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Author Topic: Well...I am about to give up on Istock...  (Read 15731 times)

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« on: February 06, 2008, 18:05 »
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As said above. I have just received another rejection and an invitation to try again in 90 days but I will most likely just give up. Simply either I am incapable of taking a good picture, or their review criteria are totally out of this world.

What the reviewer says:
This file contains artifacting when viewed at full size. This technical issue is commonly created by the quality settings in-camera, in post-processing or in RAWsettings. Artifacting may be the result of other factors such as excessive level adjustments.

The camera: 1DMkII + 24-70/2.8L. RAW with minimum of adjustments barely touched in PS. The image didnt need adjustments, the pic was taken on white background with plenty of light, lightmeter and M mode on the camera. Saved as JPEG in CS3 with quality=12 (max). No down/up sizing. While white background may not be a perfect (255,255,255) - the clipping path was provided for the subject.

Here is the full size image (one of the three rejected, the others are over 3Mb and I could not upload it).

http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=6921931&size=lg

My theory is that
1)   They have too many submissions
2)   They have a big backlog
3)   They may actually be right which is why I am posting this

Maybe someone more experienced and critical than me can give me some feedback ?
After all, I do not claim to be the guru on artifacting but if a setup like the above does indeed produce artifacting then I would like to know what doesnt.

Thanks.


« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2008, 18:15 »
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Is that REALLY the best that camera can do?! It looks like it has had life processed out of it.

« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2008, 18:16 »
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The linked image appears as it was scaled up or overprocessed (heavy noise reduction?), imho it has pretty rough edges (especially in the glass) and a lack of fine detail all around (smudged textures). If it was really barely touched into PS3 I'd check the quality settings of your Canon.

« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2008, 18:17 »
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I often ponder these thoughts:

1. When reviewers do their reviewing, do they do it on a calibrated monitor?

2. Do they examine images at 100%.... or do they go even further to 150, and even 200%? (where artifacts will surely start to form at that resolution)

3. Are reviewers diligent enough to keep  their monitors cleaned on a daily basis where there will be no confusing a mark on the screen with an  artifact?

4. Am I being too paranoid, or is it really true the reviewers hate me?

Best to you,
The MIZ

« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2008, 18:25 »
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I was just lucky to get into IS on the first try. Back then in Sept 2007 I had no idea how to process images on computer. I did not have PS yet. I think that helped me to get into IS, but was not helping me to get admitted to StockXpert or SS. Only after I got PS and Noise Ninja, I got admitted to StockXpert and SS. Looks like the best strategy to get into IS, to forget about artistic ambitions and just send them images as camera sees them. Btw, I like you image, I can't produce something like that myself since my PS skills are not great.


 

w7lwi

  • Those that don't stand up to evil enable evil.
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2008, 18:33 »
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In addition to what others have said, here's what I see.

On the glass, lower left side near the bottom there appears to be some green bleed over onto the white.  You've got some fairly heavy shadowing that isn't helping the image any.  And on the stem (right side, it looks like there may be some CA on both the top and bottom.

Here's a trick for you.  Go into Photoshop and add a new adjustment layer.  Adjust the layer by moving the left slider (black) all the way over to the right till it's on top of the white point.  What you should see is the glass and flower all black (or pretty much black anyway) and the rest white.  Where it's not white, there's color of some sort.  On your image, there's color all over the place.  Ergo, the background ain't white and you've got a lot of clean-up left to do.   :'(

« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2008, 18:37 »
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I often ponder these thoughts:

1. When reviewers do their reviewing, do they do it on a calibrated monitor?

2. Do they examine images at 100%.... or do they go even further to 150, and even 200%? (where artifacts will surely start to form at that resolution)

3. Are reviewers diligent enough to keep  their monitors cleaned on a daily basis where there will be no confusing a mark on the screen with an  artifact?

4. Am I being too paranoid, or is it really true the reviewers hate me?

Best to you,
The MIZ


1. Yes
2. 100% is OK
3. is clean here ;)
4. reviewers don't hate you, you're just being too paranoid ;)

« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2008, 18:39 »
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oh. sorry ;) don't give up with Istock, just be careful with your images. that's all  :)

michealo

« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2008, 19:02 »
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There is definitely artifacting ...

« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2008, 19:13 »
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Thanks everyone.

W7LWI: yes - I know how to check for some residual color using levels - I left the background as it was, and added a clipping path instead in case someone wanted a 100% white background. Green bleed - it is just the light filtering through the green glass. CA - agreed, the 24-70 is not exactly known for being CA free. Will try with 100 macro lens.

My problem is the canned response: artifacting. If I knew what exactly this is that has been met with the reviewer's disapproval - then I could possibly fix it in in future submissions.

As things stand now, though, images which sell on other sites are being rejected for "overfiltering" or "artifacting". Both are very general statements which do not provide any specific info, making it a guessing game.

ANOUCHKA: I haven't asked the question regarding calibrated monitor at native resolution (I guess everyone is using LCDs these days), because this would suggest that the reviewers do not know what they are doing, which I am sure is not the case- but from one of the other sites I have received a rejection with a reason "moire pattern" - where there was none (but I am still using a calibrated CRT). I can see moire in some of my pics - on a LCD reset to other than native resolution.

ALE1969: there are no RAW settings on the camera which would affect the quality of the image. RAW conversion, on the other hand, could be a factor - so I will have a look at it again. When I said "barely touched' - I meant it, since I was advised to not overdo PS corrections for Istock submissions. I was similarly careful with the other two images (OTOH the definition of "excessive" adjustments somehow eludes my understanding).

I guess it is just frustration on my part. All of the images which I have submitted to Istock so far have been accepted elsewhere - and most of them sell, despite my very small portfolio.

I think I will give it one last go in 3 months - but there is only so much work I am willing to put into it considering the amount of comission paid.

« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2008, 19:17 »
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MICHAELO: could you please indicate the offending portion of the image more closely?

I am not saying there is none - just that I can't spot it at 100% magnification. There would be none when the image is vieved at 10x8 size or so.

So - a 100% crop from the image I posted with an arrow showing the artifact would be a real help...

DanP68

« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2008, 19:34 »
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oh. sorry ;) don't give up with Istock, just be careful with your images. that's all  :)

Hi Anouchka,

Do you review for iStock?  Just curious.    :)

« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2008, 20:13 »
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These still life subjects, especially flowers are the hardest to get past the reviewers. Go out and take some landscape pictures for the first review and try to send them still life for regular uploads...

I'm not the best reviewer, but there is some blobby-ness on the base of the flower and stem. It should be in sharp focus. That camera is capable of much better images...

« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2008, 21:02 »
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Ouch. If that's from a 1Dmk11 I'm glad I can't afford one, as it's very very ordinary. The artifacting is worse on the stem, which looks as though it has been blurred by a noise removal filter and then oversharpened to get the detail back. There's no way this would pass inspection at istock, ever. The same problem is visible on the glass. I'd double check the settings on the RAW processor - something is doing horrible things to this image - make sure noise removal and sharpening are both off.

« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2008, 21:11 »
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Sorry, but I agree... there's lots of artifacts on this image. I think you have to learn to see those things, that's why they give you 90 days. when I started, I didn't know eather, but I didn't give up and today they are my best earner. You shouldn't give up on them! :)

« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2008, 21:24 »
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OK - thanks. It appears that the general consensus is that the image is... well - crap. The truth is, recently I "upgraded" to CS3 and try to use its RAW converter. Previously I was using RAWShooter (and PS7) with apparently better results.

I will check the whole workflow process again - maybe there is something I am overlooking.
At any case - thanks for the input, I will try to do better than this.

Just one more request - if someone can point out the artifacts ond the 100% crop - that would be great, and maybe I will be able to avoid this in future.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2008, 21:37 »
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I can clearly see most of the problems that have already been mentioned. If you can't see them, maybe one of the problems is your monitor.

« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2008, 21:37 »
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Allow me to be the one to tell you... I think your image is just fine.
If it's any constipation to you, If I were a reviewer, it would have gone up on the site I was reviewing for.

