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The Blinking Eye

Just dropping in for some community support

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This stock photo endeavor is increasingly a humbling experience.  A whole bunch of my photos failed QC.  Seems any kind of "grain" is a big no-no even if I like the look.  And no night shooting, I guess?  We used to call it grain and I'd push the aesthetic in that direction.  Now it's called noise.  😕  Also been running up against my technical limitations with all kinds of questions running through my head.  Planes of focus is becoming an issue, especially with group shots.  Feeling like I need more understanding of how to work with depth of field.  More control in general.  I haven't even uploaded 200 shots and the more I study, the worse they look.  Or some of them.  I'm getting more discriminating about what I upload.  More rigorous editing, selecting only the gems.  Hope they don't starting looking bad, but I suppose that means I'm growing and my eye is getting better if so.  This is a steep learning curve.   🙏🙈

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Posted (edited)

Possibly the best way forward is to post a request for a portfolio reviews in the Portfolio Critique section - this Community Support forum operates in a slightly different way and is not best suited to a critique purpose. If you have  specific issues or uncertainties you'd like to address (noise v grain being one example), begin by searching the forum - most questions have been asked many times before. If you can't find an answer, then post a question yourself in an appropriate forum. 

 

ETA. Just having a quick peek at your portfolio suggests there are a few issue which need to be addressed. When (if) you make your portfolio  critique request it might be helpful to give a quick summary of what camera and lens you are using and what shutter speed, aperture and ISO you typically use

Edited by Joseph Clemson
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Thanks.  My goal is to upload 200 photos before getting specific feedback to show a bit more range as I have a lot of photos.  I wasn’t looking for critique (yet), just expressing a state of mind.  Yes, I am picking through the conversations absorbing all the tips I can.  When things gel better I will likely be more specific but for now it’s a swirl of learning, like being dunked into a new country and learning a new language.  I have photography and filmmaking experience, but not in this context and not so much with digital.  I hope you will comment when I ask for feedback in the portfolio forum.

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4 minutes ago, The Blinking Eye said:

Thanks.  My goal is to upload 200 photos before getting specific feedback to show a bit more range as I have a lot of photos.  I wasn’t looking for critique (yet), just expressing a state of mind.  Yes, I am picking through the conversations absorbing all the tips I can.  When things gel better I will likely be more specific but for now it’s a swirl of learning, like being dunked into a new country and learning a new language.  I have photography and filmmaking experience, but not in this context and not so much with digital.  I hope you will comment when I ask for feedback in the portfolio forum.

 

As you are obviously realising, the business of stock photography requires a different approach to both the taking of the photograph and how it is subsequently processed and presented. It can be quite a jolt to the mindset, possibly even more so to the experienced (non-stock) photographer than it is to the beginner. If you are going to wait a while before asking for a formal critique, I would suggest uploading a wide variety of images so people have a good sample to comment on and can see what interests and locations you have available to you.

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I'm reviewing my submissions from 2010 at the moment, just looking at the keywords and captions to keep them current.  I had forgotten that AIM also keeps QC fails submissions as well.

Oh dear, oh dear, there were quite a few! We've all been there.

 

Every photograph will exhibit noise, softness, CA,etc to some extent. It just takes time to tune in to what Alamys customers will accept.

 

I don't know if you've found this?

https://www.alamy.com/contributors/alamy-how-to-pass-qc.pdf

 

Your own advice is spot on: - " I'm getting more discriminating about what I upload. More rigorous editing, selecting only the gems. "

 

Good luck.

 

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We've all had our share of failures. It takes awhile to get used to Alamy's brand of QC. Once you get the idea, though, it's not difficult to get through the gate. You're lucky you missed the bad old days when we used to get locked in the "Sin Bin" for thirty days after each failure.

 

It looks as if you've been to Mexico City recently. I've always found it to be a fantastic place for photography. You're probably familiar with Manuel Alvarez Bravo . I love his surrealist images. Bravo lived to be 100 and kept working right to the end.

 

 

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9 hours ago, Joseph Clemson said:

 

As you are obviously realising, the business of stock photography requires a different approach to both the taking of the photograph and how it is subsequently processed and presented. It can be quite a jolt to the mindset, possibly even more so to the experienced (non-stock) photographer than it is to the beginner. If you are going to wait a while before asking for a formal critique, I would suggest uploading a wide variety of images so people have a good sample to comment on and can see what interests and locations you have available to you.

