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Rejection reason Soft or lacking definition - Noise

 

I have never spent so much time examining sky and shadows in my pictures and the edges of the frame. But this does not seem to be enough. I would like to rant, but more than rant, I would like to understand why some softness at the edge of the frame is enough to (well I think it's the scaffolding top right which has been softened in perspective correction that is the problem) why the edge of the frame is so important to QC.. "Softness lacking definition" would that be my problem, top right or is it the whole image? Also "Noise" is that the brown in the shadow in the bottom mid right of the image? Or is it that the sky is not right? I'm trying to understand and I am also trying not to second guess myself. If they can't sell a picture like this; well there's possibly a little something they won't like in a LOT of my pictures? (only 25+ years as a professional what would I know?) I'm worried. I'm really worried. The time, the turnaround for a rejection on a unique view (the scaffold). It all seems a very hit and miss. 

I would be interested in feedback. I KNEW that that piece of scaffolding was soft; did not and does not bother me - it's not the focus or the locus of the image. Is this how it's gong to be, a set rejected over this? Am I missing something? Thank you for your input, I am trying to understand when I must drop an image from my selections.

 

100% Scaff detail (wont let me load the link) https://photos.app.goo.gl/FxWCnVGqx3jqMLBc7 100% Dark bottom of frame https://photos.app.goo.gl/VZjNWAS4KsiswCvY9

49451942386_ca599a677c_h.jpg%5B 

 

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The reason for failure has to be noise rather than softness. The image is sharp as far as I can see and the corner softness is unlikely to be the issue. However, the sky has a lot of luminance noise which is also visible on the sheet covering the scaffolding. I can't see any problem in the shadow areas at the bottom right. 

 

I would think this is close to borderline failure - I wonder if the effect of the sheet has influenced the QC person. Is this an out of camera JPEG which has been pre-sharpened? If so then the general recommendation is to shoot raw as there is far more latitude for dealing with noise. 

 

In any case,  there is certainly a lot more noise than I would leave in one of my images before submitting to Alamy or for other purposes. 

 

 

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Hi MDM, thank you for your detailed and informed assessment of the image details. You have I think answered  my query - its the sky. The image is a FujiX JPEG (they are as good as RAW or so close as to be negligible in well exposed shots - I've test them). So the problem is mostly my induced NOISE by adding grain; which is how I like it, as I don't like JPEG skies; and it's always going to end up a JPEG Sky. Curiously I have dropped gradients over a few 'Prague' skies already, to ameliorate banding through highlight transitions etc, . Though can't recall if I ever uploaded them.

 

If you are curious here is unedited sky and the cloth on the scaffolding  https://photos.app.goo.gl/f1jGpa3BctR5P5uZ9 and sky with the windmill blades https://photos.app.goo.gl/tni6PHLZHNEkXCKX6

 

I can see I have a huge problem with how I want to see an image and Alamy; how they want the picture. And it seems a little too one side to me. Thank you for your time and efforts; your take on it does enhance my understanding of the situation. I'm much obliged.

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Kent, I've been following these posts and I think I should add that it's a bad idea to try to get marginal - by QC standards - images online because they're far less likely to sell. These idle images will have passed QC, but they'll drag your rank down for years to come. If you're here to work with Alamy, start by following their rules to the letter. They have them for good reason.

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53 minutes ago, Kent Johnson said:

Hi MDM, thank you for your detailed and informed assessment of the image details. You have I think answered  my query - its the sky. The image is a FujiX JPEG (they are as good as RAW or so close as to be negligible in well exposed shots - I've test them). So the problem is mostly my induced NOISE by adding grain; which is how I like it, as I don't like JPEG skies; and it's always going to end up a JPEG Sky. Curiously I have dropped gradients over a few 'Prague' skies already, to ameliorate banding through highlight transitions etc, . Though can't recall if I ever uploaded them.

 

If you are curious here is unedited sky and the cloth on the scaffolding  https://photos.app.goo.gl/f1jGpa3BctR5P5uZ9 and sky with the windmill blades https://photos.app.goo.gl/tni6PHLZHNEkXCKX6

 

I can see I have a huge problem with how I want to see an image and Alamy; how they want the picture. And it seems a little too one side to me. Thank you for your time and efforts; your take on it does enhance my understanding of the situation. I'm much obliged.

