This blog is my attempt to keep track of some of the things I learn along the way, with my Canon 7D, G12 and accessories. All images copyright Brad Calkins, not to be used without permission (or purchase). I do not attempt to monetize my blog, other than to promote my stock photo portfolio on Dreamstime.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perfect bokeh

A lot of talk goes on about the out of focus rendering on a lens. This is a shot I took recently with my new 85mm f/1.8 lens wide open. The OOF highlights are perfectly round - something you don't see in many lenses... I often wonder why not, since the blades themselves aren't even in the picture.

Abstract Christmas lights

Then, there is the new Panasonic GF1. While I admit I love the out of focus rendering, it doesn't come close to circular blur wide open except in the centre of the frame (taken with the 20mm pancake set to f/1.7):

Christmas tree lights

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New assignment image up

I went for a Christmas theme on the assignment this time around. Hopefully this turns into something again! One overlooked aspect of the assignments is the jump to 100 downloads. That gives you a real boost in getting your image noticed - perfect for something like a Christmas image that might not be needed for a few months... I don't think I'd upload this shot so far in advance of Christmas without the instant Level 5 rating. Feel free to head over to Dreamstime and vote for my image :)
Christmas Baby
© Photographer: Bradcalkins Agency:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do we need a new Sunny 16 rule?

Many photographers who have been around for a while will be familiar with the 'Sunny 16' rule. On a sunny day you set the aperture to f/16, and the shutter speed to 1/(ISO). If you camera is set to ISO 100 you'd use 1/125, or 1/90 as the shutter speed. Rules are useful, as far as they go, and as cameras have had meters added it becomes less useful.

People do still like to shoot in manual, though, and it is still relevant to have a place to start for exposure - especially for white or black subjects which you'd have to compensate for if you used the meter. I'd like to suggest, however, that the rule needs an update - shooting at f/16 just isn't a good idea with today's digital sensors. Most sensors these days (APS-C or micro 4/3, anyways) start to hit the limits of diffraction by f/16. It is better to shoot at f/8, or even f/5.6. On a digital compact like the G10 you don't even have f/16 as an option! Note that I'm talking about using f/5.6 or f/8 as a starting point - there are good reason to use f/16, even with diffraction...

So here is my new 'Sunny 8' rule:

On a sunny day, set the aperture to f/8 and the shutter to twice the ISO speed.

Note that these days shutter speed are displayed as their reciprocal (at least on my 40D's top LCD and in the viewfinder), so why not lose the 'one over' part and just tell it like you set it!

Off to give it a try :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

GF1 and stock

Red wave background

The GF1 is proving to be a capable stock photography camera, as well as being perfect for my go anywhere camera. Unlike the G10, which I left at home too often, the GF1 gets grabbed whereever I'm going. The G10 wasn't a camera you could slip into your shirt pocket either, so I'm not really finding any cases where I wish I had the slightly smaller G10. As a result, I'm also getting more out of the GF1 in terms of stock photography - just becuase I have it with me. Here are couple of recent uploads that were accepted this week:

Abstract color

Gymnasium floor

Hardwood floors

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wow! DT corrects mistake...

DT Announces error in our favor...

On a lot of levels it isn't necessarily good news, but it certainly has a happy results. DT has found that they were shorting exclusive contributors. I've actually e-mailed support as ever since the last price update (going from $1 per credit to $1.67 or so) I seem to have less, not more per credit revenue. I used to routinely get $0.60 from a 1 credit sale (i.e. 60% commission on a $1 credit). Since the update I have only seen about 3 (out of thousands!) cases where I got more than $0.60. I've been getting $.35-$.50 per credit for most. This was bad news on a few levels - first it meant that despite a big jump in price I saw no more income per sale. Higher prices should discourage use a bit so you'd hope the jump in royalties would more than offset the prices (as they would if buyers were not really price concious at this level). I was worried that the jump in prices would mean more buyers were getting pushed to subscriptions. In effect, I was basically seeing NO NEW CREDIT PURCHASES - based only on per credit revenue. This was troublesome to say the least. I e-mailed support and they responded that sales must be coming through partners, hence the lower income. As recently as two days ago I was starting to go through the earnings reports to try and show my per credit revenue over time - which should be going up and wasn't.

