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Treasures Beneath: Ferns or Fossils

Earl Moore Photography

Ferns or Fossils

A recent post at Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection questions why people use watermarks and/or signatures on their photos. Thomas makes no qualms about hating them, even to the point of giving someone a less then favorable review if they use them. He doesn’t use them and he states; “…the real reason why people do it is that they think that it gives them some means of promotion for their work — that and just pure ego.”

I do use a small watermark/signature (@Meandering Passage) on the bottom of my photos. Perhaps it’s “a pure sign of an amateur” as Thomas also states. I never thought it was a case of ego or self promoting, I don’t even use my name, but perhaps it is in a way. Thomas is entirely entitled to his own opinions and he clearly stated his reasons. I admire Thomas Hawk’s photography and respect his opinion and for sure he’s given me something to consider.

However, for me watermarks are a personal choice and not a deal breaker. I feel as photographers, being willing to see and move pass our own perceptions should extend beyond our photography and into our lives.

The post photo, with watermark, was taken this spring of the forest floor in woods at a local park. With processing, the ferns reminded me of fossils.

24 Comments on Treasures Beneath: Ferns or Fossils

  1. I like the appealing pattern of these dried ferns and the natural looking color. Well done. I use watermark on one blog and none on the other….hmmm

    • Don, truth be known in the original photo these were spring fresh bright green young ferns. It was during post processing that I stumbled upon this look I liked for it’s warm almost abstract feel. :-)

  2. I don’t like the use of watermarks on photos either, although I have used them in the past. I don’t think I’ve watermarked anything in some time and when I was using them I was always second guessing why I was even using it. So after a couple of photos, I just stopped all together because I couldn’t find a good reason to do it, why bother?

    I don’t have the same passionate hate for them as Thomas does, I think it’s more of a personal choice rather than an ego boost, although to some it might be. We all know how easily watermarks can be removed with digital photos, real prints are another story. Putting an obnoxious watermarks in the middle of the image defeats the purpose of taking a beautiful photo to begin with. But if people are putting them on the photo to prevent online thievery, they are lying to themselves. Well placed and unobtrusive water marks can have a pleasing effect in photos IMO, it shows a person cares about their craft by giving way to image rather than the photographer.

    I do agree 100% on his thoughts about crap borders. I think people ruin many images by adding some outdated looking border to the photo. I see this way too many times on photography forums and photo sharing sites.

    To me a simple copy right message should suffice, if people want to steal your photos, they will. If you are truly concerned about that and would go through the lengths to ruin a nice photo, you probably shouldn’t be putting your stuff online…go buy a gallery :)

  3. I have a watermark action I made a while back before I started blogging, but I never use it. Since I don’t derive income from photos it seem a waste of time. If someone were to jack a photo off the web and use it I think I would be more flattered than outraged. However, there is a copyright note in the metadata. I attach a watermark to the Museums web photos, but if someone requests a copy, that copy will be watermark free.
    I love ferns. I had them all around the house in Minnesota. They make good photo subject material.

    • Ken, As you can see I’ve been using a watermark. It’s fairly small and it’s added automatically when I export an image from Lightroom using predefined export presets — I usually don’t even thing about it and hardly notice it. Like you there’s also copyright info in the meta data. I’ll probably leave it on there now.

      Like you, I’d probably give anyone a copy of an image and be flattered they wanted it…but I’d like to be asked rather then it just being taken. :-)

  4. I’ve added then in the past but it never became a part of my workflow. I guess it’s more about my desire to show the image.

    • Monte, as I was commenting to Ken, above, Some time ago I built my watermark into my Lightroom export presets so now it just happens. It’s not something I think about each time or even something that consumes any effort from me.

      I’ve never had anyone complain about it but maybe that’s because I’ve never asked…hummm

  5. @Ken: you should always watermark your personal pictures to avoid cases like these:

    • Ivan, thanks for your visit and comment. The link you provided provides an interesting story and argument for any photographer/artist to certainly consider registering their work with the copyright office.

