Google Dennis Rito | Blog: February 2008

22 February 2008

My Not-So-New Toy

Finally I got my not-so-new toy, a used Mamiya 645 1000s. I've always wanted to have a medium format film camera and try shooting on a larger film format (am a 35mm shooter all my life). Due to budget constraints, my first choice then was the Holga - an inexpensive, medium format 'toy' camera which is very popular among the local lomography circle. Photographs shot with a Holga camera seem appealing to me but its limited control prompted me not to buy one.

The unit was bought along with 3 lenses (150mm, 80mm, & 55mm), 1 winder and an extra film insert - all for a whooping P10,000 ($200++)! All the shutter speeds are fully functional except for the metering. Lenses show no scratch except for some fungus that needs to be cleaned. Not bad =)

My sincerest thanks to my good friend Sid Tendencia for his help and in dealing with the seller (from Iloilo) on my behalf.

20 February 2008

Peter Bialobrzeski: Teach & Work Slideshow

German photographer and former World Press Photo judge Peter Bialobrzeski has been in Manila for 4 weeks taking pictures of the cityscape for a project called “Urban Spaces”. The city is his 5th stop in a series of residencies in Southeast Asia. Prior to Manila, he was in Hanoi, Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

During his stay, he has also been conducting workshops for a select group of Philippine photographers. On Tuesday, workshop participants Estan Cabigas, Gigie Cruz, Tammy David, Kidlat de Guia, Che Katigbak, Cathy Quiogue, Dennis Rito and Cris Sevilla will be presenting the projects that they worked on during the workshop. All deal will various aspects of urbanity. The photos will be included in a Goethe-Institut exhibit that will be travelling around Southeast Asia later this year.

To see the entire collection of photographs, talk to the photographers and meet Bialobrzeski, head to Silverlens Gallery on February 26 for a slideshow of all the photographers’ works. The event starts at 6pm.

In cooperation with Silverlens Gallery and the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism. For more information, please visit call 8170978 or visit Goethe Institut Manila.

12 February 2008

World Press Photo 2008

This year World Press Photo received 80,536 images made by 5,019 photographers spread over 125 countries. Interesting statistics, but WPP are even more impressed with the amazing diversity and quality of the material. The number of entries from Central and South America continued to grow for the second year running and submissions from Asia rose to 20 percent of the total.

Visit the WPP Winners Gallery 2008 here.

11 February 2008

On Assignment: Peter Bialobrzeski

Photo © Dennis Rito

Yesterday (02.10.08), I got the chance to assist Peter in his shoot. We had a long walk from Recto Avenue to Binondo Area in the morning where we scout places and Peter made his digital sketches - image references in preparation for the actual shooting (in the afternoon). Afterwhich, we went back back to his apartment and I got the chance to show some of my initial photographs for the workshop. I leaned a lot and really appreciate his constructive criticism. After viewing the digital snaps and made decisions where to shoot, we left with his tripod and Linhoff 4x5 camera in tow.

Upon reaching the area, kids started following us asking what was the strange-looking object mounted on Peter's tripod. They even started posing and had been yelling at Peter to photograph them which is a bit annoying. Some asked what those photographs are for - why are we doing it. Several expressed doubts too, thinking that after we shoot, their shanties will be demolished - a sense of paranoia among the people living in the shanty towns around Metro Manila. I observed how Peter worked and it seem that shooting large format follows a different workflow as compared with shooting on 35mm SLR. It also involve a lot of thinking and needs some focus/ amount of concentration before the exposure. With patience, we finished shooting at about 7PM.

I am indeed grateful & privileged that I was included among 10 other photographers selected to attend Peter Bialobrzeski's Teach & Work photography workshop organized by Goethe Institut (Manila) in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism and Silverlens Gallery. Peter Bialobrzeski, a German photographer and World Press Photo 2007 judge is also a professor of photography at the University of Arts Bremen, Germany. He has travelled Southeast Asia since October 2007 and is currently in Manila (his 5th stop) conducting workshops and working on a project called “Urban Nature”, which looks at the relationship between the green landscape and the modern infrastructures that dominate Asian megacities.

The workshop is very engaging and loaded with content - an information overload which comes from Peter's long experience as a photographer. He selflessly shared his knowledge and challenged our thoughts on issues concerning photography. One of the interesting premise he raised on digital photography particularly on image manipulation was: that image manipulation begins on the intent of the photographer - how he/she focus and frame his/her subject. This and other discussions left us thirsting for more.

Slideshow of participants work will be shown on 26 February 2008 at Silverlens.

08 February 2008

Better Than Free

Kevin Kelly mentioned a very insightful post in The Technium blog about the free flow of information which applies to all creative individuals, including photographers.

