Thursday, September 8, 2022

Lexica's Stable Diffusion Prompt Search Engine

A great new tool is now available that allows you to use some prompts to find images created in the Stable Diffusion system and then discover their full prompts and see similar images.  This fabulous tool is available over at Lexica's Stable Diffusion Seach Engine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Artist Resources for AI Art Generation

Yeah, I know there are already a lot of sites with long lists of links to AI Art stuff, but I don't want a huge list; I just want to get some images created and now swim into a mass of links.  Below are the links I use daily, and they have helped me perfect the looks I want in MidJourney and Stable Diffusion.  

I will keep this article updated with sources I actually use, not some random list of 800 things I found on the internet.  Check back to see if I have some new goldmine to share.


This Teapot site might sound odd, but it gives you a fantastic view of how the MidJourney bot tends to react to different directives.  I use this a ton as it can give you a great idea of how these prompts interact.

Teapots in MidJourney

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Ariel Yoga Lyra Hoop For Surrealism

aerial lyra hoop
Jennifer On The Aerial Lyra Hoop
I discovered pretty late in life that I guess I have something against those hanging hooks on aerial lyra yoga hoops.  It isn't like they are super ugly or anything, but look at how amazing this image looks without them!  It has taken on this entirely new surreal appearance, and I think I love it.

I recently installed one of these hoops in my studio because Jennifer here really wanted to shoot on one, and I had a few other clients that were interested.  After searching around on the internet, I ended up getting one from a fellow in Ukraine, who custom makes them.  I was much happier with the overall quality than I was with the ones I was finding on Amazon.  Moreover, it was even cheaper, regardless of the shipping that wasn't an insignificant number.

There will be plenty more images coming from this yoga hoop, as several aerialists have reached out and would love to do a photo shoot on one.  Time will tell if this was a worthy purchase, but as of now, I could not be happier with how the Lyra has opened my eyes to creating surreal images like this one.  Amazing muses sure help of course.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Capture One - Exporting Files for Copyright Filing

Just a quick follow-up on my article from yesterday on copyright filing and how I export my images from Capture One for filing with the Library of Congress.  Keep in mind you can do this same thing in Lightroom, but it is a much more labor-intensive process.
Here are the settings I have for my process recipe name
(Example: 05.02.19-Sasha_SD34233.jpg)

First, I have a process recipe specifically for exporting these files.  They all go into a folder with their shiny new name and await filing every 90 days.  This will result in a folder full of files that start with the date of publication, or the date you exported it.

The submitted image watermark
This is a safe date to use since you know for a fact no one has seen it up to this point, so I use that as my date of publication.

For the actual file, I export it at 1200px on the long edge at 80%, which is actually a bit larger than required by the filing office but not by a ton.  I also add an ugly text watermark to the bottom of every image.  I do this because of reasons I stated in my copyright article, in that these images are publicly accessible, and I don't want them stolen directly from the place used to protect them.  Call that irony.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Your Images Stolen? Learn to Copyright Them!

My Most Stolen Image!
Learn how I did this to a normal portrait.
Like many of us, I have had my images stolen, copied, or used without my permission. It makes us all angry, and we might feel helpless, but I have learned how to protect myself from such thieves, and I am going to teach you what I know so you can help yourself as well as get paid for such infractions.

I am not a lawyer!

First of all, a disclaimer, let me be perfectly clear that I am hardly a lawyer and what I am going to talk about is based on my experiences and things I have learned over the years. Please keep that in mind as you read this, and of course, consult with someone in a sharp suit if you need further clarification and lots of dry lingo to toss around at parties and impress your friends. That being said, I do have quite a bit of experience in this area and would like to share some tips and tricks to get the most out of the few laws that actually try to help protect us from image theft and how I use them as part of my workflow.

