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Rob U

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Hi

 

I'm a keen travel and wildlife photographer and have a website which I think you can see through my profile. 

 

Friends of mine are always looking at my website and saying things like "Wow you've got some really great photos on your website. Are you thinking of turning professional?". I struggle to know what to say to them in reply. The truth is that I submit my photos to agencies such as Alamy and I always get rejected. One person I mentioned this to said "well try again", which I did, but I got nowhere and just wasted more of my time. I have made about GBP300 from a microstock photography site over the last eight years but it really hasn't been worth the trouble - it certainly doesn't come anywhere close to what you would call a profession.

 

My initial submission to Alamy has just been rejected because apparently my photos were soft or lacking definition. If I had been allowed to sharpen them they would have been a lot clearer, but I wasn't. It would be good to know if any of my photos were sharp enough, but it seems that they were all rejected simply because the first one was not sharp enough - this doesn't really help me to know whether it would be worth making another submission.

 

I use a Canon EOS 700D with 18-55mm, 70-300mm and 100-400mm lenses. This is about GBP2000 worth of equipment The latter lens weighs about 2kg.

 

So what do I do:

 

Invest in and start carrying around yet heavier and more expensive camera equipment, plus a tripod;

Say to my friends "Well my photos may look good to you, but by professional standards they're not that good". Seems slightly rude; 

Say to my friends "I don't think it's possible to make any significant money through travel photography". Sounds defeatist; or

Keep trying with Alamy but select photos for sharpness rather than composition? 

 

Thanks

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Hi. Welcome to Alamy.

 

Getting sharp enough images isn't an equipment issue as long as your camera is on the supported list (I use a Sony a6000).

 

No one here can give you specific advice without seeing the photo, but check your image at 100%. I would go through your collection and pick the technically most perfect images. They need to be your sharpest images, exhibiting no chromatic aberration, and be well exposed with a good range of tones. I would choose those which were shot at 100 ISO or thereabouts to be doubly sure. These images don't need to be aesthetically pleasing, just technically good enough to pass QC.

 

Do the above, and re-submit. And all the best of luck.

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There's no website on your profile but unless it has your images at full size it won't help us much.

If your photographs become 'clearer' only by sharpening it suggests that they're simply not sharp enough in the first place.

Kit lenses are usually good enough. SoLD often covers camera shake as well but presumably you can tell the difference- if shooting hand-held at 300 or 400 the odds are against you. The old 35mm rule of thumb of 1/focal length = shutter speed usually won't do.

What you paid for your equipment has no bearing at all- what I use now cost under £300. Your problem is technique.

Look at a distant brick wall or street sign. It's usually pretty obvious whether it's pin-sharp or not. QC don't zero in on the first image in a sub- you only have 4 in an initial sub so they look very carefully at all of them.

Edited by spacecadet

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I missed the wildlife bit.There's no room for error there. I'd call it a specialism. The only non-news wildlife image I have on Alamy, a swallowtail, was uploaded by accident. I didn't think it was up to scratch because one wing was above the plane of focus. That's a technical term which means unsharp.

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I would agree with Spacecadet that wildlife photography can be a difficult area in which to get technically excellent pictures; subject movement and lighting conditions frequently make things very difficult. I for one have never even got close to a wildlife picture I'm happy with for stock submission. You might like to try submitting some easier subjects initially to get yourself established on Alamy (architecture, still-life, people who will stand still when you ask them too, unlike the average kingfisher, street scenes etc. etc.). Once you get some pictures accepted you will then begin to see where your wildlife images technically fall short of what Alamy requires.

 

Sometimes people here post links to 100% crops or full sized versions which are hosted on one of the many image hosting sites. If you can do that I'm sure you'll find people here ready to point out the problem areas and offer advice. I've never done this myself so I'm hazy on the technical details on which hosting sites to use, but search the forums to find how other members have provided links to a full-resolution image and follow their example.