 

I'm not a noise expert, nor am I familiar with Fuji JPEGs; however, the unedited version looks fine to me. It shouldn't have any QC problems.

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23 minutes ago, Brian Yarvin said:

Kent, I've been following these posts and I think I should add that it's a bad idea to try to get marginal - by QC standards - images online because they're far less likely to sell. These idle images will have passed QC, but they'll drag your rank down for years to come. If you're here to work with Alamy, start by following their rules to the letter. They have them for good reason.

Hi Brian, thank you. I'm mostly trying to get my head around where I'm breaking the rules. Both images that have been rejected, yes only two; but those two are quite a shock. I mean I trained in film photography in the early 80s, I'm published when it was hard to do, and have been shooting digital since 2002. I'm not trying to be marginal; I'm looking to get images online and see stats for what sells, that i have pictures of and access to. I can already see I'm able to get the images onto the front page for relevant search. But can I get enough images up online? I know it's their business; I'm just trying to understand whats in and what's out. And most importantly; if its worth reprocessing images just for alamy? These are hard questions. I'm sitting on a lot of images that were time consuming and expensive to make. Should I do this - and everyone I know that's done stock - ex pros, some still working  say 'no' 'don't do it'. I want some extra income, I think i've got the shots; but maybe I'm better off packaging stories myself and selling that way. None easy, probably should try both. Maybe my biggest problem is being able to do my own thing for too long.  

 

That said; i've been looking at noise reduction for skies, and found an approach that I'm not unhappy with; that's not just breaking it up with grain; my prefered approach - though there's a little more to it than that! In terms of alternative styles; like the grainy gritty food - you can't sell it if you don't have it. If they have tried and it didn't work; then that's an answer. 

 

Cheers, Kent.

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4 hours ago, Kent Johnson said:

 

The image is a FujiX JPEG (they are as good as RAW or so close as to be negligible in well exposed shots - I've test them).

 

 

 

JPEG may appear to the naked eye to have similar image quality to RAW, but it's an over-simplification to say it's "as good as". A JPEG has limited tolerance to any post-processing compared to RAW, so you basically have to get it just right in camera. This is why most of us shoot RAW.

 

Alan

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1 hour ago, Inchiquin said:

 

JPEG may appear to the naked eye to have similar image quality to RAW, but it's an over-simplification to say it's "as good as". A JPEG has limited tolerance to any post-processing compared to RAW, so you basically have to get it just right in camera. This is why most of us shoot RAW.

 

Alan

Hi Alan,

 

Thank you, yes I am aware that there is more 'material' to work with in the RAW file. But as I said, I have tested RAW VS JPEG with the Fuji X and it's negligible - IF you get the exposure right. I have also run tests on calibrated systems JPEG VS TIFF in post processing too; and I found if the JPEG was good, well converted highest level; there was nothing in my final output. I know it's blasphemy but there you go.. Shadows, highlights, same same.

My Issue is Noise, perceived or otherwise, RAW Converted to JPEG is always going to have the 8 bit issues of data dumping in contiguous areas of colour.

It's not a RAW VS  ISSUE. But thank you  .

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Your unedited image has clean sky which would have no problem passing QC. The softness in the upper part of the scaffolding would probably not be an issue but in any case could be dealt with by a little local sharpening which would be far better done on a raw image. If it was mine I would use a quick local adjustment in Lightroom just on that area. 

 

As others have said, a major reason to shoot raw is the far greater tolerance to editing, not just for noise and sharpening but for highlight and shadow recovery as well as white balance. 

 

"So the problem is mostly my induced NOISE by adding grain; "

I am not clear what you mean here when you say adding grain. Any digital grain is just some type of noise as far as I am aware. I can't see how this would enhance the aesthetics of the image here in any case. It is not visible even in the low res version you posted either. A general rule of thumb here is that if you are going to apply any effects to an image then that should be visible to the potential buyer when they click through to view the image. So if you want it to look grainy then make it really grainy looking. I am not sure how saleable such images would be on Alamy though.

 

 

EDIT - just read your post which came a few seconds before I posted. It may not be a direct issue of raw v jpeg but you would be able to do a better job with local sharpening of the soft outside of the image if shooting raw.

