Teaching cell phone photography

I’ll be working tomorrow with a group of Grade 8 students. We’re going to talk about how to take good photos with cell phone cameras. I’ll be giving them a handout to try to help them understand the ideas, and we’ll practise too.

Here’s the document if you want it: cell-phone-photography

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A good reason to NOT embed images in your blog post

Recently Getty Images announced that they were making a bazillion photos available for embedding in your blog posts and other web content. Many people misunderstood this to mean that Getty was opening up their catalogue for any kind of non-commercial use, but that is not the case. There are a lot of great discussions about the limitations of Getty’s free offering, but there is one point that really makes it a deal-killer for me:

You can embed only

Embedding means that the image is still hosted at Getty and your blog post just links to it. Your blog’s site is not storing a copy of the image at all.

Why this is a good idea

Embedding means that your audience can find the source.

It means that you’re not illegally taking a copy of the image and misrepresenting it as your own.

It makes attribution really easy, because it’s like auto-attribution.

Why this is not such a good idea

What if Getty’s site is unavailable?

What if they change the terms down the road?

What if they simply change the structure of the embed code, breaking your links to their images?

It’s fine in the short term, but there is a long-term maintenance problem. That’s okay for content that is “timely” and essentially expires; it’s not okay for content which we want to have persist.

Reliability is a good reason to not embed

If you can download an image, possibly modify it if the license allows, and upload it to your blog’s media library, you have a copy of it to use forever (or thereabouts). I like to search on Flickr by licence type for CC-BY images which give me wonderful freedom. It’s also how I share my own images, so help yourself.

Include attribution and links to the source, and you’ll be okay even if the distributor is later offline or revokes future licenses.

There is a nice-looking plugin called WP Inject if you’re using a self-hosted WordPress solution, or you can do something like this when uploading media to WordPress.com:

A screenshot showing how to attribute a Flickr image to me

Which will then appear like this:

An image showing a series of three laptops in a row. Only the nearest is partly in focus.

“Line of laptops” by Brandon Grasley via Flickr (CC BY)

Notice that the creator is properly attributed, the licence is listed (which is nice if not exactly necessary), and the image itself is a link to the photo on Flickr. That makes it easy to find, and I think that’s better than a gross-looking, unreliable embedded photo which might vanish without warning.

Great Grey Owl snow-plunges and catches mouse!

Our family was sitting at home eating pancakes this morning when my daughter pointed out the kitchen window and said, “Whoa, look at that huge bird!”

We turned to look – it was an owl, and a big one. We had never seen one here before; in fact, I last glimpsed an owl for just a moment as a kid. This one turned out to be a Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa, according to Wikipedia).

A couple of weeks ago I saw some deep holes in the snow as I was dumping the ashes from the woodstove. There were marks on either side of the holes, and I figured it was a crow (we have a lot of those) catching a mouse. My wife suggested this morning that perhaps it was this owl.

Out came the camera, and we saw something pretty amazing. I took about 250 pictures, and here are some of the better ones, mostly in the order I took them. I didn’t touch them up, although I did resize/crop a little. Click on each photo for a slightly larger version; I’ll post full-size (4272px by 2848px) for specific requests (tell me the filename).

(For the curious, the camera is a Canon Rebel XSi, and I used a Tamron 70-300mm zoom lens. It has a UV filter on it also.)

Listening at the top of a spruce tree.

Listening at the top of a spruce tree.

Ready to plunge - hearing breakfast under the snow.

Ready to plunge – hearing breakfast under the snow.

In flight, searching...

In flight, searching…

Starting the descent...

Starting the descent…

Tucking in...

Tucking in…

In the snow.

In the snow.

In the snow, closer.

In the snow, closer.

Looking around. Watching for predators, maybe?

Looking around. Watching for predators, maybe?

Back to business.

Back to business.

Success!

Success! (That’s a rodent; maybe a mouse or a vole)

IMG_8027

Flipping it up.

Flipping it up.

One...

One…

sdf

Two…

Three. (This reminded me of Tootsie Pops.)

Three. (This reminded me of Tootsie Pops.)

Jumping up from the snow. Look at the talons!

Jumping up from the snow. Look at the talons!

Soaring away.

Soaring away.

sd

Another picture in flight.

Perched in a birch, being pestered by blue jays. They're shouting at each other.

Perched in a birch, being pestered by blue jays. They’re shouting at each other.

Ruffling....

Ruffling….

And ruffled. What an enormous bird.

And ruffled. What an enormous bird.

Very yellow eyes, distinctive white markings.

Very yellow eyes, distinctive white markings.

The hole and marks left in the snow from the plunge (Canon 50mm prime lens, FYI).

The hole and marks left in the snow from the plunge (Canon 50mm prime lens, FYI).

Closeup of the hole, with visible blood (Canon 50mm prime lens).

Closeup of the hole, with visible blood (Canon 50mm prime lens).

Last picture as he left our yard.

Last picture as he left our yard.

Exciting morning! I’m writing this blog post, and my wife and daughter were both inspired to write books, which was possibly the coolest thing about the whole experience. I love living in the country!