We'll today they announced that they were shorting exclusive contributors and are adding the dollars back to accounts. They say it is a few cents per sale, but I've got over a thousand sales in the last few months so that adds up - over $300 already... Something to smile about - not so much for the $300 (which is nice, of course!) but more so for the expected rise in RPD. Going forward I'll be getting more per sale than I have. I did a quick calculation and this boost in earnings has raised my RPD for ALL SALES (not just recent credit sales) by 10 cents - that is significant!

My take on this is that DT messed up after the last drop in non-exclusive royalties a few months ago and applied that to exclusives as well. Pure speculation, of course, but that would agree with the approximate dollar value, and number of sales affected. Combined with the recent news about levels going up, this could mean quite a difference for the new year in terms of RPD.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dreamstime ups prices, lowers levels

Interestingly, Dreamstime has announced that the number of credit per sale will go up in January, and they have also lowered the levels required to hit higher credit values. Both good per sale for contributors, but will buyers go elsewhere?

Link to post

Micro 4/3s adatper with EOS mount lenses

Indeed, it works! Here is a shot from a lensbaby (illustrating that it works, not that I can get a great image with it!):

The Lensbaby mounted on the GF1 (for some reason I think it looks a little dorky, but looks don't matter much versus not using it at all):
Here is a wide closeup with the EF-S 10-22mm mounted on the GF1:

And shown on the body:

I'm really looking forward to taking the GF1 on trips, with the 10-22mm thrown in the carry on for some tight interior shots. This combo works nicely due to the large depth of field wide open. The manual focusing works great too - for static subject you just hit the Focus Point select button, then hit Menu/Set (or move the area around first to focus off center) and you are presented with a live 5x or 10x view. I wouldn't choose this combo over an SLR for fast action, but for macro or landscape work it 'works'... The lensbaby, on the other hand, is perfect given that it doesn't have focus or aperture control anyways.
I'm still shocked by my ability to get excited and describe something as 'perfect' when it doesn't do anything - but that is what this camera brings out in me :) Next thing you know I'll be buying the Zeiss ZE mount lenses and raving about their MF perfection on Alt-Lens boards!

m4/3 to EOS adapter

I'll be looking forward to posting some pics from my GF1/EOS combo - the adapter arrived today. It fits both EF and EF-S lenses, so I'll be trying it out with:

EF-S 60mm Macro (alot cheaper than the 45mm Panasonic Macro if it works!)
EF-S 10-22mm (pretty wide, and with the smaller sensor I get quite a bit of depth of field even wide open - 3.3ft to infinity)
EF 85mm 1.8 (I'm very interested to see how this performs)
Lensbaby 2.0 (especially given the upcoming contest! Seems cool, but needs to be on a tripod to hold steady)

I'm curious to see how the sharpness and corners look, since I have to either shoot these wide open or do the 'hold down the depth of field preview button' trick when I take it off my Canon body.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Power meter

Here is a shot of a power meter that I took with my new GF1. We had a new meter installed so it was sitting at very close to zero, and I thought I'd better get in there and grab a photo early on. The photos were pretty boring (see example above), so I spiced it up a bit with black and white and a zoom effect. The zoom helps to get rid of the logos, at the same time as it plays off the energy side of things. Happy to say it was approved for sale today - another stock shot with the GF1. DT isn't accepting Panasonic RAW files yet, so I've been converting to DNG - probably more useful to buyers anyways (they don't have to have the absolute latest to make use of the files).

Power meter

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tiny viewfinders?

I'm interested in the opinion of people who use point and shoot cameras... One of the criticisms levelled against the Panasonic GF1 and the like is that they lack an integrated viewfinder. While I agree that a viewfinder is better than not having one, all things being equal - the form factor of the GF1 versus my SLR is significant. If I need the stability of the larger camera held to my eye, I can pull it out - assuming I have it with me! Otherwise there are tripods...

