Weekly Photo Challenge: Regret


As photographers we often have regrets. Not having a camera with us. Forgetting to re-charge the standby battery for the camera. Only having one memory card on a shoot and not having a spare. Taking that all important and non-repeatable shot, then realising your camera was on the wrong settings. I could go on and on but I want to discuss something that is important, not only to me, but to any one who views my images.

Regrettably, because of many breaches of copyright involving my images I decided to place a large watermark in either the bottom left or right hand side of any image posted to the web. The intention being to discourage copyright theft or illegal displaying of my images.

However. on reflection I’m not so sure that it’s the right thing to do….mainly because of the impact on the displayed image….and that’s where you come in.

Carefully consider both images shown here and then I’d like you to give me your opinion on whether or not the watermark is too distracting by taking the Poll.

72 comments

  1. Ronnie@Hurtledto60

    After initially noticing a watermark, I rarely find it distracting from the photograph itself. Sometimes I use a watermark and lately more often than not I don’t use one. Usually because I have forgotten to put it on. However my take on that is unless it is slapped right across the photo, which would detract, there is nothing to stop anyone who was selfish enough to “steal” a photo, all they need do is do a spot of cropping and the watermark has gone. i always wonder how to keep track of making sure images are not stolen. I have a large copyright notice in my blog but daresay that wont make much different. We just have to hope that most people are honest, although sadly that is not always the case.

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    • Mike Hardisty

      There are three methods I use to keep track of images. Unfortunately two are manual and one is sort of semi-automatic.

      Taking the semi-automatic one first. Flickr Pro accounts allow you to keep track of your stats, if an image suddenly starts to get a lot of hits, then it’s worth investigating the referring links.

      I also use Google Image Search and as I use Chrome I have embedded the plugin to do the search from the displayed image. The alternative is another plugin called TinEye

      With Google and TinEye you have to select the image and then ask them to do a search. They won’t find everything but Google especially does find a lot. Problem is, it is time consuming so I only do the search on my most popular images about twice a year.

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  2. rutheh

    It stinks that people steal images. I enjoyed your list of regrets concerning photography, lack of camera, no battery, low battery or cards. Thanks for reminding me of all the shared exasperation with self! HA! I have felt them ALL. I voted yes that the watermark is a big distraction but I certainly understand why you feel the need to put it on your images.
    Thanks for your thoughts on regret today.

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  3. stephenransome

    A great photo Mike and just such a shame these days that you have to put a watermark on them. Someone should invent an embedded watermark that cannot be seen but IS always there!!!
    Cheers.

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    • Mike Hardisty

      There is a way of doing it Steve. It’s called Digimarc, but you have to pay to register and use. If you use PhotoChop you will see there is a menu item called Digimarc or it might be embed watermatk..

      Mike

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  4. Anita Mac

    I am not sure that I find the watermarks distracting – I seem to be able to look right through them! I have done the same and was recently asked why I put them there! It is sad that people “borrow” but it is not something that can be easily stopped! My watermark goes straight through the middle of the photo – yours, being in the corner, is far less distracting! Not sure on what is the best protocol – it is still evolving! I have to say – when I have found photos in google image – I like being able to track where they came from. As someone who loves to travel, I will use the image I found to look in on the post, hopefully learning something new about the place I am about to visit. As someone who is visual, I find it inspiring to see what others are doing! Credit is therefore due – I can always go and try and recreate the shot if that is what I am looking for! Guess that is my 2 cents – still learning, could always change!
    Love your landscape shot – with or without the watermark! Happy shooting!

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    • Mike Hardisty

      Thank you for the comment. My problem is I want to show the photograph at it’s best but I don’t want it used without my permission. I tried going down the Creative Commons route but it was just not working. I don’t particularly like watermarks and I gues I’ve got to weigh my options here.

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  5. Angeline M

    I finally decided that I don’t mind if people “borrow” my photos; if someone thinks them good enough to borrow, I’m honored…..it’s just if they take the credit for it. Now that bugs the heck out of me. I like the idea of small initials in one corner….but I have to learn how to do that first.

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  7. Margie

    I spent some time choosing the font for my watermark. I actually like the look of the photo with the watermark – it is the finishing touch. An artist certainly signs their work, and I think a photographer should too.
    A watermark won’t stop a dishonest person from stealing the image, but it will stop the basically honest one, which I think most people are.