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Hi Rob,

 

My advice would be to select 4 images that you feel are sharp and upload them to somewhere like Photobucket for the forum to have a look at. If you don't feel comfortable putting a whole high res photo out in the wild then upload a 100% crop of the focal point and a smaller size one of the whole picture.

 

The forum will tell you if it's sharp enough and any other issues they see.

 

Also do a forum search on Sharpening and have a read of the threads there.

 

All the best

Michael

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i just use consumer level camera and lenses - Canon 650D, the 18-55 kit lens and the 70-250.  I end up binning more than I would like, and right now an looking at moving up in the larger telephoto. With the larger zoom, I always have a battle with stubborn CA. I can get a lot gone with the CA settings in ACR, but if I get to close to the 250 end of the lens, I need to use the defringe slider to get rid of the stubborn stuff left over.  I also get vignetting if I use the lens at the 250 end, so avoid it when I can.

 

Alamy frowns on doing any noticeable sharpening in your images. The subject should be sharp in the image to start with.

 

Mastering post processing is also important. How are your ACR, Lightroom or Photoshop skills? Can save many a picture if you know what you are doing there.

 

Having the equipment is the start, mastering it is the finish. As space cadet says, any shutter speed under 1/400th hand held is iffy, you need to be someone with a real steady hand. And I don't think the 70-300 has IS, does it?  Even using a monopod can make a difference. When I had use of a couple of the Canon L lenses with IS, the weight was so extreme I would use a monopod at the zoo and got some good shots.  Too heavy for hand held in most situations.

 

Wildlife is tough. Haven't sold any of mine, but as much as I love taking them, I don't have the wildlife skills of arterra of NYCat. Check out there portfolios and you will see what I mean.  I still take some, but don't upload anything in that filed that doesn't super say something to me.

 

Jill

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Ohhhh. Thank you. Mentioned in the same breath with Philippe. So nice.

 

Paulette

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Hello everyone, I am new to this forum, but not new to Alamy. I do some nature photography, specially birds and it's difficult. A tripod is not functional with birds, so one thing I can tell you is to use lenses with IS in your case (Canon) and if you don't have any, shutter speed is a most to get sharp pictures. I shoot Nikon, and for birds right now using the Sigma 150-600mm lens, not the sharpest lens, but you can get some great photos with it. I shoo it wide open in most cases and wit shutter speeds of 600 or more.

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I use L glass primes and bias towards higher shutter speeds than probably most people use (800-1250th on moving

people, 1250th minimum butterflies, all the way up to 8000 for small flying birds and flying insects on very sunny days) as I always

handhold even my 100mm macro, 135mm, 200mm, 300 mm and 400 mm lenses.

 

I also generally set to underexpose about a third to two thirds of an F stop if it's sunny and the subject has any white clothing

(feathers) or accessories at all. This also includes very pale faces or very blonde or white hair and cheese if that's what I'm

feeding the birds as it glows brightly in the sun!  

 

A quick check at 100% and then a final dump into the marvellous freeware specifically designed for Alamy's uncompressed limits.

 

If the human subject's face is in the slightest bit soft on the eyes in a frontal shot, it gets dumped.

 

Probably 70% of my rejects are for out of focus, especially flying insects (90/95% failure rate easily) and other subjects are mainly

rejected for over exposure with far fewer for out of focus thanks to the vast improvement in auto-focussing

technology in the past couple of years.

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Thanks very much for all your answers. I've uploaded eight photos to photobucket http://s24.photobucket.com/user/Robert_Ulph/library/?sort=3&page=1, four being the ones I submitted to Alamy and four others which I have selected more for clarity and have labelled "New". There are reduced size versions and cropped samples at 100%. To be honest I don't think they are that much clearer though.

