Saturday, February 11, 2012

Header Pictures

Two of my favorite bloggers, Baydog at 829 southdrive and Tweezerman at Earwigoagin have recently been in the habit of regularly changing the header pictures on their blogs. Often the new header photo is so interesting in its own right that they eventually write a post to explain the story behind the picture. Never having been someone too shy to steal someone else's idea I have changed my header picture this week. Well, actually I changed it twice. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

For many months I had been using this picture as the header on my blog.

Pretty boring, eh? But at least it had the merits that it didn't take up much too vertical space and it didn't distract too much from the latest post on the blog. Actually that's a question that I'm still in two minds about: Should the header picture be eye-catching or should it should blend into the background so the latest post attracts the eye more? What do you think?

I did think the picture of the tops of Laser masts might make people wonder, "What the hell is going on here?" So just in case you were asking that (which you probably weren't) here's how that photo started out before I cropped it down and made it black and white.

A typical windward mark rounding on a winter afternoon at my old club, Cedar Point YC in Connecticut. I may well be in that mayhem somewhere but you can't see me.

Lately I've been getting bored with that black and white picture of tops of masts, and was also feeling that the blog was looking claustrophobic. I wanted to widen the blog slightly and put up a wider header photo with a bit more oomph.

So for a few days this week I was using this photo.

The photo was stolen by me from the Greenwich Bay Sailing Association website and, although not identified as such there, I believe it's of a start at the 2008 Laser World Championships in Terrigal, Australia.

The picture appealed to me as it captured so well the intensity of the sailing in a top Laser fleet a few seconds after the start. Look at those expressions! And, the way I cropped, it there was even a nice white space in the top left-hand corner for the actual title of the blog.

But, after a few days, I became dissatisfied with this picture. All those hotshot Laser sailors staring so purposefully at me began to unnerve me. "Why don't you get great starts like this all the time?" they seemed to be saying. Besides, this photo used up too much blog real estate in the vertical dimension. So I started hunting around the web for a better header photo.

The new photo is stolen from John Bertrand's blog Bertrand Racing. That's American John Bertrand, Laser world champion in 1976 and 1977 and silver medal winner in the Finn class in the 1984 Olympics; not Australian John Bertrand who skippered Australia II to victory in the 1983 America's Cup and who won the bronze medal in the Finn class in the 1976 Olympics. I know. It's confusing. It would be like having two guys called Mitt Romney running for president. Why doesn't one of them change their name, for Pete's sake?

The photo is in John's post about 2010 Laser Masters Worlds - Day 4 and is captioned "A quick fast start led to a second place finish in the first race today" although it apparently shows John leading the fleet into the windward mark.

John finished third in the Masters fleet in that Masters World. I was sailing in the Grandmasters fleet and didn't finish third. For me the picture captures the essence of the Hayling Island Worlds. Those dark foreboding clouds remind me of the chilly, damp, often very breezy, weather in England that week. I start shivering again every time I look at it.

So I hope you like the new header picture. But you probably don't care. Why should you?


Blue Whale said...

Do any of those pictures have women in them. How about one that includes you?

Tillerman said...

Good points Blue Whale.

I was so engrossed in looking for pictures with nice arrangements of Laser sailboats that I didn't even think about the gender of the sailors in them. The only one that might have the odd female sailor - let me rephrase that - one or two female sailors, is the one of frostbiting at CPYC. But how you would tell with all that winter gear on? I have no idea.

Likewise, I might well be on one of the boats in the CPYC picture but, if so, my body and sail number are obscured.

One of the reasons is that there are only a few women racing on the circuit in Laser full rigs. And at all major championships, the women are usually segregated into the Laser Radial class. So you can have a picture of a lot of ladies in Radials or a lot of gentlemen in full rigs, but hardly ever a mixed fleet with any significant number of ladies.

On the other hand I think I've been more than fair to the fairer sex in selecting pictures to go with individual posts. For several years it almost seemed I had an obsession with Anna Tunnicliffe; there are lots of pictures of her. And Ms 43, by popular request, has appeared several times.

Jon Deutsch said...

You should really consider respecting the rights of the photographers who took those pictures... if they didn't expressly grant you permission to use them, then you don't have permission.

As a photographer, it takes a lot of work and resources to get amazing pictures. For those who ask, I'm happy to allow use of my pictures, usually free, but on my terms. I don't appreciate when people take my pictures and using them without permission.

Tillerman said...

You have a good point Jon. In principle I totally agree with you.

However, sometimes it's hard to track down the original owner of a photo. The two photos I used for the first time this week, for example, were on sites where almost certainly the website author wasn't the original photographer, and there was no attribution to the copyright owner either. I suppose I should have emailed the owners of those sites, and then if they replied and if they remembered where they got the photos from, I should have followed the chain back to the copyright owners. I confess I took the easy way out and just referenced the sites on which I had found the photos.