    Like

    • Mike Hardisty

      Maybe it’s the actual watermark that I designed. It’s too obtrusive. I like the way yours goes across the bottom of the photograph…It won’t stop a determined person stealing an image as it’s all too easy to crop, even with the most simplest of photo-editing software.

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      • Margie

        I compare it to why you lock your car of your house. The lock won’t stop a determined thief, but the majority of thieves will move on to an easier target. I expect the same is true for photos. The watermark will deter the majority, but it won’t stop the determined.

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  8. Inside the Mind of Isadora

    I enjoy seeing your photography. It is very professional from all aspects. The watermark
    can be a distraction if your eye is easily distracted. I voted that it isn’t becuase I am focused
    on the image and lts’ beauty.
    It’s a shame that people feel that whatever is put on the internet is fair game. I have had stoires
    rewritten with a few changes that I know were mine even with my copyright statement on my blog.
    If you are a professional photographer interested in selling your work, I think, it is necessay for you
    to do. This is a fun challenge every week for us. It should not affect your income by someone reproducing
    it. I have often thought about watermarking my pix’s as I did see one on google that I knew was mine and
    someone was saying it was theirs. Perhaps you’ll write a blog on how to do it one day.
    Hope this helps …
    Isadora
    http://insidethemindofisadora.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/weekly-photo-challenge-regret-ful-endings/

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    • Mike Hardisty

      Isadora, thank you for your comment. I’m not a professional photographer but I have become very protective of my images. I’m looking at a new watermark as I think the one I’m currently using is too obtrusive. But there again I might not bother using one at all. It all depends on the results of the poll which I have set to run for 7 days. I can easily write a tutorial for watermarking. It’s not that hard to do. I’ll try and have a look at it sometime this week..

      Mike

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      • Inside the Mind of Isadora

        Hpoe you do … you may not feel like you ahve soemthing to share but for a novice, like me, you do. Yes .. perhaps, a smaller watermark might fo. None the less you are an outstanding photographer and d look extremely professional. I like your work. ~~~ : -)

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  9. Jo Bryant

    I don’t find it obtrusive – I have heard of some other software but haven’t figured out how to make it work where when you load a photo on to a post with it, actually tricks anyone downloading it into thinking they have downloaded the image but…there is actually another image/transparency that is on top of the image and they download that instead. You might want to try and find that.

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  12. orples

    Some of my photos are time stamped which helps me remember when they were taken, but otherwise distract from the subject. Watermarking has its ups and down just like time stamping does, I would think. While the mark can save the portion of your photo that is marked, what is to stop someone from printing and cropping your work? I’m just curious. It too bad there’s not some type of invisible signature you can add. You’d think in today’s world of technology, something would be available.

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  14. Judee

    Mike, I don’t think there is an easy answer to this. When the watermark is like yours I don’t think it distracts – I much prefer that to a huge semi-transparent one across the image. But the truth is, anyone who wants to can still grab it and photoshop our that watermark.

    On another note, i sometimes download images I find particularly good and use them on my rotating desktop images (Windows 7 feature). Strictly personal use, of course, my pc only – but even then it doesn’t bother me to see the copyright, if anything it reminds me where I found the image in the first place.

    It really is up to you to do whatever feels best to you.

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    • Mike Hardisty

      Judee thank you for your comment. I’m beginning to come round to the idea that maybe I should continue to watermark my images, maybe not as obtrusive, but also to include my blog or FlickR address.

      Mike

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  15. Jude

    I think the watermark just gives it a completely different feel. In a weird way it suddenly includes you in the picture, whereas without the watermark I can be there in that scene on my own. That probably sounds really crazy!

    Like

    • Mike Hardisty

      Not crazy, I know what you mean. The watermark intrudes and is not natural. But I’m torn between letting the viewer see the scene and protecting my copyright…

      Like

  16. tms

    Mike, this is a good question. I am not into watermarks and I try to avoid them, mainly because they are aesthetically awkward and distracting but also because I do not think they help a lot. I suspect that whoever wants to “steal” a picture will find a way around (e.g., by cropping).
    As everything I posted to date is originally on film, I think I have no problem to prove my authorship. Plus, I do not scan in the highest possible resolution, so the pictures displayed here will never be as good as the original prints. I am not sure if I’ve got this right, and I am not sure there is a real good solution (and I did not even begin considering digital images here).
    But I think it’s good you brought up the topic. And so theres my two cents…

    Good picture, by the way!