Now that's my opinion... and I'm sticking to it!
I would also comment on the exposure. It's just right.
Also, I like the idea of the long vertical slender glass, capped with the horizontal flower....(good move)

The MIZ's personal RATING SYSTEM (1-5)

Composition 5
Exposure 5
Focus 5
Framing 3
Color  4

Artistically pleasing to look at 5
Attention to details 5
Mood Value 4

I give this a STAR Rating of 4.5

Be well my friend and good luck,
The MIZ

« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2008, 21:42 »
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Funny, I wouldn't describe what I see as "artifacting".  I see a very plastic look, lacking texture and an imperfect white background.  Stem edges are what you must consider "artifacting" but to me the flaws look like part of the plastic effect. 

After all, how did you get this denoised look? In-camera settings?

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2008, 22:26 »
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"denoised look" - pretty funny  ;D

Camera settings (as said before) have nothing to do with the image - I shoot RAW. I just had set 4 halogen lamps with some white cloth over them to diffuse the light and eliminate shadows. The image came out of the camera pretty much as you see it, with very minor corrections afterwards.

In one of my previous attempts I had all three images rejected on the basis of being "overfiltered". Since I was already very much aware of this being one of major reasons for rejections - I sent  100% RAW crops with all settings in neutral - just to show that almost no filtering was present. No answer (well, to be honest I haven't expected any...).

Now - I know that my pics are not perfect. And I am aware that at 100% and above things start showing up. I was never much of a pixel peeper, if the image looks OK at 50% - then it is OK to me. No one in his right mind would expect to print much more than say 14"x10" from a 8Mp camera (OK, I know it is possible with some fancy interpolation, GenuineFractals or some such - so let's not start any flame wars).

On the monitor with 1600x1200 resolution you do not view the pics at more than 40% anyway. But - if the rejected images sell OK somewhere else - then I am getting a bit frustrated.

Of course I accept all the above remarks regarding the issues with this image - after all it takes someone uninvolved to notice things like this. And I will try to correct them and do better next time. But - someone please save this pic and print it - and view it on a monitor (not at 200% or 100% - just the way it would be used if downloaded). And then tell me that it is not acceptable...if it really isn't.

« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2008, 23:03 »
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And, on a more general note: I always thought (and still do) that the No 1 criteria for an image is: is it going to sell ?

Of course technical requirements are important - but in the end it is the customer who decides what is right and what is wrong. This image has been knocked back twice for "artifacting" and "overfiltering". Nonetheless, it sold 10 times on Fotolia within 4 weeks (with a portfolio of about 35 images).

http://www.fotolia.com/id/5549902

I am not arguing or trying to subvert the acceptance criteria. What I am saying there is no logic (at least no business logic) at work sometimes...

« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2008, 23:51 »
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Funny, I wouldn't describe what I see as "artifacting".  I see a very plastic look, lacking texture and an imperfect white background.  Stem edges are what you must consider "artifacting" but to me the flaws look like part of the plastic effect.
I had the same exact reaction.

And, on a more general note: I always thought (and still do) that the No 1 criteria for an image is: is it going to sell ?
Yes an image may sell well, but that doesn't reflect quality because buyers don't typically inspect the image at 100% before buying (they already have high quality expectations from iStock). Focusing on short-term sales rather than long-term quality of the images at iStock is a "tragedy of the commons" type of thinking.

The stem on the flower has an out-of-focus, artificial look to it. My guess it that the reviewer was referring the the area of the stem just above the glass.

Why did you strip all the camera data from the photo?

« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2008, 23:56 »
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I didn't strip anything - I just had to upload it to some accessible server (and PhotoNet was it). They do not (?) support EXIF data (well, I should know, have been a member for 4 years - but I am not 100% sure - and this is the only reason I can think of).
I will check the original image.

« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2008, 00:05 »
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The reality is that if you want images to get accepted at istock they have to look great at 100 per cent. To some extent it's a bit daft as we all know that if an image looks pretty good at fifty per cent on screen, it's going to make a fine good size print. However if an end user wants to make a crop from it, or enlarge it to a really big print or even do some heavy postprocessing with curves etc, this quality of image won't stand up to it, and so istock will reject it. Other sites are less  fussy. I'm still amazed that your camera produces stuff like that - I'd check the RAW settings for noise reduction and sharpening (the default levels on both in CS2, anyway are not zero, which they need to be for istock)


« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2008, 00:08 »
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And, respectfully, I disagree regarding this

"Yes an image may sell well, but that doesn't reflect quality because buyers don't typically inspect the image at 100% before buying (they already have high quality expectations from iStock)."

No problem with inspecting at 100% or 200% if need be, but...this is not how the image is being used/viewed. So, while inspection at 100% is a chosen method to ensure quality (I have no disagreement with that) - there should be also a sellability aspect considered.  If there are minor defects at 100%, but in the opinion of the reviewer the image is going to sell - why, for instance, not introduce something like "conditional" acceptance: the image gets say 1 or 2 month grace period in which it has to sell in order to stay listed - or it gets deleted. Let the customer decide.

Microstock sites do not exist to promote quality (although it is a vital factor in their continuing existence and sales) - but to sell images. At least this is my (maybe misguided) opinion.

But...I am getting away from the main subject of this thread, which wasn't my intention.

« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2008, 00:08 »
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Just adding - on my callibrated 20 inch imac monitor it also looks very oversharpened and the stem looks odd even at fifty per cent view - this would be regarded as a fail for me even as a personal use for printing shot (it's a gorgeous composition - the thumbnail is very striking but it just doesn't bear looking at larger than 25 per cent.)

« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2008, 00:13 »
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Susan - thanks :)

What you wrote makes sense - except that I would never do any "heavy processing" on a JPEG file, no matter what the quality settings for the saved file had been. But - it makes sense, so I will try to figure out what it is that makes my pics not acceptable at Istock.


« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2008, 00:15 »
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No problem with inspecting at 100% or 200% if need be, but...this is not how the image is being used/viewed. So, while inspection at 100% is a chosen method to ensure quality (I have no disagreement with that) - there should be also a sellability aspect considered.  If there are minor defects at 100%, but in the opinion of the reviewer the image is going to sell - why, for instance, not introduce something like "conditional" acceptance: the image gets say 1 or 2 month grace period in which it has to sell in order to stay listed - or it gets deleted. Let the customer decide.

Microstock sites do not exist to promote quality (although it is a vital factor in their continuing existence and sales) - but to sell images. At least this is my (maybe misguided) opinion.

But...I am getting away from the main subject of this thread, which wasn't my intention.
Actually its not entirely getting away from the subject at hand. In my experience, istock are pretty good at making allowances for image quality in hard to get, available light photographs. They are entirely unforgiving in set up studio type shots, and subjects like flowers where there are millions of them. Although your flower shot has a very good composition and colour, it's a little soft and not perfect quality, especially given the calibre of your equipment. I'd expect it to get rejected, as there is no excuse for not having everything perfect with this sort of set up. (Been there got the rejections to prove it!)

« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2008, 00:18 »
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Hey - no problem :)

I will reshoot this pic, and will double check the settings in the RAW converter - or, better still, use RAWShooter and PS7 with which I am 100% familiar - which is not something I can say about CS3...

« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2008, 01:19 »
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...If there are minor defects at 100%, but in the opinion of the reviewer the image is going to sell...
And there is the problem. iStock does make allowances for images that have technical defects if the image is of something unique and salable. When it comes to images of dime-a-dozen isolated objects they have gotten very picky over time.

Microstock sites do not exist to promote quality (although it is a vital factor in their continuing existence and sales) - but to sell images. At least this is my (maybe misguided) opinion.
You're right that they don't exist to promote quality, and you're right that quality control is important to continuing existence (hence my tragedy of the commons reference). Some how you're agreeing we me and yet missing my point. Adding your photo won't increase iStock's sales, only yours. iStock has hundreds and hundreds of photos of isolated glasses and flowers that don't have any defects no matter how minor. When the subject matter is already heavily covered in iStock's collection then any added images just take downloads that would have gone to the already existing images by showing up higher in the best match search. From iStock's point of view it doesn't make sense to except images that have "minor" defects at 100% when they already have defect-free images in the library of the same subject matter.

