Tag Archives: Google

Advice on taking pictures in a riot

Occupy SeattleAdvice on taking pictures in a riot

 

This is probably one of the most dangerous things that you can do as a photographer. When the press gets shot at, and photographers get arrested for taking pictures of Ferguson, you know that you are entering a dangerous environment. While Photography is not a crime, there is a wide held belief in law enforcement that taking pictures of the police in action is illegal.

 

Plan on not resisting what ever the police tell you to do.

 

First things first, make sure your camera is connected to the Internet so that as you take pictures they are uploaded to a secure cloud service like Flickr, Smugmug, Zenfolio or other service that can take the storage of pictures as you go. I also highly recommend taking advantage of the Comcast XFinity public WIFI and carrying your own cell hot spot for your camera. You can expect jamming or at least the use of Stingray equipment so do not contact anyone on your phone just use it to upload your images to the net. Police will have a copy of everything you send when they use Stingray, and it might not transmit to the Internet depending on how Law Enforcement has the system set up.

 

You might want to transfer data laterally using Blue Tooth to a number of connected devices (more below).

 

In some ways it would be better to use an IPhone or something else that connects automatically to the internet, however you can set up your camera to use a WIFI enabled card on your camera like EyeFI and/or Transcender cards that way you have your local copy and one that is already on the internet. It is possible to jam the signals from your camera, which was seen in Hong Kong during the recent protests, but you can always use Blue Tooth to share the pictures laterally amongst a number of cell phones or connected devices.

 

If you transfer data laterally via Blue Tooth, carry a spare cell phone on you to store data, or travel with a friend that can also try to upload the pictures for you onto the Internet. The thing to remember is that you can have 7 devices connected, and that there is one master node with six slave nodes, however, the slave nodes can be masters in another mesh. This does work, but requires set up before you get to the event, and understand that you will want to have an in-depth mesh for this process to work. However it worked in Hong Kong to successfully get data out of the local Law Enforcement jamming of cell phones and networks.

 

Use twitter as a sending channel as well on the spot understanding that the signals can and probably are being intercepted. What you share with the Internet Law Enforcement will also be keeping an eye on.

 

If you are independent, hang out with a local news crew; some of the pictures I have taken have been from right behind a local news crew. We hung out, we talked, I told them I was an independent stringer, and I sold pictures to the local TV station while I was at it. This is one safeguard, as Law Enforcement will see you with a local news crew and make the assumption you are news and leave you alone along with the news crew. Don’t be an idiot about it, move around the crowd to get the pictures you want, but when it gets hairy, be close to a news crew.

 

Use professional equipment; using your IPhone to take pictures immediately says you are not a pro. Take professional DSLR gear with you; use your IPhone in your pocket to get the images onto the Internet. Your DSLR gear can take video as well as stills, you goal is to make sure you have access to the images and video you took off your devices in case you are arrested and have your gear confiscated.

 

Always cooperate with Law Enforcement requests, if they want you on the sidewalk get on the sidewalk.

 

Don’t argue, don’t complain, just do it.

 

A number of times Law Enforcement has after the protest asked me for copies of the pictures, that one is up to you. Your goal is to sell the pictures; you can sell them to Law Enforcement as much as you can sell them to the press. That one is up to your own ideas, but as long as they are in a public gallery Law Enforcement can also download them unless you have set up to sell the pictures first.

 

Cooperate with Law Enforcement, if they tell you to move on, move on. Find another vantage point to take the pictures from.

 

Stay out of the way, your goal is to document, not get arrested. Have a camera for close in, but if you are moved out of the way along with other media, find a roof top vantage point, and a super fast F1.8 200MM or 400MM lens to work with.

Try not to look like a sniper, police will have an issue with that, I highly recommend an orange reflective vest and a sign that says “PRESS” so that the police do not thing that you are a sniper.

At least you will get some good long distance shots. Shoot RAW to get as much data as possible, but if not shoot JPG Fine. The problem is going to be the upload and distance from the picture. Make sure you have plenty of remaining room on your cell phone or hot spot plan to cover the event. If you think you are going to shoot a full 32 Gig card, plan accordingly with your data plan so you don’t get over runs and the higher cost associated with that.

