Okay, so you’ve done your homework, you understand that you’re free to make your mark on your image for marketing, what next? Go to your favorite photo-editing program, (GIMP is free and has most of the bells and whistles of Photoshop. Adobe Elements, Corel Paint Shop Pro are also good versions I’ve used in the past. Open your image, scale it for presentation on monitor, projector or video display. (No more than 800 pixels wide or 600 pixels tall, 72-96 dots per inch).
Somewhere in that program there will be a button for adding “Text” over the top of an image. Do this, your name, your copyright logo, your contact information, your choice… Make it big and make sure it covers the better part of the image, the corner of the image is insufficient. The corner can just be cropped out. Once the logo is in place, change the color of the text to something that stands out from the picture, (White or grey on a dark background, black on a light background, etc.
Now look in the attributes of your particular image editing program and find the controls for the “Opacity” of the text, (see-through). Lower the opacity, based on the image, to a number where you can still see through the text to the image below, but your contact information/mark is still plainly visible.
Your goal here is not to ruin your image, but to make it so hard for someone to get your image and use it immediately, but put in a few hours work to steal it if they should be so inclined. They’ll go somewhere else to find a better target of opportunity.
Did you know that’s how the government rates high-security locks? No lock is rated unbeatable, but they are categorized by the number of hours it would take someone to defeat them. Same concept with protecting your images, you’ll never find a way to defeat everyone who comes to take your images if they really want them, but you can make it really difficult for them in the process.
Make sure your logo or mark covers multiple lines across the image, vertical and horizontal, tonal ranges, make sure a cut and paste of a portion of the image isn’t easily replaceable, but would take some real effort to replace the logo, or to “cover their tracks”. Too easy right?
The three examples I posted in http://dewaynechriswell.com/digital-zoom-or-optical-whats-the-difference/ should show you what I mean.
A quick war story on government facilities. I was driving back from Vegas to New Mexico after attending a martial arts seminar on weapons retention, arming and disarming. I had driven overnight to get there, attended the eight-hour seminar and was driving back after nightfall the following evening. It just so happened I was driving over Hoover Dam again after nightfall. Discovery or the History Channel had done a special on the current state of construction of the bypass routing traffic over Hoover Dam instead of on top of it. As I was returning, I had pleasant conversations with the county officers at the inspection point on top of the bridge and had let them look over my vehicle. As I was coming down the hill, I noticed a construction pull-off on the side of the road. Signs all along the highway clearly indicated, ” No stopping or parking on the side of the road”. I knew it was a fifty-fifty shot at getting a ticket, but when you see a good picture… I made sure my vehicle was safely out of the way of any incoming construction vehicles, I had not passed any no trespassing signs, I locked up my vehicle and headed down the hill to the dam at 2:00 am. It was great, I had the entire dam to myself, a few passing cars here and there, I took my pictures uninterrupted, and was going back to my vehicle when pretty lights appeared on the roadway directly in front of me. It was a female officer, not being sexist, but the interaction dynamics have shifted just a bit… “Well, I’m taking pictures”. (Readily apparent by the camera and tripod I was carrying). Are you with the construction company? “No ma’am.” “Give me your license!” (At this point in the coversation, you’ve already got a good sense of where the conversation is going, so you may as well have a little fun with it, provided you’ve got the time). So, she calls in my license as I’m standing in the middle of the highway, her car blocking lanes of traffic on the other side, four vehicles now blocked by the pedestrian inspection. After she calls in the license for a customary check, I asked “Ma’am don’t you think it would be a good idea if we moved this off the road so neither one of us gets hit?” So, after it was determined where I had parked, she hadn’t seen my vehicle when she passed the site, we returned to my vehicle, a personal SUV with a raising tailgate. As we were now off of the main highway by a few feet, she pulled into the standard traffic stop position behind my vehicle. I asked the question, “Would you like for me to open the rear of my vehicle before we continue this conversation, so you can see there’s noone or nothing dangerous in the vehicle? She agreed, so keeping my hands in plain view I opened the rear of the vehicle and she was content that there was nothing in the vehicle readily visible to do her harm, so I was placed back in my vehicle to await further processing.
So now, the fun begins. “Don’t you see those signs on the side of the highway that clearly state, ‘No stopping or parking on the side of the highway’?” “Yes ma’am, I do.” “Well?” “I didn’t stop or park on the side of the highway.” “Uh, uh, uh… Well what were you doing walking along the side of the highway?” “There were no signs “No pedestrians allowed”. Uh, uh, uh… What about the “No trespassing sign”?” (The closest one was hanging 25 feet in front of my vehicle on a fence). I said, “Yes ma’m, that sign tells me that I can’t proceed past that fence, that area is reserved for construction personnel only.” “uh, uh, uh… “Didn’t you see the traffic cones at the entrance to this pull-off?” “Yes ma’am I did” “Well” “Well, those traffic cones were set up to funnel traffic, not to block or restrict its access.” (Now, the fun part). “Well, common sense would tell anyone that those cones clearly mean, “Do not enter”. I replied, “Ma’am, I’ve been to numerous events where traffic cones have been used, and they have a variety of meanings, they can prohibit entry, or at the state fair they can funnel traffic in the proper direction. Besides, we’re not discussing common sense, we’re discussing the law.” Uh, uh, uh… I’ll be back in a minute.” Ten minutes later, Federal Parking Citation in hand, I get the fruits of my labor. Having been a police officer fior thirteen years, I knew I was already getting a ticket from the moment she said, “Give me your license!” But, the legal analysis of the situation is not yet complete. Just before I signed the ticket, I heard, “You know, I could have arrested you for trespassing.” “No ma’am you couldn’t have.” “Excuse me?” “Trespassing under federal law and most states require that I cross a barricade of some sort or pass a clearly posted “No Trespassing” sign. I have not done either. “Uh, uh, uh… sign this ticket, it’s for illegal parking”.
For many years as a police officer, one of my favorite charges was “Being stupid in a no-stupid zone”. Unfortunately, it’s a hard charge to make stick all by itself. If the offender in question isn’t doing anything else wrong, well, there’ll usually be another day. I have the utmost respect for anyone doing their job. My problem comes when people try to enforce rules or laws that don’t exist. Kind of like the time I got pulled over for running a “Yield” sign with no other traffic present. Huh? As a side note, I was in no way disrespectful to the officer involved. Her physical safety was my first and primary concern, after that, I’m more than willing to talk to the officer in question about how police officers enforce laws, not what people should know. I went in knowing that I had a fifty-fifty shot at getting a ticket. I’m more than willing to accept that. Win some, lose some…