Tag Archives: EXIF

Will I get my images stolen online?

• Transparent Covers •

• Transparent Covers •
The picture shows a transparent image slightly lifted off the page demonstrating how a transparent image can be stacked on top of the image below. It is normally invisible when set up properly – it’s shown lifted here only for effect. If you right click/copy the on an actual transparency you only copy a transparent shape not the image you want below.

Can images be protected online?

There are a number of ways to steal an image off of a website. And, yes, there are a number of ways to protect an image on a website. How effective is that protection? When it comes down to it we lose sleep over our images being stolen. So if that protection is not 100% we have a problem.

What protection is available?

Probably the most common protection for images on a website is a programmed solution. A small piece of code detects a right mouse click over an image. The code disables the right click preventing you saving or copying the image or the image address.

The picture above shows another method of protecting images. It is possible to place images on top of each other on a page. If the top image is transparent the image below it can still be seen. When you right click the image you are actually only able to get the top transparent image not the image below. This is an interesting method because it also masks the internet address of the image below. If you try to copy the location of the image you get the location of the transparent image.

Press and grab!

Both the methods above, and similar ones, are sufficient to prevent the casual, non-technical user from stealing images. However, they are absolutely ineffective against one simple theft method – the screen grab. If you click on the window where an image is displayed, hold down [Alt] & press [PrtScrn] the image selects a copy of the window that is currently selected. You can then paste that image into an image editor. If you use [Ctrl] & [PrtScrn] you grab the whole screen as an image. Some web designers have used code to disable these button combinations but it is not reliable. It is also completely ineffective against selection tools. There are many little applications that you can download which will give you the ability to select any section of your screen and copy it. The copy is then pasted into an image editor for saving.

The ultimate solution…

When it comes down to it there is no full-proof method of preventing image theft. If you can see it online, you can steal it. The ultimate solution to preventing image theft online is not to put your images onto a website.

Of course this is not an answer really. If we cannot publish then we cannot get sales, acclaim, support… whatever. These days, if you are not online then your images are not seen. Are there other practical methods of protecting images?

Water marking

One of the more common methods of protecting images is to put a watermark on it. This effectively renders the image unusable on another website or for printing. However, it also makes it difficult to fully appreciate the art in a picture if it has a trade mark or copyright symbol plastered across it.

• Little Langdale •

• Little Langdale •
Watermarks can be rather obtrusive like the large one here (centre). Less obtrusive placement and size is easily cloned out or cropped out (the small watermark bottom right).

Generally speaking the smaller or less obtrusive a watermark is on an image the less effective it is against theft. On the other hand the more obtrusive it is the more impact it has on the viewer looking at the image. Writing in particular draws the eye very strongly. So you are in danger of the viewer having to peer around/behind your watermark because the eye is drawn to the watermark before the subject of your image. This is not satisfactory and rather destroys the point of putting the image online.

Copyright and copyright registration

Copyright refers to the established right of the author of a picture to maintain control over the image. However, the law of copyright differs worldwide. So how it applies in your country is something you will have to research. In basic terms a country like the UK has an assumed right of copyright ownership. So the original image file would stand as proof of ownership. In this case it is best to ensure that you also embed your copyright data in the image data (see: Exif data). The Exif data will then reveal the owner. However the data is not secure so the method is not full-proof.

In a country like the USA copyright owners can protect themselves against theft by registering their image with the Library of Congress  External link - opens new tab/page.

Copyright is good protection in that the force of the law lies on the side of the copyright owner. However, in many countries a dispute over copyright involves a lengthy and expensive legal process. This may be beyond the means of the small artist/photograph. This renders it an ineffective method of protection. However, recent legislation in the UK has made it easier for authors to make small claims for disputes covering them for up to £5000 pounds fine. This could change the balance in favour of the photographer/artist seeking remedy for stolen images.

Show the useless image!

It sounds daft, but if you present your images as a low resolution small size image this is a simple and effective protection against most theft. Image thieves want a quality image to use on their own site or to print or to sell to others. If you limit your image longest side to 500 pixels as a *.jpg image compressed to around 60% you will provide partial protection for your image. This size and compression is an acceptable size on a web page for the purpose of viewing. However, the thief cannot blow the image up larger without damaging it. The low resolution at 500 pixels will make print sizes too small. In effect this makes the image perfectly viewable for your site users, at the same time it renders it pretty useless for the image thief. This is a practical and simple method of protecting against theft. It is not full proof – since thieves can still use it small size. However, it does at least limit the possibilities for commercial exploitation by others.

There is no 100% protection – its about risk

When it comes down to it you have to take a risk. There is no method of absolutely protecting your images online. However, there are enough different types of protection to be able to protect most images enough to feel confident that your images ‘probably’ will not be stolen. In the end you have to decide if you are going to gain more by displaying online than you would lose by having an image stolen. It is a very personal decision.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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Shooting very long night exposures

Lights from any building generate a surprising amount of light at night.

“The Compleat Angler” – This hotel, pictured from Marlow Bridge, Buckinghamshire UK generates a surprising amount of light. Click image to view large.

Shooting by moonlight or other dim lights

It’s true. You can shoot in almost total dark with a digital camera. You make exposures of many minutes and use really dim lights – the moon, stars and low-level hand-held lights are enough for the camera to pick up.