That's a good direction, thank you!  I will sample from various shoots to show a variety and maybe upload a few 35mm photos if I can figure that out.

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4 hours ago, Mr Standfast said:

I'm reviewing my submissions from 2010 at the moment, just looking at the keywords and captions to keep them current.  I had forgotten that AIM also keeps QC fails submissions as well.

Oh dear, oh dear, there were quite a few! We've all been there.

 

Every photograph will exhibit noise, softness, CA,etc to some extent. It just takes time to tune in to what Alamys customers will accept.

 

I don't know if you've found this?

https://www.alamy.com/contributors/alamy-how-to-pass-qc.pdf

 

Your own advice is spot on: - " I'm getting more discriminating about what I upload. More rigorous editing, selecting only the gems. "

 

Good luck.

 

 

Yes, my first ten batches went in without a hitch so I got a little less careful.  Now I'm investigating every photo with their QC requirements in mind.  The rejections seem to be happening when I try to improve contrast/color balance etc, so I've stopped doing that.  It's a good process to slow down.  Good discipline.  It's forcing me to interrogate each image, so I'm learning a lot about the weaknesses of my own photos and I like building a stronger portfolio as I go.

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1 hour ago, John Mitchell said:

We've all had our share of failures. It takes awhile to get used to Alamy's brand of QC. Once you get the idea, though, it's not difficult to get through the gate. You're lucky you missed the bad old days when we used to get locked in the "Sin Bin" for thirty days after each failure.

 

It looks as if you've been to Mexico City recently. I've always found it to be a fantastic place for photography. You're probably familiar with Manuel Alvarez Bravo . I love his surrealist images. Bravo lived to be 100 and kept working right to the end.

 

 

 

Wow, thirty days would be discouraging!  I don't know that photographer but looking at his work now.  😎

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On 07/06/2019 at 09:30, The Blinking Eye said:

This stock photo endeavor is increasingly a humbling experience.  A whole bunch of my photos failed QC.  Seems any kind of "grain" is a big no-no even if I like the look.  And no night shooting, I guess?  We used to call it grain and I'd push the aesthetic in that direction.  Now it's called noise.  😕  

 

Not sure that night shooting need be out. I get the impression, maybe incorrectly, that QC tends to be more unhappy with self inflicted noise due to over processing, rather than that resulting from the circumstance of the shoot, i.e. they are aware of what is and is not possible.

 

Having said that I generally blat the dark areas of any problematic photos with noise reduction to avoid potential problems. They rarely contain any useful detail so you can go to town on the noise reduction. Conversely the bright bits don't normally show noise, so can be spared the treatment. Personally I use PS and layers for the purpose, making two raw conversions and combining them, but there are those who are slicker with LR and can probably do this more speedily by more deviant means.

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5 hours ago, Bryan said:

 

Not sure that night shooting need be out. I get the impression, maybe incorrectly, that QC tends to be more unhappy with self inflicted noise due to over processing, rather than that resulting from the circumstance of the shoot, i.e. they are aware of what is and is not possible.

 

Having said that I generally blat the dark areas of any problematic photos with noise reduction to avoid potential problems. They rarely contain any useful detail so you can go to town on the noise reduction. Conversely the bright bits don't normally show noise, so can be spared the treatment. Personally I use PS and layers for the purpose, making two raw conversions and combining them, but there are those who are slicker with LR and can probably do this more speedily by more deviant means.

 

Good to know! Thanks

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Cool.  I finally got out of the QC deep freeze and my "QC rank" even went up to 3 stars if can you believe that.  Still avoiding any night shots to be safe, while spending a lot more time discriminating and proofing.  I feel much better about my portfolio as something that is beginning to represent the photographer that I strive to be.  Takes work!

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May I kindly suggest that in future, don’t upload so many similars? I think you have roundabout 18 of an airplane wingtip when no more than 2 or 3 would do. Same with the field of flowers.

If you got rid of most of the similars, you effectively have a much smaller port.  Sometimes, depending on the subject, you can do a horizontal, a vertical, a zoomed in and a zoomed out.  That’s four. 

Try many different subjects, your sales opportunities will go up. 10 of the same against 10 different subjects. Think about it.  You have 9 more opportunities.

If your image starts out well, not underexposed or taken with high ISO, it should hold up to adjustments. I regularly increase contrast, correct white balance by using either the white, gray or black dropper, straighten, and do other tweaks in LR or PS. They pass fine.