 

All my lenses are IS and I appreciate that that's still not going to compensate for camera shake at 400mm. Of the four photos that I submitted to Alamy only one was taken at 400mm. I didn't use a tripod, I was resting on a car window. Had I got out to set up a tripod the animals would have run off anyway. The other three were taken at much lower focal lengths. Typically they have exposure times of about 1/200th second.

 

In future I can certainly try taking photos at a faster shutter speed as suggested by some of you, and underexposing a little to compensate. Carrying a tripod is going to be difficult though. Sometimes I'm hiking so it would be extra weight. Moreover I like to go to exotic places and generally these are group trips and not photography specific. If I start getting a tripod out all the time that's going to really annoy other people on the trip who have to wait for me. If I go alone then that's going to increase the costs two or threefold, which I don't think is justifiable. I'm not that interested in going out taking photos of more everyday scenes closer to home.

 

Anyway here's my website http://thirdplanet.squarespace.com. I think I'll just say to people that my trips are ambitious enough as they stand and to try to start taking photos sufficiently good technically to sell them anywhere other than on a microstock website is just not realistically possible.

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[]

Edited by Rob U

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Rob

You have some excellent shots on your website. Pick out four that were taken with a standard or wide angle in good lighting and have a look at them at 100 %. If they look sharp at that size on your computer then submit them, they will go through. Remember to be critical. Alamy is not an art site, it's a stock agency. Even if it's the tiniest bit soft, don't send it to Alamy. You have some great shots of some very wild and far out places, so don't despair, no need to invest more in kit. Just don't look for trouble in submitting 400mm shots hand held. Alamy don't give any extra marks for awesomeness - if it's a bit soft it fails. If you want to know what sharp looks like, put your camera on a tripod, take a shot of something at high shutter speed at f8 with a remote release or with the self timer. Compare your travel shots with this control shot. With a bit of practice you will see what is sharp in one second of opening the file on your computer. Sometimes it's really hard to let a shot go, but back in the day I used to send in pictures that were a bit off because I thought the pictures were good. They failed. If you have any doubts, post them here at 100% on the forum - you will get great and detailed replies for some of the outstanding photographers that lurk in these pages. Don't give in, keep travelling and shooting. You've got the mojo.

Colin

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Compare Tibetan Gazelle crop with New B crop. The latter is sharp, the former nowhere near so.

 

If the Gazelle was submitted, it would not pass QC (assuming that is a 100% crop of its head).

 

The lens/technique combo used for New B crop produces images of "pass" quality (again, assuming that is a 100% crop), at least for subjects close to camera. My suggestion is to take and submit a new batch using that combo, using the sharpness of New B crop as a guide.

 

dd

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Compare Tibetan Gazelle crop with New B crop. The latter is sharp, the former nowhere near so.

 

If the Gazelle was submitted, it would not pass QC (assuming that is a 100% crop of its head).

 

The lens/technique combo used for New B crop produces images of "pass" quality (again, assuming that is a 100% crop), at least for subjects close to camera. My suggestion is to take and submit a new batch using that combo, using the sharpness of New B crop as a guide.

 

dd

To my eye (and I have been having problems lately, new glasses on the way) New B is the only candidate which is sharp. Isla San Lorenzo is close, but as Colin says, no cigar. There may be some camera shake, but I don't think it's your main problem. It's mostly down to the lens, I think, it's not good enough at that FL/aperture combination.

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Wow Rob, you have travelled quite a bit my friend. I was looking through some of the albums, in the one Cambodia 2015, there is a photo of a stork # 9  I believe, it looks sharp enough. May be 100% crop of that one could tells us if it is. But photos like that, I believe they will get accepted here.  You have a great collection of photos my friend, I am sure many can be accepted here, it is just a matter of picking the right ones.

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Compare Tibetan Gazelle crop with New B crop. The latter is sharp, the former nowhere near so.

 

If the Gazelle was submitted, it would not pass QC (assuming that is a 100% crop of its head).