In other articles about night photography we looked at Planning and Preparing for a Night Shoot and Out on a Night Shoot – Night Composition. We also looked at Six things you must know for night shoots including the basics of controlling the camera and the sort of settings used. It is worth following up on these articles before proceeding.

Night light

Out of town, away from the urban lights, dark is really dark! Many urban dwellers don’t realise that unless the moon and stars are out our eyes are pretty poor in complete dark. Yet, when the moon is out, and the stars, we can see pretty well. In fact our eyes are not well adapted to this darkness. However, the digital camera can pick up amazingly small amounts of light. In the photograph above the EXIF data is…

Model – Canon EOS 5D Mark II
ExposureTime – 10 seconds
FNumber – 11
ExposureProgram – Manual control
ISOSpeedRatings – 100
Flash – Flash not fired
FocalLength – 25 mm
ExposureMode – Manual
White Balance – Manual – Cloudy
SceneCaptureType – Standard

Ten seconds is a reasonable time with all that light knocking around. Remember that an exposure is like filling a bucket with water. As light enters the camera it fills the exposure, making it brighter and brighter as the shutter is open longer. So, in very low light situations you can take photos with very long exposures.

One thing to consider is how to set the length of exposure. Most cameras cannot time your exposure if it is going to be longer than thirty seconds. You can buy automatic ‘intervalometers’ – devices which count intervals of time. They will be able to set your camera off for longer exposures than thirty seconds. However, on the camera there is normally a setting called ‘bulb‘. This will allow you to time a period yourself and close the camera shutter when you are ready. You can find out more about the bulb setting (B setting) in: What is the ‘Bulb’ Setting?

The video

In the following video, Mark Wallace takes us through the process of taking a photograph by moonlight. He is using a two minute exposure. Besides nearly getting eaten by coyotes (OK I exaggerate) he gets some well lit shots. Remember he is out in the country where there are no lights and is just using the ambient moon/star light.

Uploaded by snapfactory External link - opens new tab/page on May 1, 2011

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

EXIF Data – Understanding Your Shots

Image files hold hidden data about the file and the image itself

'The Kick' - an image file has EXIF data stored inside

'The Kick' - image files store EXIF data about the file itself. See below for data in this image file.
Make - Canon Model - Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Orientation - Top left
DateTime - 2011:04:09 11:04:14
Artist - Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)
Copyright - Photokonnexion 2012
ExposureTime - 1/640 seconds
ISOSpeedRatings - 100
ApertureValue - F 4.00
Flash - Flash not fired
FocalLength - 280 mm
ExposureMode - Manual
White Balance - Manual
SceneCaptureType - Standard

In your image files is information about your photos. The aperture value, shutter speed and ISO settings are three important pieces of data. However, there is a whole lot more.

The stored data is called EXIF. It stands for Exchangeable Image File Format. The EXIF data is stored by a number of image formats including JPEG, JPG, Tiff, RIFF and WAV files. It’s also found in many camera RAW formats. EXIF data is not supported by JPEG2000, PNG or GIF image formats.

EXIF is a great source of information. Once you understand it you can find out how the shot was make. Look at images by other people. It is an insight into the way they made a that image. When you see a picture you like view the EXIF data. You can tell from the values what settings were for that shot. Bear in mind EXIF data can be removed from a photo. So, it may not always be there.

EXIF data is a great learning aid. You can look at the EXIF data in your own image files. Check out the settings at the time your shot was taken. If the shot did not go well you can analyse what went wrong. Next time you will know better.

Getting the EXIF data

EXIF data is available in a number of ways. You can get it from most image editors when you open your file. Irfanview, an image viewer and editor, has a dialogue box for reading and copying EXIF {press ‘altgr’ & ‘e’ together}. Photoshop and Elements have read and edit tools for EXIF data. GIMP External link - opens new tab/page has the same facility. To use these editors to see EXIF data consult the help pages for your version.
More after the jump…

You can also get the EXIF data using Windows Explorer…

  • Windows XP: Right click the image file; left click “Properties”; click the ‘Summary tab’; click the ‘Advanced button’
  • Windows Vista/Windows 7: Right click the image file; left click “Properties”; click the ‘Details tab’
  • Mac OS X: view EXIF data with ‘Finder’. Do a ‘Get Info’ on a file; expand the ‘More Info’ section

In some versions of Windows you can edit the EXIF data as well as read it. However, the data about the file itself remains in the file. You can remove the private data and edit the camera data. Although you can edit the information in Windows XP it is inadvisable as a bug sometimes corrupts the data in JPEG/JPG files.

Editing your EXIF data

Data from EXIF files includes camera settings data stored when the shot was taken. There is also copyright data you can edit in-camera or add while editing.

Being able to edit your EXIF file is useful. You might want to put extra data into the file that’s not collected by your camera. For example you may want to save contact and copyright details. Or, you might want to remove some of the data. Some photographers do not publish EXIF data to prevent publishing information about the shot.

Not all cameras support all fields. The EXIF format is supported by at least the Japanese camera makers. There are many other cameras supported too.

EXIF data – many ways to use it

There are many ways to use the EXIF information. The first stage is to look at the data in your own image files.

You can also set up your camera to create EXIF data. It will store your copyright information and other data in your images when you make a photo. You can also add other types of data beyond the pure EXIF data. See your camera manual for instructions.

Have fun with your EXIF data!