo decides to off-load it to someone else.


    Ed, I'm still on the fence on using Photoshop, but if I pick up the PS Elements, I hope to try out those tips.


    Sam, I am not fond of watermarks, either, but if it's along the edges, I can stomach it for now. I had looked into Irfanview (it's my quick-n-dirty image viewer, and simple image editor, though I also use Picasa for slightly more clean-up/rescuing of unexposed shots), but I think if I go with a text-only watermark, Irfanview is a good option, but if I go with a graphical image for my watermark, then I think I will see how the Faststone image resizer program does with batch watermarking jobs.


    Thanks!


    Anyone else wrestle with the decision to watermark their photos for online viewing?
     
  6. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    Yep. I go back and forth, but ultimately have decided against it.
     
  7. Ed Moxley

    Ed Moxley Cinematographer

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    If someone steals your photos, takes credit for them, and possibly makes money with them, watermarks will become quite attractive to you.

    EDIT:

    Here's one guy that had pics stolen, even with a watermark. With the watermark, it's doubtful he'll make money on them, but he's still using them.

    http://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=294226
     
  8. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    My pics get stolen all the time. Search for "Jonas Brothers Giants Game Bachelor" and I am sure you will find plenty of my shots stolen. Doesn't bother me a bit. I had a REAL news story with that and could have sold them for thousands of dollars and didn't.


    http://oceanup.com/2009/12/08/jonas-brothers-ny-giants-cowboys-game


    Business Insider uses my pictures of the Engadget crew all the time.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/engadget-sb-nation-2011-4



    Watermarks don't do shit. If you want to prevent your stuff from being stolen keep it in a box under your bed and don't put them on the internet.


    If you want to ugly up your pictures, go nuts. At least don't waste any money of your own doing so. Graphics or text there are no non-ugly watermarks.
     
  9. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    If you're concerned about photo theft, then only keep web-sized versions publicly viewable on the net. Don't make large, print-worthy (or readily reusable) versions publicly downloadable. That should at least limit what can be done w/ such theft.


    If you're not all that concerned, then why mutilate your photos? Maybe you could just leave a tiny signature somewhere, if that's what you'd like to do anyway. But I wouldn't do it merely out of concern about internet theft.


    If you simply want to provide info -- vs seriously trying to prevent theft -- you can always add copyright info, etc. in the EXIF data or similar -- that's something I do using a Photoshop batch command on photo files that I put on CDs for people.


    _Man_
     
  10. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Besides what I initially posted in the first post in this thread, it's not "photo theft" per se, but "photo credit loss". Plus, I'm leaning to using a very small 1-line watermark at the very bottom of the image. Most photos with such a watermark don't really "ugly up" 98% of the image being displayed. I understand that once you put something out there, people who like the image will use it willy-nilly, and some will ask permission (if they know how to contact the photographer, and a small watermark helps in that respect). I'm not advocating placing a huge watermark that covers most of the middle of any given photo.


    If you put photos on facebook, they will bounce around on that playground, it's inevitable, and I just want people to know who took that photo (especially when it's convention-related). I'm not all that concerned about watermarking photos of my pet, etc, but if they are photos that will be circulated due to photo-tagging, then some part of me wants some credit for not only taking the photo, but processing it and sharing it with the world. And when I see photo styles that I like, I look for some watermark in order to check out the photographer, and follow their output to learn from them, and become better as well. Also, if you gain some traction with in-person recognition as time rolls on, you can get better photos from your subjects because they know of your work, and you don't have to spend a lot of time chatting them up.


    And like I said before, if you start "signing" your photography work, it should provide an impetus to take better photos, and process them better for the best presentation. When you're "anonymous", the level of personal investment is more shallow when you upload photos to share with people of like interests. Perhaps I need that to push me to produce better photos, oh which I have a long journey ahead of me.


    I only upload 800x800 max resolution photos on Facebook. My Flickr uploads are larger (usually 1600x1600), but I'm thinking about reducing the resolution on my Flickr uploads, still mulling it over.
     
  11. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    The way I see it there is no middle ground:

    Those who are going to steal aren't going to be stopped by watermarks.

    Those who are readers of fan sites don't really care who took a picture of someone famous

    If you are shooting for free nobody is going to be so impressed with your pictures that they MUST track you down to take money to shoot their event.


    If you are going to put pictures us for people to enjoy, let them enjoy it.

    If you somehow want to make underpants gnomes money out of this (Take pictures, ????, profit!!!) it isn't going to work.


    That's my philosophy anyway. You obviously are thinking about it a LOT differently tho, so I'm wondering just where you and I diverge.