 

The lens/technique combo used for New B crop produces images of "pass" quality (again, assuming that is a 100% crop), at least for subjects close to camera. My suggestion is to take and submit a new batch using that combo, using the sharpness of New B crop as a guide.

 

dd

To my eye (and I have been having problems lately, new glasses on the way) New B is the only candidate which is sharp. Isla San Lorenzo is close, but as Colin says, no cigar. There may be some camera shake, but I don't think it's your main problem. It's mostly down to the lens, I think, it's not good enough at that FL/aperture combination.

 

 

. . . so you agree with me?

 

dd

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When shooting out of an automobile window, be sure to turn your engine off so there will be no vibrations. I also made a bean bag from a cut off blue jeans' leg. Filled it with bulk beans, got some very thick rubber bands like comes on bunches of broccoli to tie the ends off. Leave a bit of room (softness) so the bag is a bit malleable.

 

Raise your car window a bit, lay the bag over it, turn off engine rest camera on it and shoot away. You'd be surprised how many images I have on Alamy shot from my car window. Some hand held, some with the bean bag. Anytime I've used my Nikon 80-400 I've always used the bean bag.

Betty

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Wow Rob, you have travelled quite a bit my friend. I was looking through some of the albums, in the one Cambodia 2015, there is a photo of a stork # 9  I believe, it looks sharp enough. May be 100% crop of that one could tells us if it is. But photos like that, I believe they will get accepted here.  You have a great collection of photos my friend, I am sure many can be accepted here, it is just a matter of picking the right ones.

OK, thanks, I have uploaded it. It is pretty sharp. Seems the answer is (d) Keep trying with Alamy but select photos for sharpness rather than composition.

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Wow Rob, you have travelled quite a bit my friend. I was looking through some of the albums, in the one Cambodia 2015, there is a photo of a stork # 9  I believe, it looks sharp enough. May be 100% crop of that one could tells us if it is. But photos like that, I believe they will get accepted here.  You have a great collection of photos my friend, I am sure many can be accepted here, it is just a matter of picking the right ones.

OK, thanks, I have uploaded it. It is pretty sharp. Seems the answer is (d) Keep trying with Alamy but select photos for sharpness rather than composition.

 

 

 

First select for composition, then select for technical quality.

 

Jill

Edited by Jill Morgan
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+1.

All your pix should be sharp. 'Off' ones should be a tiny minority for reasons you can fix.

You should be able to choose your subs on sales potential alone without having to worry about technical factors at all.

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+1.

All your pix should be sharp. 'Off' ones should be a tiny minority for reasons you can fix.

You should be able to choose your subs on sales potential alone without having to worry about technical factors at all.

 

So if I see some interesting wildlife and it's raining and the animal is quite distant so I need to use a long lens, so I know there's no way that I can get a really sharp photo, but I know I can still get an interesting one, I shouldn't take the photo, or what?

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Take it, sure, but don't expect it to pass Alamy QC. 'Really sharp' is the starting point here.

Perhaps hat sort of image is probably more suited to a specialist agency which edits for content and not just technical quality as Alamy does.

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The lynx photos are good but if I was selecting images I would definitely reject that Eagle Owl image. It simply isn't illustrative of an Eagle Owl. They don't land on posts in meadows in England. They live in mountainous areas of Europe and Asia. And personally I don't like the word "footpath" in the picture - it has no relevance to the owl and is a distraction. But perhaps those things don't worry a lot of people.

 

I also tried some book publishers once but none was interested. One said that they loved my photos but couldn't see what the theme for the book would be. I suppose I can understand that.

 

I think in future I'll simply refer people who ask me why I don't do something professional with my photos to this discussion.

Edited by Rob U

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OP, the old thread you've resurrected was about technical quality and not image critique. Alamy do not edit for content and Arterra's research and keywording is impeccable, so if he says England, it's England, but I'm not sure where else it could be within the range of Bubo Bubo given that the sign is in English.

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