Category Archives: Photography

Early Light

The Australian War Memorial in Canberra is a wonderful celebration of the contributions and sacrifices by the Nation’s sailors, soldiers and airmen at home and abroad. Whilst war should not be celebrated, we should never forget the hardship and loss suffered in the name of our national interests.

The War Memorial has a spectacular straight line view to Parliament House. From the War Memorial visitors can see what was fought for – democracy and freedom. From Parliament House the government of the day can see the reminder of the sacrifices made for that.

This image was made pre-dawn on a cool Winter’s morning.

This is my first post using the new Flickr web embed functionality. Let me your thoughts on how it looks.

Welcome to Uepi

Welcome to Uepi by DesParoz
Welcome to Uepi, a photo by DesParoz on Flickr.

Getting to Uepi Island Resort is an adventure in itself – it is one of the most hidden away places you can imagine. First you must fly to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. Then a domestic flight to Seghe. Then a short walk through bush to the water’s edge where you board a "motorised canoe" for the 40 minute ride to the very edge of Marovo Lagoon where Uepi is situated.

Marovo Lagoon is the world’s largest natural lagoon, and Uepi is on its very edge, near where it meets a deep ocean area called "The Slot".

This is the Welcome Jetty at Uepi.

Uepi is isolated, wonderful and spectacular. I think it would be my single favourite diving destination.

Warships

Warships

Image of warships alongside at Sydney’s Fleet Base East (HMAS Kuttabul). In the image are with HMAS Tobruk (L50), HMAS Stuart (FFH 153) & HMAS Darwin (FFG 04). Peeking in front of the bow of HMAS Tobruk is MHNZS Te Mana.

This photo was made 6 weeks before the recent RAN International Fleet Review, and all the warships shown participated.

View this image on 500px, Flickr or Google+

Dekudekuru Split

Dekudekuru is a reef close to Uepi Island Resort in the Solomon Islands. It is an ideal place for both over and under shots and images made from underwater shooting the nearby jungle canopy. This is due to the protected shallow waters of the reef inside a reef, and the nearby jungle canopy.

Under & over shots like this have held a lot of fascination for me for some time. There’s a reason that you see comparatively few of them published – they’re difficult to setup and difficult to execute well.

To make an under & over image you must shoot through air and water simultaneously, with the different lighting that brings. You need to minimise water droplets on the “dry” part of the image. And you need to focus near and far.

To create this image I used a very wide angle lens, used a small aperture for depth of field and shot in shallow, clear water on a bright, sunny day. Even then, this image was the best of quite a bunch, and is far from perfect. But I am quite happy with it!

View this image on 500px, Flickr or Google+

Backing Up – Securing Your Files for the Present and the Future

Backing Up – Securing Your Files for the Present and the Future

In an increasingly paperless world more and more of our data is being digitised. While offering many opportunities, there are (at least) three challenges presented by this:

  1. Backup of data in case of loss or destruction of the host system;
  2. Accessibility of the data by others in the event of your inability to do so yourself; and,
  3. Usability of the data into the future (i.e. future-proofing).

Every inhabitant of the digital world needs to consider ensuring they maintain their data for now and into the future. This article addresses some of how I approach these tasks.

Over on SimplicityBliss, Sven Fechner recently outlined his comprehensive backup and emergency data access strategy for Mac.

Today I have not one, but effectively four different backups of my data. Three of them are always up-to-date, while the fourth one is the ‘nuclear event’ offsite contingency.

Sven has very ably outlined an approach that addresses the first two points in detail, and I’d suggest you read his article and digest his approach.

My own approach is not dissimilar, at least for three of the four levels described:

  1. Onsite backups with Time Machine (I use Time Capsule for MacBooks and an old Drobo for my iMac);
  2. Data in Dropbox (aff) and Evernote, protected with strong passwords and 2 factor authentication (Dropbox only for now). I am also playing with the Transporter for having my own distributed data.
  3. Cloud backup using Crashplan.

As for the third consideration – future-proofing – we need to think very seriously about whether the masses of data we’re producing daily today will be readable into the future. We have an unprecedented opportunity to capture data for future generations, but we have a responsibility to ensure they will be able to read it.

There are two aspects to this problem – the storage media and the format the data is stored in.

Try listening to an old mixtape you made on an actual cassette tape. I’d bet that most people couldn’t find a (working) cassette player in their house, so unless you drive an old car, you’re quite likely out of luck! Having as much stuff in the cloud as possible deals with at least the media part of the problem, as most cloud solutions will incrementally migrate their storage media, progressively over time. You should do the same at home.