The GF1 lends itself to all kinds of situations where I find I don't have my SLR with me. I'm curious how many people that use Point and Shoot sized cameras with viewfinders actually use them on a regular basis? I used to have a G10 that had a viewfinder on it, and aside from a couple of shots taken in bright light out a plane window, I almost never used it. So to me, losing the viewfinder wasn't a big deal. Anyone else agree?

Is it just that I live somewhere where there isn't as much direct sunlight? Sure I can go to the GH1 and get a viewfinder in almost the same size, but that adds a lot of cost to the package...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Flash for GF1

I told you I'd bring Canon's EOS system back into the fold! With much trepidation, I followed a large number of online poster's 'advice' and tried my 430EX on my new GF1. Happily, it fired the flash. While I don't get eTTL, manual for flash is pretty common anyways. I can balance my exposre for ambient with on camera controls and then use the manual adjustment on the 430 or 580EX to adjust the flash level. In theory, the fact that this triggers at all means I should have no trouble using my wireless trigger and off camera cords, etc. Very exciting!

Here is a center crop of a test picture. Note that this doesn't illustrate much (nothing does on the web!) other than that I can get an exposure right with bounced manual flash on the 2nd try, and that the GF1 does what I'd hoped - delivers the resolution of an SLR or Canon G10, but without the noisy, grainy look of the G10 in unfocused areas. There is something odd about the GF1 - until now I've been excited about things working together in fully compatible auto modes - but now I'm getting excited about being able to use a lens without manual focus or aperture control, or a flash in manual only :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

85mm f/1.8 Canon prime lens

After sort of moving to zoom lenses for most of my work, and only the 60mm macro as a prime, I rented the 85mm f/1.2 recently. While this lens is very much beyond any kind of reasonable price that I could ever justify, it got me interested in both primes, and the focal length again. I liked the ability to be a bit further away and get less in focus compared to my 60mm.

As well, when comparing the 135mm f/2 and the 85mm f/1.8 the depth of field difference was there, but not something I thought I would notice a lot if framed right. As well, when I rented the 135mm I found it nice, but a bit long for most use on a crop sensor camera. At the same time, I became convinced I would appreciate the 35mm f/1.4 L lens as well, but couldn't justify it, either. As mentioned previously, I ended up deciding on the GF1 instead of the prime lens - and I've been happy with that decision.

Then I found a refurbished 85mm f/1.8 and decided to give it a go. Since the alternative at 85mm in the Canon lineup is so outrageous, and even the 'cheap' 135mm is three times the price, I'm happy to have found a decent prime lens that should get some use. Here is a recent stock image taken with this lens. I like the out of focus background, and even her ears are showing some blurring at f/2...

Baby girl

One thing I haven't quite understood with primes is that they often seem to have poor results in tests wide open. One wonders why you would pay for such a lens over a zoom if you "can't" even shoot wide open with it. And there is the problem - the reviewers often ask the wrong question. They are asking how well does it perform taking shots of a black and white, high contrast target in bright light - what they get is a bunch of CA and fringing, and general lack of contrast. If you actually take such a lens and shoot in the kinds of conditions where you want a fast lens, you find that it performs admirably. Hence why there are so many reviews that primes aren't great, not sharp wide open, and then a whole bunch of people using it for professional use and swearing by it. You need to actually use it to rate it! How often will I shoot back lit leaves with this lens wide open? Never! How many wedding shots are blurry, slightly soft, but absolutely loved because they captured the emotion?

New images online

Had a group of images approved today, but for some reason the one below really appeals to me. I don't know if it is the old engine, the blues, or what - it just feels like it could as easily by 1970 as 2009...

Plane engine

The shots of the kids playing on the WII guitars are pretty cute, too:

Child playing guitar

Thursday, December 3, 2009

First GF1 shot approved

Well, 1 out of 1 isn't really a long term trend but I'm pleased to see the first shot I submitted to DT with my GF1 was accepted. I don't see another contributor using this camera yet - unless they've just left it off their profile details. Definitely some folks using the G1 or GH1 to submit. After processing a few photos from this camera, I can see it will have a significant reduction in workflow time compared to the Canon G10. The files it produces are just great!