 

 

 

 

Edited by MDM
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I can't see any reason to be adding noise to a run-of-the- (sorry) mill image such as this. All it does is make QC's antenna twitch- it doesn't add anything aesthetically at any size at which it's likely to be used.

The scaffolding at the edge of frame isn't a problem- it might be a bit better through top-notch glass but QC know the facts of life in that respect.

Edited by spacecadet
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43 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

I can't see any reason to be adding noise to a run-of-the- (sorry) mill image such as this. All it does is make QC's antenna twitch- it doesn't add anything aesthetically at any size at which it's likely to be used.

The scaffolding at the edge of frame isn't a problem- it might be a bit better through top-notch glass but QC know the facts of life in that respect.

Thank you, quite right life and facts don't often coincide; a very astute observation. I too have heard the 'show there' is run of the mill - pun intended.

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15 hours ago, Kent Johnson said:

Hi Brian, thank you. I'm mostly trying to get my head around where I'm breaking the rules. Both images that have been rejected, yes only two; but those two are quite a shock. I mean I trained in film photography in the early 80s, I'm published when it was hard to do, and have been shooting digital since 2002. I'm not trying to be marginal; I'm looking to get images online and see stats for what sells, that i have pictures of and access to. I can already see I'm able to get the images onto the front page for relevant search. But can I get enough images up online? I know it's their business; I'm just trying to understand whats in and what's out. And most importantly; if its worth reprocessing images just for alamy? These are hard questions. I'm sitting on a lot of images that were time consuming and expensive to make. Should I do this - and everyone I know that's done stock - ex pros, some still working  say 'no' 'don't do it'. I want some extra income, I think i've got the shots; but maybe I'm better off packaging stories myself and selling that way. None easy, probably should try both. Maybe my biggest problem is being able to do my own thing for too long.  

 

That said; i've been looking at noise reduction for skies, and found an approach that I'm not unhappy with; that's not just breaking it up with grain; my prefered approach - though there's a little more to it than that! In terms of alternative styles; like the grainy gritty food - you can't sell it if you don't have it. If they have tried and it didn't work; then that's an answer. 

 

Cheers, Kent.

 

Kent, I'm not sure of what you don't know when it comes to the technical aspects of digital photography, I do know from personal experience that the dark, B&W food photos you've posted on this board are very unlikely to appeal to stock photo buyers. Speaking as a person who's main income is food photos and text/food photo packages, I believe that there are food publications - especially in continental Europe - that would go for such work, just not as stock. Of course, clients like those are much tougher on technical stuff than any stock agency. Submit an in-camera jpeg to one of them and you won't get your next submission read. Worse, submit an in-camera jpeg for an assignment and you'll have the humiliating (at least it was for me) experience of being blacklisted by somebody who could make your career - if only you had a bit more tech skill.

 

It has been fifteen or twenty years since images that are "time consuming and expensive to make" were able to return their investment as stock. If that's part of your calculus for joining Alamy, then I'd say that you're making yet another big mistake. Many people have already told you "no, don't do it." Or maybe, "no, don't do it the way you currently are." There could well be a message there.

 

You have tons of self-confidence and it's killing you. 

Edited by Brian Yarvin
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12 hours ago, Kent Johnson said:

Hi MDM, thank you for your detailed and informed assessment of the image details. You have I think answered  my query - its the sky. The image is a FujiX JPEG (they are as good as RAW or so close as to be negligible in well exposed shots - I've test them). So the problem is mostly my induced NOISE by adding grain; which is how I like it, as I don't like JPEG skies; and it's always going to end up a JPEG Sky. Curiously I have dropped gradients over a few 'Prague' skies already, to ameliorate banding through highlight transitions etc, . Though can't recall if I ever uploaded them.

 

 

 

 

one of the Problem i found with using the FujiX Jpeg, is the in camera recipe is added to the whole picture, so that the sharpness i want to add to the main subject gets added also to the sky.  Works great when i want quick images (News type stuff), but i find limiting for many Stock images.   Do you use different set-up for different image type?

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11 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

I'm not a noise expert, nor am I familiar with Fuji JPEGs; however, the unedited version looks fine to me. It shouldn't have any QC problems.

