My stolen photo

Last weekend we decided to have a look at a house being sold a few doors up from us.  During the “Open For Inspection” the realestate agent, Craig Currie, invited prospective purchasers to visit his website for a floor plan and more information.  We are 12 or 18 months away from being in a position to purchase a house, but decided to look at the website anyway to see the floor plan.  I went to craigcurrie.com.au and clicked on “Properties” and was shocked to see one of my own photos had been stolen and used without permission.

Realestate website screenshot with my stolen photo

Screenshot

I immediately recognised the photo as one I had taken in 2011 with my first DSLR camera.  I was experimenting with long exposure shots of the Lakeside fountains, Pakenham, at dusk.  I wrote a blog post at the time about shooting long exposures, but back in 2011 I was publishing photos to my Flickr account.  Checking the photo I’d uploaded to Flickr in 2011 against the picture I was able to copy from the realestate webpage confirmed they were exactly the same.

Fountains at Lakeside, Pakenham.

My original photo on Flickr

Realestate website photo

Photo taken from the realestate website

The “Properties” link on Craig Currie’s website actually linked to his realestate.com.au page, which is where my photo was appearing, so I wasn’t exactly sure who had infringed my copyright.  A search of other realestate.com.au profiles of Pakenham agents didn’t show any similar photos, so I was suspecting Mr. Currie.

When Craig Currie contacted me by text message to enquire if we would like to make an offer on the property, I responded by informing him that he had used a photo that was copyright to me.  I asked him to either remove the picture or compensate me for its continued use.  His response was to claim the photo was supplied by someone called “Photojenik” and to ask how much it would cost to continue to use the photo.  I told him $200 would be a reasonable amount, but he instead promised to have the photo removed.

Craig Currie reiterated several times that he had never heard of Flickr and that the photo was supplied by Photojenik, who he said was a local photographer who specialised in realestate photos.  Mr. Currie said he would pass on my phone number for her to contact me.

To Craig Currie’s credit, my copyright photo was removed, but I haven’t heard from Photojenik.  I know photos are stolen and copyright infringed all the time, but that doesn’t make it right.  If Photojenik is a real person or photography business, then stealing another photographers image is pretty low!  But is Photojenik real?  I cant imagine a photographer without any online presence, however Google and WhitePages searches for that name come up with nothing.

Don’t swerve for rabbits

I’ve been working the afternoon shift on the road lately, most days that involves driving a semi trailer to Albury and back to Melbourne.

Around midnight on Tuesday I was approaching Craigieburn, southbound, and see the head and tail lights of a car spinning in the distance. Then nothing.  I slow down, wondering if I had imagined it because I couldn’t see where the car had gone.  It wasn’t until I was almost on top of it that I saw the black Nissan sideways across the Hume Highway.  If I hadn’t noticed the spin in the distance, I would not have slowed down and probably t-boned the Nissan at 100mh, killing the driver.

I stopped the truck in the lane, with all my lights flashing so no one else would run into it, and check on the driver.  He said he had swerved to miss a rabbit!  I told him he should have just run over it, which is exactly what the police said when they turned up.

Thankfully the guy was ok, but his car was a mess.

This was the fourth time in my truck driving career that I’ve seen a car spin on a perfectly good piece of road.  My advise to anyone (especially my son Josh, who is learning to drive) is to not swerve at highway speeds for animals on the road.  For small animals, like a rabbit or echidna, you could usually just run over them with little damage.  For larger animals, like kangaroos, brake heavily and brace for impact – you will still do less damage than yanking hard on the steering wheel at 100kmh.

Spin and crash on the Hume Hwy

Monash Freeway Roadworks Déjà vu

I was struck with a case of Déjà vu the other night, as my car sat stationary amongst the Monash Freeway roadworks.  It was only eight years ago that part of Melbourne’s South East Arterial, the Monash Freeway, was barricaded off while an extra lane was added to coincide with the opening of the intersecting Eastlink tollway.  Now they’re doing it again, adding another lane to cope with increased peak traffic volumes.

In 2008 I was commuting to-and-from the Western Suburbs every day, so I spent a lot of time either stopped or crawling on the freeway.  Back then, having a camera in your phone was still a novelty and I remember taking a lot of photos with my, then new, Nokia 6500.  Using your phone while driving wasn’t as big of a deal that it is now, so I would sometimes take photos of the traffic and roadworks around me whenever the traffic wasn’t moving.  The recent Déjà vu reminded me of those Nokia photos (and the dedicated Flickr account I’d set up), and prompted me to take a similar picture this week before the outbound Stud Road exit.

Technically I was breaking the law by taking a photo on the road this week, but with my car at a complete stop, along with all the vehicles around me, I reckon it was pretty safe to snap the comparison shot (below) with my iPhone.

Monash FWY roadworks 2016

Monash FWY roadworks 2008

Eight years might be a long time in the progress of mobile phones with built-in cameras, but that’s nothing when it comes to our road infrastructure.  Where was the planning and forethought eight or ten years ago?  Surely the government’s money would have been better spent building an extra two lanes in 2008, rather than carry out similar roadworks again so soon.  Lets hope this is the last time we will see such widespread roadworks to expand the Monash Freeway!

Westgate Bridge Closed, traffic stuffed!

The traffic in Melbourne’s west was horrible today, caused by a motorcycle fatality on the inbound lanes of the Westgate Bridge.

I’ve been driving around Melbourne for a long time.  From the early 1990’s I worked weekends as a taxi driver.  In the mid 1990’s I was a courier driver, before moving into heavy vehicles.  Between 2004 and 2009 I commuted from the outer east to the outer west for a transport management role.  These days I’m driving trucks around Melbourne and regional Victoria.  Today was the worst traffic I have ever experienced.

Today started with what should have been a simple job, a quick run across town for a simple delivery.  I left the depot in Knoxfield at 6.15am and arrived at my delivery in Melton at 7.25, which was a good time as the morning peak was starting to wind up.  Ten minutes later I was heading back towards Knoxfield, but I was expecting traffic to get busy as I made my way through peak hour.  Just after the Boundry Road exit on the Western Ring Road the traffic started to slow.  This is normal as you approach the merge with the Geelong freeway.  At 8.30am I heard the traffic report on the radio say the Westgate Bridge was closed, so I sent my boss an SMS to say it might take me a bit longer to get back.  That SMS was my understatement of the day.  Three hours later, I still hadn’t made it to the next exit, Millers Road.  Three hours to travel five kilometres!  Finally I made it back to the Knoxfield depot at 2pm.

Today certainly opened my eyes as to what can happen when the main crossing of the Yarra River, from the western suburbs towards Melbourne, is closed.  I don’t want to get into politics, but maybe there is merit in the Western Distributor Project the current state government is undertaking.  At least it will give us a second river crossing in the west, even if it does mean more tolls.