As for the format, this is an equally important consideration. While it might be inconceivable that your current .doc, .jpg or .xls files might not be readable in decades to come, try opening an early 1990’s WordPerfect document. I dare you.

I don’t have a crystal ball, and have no idea as to what formats will be readable in the future. But my gut feel tells me this:

Storing your data in the most raw form possible gives you the best chance of being able to read it into the future

In other words, applying as few photographic enhancements as possible, or using little or no rich text formating is your best strategy for future proofing your data. If you’ve tried to “restore” an old photo, you’ll know you have more chance if you can use the original film (or negative) than if you use a print. If you’ve tried to scan old, heck, even read old text, you’ll know that the simpler the font the better.

My two main forms of data that I want to preserve are my photos and my writing.

I capture all photos in RAW format, and I keep the raw files of the keepers. Backed up.

This is also one of the benefits of having made the decision to write in plain text, using Markdown. Seriously, if you write and you don’t write in Markdown, go and learn more about it. It’s not difficult, and there’s even a great book to help you learn Markdown.

I only wish that I had started writing in plain text sooner. Some of my old writing is literally locked up on on 5.25" floppy disks in WordPerfect format. I have a project to do something about that.

We are in the digital era. Being productive in this era means backing, ensuring others can access if and when needed, and ensuring your data is available now and into the future. I urge everyone to consider an appropropriate backup startegy, including an offsite solution like Crashplan. I also suggest that you learn more about future proofing your data by using the simplest possible formats for storage, including Markdown for plaintext.

How do you backup? And how do you future proof your data?

500px Apps Back in the App Store

After the 500px app was pulled from the App Store last week, I was glad to see it this morning in my updates list.

500px app updating in the iOS App Store

500px app updating in the iOS App Store

Given the few comments from 500px, clearly they have been heads down to get issues resolved to satisfaction. According to GigaOm’s Erica Ogg there were three things required by Apple for 500px to get their apps back in the App Store:

500px has been updated with three fixes requested by Apple’s app reviewers, including a tweak that will prevent queries for explicit image searches from producing results, adding a function for users to report inappropriate content, and the addition of a 17+ age rating on the app.

After my previous post, an Apple spokesperson made a statement which was reported in TechCrunch and others:

The app was removed from the App Store for featuring pornographic images and material, a clear violation of our guidelines.

I have used 500px for sometime, and although I have seen artistic nudity, I have never seen anything approaching pornography. I wouldn’t want my images associated with any service that knowingly hosted pornography, and would likely drop my membership.

I wonder how long Apple had been talking to 500px prior to pulling the app. On the surface, it appears that double standards may apply, as reported by the SMH:

Apple allows apps from such big-name social platforms as Twitter, Vine, Tumblr and Pinterest to remain in its App Store even though they contain adult content. Yet it has knocked off other lesser-known sites from its store because of “pornographic images and material”.

I don’t believe any other company should enforce censorship standards that are over and above those of the western world.

Photographers Rights, Trey Ratcliff and the Sydney Morning Herald

Prolific photographer, author of the great book A World in HDR and founder of the Stuck in Customs website, Trey Ratcliff has allegedly had one of his wonderful photos used by the Sydney Morning Herald in today’s edition without permission and against the terms of his Creative Commons license! The unattributed, unlicensed image appears on page 3 of the newspaper, and also appears in their online edition (current as at 6:00pm on 24 January 2013).

Screenshot from SMH

Trey is a wonderfully talented photographer, and is one of the major players behind the growth and popularity of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. Trey has very generous licensing terms on the images he posts daily to his website. These terms allow anyone to use his images, provided that it is for non-commercial purposes, that Trey is attributed and that is a link is provided back to www.stuckincustoms.com.

Rubber Duck by Florentijn Hofman. Image by Trey Ratcliff

Trey made this image during his recent visit to Australia from his adopted hometown in Queenstown, New Zealand. It was made in the Darling Harbour Precinct of Sydney, and the giant rubber duck is part of the spactacle of this years Sydney Festival.

The ironic thing is that the Sydney Morning Herald has recently run several stories about photographers having their images stolen online, and I had been pleased to see that they are trying to bring light on to the theft of photographer’s copyrighted materials.

A defence often used by people or organisations when accused of stealing an image (or other content) is that the it was “freely available”. Let me say this clearly: freely available doesn’t mean it’s free. This applies to newspapers like any other commercial entity. as reported by PetaPixel.

The owner of a piece of intellectual property like a photograph has the right to license the property as they see fit. As Trey chooses to license his images under a Creative Commons license requiring attribution for non-commercial use, that license must be respected. People or organisations who wish to use the image for commercial purposes need to appropriately license the image. This is stated clearly on Trey’s website, and there are plenty of links to how to go about such licensing.

