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QC Rejecting Perfectly Good Images


Question

Hi!

 

I'm having big problems with the Alamy QC system.


I'm an internationally published photographer with 26 years of experience. When I submit my perfectly detailed, sharp, and high-res images, some get rejected, as well as the entire batch! In fact, these are the same image files that I use to make huge prints in sizes up to 40x60. So you can understand my frustration.

 

Thus far, I've found that the Alamy QC system has problems with highly detailed shots of prairies (which is my specialty) and images of flowing water with wonderful motion blur. I can only imagine what it'll do with my fog shots. To make it even more frustrating, the entire batch gets rejected and I can't move forward with keywording the accepted ones.

If you have experience with this issue, please let me know how to solve the problem.

Thanks so much!

     Mike

Edited by chicagonature
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4 hours ago, chicagonature said:

After sharpening for final output on the customer's end, the picture's great.

 

Are you suggesting the customer needs to sharpen the image?

 

I've been thinking of buying stock for my next book, and the idea of having to do anything other than crop is dreadful!  For my last book I didn't know what sharpen even was and I paid a professional to handle all the image stuff.  I can't imagine paying someone for an image and then having to pay my person to edit that image.  That's way too much expense and publishing margins are not big enough for that.  Worse if I had to spend time to edit an image myself - time is my most limited resource.  

 

If I'm going to pay money for an image, certain if I'm paying Alamy prices, then I'm not going to buy an image that needs spit and polish.  

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36 minutes ago, CrowingHen said:

 

Are you suggesting the customer needs to sharpen the image?

No you don't need to work an image. But photographers aren't supposed to sharpen an image until after it has been resized. Alamy confirms this standard practice in their instructions for image preparation.

 

If you're publishing pictures in print form, sharpening is one task. Another important task is the conversion from RGB to CMYK which can often change/flatten the rich RGB colors that you see on your monitor. 

 

Good luck with your book!

Mike

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Hi Mike. Your bluebells image is a little soft but I reckon it would pass QC if you downsized it to about 3000 pixels long dimension. The debate about sharpening has been going on for a long time and it appears to be generally acceptable to apply LR/ACR default sharpening to raw images (capture sharpening as it is known in the trade) which if applied to this D810 image might make it acceptable as is but I would still downsize it to be on the safe side. With a little bit of sharpening and a little bit of downsizing it would fly through Alamy QC.

 

However, your skunk cabbage scanned image is way below anything I would consider submitting to Alamy in terms of basic image quality. I would not submit this image even downsized as it is mostly unsharp and is very noisy. I don't know how you digitised it as you don't appear to have said but, given that you have a D810 and presumably a good macro lens since you specialise in closeup, then I would suggest you check out the Nikon ES1 slide copier. With a bit of nifty processing it is possible to get results with this that are far better than any prosumer or consumer slide scanner. I have an old Nikkor 55m AIS lens with extension ring and D810 setup that produces results that pass Alamy QC. 

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10 hours ago, chicagonature said:

Hi, Alan!
It wasn't that one batch was rejected. Several batches were rejected and only one image from one of the batches was referenced in the email.
Question: Is the QC process done manually or is Alamy using software?
This entire thread is about me trying to understanding what the QC standard is. Do you think the attached image would pass QC?

Thanks for the advice!
    Mike

April-in-Blue-Master.jpg

That's loads better. But then it's a direct digital camera image rather than a scan of a 35mm slide. I feel it could pass QC as it is, although if I was submitting I'd down-size to about 48MP (5000 x 3337) but then I'm possibly over-cautious. Scanned (or digital camera copied) 35mm slides will typically be much lower quality, so they will need to be downsized further or submitted via archival route. The minimum size images Alamy QC will accept is 17MB (around 6MP or 3000 x 2000 pixels) . If you search the forum there are numerous threads on submitting scans of 35mm slides for example this one.

 

PS. Lovely image. You may want to add a watermark before posting full resolution images in the forum, to help protect them. 

 

Mark

 

 

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43 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

If you search the forum there are numerous threads on submitting scans of 35mm slides for example this one.

 

 

 

 

 

That thread you link to gives very little info on slide copying except for Betty's preferred method which is a lot more complicated and more expensive than what I am suggesting. The bottom line is that for anyone  with a D810 and a Nikon macro lens already, then the ES1 slide copier is a cheap and highly effective method of digitising slides in my experience. 

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9 minutes ago, MDM said:

That thread you link to gives very little info on slide copying except for Betty's preferred method

Though in that thread I did wonder if the ES-1 might also be a solution for Betty with her Fuji XT-2 and in fact anyone with an APS-C or Full Frame camera with the addition of appropriate macro lens and adapters. Could the ES-1 be adapted to fit do you think?