Kevin states:

1. The internet is a giant copy machine, spreading your work to every corner of the globe;
2. When copies are super abundant, they become worthless; and
3. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable.


When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

Well, what can't be copied?

There are a number of qualities that can't be copied. Consider "trust." Trust cannot be copied. You can't purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you'll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.

There are a number of other qualities similar to trust that are difficult to copy, and thus become valuable in this network economy. I think the best way to examine them is not from the eye of the producer, manufacturer, or creator, but from the eye of the user. We can start with a simple user question: why would we ever pay for anything that we could get for free? When anyone buys a version of something they could get for free, what are they purchasing?

From my study of the network economy I see roughly eight categories of intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free.

In a real sense, these are eight things that are better than free. Eight uncopyable values. I call them "generatives." A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.

Eight Generatives Better Than Free

Immediacy -- Sooner or later you can find a free copy of whatever you want, but getting a copy delivered to your inbox the moment it is released -- or even better, produced -- by its creators is a generative asset. Many people go to movie theaters to see films on the opening night, where they will pay a hefty price to see a film that later will be available for free, or almost free, via rental or download. Hardcover books command a premium for their immediacy, disguised as a harder cover. First in line often commands an extra price for the same good. As a sellable quality, immediacy has many levels, including access to beta versions. Fans are brought into the generative process itself. Beta versions are often de-valued because they are incomplete, but they also possess generative qualities that can be sold. Immediacy is a relative term, which is why it is generative. It has to fit with the product and the audience. A blog has a different sense of time than a movie, or a car. But immediacy can be found in any media.

Personalization -- A generic version of a concert recording may be free, but if you want a copy that has been tweaked to sound perfect in your particular living room -- as if it were preformed in your room -- you may be willing to pay a lot. The free copy of a book can be custom edited by the publishers to reflect your own previous reading background. A free movie you buy may be cut to reflect the rating you desire (no violence, dirty language okay). Aspirin is free, but aspirin tailored to your DNA is very expensive. As many have noted, personalization requires an ongoing conversation between the creator and consumer, artist and fan, producer and user. It is deeply generative because it is iterative and time consuming. You can't copy the personalization that a relationship represents. Marketers call that "stickiness" because it means both sides of the relationship are stuck (invested) in this generative asset, and will be reluctant to switch and start over.

Interpretation -- As the old joke goes: software, free. The manual, $10,000. But it's no joke. A couple of high profile companies, like Red Hat, Apache, and others make their living doing exactly that. They provide paid support for free software. The copy of code, being mere bits, is free -- and becomes valuable to you only through the support and guidance. I suspect a lot of genetic information will go this route. Right now getting your copy of your DNA is very expensive, but soon it won't be. In fact, soon pharmaceutical companies will PAY you to get your genes sequence. So the copy of your sequence will be free, but the interpretation of what it means, what you can do about it, and how to use it -- the manual for your genes so to speak - will be expensive.

Authenticity -- You might be able to grab a key software application for free, but even if you don't need a manual, you might like to be sure it is bug free, reliable, and warranted. You'll pay for authenticity. There are nearly an infinite number of variations of the Grateful Dead jams around; buying an authentic version from the band itself will ensure you get the one you wanted.
Or that it was indeed actually performed by the Dead. Artists have dealt with this problem for a long time. Graphic reproductions such as photographs and lithographs often come with the artist's stamp of authenticity -- a signature -- to raise the price of the copy. Digital watermarks and other signature technology will not work as copy-protection schemes (copies are super-conducting liquids, remember?) but they can serve up the generative quality of authenticity for those who care.

Accessibility -- Ownership often sucks. You have to keep your things tidy, up-to-date, and in the case of digital material, backed up. And in this mobile world, you have to carry it along with you. Many people, me included, will be happy to have others tend our "possessions" by subscribing to them. We'll pay Acme Digital Warehouse to serve us any musical tune in the world, when and where we want it, as well as any movie, photo (ours or other photographers). Ditto for books and blogs. Acme backs everything up, pays the creators, and delivers us our desires. We can sip it from our phones, PDAs, laptops, big screens from where-ever. The fact that most of this material will be available free, if we want to tend it, back it up, keep adding to it, and organize it, will be less and less appealing as time goes on.

Embodiment -- At its core the digital copy is without a body. You can take a free copy of a work and throw it on a screen. But perhaps you'd like to see it n hi-res on a huge screen? Maybe in 3D? PDFs are fine, but sometimes it is delicious to have the same words printed on bright white cottony paper, bound in leather. Feels so good. What about dwelling in your favorite (free) game with 35 others in the same room? There is no end to greater embodiment. Sure, the hi-res of today -- which may draw ticket holders to a big theater -- may migrate to your home theater tomorrow, but there will always be new insanely great display technology that consumers won't have. Laser projection, holographic display, the holodeck itself! And nothing gets embodied as much as music in a live performance, with real bodies. The music is free; the bodily performance expensive. This formula is quickly becoming a common one for not only musicians, but even authors. The book is free; the bodily talk is expensive.