    Like

    • Taochild

      I am undecided on the value of watermarks as far as functionality and actual protection of the photo. Some may actually use the photo (especially less professional site owners and the like) as is, watermark and all, which is in essence giving credit where credit is do and a form of free advertising. Yet as others have mentioned, someone with a little skill can often manipulate it out. I guess faith in the general trustworthiness of our fellow humans is a must. But from an aesthetic standpoint, I think watermarks often alter the focus of an image, thus actually changing the picture. For instance in this example, the watermark draws my eye so one of two things happens. Either I focus on the watermark, thus really missing the picture, or I try to avoid the watermark with my eyes, and end up actually missing a major part of the focus of the image. To my eyes they are two completely different pictures.

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    • Mike Hardisty

      Thank you for the comment about the picture. It’s one of a series I took in the Snowdonia National Park last week. It really is a dilemma. I’m torn between showing the images as I saw them or protecting my copyright. I’ve had far too many image stolen recently, some by commercial companies, and I just feel I have to do something. DMCA and it’s equivalents are all well and good when you are dealing with US/EU countries but there are plenty of countries which just do not adhere to anything like that. I’m well aware that a determined PhotoChopper can have that watermark disappear very quickly. However, it might deter the casual blogger/web-site owner.

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  17. newpillowbook

    Posting images on the web definitely makes it easy for other people – some of whom seem to have no concept that the creator of an image has ANY rights – to help themselves. So I see why you want a watermark. That said, I think the white watermark is obtrusive – what about gray or cream?

    I’m not at all saying you should do without a watermark. This is just a suggestion of how to compromise between outstanding images and security.

    Like

    • Mike Hardisty

      I’ve been playing around with different watermark styles over the last few days, 50% opacity, different colours, etc. I’m still undecided but I am paying attention to the poll and readers comments, so thank you for your reply

      Like

  18. Cassie's world

    Somehow I find the picture with watermark more powerful/ meaningful. Distracting? Yes, a little bit, but in a good way! Not sure if this can be applied to other pictures of yours?

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  21. Rick Diffley

    Thanks for sharing this image with the questions. The only time a watermark is not workable is if it was present when printed for someone.

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  22. Patti Kuche

    What distracts me about your watermark is the large C, otherwise your name, which could perhaps be a tad smaller, and “photography” look rather smart. Otherwise I am surprised at how non-distracting I find it. It is a beautiful shot, you just happen to be down there in the corner, rightfully claiming what belongs to you but have been generous enough to share.

    I have come to the conclusion though that anything we put up on the internet is fair/unfair game. I always have problems with labeling my photos – what offers the most, if any, security where this is concerned?

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    • Mike Hardisty

      Thanks Patti. I think I’m coming round to the conclusion that I’m wasting too much time and energy chasing up illegal use. I’m not sure that the watermark serves any purpose, maybe I could use it for advertising, but that could be a double edged sword. Someone sees and image, finds my web-address in the advert/watermark and just goes and copies more.

      Like

  23. nelson RN

    First of all, let me tell you that your photograph is stunning!
    About the polls, I voted for NO. I think it’s not that distracting, but I feel you need to make the watermark smaller.

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  27. Mike

    Hi Mike.

    I’m not certain that a watermark is very distracting. It is something that I have come to expect on images so I tend to look right through them. On the other hand, as the image creator, I feel that a watermark kind of destroys the image (at least for me). I was using a watermark for some time but no longer do. When I post images to my blog, I reduce them in size and save at either medium or low quality. At least that way, it’s harder to take a screen shot and use it.

    I have come to believe that if somebody wants to steal a photo, they are going to figure out a way to do it.

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    • Mike Hardisty

      Previously all of my images were licensed Creative Commons with Attribution but more and more I found they were being used without any reference back to me. In my heart of hearts I would prefer not to watermark and since I raised this post I have read countless arguments for and against watermarking and I’m still undecided what to do…

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  29. Jane Lurie

    Hi Mike- Gorgeous photos and great post. I go back and forth with watermarks. Depending on placement, it usually doesn’t detract from the photo, however, it is often the first thing my eye goes to, and that isn’t what the photographer intends. This particular watermark is quite strong, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing- in fact, it looks professional- but lowering the opacity may help.
    Finally, I wonder if watermarks really are a deterrent… love to know how you track stolen photos.
    Love your work, thanks!

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