 

One thing I’ve learned, if my image is not taken under optimal light conditions, I use selective noise reduction to the dark areas.

My biggest cause for failures back in the day was for soft and lacking definition. That came from my trying to sneak one by when I clearly wondered if the image was sharp enough or not.  Now, I just bin those I think are on the edge and move on. I also got better reading glasses! 😊

As time goes by, you’ll get that discernment and it will become very natural to you. 

Just be sure to enlarge the images to 100% and it’s surprisingly what you’ll find.

Unsharp

Noise

Dust bunnies, especially in the sky

Bits or a LOT of chromatic aberration ugliness, especially where lights meet darks

That tiny bird in the sky that QC thinks is a dust bunny. Get rid of it!

 

A year or so ago, I got rid of some similars. I didn’t have overly much to delete, one or two of some subjects, but all together I must’ve deleted a hundred or two.

I might’ve uploaded 5 different shots of a piece of chocolate cake (using this as an example).  With fork, without, closeup, zoomed out, etc. what I found was that there were always 1-3 superior (to my eye) images. Yet the chance of a buyer searching for a piece of chocolate cake might bring up the lesser images first and the best we’re on deeper pages. I prefer my best to compete.  If all five are equally well done and sufficiently different...closeup, zoomed out with copyspace, vertical, horizontal, etc, I’ll leave them all.  Usually 4 is the limit, 5 at the most.  And, of course, I have a lot that just have one shot used.

Keep in mind this is only how I do it, others may go about it completely different. But the general consensus has always to err on the side of fewer similars. Believe it or not, there are a few photographers on the forum who have only ONE of a subject or event. Their ports are small. Yet they regularly outsell a bunch of us with 4-10 times more images. Blows my mind. 

Adding similars just because I took them and they’re sharp enough isn’t a good reason to add them. I struggle with it continuously.

Betty

 

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5 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

May I kindly suggest that in future, don’t upload so many similars? I think you have roundabout 18 of an airplane wingtip when no more than 2 or 3 would do. Same with the field of flowers.

If you got rid of most of the similars, you effectively have a much smaller port.  Sometimes, depending on the subject, you can do a horizontal, a vertical, a zoomed in and a zoomed out.  That’s four. 

Try many different subjects, your sales opportunities will go up. 10 of the same against 10 different subjects. Think about it.  You have 9 more opportunities.

If your image starts out well, not underexposed or taken with high ISO, it should hold up to adjustments. I regularly increase contrast, correct white balance by using either the white, gray or black dropper, straighten, and do other tweaks in LR or PS. They pass fine.

 

One thing I’ve learned, if my image is not taken under optimal light conditions, I use selective noise reduction to the dark areas.

My biggest cause for failures back in the day was for soft and lacking definition. That came from my trying to sneak one by when I clearly wondered if the image was sharp enough or not.  Now, I just bin those I think are on the edge and move on. I also got better reading glasses! 😊

As time goes by, you’ll get that discernment and it will become very natural to you. 

Just be sure to enlarge the images to 100% and it’s surprisingly what you’ll find.

Unsharp

Noise

Dust bunnies, especially in the sky

Bits or a LOT of chromatic aberration ugliness, especially where lights meet darks

That tiny bird in the sky that QC thinks is a dust bunny. Get rid of it!

 

A year or so ago, I got rid of some similars. I didn’t have overly much to delete, one or two of some subjects, but all together I must’ve deleted a hundred or two.

I might’ve uploaded 5 different shots of a piece of chocolate cake (using this as an example).  With fork, without, closeup, zoomed out, etc. what I found was that there were always 1-3 superior (to my eye) images. Yet the chance of a buyer searching for a piece of chocolate cake might bring up the lesser images first and the best we’re on deeper pages. I prefer my best to compete.  If all five are equally well done and sufficiently different...closeup, zoomed out with copyspace, vertical, horizontal, etc, I’ll leave them all.  Usually 4 is the limit, 5 at the most.  And, of course, I have a lot that just have one shot used.

Keep in mind this is only how I do it, others may go about it completely different. But the general consensus has always to err on the side of fewer similars. Believe it or not, there are a few photographers on the forum who have only ONE of a subject or event. Their ports are small. Yet they regularly outsell a bunch of us with 4-10 times more images. Blows my mind. 