    Is it that I think about it just fatalistically/pessimistically, does it just bother folks that they aren't getting more whuffie, or am I missing something?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whuffie
     
  12. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Yeah, we do see things differently and that's okay. No one said that if you share your photos online, you had to share unconditionally.

    I wouldn't mind getting opportunities to shoot stuff other people don't get first-hand access to, and that comes from networking and some promoting of your own output. Plus it's not the "famous" people I want to hang my hat on, not all that interested in paparazzi type of photography. If I snap a few photos of "celebs" at a media event or convention, so be it, it won't make or break my own experience, but it's a nice perk if I do get a few good shots. There are a lot of different genres, currently, I do cosplay photography at the moment, which is nice because you get a lot of willing subjects that doesn't happen in "real life" unless you make photography a full-time pursuit, and that's not happening anytime soon for me. But it can springboard into other types of event photography (sports, cars, modeling, et al). I do get comped to shoot at one particular annual convention simply based on my photography in the past. If I play my cards right, and I make the right contacts, I might even become part of the official photographer crew which allows for snagging some nice back-stage access at a bigger events, which beats waiting in the muggle line for such opportunities. But that's just being open to let opportunities come to you due to some form of minor self-promotion.

    If someone wants a copy of a larger version of their photo without the watermark, I'm more than happy to provide it for them. If the price of seeing my photos online means being subjected to a very small watermark at the bottom of my photos, I'm comfortable with such a trade-off. TANSTAAFL and all.

    And what I've learned about sharing photos on socially viral sites like facebook is that friendships and other opportunities can happen through the sharing of a single photo.
     
  13. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Ah gotcha. Access. That does have value. Balancing aesthetics to build a name for yourself to get people to recognize past accomplishments. Rock on.


    You do have your copyright data embedded in every EXIF right? If you are using Lightroom you can have it set up to add it on every ingest.
     
  14. GeorgeHolland

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    I Watermark images intended for editorial and Professional use when showcased in personal portfolios or galleries because the Credentials granting me access and the T&C’s associated with the Credentials are very specific in how they can be used.

    Most organizations allow reasonable sharing within a personal portfolio that showcases your work but if those images are stolen and illegally used, organizations can and will pull your credentials. A Watermark can make it much more difficult for someone to steal your images when they have that goal in mind and makes it clear to those simply ignorant of copyright law, the image is not to be copied, linked to or reused in any way.

    I shoot professional and College sports and everything associated with the various leagues is strictly licensed and when someone uses images without the proper authorization, especially if they are profiting from it in any way, people get annoyed. My watermarks don’t eliminate theft and unauthorized copying or linking but at least I can show reasonable effort to block it.

    As more and more of my images have been lifted, my watermarks have gotten progressively larger. Small watermarks near the edges of images are simply cropped or cloned out. A simple automated batch file enables me to add a translucent watermark that requires more effort than I would want to take to remove. Personal images I rarely bother to watermark.

     
  15. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Thanks for your pro input George. I get where you are coming from and the idiocy imposed by stadium owners and organizations like the NCAA drive me nuts. I get why they think they have to impose the limits they (try to) do, but the reality of most events are far from the fantasy lands of restricted access they envision. Hopefully they join the 20th century before the 22nd...
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Patrick, it sounds like your watermark would be small and along the edge. Too much and it will be trivially trimmed without affecting the photo much; no deterrent from those who want to swipe it and/or pass it off as original. I see though that George's watermark is large and well into the photo. presumably this is to avoid this problem.
     
  17. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I fully understand the ease of simply cropping the watermark from along the edges of photos. But most "sharers" seldom do even that much, they are more than happy to simply share the photo with the watermark in place. If I was doing photography on a more "official" status (like George), the larger watermarks in the main center area of the photo (with some translucency) would be typical fare. I just want to capture the use by the casual photo sharer at the moment, just so I can see where they end up if I come across them. Plus, even if they crop it out, I still have the originally watermarked photo with the addition image details on the cropped edge for proof (not like I'm going to make any money if I had to take it to court over such an issue).
     
  18. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    For those still following this watermarking topic, I took a slew of photos over the weekend, and decided to give watermarking a shot. I settled on 50% opacity, so it's not too predominant on the bottom left corner of the photo. I think I forgot to add in copyright info in the EXIF when I exported it from Lightroom last night (so tired...). Anyhow, I think I'll keep this style of watermarking for the time being.


     
  19. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Cool, you'll need to start to track some stats then, both the good and the bad!

    -Number of contacts/inquiries/credits you get from using the watermark

    -Time it takes until you find a cropped version of one of your shots
     
  20. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Marvel has a blog about Marvel cosplayers, and I gave them the okay to use one of my photos to promote the X-Men: First Class film opening last week, and they slapped their own red "Marvel.com" watermark on it, which surprised me. Ah well.
     

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