 

Be careful about flying drones around the area if you are using one. The FAA might have declared it a no flight zone. Make sure you are streaming the video to a storage system in case the drone gets shot down or gets interfered with or jammed. Use a cheap drone with a cheap camera because it will be likely that you will lose it. Fry’s electronics has a good collection of sub $100.00 dollar drones that have enough lift for a small video camera. You can hack a small video camera like the $20.00 Bang Good HD video camera and connect it to the drone and transmitter. You need to transmit it and connect it to power, but that won’t be hard to do either. Have a separate power source for the camera so you don’t interfere with the battery life of the drone you are using. In all you can cobble a good video drone for under $100.00 if you are of the type. You will need to be aware that they run on the same frequency as Cell Phones WIFI 2.4GHZ, and also subject to jamming. Some transmitters have multiple channels and work in the 5.4 GHZ range, so test your drone before you fly to make sure audio and video is coming through and not being jammed.

 

However, cheap disposable drones are an exciting advance in photography for covering important events. That cannot be understated, it keeps the photographer safe and somewhat untraceable, while capturing amazing photography and video of an event.

 

While the goal here is not to antagonize Law Enforcement, being an independent stringer for covering riots and other actions carries its own risks. If you are detained expect your devices to be gone through, and in some cases the video will be copied or erased from your devices. It is easy to recover the data using commercial off the shelf forensics tools, but you might need help with using them, or pay for the data recovery.

 

Be prepared, be realistic, and above all be safe when doing this. There is something sweet about close in photography, but the inherent danger might require that you move out of the way and go remote.

 

Follow up to the Great Smugmug Hack of 2014

example of geolocation of IP AddressFollow up to the Great Smugmug Hack of 2014

 

Earlier this year we talked about the exposure of boudoir pictures on Smugmug, and I was one of the lucky winners. 8 months or so later it is still happening, people are still not password protecting their galleries, or making the passwords easily guessable. I get a report from Smugmug almost daily (early on it was a report 3 times a day) about people trying to get to the galleries.

 

Needless to say that we have implemented a much stronger password policy on the naughty bits so that they do not end up on “hot or not” or some other web site that ends up rating the person in the picture. Believe me there is nothing more unfriendly than a call from a model wanting to know why their pictures are on a “porn site”.

 

What is interesting is that the methods that the “hackers” are using have changed from exterior links (many of the voyeur web sites cracked down on that when it went public on much more public web sites than mine) to using Smugmug’s own internal search mechanism looking for those pictures we have posted, and made them Smugmug searchable.

 

Usually when you mark a gallery with a password it will not be indexed in Smugmug search, but the gallery keywords will be. So if you want to really annoy someone, post a bunch of pictures of cats, and keyword them with nude pussy. I am not above pranking people using Smugmug’s internal search mechanism to annoy someone.

 

If you use Gallery (Folder, Page) Key wording (like we should be doing to get more attention on the site, and in Google) then those will show up even if the gallery is password protected (as much as I can tell, for naughty pictures I stopped using Gallery, Folder and Image keywords and most of the “hacking traffic” has dropped to nill) and there will be a result in the search if they are looking for galleries.

 

This is one of the more interesting aspects of what we think we learned about Smugmug internal search.

 

The internal search tool is amazingly good, and absolutely relies on the keywords and text that you wrap around your images. Again you should be using text captions, you should be using key words when setting up your images either in Lightroom or photo editor of choice, and then going through and making sure that Smugmug picked up the keywords by looking at the images after the upload. A lot of photographers I have noticed do not use this function, it is critical if you want your stuff picked up by internal or external search engines.

 

But it is also a double edged sword, if you do not set a password on your gallery, or your pictures, then it is easily picked up by Smugmug internal search, and the “hackers” have resorted to using that tool to keep up to date on all the groovy naughty stuff being posted to Smugmug.

I have to applaud Smugmug though for their efforts to help photographers understand what was going on early on in the year. Indeed voyeur web sites and some amateur porn sites had picked up the boudoir and other pictures that were being posted online because of faulty use of the Smugmug system.

 

The bad part is that the “hacks” are still happening, but based on what we are seeing inside our Smugmug and Google Analytic statistics, 90% of all the attempts are being driven by the Smugmug internal search feature now, rather than the majority of this coming from outside sources.

 

Let us know if you have any questions, we would love to hear your side of the story.

