gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for March 19th, 2012

Watermarks versus metadata

March 19, 2012 @ 08:45 By: gordon Category: Meta, Photography

One of the topics of conversation on #blogchat on Twitter Sunday evening had to do with watermarking images on your blog. Watermarks are usually used on stock photos to prevent their usage without paying the licensing fees. But on personal blogs, like this one, watermarks probably aren’t necessary because they aren’t stock photo services.

The general feeling seemed to be that non-intrusive watermarks, like the one in this picture of snowflakes I posted in one of my entries about capturing snowflakes, are ok. Personally, I tend to watermark photos that I’m particularly proud of so that if they do appear out of context then people will know who created them. I often use a feature in Microsoft’s Windows Live Writer to do this when I’m writing a blog entry. There are also plugins for most of the major blogging platforms (I use a self-hosted WordPress system for my blog) that allow you to watermark your images if you don’t use an authoring tool like Live Writer.

If you are trying to assert your intellectual property rights, watermarking is one approach. Of course, if your watermark is on an edge of the photo, a content thief could easily crop it without seriously impacting the overall image. Stock photo services, commercial photographers and the like fight content thieves by watermarking images in the centre of the image or on the focal point of the image, so that the image can’t be used without it being apparent that it hasn’t been licensed.

However, these more intrusive watermarks are usually overkill for images on personal blogs and can turn off potential readers. Take a look at the picture of the fireworks mortars on the left for an example of a bad watermark. (I would never watermark an image like this in real life!)

side-by-side-watermarksIf you are a professional photographer, however, you can probably get away with something like it, or a logo watermark like the one on the right, because photos are your livelihood, particularly if you’re offering the photo for sale. If I was producing an online catalogue of photos I took at the setup of the grand finale of the fireworks festival I volunteered at last summer I might consider a watermark like this because it makes the photo harder to use, tells people who took it, but isn’t so intrusive that people will be distracted by it when looking through the catalogue.

But watermarking isn’t the only option available if you want to put your “brand” on your photos. Embedding metadata in your image file allows you to include copyright and other information without changing the image itself.

imageMost digital cameras add information about exposure, lens settings and other technical specs to each photo when you push the trigger. In Windows, you can view these and edit them by right-clicking on the file in Windows Explorer, selecting properties and selecting the Details tab.

You can even edit these fields by clicking on them, making the desired changes and then clicking the Apply button. If you want to make the same change to many files, such as setting the Copyright field, you can do it by selecting multiple files in Explorer and making the desired changes and clicking Apply. Be warned, however, that once you click apply there’s no undo, so be careful and check your work.

If you use something like Adobe Lightroom to manage your photos, you can automate the process of applying copyright (and other) metadata when you import the photos from your camera. Exactly how you do this is beyond the scope of this blog entry, but if you’re using Lightroom chances are that you’re already familiar with how to do it.

If someone does copy the photo from your blog, they probably won’t think to strip the metadata from it before they use it, so if you find the photo being used somewhere else without your permission you might be able to prove it’s yours with the help of this information. But I don’t think you can 100% rely on this because it’s likely there are tools out there used by image thieves that strip metadata to hide a photo’s origin.

So, in summary, watermarking your photos can be done in both discrete and intrusive ways, but regardless some readers may be turned off the presence of a watermark. Metadata, on the other hand, allows you to embed a copyright message in your photo, but requires more effort because you usually do it outside of the blog entry creation process.

Ultimately, if you don’t want someone to copy images from your blog you probably shouldn’t post them in the first place.

Dark Matter #3: A review

March 19, 2012 @ 02:26 By: gordon Category: Comic books, Reviews

Dark Matter #3 coverI picked up Dark Matter #3 by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Scullie this past Wednesday from Silver Snail along with a couple of other titles. The third in a series of four, this is the issue where our amnesiac crew comes to grips with their rather checkered pasts, which they have discovered in the ship’s computer. At the same time, they have to contend with threats from another ship that showed up at the end of Dark Matter #2 while some of them are on a planet delivering weapons to some settlers. (Of course, there’s a bit more than just a delivery run, but you’re going to have to read the issue to find out what I’m not telling you!)

Discussions between the two ships ensue with ultimatums being issued. The result is that the crew on the ship have to leave immediately, leaving their crewmates on the surface behind.

Duh Duh DUH!

I’m still enjoying the progression of the story. It continues to have the feeling of elements of Joss Whedon’s Firefly combined with the uncertainty of Stargate Universe along with elements from other sci-fi stories I’ve read over the years. The writing is tight and the artwork is dark and gritty, which is perfect for the story.

I’m a bit sad that there’s only one more issue to come in the series because it’s a great medium for a story like this. Joseph Mallozzi has said in various entries on his blog that there’s serious interest in a Dark Matter television series, which would be great and I would like to see come to fruition. However, though I’m by no means an expert on the industry, I suspect that a comic book series would be much less subject to arbitrary cancellation unlike a television series. (For proof of this one needs look no further than Stargate Universe, which was effectively scuttled by Space, or Firefly, which was cancelled by Fox. Neither series was really given a fair chance and both were top-notch television.)

There’s probably nothing precluding having both a television series and a comic book series in parallel, so hopefully this is something the Joe will entertain. I don’t believe he’s really said anything about this one way or the other on his blog. (Care to comment, Joe? Winking smile )

So, it you haven’t picked up Dark Matter #3, what are you waiting for? And if you haven’t read any of them, then get in touch with your local comic book shop and order them today!

Read my review of Dark Matter #2 here.
Read my review of Dark Matter #1 here.