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Recent Crystal Cove Workshop

I held a workshop in Crystal Cove State Park this past weekend and it went great! Although the sunset wasn't fantastic, I was able to get a couple shots. The two here are very similar. I only decided to post both because I can't figure out which one I like more.

Thank you to all of my attendees for being such great students and for making this workshop a success! I hope to see you all again in the near future!

If you are interested in attending a future "Sunset in Crystal Cove Workshop," I have another one coming up on August 29th! Get information or reserve your spot today by clicking here! For information on all future workshops, visit the Workshops page!

More Ranting About Microstock

So I'm in line to checkout at Barnes and Noble yesterday when a stack of books catches my eye. The title of the book is "Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County" and features a photo of a hiking trail on the cover. There's something weird about the picture. I know where that trail is, I know I've been on that trail, I know I've taken a picture of that trail... hey, wait a minute... that IS MY PICTURE. But something about it is off... the sky isn't how I remembered it, but I am almost certain this in my picture. So, I take a shot of it with my iPhone so I can compare it my file at home.

Sure enough, it's definitely my picture. They just decided to switch out the sky for something else and lighten up the whole thing. If you're thinking "well, maybe someone else took a very similar shot under a different sky." No. The perspective, the arrangement of leaves, the debris on the trail - everything is identical to my shot. Here, check it out:

And here's a closer look of the book cover:

So, there's no doubting this in my picture. But am I happy about my picture donning the cover of this widely-published and widely-available book? Sort of, but mostly no. Sure, it's good to add to the resume, if you will, and it's nice to say my picture is on the cover, but I don't remember getting paid for this!

Then I remembered my sad, early days with microstock (check out my†earlier†post entitled "My Thoughts on Microstock" to learn more about microstock and how I feel about it). I used to have my entire catalog of images with Shutterstock and iStockphoto - 2 microstock agencies that are raping photographers on a daily basis. Unfortunately I was uneducated on the market of stock photography and made the unfortunate decision to do business with these corporations.†

Nevertheless, I did†do business with these companies and I did sell some images through them. So with that in mind, I checked the book for a photo credit... it was on the back cover: (C) Shutterstock!†

That's right! Not "(C) Nick Carver"! It was "(C) Shutterstock"! I didn't even get a photo credit for this! And you want to know how much money I got for this wide use of my image on a book cover? 20 bucks! That won't even cover a tank of gas!

So that's why I'm not happy about this. I got 20 measly dollars for this major publication and I didn't even get a photo credit. And the worst part is, it's totally legal because I was dumb enough to put my images on a royalty free microstock agency. So I'm not mad at the book or the agencies, I'm mad at myself for being ignorant in my early days as a professional. If I'd researched stock photography better and if I'd really thought about fair use rights, I never would have sold this image for unlimited use†for 20 greenbacks. I'd rather not sell it at all than get 20 bucks for unlimited licensing rights.

Shame on me.

DISCLAIMER: I have strong opinions on this and I am blunt, I know that. If you are offended by any of this, I apologize, but I'm just being honest. I'm not greedy or self-righteous, I just feel artists should get fair pay for their hard work. And, again, it was MY mistake to join up with these agencies.

Some Sweet Abandoned Buildings

We had some cloud cover coming through Orange County a couple weeks back that have really made some nice sunsets. I went to my usual spot of Quail Hill one day and I considered hitting up the beach, but when I went out on the 21st, I was itching for some new material. I didn't care if it was nature, urban or a mix, I just wanted some new subject matter for a change.

Anyone from Orange County will know how hard this is. You can only shoot the same beaches so many times and battle the track housing for so long before it gets old. Orange County's nice, but it's no Washington state. If I wanted new material, I knew it wasn't going to be anything fantastic if it was within a 50-mile radius. So, I decided to explore.

They recently opened up this hot-air-like balloon that takes people above the future "Great Park" on the former El Toro Marine Base. I'd never been before, but I thought I'd try exploring around there. Well, I'm sure glad I did, because I found some amazing old buildings on this retired Marine Base.†

I drove along an empty road, waiting for some cop or barricade to stop me from going any further, but nothing did. So I kept driving until I got to a deserted building that looked like it used to be some sort of utility building (there were a ton of circuit breakers and pipes and warehouse rooms and stuff). Windows were broken, the asphalt was cracked and overrun by bushes, doors were left open - it looked just so awesome. All the textures and character of this place were screaming to be photographed.†

That afternoon I managed to get some pretty good landscapes of this dilapidated building at sunset. The entire time I was shooting, no one came to kick me out, no one was around, I was completely alone and having a great time. Here are the resultant pictures:

Then I went back a second day to scout around inside the building. This was a little more creepy but just as awesome. The big, cavernous rooms were dark and bare except for some serious spider webs around the doors and a few tumbleweeds. I snapped off a few self-portraits while I was there:

Unfortunately, though, the all-too-bored Irvine PD came and kicked me out on the third visit there. Good thing, too. Us pesky photographers are always getting into trouble, defacing property and putting otherwise unused property to good use.†

The moral to this story: Exploration is a fun and important technique to finding good shots, almost as important as remaining discreet when doing it.