When I was writing about those ten bloggers who went to Dubai to cover the VOR I discovered that one them had a blog which was nothing but other people's images that he had culled from the web.

His "About" page carried this text...

"The images hosted on this blog have been hunted, culled and collected from the world wide web to be presented as visual stimulus for those viewing. This imagery is not being presented as my own, unless noted under the specific work. Copyright still belongs to the owner / creator of said work and this blog is receiving no financial benefits from it’s use.

If you see your work on this blog and wish it to be referenced, please email me at yimmyayo[at] with the post url and I will glady add your details to the post."

Not a perfect solution I know, but better than nothing. Perhaps I should make the same disclaimer. No, wait, I can't just copy it, can I? Oops!

George A said...

Tillerman: I'm also torn between changing my blog's header photo vs keeping it constant. Change is supposed to good since it spices things up a bit but then the decision to not change seems also good as it insures constancy or certain "brand identity" which instantly signals to repeat visitors that they've arrived at the expected blogspot. So, which way to proceed?

Basically my view is to never lose sight that it's your blogspot and you should please yourself ahead of your audience. I may someday tire of the photo in my blog's header and when that day arrives, change it I will!

Baydog said...

(chortling......)I am thrilled beyond belief when you borrow a photo from me. Now if you stole a recipe from me, wait, I still would be honored.
I change my header photo too often, as is my wont. And I've changed my profile pic twice as many times at least. So F****n' what.

JP said...

That's a good point about photos - when I can reference the source I should. I've always relied on the fair use concept though that is slightly a grey area.

One reason for not taking adverts on my blog is I can say that line about no financial gain, which I might add to the about text (or at least something similar!)

Tillerman said...

The more I look at that new header picture, the more I realize that the color is all wrong. The sea wasn't that blue and the dark clouds across the top of the picture were certainly not that blue. Who has ever seen clouds that color? Not in the English Channel anyway. Also there is very little detail in those clouds.

My friend O Docker, who knows a thing or two about photography also thought that the photo didn't look quite right so he started playing with it in Photoshop and sent me a version that he thinks is closer to what the original scene was probably like.

Hmmm. I'm not sure what to do now. Although the original photo looks wrong, it's freaky blue tinge is starting to grow on me. After all, aren't all the cool kids using Instagram to put photos through filters that change the natural color tone to achieve weird retro artificial effects? And talking of freaky effects what did O Docker do to achieve the effect in his header photo?

Should I use O Docker's more "correct" version of the header photo. Or should I make it even more blue? Or should I change it to black and white like my old header?


You sure can waste a lot of time tweaking your blog.

Tweezerman said...

Well you did touch on one advantage and that you can always gin up a post on the header photo rather than wracking the brain to come up with something new.

As far as reblogging, that's the wild ways of the Internet. If you don't want your images used, put them behind a password protected site. I've had an image of me sailing appear in a odd blog where I didn't expect it, I wasn't asked if the image could be used, but he, just like me, am not going to spend hours and hours trying to track down the photographer. I don't have a problem with it. And, if someone objects to me reblogging their photo I would not hesitate to pull the photo down from Earwigoagin or put the proper attribution up.

I like the current header photo Tillerman. Rather than quibble about colors, I look at the photo and see an obvious squally cloud moving over the race course and wonder if the Laser fleet got some gusty winds or a huge wind shift. Either looks possible.

Keep it up.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Tweezerman.

On the whole issue of copying stuff, I feel the same as you. I have put up a couple of statements at the bottom of my sidebar which pretty well sum up my position on the issues. Basically they say...

1. Yeah, I copy photos but if you see one of yours and you want me to take it down or give you credit, then just let me know and I will.

2. The text here is pretty much all my own work but you can copy it if you want. Knock yourself out.

That day in Hayling Island was the one day that I actually completed both races. I don't remember any major squalls or anything like that. I think the sky looked like that almost every day.

O Docker said...

I try to credit photos on my blog, but you're right - it's often impossible to know the original source.

Today, I think photogs should be realistic and realize that their posted photos may well be redistributed. If the photos are credited and the reposting site is not a commercial site, I don't see the harm.

The photographer's inability to control redistribution of photos isn't new.

For years, when newspaper photographers' photos have been picked up by the AP, no matter how many papers and commercial outlets around the world might publish those photos, the photographer's paper has been paid only a small, flat fee (that is not based on the amount of play a photo might receive). The photographer himself may not see even that compensation.

The economics of this arrangement have been largely responsible for making the AP photo service possible.

Baydog said...

Those 2 statements knocked old Baydog again from the "what the critics say" section.

Tillerman said...

That damn Arvin. What has he done now?

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