May 2021 End Notes

Another month has passed and it’s been a slow month on the blog, I know. I’ve been struggling with what are, as friends have assured me, some of humanity’s eternal questions. Following is just a little bit more about that — together with other news around my photography and this site as usual, in my monthly end notes for May 2021.

“What a man knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty is for the most part incommunicable.” (Adlai Stevenson)

The Great Disconnect

That struggle has been going on in my head for a while, obviously. It is not related to my recent rather round birthday 😜 and it’s not a midlife crisis: I am happy with my life in general and the work I’m doing, photographic and otherwise. But I’ve been thinking more about how our human world appears and continually increases to be so artificial, and/or destructive, so disconnected from the natural world.

I went back and forth and wrote quite a few paragraphs here but ultimately, poured myself a nice smoky Islay whisky, told myself to relax, and decided to not publish those thoughts. At least not yet.

Frequent readers of my articles know that I don’t hold back with critical thoughts, but pouring out a bucket of negativity here when I don’t have any meaningful conclusions yet didn’t seem like the right thing to do. But, if you read “The Human Touch” then you know the direction of these thoughts, and can fill in the blanks when you just think about the larger picture… beyond our own backyard.

This has influenced how I look at my photographic work, and I couldn’t find the motivation to write the usual amount of more or less casual blog posts with pretty pictures. I felt like I needed a more meaningful message at least… so I guess there’s more to come, as I try to at least find an answer for what my human role in the natural world is, what my connection to it is, and how I fit into the bigger picture.

For now, my hope is that sharing the beauty that I see in the natural world is important — and that will have to be enough to keep things going here. And who knows, maybe that is really the most important part of it, anyway…

Quo Vadis, Photography…

When I mentioned how artificial our human world has become and continues to be, above, I inevitably had to think about photography “in this day and age” as well.


Three weeks ago, I submitted a bunch of so-called “DMCA takedown notices” to Twitter. I do this when someone else posts my photos directly to Twitter. It doesn’t matter if it’s with or without credit, and here’s why: when someone posts my photos directly there they are, per Twitter’s terms of service (TOS), granting them a license… to my work! And that’s of course not actually possible.

Though some of those “hunter gatherer sharer” accounts (thousands of them exist on every social media platform) surely take other’s photo to adorn themselves with borrowed feathers and primarily care about growing their own following, I generally don’t do this because I’m an ungrateful dick to someone who likes my photos — but rather because I don’t want to grant Twitter a license to my work.

I made the choice to NOT post my photos directly to Twitter because this opens a can of worms with regards to “sub-licensing to our partners”, embeds, and who knows what else. It’s just not worth my time to even just potentially having to deal with it. So I report these photo-tweets as copyright violations.

Now per the DMCA, Twitter is obliged to take down the infringing material “in a timely manner” — but no one knows what that is. The DMCA is a, by internet standards, damn old piece of legislation, from 1998 — ie. a time when social media and “user generated content” didn’t really exist at this scale, yet. With Silicon Valley’s heavy influence and lobbying, I see no chance of getting that thing fixed. They have NO interest in getting it fixed because content, no matter whether it’s posted legally or illegally, means attention, means keeping users online, means ad money for them.

And as I write this, all the photos that have been posted by others directly to Twitter are still online. Obviously, Twitter doesn’t give a damn about the DMCA and takedown notices from creators — otherwise, they’d hire more people to actually process those in a timely manner. So now I’m scratching my head. Do I take Twitter to court? And when? 😜

What a weird friggin’ problem to have — and it illustrates one of the many problems with showing photos on the internet: if you can see it, you can grab it, one way or another, and then do whatever you want with it. Like sharing it on Twitter (or Facebook etc.), and granting those platforms a “license” — that you can’t give them! And that’s of course one of the more harmless things that might happen. My point is that there’s no protection whatsoever, and what little measures exist can be easily circumvented.


Now, one would think that someone smart would have come up with something clever to address this problem, by now… but the best that “the internet” could achieve is some blockchain-based nonsense, the latest one being of course the “non fungible tokens” (NFTs).

Previously, “the internet” came up with crypto-currencies like Bitcoin etc. because obviously, the concept of currency as a piece of paper or metal of no actual value wasn’t abstract or anonymous enough: it had to be bits and bytes only, on some computer. Can’t touch it, can’t hold it, and if you lose the key, you’re screwed (so much that some want to go through their town’s landfill to find it).

And now NFTs for digital art. More of the blockchain idiocy that contributes to a system that already consumes the energy of an entire medium sized European country, just by existing. Someone summarized it on Twitter like this: if you partake and are not being scammed, then you’re doing the scamming. That about sums it up.

Nothing illustrates the problem of photography on the internet as nicely as NFTs: it’s supposed to certify that a “digital asset” is unique and therefore not interchangeable. But I can look at it RIGHT THERE! Why would I PAY for that? What’s there to own? 😂 I can go right back & look again — without paying! Or, if I must “have it”, in some form, make a screenshot, right-click and “Save image as…” or whatever else. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be absolutely hilarious.

But enough of this.

