Images from the Film Archives – 1997
As mentioned in an earlier TBT, the family would take a week-long vacation in Wildwood, NJ, an ocean community long a destination for vacationers. It is miles of motels and boardwalk just north of Cape May, the victorian seashore mecca at the state’s southern end. Each morning I would get up early hoping for a beautiful sunrise, but on this day, there were no clouds in the sky, so I chose not to take the usual drive to a favored spot in North Wildwood, and stick close by in front of our rental. The only redeeming quality of the sky was a front of fog far out over the ocean, and I waited for the sun to clear it and reflect in the shallow sheen left by some small and lazy waves. What was interesting occurred when the water began its return to the ocean and built up ripples than ran parallel to the shoreline. Things might have been easier to take the photograph had I owned a split neutral density filter to block some of the bright sky, but economy won out on that expense. Instead, I had begun to use a moving dark card (having graduated from using my hat) held in front of the lens during exposure to “dodge” the bright area above the horizon. Most often using a 4-second exposure when I used the card, after tripping the shutter, I counted to three and removed the dark card to expose the sky for the remaining 1-second. This technique was sketchy at best, and more often than not, the results were not as planned. But this was one of the rare successful uses of that technique.
Fast forward a few years, and again we were on our annual vacation, when we decided to visit Cape May after dinner and wander along the promenade with loads of shops selling all sorts of souvenirs, clothing with Cape May emblazoned on it in some way, restaurants and art galleries. It was in one of these art galleries that I saw a large oil painting almost identical to the image at the top of the post. Same colors and same ripples, even the same gull way off in the corner!! I was able to eventually contact the artist who was completely apologetic, but it was the first encounter with someone who had used my work without permission, since he had seen the image in one of the calendars of my work. I was encouraged that someone thought enough of the work to use it as inspiration for their own, but disheartened at the same time to find myself within the uglier side of the “photography industry”.
But this turned out not to be the only occurrence. Since the main purpose at the time was to shoot locally, I was always looking for new locations in New Jersey that may provide an interesting landscape. I was flipping through a book about the state in the library, when I saw a photograph strikingly familiar to one of my own. It was in black and white, and couldn’t be sure at first, but as I thumbed through further, I found a second, and a third, and a few more that were definitely my photos; six in all as I recall. I looked back through some of my older calendars, and found they all were from a single one. So I contacted the publisher, and after a few phone calls and an email with a scan of the back of that calendar, they agreed I should be compensated. The publisher had contacted the author, and found that they indeed got the photos from the calendar, but thought the images were public domaine, even though every single photo has a copyright attached. It seemed pretty lame, but since I didn’t make any serious demands and threaten lawsuits, we agreed on a reasonable settlement.
I still don’t do anything more now than was done in the past to protect the work, being the slothful sot that I am; just depending on all the fine folks out there to be honest and do the right thing.