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The Guerrilla Girls strike again! (See the post below and read the whole thing to find out what.

Nancy Pizarro.

You know who you are and now I do as well.

My most popular post on this blog is Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge. Thanks  in part to Jim Goldstein I know that at least 14 web sites use my shot of the Brooklyn Bridge from that blog entry. All without permission despite my copyright page. Jim is a professional photographer of the highest degree who maintains an excellent blog. Doing a search to see if my image and blog entry would come up in google, I  stumbled on a user of my photo and while I was wondering how many others there might be I accidentally backed into Jim’s site and his entry Who is stealing your photos online. In that blog entry I discovered Tineye, a site that provides a beta version of a reverse image search designed to locate copies of your image online. I uploaded my Brooklyn Bridge photo and Tineye located 4 copies, one on a racy online magazine that I must admit to visiting from time to time. The image is also being used by a Pace University site (oddly I’m an alumnus) but when I contacted the web master he said that it was a test site that was never approved by Pace and that he would take it down (we will see).

Next I thought I’d see what Microsoft’s new search engine Bing was capable of. Searching with Bing I was able to find my image. I then clicked on “find more sizes” and 10 other uses of the image came up a couple of seconds — none where repeats of the 4 that Tineye found. Tineye plans to beef up its indexing and if it does will no doubt be able to find a higher percentage of the images on the web but right now Bing seems to have an edge — except that it told me that there were hundreds of copies of another image online and each one was not a copy of my image. Apparently lots of sky in an image throws Bing off the track.

So lots of people like my image enough to use it — that’s good. They are doing so without letting me know — that’s not so good. And until two days ago I had no way to charge anyone for the image

Since then I reopened my account at, a stock photography web site that is easy to join. They don’t jury submissions but I intend to put only what I consider my most marketable stuff up there. Funny thing is a half hour after I posted the Brooklyn Bridge image a customer put it into her shopping cart. Don’t know if it will sell but at least someone can buy it there if they want.

I’m not sure what I should do about this. I must admit to occasionally ripping an image off for this blog (very rarely tho — my image of Philippe Petit in Men on Wires is the one I can think of) I really try not to do it. Now I think I will never do it again. Shutterpoint has two ways of pricing — one is a simple price for an unlimited use license  — I used it pricing my Bridge at $65. The other is pricing that depends on use and image size. For that one the people who took my image would pay 99 cents. I wish I could ring up 99 cents for ever clipped image!

The first time I noticed one of my images being used illegally it was by a Priest in a nearby town on his blog! I guess people think — it’s on the web so it must be public domain. But that is not the case. Copyright laws protect original works in the USofA.

So for now my defense will be to make it easier for people to buy my images. Then I’ll work on making them harder to steal

The song and dance man in action!

The scene from 36 rows back

Aurora and I ventured into Boston on last Sunday to see and hear Bob Dylan at the Wang center. The show was very enjoyable and the band was perfect. Bob’s raspy voice was sometimes too far gone but on other numbers it was clear and I imagine easy to understand. I say imagine because the band with its ramped up bass was often overpowering. Brilliant — but too damn loud!! (Ok so I’m an old guy.)

Bob wasn’t kidding back in the sixties when he described himself as a song and dance man. (When asked ‘do you consider yourself a poet?’ he answered — ‘no, more of a song and dance man’) He was like a low keyed minstrel on Sunday with arm gestures  and foot kicks included. The lighting kept changing and so did the colors on the stage — very often they had a nice south western tone.

Listen to this  bootlegged uTube entry. I love the intro’s combination of honesty and hero worship.

Sounds pretty good and the bass that was so over powering in person is almost non-existent. (A little more would be better, actually.)

After Boston, Bob moved right on to NY where Dion opened for him. Here’s the New York Post review:

Dylan’s Delightful!

Sounds like another great show. We wonder why the man keeps going. He told Sixty Minutes a few years ago that he had made a pact with God — needed to stay on the road to fulfill it. I take him at his word — no irony there. He channels the life force as much as anyone who has ever been a pop culture icon and as much as many prophets. As Langston Hughes told us years ago — “Listen!”

(We enjoyed walking around the city before and after the concert. It was a warm night for November and just perfect for a city walk. Here’s a photo I took — I’m getting my street photography mojo working again — I think this is my favorite way of photography.)

