Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Patriotic and totally fun year with Honor Flight

This year was one of the busiest years with a camera in hand, which I have ever had. At the same time, I can say with pleasure that it was the most fun year I have EVER had with a camera.

Inland Northwest Honor Flight began flying WWII Veterans to Washington DC in April of 2010, and I asked to be a part of their effort. My idea was to document each day of the veterans Honor Flight experience in digital images, and then provide each veteran and his/her family with a video (integrated DVD slideshow) of the entire three day experience. My idea was graciously accepted by Tony Lamanna, who heads the Inland Northwest Honor Flight project.

My next step, now that I was on the hook, was to take a look at local highly skilled photographers, and invite them to commit to helping me photograph the entire Honor Flight event which occurred each month for the entire year. I was very successful in attracting great regional photographers, and in total we have averaged ten Honor Flight photographers over the course of the year (since April). This bunch was not just good with their cameras, but extremely reliable in every way possible. We always had someone to fill in when one of the HF photogs was unable to make a shoot because of work, illness, or vacation. The beneficiaries of the HF crew labors were the WWII veterans and their families.

The Honor Flight process involves a morning departure from GEG on day one, and a visit to the military/war memorials in Washington DC on day two. On day 3, the WWII veterans and their guardians (usually family members) fly back to GEG for a show unlike anything they have ever seen. Literally hundreds and hundreds of people show up for the Honor Flight returns, and there are bands playing, flags waving, and tears flowing. Patriotic bedlam is the term I use for this show, and when the veterans pass the last TSA checkpoint and see the masses, they break into tears. In the beginning (April) the photogs also broke down in tears, and it might still happen…if certain members “fess up.” Yet we learned where to be, to document every important part of the three day event, so that we were there to “catch the moments.” Tears, cheers, and smiles, we wanted to be there for them all.

To our knowledge, there are no other Honor Flight Hub locations in the United States (there are several hubs like Spokane is) that shoot the entire three days, and then turn around and produce a video for each and every participant, every single time an Honor Flight is scheduled. The videos are produced by me, in my office, after I get the edited images from each photog, of each portion of their 3 day shoot. In April, the videos began at about 24 minutes, and in November, the video ran just over an hour. Videos (DVDs) are formatted for viewing on the veteran’s television/DVD player at home. Many are not computer savvy, and we wanted to make this as easy as possible for each of them. All videos are synched with background music, and without fail, families cry when they watch them. We call this result, “happy tears.”

Every photographer who has ever participated in their first Honor Flight is hooked on the project. Our “merry band of photogs,” has never had this much fun with a camera, for any project…let alone a community service undertaking of this size. Some months require 3-4 shoots at GEG, beginning with Southwest Airlines departure schedules. Some shoots have been accomplished as late as 10:30 PM (for a late arrival of a veteran who suffered a heart attack in DC), and almost all departures from GEG are at 10:30AM. Photogs get to GEG at or near 0830 to start the departure shoot (usually done by noon), and at least two hours before the arrivals on day 3. Some shooters have to accompany the veterans through TSA, and also onto the aircraft to shoot the departures. On arrivals, one photog has to be at the aircraft door when it opens and as the veterans deplane. Almost all other shooters are out in the crowds shooting virtually everything they can capture. The tears and cheers and bands start playing just as the first WWII veteran makes the last turn into the lobby area. It’s hard to keep that many people quiet, but we found it can be done. Many incoming passengers from other airlines refuse to leave the airport until after the veterans come off their plane, and military members from all branches of service show up, in uniform, for the arrivals. Incredible, every single time is all we photogs can say about all of this. None of us have ever seen that many US flags waving in any airport, let alone our own.

2011 will bring another year of Honor Flights from GEG, and each of the photogs is having “Honor Flight withdrawals.” We do not fly again until April, as we did this year, so we have a few months off. Then the photographic fun starts again.

Our slate of Honor Flight photographers includes myself and;

Josh Burdick, photographer
Ron Trees, photographer
Greg Hustad, photographer
Kevin Liechty, photographer
Robert Chiappe, photographer
Mike McNab, photographer (normally shoots day 2 activities)
Stephanie Yanuszeski, photographer
Kent Henderson, photographer
Annette Barton, photographer
Danielle Maldonado, photographer

I have added one more photographer as a result of working with her at the Northwest North Pole Adventures shoot a week or so ago. She requested to become a part of the photography team after the Honor Flight photographers were mentioned at the children’s recent North Pole event at GEG. Carol Trost will begin shooting with us in April, 2011 for the first Southwest Airlines departure of the year for our veterans and family members (guardians).

Yes, all of this takes each photographer a lot of time. Not just shooting, but scheduling your day/week/month, to be available for the three day experience. Editing takes time, and quickly choosing at least 60 edited images apiece for the video takes time. Producing the video can be mind numbing, but each video from an individual flight has to be in the hands of the families before the next Honor Flight begins.

Information on Inland Northwest Honor Flight is available at:

Photography for sale to each veteran and their family is also now available online at:

Some of our WWI veterans have passed away before they were able to make their scheduled Honor Flight. Yet, for those who are able to make their flight, the value of having highly skilled photographers there to capture their event, will last their families a lifetime.

Is it all worth it?

You have no idea how satisfying all of this is to every single photographer. If we do nothing else with our camera systems, we know we can capture the smiles and tears of the WWII veterans who made our existence today possible.

Merry Christmas everyone.

John D. Moore, CPP
Photography coordinator
Inland Northwest Honor Flight

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A low light Christmas, at the North Pole

I had the opportunity to photograph Northwest North Pole Adventures (Spokane Fantasy Flight) this December. A few of my friends who are highly experienced in shooting low light images also shot this event, which was a superb event for homeless or underprivileged children.