 

 

Fuji JPEG are great for photography, and with all the film simulations, and the various variable work fine for photo, but i would be worried of losing control of local application of sharpening and noise.  

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Kent, I understand your wanting to apply an artistic mood to your photos.  
I added grain to one of mine, and in my opinion, it was more of the type it would work well with than yours. It was artistic to begin with, of an old teacup and saucer with floral design, full of tea and made to look vintage with some sepia toning, faded color, then grain added. It was rejected for noise by QC and earned me a visit to the Sin Bin.

Moral of the story is save those for POD sites, and submit what Alamy wants. That’s what I do now.

Sorry.

Betty

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16 hours ago, Kent Johnson said:

Hi Brian, thank you. I'm mostly trying to get my head around where I'm breaking the rules.

 

You added grain digitally where it's not expected by QC.

 

17 hours ago, Kent Johnson said:

So the problem is mostly my induced NOISE by adding grain; which is how I like it, as I don't like JPEG skies; and it's always going to end up a JPEG Sky. Curiously I have dropped gradients over a few 'Prague' skies already, to ameliorate banding through highlight transitions etc, . Though can't recall if I ever uploaded them.

 

If you're seeing banding in your skies during processing then I strongly recommend shooting in RAW and making exposure/levels/contrast adjustments in RAW before conversion as the results will be significantly better.  Lightroom or Photoshop ACR are superb for this, their highlight, shadow and exposure adjustment controls allow quite significant adjustments to RAW images without introducing banding. Adding noise/grain to ameliorate (hide) banding in skies caused by processing an 8 bit jpeg is not the way to handle this.

 

If you're seeing jpg (compression) effects in the sky then that's another justification for shooting in RAW and converting to jpeg with quality level 10 or above, after all the adjustments have been made.

 

Apologies if I've misunderstood what you're saying.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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1 hour ago, M.Chapman said:

 

You added grain digitally where it's not expected by QC.

 

 

 Lightroom or Photoshop ACR are superb for this, their highlight, shadow and exposure adjustment controls allow quite significant adjustments to RAW images without introducing banding. Adding noise/grain to ameliorate (hide) banding in skies caused by processing an 8 bit jpeg is not the way to handle this.

 

If you're seeing jpg (compression) effects in the sky then that's another justification for shooting in RAW and converting to jpeg with quality level 10 or above, after all the adjustments have been made.

 

Apologies if I've misunderstood what you're saying.

 

Mark

 

 

 

Caveat on Lightroom, i would not call the work in does on xTrans file (OP said he was a FujiX user) as Superb, and the Adobe's defaults will create files that will likely lead to rejection.  

 

  

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1 hour ago, M.Chapman said:

 

You added grain digitally where it's not expected by QC.

 

 

If you're seeing banding in your skies during processing then I strongly recommend shooting in RAW and making exposure/levels/contrast adjustments in RAW before conversion as the results will be significantly better.  Lightroom or Photoshop ACR are superb for this, their highlight, shadow and exposure adjustment controls allow quite significant adjustments to RAW images without introducing banding. Adding noise/grain to ameliorate (hide) banding in skies caused by processing an 8 bit jpeg is not the way to handle this.

 

If you're seeing jpg (compression) effects in the sky then that's another justification for shooting in RAW and converting to jpeg with quality level 10 or above, after all the adjustments have been made.

 

Apologies if I've misunderstood what you're saying.

 

Mark

Hi Mark; thank you. My main occasional problem is more a kind of pixelation, or blocking in nearly contiguous sky. If I'm doing sunsets where I expect a problem or a need for flexibility I do shoot RAW. In fact I shoot RAW 100% of the time with my Nikons (but that's another story). That said I have raw converted and still ended up with  some minor banding. Yesterday I painted in Dfine Noise reduction on the image and it gave me a pretty good result. But a boring sky. I like the way I add grain which is not a slider in photoshop! I don't particularly like the look of most digital photography files. I edit virtually every day if I'm not out shooting. On a positive, the decision was reversed after I sent an email detailing the issue! So all good and I will be more sky vigilant. My normal work is here if you wonder what I really shoot.. http://www.kentjohnsonphotography.com.au/

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41 minutes ago, meanderingemu said:

 

 

 

Caveat on Lightroom, i would not call the work in does on xTrans file (OP said he was a FujiX user) as Superb, and the Adobe's defaults will create files that will likely lead to rejection.  