 

So your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hacked

So your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hackedSo your naughty pictures on Smugmug got hacked

It seems that on February 7th, and ongoing through the end of last night people were trolling Smugmug and Zenfolio for all those naughty boudoir pictures that people have been taking and putting behind a password. The good part is that the link was taken down at the site collecting them, and the admin of the site was being pretty cool about it even if it is a voyeur web site. It was pretty easy to find with all the traffic going on about how this was happening.

Really your stuff wasn’t hacked, it was more using an automated scraper to find anything with the word nude in the title, then a quick automated check to see if you were using any one of the 100 most commonly used passwords for the gallery.

example of geolocation of IP Address

So if you used a name or the password password you can pretty much so figure out that someone saw the pictures who is not the client you were taking pictures of at the time. So nope, not really hacking, more like some pretty effective social engineering and those are two things in my mind. My adventure with this started last night when one of the most impressive smugmug support heroes gave me a quick shout that someone was trying to guess the password to a gallery I posted a year ago, I am kind of flattered that they would try this, and I am guilty of using password hints up through this morning when I reset all the passwords on my protected galleries. I am also thankful that really nothing got to where it should not have gone because I use at least some sort of password security, and now the hint shows the old password when the password has changed just because I want to be a jerk about all this.

From there it was a quick dive through my Smugmug Organizer and resetting about 2 dozen passwords, then going on a hunt, while I am a photographer by hobby, I am a computer security person by trade, so this was a great way to exercise just a few of my skills this morning. But you might want to keep an eye out on your traffic levels, looking for anything unusual, and if you have a pop on a password protected gallery, change the password on it. This one will come around again, now that people know to do this, hey there it is.

Geolocate the IP Addresses, Smugmug will do that for you, check your referrers too if you allowed embedding along the way. Smugmug recommends setting the password before uploading, that way it does not get slurped into the RSS feed of smugmug while you are uploading, don’t use the same password, and for the love of all that you believe in don’t use an easily guessed password. Don’t use password hints, turn off Right Click Save As, and one site recommended not to post them online at all, meet up with the client and hand them a CD of their pictures. Of course that won’t matter if your computer gets hacked, but that is also a risk we face in this day and age.

SLRLounge also has some good advice to follow along the way as well.

So check your stuff out today, don’t wait, while the main thread is down at the creeper site (voyeur site), it does not mean that this won’t happen again, you might as well take good steps now to secure your stuff. And keep your clients from showing up in places they didn’t think they would show up in. There is nothing quite so much as to ruin your day as having a client ask you why their pictures are all over a porn site.

 

 

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Setting Keywords and Captions in Smugmug

Flickr Tags and KeywordsSetting Keywords and Captions in Smugmug

So many of my friends and fellow photographers have been asking about how I get so many picture views. In general I pay close attention to what I am taking pictures of, and while I do tend to overshoot with too many pictures of the same pose, I really try to take a good quality picture. The other side of this is understanding how communities work at Smugmug, and other sites like Flickr and Deviant Art. Smugmug is a semi-closed community, where the search engines do not tend to index them as much they could, so there are two ways to get hits to your gallery.

One blog with at least 400 words what you took pictures of, why they are awesome, and link back to your gallery or have a small gallery included in your blog entry like I do here. The search engines are able to build a context around the pictures and will then go check out your gallery so they will end up in Google. Each person with a link @smugmug.com will tend to have a low Page Rank unless they do this, making it hard for people to find your galleries from the internet.

The other part is the internal audience to Smugmug, Flickr or anywhere else. I would say that 90% of all my traffic comes from internal audiences, not from search engines. Internal audiences are people on the site looking for pictures. People will search Smugmug looking for keywords about your pictures. From what I have been able to gather, the search feature of most of the picture storing sites is geared towards those keywords, popularity, and the captions that go along with them. That is why you will see keyword clouds for just about every photographer on Smugmug.

Setting Keywords and Captions is the most important thing you can do with Smugmug or any picture site. You should stick to somewhere between 15 and 25 relevant keywords about what the picture is about. It is generally a bad idea to use keywords that do not describe your pictures because you want traffic. With the changes to Smugmug, it is sometimes hard to find out where to set keywords and captions not just for the pictures but for the galleries as well. So I made this sweet little video to help you the photographer understand how to set keywords and captions for your galleries and individual pictures. Hope you enjoy it. Feel free to share it to anyone you think might be interested.