The SMH is a good newspaper and generally has good journalistic integrity. I trust this was a silly mistake, and that they will take immediate action to make it right. They need to issue an apology and give him the required attribution, and they need to make some appropraite compensation for commercial usage of his work.

It is important that copyright and Creative Commons licenses be respected – they allow photographers and other content creators to explore and share their art in a way that befits the modern online world!

Update 28/1/2013

  1. According to a post in Mumbrella, the SMH editor-in-chief has stated that “At the end of the day we didn’t establish ownership of the picture and we should have. We have apologised to Trey Ratcliff”. Unfortunately, Trey does not seem to have received the apology

Red On Blue

Red On Blue. Photo by Des Paroz
One of the beautiful flowers growing around the gardens of Uepi Island Resort, located in the remote and spectacular Marovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands.

I loved the colours of the flowering bushes, with the saturated reds and greens, and the blue sky really enhanced the overall scene. Just a touch of HDR has been applied to give the image just a bit more pop.

This image is part of my Photos of the Day album, which can be viewed in high resolution at photos.desparoz.com.

View this photo also at:

500px App Censored from App Store

Des Paroz Gallery on 500px
I primarily use two online image hosting services to host my Photo Gallery – 500px and Flickr. I like both services and find that they appeal to slightly different groups of users.

I had actually gone off Flickr for a while, but decided to give it another try (and recommended others do so too) when they did 2 things – introduced a great update to their iPhone app and offered a three month trial/extension to Flickr Pro.

What drew me to 500px was their fantastic universal iOS app, along with hosting of hi-res images and the ability to have galleries at your own domain – mine are at photos.desparoz.com.

I love the fact that people can view my images displayed gorgeously on the web, or on an iPhone, iPad or Android device.

So I was disturbed today to read that Apple has withdrawn the 500px app from the App Store, over potential access to nudity. According to PetaPixel:

If you were planning to install 500px’s popular photo sharing app on your iPhone or iPad today, you’re out of luck. The app was abruptly yanked from the iTunes App Store earlier today over the fact that users can search for photos showing artistic nudity.

This is especially concerning when, as reported by Cult of Mac, it is actually more difficult to access nudity on the 500px app than it is on other popular apps, including Flickr.

What’s interesting about this to me is that 500px’s method of keeping minors from seeing nude images in their official iOS app is a lot more prohibitive than that employed by Flickr, a similar photo-sharing app.

In the 500px app, safe browsing is the default, and you have to change this through the website, not the app. In Flickr, the app allows you to disable the safe browsing lock.

I have two fundamental concerns over this development.

Firstly, why has Apple suddenly taken this action, considering the 500px has been in the App Store since October 2011. It seems to be a unilateral action, especially considering 500px had commited to making and submitting immediate changes.

It also sets a dangerous precedent, and we have to wonder whether apps like those by Flickr and Tumblr will also be yanked.

Secondly, as a committed user of Apple technology, I rely on Apple products for a great user experience – both from the hardware and the software it provides. With relation to the App Store, Apple gives me the promise that it will approve apps that meet basic guidelines on security. I’m ok with iOS sandboxing, as a rule, because my phone needs to work.

But, I do not need Apple to act as a censor, making an unilateral judgement about what content I can and cannot see. Certainly, explicit pornography (such as what might be rated as R 18+ or X 18+ under the Australian censorship system) can justifiably be restricted, but the human body is a wonder of nature, and can be very artistic.

Given that “nudity of moderate impact” can be included in material rated M (Mature) in Australia, I think that Apple should allow any app to have material that goes up to at least this level (or maybe MA 15+, as long as there are appropriate safe browsing modes enabled.

Perhaps what Apple should do is bake in safe mode tools into iOS, and allow individual apps to access these settings. If a safe mode is turned on for the device, individual apps should respect those modes. If they’re turned off, then material up to M or perhaps MA 15+ classification should be allowable.

Apple needs to provide a balance in iOS. Certainly, most users don’t want or need “Wild West” access to every aspect of a system that is part of an important communications device, but at the same time, Apple should not act as a censor. Censorship is a tricky subject, and often leads to a slippery slope. It is the role of democratic government to make considered decisions on behalf of the people, not of companies like Apple to make decisions unilaterally.

Calm Before the Party


Clovelly New Years Eve Sunset

This is the third of a set of images I made at Clovelly Beach in Sydney at Sunset on New Years Eve 2012.

I love the beautiful light at sunset, and the HDR effect assists in brining out the colours.

See this photo on