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2 hours ago, MDM said:

 

That thread you link to gives very little info on slide copying except for Betty's preferred method which is a lot more complicated and more expensive than what I am suggesting. The bottom line is that for anyone  with a D810 and a Nikon macro lens already, then the ES1 slide copier is a cheap and highly effective method of digitising slides in my experience. 

 

OK here's another 🙂

 

Or perhaps I should have linked to this specific post which is in the thread I quoted? I do agree that a decent DSLR and macro lens gives better and faster results than most scanners.

 

Mark

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12 hours ago, chicagonature said:

Hi, James!
Yes, it's all about calibrating. I wonder if you could take a peek at the new landscape image of Virginia bluebells that I posted a few minutes ago, and let me know your thoughts on QC? That'll help me calibrate.
Thanks!
   Mike

 

as Alan says, the Bluebells are fine. Here's to the first sale!

 

Edited by Mr Standfast
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2 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

Though in that thread I did wonder if the ES-1 might also be a solution for Betty with her Fuji XT-2 and in fact anyone with an APS-C or Full Frame camera with the addition of appropriate macro lens and adapters. Could the ES-1 be adapted to fit do you think?

 

Yes you would just need an adapter to step down the filter thread to the 52mm of the ES1. 52mm is standard on a lot of older Nikon lenses including the 55. Nikon have an adapter for use with the 60mm macro FX lens which has a 62mm thread. I already had the 55 but had to buy an extension ring as well. I don't know of any reason why you couldn't use any other make of camera besides Nikon. 

 

 

1 hour ago, M.Chapman said:

 

OK here's another 🙂

 

Or perhaps I should have linked to this specific post which is in the thread I quoted as I do agree that a decent DSLR and macro lens gives better and faster results than most scanners.

 

Mark

 

That other link is more relevant I think as it gives a lot of different options. Apart from price if you already have a macro lens and camera, the advantage of the ES1 over light boxes and so on is convenience. You just stick it on a lens, stick the slide in the very well made holder, point towards a light source, focus and off you go. It can be set up in seconds and put away just as quickly, Getting a light box and tripod set up correct so that it is flat and there is focus across could be a lot of work. 

 

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20 minutes ago, MDM said:

Yes you would just need an adapter to step down the filter thread to the 52mm of the ES1. 52mm is standard on a lot of older Nikon lenses including the 55. Nikon have an adapter for use with the 60mm macro FX lens which has a 62mm thread. I already had the 55 but had to buy an extension ring as well. I don't know of any reason why you couldn't use any other make of camera besides Nikon. 

Thanks, it's useful to be able to suggest the ES-1 as the simplest universal solution for slide copying with a camera. The video in Betty's post with the camera dangling over a lightbox would have anyone tearing their hair out if they tried to get through any kind of quantity and produce consistently excellent results.

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3 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

Thanks, it's useful to be able to suggest the ES-1 as the simplest universal solution for slide copying with a camera.

It was thanks to one of those slide copying threads and MDM's recommendation of the ES-1 that I bought one. I put it on my 60mm macro and absolutely smoked through digitising stacks of slides. It works a treat, so simple and sooo much quicker than using my slide scanner.

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9 minutes ago, Colin Woods said:

It was thanks to one of those slide copying threads and MDM's recommendation of the ES-1 that I bought one. I put it on my 60mm macro and absolutely smoked through digitising stacks of slides. It works a treat, so simple and sooo much quicker than using my slide scanner.

 

Interesting - Roughly how close (distance from lens filter thread to slide emulsion) does the macro lens have to focus to use the ES-1?

 

Mark

 

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Mike,

 

First like I many of your images, but "April-in-Blue-Master.jpg" that you posted would not pass for upload by me.

at 100% I found many "Spots" that should have been taken out in post.

 

Over the years I've been scanning 35mm chromes with a 4,000 DPI scanner (CanoScan FS4000) and the largest

file I get is over 5700 by?  Unless you are using a very high end scanner and wet scanning chromes I do not see how

you can be getting over 8,000 by?

 

Currently I am using VueScan software (which I am not very happy with) and most of the time I make 3 passes and have the IR or FARE set to the

lowest setting or turned off.  I scan to 16bit TIFF's and do all of my post on the 16bit file before downsizing to

5000 by as an 8bit JPEG for upload.

 

I also see some sharpening on the above image?

 

Best,

Chuck

Edited by Chuck Nacke
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3 hours ago, Colin Woods said:

It was thanks to one of those slide copying threads and MDM's recommendation of the ES-1 that I bought one. I put it on my 60mm macro and absolutely smoked through digitising stacks of slides. It works a treat, so simple and sooo much quicker than using my slide scanner.

 

Good to hear that Colin. Something I said was useful to somebody 😁

 

3 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

 

Interesting - Roughly how close (distance from lens filter thread to slide emulsion) does the macro lens have to focus to use the ES-1?