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SEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

Flickr Tags and KeywordsSEO for Photographers Part 1 Tagging Images with Keywords

This is something I have been meaning to post for a very long time, but one of the issues that so many of my photographer friends have is not tagging their pictures. Or if they do tag, they are all over the map thinking that a ton of tags are what is going to drive the picture views. If you are using more than 20 tags on your images you are typing too much. Really what you want to do is work out a plan for how you want to tag, keeping in mind the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr will cross over to Deviant Art and 500PX. They should work on instagram but that is a different audience and I don’t really do instagram. They will work on Tumblr, but Tumblr is pretty much so fragmented into communities. So you are going to want to use community specific tags over there for your pictures.

For this article though I am just going to go over the most popular tags on Smugmug and Flickr. They are the two major warehouses for images, used by people all over the world, and store hundreds of terabytes of data that people are going to be looking through. There are millions of pictures uploaded to both services every day, so you need to be smart about tagging to cut through all the noise. The good part is that Smugmug and Flickr both make it easy to find what people are looking for on their sites, and gives you a lot of information about popular keywords.

Smugmug – Surprise, Smugmug only indexes the first 30 keywords and tags, if you added more than that, Smugmug is going to totally ignore them. Smugmug also has a great page of recommendations here, but the real heart and soul of the system is Smugmug’s own search page. The Keyword cloud is one way of finding out what people are searching for on the Smugmug site. It looks like this, and is really hard to find with the redesign. You can find your own keyword cloud at yoursite.smugmug.com/keywords/ but they might not be what people are really looking for.

Smugmug Keywords and Tags

This is where Flickr comes to the rescue with their own keyword cloud right here. You can see three sets on Flickr, last 24 hours, last week, or all time. I usually use the all time keywords as they are somewhat the same across both Smugmug and Flickr for tagging your pictures with the right keywords. This does not mean that you will suddenly get millions of picture views a day, but it does help Google, Bing and Yahoo find your stuff better. It also helps people who search internally to the picture warehouses find your stuff better as well.

From a user perspective, you want to try to use the same keywords on both sites, and Flickr’s cloud is pretty similar to Smugmug’s hard to find hide and seek keyword cloud. Adding keywords is one of the only ways that a search engine is going to know what your picture is, and what it is about. Remember though, Flickr has the same kind of cut off for keywords, if you are keyword stuffing then you pretty much so are working too hard.

Use the right keywords for your photo or video. If it is not about California, then don’t include it, if it is about Hawaii then use the keyword Hawaii and if traveling use the keyword travel. For example when I am in Beijing every summer I always come back with thousands of pictures. I break each set into their own location, like the Forbidden City, add the year, and then add china, Beijing, travel, and other key words to describe the area I am in.

It is always important to use keywords wisely. Google and other search engines are onto keyword stuffing and other techniques to try to gain page views. Most of your searches especially on Flickr are going to come from other Flickr users. Smugmug is about 50% internal and 50% external users for search. Keywords are the way to have people find your images.

 

 

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What photographers should do when blocked in Facebook

What photographers should do when blocked in FacebookWhat photographers should do when blocked in Facebook

Yes, I am on yet another suspension/ban on Facebook for some of the pictures I posted from this weekend’s Steampunk Exhibition Ball.

Facebook is an amazing tool for getting the word out about your art, but it comes at a price. The ironic thing is that people can post pictures of abortions, abused and tortured animals, drugs, drinking, the night they were DUI, but post a little side boob, or god forbid a nipple no matter how accidental and that is a banning.

While there are humans that look over what is flagged and reported, this is the gallery that initially got me into trouble so you can check it out. It is also one of my favorite ones from the show, so of course I want to share it. I think it is awesome and wonderful, and some really good work on my part. Other banning events included a picture of the Freemont Summer Solstice Parade, really you had to blow the picture up 300% and you only had a 1 pixel nipple, but that is a banning.

First calm down, relax take a break, and then delete everything that is even remotely sanction able out of your data stream. When you are shut down you usually have read only access to your data stream, and you have read/write/delete out of your time line. You can do this only through the web browser; you cannot do this through the mobile interface. Once done, just sit back and wait out your suspension.

Ask yourself when you have calmed down a bit, gotten over the sense of “who reported that picture/gallery?” that feels like betrayal, and have everything cleaned up so that your Facebook page is PG 13 again, do I really need Facebook?