 

  

Hi Mark, when I RAW converter from the Fuji I use the current version of Silkypix which is the authorised software of Fujifilm. It is extremely powerful and flexible. There were issues back in 2012 with the converters but these have been overcome. I don't use lightroom! Cheers, Kent.

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Thank you to everyone that has contributed to my understanding of the situation with  the picture. I did email QC detailing why I thought the image had been marked excessively hard - using information from you here in the forum. QC agreed and reversed the decision the set has been passed. 

 

I have also learnt a lot about Skies, softness and not pushing too far to the edge of QC, so that is really great. Thanks again, much appreciated. I hope I can return the favoutr in the future to other photographers here needing help. I will also say this image was somewhat atypical of my work. If you wander what i do my website is here, http://www.kentjohnsonphotography.com.au/ 

 

Cheers,

 

Kent.

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3 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

Kent, I understand your wanting to apply an artistic mood to your photos.  
I added grain to one of mine, and in my opinion, it was more of the type it would work well with than yours. It was artistic to begin with, of an old teacup and saucer with floral design, full of tea and made to look vintage with some sepia toning, faded color, then grain added. It was rejected for noise by QC and earned me a visit to the Sin Bin.

Moral of the story is save those for POD sites, and submit what Alamy wants. That’s what I do now.

Sorry.

Betty

I read you had done that just the other day. I've been trying to learn as much as I can reading the forums. Typically my grain is not for effect. Certainly not for artistic mood.  I'ts simply part of my multi step editing process that has been built up over nearly two decades of image processing and; and not meant to draw attention to itself. Though... sometimes it seems to. But then they love very clean files here which is not my default setting. I'm always learning!  :-) Cheers,  Kent

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If nothing else then this thread has been interesting in seeing what Alamy QC 2020 will tolerate in terms of noise. As I said in my first post, I thought it was a borderline failure in the first place. I'm betting there are a lot noisier than that one in the system. Because of the random sampling methodology it is never certain what is acceptable anyway. 

 

It seems that Alamy QC is becoming more relaxed in general (viz. the new approach to QC rank). I suspect a lot of this is due to the fact that online usage is now the main destination of images sold and most end users are using phones to view as well so a lot of images only need to look good at 1000-2000 pixels max I guess. The basic technical quality bar is continuing to drop. Back in the day (up to around 2012 or later I think) we used to have to produce 48 MB images min (3600 pixels long edge approx) suitable for high quality printing so it often meant upsizing if using 12MP cameras or lower and no sharpening. Hence it was much easier to fail QC. It was good training and it made me into even more of a perfectionist in terms of sharpness and minimal noise than I already was. This is something I apply in most of my work - basic technical quality underlies everything which is not a bad thing I think.

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5 hours ago, MDM said:

If nothing else then this thread has been interesting in seeing what Alamy QC 2020 will tolerate in terms of noise. As I said in my first post, I thought it was a borderline failure in the first place. I'm betting there are a lot noisier than that one in the system. Because of the random sampling methodology it is never certain what is acceptable anyway. 

 

It seems that Alamy QC is becoming more relaxed in general (viz. the new approach to QC rank). I suspect a lot of this is due to the fact that online usage is now the main destination of images sold and most end users are using phones to view as well so a lot of images only need to look good at 1000-2000 pixels max I guess. The basic technical quality bar is continuing to drop. Back in the day (up to around 2012 or later I think) we used to have to produce 48 MB images min (3600 pixels long edge approx) suitable for high quality printing so it often meant upsizing if using 12MP cameras or lower and no sharpening. Hence it was much easier to fail QC. It was good training and it made me into even more of a perfectionist in terms of sharpness and minimal noise than I already was. This is something I apply in most of my work - basic technical quality underlies everything which is not a bad thing I think.

It's a brave new world. Which is why though I have a long and disciplined training in photography, going back over 35 years of practice. i like to be pragmatic and engage as best I can (though  I don't like Instagram!!!) lots of little details learnt over the past couple of days. Thanks again.

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