Patronage -- It is my belief that audiences WANT to pay creators. Fans like to reward artists, musicians, authors and the like with the tokens of their appreciation, because it allows them to connect. But they will only pay if it is very easy to do, a reasonable amount, and they feel certain the money will directly benefit the creators. Radiohead's recent high-profile experiment in letting fans pay them whatever they wished for a free copy is an excellent llustration of the power of patronage. The elusive, intangible connection that flows between appreciative fans and the artist is worth something. In Radiohead's case it was about $5 per download. There are many other examples of the audience paying simply because it feels good.

Findability -- Where as the previous generative qualities reside within creative digital works, findability is an asset that occurs at a higher level in the aggregate of many works. A zero price does not help direct attention to a work, and in fact may sometimes hinder it. But no matter what its price, a work has no value unless it is seen; unfound masterpieces are worthless. When there are millions of books, millions of songs, millions of films, millions of applications, millions of everything requesting our attention -- and most of it free -- being found is valuable.

The giant aggregators such as Amazon and Netflix make their living in part by helping the audience find works they love. They bring out the good news of the "long tail" phenomenon, which we all know, connects niche audiences with niche productions. But sadly, the long tail is only good news for the giant aggregators, and larger mid-level aggregators such as publishers, studios, and labels. The "long tail" is only lukewarm news to creators themselves. But since findability can really only happen at the systems level, creators need aggregators. This is why publishers, studios, and labels (PSL)will never disappear. They are not needed for distribution of the copies (the internet machine does that). Rather the PSL are needed for the distribution of the users' attention back to the works. From an ocean of possibilities the PSL find, nurture and refine the work of creators that they believe fans will connect with. Other intermediates such as critics and reviewers also channel attention. Fans rely on this multi-level apparatus of findability to discover the works of worth out of the zillions produced. There is money to be made (indirectly for the creatives) by finding talent. For many years the paper publication TV Guide made more money than all of the 3 major TV networks it "guided" combined. The magazine guided and pointed viewers to the good stuff on the tube that week. Stuff, it is worth noting, that was free to the viewers. There is little doubt that besides the mega-aggregators, in the world of the free many PDLs will make money selling findability -- in addition to the other generative qualities.

Source: Kevin Kelly's The Technium blog through Chase Jarvis

04 February 2008

It Pays to Read the Fine Print

Rights/ License-grab Photo Contests with overreaching contest mechanics are becoming more rampant nowadays. Which is why photographers should be vigilant.

Please read the fine print before entering a photo contest or submitting images online:

"All entries shall automatically become exclusive property of Gift Gate, Inc. and may be used, copied, reproduced and/or reprinted by Gift Gate, Inc. into any size or medium for exhibition, advertising, promotion or whatever purpose. Contest participant further allows Gift Gate, Inc. to use his/her name and/or image/picture/ likeness without limit in conjunction with his winning entry."
(From "Swatch Chinese New Year Photo Contest" mechanics sent by Nix Taytay through PhotoWorld Manila egroup)

"... you hereby grant Sony Ericsson, its subsidiaries and branch offices the perpetual right to exclusively, royalty-free and without limitation freely use, modify, edit, copy, reproduce, distribute, translate, create derivate works from, alter and publicly display or publish such content, for whatever purposes, in any form or medium, either on this web-site or elsewhere, whether promotional or in other activities or events arranged by Sony Ericsson or any of the above stated parties, whether locally or world-wide."
(From Sony Ericsonn Top Shot Imaging Contest)

"Without affecting any of your ownership rights to the Submission, by submitting your Submission, you grant MSNBC an irrevocable royalty-free, worldwide right, in all media (now known or later developed) to use, publish, alter or otherwise exploit your Submission and to sublicense such rights to a licensee at MSNBC’s discretion."
(From MSNBC.com, mentioned in Carolyn Wright's PhotoAttorney blog)

"All Submissions become the exclusive property of Sponsor, and none will be acknowledged or returned. Sponsor shall have the right to edit, adapt, and publish any or all of the Submissions, and may authorize others (including advertisers) to do so, and may use them in any media for any purpose, including but not limited to editorial, promotional, and advertising purposes, without attribution or compensation to the contestant, his or her successors or assigns, or any other entity. ENTERING A SUBMISSION IN THIS CONTEST CONSTITUTES PARTICIPANT'S IRREVOCABLE PERMISSION AND LICENSE TO THE FOREGOING USAGE, THROUGHOUT THE WORLD."
(From Conde' Nast Traveler's "Live The Cover" contest, mentioned in PDN Pulse)