 

Mark

 

 

EDIT - I have no idea what lenses will work with the ES1 apart from the recommended Nikkor macro lenses.  I have only used the ES-1 on the 55mm AIS with 27mm extension ring. 

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This video shows someone using the ES-1 with the Nikon 60mm f2.8 Macro. At some point (from 4m 54 secs in) he says that it's not possible to capture the whole frame, which is surprising.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_fMcAsAYdc

 

This video on the much more expensive (and more comprehensive) ES-2 kit includes different length adapters for DX & Full Frame and two different types of 60mm Macro (from 2m 10secs in):

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNK24oQICUc

 

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18 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

At some point (from 4m 54 secs in) he says that it's not possible to capture the whole frame, which is surprising.

 

He means he can't fill the frame and has to crop. The text overlay and his actions make it clear - he just says the wrong thing...

 

Mark

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1 minute ago, M.Chapman said:

He means he can't fill the frame and has to crop

Thanks, that's alright then, didn't have time to watch it through. I'm sure that there will be a bit of adaptation required with different Macro lenses,  APS-C/Full frame etc. but once set up it looks like a pretty smooth workflow. You can get 52mm extension tube/spacer rings from Hong Kong on ebay quite cheaply.

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On 28/11/2019 at 08:26, MDM said:

Hi Mike. Your bluebells image is a little soft but I reckon it would pass QC if you downsized it to about 3000 pixels long dimension.

 

At 2087px (25%) it looks like it may have a chance.

However that's far below the size limit for Alamy.

S*o would probably accept it, but only if shot submitted with an iPhone.

 

wim

 

edit: sorry, I quoted the wrong image there. I meant to say the cabbage image needing resizing to 2087px.

Your bluebells would just need some careful sharpening to counter the diffraction at f20.

Yes, I just read that you believe diffraction is a fallacy, or in any case adhere to that notion. Let's not go there, other then saying the original (2013) article doesn't prove it's a fallacy, but only says it is, while showing the opposite. It does however come to the right conclusion that one can counter it's effects somewhat. And even indicates one must possess some editing skills to do so believably.

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10 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

I feel it could pass QC as it is, although if I was submitting I'd down-size to about 48MP (5000 x 3337) but then I'm possibly over-cautious.

 

10 hours ago, MDM said:

Hi Mike. Your bluebells image is a little soft but I reckon it would pass QC if you downsized it to about 3000 pixels long dimension.

 

2 hours ago, wiskerke said:

At 2087px (25%) it looks like it may have a chance. However that's far below the size limit for Alamy.

 

Interesting range of opinions. 🙂

 

I guess it depends on how much weighting QC give to sharpness towards the left and right edges of the frame which are a lot softer (lens not that good? or f/20 aperture too small?), or to the distant trees which maybe lie too far beyond the point of optimum focus. I note it was taken at a focal length of 14mm (35mm equiv) at an aperture of f/20. So there should be lots of depth of field, but diffraction at f/20 will be producing some softness too. If the whole shot needs to be sharp, corner to corner, then I agree it needs to go down to about 25% which is too small for Alamy. But I think I'd be happy to submit at 3000 x 2000 as the main area/subject then looks good to me.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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38 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

 

 

 

Interesting range of opinions. 🙂

 

I guess it depends on how much weighting QC give to sharpness towards the left and right edges of the frame which are a lot softer (lens not that good? or f/20 aperture too small?), or the distant trees which maybe lie too far beyond the point of optimum focus. I note it was taken at a focal length of 14mm (35mm equiv) at an aperture of f/20. So there should be lots of depth of field, but diffraction at f/20 will be producing some softness too. If the whole shot needs to be sharp, corner to corner, then I agree it needs to go down to about 25% which is too small for Alamy. But I think I'd be happy to submit at 3000 x 2000 as the main area/subject then looks good to me.

 

Mark

 

I said 3000 long edge as that is about the min size that is required for a 17MB file as required by Alamy. There is probably no need in general for larger files although wim had something interesting to say about that a while back. I submit the largest size that I feel will comfortably clear QC. This image has not been sharpened at all so it could be given a blast of default LR/ACR sharpening and then downsized to be sure it would pass. 

 

The image is very soft around the edges for sure. I would never go smaller than F11 on the D810. The advantages gained by using a smaller aperture in terms of depth of field are outweighed by diffraction. Some would say no smaller than F8 for D810 but I can't see any difference at F11 using good lenses. 

 

 

2 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

 

This video on the much more expensive (and more comprehensive) ES-2 kit includes different length adapters for DX & Full Frame and two different types of 60mm Macro (from 2m 10secs in):

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNK24oQICUc

 

 

The ES-2 is designed for scanning film strips as well as mounted slides which is why it is more expensive. I have no experience with it. The only setup I have used is the ES-1 on the 55mm AIS with 27mm extension ring. 

