Copying Copyright

Protective Symbols • Turned Off With Tripods • Hold Still...1, 2, 3...HDR! • Old Flash, New Digital
This Article Features Photo Zoom

This HDR of a heliconia flower in Hawaii was taken handheld using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and a 180mm macro lens at ISO 250 while walking on the trail in a botanical garden. I used AEB and a variance of two stops between exposures.

Protective Symbols
Q My computer burned up recently (literally!) and, of course, I lost a lot of good stuff with it. Fortunately, I have all my photography on a hard drive and on CDs so there was no loss there. But I did lose an item I haven’t been able to replace, the copyright symbol. I had it on my computer as a JPEG image and was able to attach it to my photos as a layer in Photoshop. Where can I find it again?
C. Markesbery
Aurora, Colorado

I’ve placed two copyright symbols on this image while in Photoshop. I don’t like the large circle C in the center of the image because it defeats all the reasons for showing the image and is very distracting. The decision on how to attach a copyright notice and protect your work is yours.

A The © symbol is created using “option + G” on a Mac and “control + Alt + C” on a Windows computer. Using Microsoft Word or any word-processing software with either a Mac or Windows machine, make a large “©” or “© Your Name 2010” and save it as a PDF. Bring the PDF into Photoshop and save it as a JPEG. You can use this JPEG as it’s on a separate layer and you can control the opacity for its layer.

Another neat trick given to me by Photoshop guru Ben Willmore is to assign your copyright symbol or phrase as a preset to a brush in Photoshop. Then you can easily chose the © brush to put the symbol, or full copyright notice, anywhere. You can change its size using the square bracket keys, and by putting the notice on a separate layer, you can control its position, color and opacity.

Don’t forget that you can assign whatever copyright notice you want in the new Lightroom 3.0 as you export your images to a folder on your hard drive. This is great for batch processing a large number of images that need the copyright attached in one fell swoop.

For those upgrading to Photoshop CS5, Russell Brown offers a script that adds another menu to do watermarks, both individually and as a batch process. Go to and look at the Adobe Watermark panel with its explanatory tutorial. If you
aren’t aware of Russell Brown’s Photoshop tutorials, you should check them out. He’s one of the founders of the Photoshop program.

Turned Off With Tripods
Q Recently, I read three different articles suggesting that when the camera is on a tripod, the image stabilization (either in the body or on the lens) should be turned off. None of those authors said why. What’s the benefit in turning off the image stabilization when the camera is on a tripod?
G. Klimas
Las Vegas, Nevada

A Image-stabilization technology and tripods both are about controlling movement and getting the sharpest possible images, so it might seem logical to double your chances by using them at the same time. But with most lenses, image-stabilization capabilities should be turned off when the lens is on a tripod and a long exposure is being taken. The longer the exposure, the more important this is. Image stabilization is an internal counteraction of the external movement of the camera or lens. This is accomplished by a set of elements within the lens that reposition themselves, or by repositioning the sensor in the camera, within a certain range, to nullify the apparent effects of movement. When stabilization is active, the group of elements is in “ready” mode, able to react to each signal. When there’s no movement at all (as when the camera/lens system is securely mounted on a tripod), the elements are still seeking information and moving enough to cause image blur in a long exposure. When image stabilization is turned off, these elements are locked in place.

Note that some image-stabilization lenses (mostly high-end telephoto lenses) can sense a tripod and automatically adjust to minute movements while on a tripod. Image-stabilization capabilities are, therefore, left on all the time with these lenses. Check with the manufacturer to determine which lenses have this feature.

Hold Still…1, 2, 3…HDR!
Q The tip you gave at a recent seminar about putting the camera in burst mode to capture bracketed images was a revelation! I’d appreciate a review of the precise technique.
C. Wiley
Via the Internet

A When capturing images you intend to composite, as in blending a range of exposures to control contrast or for creative effect (a technique called HDR, or High Dynamic Range), it’s always best to use a tripod. The ideal capture process for HDR images is to take at least three exposures, one for the light areas, one for the middle tones and one for the dark areas. When composited in HDR software such as Photomatix or Photoshop CS3-5, the optimum exposure is used for each area of your image. So, for example, skies or clouds are bright without being blown out, middle tones are well defined, and shadow areas have excellent detail without noise. Since you’re matching up precisely three different captures, it’s important to use a tripod.

But sometimes you can’t. The next best thing is the rapid-capture method. Evaluate the contrast areas in the scene and determine the base exposure for the middle tones. Set your camera for auto-exposure bracketing for a series of three shots. Calculate your three exposures at one stop over the base exposure, one right on the exposure and one at one stop underexposed. If the scene is very contrasty, use one-and-a-half- to two-stop intervals. Set your camera at its fastest capture rate. The result is that the three exposures are recorded in a single burst, minimizing the potential for movement from one capture to the next. Still, you must be careful to employ optimal handholding technique, including bracing against a stable platform, keeping elbows into the body, supporting a longer lens, squeezing (rather than torquing) the shutter release, etc.

Fine print: This offer is null and void if the subject is moving during the capture sequence or at shutter speeds longer than about 1⁄15 second with image stabilization. You need three sharp, matched images to make this work.

Old Flash, New Digital
Q I’ve recently converted from film to digital, and I’ve heard that flash units that I used with my film SLRs may damage my Nikon D60 DSLR. I’d like to use flash for close-up photos of flowers and other indoor shots, but the built-in flash on my D60 isn’t powerful enough alone. Do I need to buy a new flash?
J. Clark
Via the Internet

A It’s not a good idea to use an old SLR flash unit designed for film cameras on the hot shoe of your new DSLR. The trigger voltage of the older flashes can be in the hundreds of volts. The flashes for many new DSLRs typically have a trigger voltage of 12 volts (for example, Canon works on six volts). So, yes, you should buy a new flash for use on your D60 to take advantage of all of the automatic features of which the new flashes are capable. That said, an option that allows you to use your old flash in manual mode is Safe Sync from Wein Photo Products, an accessory that goes between your camera’s hot shoe and the flash; it reduces the trigger voltage to six volts, making the older film SLR flash unit safe for any digital SLR.

But don’t throw away your old flash! Its useful life may be extended in an important way, using wireless flash technology. Take the old flash off your camera, mount it to a wireless slave (Wein makes these also), place it in the optimum location to light your subject, and set the built-in flash on your camera to fire the off-camera flash. You can do this with as many old or new flashes as you want or need. If your old flashes have manual power settings, you can change your lighting setup easily by adjusting the strength of the output of each flash.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at

One of North America’s best-known contemporary outdoor and nature photographers and a leader in the field of digital imaging and photographic education, Lepp is the author of many books and the field editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine. One of Canon’s original Explorers of Light, Lepp finds inspiration in advancing technology that fuels creative innovation and expression of his life-long fascination with the natural world.