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Advanced Questions
by Chuck McKern

With over 12 years of retail and professional experience Chuck thought he'd heard it all - until he took this job.

Send us your questions for either the Beginner or Advanced columns by clicking HERE.  Please include as much detail about the technique, camera, lens, or film as you can so Chuck can answer your questions.

An answer for making the copyright symbol in Photoshop (or virtually any other PC based program-sorry, can't remember the Mac command at the moment ;). And it's an easy one. Use the text tool and then, holding the "Alt" key and using the numeric keypad (the one to the side ;) type 0169 and you will automatically create a copyright symbol ) :)Then just type your name :)And it will work with any font!

Theresa Odom

Thanks Theresa, quite a few folks wrote in with this one. Thanks to everyone who did.

I have a question about copyrights. I have taken pictures for years as an amateur. I take all of the pictures at my daughters dance studio and will be doing another studio this year as well. I give all of the profit to the studio so that they can offer the children guest teachers or scholarship money. When one Mother approached me this year and told me that she planned to get copies of the pictures I took of her daughter last year to send off for Christmas it took me back. I couldn't believe that she would do such a thing. I would be very happy to take my negatives and get copies for these parents and again give the profit to the school.

Needless to say this year I want to put a copyright on my pictures so that parents can't do this anymore. My question is, do I have to go about this by applying for a copyright or can I just buy a stamp that will have the c with a circle around it with my name or initials on it? Also, I plan to stamp the back of the picture with; "Copyright 2002 DST all rights reserved" is this acceptable? Any input you could give me would be appreciated!

Thank you for your time. 

Don't blame the parents. Most would never realize that they might be doing something wrong. You don't have to register your images with the Library of Congress for copyrights to be enforceable. Registering the images allows you to have a more ironclad case and usually allows for more damages to be collected if you should pursue any legal action against copyright infringement (as with a stock agency). There several methods of getting your copyright on your photographs. First check with your local custom labs. A lot of them offer printing on paper that has the "Copyrighted Image, Do Not Copy" warning watermarked on the back. The other is to get a stamp made with the copyright symbol, the year, and your name (or studio name). Just make sure you use an ink that won't bleed through the back of the image. Again your local lab can probably offer some suggestions here.

I would have a small price list printed up and given to the parents along with the photographs that lists reasonable prices for duplicates. It should also mention that the proceeds go back to the school. This does two things. First it lets them know that they're supposed to come back to the school for duplicates. Second it lets them know that doing so actually helps their kids.

As a musician, I have copy written songs. I have heard that a lot of photographers copyright their pictures/works. My wife does stills w/ 35mm and I do digital video. What do we need to do to copyright our pictures/video's? Are we still going to have to deal with The Library of Congress? How much does it cost? What forms? Where do we get them? Where/How do we begin?

Jim & Sonja

p.s. thanks for all the e-mail tips

If you want to protect your works to fullest extent, you will have to register them with US Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. To register photographs, you will need Form VA, a $30.00 fee for each application and a non-returnable copy of the work(s) being copyrighted. Audio/video works are to be filed with Form PA and the same $30.00 fee and a copy of the work(s). You may be able to file multiple pieces as collections if they meet the guidelines established in the instructions or other materials for that form. All the forms and other information are available on the US Copyright Office web site at But in most cases this really isn't necessary with photos. As a photographer the copyright is considered to exist at the time the shutter is pressed.

I really enjoyed your article about lighting. It was very helpful. I've been working with a 2 light set up (one Novatron M500 & Novatron M300 with translucent umbrellas. I'm just getting where my photos seem (to my eye) to look good. However...I'm not sure just how far away from the subject the lights should be. I'm now placing them approx. 6-7 ft. away. I'm setting up based upon standard lighting for Broad, short...etc. Thanks for your information. 

Jim Hudek

When placing lights you don't want to get them too close to your subject as the "pop" may be uncomfortable to your subjects eyes. A distance of about 6-7 feet should be good as long as you're getting adequate light to the subject. The lights can be moved farther away if you want to lower the light intensity and closer if you to increase it. My general rule when I am shooting is, if it gives me what I want, go with it!

I have tried to get scans of slides from several different locations without any luck. The slide always looks better on the light table. What am I doing wrong? I would like to think that the scans are bad, but I am not sure. What should I do? 


Unfortunately it's not you. While it's true that no matter how good the scan slides always look a little better on the light table, it's also true that there are damned few labs capable of producing really high quality scans. But when you talk to the labs many of them blame the consumers. Scanning is a skill. If you rely on machine scans you're settling for mediocre quality. But a skilled operator on the scanner costs the lab money. That cost is passed on to you. High quality hand scanning is expensive. If there is good news here it's that the machine scans that most labs provide can be made to look significantly better with a little touching up in Photoshop. For many amateurs this is preferable to the higher cost of paying for a hand scan.

It is a fact that over 10 to 20 % of men are COLOR BLIND to some degree or even totally. I am one of these. It is a problem that one often doesn't even realize he has until he is older (you also will note that very few women are colorblind even though most men acquire it from their mother). While one learns to make do, when you really want to do some color work with Adobe or other like program, it can be a significant problem. Does anyone know of any software that can help with this problem - it seems to me that this would be a very worthwhile project for someone to develop! I use a really good color program to do my Profiles and so on, but there is so much one misses!! Besides I am always being told that my work has a magenta or blue or other cast and so on. 

Dr. Roy L. Rasmussen 

We're stumped and we haven't been able to find anything on the subject. So we're going to put the question to our readers. Has anyone out there had experience with this?

Hi! I recently purchased a Palm Pilot and was wondering if there are any photography programs available on the web that can be downloaded? Any help would be appreciated! Love the magazine....keep up the great work!! 

Marcie Stacey 

I have heard from a couple of readers that have found some photography software for Palm Pilots. I haven't been able to check these out so I don't know much about them. Hopefully one of them will do what you are looking for. Check them out at the links below

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