People Steal Photos All The Time

You might have heard stories a few weeks ago about a colossal settlement where a gym owner had used a photograph he found on the internet and ended up getting sued by the photographer for a gigantic pile of cash. Similarly, I remember a story about a yearbook image of a young man who just got engaged to Britney Spears, and it was being used by many news outlets without permission. That photographer also ended up with some additional zeros being tacked onto his annual profit. Getting a bounty like this for our stolen work seems like a pipe-dream when most of us can't seem to get a takedown notice to stick. In both of these cases, it wasn't the fame, having a best friend that's a lawyer, or huge cash reserved for legal battles, it was the fact they both had taken steps to help protect their images adequately.

I Already Own The Copyright, Don't I?

To start, let's define a few terms to clear up any muddy water that might be created as we stir this pot. First of all, the photographer owns the copyright to any photo taken the moment the shutter clicks. Most of us know that already, but if you didn't, now you do. This is something that can only be taken away with an explicit sale of the copyright or the passage of time after the death of the creator.

When a client purchases a digital file or print, they are not buying the copyright, and often I have heard clients and even some photographers misusing this term. "Does your CD come with the copyrights to the photos?" This is wrong and should never be the words you use on your negotiations, website, or in your client contracts. You should offer "rights to print and reproduce," but the copyright is potentially quite valuable and gives the owner the ability to do literally anything they want. This includes selling that image to 3rd parties and collecting future usage fees, or even selling it as a stock photo and making money from your work. In short, don't sell the copyright or use terms that lead one to believe that what they are buying is the copyright to your work unless you really mean it. If you do sell the copyright, be sure you are charging the maximum total potential value of that image over its lifetime. In general, works published after 1977 will not fall into the public domain until 70 years after the death of the author, or, for corporate, anonymous, or works for hire, 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.

What If I Added A Watermark?

The second thing you need to be clear about is that adding a copyright mark to the image isn't mandatory for copyright protection. It does add potential and sizable cash bonus for you if it is removed from the photo, but otherwise, it isn't needed. To repeat, because this is an urban legend that needs to die... from a legal standpoint, you do not need to add a copyright mark to the image to have it protected by copyright law.

How Do I Protect Myself From Image Theft?

Okay, so what is this missing step that these two examples did that you might not be doing? It is merely that you need to file your images with the US Copyright office to be protected under the full extent of the law. Now, most of you are probably hearing about this for the first time, and thankfully, it isn't hard to do. Quite simply, you use the Library of Congress website ( and upload images that you would like to have protected by copyright law. There is a filing fee of around $55, and you can upload a pile of photos (up to 750) compressed into a zip file. This allows you to protect quite a few images for the cost of your monthly (or weekly) Starbuck's budget.

Once you file images with the copyright office, a few new doors open up for you.

They will send you a lovely certificate which contains your case number and other information. Keep these safe, as I have had to produce mine on a few occasions, and they are legal documents, so protect them.

Sue For Fair Market Use

You can now successfully sue in federal court to collect the "fair market value" of the work from the thief. Currently, usage fees are not a ton of money but consider what larger stock companies like Getty would charge for a typical "rights managed image," and you would be in the ballpark. Fees are typically applied based on the duration or the use of the image. Its location on a website, number of items in print, location in a publication, etc., are all taken into consideration for the proper rate. It is often advised you have a page on your website explaining your "fees for use" and put that URL into the metadata of all of your images. There are places built explicitly for these options in the IPTC areas of the metadata you can access from Lightroom, Capture One, or Adobe Bridge, to name a few.
  • There is an additional penalty if the thief removes your brand or watermark, and that penalty gets much larger if replaced with their own copyright mark.
  • This entire process is compounded if the site bears copyright language, which is typically in the footer of the website. Doing so makes your legal team chitter with excitement.
  • Most of the time, you can also get legal fees included in the penalty, and there are even services that will handle the complications for a percentage of the settlement.

Punitive Damages!

Last, but not least, you can then collect "punitive damages" for the use of the photo without permission. This is where those huge dollar judgments with lots of zeros come into play. If you didn't file your images with the copyright office, then you don't get to enter the bonus round to collect this benefit. When you register your image with the US Copyright Office, you can be awarded up to $150,000 per image for willful infringement, plus legal costs!