I also find it is easier to use than my 40D on a tripod for manual focus work. Live view is its primary interface and it shows. Looking forward to getting my EOS adapter so I can put my macro lens on it :)


Monday, November 23, 2009

Panasonic GF1

I've been interested in the large sensor compact camera segment since the Sigma DP-1 came out, but could never commit to paying that much more for a camera that handled like the Sigma. In the last year, though, both Olympus and Panasonic (and now others like Leica and Ricoh) came out with large format sensor compacts. The thing I like about both of these is the possibility of interchangeable lenses, as well as the option to use my Canon lenses to some degree (I'm excited to try my 85 f/1.8 out with a 170mm f/1.8 equivalent! or my lens baby).

In the end, winning the Dreamstime assignment and winning some money tipped me over to the point where I've decided to take the plunge. I really liked my Canon G10 and how it handled, but there was always something about the colors and ultimately the image quality that I didn't like. At one level, you could really work it and get some shots that were almost indistinguishable from a DLSR (like my 40D). On the other hand you really did have to work it. The light had to be right, you had to spend time tweaking it, or even downsampling to get rid of some noise. Interestingly, there was some kind of sweet spot for the sensor. Too little detail and it seemed noisy. Too much detail and it seemed muddy. But if you could get it just right on a sunny day - WOW! 15MP of excellence! Ultimately, though, my goal of the compact camera was three-fold:

1. Occasional work and stock photo use where I didn't want to bother with a 'big' camera.
2. Family shots, quick movies, etc.
3. Stock video (someday).

The G10 just never seemed to hit it on any of the three, except the quick movies of family. While the sensor could turn in nice detail, I found that in practice for family shots the light was never quite right to get great shots. Faces were always lacking in detail for some reason. ISO 80 and a f/2.8 or slower (if you zoomed at all) lens meant putting on a flash or getting lots of noise when indoors. And the movies were limited to VGA resolution. All in all, I found it started bringing my 40D when I really wanted to carry a compact because I knew I'd get better pictures.

Enter the Panasonic GF1:

I picked it up on the weekend and so far have been very impressed. Colors (even via RAW Conversion) are better than the G10 with little tweaking. Noise is non-existent at base ISO and shows lots of detail. It has HD video when I get into that. And a pleasant surprise was the more SLR like depth of field. With the f/1.7 lens I'm getter sharper shots indoors with pleasant background blur - this really bring a sense of depth into the photos.
The bottom line so far, is that despite the additional cost (almost twice the price), it is already the camera I grab when I head out with the kids, or to snap a couple of available light shots at dinner. As well, I like being able to shoot with a black and white image on the live screen and shoot in a 1:1 format. It is just plain fun! I don't know if the extra cost is justified in terms of actual better prints, etc., but I can already see I'll spend little to no time processing for stock use, and the fact that I'm happy with it means it will be getting used a lot more than my G10. The almost non-existent shutter lag versus my G10 is very nice as well...
I know that this is an 'EOS' blog - but I just couldn't wait any longer for Canon to come out with something like this... I had been thinking about a 35mm f/1.4 for my 40D, but I can already see that grabbing the SLR, switching lenses and carrying it around just isn't anywhere close to the convenience of throwing the Panny on the shoulder and jumping in the car with the kids - and cheaper too. So I guess the 'lesson' here is that the EOS line has a hole in it :) Don't worry, I'll bring it back to EOS once I get the EOS adapter...

New shots

Among other new shots, I'm particularly pleased with how this shot turned out:


And, no, I didn't bribe him with cookies - he was getting some whether he helped or not :) It isn't that hard to get a boy to smile at a big plate of cookies!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Canon 85mm f/1.2 II Prime

On the weekend I rented, among other things, the well regarded Canon 85mm prime. This was one heavy lens, and while capable of fantastic background blur, I didn't really think it through. I was planning on shooting against a white background (not too hard to blur that!) with some high powered strobes. When I got out the f/1.2 lens I couldn't get the lights low enough, or far enough away to use the wide open aperture. At f/8 this is like every other 85mm L lens that I own.

I did manage to capture a few available light shots near windows, etc. and they turned out great, but I highly recommend renting this for available light shooting, not studio!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I won this month's assignment!