To continue the tragedy of the commons reference, right now iStock is close to the carrying capacity for isolated images of everyday items. Without strict quality controls on  isolated dime-a-dozen photos, Hardin's famous quote would come true. "Freedom in the commons brings ruin to all".
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 01:21 by yingyang0 »

« Reply #30 on: February 07, 2008, 01:49 »
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Nice composition...

I can see a lot of spots in the green however that could easily be mistaken for sensordust. Perhaps they are air bubbles in the glass?

« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2008, 03:08 »
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No problem. Thanks everyone for contribution and explanations - there is a lot of sense in what has been said - from my perspective it is simple: I will just need to lift my game a notch.

« Reply #32 on: February 07, 2008, 03:10 »
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The quality of your picture is appallingly bad, and worse than the output from even the most inexpensive point and shoot camera.

Either this entire thread is a joke or you are somehow managing to produce mediocre results from one of the world's best and most expensive cameras.

The fact that you do not appear to be able to see the problem should worry you.

No agency should have accepted this picture.

If it was genuinely shot with the camera you describe and in the manner you describe you should return your camera to Canon for servicing.

Edit:  btw, the rest of your portfolio is excellent and a fascinating collection of varied images.  However hardly any of them would be accepted by iStock due to heavy manipulation and processing.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 03:18 by hatman12 »

« Reply #33 on: February 07, 2008, 04:27 »
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Well - I wouldn't call it "appallingly" bad - but following the discussion, I think that I can see at least some of the shortcomings. The biggest was probably the light, which was (intentionally) set up to provide basically shadow-less and reflection-less lighting, which in turn produced very flat image. Following that - I still need to figure out what some default settings in CS3 RAW converter really do. As I said before - until this happens, I am back to RAWShooter.

My problem is not so much with defects at 100% or 200% magnification - but rather with the fact that that none of the 15 (so far) images submitted at iStock was accepted - while all these pics have been accepted and sell on other sites. To me it is a bit puzzling - particularly that (as also said before) no one ever uses the pic at 100%, nor even at 50% magnification.

Having said that - I accept the fact that it is not my place to argue reason, but rather learn the rules of the game and play by them.
Which I am going to do.

Regarding the use of my camera - I also think that part of the problem could be not using MLU, since the pic was shot at 1/10 sec or so - that is at shutter speed where mirror lockup should be used. I usually remember about this - but,alas, not this time...

Anyway, I will shoot this setup (with some mods) again in a day or two and submit the results. I may not terribly like what most of you guys are saying - but I am listening.

« Reply #34 on: February 07, 2008, 04:57 »
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Hatman12: also - one or rather two things I want to add:

First - thanks for the kind word regarding my other pics. It is true, I tend to take some liberties  ;) with my photos - which is obviously a bad habit where stock images are concerned.

Second - I said in the original post: "3)   They may actually be right which is why I am posting this.
Maybe someone more experienced and critical than me can give me some feedback ?"

From this perspective - the really helpful thing would be a 100% from the image and a comment clearly indicating "This is something which should not be there"...

« Reply #35 on: February 07, 2008, 09:29 »
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There is definitively a problem with your photo. For me, the artifacts look like JPEG compression artifacts: the plastic/smudge look could be explained by heavy JPEG compression IMHO.

The problem is that if you cannot see those artifacts, you are in big troubles because you cannot fix something you don't see  :-\


« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2008, 09:46 »
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Here is a suggestion... go get the RAW file for those great landscape shots in your photo.net portfolio. Reprocess them with minimal manipulation. Studio shots face way more scrutiny than landscape, plus it's easier to hide some noise in them. Make sure everything is shot at 100 ISO and on a tripod... If I can get a few pictures accepted to IS with a lowly Canon Powershot A620 (I shoot mainly with a Rebel Xti and film cameras), then there is no excuse with your talent for that setup you have to get past the inspectors at IS.

« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2008, 12:30 »
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I see an even bigger problem if someone dishing out photoshop tutorials thought it was ok
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 12:33 by thesentinel »

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #38 on: February 07, 2008, 12:42 »
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Allow me to be the one to tell you... I think your image is just fine.
If it's any constipation to you, If I were a reviewer, it would have gone up on the site I was reviewing for.