"By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Google services which are intended to be available to the members of the public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, modify, publish and distribute such Content on Google services for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services. Google reserves the right to syndicate Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Google services and use that Content in connection with any service offered by Google."
(From CNet, mentioned in PhotoAttorney blog)

"You grant to National Geographic Society and its subsidiaries and licensees ("NGS") the following rights: a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual license to display, distribute, reproduce and create derivatives of the Photograph, in whole or in part, without further review or participation from you, in any medium now existing or subsequently developed, in editorial, commercial, promotional and trade uses in connection with NGS Products."
(From NGS, mentioned in PhotoAttorney blog)

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03 February 2008

Meet Sel

I met Sel last year (2007) during the DigitalFilipino Christmas Party and Culmination of Filipina Writing Project. His humility and unassuming character seem strange for someone who is regarded as the Number 1 Filipino Blogger. He was very open too, in sharing tips from his blogging success - including how he monetizes his blog.

How long have you been into blogging?

I actually started publishing my journal on March 1999 by manually creating webpages using Netscape's Composer and published them at the Geocities.Com. During that time the said free webhost was not yet owned by Yahoo!. The address of my personal site is geocities.com/selaplana but unfortunately it was already closed due to the hacking incident happened last 2004.

I started using the blogger.com free hosting only on May 2003. And the blogs created were under my Ka Webspy Network at kawebspy.blogspot.com. But all these blogs are turned into something spammy when I started the new one at the kawebspynet.com on January 2004. Kawebspynet.com was again closed (January 2006) due to some personal reasons. On March 2006, I started a new blog, and this is the selaplana.com.

You mentioned you have a computer shop in your hometown but needs to travel to the city in order for you to blog? how many kilometers do you have to travel by motorbike?

I have an internet cafe before not in my hometown but in Quezon City. I went home here in Soutern Leyte when I experienced financial problem last December 2005. But I continue blogging by writing my articles at home and publishing them into my blogs using the internet connection offered by internet cafes here in Maasin City. Maasin City is 40 kilometers away from my home. So I need to travel 80 kilometers daily (that is back and forth) using the Honda XRM 110 which I bought through my blogging income last March 2007.

However, as of writing this email, I already have my new home here in Maasin City just to maintain my blogging activities. I rented an apartment starting December 30, 2007.

How often do you blog? Do you blog full-time?

I really blog full-time daily except if I am away from the internet. I have no job and no other business but just blogging.

What other tips you can share to other bloggers - to generate traffic or monetize their blogs?

Blogging is of course a publishing business. You're the writer, the editor and the publisher. You need to know the basics in writing and the ways to make your articles interesting (I am actually still poor on this).

And in order for you to earn money from your blogs, you need to drive traffic to them whether by search engines, PPC campaigns, blog commenting, or by any means of advertising your blog. Once you have established readers of your blog, then money follows.

In other words, you need to know how to SEO your blog. To let you know, those who are responsible of sending me money via the adsense ads published at my blogs are those who are coming from the search engines searching for any information and accidentally stumbled upon my blogs.

You can also maximize your online income by selling products through affiliate or associate programs. For example, you can talk or blog about products of amazon at your blog and publish associate-links within your article or blogpost of those products. So that when your visitors click on that link and buy that product, you'll earn a commission.

You can even sell links from your blogs. There are lots of link-broker out there like Text Links Ads, ReviewMe, PayPerPost, etc. However, you need to increase the PR, the traffic and the subscribers of your blogs because most of the link-brokers consider these data in pricing the links from your blogs.

Talking about traffic, actually there are many ways in gaining traffic for you blogs and I will mention few of them:
  • SEO. Optimize your blogs for the search engines and you'll gain traffic from the search engine results.
  • PPC campaign. Advertise your blogs using the Googles Adwords and gain traffic from that ad.
  • Blog Commenting. Regularly post your comment to other blogs and you'll gain traffic from the traffic of those blogs you commented.
  • Personal Network. Be friendly and tell them about your blog... for sure, your friends will visit your blog.
  • Joining Writing Contest or any contest organized by bloggers.
  • Be published in papers or be shown on TV programs. Do something amazing, get the attentions of paper writers and the people from TV networks and I'm sure you'll gain popularity through them.
  • Be a speaker. You can organize your own seminars or you can just be a speaker and tell them about your blog. I'm sure those who heard you will visit your blogs.
Published with permission from Selaplana.