I'm excited to say that I won this month's contest on Dreamstime! The winner image was:

Reading to grandchild
© Photographer: Bradcalkins | Agency:

Check out the other excellent entries and winners at:

Elders and Seniors Winners

Saturday, November 7, 2009

This is one of my latest images that I really love how it turned out. The kids were playing with a tower of marbles, and I stole them from them (for 2 minutes) and photographed them in the jar. The setup was simple - I had my flash on a cord underneath the bottom of the jar. I had to play around with it a bit to get it right. In the end I think I had the flash about an inch or so from the bottom with the wide diffuser on it.


Sale number 3,000!

Well, here it is - my 3,000th sale!

Recycle box

And my 1,500th upload:

Notched trowel

I've hit 2 downloads for every image online - a bit of a milestone in and of itself! The downloads per image ratio has always been of interest to me, because the fastest way to increase it in some respect is to stop uploading. If I were to suddenly post 100 images tomorrow, I'd be back under 2 - yet I've increased my sales potential. Hence why I don't try specifically to maximize the DPI number. I'm a lot more impressed by higher revenue per image online figures!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Leave IS turned on?

I've never really thought about leaving IS turned on, but a recent test I did proved to me that it is worth thinking about. When IS is first started up, the lens elements may move quickly to begin compensating for your camera's motion. This can actually move faster than the camera is moving! What does this mean? It means that if you take your camera from 'off' to taking a picture, the shot may be more blurred than without IS turned on, even with a fast shutter speed. I suggest turning IS off as a rule when shooting outdoors, unless you need it. Or pay attention and give the system the half second it needs to get working.

IS is great, but know when to turn it off, too. I find that with kids around you often want to take a shot 'right away'. With IS on you'll need to delay the shutter press just a bit to get optimal results... When I first got an IS lens it seemed like it didn't help at all until I learned this tip!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Focal length usage

I recently ran my images through a little program that tells you the number of times you've used a particular focal length, aperture, etc. Looking at the results, I can see why I'm so happy with my 24-105 zoom and 60mm macro. I'm pretty much focused on 28-100mm...
The 60mm macro explains the huge number of shots at that focal length, but clearly I don't get out the 17-24 range very much. The really low numbers indicate shots with a compact camera... There is a hump at 17mm, indicating that I'd probably go wider on occasion, if I had it, but not enough to justify an expensive lens.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2000 Sales

My stock photo sales are ticking right along - I passed 2000 sales this month! Here are some recent uploads:

Happy baby


Boy fishing

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Maximize your sensor

Different cameras have different aspect ratios, and this has various impacts on your photography. For isolated stock photos, I've found that there is a way to increase your use of the sensor. For example, on my Canon 40D it has a 3x2 ratio - 50% longer than it is high. If I'm shooting something long, I often find I can get closer (making the subject larger in the frame) if I shoot it corner to corner in the frame, rather than squared up. Ultimately, this means I get an image out of it that is longer in terms of pixels. In the example below, I did two shots:

1. Key horizontal in frame.
2. Key rotated about 40% so it went corner to corner.

The first obvious thing was that I had to actually move closer with my macro lens to fill the frame when I went corner to corner. Below you can see the result of taking the rotated key and making it straight (right side of image). I ended up with a larger image. Here I've just copped the head of the key to show the difference in size with a 100% crop.
What does this all mean? It means that for an isolated subject you end up with a larger file that normally possible with your camera - say a 12MB file by pixels from a 10MB sensor. I would expect a little loss of something when I rotate, but close inspection of these two images suggests it is more than made up by getting more pixels on each detail in the subject.

Happy shooting!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I'm not the "Hallmark" Dad getting out and golfing, fishing or watching football with a beer, but I do love the actual 'Father' aspect of the day. I can't wait get away this weekend with the family and kids. Nothing else compares to the joy of raising kids and having a loving family... Happy Father's Day!

Children eating ice cream

Father's Day

Boy playing with dad

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another reject!

I guess if I pay attention I'll stop submitting flowers to DT :) It is a shame, as these are significantly better than ones I've had approved before...