Boston at night

Nice semi decisive moment -- don't cha think?


What has your life prepared you for?

For Philippe Petit his life prepared him for the wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York. 

Sully Sullenberger’s life prepared him to land a airliner safely in the Hudson River saving the lives of 155 people.

A favorite story about Picasso  sums this idea up very well. 

Picasso was sitting at a table outside a Paris cafe. A woman came up to him and asked him to draw something for her on a napkin. He complied, doodling as only he could. After he quickly finished he requested the French equivalent  of $5,000. Agast the woman said — “but it only took you 2 minutes!” Smiling, the great man replied — “no Madam, it took me my whole life.”

What has your life prepared you to do?  Can you say it out loud? Do you think it is nothing important? If so I suspect you are wrong. I think there is something you are very well qualified to do, something quite important. Part of your qualification to do this is the life you have lived so far.

Do you know what it is? Tell me about it if you can.

Elbert Hubbard was a prolific writer of the early twentieth century. He was a major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement having establish a hand crafted publishing house called Roycrofters, famous for beautiful, illuminated limited edition volumes, bound in leather.Flowers I saw with Elliot

His book “Hollyhocks and Goldenglow” is a collection of essays on topics from the Titanic to Abdul Baha. (I recently made an entry on the Talisman9 discussion forum about this and what follows was drawn from that post.)He writes movingly about the Titanic recounting the bravery, loyalty and love of Mrs. Straus who refused to leave her husband for a life boat. Ironically Hubbard and his wife, Alice perished three years later aboard the Lusitania. Survivors told stories of their courage, matching the characteristics of Mrs. Straus.

There is also an essay about Abdul Baha entitled “A Modern Prophet.” The first sentence reads “A very great man has recently visited America.” It continues: “So out of Persia comes Abdul Baha, who calls himself “The Servant of God.” His followers are called Bahais. This man has diverted one-third of the population of Persia from Mohammedanism. …. This man is the modern Messiah.”

I find this essay an engrossing report by a non-Baha’i. Particularly interesting is this:

“Christian Science interests Abdul Baha greatly. It is somewhat humiliating thing for us when we think that this new American religion was never heard of by Abdul Baha until recently. Now he has practically embraced it. He says it represents one arc of the great circle of truth, and that if he had learned nothing else from his trip to America but the truths of Christian Science, he would be amply repaid.He says he comes more as a learner than a teacher. Nevertheless, he is obliged to give out the light that has been given to him. He keeps the good by giving it away.He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson freely, delights in Walt Whitman, and loves the memory of Tolstoy, and is on terms of great tenderness toward every good and noble thing that makes for human betterment.No man of recent times has shown such a magnificent affirmative spirit as this Abdul Baha.”

Hubbard was a prolific writer who is not very well known today — not the household word one might think he would be. (The exception might be his “Message to Garcia” that I believe was read in grade or high schools years ago.)His contemporaneous account of Abdul Baha’s visit is precious I think. There may be errors in the essay but it rings true. He doesn’t say that he met Abdul Baha but I think he must have. Does anyone have knowledge of this possible meeting? I find the comments about Christian Science, Emerson and Whitman intriguing and perfectly consistent with my mental and emotional image of Abdul Baha and his approach to life.The book is available as a reprint or as an antique in its original leather bound form if you can find it.I love the idea that Abdul Baha quoted Emerson and loved Whitman but this is the only reference to that I know of. I think many Baha’is would reject the idea. If you are a Baha’i what do you think? And please let me know of other references like this that you are aware of.Many thanks,FrankSunset and Flowers


“The Gates” by Cristo in New York’s Central Park

Baha’ullah, like many religious leaders claimed to be infallible. What he meant by this is subject to debate but most people believe it means he could not make mistakes. Sen McGill, noted Baha’i scholar, wrote this about infallibility in an email to me:

“When a man has new ideas, you have to follow him when he defines his own terms. What did “evolution” mean before Darwin got hold of it?”

I told him that I struggle to understand what is new in Baha’i re: infallibility. The Christ of the gospels said something similar — “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father save through me” or words to that effect. And of course the Catholic church has had infallible Popes guiding their religion for centuries.

