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.
I love it when an image sells for the first time within a few days of initial upload. I've had a few of those lately, and it always makes me feel like I know something about shooting for stock - but then I look at the other 19 from the same day :)
Yes - brick has been done before, but I've noticed that the Pansonic GF1's 12 MP files seem to get more attention. Not sure if it is coincidence or not, but if you are looking for a background texture I don't know why you wouldn't want the most pixels...
Not sure if anyone else is seeing this, but lately my sales seem to be on a real roll. I had an EL sale today, and yesterday managed to bring in 23 sales!
In an interesting development that (as always for new technology) seems to solve problems with the current technology, and promises 4x the efficiency of current CMOS technology, InVisage has developed a new sensor type based on Quantum Dots. Very promising if it comes close to their claims of 2x the dynamic range!
Hopefully we'll be able to have our cake and eat it too!
One measure of success in stock photography is the number of images with a sale - unique sales. While revenue wise it may actually be better to have 1 of out 100 images selling 100 times over, there is some satisfaction knowing that the images you are spending time on and uploading are actually being purchased. Of the 1,800 images I have online, some 1,038 have sold at least once. I think that is pretty good - over half have sold... One thing I've noticed lately is that I actually sell images for the first time quite often. For example, just yesterday here are images I've sold for the first time:
This one I've had online since July 2009 - which goes to show you time helps sales:
Many of these were just recently uploaded, but of note is that I've sold more first time files in a day than uploaded (average). That should hopefully take things to new levels - literally on Dreamstime...
I read an article over on Luminous Landscape that talked about how you just can't judge a camera without considering physical prints. While I won't attempt to dispute that for fine art purposes, or many other applications, stock photography in particular is an area of photography that is totally focused on "pixel peeping". Images are taken, processed, uploaded and sold with no printing on the part of the photographer. In many or most cases the image sold won't even be printed - if used in a Powerpoint, web page design, etc. In many other printed cases the quality of the print would be minimal due to output size. Certainly there are those who would ultimately print a brochure, annual report, magazine or art to hang on a wall. Those uses would be more demanding, but again except in the art cases the ultimately image quality would be limited - and the image supplemenatary.
On the other hand, stock images ARE reviewed by editors at 100% magnification. In that sense, the actual pixel level performance of cameras is much more important for stock photography than other uses. Not to say that it is of no importance, but a person buying from a thumbnail (or 800x600 comp) isn't even given a good example of the work prior to purchase.
Demanding 100% pixel level performance be of utmost importance does not really advance the art of photography, but it is a valid way to evaluate a camera if that reflects your end use... How many stock photographers ever truly appreciate or even need to know about the fine art of printing?
Flowers are a typical subject that is hard to get approved at stock agencies. It isn't that they don't want them, but that they are a common subject among 'amateurs' and also easy to come by. Finally - flowers are beautiful all by themselves! Last weekend I was at a friend's for dinner and noticed their clear glass coaster sort of acted like a sheet of glass with water drops - only easier to move around. I glanced around the room and figured the vase of roses would be cool to shoot through it. I (naturally) had my 40D, 60mm macro and flash at the ready so I held the glass close to the flowers, focused on it, and bounced the flash off the ceiling to light the flower behind. Voila:
Dreamstime has had a very generous upload limit on contributors, as long as you have had an acceptance ratio above 50% or so. For my tenure with Dreamstime I have been able to upload anywhere from 50 to 150 images per day. I'm not sure who has ever used the maximum (1,500 images a month!) but fair to say that many of the larger contributors make use of the daily limit several times a month.
Granted, these are cut flowers from a greenhouse, probably, but spring seems to be in the air. I'm happy to see this flower shot made it online - I'm had trouble getting flower shots up due to so many already being online.
There is a lot of talk about how people love micro 4/3s becuase of the ability to get more out of focus backgrounds (shallow/less depth of field). At the same time, the argument goes against micro 4/3s in favor of APS-C. Then again, in favor of full frame over APS-C. I've seen both side of the argument, and decided to do a quick comparison between my Canon 40D and Panasonic DMC-GF1. The problem with these kinds of tests:
1. Different focal lengths. Without going into great detail, you have to choose between using the same focal length, or same perspective/angle of view. I went with the later, choosing a focal length on my 40D that approximated the GF1's 20mm lens. I eyeballed the 40D and ended up using 24mm - about 38mm in 35mm equivalent field of view terms. The Panny had the 20mm x 2 for about 40mm. Pretty close. 2. Aperture. When it comes to compact point and shoots versus an SLR it is unfair - SLRs have lenses avaiable with much larger maximum apertures so you'll always be able to isolated better. In the GF1's case I happen to have a wider aperture there than most of my SLR lenses (85mm f/1.8 excepted). I chose an aperture of f/4 so I could compare with a similar field of view. It won't be as dramatic, but that is kind of the point - take a look at what I can get with my normally used lens on the 40D (24-105mm). 3. Foramt. The GF1 has an image sensor size ratio of 4:3, while the 40D's is 3:2. This creates some minor differences, but for this example I just tried to keep the subject the same size. 4. Resolution. The two cameras have slightly different resolutions - the 40D's 10MP compared to the GF1's 12. As you can see, they aren't that different, and really if you cropped the GF1 to 3:2 it would be close to 10MP.
My main question was how did the backgrounds compare - did the Panny have visibly more sharpness resulting in a more distracting background? Sort of. Sure the 40D has a little more blurring, but that is partly because the lens is wide open (circular aperture) versus the Panny's stopped down f/4. All in all I wouldn't really notice this difference in practical terms. Of course, all things are never equal - I can get MORE blur out of the Panny at that focal length becuase I don't even own a f/1.7 lens in that range. Or I could slip a 50 f/1.4 on the GF1 and walk a little further away. In my opinion, the difference over a compact is there, but against the slightly larger APS-C sensor lens and aperture available is more important the sensor differences. I could affect it more by moving position a bit and selecting focal length. With the 20mm f/1.7 Panny lens I can get enough separation for my taste...
I really don't think it is worth the fuss - you are much more hampered by the 4/3s lack of lens selection that a slight difference in blur. This is a knock against the Olympus system (by some), but who makes an f/2 standard zoom (Olympus!) versus everyone else's f/2.8...