Author Archives: bobkrist

Pay Me, and I Won’t Shoot!

The recent kerfuffle between Mike Sorrentino, (aka “The Situation” on the Jersey Shore) and Abercrombie and Fitch, whereby the company offered New Jersey’s second-most-famous Guido (sorry, Mike, but Tony Soprano would never forgive me) money NOT to wear its clothes, got me to thinking.

I’m from New Jersey, I’m obnoxious, and I can often be seen with a six-pack (although I usually carry mine in a brown paper bag). What if I offer my clients the opportunity NOT to shoot for them….for a nice fee?

It’s a brilliant marketing strategy for the new photographic economy. Think about it….It’s pretty much a given that publications, clients, and websites do not want to pay the going rates for experienced content producers…in fact, they’d like to not pay for content at all.

So, if you’re unfashionable enough, how much will they pay you NOT to use your content?

Most publications are desperate for ways to put old-timers out to pasture with the minimum of fuss (and this fall, from what I hear, the pasture stands a good chance of becoming rather full).

Rather than the usual; i.e. letting us drift into obscurity by simply pretending we don’t exist, not returning emails and phone calls, and ignoring story proposals, and then getting lambasted in the photo blogosphere, let’s put a positive spin on it.

Just send the checks, and we’ll promise not to shoot a thing.

In fact, make those checks big enough, and we will deny ever having wielded a camera in the name of any given publication or client.

I know what you’re thinking: this is nuts. It may well be, but it makes about as much sense as shooting for links, sweatin’ your SEO, creating your brand, and all the other career advice I read lately.

So you heard it here first. From another Jersey boy.  If it’s good enough for The Situation, and agri-business, it should be good enough for photographers. Just pay us, and we’ll promise not to shoot for you……

Posted in Career issues, Ironies, Legal Issues

Tuscan town tries to copyright its landscapes


The township of San Quirico D’Orcia, in the heart of one of the most picturesque stretches of Tuscany, wants to copyright its views and landscapes. These are some of the most iconic views of this area (many of which appear in my book In Tuscany, with Frances Mayes).

Although it sounds ridiculous, you have to have sympathy with the events that brought about this extraordinary move….the place was tired of its image being exploited by commercial concerns like Monsanto, which used beautiful images of the area to promote its genetically modified crop seeds, and other promotional uses.

The move is not without precedent in our own country…the Pebble Beach Golf Course near Monterey, California has trademarked the Lone Pine tree, a beautiful tree out on a promontory that had been photographed (and published) by just about everybody. So take a picture of this tree and publish it, and you may hear from Pebble Beach’s lawyers.

There is some speculation that what the town wants to do is to trademark, not copyright, their views. Often, in Italy, the terms “copyright” and “trademark” are used interchangeably.

Whatever the term, it’s going to cast a pall on shooting in this beautiful area….sure glad I did it when I did.  Below is a translation of the article I found on the iStockPhoto forums….I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the translation, especially that last sentence, which from its  grammatical construction would seem to want to say that editorial use would not be punished (although the translation says just the opposite).

San d’Orcia Quirico put the copyright on itself. His celebrated glance, starting from the crown of cypress trees, now risen to an emblem of quiet rural absolute, can no longer be used to advertise mattresses and mineral industries, and even corporations that produce GMOs, as it happened in the past: who will film must request permission 15 days in advance and, if this is granted, will be in place, however, the obligation to “acknowledge the source” of beauty that will be put on display, San Qurico same. 

 The city council of the town of Siena, Unesco World Heritage, with the valley of which has been, since 2004, has approved the rules last week, everything is already operational. The 2,500 inhabitants of the village located on the Via Cassia, between Pienza, Montalcino and Monte Amiata, were sad to see the exploitation of images of their carpet birthplace: the church of Vilatela, the hill of Podere Belvedere and above the cypress trees. “We saw them everywhere – says the Head of Tourism, Christian Pilgrims – Posteitaliane by a manufacturer of mattresses, a well-known brand of mineral water that Umbria has built over the whole packaging is in German hotels that advertised them as the ‘view’ hotel …”. 

The most prominent case in 2007, when Monsanto, the multinational GM seed, used the iconic vision, aware of its potential evocative of the bucolic world perfect, that the production of GM crops was far from being able to represent. The administration sent a letter of formal notice to the company, which stopped using the image. But this was the straw breaks the camel’s capable of and now, after 4 years and for a change of leadership of the country (now there’s the PD) has reached the decision that puts an end to the exploitation of “deception” of the natural and architectural beauty San Quirico. 

“This is not want to penalize anyone – says councilor for productive activities Mauro Taddei, promoter of the initiative – there is only the desire to protect the territory from the unfair use, as sometimes happened, seeing at last recognized the principle of reciprocity”. 

As mentioned, the permission for commercial or advertising purposes must be requested at least 15 days before the shooting and the municipal manager of the service, then notify in writing the acceptance or not. Image advertising must also be marked “Recovery or photograph taken in San Quirico d’Orcia”. When shooting photos or unauthorized or improper use, administrative penalties in addition to compensation for any damage caused. 

But what will happen to the tourists who get to take pictures, maybe with a tripod? “They can rest assured, there will be no ‘censorship’,” reassures Pilgrims, “which prohibits any alert, or trade unions about what you are photographing or filming, any counter-measures will be taken back.” And even the exploitation of professional beauties of the village “positive” (architectural photography, travel, which obviously must cite the source), will be penalized in any way by the new regulation. 