An extensive amount of planning goes into this event, and the 2010 event was administered by Steve Paul, CEO of Northwest North Pole Adventures . A total of 64 children made the “trip,” to the North Pole, courtesy of Alaska Airlines. This is a marathon day for us photogs, and doing the treadmill for an hour every day sis nothing to prevent the pain in the quads the next day. The only way to shoot this event was to get down to the level of the children, and it was very well worth the experience…and the minor pain for a day afterward. I shot about 1200 images (CR2), and after editing I sent 197 image files (JPEG) to use for the children and for any purpose determined by Steve.

The event organizers are top notch people, and all of their efforts this Christmas season was evident. For those of you who have never heard of the Spokane Fantasy Flight, drop in on their website and see what good people can accomplish (with a lot of work).

So, not all of my low light imaging has to be done outside, but inside the large hanger at GEG which literally became the North Pole. Some tripod use was required, and a ton of direct flash photography for the activities of the children. ISO’s ranging from 100 to 1600, and two camera bodies (11 X 18mm, and 18 X 200mm).

This event was a tad unusual for all of us shooters, as we were all dressed as elves for the entire marathon day. I distinctly had the feeling of wearing PJ’s for the entire day, and this actually added to the importance of why we were shooting pictures at GEG and then on the other side of the runway at the North Pole.

Take a look at some of the videos from North Pole events of the past, so you can see the looks in the children’s eyes when they get on the aircraft for the short flight to the North Pole. Here are a few links to some short videos:

2009 Spokane Fantasy Flight - Event review

2009 Spokane Fantasy Flight - Elf Tribute

2009 Spokane Fantasy Flight - Donors & Sponsors

Merry Christmas everyone,

From JOMO the Camera Elf at the North Pole.

The ethics of stealing whatever you want

For four years in a row, I begin to see some very strange URLs and IP addresses on my website at This is the season, after all, where it becomes ethical to steal online images from anyone who displays them. Am I the only one who gets their images taken? No, not hardly.

Last year I worked through some issues with Gonzaga University, as I found some of the Gonzaga images on the same sites as mine were being displayed unlawfully. The year before, it was the same issue, with all of the usual suspects. I called GU staff to let them know where I found their images, and then I began approaching the sites that took my work.

Several years ago, I went after 11 local commercial abuses of the images I own, and I remember some real strange phone calls I had with violators. A few would not return my calls, but those who did told me they got permission to use my work. Interesting, I thought at the time. So, who told you it was okay I asked? Well, we don’t know, but somebody told me I could use anything I found as long as it was on the web. 5 Spokane realtors used almost the exact same defense of their use, although what is not surprising is that they all worked for the same company locally. Then there was a local law firm who blamed it on their web designer, and the web designer who blamed it on their law firm. Guess who their law firm was? Yep, you guessed it.

I tired of making the phone calls, and just started billing the 11 abusers, and the checks started coming in after that. First to be delivered was the one from the law firm, and they were a little worried. Last to hit my PO Box was the collection from the web designer, who was unemployed thereafter from their work at the law firm. 11 violations, 11 payments.

The common denominator for all of these things is that “someone told me it was okay.” Next most popular abuse defense is “well, it isn’t my fault that your images are on my web site.” Oh really? Let’s see here, and then whose fault would it be? Answer, “well, I don’t know, but it isn’t mine.” My answer, well okay, just PAY me. After all of these abuses, I was hoping I could find a few more abuses as my system was working pretty well.

So, in 2010 there does not seem to be as much local abuse. In fact it has been 90% outside the area, including outside the country. Harder to settle up with abusers, so maybe there is another way.

For the URL’s and IP addresses that I read and review on my website stat logs, I can read who has my images, and then go right to the site to see their destination. Singapore, China, Russia, UK, and on the list goes. There are travel displays, news displays, college displays (Gonzaga U, U of Washington, U of Alabama), including law schools. All of these instances are third party abusers and not affiliated with the schools or law school. Yet, abuse is still abuse…and there are no contracts for such web use.

So, I am continuing my approach of tagging my images blatantly so they are readily identified as being stolen (copyright infringement). Takes a couple of minutes, but soon these abusers will be displaying my images, and every visitor to their site will see the images were taken without permission. Really terrible that I would have the gall to tag my images displayed on THEIR website. Bah humbug methinks…..

You need to be a little careful as you browse through your websites statistics database. As you see these URLs which have taken your image, some of these sites are also ATTACK websites. Simply put, these websites will attempt to install software onto YOUR computer by clicking through or past the opening screen. Some of the abuser websites will try and hit your computer just by clicking on the URL.

I will display some of the websites that seem to have problems in actually using a copyrighted image legally. Some of them do not have the copyright modification on them yet, but I’ll get around to doing that tomorrow. Let the embarrassment begin for those who want to take my images and use them for whatever purposes.

I’ll spare you from seeing the two porn websites that are displaying some of my images from Riverfront Park, and the two travel sites that I may be able to go after for payment. If it isn’t one thing, it is another.

News Gratis
Gonzaga Basketball schedule

Clear Airway

Electronic News

World Cities
There are also some companies that allegedly will “search the web,” for your images. I was curious so I joined one of them (ImageRights). They are supposedly searching for 588 images of mine, and in 6 months they have found NONE. In that time, I found around 25 just by reviewing who visits my website.

Merry Christmas everyone.

John D. Moore, CPP
Spokane Night Scenes