There is one minor complication... you need to file your images within 90 days of them being published. Moreover, the overly complicated legal mumbo-jumbo has been updated to include posting on social media to count as "publishing." If you don't file during that window, this becomes quite painful.  So, what I do is just upload all of my images every 90 days, even if I have not posted them publically.  That way, I am covered in the event they are posted somewhere in the future.

What if I find someone has stolen my photos?

Someone used my image as a book cover. :-(
Now if you do discover a violation on an unfiled image, you have a fixed number of days to file the image and create a claim. Typically late filing like this will cost you a lot of the rewards you get from registering before the violation such as the statutory damages and legal fees. However, this is actually what the photographer of Britney Spears fiance had to do once he found the image was being used without permission. He ended up walking the document into the Copyright office in person to be sure it was filed on time. There is also the case of Paul Alan Leonard that sued a health supplement company that was using 92 of his images and ended up with an award of $1,600,000 plus $400,000 in interest. These might be extreme examples of filing after the violation was discovered, and I have no experience with this type of situation outside of what I have read. I advise you to file your images within the grace period; it isn't hard to do!

My Copyright Workflow

Here is my Copyright Filing Workflow in detail: 

  1. Every 90 days I create a zip file of my recent work and file all of those photos compressed in a ZIP file for the $55 case filing fee to  There are specific file naming conventions, so please check the site to be sure you follow those.  As of the writing of this article, the filename starts with the date you "published" it, and then the rest of the file name.  (e.g. 12.06.19-Jennifer In Ballgown_SD34234.jpg)  More on that process here.
  2. In Lightroom, Capture One, or Bridge, all of my completed images are color-coded purple, so a simple filter shows the photos that need to be submitted. I keep an expanded copy of the ZIP file on my hard drive with a folder renamed to be the same as the case number. This is so I can easily access all of the images the case if Lightroom isn't available.
  3. Once the case number is created, I also add that as a keyword to those images for ease of reference. I have a master Lightroom keyword of "Copyright Filings," and children of that keyword are the actual case numbers (e.g., "Copyright Filings > 1-5616570000"). This keeps things clean and simple from an organization standpoint as I know all purple images with that keyword are filed.
As a side note, those submitted images don't need to be full resolution, in fact, I would advise against that. Export them large enough to be able to clearly be identified if presented in federal court and compared to the potential violation. I usually run with something around 1,800 pixels on the long edge, but I leave that decision up to you. Additionally, I use the basic watermarking in Lightroom or Capture One to add text along the bottom of the photo; "Copyright 2017 - Scott E. Detweiler - All Rights Reserved". I include the text because images that are filed with the Library of Congress are also potentially available in the public domain, and therefore accessible under certain circumstances.

Keeping yourself organized by filing every 90 days is the simplest way to handle things, and pretty easy to do online at Be sure the site you are using is the official government site and not one that claims to do the filings for a higher fee.

My steps for the TL/DR types

To summarize, here are some things to keep in mind:
  • File all new images every 90 days or when you reach 750 images
  • Keep the certificate in a safe place, you might need it later
  • Keyword images with their filed case number
  • Don't upload full-resolution images to the copyright office
  • Add your copyright line to the bottom of your images
  • Have a page on your site explaining usage fees
  • Keep the zip file and rename it to the case filing number. Back these up!

The Future Of Copyright For Photographers

Groups like the PPA are looking to make it much easier to pursue claims, but until they are successful, this is your best bet. Again, this has been my experience, and you should always talk to your favorite lawyer friend before acting. As a side note, all of your legal battles need to happen in federal court, as copyright is a national law. Several services will do the fighting for you for a portion of the proceeds.

So, now you know how to file and protect yourself. Now go and create that repeating calendar item to register those images!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Painterly Portraits

Maybe I am behind the times or have little grasp of what is current and popular, but I love painterly portraits!  These always strike me as timeless, even if some naysayers tell me this trend has long past.  I wanted to talk about how I approach these and what goals I have when lighting them, knowing where I need to take them once we reach Photoshop.