Now that's my opinion... and I'm sticking to it!
I would also comment on the exposure. It's just right.
Also, I like the idea of the long vertical slender glass, capped with the horizontal flower....(good move)

The MIZ's personal RATING SYSTEM (1-5)

Composition 5
Exposure 5
Focus 5
Framing 3
Color  4

Artistically pleasing to look at 5
Attention to details 5
Mood Value 4

I give this a STAR Rating of 4.5

Be well my friend and good luck,
The MIZ

I agree the rest of the image is great but the technical quality is a 1 or 2 .

« Reply #39 on: February 07, 2008, 12:49 »
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Having looked at the original & having read the thread, let me follow up on the issue of focus (and some of you commented on the fact that there is an out of focus problem - in the stem area, etc):

where SHOULD the focus be in this picture? I think, imho, it should be, most importantly, in the middle of the flower, and it seems there is none there - artifacty and washed out... Thoughts?

« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2008, 13:51 »
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 if there is somebody who still  can make me nervous - is reviewers (some of) are surely one of these..
 but
 if this is really photo from camera you said that it is - that's really bad camera.
 i am nikon user for  years (from film age, and last century :) ).., but i'm sure that canon with number 1 is not bad camera at all, what's more - i'm pretty convinced this is actually very good camera.
 so
i make conclusion - about this specific image - that you luck some photographic skill. -i mean - i can be a hypocrite, and tell you that everything is o.k. ... but - i do not mean this. i mean right that what i said.
 here is my sunflower - you can zoom the image.

http://www.istockphoto.com/file_closeup/object/4262732_sunflowers.php?id=4262732

-you can see that white can be 255 255 255 - that's "isolated" 254 254 254 is not an isolation - that's "white background"
 in other words - my opinion is that for this specific image reviewer is mostly right than wrong. and of course - don't give up.

« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2008, 13:53 »
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Having looked at the original & having read the thread, let me follow up on the issue of focus (and some of you commented on the fact that there is an out of focus problem - in the stem area, etc):

where SHOULD the focus be in this picture? I think, imho, it should be, most importantly, in the middle of the flower, and it seems there is none there - artifacty and washed out... Thoughts?

The whole image should be in focus. There isn't that much depth in the image...

« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2008, 14:08 »
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I agree with the reviewer.

The image looks very bad at 100% and looks like it was taken by a compact camera. I shoot with 20D (and now 40D) and your camera should be just as good.

I think if you go out today and shoot some decent landscapes of your town and upload the Jpegs straight from the camera you should get into iStock.

I am not sure what happened during post-processing but I would look at the Jpegs if I were you.

« Reply #43 on: February 07, 2008, 14:11 »
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I looked at your portfolio on photo.net and you have great images. I think after you figure out what went wrong in your technique you will have a bright future at iStock.

« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2008, 14:14 »
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i am nikon user for  years (from film age, and last century :) ).., but i'm sure that canon with number 1 is not bad camera at all, what's more - i'm pretty convinced this is actually very good camera

Come on, let's be serious. Any Canon or Nikon DSLR is able to produce outstanding photos. We are not talking about compact cameras here: whether it is the $$$expensive$$$ 1D serie or my cheap 350D, the camera is not the problem here (unless a high JPEG compression is used, but this one use RAW format).


i make conclusion - about this specific image - that you luck some photographic skill.

Definitively not: the problem is not linked to any photographic skill but to a post-processing issue.

IS rejected the photo due to artifacts and there are MANY artifacts indeed.

« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2008, 15:03 »
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....I have just received another rejection and an invitation to try again in 90 days but I will most likely just give up.

Please don't give up getting into IS, it is well worth the effort.  I had a couple of applications rejected for artifacts, mainly down to the camera I was using at the time. Although four of the rejected photos were later accepted after my application was accepted.

Good luck.

