Friday, March 18, 2011

Online Nature & Wild Life Reference Resources

Trying to identify a new bird, bug or wildflower that you photographed can be a challenge, here is a list of some online resources that should help out:

Birds of North America (BNA): Comprehensive reference covering the life histories of North America’s breeding birds.
Ontario Field Ornithologists: Ontario Canada Birding resource central. Contains information on recent sightings, Ontario species check lists which includes images useful for identification
 eBird Canada: A Canadian subset of the On-line checklist project where you can enter and store your bird observations in a central database, track your personal records, and share your observations with other birders and scientists.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: A world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds.
Encyclopedia of Life: Database for every one of the almost 2 million species that are named and known on this planet.
eNature: Web site for information about the wild animals and plants of Canada and the United States.Ability to search or browse thru the field guides of more than 5,500 North American species.
Animal Diversity Web: Database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology at the University of Michigan. Online resource of the plants, insects and animals of Boreal Forest of Northwestern Ontario.
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: Detailed information from the Patuxent Research Center and collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
New York State Mammals: Housed inside the web site has information on animals and plants of upper NY, which shares much of the same climate and geographic makeup of southern Ontario.
Bug Guide: community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures.
Odonata Central:  Online resource for dragonflies and damselflies from around the world.
Ontario Wildflowers: all about wildflowers that grow in Ontario (Canada).
Ontario Trees and Shrubs: Same format as the Ontario wildflower site. 
Mushroom Expert: Everything mushroom and fungi.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Earthquake / Tsunami Impacts Camera Manufactures

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan this past week has impacted production at all of the major camera and lens manufactures. Thankfully reports from these companies say that only a few employees suffered injuries. Although there was earthquake and water damage to some locations the bigger problem now could be with the nuclear power plant issues, there could be a shortage of electricity to resume production once the facilities have been repaired. This could impact availability and the launch of new products to market.

Canon: Has reported injuries to 15 employees, and “significant” damage at a number of sites located in Utsunomiya  – about mid-way between Tokyo and Sendai. Operations at the company’s Optical Products Plant and Optics R&D Center at Utsunomiya are suspended, Canon saying that there is likely to be a delay before any operational resumption.
Canon has also suspended operations indefinitely at its Optron subsidiary in Yuki where the company produces optical crystals used in stepper, camera and telescope applications. Canon added that if operations at any of these sites were likely to be affected for more than a month, it would be able to transfer some activities to alternate facilities.

Nikon: has suspended operations at a number of key locations. These include its Tochigi Nikon Precision Co., Ltd and Miyagi Nikon Precision Co., Ltd subsidiaries, which both produce high-quality lenses for applications in lithography steppers and scanners used in IC and LCD manufacture.
Also impacted are the company’s Sendai locations which manufacture the D3S, D3X, D700 and the F6 they've been forced to close due to damage to equipment and to the building themselves.

Sony: Operations at 10 Sony Corporation factories and 2 Sony R&D centers have been shut down by the Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami. Sony is monitoring the status of each of these sites on an on-going basis, while also considering the most effective recovery measures. Sony also has responded to reports of widespread power outages by voluntarily suspending operations at several sites. No significant injuries have been reported to employees working at any of these sites when the earthquake or tsunami occurred.

Epson: One factory had been hit by one meter high tsunami and two factories close to the nuclear plant have been closed down. Three other manufacturing facilities are being impacted by rolling blackouts. Main production facilities are located in China and elsewhere and supplies to customers should not be affected.

SanDisk: Who's operations were withing 500 miles of the epicenter have not been affected and production resumed Friday morning.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Copyright & Newspaper Photography Clubs

 A recent trend with news orientated web sites are "photography clubs" where a news paper for instance will share some tips from their staff photographers and members (readers) post images to their web site. News programs on television have been requesting viewers to send in still images and videos of events that they've witnessed for years. Leveraging the large audience of a news paper to promote your work can be good, however there is usually a hidden cost which comes with the free promotion, copyright ownership.

  All of these sites have a "Terms and Conditions" area that describes the responsibilities of you as the submitter of content and the site itself. They must ensure that you own the copyright of the images you're posting and they need your permission to display the content on their site or printed issue. It's essentially a "cover their ass" statement that dissolves them of any legal issues if an image is published or appears on their web site. It spells out in detail what they can and can not do with the content you have submitted. Some of the terms are very simple and limited to the site's ability to display your images. Others however are complicated and force you to hand over all rights to the images you're submitting and give them permission to edit, sell, license and reproduce your images any way they want.

Here is one paragraph from a local news paper's "Terms and Conditions" statement for their photography club:

You grant the Toronto Star, a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited (the “Toronto Star”) and its affiliates, an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive worldwide license to use, reproduce, distribute, print, alter, edit, syndicate, license, and otherwise exploit the materials you submit, or any portion of them, in any manner and in any media or forum, whether or not currently known, without making payment to you or any third party. You authorize the Toronto Star and its affiliates to use your name in connection with the photos. You also waive any moral rights that you may have in the photos.

Do you really want to submit content here? Is the free publicity to promote your work worth giving up these rights? For me any term or condition that uses the word "exploit" cant be a good thing. It's something you need to be aware of and you must read the fine print before submitting images to any web site.