Playing With The Human Mind

Now, of course, like any piece of art, you can decide how far you want to take a specific look.  It isn't impossible to achieve a painterly look entirely in camera.  However, there are aspects of this style that really call for some additional brushwork to really sell the illusion.  By the way, that is really what this entire process is, creating the illusion of something that has been painted.  Most of the time, the background will do the heavy lifting for you.

Much like Bob Ross not having to paint every leaf on a tree, we let the human mind fill in the blanks and run with the hints we have given it.  The same goes for these painterly images, as the background tends to lead one down the path of the belief that the image is a painting.  After that, it takes just a few extra nudges to sell the illusion.  Later in the article, I will talk about a few additional things you can do, and some can lead to new products for customers!

Most of these images were shot against a white wall in my studio, and I added the background in Photoshop from my collection of painterly background textures.  Sure, I could invest in a large hand-painted canvas sweep for the studio, but by doing it in Photoshop, I have a lot more variety to choose from and can change my mind if I prefer another texture.  By the way, I do still own a few hand-painted backgrounds for when you know you will have a large number of images that need to be consistent.



The lighting on these can really come in a variety of styles.  I think the more traditional look would be using one medium-sized softbox, as that would look similar to a small window in more historical periods.  In fact, when I use a medium softbox as my only light, it sure starts to feel more like a traditional painting.  I think the secret here is to take the photo from the "short" side, meaning you shoot the portrait from the shadow side of the face, not the "broad" or well-lit side.

The addition of a rim light can add a more modern feel to images and instantly changes the entire feeling of the picture.  A Rembrandt style portrait, for example, would probably look odd with the addition of that additional light.  Another option to help separate the figure from the ground (those are the traditional terms), would be to add a simple spot of light on the background.  This helps to pull the viewer's eye into the image and hold it there.  However, unlike a vignette, it does not look as contrived nor does it change the exposure of the subject around the edges of the frame.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Restarting My Photo Blog

Having taken a break for quite a few years on my blog, I have been recently motivated by Jennifer's and her desire to start her blog, Adventures of a Chicago Ballerina. As I helped her along in the process, I realized how much I missed writing articles for my personal blog. Most of my creative and informational writing efforts have been directed towards articles that appear in Shutter Magazine. However, there are many lighter topics and several image series that don't work for that periodical because they are either really short or somewhat controversial.

So, time to kick this thing in the pants and get writing once again! I plan on several series on my personal projects as well as other topics such as in-person-sales, lighting, and post-production. Have ideas for articles you would like to see?

Photography In the Shawshank Prison

Jennifer In The Shawshank Prison
Speaking of Jennifer, here is a shot of her from my last trip to the abandoned Shawshank Prison.  In the creation of this image, I wanted to add something else to the scene aside from this amazing ballerina.  My original thought was to add a bird, but I decided on this piece of flowing fabric to help draw the eye into the image and keep it there.

Lighting the Scene

The lighting for this was relatively simple, as we had a medium softbox (2x3) gridded and boomed overhead with the help of my voice-activated light stand, Gary Box.  "Gary, move that a little to the left please." :-)

Post Production

As for post production on this image, I decided to go with a rare black and white conversion. Usually, I love the colors and don't care for black and white. However, the contrast here in this conversion is just a much more powerful image.  I do not use any presets for my black and white conversions, I just fiddle with settings inside of Capture One until I have happy with the result. By the way, that is how I treat pretty much every image and why presets and I don't tend to get along.  I want each image to have its own voice, and using a preset means it never really had a chance to be all it might have been.  Of course, if there is a series and I am looking for visual continuity, then I might create a preset based on my tweaking of the main image and apply it to all of the others in the series.

If you are interested in how I use Capture One, I have started some Capture One tutorial youtube videos on my culling workflow, color grading, and other goodies.

Photography Equipment I Used

Sony A7Riii - Dumped all my Nikon gear and moved to Sony.  So happy I did!
Sony 24-70mm GM Lens - This is my primary lens for just about everything.
Godox AD200 strobe on a boom.  Plenty of power and lasted the entire day.

Lexica's Stable Diffusion Prompt Search Engine

A great new tool is now available that allows you to use some prompts to find images created in the Stable Diffusion system and then discove...