Kayaker / Whale Image

This is a posting about my composite image of a kayaker in the mouth of a whale and how it has gone viral through the internet all over the world.  I have been hesitant to ever post this blog, but since I see so many others using my image for their own purposes… I now feel compelled to tell my own real version of the story….hopefully, this will lay things to rest.

Search Google sometime for ‘kayaker whale’ and see the results. All over the internet there are websites posting my composite image for a variety of reasons. Only a small handful of the postings have been used with my permission and previous knowledge.  This has prompted me to post my own blog about my own image.   And not only is this article about the image belonging to me, Tim Shobe…this blog posting is also about the power of social networking and the usage of a copyrighted image through-out the internet.

My ‘kayaker in the mouth of a whale’ image was originally created on March 6th, 2010.  While living alone on an island at the time and feeling the need to be creative, I decided to produce a composite image as ‘mild entertainment’ to be used in an email only intended to be seen by a few of my close friends. Since then, it has taken on a life of it’s own while being passed all around the internet and the world. Here are a few of situations that this simple composite image has developed to my knowledge while I’m sure there are many more:

-The ‘original’ whale image on my website has been searched and found through the metadata and has produce well over 50,000 visitors to that one image.
-I have been investigated by NOAA as they believed that the image was real and they wanted to know the facts about it.
-The image has been used on television broadcasts and radio station websites and more…(all without my permission or previous knowledge)
-A story on it was published in the local newspaper in Sitka.
-Snopes.com editor estimated to me that the image had been passed around to over 2 million people via email.
-I have received messages sent to me from all over the world. Some very good…some almost ‘hateful’ sent to me by those that don’t know any better. I prefer to remember the positive comments and the people I have met along the way including I now have a friend from the UK that had a career working for the Queen of England and informed me that this image is all over his area in London. The messages I have received because of this kayaker/whale image have come to me from all over the world. Many times, this image comes back to me from people I know that have received it themselves from someone else…this happens almost daily.
-magazines have used it…
-An artist from Paris, France sent me his version of the image with a ‘reflection’ of the kayaker in the water.
-snopes.com did a report about it and so did hoaxslayer.com. I gave them permission to publish the image and my story.

Below is the story of my composite image and of a couple of the times that it has been used.

These are from the original images of mine that I used for the composite. The first image (cropped in the final version) was captured during a spectacular afternoon of watching some humpback whales bubblenetting near Sitka, Alaska.

You can read about that experience here: http://shobestudios.com/blog/15

The kayaker image I used for the composite is this one of my friend, Richard Kraft while he was paddling his kayak on February 1st, 2010.

It wasn’t long after I emailed the image to my friends when it all started to create a stir in the internet world and gained attention that I could have never imagined nor did I ever intend.  NEVER did I ever claim that this composite image was from an actual event.  Since my original email was written, many others have put their own ‘spin’ on the story of the image.  Mr. Kraft is NOT a ‘dentist’ as it is now claimed in recent versions of the viral email.

Below is a couple of examples of the many ways that my image has been used.   I have only given permission to the few that have asked for it to use for their purposes.  Please understand that this is a ‘copyrighted’ image and is fully protected under U.S. Copyright laws.  Websites, newspapers, magazines and others should hopefully respect these laws, but as anyone can see after doing a search on the internet about my image….not too many people respect these laws.

The Sitka Sentinel, a local newspaper, printed a story about my image on the front page in March of 2010.  I was happy to give them the story when they asked for it.

Recently, a news station in another State displayed my image and reported it as being a real incident!  They have since corrected themselves.

There are many more cases out there about the use of my copyrighted ‘kayaker/whale’ image and I will be glad to hear about them if anyone cares to share the stories with me.  And lesson learned here that many people don’t understand about the uses of photo-editing software.  I have also been reminded that there are many people out there that are very judgmental towards others under circumstances that they know absolutely nothing about.

The biggest reality about my experience is that there are also many good people around the world that have contacted me to express their appreciation for my image.

Please feel free to leave any welcomed comments of your own.

Tim Shobe

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