Take a look at your stats, when I am posting maybe 1% of all my picture views come from Facebook, the most come from Google, G+, and internal system searches at Flickr and Smugmug. If you look at your stats, how many people are really seeing your work, if you have a photographer page, you can see your stats through insights. The other thing to remember is that just because they saw it on Facebook does not mean they interacted with your gallery on other sites. The other thing you can do is simply remove the preview of the gallery if it seems that it might be over PG 13.

I take a lot of pictures of subcultures, because I believe they need to be documented. I also do a lot of modeling work lately, and usually I shoot Rated R or X pictures. They are not for children, but rarely full on nude pictures. I take pictures of burlesque dancers and punk rockers, the homeless and the destitute; I do a little urban exploration, and otherwise have a good time with my camera. The majority of the stuff I post can go on Facebook as links back to the gallery in question.

Sometimes you just have to think that your normal is not everyone else’s normal, and that can cost you down time with Facebook.

Think before you post, if there is a possibility that someone could be offended by your picture, not only are you doing photography right, but you face a high probability that Facebook will shut you down for a day or two.

Post to G+, post to Deviant Art, post to 500PX, post to Flickr and Smugmug, post everywhere but Facebook. G+ is a lot more photographer friendly, and they seem to be a little bit more ok with R rated pictures. God forbid Facebook ever opens up a search engine, because it will be a happy Disney wonderland of PG 13 material content. Stick with the places that work, and if in doubt, don’t post, and if you post, remove the preview of the link. Or just abandon Facebook altogether and go someplace more photographer friendly.

Facebook has banned or shut down a lot of famous photographers, internationally recognized, national geographic type photographers, we are small fry, and they won’t even hesitate to do it in the future as we march towards a plain vanilla experience over there.

 

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New Year Rollup how did I do with Pictures

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New Year Rollup how did I do with Pictures

2012 is simply going to go down as the year that I hit the professional photographer stage with a wallop. 2011 was a very simple year, some 183,000 picture views and not many people all that interested in what I was doing; as well I only uploaded around 3,000 pictures in total. This year though I wanted to stretch my wings a bit and see what I was capable of doing, what I wanted to learn, and how to get some of those coveted sales that were so important to crossing over from amateur to professional. I did get sales, but not many, and I stomped all over last year’s picture views with a vengeance.

Total picture views for the year officially are 1.9 million, however with all the sharing, and other places I found my work over the year we can easily bump that up to 2 million, but I’ll stick with the official stats on what I can directly record as people’s interest in the things I took pictures of. Sharing however became one of the critical components to what I was doing, sharing meant a lot, and introduced me to a whole new level of people who were interested in what I was doing. But here is how things break down.

Most popular sites I posted at:

Flickr

Smugmug

Deviant Art

Tumblr

Most important places to find places to take pictures

Meetup.com hands down the most important place I went to this year to find photo events in my area

Events like Sakuracon, Emerald City Comic Con and sharing those pictures with the fans

Personal contacts, thank you for inviting me to come along and take pictures

Most popular galleries in total:

Freemont Summer Solstice Parade

World Naked Bike Ride Seattle

Sakuracon 2012

Emerald City Comic Con 2012

Jet City Comic Show 2012

Kumoricon 2012

Faerie Con West 2012

Crypticon Seattle 2012

Geek Girl Con 2012

Latex Model Shoot December 2012

Most important social networks:

Facebook

Deviant Art

G+

Tumblr

Lessons learned from this year are probably the most important for me to understand and use 2013 as a way to monetize the picture taking. The whole hobby has to start paying for itself now that it is getting to be rather expensive in terms of hosting, sharing, and the way that I go about taking pictures. Personal contacts were important, but honestly, Meetup.com out performed everything else that I could think of for finding modeling events to take pictures at. While I did get my Model Mayhem account this year finally, it was meetup.com that really made the difference, and has already made a difference in what will happen in 2013. I am already booked through the end of April because of meetup.com and the events I went to in 2012. I cannot recommend meetup.com enough that is what opened so many doors this year for taking pictures of models.

Overall, now it is time to monetize the picture taking and that is what I am going to work on a lot in 2013, need a way to feed the beast, and this is going to have to start paying for itself, I would at least like to break even on the events I take pictures at, so let’s see what happens with 2013.

 

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