Adding similars just because I took them and they’re sharp enough isn’t a good reason to add them. I struggle with it continuously.

Betty

 

 

Yeah, those plane wings shots.  Blah!  I will delete.  I was thinking that I was supposed to strive for quanitity but I see my error now.  I can’t stand seeing those mediocre shots on my page now.

 

All your words are very helpful.  Thank you, Betty!

 

Lack of sharpness seems to be the biggest culprit when I zoom in.  I’m still learning the camera and these inspections are making me a better photographer.  I like hearing about those who upload one winner shot per topic.  Actually, that would cut down on the workload.

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7 hours ago, The Blinking Eye said:

 

 I was thinking that I was supposed to strive for quanitity but I see my error now.

 

 

 

The watchword is variety rather than quantity.

 

Alan

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2 hours ago, Inchiquin said:

 

The watchword is variety rather than quantity.

 

Alan

 

As the song goes: Variety and Quality.

Now sing with me.

 

Make it your mantra. (honestly)

 

wim

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Regarding noise, if you use Lightroom, the luminance noise slider is your friend. I shoot with Lumix GX85s and a G85 and luminance noise can be an issue above ISO 1600 and sometimes lower, depending on the lighting. I’ve found that I can use the slider to mitigate the noise well enough to satisfy Alamy, but not enough to smear fine detail to an extent where the image fails.

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Thank you so much, everyone!  I'm getting the hang of it.  One problem is I wasn't paying attention to the ISO (yes, I'm a neophyte).  I went out and took a bunch of night photos and was careful about the ISO and they all look smooth as silk.  Sad, though, because I got some great close up photos of US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, but they all seem slightly soft or with noise.  They were shot at night under bright lights but the blacks are a bit noisy.  Onward.

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6 hours ago, The Blinking Eye said:

Thank you so much, everyone!  I'm getting the hang of it.  One problem is I wasn't paying attention to the ISO (yes, I'm a neophyte).  I went out and took a bunch of night photos and was careful about the ISO and they all look smooth as silk.  Sad, though, because I got some great close up photos of US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, but they all seem slightly soft or with noise.  They were shot at night under bright lights but the blacks are a bit noisy.  Onward.

 

Even just putting shadow noise in Google comes up with numerous remedies. If you put in the raw converter and photo editor(s) you use, you'll soon find a solution.

This is how you learn without a school or teacher. The good thing: it's free and it keeps an exact pace with what you're doing. The bad thing: no warnings beforehand and it may take a few tries to get it right. (But that would equally apply to teachers 😀. -said the teacher.)

 

wim

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On 20/06/2019 at 06:12, wiskerke said:

 

Even just putting shadow noise in Google comes up with numerous remedies. If you put in the raw converter and photo editor(s) you use, you'll soon find a solution.

This is how you learn without a school or teacher. The good thing: it's free and it keeps an exact pace with what you're doing. The bad thing: no warnings beforehand and it may take a few tries to get it right. (But that would equally apply to teachers 😀. -said the teacher.)

 

wim

Excellent, thank you.  I'm amazed how much I can learn from just this forum alone.  Ready to up my game! 👍👊

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On 19/06/2019 at 05:43, TABan said:

Regarding noise, if you use Lightroom, the luminance noise slider is your friend. I shoot with Lumix GX85s and a G85 and luminance noise can be an issue above ISO 1600 and sometimes lower, depending on the lighting. I’ve found that I can use the slider to mitigate the noise well enough to satisfy Alamy, but not enough to smear fine detail to an extent where the image fails.

It sounds like I need to get Lightroom! 

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On 17/06/2019 at 04:18, wiskerke said:

 

As the song goes: Variety and Quality.

Now sing with me.

 

Make it your mantra. (honestly)

 

wim

 

Nice song.  But I'm starting to feel this approach requires a lot more legwork!  Stock photography is definitely not an "easy in".

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7 hours ago, The Blinking Eye said:

It sounds like I need to get Lightroom! 

 

Using Lightroom transformed my image processing as I started shooting in RAW and found I could so easily tweak images to bring out the best in them. Image noise and chromatic aberration were no longer a major problem, but fixable at the tick of a box and the tweak of a slider.  It also became the basis of my cataloguing and keywording too, though it has some limitations in that respect. Whether it is worth the investment required is something you need to decide for yourself. Lightroom and aspects of its use are  frequently discussed, such as in this thread from August last year.

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