 

 

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6 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

nteresting - Roughly how close (distance from lens filter thread to slide emulsion) does the macro lens have to focus to use the ES-1?

 Not sure, I never measured it. The ES1, simplicity itself, consists of two tubes one inside the other. You simply pull out the tube that has the slide holder until you can focus on the slide. With my 60mm macro I had the tube pulled pretty much all the way out.

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5 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

but once set up it looks like a pretty smooth workflow.

No kidding. I had my camera on a tripod aimed at a sheet of white card. I had a small desk lamp shining on the card so I could see the slide enough to focus, but that was because my work corner is a bit gloomy. I had the flash on the camera and adjusted the flash to give me good exposure on a normal type of shot. Any further exposure adjustments were made with to the shutter speed (I did it all in manual) to keep the aperture constant. Once you have the flash set up, you're away. If you have a lot of slides to do this little adapter is well worth the cost.

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On 27/11/2019 at 19:01, chicagonature said:

How does the submission system work? Yesterday, every single submission failed due to "One or more images have failed QC...." I made about 10 submissions, many with only one or two images that I thought were safe from QC issues. From all of the rejected submissions, I only received one email that stated that one image from just one of the submissions was "Soft due to size." Shouldn't I be receiving an email for each failed submission telling me why an image in that submission failed? Does one failed image in one submission affect other submissions?

 

Below, I've inserted the one image from yesterday that I was told via email that it failed due to "Soft due to size." The size is 8348x5937 pixels that was scanned from 35mm film. The only slightly soft part is the tip of the "spathe" of the left skunk cabbage plant, but acceptable  that should be acceptable for close-ups. Maybe I should be just downsizing the picture to make the Alamy system happy. It's not this image is likely to be used in a really large size, anyway.


Thanks for your help!
    Mike

Flowers-Skunk%20Cabbage-0030.jpg

 

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22 hours ago, MDM said:

I would never go smaller than F11 on the D810. The advantages gained by using a smaller aperture in terms of depth of field are outweighed by diffraction. Some would say no smaller than F8 for D810 but I can't see any difference at F11 using good lenses. 

Here's a very insightful article that every photographer should read the debunks the myth about Diffraction Limited Apertures (DLA)https://jonrista.com/2013/03/24/the-diffraction-myth/. As the author (Joh Rista) writes and proves with images, "IQ from a photo taken at f/22 can frequently be restored to such a degree that it rivals the IQ of a photo taken at f/4." My work is real-world proof that DLA does not tell the full story, given that I've been shooting between f/22 and f/32 for over two decades, and I produce prints that go as large (or larger) than 40x60". One client produced a 6x9-foot mural in their visitor center from medium format film image shot at f/32. To shoot at f/8 or f/11, as you suggest, would result in horrendously out-of-focus areas in the foreground and background, which would be far worse that what is seen in the image of the bluebells. And, as Jon Rista suggests, diffraction is easier to correct because it's uniform across the entire image. Software focus stacking is impossible for highly detailed landscape images like these. Unfortunately, just the slightest whiff of air will move the flowers a couple of pixels and cause hundreds of artifacts from software. However, I occasionally Manually focus stack, as long as the foreground flowers don't cross into the middle-ground or background. Images shot at higher f-numbers are often easily restored in post using proper micro=contract techniques, like the Clarity and Texture tools in Adobe Camera Raw. And the then there's actual sharpening that should not be applied to the "master" image. Sharpening should only be applied after the image is resized and ready for output, and this is what Alamy calls for.

 

Just minutes ago, I went into my living room to view a 28x42" print of the bluebell image on the wall. Viewing at just 18 inches away (40% of a common viewing distance equal to the print diagonal), it's very hard to see any blurriness on the sharpened image. It's crazy that Alamy does not take viewing distance and future sharpening into account when assessing IQ. That's just standard optical theory using the Circle of Confusion. Nobody looks at a billboard up close. If they did, the dots would be an inch in diameter! Rather, Alamy should be assessing sharpness at "Print Size," probably at 240ppi to 300ppi. This would take into account the viewing distance and the subsequent sharpening.


Therefore, I may need to apply some Adobe PS Smart Sharpening (using Lens Blur) before submitting to Alamy.

Mike  

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On 27/11/2019 at 21:26, chicagonature said:

Hi, Alan!
It wasn't that one batch was rejected. Several batches were rejected and only one image from one of the batches was referenced in the email.
Question: Is the QC process done manually or is Alamy using software?
This entire thread is about me trying to understanding what the QC standard is. Do you think the attached image would pass QC?

Thanks for the advice!
    Mike

April-in-Blue-Master.jpg

 

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