Creative Commons Licenses

I’ve been working on a platform to publish photos from my travels. As part of my research, I read up on Creative Commons (CC) licenses. The Creative Commons website was extremely helpful; very clean website, great UI/UX and clear explanations of the licenses. I’ll summarize the six main CC licenses here; however, I suggest you navigate to the Create Commons website for specifics and the actual licenses.

There are four main characteristics of the CC licenses:

  • Attribution: Giving the creator due credit for works. All CC licenses require attribution.
  • Distribution: Dissemination of works. All CC licenses allow for redistribution (sharing) of works.
  • Derivatives: Creating modifications of original works. Some licenses prohibit derivative works while others only allow for ShareAlike, which means others must license their new creations under the identical terms.
  • Commerciality: Making profit from original or modified works. Some licenses allow works to be used for commercial purposes while others do not.

Therefore, the six licenses are as follows:

  • Attribution (CC BY)
  • Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
  • Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)
  • Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

See the About The Licenses page on the Creative Commons website for details.


Mirrorless Interchangeable-lens Cameras

I recently read a review written by professional photographer Scott Bourne about the Olympus OM-D EM-5, one of Olympus’s mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (MILCs), or what they call the Micro Four Thirds system.

According to

A new Four Thirds System standard has been developed to increase the freedom and enjoyment of digital SLR photography.

Enter Micro Four Thirds (MFT). Essentially, you get a thinner camera without the “mirror box” but the same 4/3-type image sensor size. Theoretically, you are able to take the same high quality pictures you take with any DSLR but without the bulk and the physical viewfinder; the viewfinder is replaced by an electronic screen. Furthermore, you can still use interchangeable lenses, even those designed for standard Four Thirds Systems, though you will need adapters. Review the images from below for more detail.

Four Thirds VS Micro Four Thirds Body

Four Thirds VS Micro Four Thirds Lens Adapter

Four Thirds VS Micro Four Thirds Lens Adapter

In his review, Scott Bourne listed what he thought were the pros and cons of the Olympus MILC he tested. To sum up his review, he thought it was worth every penny. As an aging photographer, he is frankly tired of carrying around all the heavy gear. With the Olympus, he can take equally professional pictures but with much less bulk. To add credibility to his argument, he includes pictures he’s taken with the Olympus MFT system. Be sure to at least glance at the photos in his article. I’ve summarized his pros and cons below:


1. Stealth (Nobody bothers you because you aren’t carrying around a Canon 1DX, i.e. cops, tourists, other photographers, etc.)
2. Small size
3. Low weight
4. Easy to pack and carry
5. Amazing glass
6. Lower overall cost
7. Options not available to DSLR users (e.g. lenses you can’t get on a DSLR)


1. Low-light performance isn’t as good as DSLR
2. AF on moving subjects is sub-par
3. Can’t tether
4. Short battery life
5. Minimal support system (e.g. accessories, etc.)

For me, I think the biggest pros are the portability (small, light weight) and cost. The biggest cons are performance and battery life. The cons are a pretty big deal for most professional photographers and for good reasons. However, to Scott’s point, many photographers don’t really need to worry about these kinds of things based on the photos they are taking:

If you are a PROFESSIONAL sports shooter, wildlife shooter or other action shooter or if you are a wedding shooter who works in venues that don’t allow flash, you should probably stick with your DSLR.

Many of us don’t fall into those categories, especially the professional part. Regardless, some of us aspire for professional quality photography even if we are but amateurs still. There are other great things to be noted about the professional level DSLRs as well. But in general, Scott makes a great point.

I think what is more significant to me is the paradigm shift. I think a lot of photographers will look at the MILC and MFT systems as absolutely inferior. They’ll defend their Four Thirds systems vehemently. But seeing the trends in mobility with phones, laptops and tablets, I bet the smaller, lighter cameras will start to sway consumers looking to get away from bulkier technology. And why shouldn’t they? These systems will only get better. I think it will be important for traditional Four Thirds system photographers to take a good hard look at the MILCs so that they don’t overlook the new technology. I don’t think there will be a swift takeover given the limitations that Scott mentioned in his review. Based on my very limited knowledge and zero experience (I’m taking Scott’s word and photos on authority) I do think that the MILCs have much to offer in terms of mobility and comparable quality.

A Tribute to Ansel Adams

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1932

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1932

During my first few days here in Bellevue, I went to the library with Susie. I wasn’t quite sure what to get, but then I found myself perusing the photography section. Before I knew it, I was caught up in some Ansel Adams books. Since we had just finished our road-trip up the coast, of which we spent a few days in Yosemite, I still had the Ansel Adams gallery on my mind I suppose.

As I began looking through books about his work, I found one entitled Ansel Adams: Letters and Images 1916-1984 (a New York Graphic Society Book). I started reading a letter Ansel Adams wrote on the first page I flipped too. It immediately sucked me in. It reads as follows:

Yosemite National Park
June 10, 1937 

Dear Cedric,

A strange thing happened to me today. I saw a big thundercloud move down over Half Dome, and it was so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me; things that related to those who are loved and those who are real friends.

For the first time I know what love is; what friends are; and what are should be.

Love is seeking for a way of life; the way that cannot be followed alone; the resonance of all spiritual and physical things. children are not only of flesh and blood–children may be ideas, thoughts, emotions. The person of the one who is loved is a form composed of a myriad mirrors reflecting and illuminating the powers and the thoughts and the emotions that are within you, and flashing another kind of light from within. No words or deeds may encompass it.

Friendship is another form of love–more passive perhaps, but full of transmitting and acceptances of things like thunderclouds and grass and the clean reality of granite.

Art is both love and friendship, and understanding; the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of Things, it is more than kindness which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of awareness of the spirit. It is the recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and meen, and of all the inter-relations of these.

I wish the thundercloud had moved up over Tahoe and let loose on you; I could wish you nothing finer.


Cedric Wright was a photographer and violinist. He was also a very close friend to Ansel.

I’ve been meaning to blog about the letter and the book since I stumbled on them. Now that the book is finally due to be returned, I’ve gotten to blogging about it.

As I read more of Ansel’s letters I began to realize how poetic he was. The letters to his wife before and after marriage were deeply romantic. He wrote many letters to friends, family and mentors. It became clear to me why he was such a great photographer: He had perspective, love, passion, an eye for beauty. He was meditative, patient, a true mountaineer, friend and lover in all regards.

While I don’t think the words of Ansel’s letter (and letters) are the greatest ever written, they are very insightful and have helped me gain greater appreciation for who Ansel Adams was, as more than just a photographer.

Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, April 17, 1927

Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, April 17, 1927

UPDATE: You might be wondering why I selected these two images of his many great works. The first was the image that followed the letter I cited in the book. It seems to represent what Adams saw when he talked about the thundercloud moving over Half Dome.

The second picture was one that he took from the “diving board” I believe he called it, which is a point on the mountain just below half dome that over looks the river and Mirror Lake (I think?) below. In one of his romantic, poetic letters to Virginia (Adams’ wife), Adams mentioned how he longed to bask in the sun with her at the diving board. It was a place of some significance to both of them. Later he captured the image referenced and it has since become quite famous. At first the image seemed insignificant to me, but given the story behind the place it was captured and its significance to Adams and his wife, it is has since become a favorite of mine.

I often look at photographs that seem so simple and wonder “why this picture?” I’ve found with Adams, there is often a beautiful story that answers that question.