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Over the course of a year I have had many photos rejected at Dreamstime. Of course, the agency has every right to reject what isn't up to their quality standards, if they don't think they will sell, or if they just have too many already. Here is an example of a recent reject, that I particularly like. Oh well - you can't take it personally (it was rejected because they have too many of this type already)...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Canon 40D Review

As I've mentioned before, I recently moved up to a new Canon 40D from a Canon 20D. I was looking forward to several feature upgrades and was pleasantly surprised.


I figured it would be helpful for anyone looking at upgrading to have a list of features I actually appreciate:

1. 10MP versus 8MP. This is obvious but it really does give me room to crop a bit and maintain larger file sizes for stock photos.
2. Noise. I used to have to do some noise reduction on almost any shot to clean up shadows but now I rarely have to do any noise reduction below ISO 400, even for stock submittal. This has really made my workflow faster.
3. Focusing. I really appreciate the 9 cross points - you can really use all 9 focus points even in lower light. With the 20D I could rarely make use of the additional focus points when I really needed them. I get a lot more keepers out of it on continuous focus, as well. One nice feature is that it can show the focus point used on the playback.
4. Viewfinder / screen. Just a little bit bigger in the finder, but lots bigger on the back LCD. I couldn't believe how small the 20D's was when I took it out the other day :)
5. Awake from any button on the back. Surprisingly this is great. When you pick up the camera you don't have to half press the shutter to wake it up.
6. My Menu. This is another great feature. I rarely have to go to the other menus.
Camera mode dial

7. Custom modes on the dial. This is pretty good - I have one set for manual for flash and another for continuous shooting (Focus mode, fps maxed, aperture priority, ISO 200, etc.).
8. High light priority. I haven't used it much, but worked nicely to keep snow from blowing out the other day.
9. 3fps. I like having the option of 3fps versus 6.5fps. It is very easy to accidentally fire off two shots in 6.5fps. I do like the fast speed for HDR type stuff, and action sequences of course.
10. Live view. Hey - call it a gimmick if you like but I've had about 5 times so far that I wanted to get a shot of the kids down low and loved being able to see what was going on. Can't say i'm in love with how you focus, but it is handy once in a while. Nice for macro tripod work as well (10x magnification for focusing).
11. RGB histogram. Nice - you can't really ever be sure with a luminance histogram, since it doesn't show a single channel clipping.
12. ISO visible all the time. I absolutely love having ISO in the viewfinder and on the top LCD. It is so obvious that you left it on a high ISO. i've never had shots at too high an ISO with this camera.
13. Responsiveness. It is hard to put a number on it, but the 40D is just that much quicker. If you take a sequence of shots at 6.5fps when you stop you are looking at the last one, not watching them trickle in. If you view 9 shots at a time on the back LCD you can spin the dial and it just rocks through them. I love it! With the 20D there was always an almost imperceptible lag that annoyed me.

All in all a solid upgrade from the 20D.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1000 Sales at Dreamstime!

I hit 1000 sales of stock photos this week! I'm very happy with how things have progressed over the last 10 months that I've been doing this. I've got 945 images online, and have sold almost 400 of them at least once. One image, of water, has now sold 21 times! Here is the first sale over 1000, along with the water image:



So far the benefits I've received from taking part in stock photos:

1. Real dollars. I've made money selling my photos, enough to upgrade my camera to a 40D and still have money left over for a high end lens. To put it in perspective, I'd have to work about 40 hours a month at a minimum wage job to match my current monthly stock photo earnings...
2. Validation. Every advanced amateur probably has people in their life that constantly tell them they should be a pro, or sell their work. The reality is that most will do much better at their day job. I put myself in that camp, but it is somewhat validating to be selling photos. Someone other than friends and family are voting with their dollars! I've placed in contests and had some photos published in magazines, but it has never paid the bills like doing stock does.
3. Technique. While stock photography is clearly commerical in nature, the review process has boosted my technique. I make no claims that it comes close to fine art, but there is nothing wrong with getting paid to learn to get sharper photos, declutter backgrounds and make things more eye catching.
4. Community. Although this blog is OK, I can now access a much bigger audience in terms of sharing information, with the stock photo community. As well, you really feel you are helping people, in the same way I was helped initially by the community. To date I've had a couple of comments on this blog, but a posting on the message boards at Dreamstime gets immediate feedback and answers.
5. Purpose. I've never really been big on the pursuit of fine art in my own photography. I'd much rather have great photos of the kids on the wall. Stock photography has given me another outlet for my hobby that doesn't just result in thousands of shots on the hard drive. Getting paid as well is that much more motivating. It keeps me from running out of ideas - with stock even the most mundane subject can be a seller.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Canon Powershot G10 Review