I’m hoping that you see value in my photographs and that you appreciate the fact that I’m sharing them here without ads, without affiliate links, without the silly push to purchase something as an “NFT” and without restrictions. I believe in a honor system and if you enjoy my content, please take a look at how you can support me. Thanks!

Plant Portraits News & Updates

New in the Plant Portraits section of the site is not just a nicer header with a brief introduction, but also an improved display of a plant’s common name(s): previously, I had one common name in brackets in the title, now it’s a separate field that is displayed for both the individual entries as well as the archives. Best of all, I managed to put this together without any coding skills! Sweet! (thanks to some new features in the WordPress theme that I’m using, GeneratePress.)

Because I’m not just a plant geek but also a little bit of a language geek, I begun to start adding a bit of information about what’s in a plant’s (scientific) name to the first few plant portraits, in a section “Etymology” that follows below the photos, typically. There’s a good chance that no one else but me will find this interesting, of course, but researching those has been fun for me, so it was totally worth it! 😅

I took the opportunity of the introspection mentioned above to at least add a number of new plant portraits, and update others:

I hope you like them!

Good Reads

Here are a bunch of interesting/entertaining articles that I enjoyed reading. They all cover environment, climate change, nature, “and and all that” (it’s all connected anyway, except for us enlightened apes…).

Recent Sales

Obviously, I wish that this section was a bit larger but just like in April, not many print and license sales have occurred in May — one of each, to be precise. I guess as more and more people are getting vaccinated and the world begins to return to its pre-pandemic state slowly, more people had enough of staring at their walls, and rather get outside — totally understandable, of course!

Nevertheless, a whole-hearted thanks to the people and organizations who found my photos a good match for what they were looking for to put on their walls, and/or websites. :)

And that’s it for the month of May. Thanks for reading, and have a good start into a short week after the long weekend (at least here in the US). And if you’re not receiving my blog notifications via email yet… let’s stay in touch?

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Previous: The Human Touch

11 thoughts on “May 2021 End Notes”

  1. I am interested in Twitter’s response time on DMCA complaints. It is one social media company I haven’t dealt with yet for those. I have to say Facebook sets the standard IMO as much as I loathe them for pretty much incentivizing theft. I’ve had responses to takedowns in as little as 3 minutes, but usually no more than 24 hours.

    The other stuff, can relate – pretty much all of it.

    • Michael Russell told me that he had extremely short response times from Twitter for his DMCA notices but he’s in Canada so maybe that’s a different support team, I don’t know.

    • I’ve had fast responses from Facebook too, but they do that annoying thing asking if I’ve considered Fair Use far too often. As Alex points out I’ve had fast responses from Twitter too, and am still puzzled why that would be different for different users. A 3 minute takedown is probably automated, so a potential difference in support staff might not be the reason. Different policies by that staff could be, I guess. If it took a few more days for someone to properly look over my takedown I’d be fine with that, but I’m sure they don’t want to pay that much staff.

        • I suspect they are asking it to accomplish one of the following: 1) creator fails to respond and they don’t have to remove the intellectual property 2) creator tries to go and figure out fair use and never gets back to them and they don’t have to remove the IP 3) creator decides it was fair use and they don’t have to remove the IP. My response is “I have considered fair use and would like this content removed as it is used here without my permission or license as per your responsibilities under the DMCA”. They have been pretty good at then removing my photo, but having to send that follow up is still BS.

  2. Thanks Alex for expressing your thoughts concerning our impact on Nature. As you know, I’ve been struggling with similar concerns and how to put them in their proper place so I can enjoy the Nature around me. Your photos provide a wonderful reminder of what is really important.

  3. I think sharing the beauty of nature through our photos, if not the most important thing we can do, is certainly a very important one. I’ve heard from many folks who mention they’d never seen this or that until seeing a photo, and now they know to look for it, to slow down and look around, to take in more than they’d previously done. So that’s certainly a worthwhile action we can take, I believe.

    As for all the rest, I find I’m slowly embracing a more stoic view of life, trying to better understand what I can do something about and what I can’t, and for those things I can’t I have to work to just let them go. All they do is upset me and that accomplishes nothing. I can’t sway anyone to my views when I’m upset. Is there more I can do? Always. But I can’t beat myself up over everything, so I have to work at keeping my own sanity for the welfare of myself and those closest to me. That’s the goal, anyway. Far easier said than done. :-)

    And on a lighter note, there’s something about the flower clusters photo I really like. Perhaps the slight glow of the purple petals. Very nice!

  4. Just catching up. As I mentioned before, I think, I have been planting native plants lately and saved some milkweed from road destruction because I believe every little bit counts. I think too that sometimes when others see what is being done they may change as well. As for the NFTs, I generally agree with you but not sure in Photography. Reason is that you are getting the digital file which, yes you can just look at, but you can also print it and hang it on the wall. Ones I have seen by photographers are high enough resolution files for large size prints which you would not get by screen shotting. So, to me anyway, that is just a different way of getting an artist’s print. The other stuff like the gifs and most other things offered totally baffle me. Congrats on the round number b-day! I just had one as well and I have a feeling mine is a higher round one than yours. Beautiful set of images as always.


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