  6. Great looking photo Earl. It’s reminiscent of the brown/sepia toned prints of the past and works well here. Some subjects don’t look good toned but this one does.

    As far as watermarking goes, I’ve never even considered it. I don’t want anything in the image that doesn’t belong there, but that’s just me.

    • PJ, thanks this was one of those images which took on a life of its own during post-processing — normally I’m not big fan of tones.

  7. You have sparked an interesting discussion. I know of a full-time pro photographer who had an image stolen by an advertising company and spent $40,000 in legal fees to prosecute, but only received a $10,000 settlement. On top of that, by the time the company was supposed to pay, they went out of business. Sort of makes you wonder if it is worth pursuing a case when an image is stolen. Apparently watermarks may or may not prevent such abuses, as some of the earlier links show.

    • David, I doubt it’s seldom worth pursuing a stolen image case, but then that’s what the thieves are counting on. As with most problems in these times, it’s terribly complicated and there’s no easy answer. Have a good weekend!

  8. Wow, I love the graphic qualities in this image, the colour and highlights are just great! Regarding the watermarks, yours are rather subtle and don’t make much noise.

    • Hi Ove, thanks! I guess with my watermark I’m trying to play both sides of this argument. I do in many cases see a need for one but at the same time I don’t like the watermark to draw focus away from the photo. But perhaps by trying to play the middle I’m not being very successful either way. :-)

  9. I like Thomas’s example of a watermark. :-) It’s fine for someone to not like them, to penalize someone’s photo because of one might be considered a bit vindictive over a personal pet peeve.

    I use them for a few reasons;
    One – if a photo is lifted from my site, I would at least like someone to know where it came from if seeing it elsewhere. It has nothing to do with ego, there is nothing wrong with wanting to have credit given for one’s work.

    Two – a watermark has precedent in offering some legal protections if you find your image with it removed. I am not a lawyer, but have read from lawyers that it demonstrates an intent to violate copyright if it is purposefully removed.

    Three – it can offer a way of branding, which is why my logo is incorporated into it.

    I think if it is fairly subtle, it shouldn’t become too much of a distraction in enjoying the image.

    • Mark, I laughed too at Thomas’s example…I’ve seen some “almost” that bad before. I don’t disagree with any of your reasons for using a watermark and I have to say yours is very unobtrusive and stylish, one of the better ones I’ve seen. I seldom even notice yours.

      I doubt I’ll stop using a watermark, but I’m going to consider the design and placement of mine to insure it doesn’t detract from the image.

  10. I love the tones you used to show these beautiful ferns… Wow, you’ve made me rethink my watermark here! hmmm… I don’t know. I give so many of my pictures away for free, w/out watermark of course. Online, I kinda like the false sense of security the stamp gives me. I didn’t realize people had such strong feelings about watermarking and what it says about the person.

    • Thank you on the ferns, Amber! :-)

      If the watermark is well thought out, I don’t think they bother the majority of people and there are some good reasons to use one. But as with anything, some people don’t exhibit good judgement and seem to think is a little is good a whole lot is even better — Thomas’s example. :-)

  11. I, too, am a bit taken aback by the strong feelings about watermarks. Personally, I can take ‘em or leave ‘em. I don’t make any type of judgement about photographers as to their professionalism based on whether or not they use them. I feel it is just one more example of personal philosophy and neither choice effects my response to the images produced.

    Mark has described perfectly my feelings about this issue. I see nothing wrong with wanting credit for one’s work. If I give something away, I want the giving to be my choice. Very interesting discussion.

    By the way, I love the photograph. The composition is so ideal, it almost looks arranged. Nature can be pretty good at that stuff, right? If only we noticed more.

    • Anita, the arrangement of these ferns was by Mother Nature and we all know what a grand designer she is — “really” good at this stuff! I group photos like this as part of a “Treasures Beneath” series because they are photo opportunities which often fall beneath our notice…or beneath our line of sight.

      Yeah, I’m in the same boat as you and Mark on this and will continue to use a small, unobtrusive watermark.


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