Backlit branches — and a question for photographers

As I was returning to my car last evening, after visiting the wicked-looking Thorn Tree, the sun was hugging the horizon, sending that low golden light that you only get at sunset along the ground and highlighting the plants and grasses. Since I was still in the woods, the light was fading quickly; it would be dark in the woods before I left the lot, although there was about 20 minutes of decent light for shooting outside of the park. I was cold and hungry and my feet were wet from stepping in a creek. I had collapsed my tripod and turned off the camera. Having forgotten my gloves in the car, I had my hands tucked into the sleeves of my fleece jacket. Still, once I saw this plant on the edge of the trail I had to stop.

Intentionally backlighting subjects is not something that I have done before. I think that these were okay for an initial attempt. I love the way that the dried, white flower stalks have an orange glow. On a windy, cold day, when the air smelled like rain even though the rainclouds had not yet arrived, I would not have had the patience to wait for the sun’s angle on these winterdead plants. Happening upon them at just the right moment was serendipitous.

This morning, Light Stalking posted a link to a series of backlit photographs. These are far better than what I’ve done and have given me ideas for how I might compose other backlit shots in the future.

On a different note, take a look at how the photos on the Light Stalking page are credited. Title and Flickr user name is on each. I have a blogging friend who has been using a plug-in to find photos to illustrate her blog posts and we recently had a discussion about how to credit properly. Her plug-in provides the link to the photo on Flickr; hovering over the photo displays the photo’s title, but not the name of the photographer. (All are properly licensed via Creative Commons, so that is not the issue.) For those of you who have photographs in the public domain, how would you want your photographic credit to appear? Light stalking gives the Flickr username, rather than the photographer’s name even when that is available. I have mixed feelings on this. While citing that one of my pictures was created by SilleeShutterbugz2785 (that is NOT my real user name, btw) would be better than no attribution at all, if I have my work publicly available and my name is on the same site, I think that I would want that. On the other hand, I could make my username the same as my legal name so that was used, even though it is available on my profile.

I’m interested in what you think. Would it make a difference to you if you were being paid? What if the site using your photograph was generating income, though not directly from your image? Is linking to your photo, which gives a link to your name and information on your profile, what you would expect if someone used one of your photos from a photo sharing site?

4 responses to “Backlit branches — and a question for photographers

  1. Most (almost all) of the Flickr attributions I’ve seen have been with the photographer’s username, not with their real name – I believe that’s pretty standard practice. The other day I was searching for creative commons images to include in a presentation, and as part of that project I found an attribute generator online – at It uses both the real name and the username.

    I’ve wondered about similar issues in the past, and have come to the personal conclusion that I’m not in this to make money so it’s not a big deal. I have had someone ask to include a photo from Flickr in a calendar that they were producing for a client, and got I got paid for it. And just by chance – last night, before I read your post – I decided to see whether anyone had given me attribution on their websites, and oddly enough, there were a few of my pictures out there, being used in blog posts and newsletters! I found it gratifying to get the attribution but wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more copies out there. Sites like Tineye are supposed to catch you but they just can’t keep up with the volume.

    My thought would be: if you hope to make money off a shot, watermark it and/or put it out on a site like zenfolio. Otherwise, just put it up on Flickr and enjoy the community.

    Nice backlighting, by the way!

    • I’ve tried tineye before and it didn’t find anything of mine — even the things that I expected it to find. Thanks for mentioning OpenAttribute. Looked around at the site. Looks interesting.

  2. I think you’re last photo on the right would fit right in with the “lightstalking” post. It’s filled with drama and wonder. I’ve always loved this plant in the fall and winter. So wonderful.

    In my (lame) attempt to answer your questions by spouting off my opinion (LOL)- For me the name is irrelevant. I know people on FLICKR that don’t want their real name used (I made that mistake a couple of times). So I figure it’s up the the photographer artist and their wishes should be honored – real name or not. Myself I don’t really care either way. My FLICKR name is “I AM::EYE” and on my flickr profile I show my “real name” as mobius faith. But that’s just me – I’m “funny” that way.
    It absolutely makes a difference if one is paid. But I think one needs to determine how they use these different hosting sites on the internet. For example, I’m not a big fan of FLICKR. But I do use it as a temporary posting place to get some feedback on images that I may not be sure about. Usually my images on FLICKR are only up for a month at a time. I’ve had problems with people using my images from FLICKR without my permission which is one of the reasons I started adding my “watermark” to them. I’m actually thinking about expanding the watermark to prevent any cropping that some “thief” may do to cut out my current “logo”. The internet is great but the problem is that the vast majority of people think that if it’s on the internet it’s not only free to view but free to use (I can’t even persuade my own family that it’s not free to use).

    So I don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for – but you asked. Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks for the comment on the photo.

      I do understand some people not wanting their names on the internet. I was much more concerned about that when I first started blogging in 2006 and used an alias. When I started this one, I considered using my full name, but decided against it. Still, it wouldn’t be difficult for someone to find me. I think I was concerned from a work perspective, and I’m pretty sure that nobody in this world has the same full name as I do.

      Accrediting just a user name seems really odd to me. But, if an app was picking up the meta-data (both user name and “full name”) the user could choose what to have available.

      I used to use Flickr all the time as a backup system. I haven’t backed up photos to Flickr for a long time (I know better than to only have one backup source– from both working in IT and from experience!) and need to consider if I still want Flickr as a secondary backup site or not. Right now, I don’t have it set to share any new postings with anyone.