On Timelapses and Terrible Photo Contests


I’m up to my eyeballs packing for what is turning out to be nearly three months of back-to-back travel, from polar regions to equatorial jungles, including both stills and video (not to mention audio), and it’s the packing challenge of a lifetime of packing challenges.

I’ll be posting regularly from the road, but in the meantime, even though my house looks like a second hand photo equipment and luggage store, I didn’t want to go longer than a week without a new post…

After my political musings, some readers pleaded for a return to good old photo how-to posts, and I was happy to oblige (really, that was just my audition to be Frank Rich’s replacement at the NY Times). I asked for suggestions and the first request was how to make a timelapse sequence.

Now this is a well-documented subject and rather than reinvent the wheel (I would, if it would help me figure out how to pack five bags of gear into three), I figured I would point you to the tutorial that I used to learn.  It comes from one of the great young guns of multimedia, Zach Wise.  Zach is a multimedia producer at the NY Times and he’s doing wonderful work there.

You will need to invest $30 in software (Quicktime Pro) to do it this way, but it’s super easy. Really, if I can do it, software-wise, you know it’s easy.

And finally, before I go, I wanted to give you heads up about yet another rights-grabbing travel photography contest, this time brought to you by rough folks at Rough Guides.

On the surface it doesn’t look too bad: you submit photos for their free World Photo app and if yours is chosen, you get a chance to win a free SLR (it’s a Canon, admittedly, but still, not bad:-)).  What’s the beef? They’re not charging for the app.

Well, I would gladly have given up the smug satisfaction of always being right when I’m suspicious of publishers running photo competitions that are no more than ploys to get free photographs for use from unsuspecting amateurs, and I have to admit it was buried down pretty deep in the terms and conditions…but here it is, read it and weep, the magic phrase that gives them all the rights to use and re-license your photographs:

By submitting an entry, each entrant (or their parent/guardian on their behalf) grants to the Promoter a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to edit, publish, translate, modify, adapt, make available and distribute the entry throughout the world in any media now known or hereafter invented.

Now, let’s not be too cynical and try to look at the bright side. They are only asking for worldwide distribution….I’ve had contracts offered and seen contest terms where they want those rights “throughout the universe” (no, sadly, I’m not kidding).

And they do say they’ll “contact you” if they really love your photograph, but according to the rules, they don’t have to. And if they don’t intend to exercise those blanket rights, why require them and then bury them deep down in the fine print (because nobody ever reads that far down in the fine print and you can get away with almost anything, I guess. Just ask the Governor of Wisconsin

Also, there’s some confusion as to deadlines (the contest begins in Dec. 2010 and ends in March 2010… so it’s either a typo, or it may be the first contest ever to be over before it began.), but unless you really enjoy having your rights run roughshod over, I’d avoid this Rough Guides contest.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Re: Timelapse – Thanks Bob, that’ll do nicely. Nice to see that feedback is listened to.

    1. Glen: I try, and I’m always open to suggestions. I may not know enough about what you’d like to read about, but if not, I’m usually able to point you to somebody who does!

  2. So, I went to the Rough Guides contact page and entered the message below. I think we should start a movement of photographers who are pissed about this behaviour to inundate their inboxes with a similar message.


    I just looked at your competition page.

    There’s not a snowballs chance in hell I would agree to this (in the terms & conditions)

    “By submitting an entry, each entrant (or their parent/guardian on their behalf) grants to the Promoter a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to edit, publish, translate, modify, adapt, make available and distribute the entry throughout the world in any media now known or hereafter invented.”

    Nice work. Looking for unsuspecting amateurs for free content.

    I’ll also never buy another of your books.

  3. Hey Bob,

    Safe travels. Sounds like packing will be another post here. I’m taking less photo gear and more support gear for that less gear, end result = more stuff.
    As far as evil contests, there’s no shortage of them lately. Shining a light on them does help as I’ve seen some back down. One of the best ways is to contact a trade association like PPA or ASMP. They do a good job at sending nasty letters and they have the numerical weight of their members, so it’s not just a lone photographer’s letter (although that don’t hurt either.)

    1. Hi Jack: Many thanks. I wish I could take less (and I have been) but the video component brings the volume of gear back up to spine-bending proportions….unless, of course, you just take a camcorder. But that would be cheating!

      I wish ASMP would get more involved in these rights-grabbing contests…they don’t seem too focused on that type of battle anymore.

      Hope all is well. cheers, Bob

  4. Bob,

    I got Error 403 messages when I clicked on the Zach Wise links above. A little research pointed me to Zach Wise on Vimeo.com: http://vimeo.com/17366599


    Gerry Fraiberg

    1. Thanks Gerry…I just tested both links above and they worked fine. Glad you were able to find an alternate route. Do me a favor and try again when you get a chance…I’m curious if this is a persistent problem or just a one-off. thanks, Bob

  5. Must have been a server glitch. Works fine now. Gerry

    1. Thanks for checking, Gerry, I appreciate it. cheers, Bob

  6. Hi Bob. My friends keep asking me why I don’t enter photo contests. This blog as well as one a few months ago have convinced me I am doing the right thing. Safe travels. I look forward to seeing the images. Can Peggy join you for some of the journeys?

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