« Reply #46 on: February 07, 2008, 15:47 »
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The problem is that if you cannot see those artifacts, you are in big troubles because you cannot fix something you don't see  :-\

That's true.  I still can't see most of what you pointed, except for two of them.  That would explain some rejections I get in one site or another.  :D

I'm pretty sure most of my images (using Canon Powershot A620) have much more noticeable flaws and they still get approved.

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #47 on: February 07, 2008, 16:20 »
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Araminta: Thanks for actually posting something which addresses the main issue. I do not think these are JPEG artifacts I saved with highest available quality. I agree with the stem it is out of focus (more about it later). The remaining red arrows nothing to do with JPEG (or other) artifacts also more about it later.

Now, to summarize:

1)   Thanks to all for looking at the image, for the kind words and for the critique. It really helped and focused my attention on things which I probably was too eager to overlook.

2)   I do not think that the image has too many artifacts if any, but most definitely it has issues, and in the end I think that I have botched this one up rather badly. The final result is not what it could be and artifacts is a convenient scapegoat here. I put this vase on the table, plyed with lighting and most of people refer to as artifacts are actually there mostly internal reflections and distortions due to rapidly changing thickness.

3)   So what is really wrong with the picture ?
-choice of subject: the glass changes thickness from about 1/8 to 1. This produces a lot of internal reflections and distortions (some of those Araminta referred to). It could work with different lighting, though.
-no sharp edges in the glass so it may look worse than it really looks
-lighting: no shadow/contrast, which produces very plain looking image
-no MLU: 1/10 to 1/15 of shutter speed, so MLU should be there: I inspected RAW file and sure, there is a indication of lens shake (the camera was on a tripod with cable release)
-focus: the stem out of focus, the centre of the flower not in focus, and the glass well there is nothing there to really focus on, is there ?. I should have checked it better. I have an explanation (not an excuse, mind it): I have to change my glasses 3-4 times a day to follow the changes in blood sugar level. But, having said that I obviously havent looked close enough, and since only minimal processing was appliedthe rest is history. I usually do not screw up focusing to that extent.

4)   Was iStock reviewer correct in this case?
Yes, as much as I dont like admitting that. It still does not explain why NONE of my images found acceptance although I like my images processed rather heavily at times and iStock does not. Still, these are their rules after all it is ME trying to get accepted at THEIR site so I have no argument here.

All in all I think that:
a)   it is quite a constructive discussion
b)   it focused me in the right direction
c)   I can and I will do better (for starters, I will re-shoot this image, to stop people from further dissing the camera, which was an innocent participant here :)

« Reply #48 on: February 07, 2008, 16:34 »
0

2)   I do not think that the image has too many artifacts if any, but most definitely it has issues, and in the end I think that I have botched this one up rather badly. The final result is not what it could be and artifacts is a convenient scapegoat here. I put this vase on the table, plyed with lighting and most of people refer to as artifacts are actually there mostly internal reflections and distortions due to rapidly changing thickness.


I fear with this you have not seen what some of us are, glass is smooth and there are jagged artifacts which just should not be there at 100% percent, period.

« Reply #49 on: February 07, 2008, 16:43 »
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thesentinel: please cut a 100% sample from the image and put a red arrow on it. Good diagnosis is half of the cure - and I am not going to follow something i know is not there - unless you are able to point it  more precisely than this (it is possible that I really can't see it: so be so kind and show it to me).

« Reply #50 on: February 07, 2008, 16:51 »
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2)   I do not think that the image has too many artifacts if any, but most definitely it has issues, and in the end I think that I have botched this one up rather badly. The final result is not what it could be and artifacts is a convenient scapegoat here. I put this vase on the table, plyed with lighting and most of people refer to as artifacts are actually there mostly internal reflections and distortions due to rapidly changing thickness.


I fear with this you have not seen what some of us are, glass is smooth and there are jagged artifacts which just should not be there at 100% percent, period.

I'm afraid thesentinel is right. Please don't take this as harsh criticism, it's not my intention at all, but really that glass has jagged edges in your photo and I highly doubt is like that in reality. If I wouldn't know anything about the image I'd say it's a compressed jpeg scaled up to greater size, it really looks that way. Since your camera is innocent and beside the focus problems you're evidently able to shoot (I wear strong corrective glasses too and focusing is a pain sometimes, sigh, I know the feeling!) the problem is in post-processing.
In CameraRaw you have to check you didn't inadvertely a different image size than the original one (the pull-down setting is in the bottom of the ACR window), then put to zero both sharpening and noise reduction.