Here’s the original article in Italian

If you read Italian, perhaps you can check the last graph and get back to us!


Posted in Uncategorized

Fishing Mission


It’s been quiet around here, largely because I’ve been running around on a couple of things, including taking (not teaching) a workshop in video making. Sometimes, real life gets in the damn way of blogging…like the old days, when we all had lives that didn’t involve screens. I remember those days….

Anyway, I’ve been working hard to produce this mini documentary, about one of the villages in Southwest England where my mother’s branch of the family hails from, and the problems the local fishermen are facing.

It was supposed to be a vacation, but when I ran into Bill Cowan, a retired fisherman whom I first photographed back in 1992 (when he was 70!) on the streets of the village for an Islands Magazine assignment. We got to talking, and of course,  I broke out the gear and started filming. Here’s Bill in ’92:


The video is edited by my buddy John Campbell from Echo Media. John has the great ability to take my blather and my video and make it into a story. When I grow up, I want to be able to do what he does. Who knows, maybe Final Cut X will help me there. 

It’s shot mainly with the Nikon D7000, but I also used the Sony NEX VG 10 and the little Sony NEX 5. The slider shots are all with the little Sony….with my lightweight tripod and head, and small slider, the NEX 5 is about as heavy a camera as you’d want to put on that setup. 

It’s all APS-C chip sized video, and it’s all good (well, the Sony’s are super susceptible to moire, and they record in the dreaded AVCHD format, but basically, it’s all good.).

You know my feelings about the NEX VG10 from the previous post, but I can’t say enough good things about the NEX 5—so compact, so full-featured, a full sized chip…it’s the compact camera Nikon and Canon should have made, um, ages ago. 

In the words of the great philosopher DeAndre Cole (as embodied by Kenan Thompson of SNL), “What’s up with that?


Posted in Uncategorized

And The Winner Is….



I’ve been working with the footage from my grand experiment, pitting the Sony NEX VG 10, an APS-sized chip camcorder against HDSLRs, in this case, the Nikon D7000.

And before I tell you what my take on the whole thing is, I’d like to preface it by saying:

I really wanted to like the Sony—-what the hell, it should have been the best of both worlds. A camcorder design with an APS sized chip, better audio, great image stabilization, and interchangeable lenses, an articulated LCD, and an electronic viewfinder.

What’s not to like? In a word—the User Interface, and the goddamn file format.  Wait, that’s more than a word, it’s a sentence. And in this case, for me, a death sentence.

Oh man, whoever invented the AVCHD format should be taken out behind the barn and given a good whuppin’.  It’s a horrible, computer-averse, super highly compressed format that is just horrific to work with, especially a Mac. When you uncompress this format, and transcode it into something you can work with in iMovie or Final Cut, it bloats to 10x the size!

At the highest quality settings, that works out to about a gigabyte a minute…yes, 1GB for every minute of video. At least. It will gag the most robust of computers.

And in anticipation of emails and comments, yes I know that iMovie and FCP will import the AVCHD as is, but here’s the deal…I rarely import more than about 25% of what I shoot. I first like to “scrub” the clips (using Photo Mechanic and Quicktime) and only import what has a chance of being used. Try that with a direct import.

It’s clunky, unwieldable, and unnecessary. And don’t get me started on the moire issues with this camera….the D7000 and the D5100 kick ass in this department, and also in lens and sharpness categories as well.

So despite the fact that I have to stick on an auxiliary LCD loupe, an auxiliary mic and a sound recorder, and a wacky shoulder stabilizer to get the same ergonomic ease that the Sony gives you with no after-market chatchkas hanging off it, the nod goes to the DSLR…in this case, the D7000, but I have a feeling it will eventually be the D5100 (because of the articulating screen).

So, I’m selling the Sony NEX VG 10….but I’m keeping (and loving) the little Sony NEX 5 that I picked up as a backup camera with this setup. This is a compact, APS-sized (or near enough) sensor compact camera with articulating LCD, a great auxiliary mic, tiny size, lovely pancake 16mm f/2.8 lens (That takes auxiliary ultrawide and fisheye adapter lenses).

And, probably most important of all, the NEX 5 gives you the option of going AVCHD or MPEG4. True the latter produces a slightly smaller file size than the AVCHD, but it is a lifesaver in terms of ease of use.

The super compact size of the NEX 5 allows me to use it on  a very lightweight stabilizer (Ebay’s famous Indie Systems $60 stabilizer) and also on a small slider on a very lightweight tripod (the Slik HD Travel Pro). Because it’s a large chip, it gives pretty decent results in low light . Plus, it looks so innocuous that nobody ever stops you from shooting/filming. You look like a total tyro using this cam, and I love that.

So, my dream of an APS sized chip camcorder is still unfulfilled, but I’ve got a nice little system using the Nikon D7000 for the serious stuff and the NEX 5 for the grab stuff.

Next up…can the D5100 replace the D7000 as your main vid-cam? (Oy, will this stuff never end?????). Stay tuned.


Posted in Uncategorized

D7000 Timelapse


screen_shot_2011_05_23_at_71610_am.pngWell, the video embedder here at Pixiq is working true to form (that is to say, it’s not) so click here to see a cute little timelapse of a huge honking tidal change from my recent visit to Cornwall, in southwest England.

Tech: Nikon D7000, Tokina 11-16mm, 1 frame every 30 seconds for about 8 hours, put together with Quicktime.

More to come, now that I’m back from “vacation.” (during which, I did a lot of work, as is often the case with the self-employed!).

Posted in Uncategorized