Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nutless Wonder

Manny the cat, which this image is a best seller for me at ShutterStock, has returned home from being neutered. At the age of 9 months, he's over 13 pounds!

We had the operation performed at the Williamson County Humane Society, which I highly recommend. When we had the other cat, Moki, neutered, we used a local vet who had us drop off and pick up, but the folks there were not as friendly and lots more expensive. Currently, they charge $40.00 for a neutering, versus $75 or higher.


In a single month of being with Shutterstock, I have managed to generate 200 downloads, and almost enough for a payout. Almost. 

Other folks I've talked with in the forums there have said it's taken them months to get to the magic amount for a payout, and I'm ***almost*** there! If you factor in last month's downloads, generated in only 8 days live and online there, it's not a bad start.

ShutterStock uses a subscription model, a buyer gets "X" number of downloads for a flat fee. Two other agencies I sell through are starting the same business model. iSTock and 123RF thus far.


This post is simply a test of uploading content via Adobe's Contribute.

I've also updated by main website - in case you're linked direct to this blog and have missed it.  The new gallery page is made with SlideShow Pro's Lightroom Plug-in.

I'm not as good at Flash as I used to be... a lot has changed.

Ok!  Onward through the mist!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Surreal Images

These images are also known as Ultra-Real, Illustrative, and Hyper-Real. Some good examples come from photographer David Hill.

The effect is helped along by proper lighting. For outdoor shots, it’s best to over-power the sun with your strobe. I use an older Sunpack 522 to blow out the sun, and a faster shutter speed. My Nikon D50 can sync with its internal flash at 1/500th, but with the Sunpack, it’s synced at 1/250 or slower.

Most professional photographers are familiar with the idea of “Key Shifting”. This is where you darken the ambient light while exposing the model or subject with a flash. (More on this in another post)

The steps to achieve this image effect is different for each image, but for the most part you need to flatten out the highlights and shadows using the Image-Adjustments-Shadows/Highlights tool, then run a filter called Local Contrast Enhancer. I set this filter to get as much of an outline as possible, usually 80, 20, 200. You can set the layer to 80% opacity at normal, or leave it at 100%.

For color dodging and burning, I use a new layer on top, fill with a 50% grey and mode set at overlay, and then I use a soft brush with either white or black to accomplish the color dodge/burn effect. There is also an action you can run to accomplish this.

I finish with a copy of the first layer on top, with a high pass filter, the layer set on Overlay.

You can find most of these actions on Photo-Plugins.com and ATNCentral.com and search for some action sets by Chip Springer.

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Century Mark

As of yesterday, I had over 100 images approved on ShutterStock, arguably the 2nd hardest agency to get images approved at. Maybe the 3rd. iStock is the 2nd, with the first being Fotolia. The reviewers at Fotolia are extremely picky. They’ve rejected images which are *big* sellers on the other sites.

It’s a nice way to make some cash from photography, if you can shoot suitable images.

The photograph must be of high technical quality, tack sharp focus, and usually bright and colorful, with a clear concept. My shots of a glass of soda are selling like crazy.

If you want to make money with your photography, try ShutterStock first. That link is to the referral program. It tells them I sent you!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2nd Most Popular Image

This was shot using a glass top with a light under it, fake gel ice and a real cold bottle of Shiner Blonde.

This has been downloaded from multiple stock agency sites since posting late last month.

Quality photography is what sells on Microstock. Not snapshots, not artsy shots.. but quality commercial photography.

Managing the Digital Workflow

Folks, I don’t mean your idealized efficient workflow. I mean what really happens.

At least to me...

I planned some table top shots to test out my new shooting table. All this is from memory, so the actual times may be off.

I spent most of the day shooting and testing my home-built shooting table. Aside from the usual interruptions, the afternoon went well. I’d stop every 20 minutes to transfer the images from the chip to the desktop using Nikon’s Picture Project.

Now, it’s after the shoot and time to edit.

7:15pm: I open Lightroom and import the images into a catalog I have intuitively named “Stuff”. Import goes OK.

7:20pm: Daughter asks to go to friend’s house. I open Lightroom and begin examining images.

7:22pm: Daughter asks for ride to friend’s house. I explain the concept of “exercise” and “walking” and the benefits of each.

7:32pm: Return from giving kid ride. Chase cat away from desk, and resume examining images. Cat insistent on being on desk.

7:33pm: Put cat in hallway, shut door. Begin using Develop module to correct color temps.

7:34pm: Kick cat outside, the whining to get back into room is just too annoying to continue work. Threaten cat with removal of various body parts as he’s shown the door to the great outdoors.

7:35pm: Find myself in kitchen. Huh? Oh, well, pour some beer and get back to work.

7:50pm: Having found a few images usable, I begin export to Photoshop format for further editing. Three images OK to export as JPG for uploading without retouching.

7:59pm: Potty break.

8:00pm: Pour another beer.

8:01pm: Open folder of images to edit. Decide on which one to edit. Open image in Photoshop.

8:06pm: Preview image as JPG. Edit a few missed dust spots. Preview JPG. Save. Next image.

8:10pm: Phone rings. Kid wanting ride home. Again explain benefits of walking. Explain concept of “too busy” to kid.

8:12pm: Save next image as JPG. Answer phone.

8:25pm: Return from getting kid, get back to work, and again chasing cat from desk. See that cat has chewed on mouse. Try to explain to cat that this isn’t a mouse a cat should catch. How did cat get inside anyway?

8:26pm: Cat goes outside again.

8:28pm: Answer cell phone, explain to caller I’m not interesting in a free trip for buying pens for my business, explain concept of “Cell Phone minutes” and “Prime Minutes”. I then suggest a biologically impossible act and hang up.

8:35pm: Explain to daughter how if there is no food to her liking in kitchen, none will be found anywhere else, must make do with what is in kitchen.

8:45pm: Answer door, find several of daughter’s friends. Direct them to her bedroom. Futilely explain need for quiet.

8:50pm: Export two more images, and then proceed to daughter’s room to ask for quiet.

8:52pm: Chase cat from desk again. Cat managed to infiltrate back into house when kids entered.

8:53pm: Toss cat into daughter’s bedroom.

8:55pm: Manage to edit two more images, and deleted one that is, without question, utterly crap from every perspective.

9:00pm: Interruption by kids wanting food. I explain concept of hunting and gathering and how it worked for thousands of years… Give permission to order pizza.

9:04pm: Talk to pizza place to give card info.

9:06pm: Try editing more images.

9:10pm: Noise from hallway. Kids playing some odd teenage game involving yelling, running and hitting things. Yell for quiet.

9:12pm: Yell for them to turn down stereo. TRY to edit another image.

9:20pm: Check email, waste time on various forums posting idiotic advice.

9:30pm: Arrival of Pizza. People in kitchen, mass confusion, fussing about pepperoni from “vegan” kid. Plates are distributed and I issue warnings of severe bodily harm is I find pizza anywhere but on plates.

9:32: Another beer. Try editing another image while eating pizza.

9:35pm: Heartburn meds. Noise from kid’s bedroom drowning out fire engine siren.

9:35:30pm: Fire engine?

9:36pm: Outside as neighbor has emergency. Ambulance arrives. I finish beer, return inside and shut down Photoshop.

That’s a typical workflow for me… Anyone else?

(BTW: I was interrupted many times while posting this...)