Darwin spent his life collecting, synthesizing, and explaining evolution which is based on evidence. Baha’ullah’s concept of infallibility uses a well known word to express something which Sen claims is quite different from the accepted definition. The notion of infallibility has been used for centuries to control people. If Bahai has a new concept of infallibility it once again got lost in translation.

In the same email discussion, Sen wrote this:

“Prophecy, in the biblical and Baha’i sense, is not about predicting
the future, but about pronouncing the will and judgment of God. A
really successful prophet is a failure at forecasting, because he
warns people where they are heading and gets them to change their
ways, in time.”

I wrote:

Sorry but I disagree. Prophecy is about many things. Predicting when the return will occur, when the next manifestation will show up, when the Most Great Peace will happen. Sometimes its a warning as in the old testament, sometimes its about predicting the future. The calamity that Bahaullah predicted is certainly of the kind you refer to. But this has given the Faith a cult like ethos when Bahaullah intended no such thing.

In the Iqan (The Book of Certitude) Baha’ullah writes at length about the return of the prophet and the return of the people who renounce him. He tells us to ponder why this keeps occurring. I have done so and have concluded that the religions of the Abraham and his successors while an important part of our history are inherently flawed. The once a millennium appearance of a messenger from God who speaks in metaphor and congers up beings that don’t exist and miracles that never happened leaves us to fend for ourselves while trying to find answers in scripture when we should be working out solutions for ourselves.

Scripture is no more true than poetry and poetry is often quite true. But with poetry we need to pick out the good and true from the bad and false. With scripture we are told its all true and then we spend our energies trying to see how that can possibly be.

Religion is often calcified truth. What we need now (and always needed I think) is the ability to draw on all available sources of inspiration, love and power to help us solve problems in the here and now.

Religion is one of those sources but heaven help you if its your only one!

Aurora at the Gallery

There is a discussion ongoing on Nature Photographers Online Magazine that asks “A bias against photography?” (To get to the discussion, click on the link above, choose ‘General Discussion’ from the pull-down menu and scroll down to the discussion)

The context is the art world. I posted two replies:


Photography is an art form when it’s done artistically (whatever you take that to mean). We use tools to produce works on paper. So do painters and those who draw. The git who said, “it really isn’t art” was acting as a judge. To deny a piece because its B&W photography is to deny Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams — pretty silly.

Art is established by presentation and context. Rauschenberg displays flattened cardboard boxes — he calls them ready mades — in places like the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art in NY. Is it art? If you squint and look into the sun it is. Or if its in the Guggenheim it is. Or if Bob Rauschenberg says it is… Oh and Rauschenberg uses quite a bit of photography in his ‘combines’ Some of them are his some are ‘borrowed.’

If we want to be accepted as artists we err when we over emphasize equipment, technical perfection and accuracy. We are artists when we use photographic tools to catch a glimpse of our own vision of the world and hold it up for others to see.

(I was in a group show at a gallery with two painters in February. We like each other and the painters say they love my work — they bought a number of prints; some to paint from some to hang. I love their work as well. We all sold quite a few pieces during the month the show was up. I thought the debate over photography as an art form was over. It is to me in any case.)

And second:

Another thought:

In some respects photography has rejected art.

If a photograph is not up to a predetermined standard of ‘sharpness’ it is rejected by most photographers.

Cartier-Bresson called the emphasis on sharpness a fetish. I agree.

When Ansel Adams abandoned pictorialisim (a soft painterly approach) for what he and Paul Strand (I think it was) called straight photography the direction was set and we are still under that influence.

While sharp photos can be delightful, so can softer ones. It depends on what the artist is trying to do and what the impact is.

Of course there is a school of ‘fine art photography’ that seems to believe that if a photo is in focus and sharp its boring and not art. In fact there are lots of fine art photographers such as Cindy Sherman who are well accepted by the art community but they are not found here on NP or 99.999% of the other web sites.

I think the trick to creating art with photographer’s tools is to learn all the craft possible but keep the beginners mind when applying them. Keep discovering and capturing whatever life puts in our path.

Easier said than done.

What do you think? Is it even of any useful purpose to question photography as an art form? Aren’t photographic tools simply tools? Isn’t the art up to the artist?

What do you think?

Use of photos

Photos on this blog are copyright protected. Therefore, if you wish to use photos please make a donation in an amount of your choice. My PayPal email address is

Prints are available at Fine Art America

Or contact me directly.


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