I've written a blog at Dreamstime on the Canon G10, with a bit of a stock photo spin to it:

G10 Review

I've got some more photos approved taken with the G10, and it is turning out to be everything I'd hoped it would be: small enough to take with me and high enough quality to provide 14+ MP stock photo images:

Olympic flags

Calgary skyline in winter


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

40D and G10

I had quite the Christmas! I purchased an updated DSLR, the Canon 40D. In the end I decided the huge files of the 50D just weren't needed. I don't see a significant number of my stock files selling at the maximum resolution with an 8MP camera, so going to 10MP seems like enough. As well, I thought I would like to get the G10, which does have 15MP files. I have sort of reverse logic on this one - with the compact, I elected to go with the 15MP tiny sensor becuase of its amazing ability (jaw dropping according to DPReview) to capture at the base ISO. On the other hand, but sticking to the 40D over the 50D I saved enough to get the G10, plus my RAW files are sticking around 11-12MP each. By not going to the 15MP 50D I figured my low light capture would be better - that seems the be the common complaint at high ISO with tiny pixels.

In the end, though, I was way more swayed by the amazing abilities of the 40D in terms of value than any real strikes against the 50D. If I'd bought a camera 6 months earlier I would have been amazed by the 40D - so I thought that hadn't changed with the introduction of the 50D. Except for the price drop on the 40D!

Hockey Skates

My family went together and got me the G10 for Christmas, and I have been amazed at its ability to capture detail at ISO80. Used at that setting it is a very capable camera, capable of getting approved for stock photos. On the other hand, its low light abilities are more than sufficient for family photos. If the light is low I use flash anyways, or switch to my 40D if I'm at home. I'm looking forward to having a camera in hand in many more situations - the G10 is great for that. I was also happy to see it was easy to use with gloves on - no need to enter menus with dials for common stuff like ISO, mode and exposure compensation.

Here is my first stock photo with the G10:

Winter river

Monday, January 5, 2009

Aspect Ratio

As if there weren't enough things to think about, I recently started thinking about yet another aspect (pun intended) of stock photography: aspect ratio. I got a compact camera this Christmas and discovered that it was 4:3, rather than 3:2 as I'm used to with a DSLR. This has more impact than I would have thought:

1. Taking pictures. I find myself taking a lot more photos in the 'landscape' orientation rather than 'portrait'. When taking photos of people I find the SLR ratio too wide unless you want lots of background (environmental portraits, etc.).

Camera mode dial

2. Cropping. I find that I crop some photos down to a more square format for stock photography. Ellen Boughn pointed out in one of her blogs that a square format optimizes the use of the thumbnail enlargement. You get 100% use of the enlarged view when using a square. This comes at the cost of resolution, though. With the 4:3 ratio you are only losing 1/4 of the resolution, compared to 1/3 with the 3:2 format. This may mean the difference of an extra price category depending on the megapixels of your camera. My shot of the top of a camera below is an example of cropping to fit a square...

3. Space. The more square format seems to leave more room around things compared to the 3:2 format. This probably helps designers as they have a bit more room for copy space or just to crop out to fit a layout.

4. Printing. On a personal level the 4:3 format comes closer to matching a 5x7 or 8x10 print with less cropping. You get more of the original resolution when cropping to fit a standard print format. While that is of course not true in the standard 4x6 print size, that only tends to get used for 4x6" prints - the smallest size which doesn't need any extra resolution.

5. Pet peeve. Why do photo frames always seem to come in a 16:9 ratio? Arg!

It is another thing to consider when purchasing a camera, even at the SLR level (Olympus is 4:3).

Feel free to chime in on your favorite aspect ratio to shoot pictures!