P.S. the points where there are jagged edges are the ones already pointed out by araminta. These ones don't look like "natural" glass imperfections, neither a focus problem. Those ones come from a poor image interpolation.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 16:54 by ale1969 »

« Reply #51 on: February 07, 2008, 16:58 »
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ale 1969: thesentinel may well be right - and you may be right: so, for God's sake, please just take a crop from the image and show which area exactly contains jaggies.

Here is where you can download GViewer to do that in about 10 seconds:

www.freedownloadscenter.com/Multimedia_and_Graphics/Graphics_Viewers

« Reply #52 on: February 07, 2008, 17:08 »
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Example of jagged edges magnified at 600% (but still very visible at 100%)



You see those hugely squared borders? Is the glass made that way? I doubt so.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 17:10 by ale1969 »

« Reply #53 on: February 07, 2008, 17:09 »
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ale 1969: thesentinel may well be right - and you may be right: so, for God's sake, please just take a crop from the image and show which area exactly contains jaggies.

They are there red arrowed in aramintas post, if you don't see them there then any further discussion is moot.

eta: To me the image looks worse than  a less than 3mp cam from five years ago up-ressed.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 17:16 by thesentinel »

« Reply #54 on: February 07, 2008, 17:36 »
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will redo
 
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 22:47 by a.k.a.-tom »

« Reply #55 on: February 07, 2008, 18:11 »
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I agree with thesentinel, ale1969 and... myself :)

There are many artifacts in this picture: this is not about focus or glass thickness.

The dark bottom of the stem is not natural and it is not a trick of the light here: the photo has either been heavily post-processed or you convert your RAW file using heavy sharpening or other "enhancement", but it is definitively a processing issue IMHO.



And I don't agree with the one which tell you to forget IS or just accept the rejection because for me you are doing someting wrong here with your photo and you may do it again and again until you find a solution.

You have a very good portfolio from an artistic point of view and it is a shame to spoil your photos with processing issues.

Just my opinion of course  ;)

« Reply #56 on: February 07, 2008, 18:42 »
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araminta and ale1969: this is exactly the kind of feedback I am looking for. Thanks a lot - one picture is worth a thousand words :)

There is no question  about the stem - something went wrong there - and I will track it down (I have to say here that I usually do not produce this kind of thingies...)

Regarding the 600% crop posted by ale1969 - I will have a look at the RAW file - but I am afraid it looks the way it looks: even at 100% one has to see the jaggies: there is a lot of curvature and color change in that area - and the resolution of human eye is about 300 pixels/inch at a normal viewing distance of about 10" (or 6 to 8 lines per milimeter if you prefer). At 100% on the screen (which has 80 to 90 pixels per inch) you see it at least 3x magnified (depending on the resolution of the monitor) - which means that you have to see individual pixels. And with a sudden change in color - you will see jaggies.

So - yes, it is quite possibly that these are the issues flagged by the reviewer, and if this is so - I think I know how to deal with it. Whether or not they should be described as "artifacts" is another story - but it is quite acceptable to me that they should not be there - and I think this can be achieved by different lighting or slight change of angle.

The stem - it is a cockup though, no questions asked.
The only saving grace is that I printed it 10"x8" and it does not look too bad, really :)

The whole point of this thread was to find out exactly what and where the "artifacts" are, so I can deal with the issue - so thanks again for your help.

"Overfiltering" is another favourite of the reviewers - and I have an example where overfiltering was quoted as a reason for rejection - while the image was a straight conversion from RAW (all settings in neutral), plus 250% unsharp mask with 0.4 pixel radius - so sometimes I have difficulties with accepting things at a face value.

So - I will check the RAW and will re-shoot the glass to see what can be improved and to what degree the arifacts are really artifacts (not questioning the fact that whatever they are, they should not be there).

« Reply #57 on: February 07, 2008, 19:13 »
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Regarding the 600% crop posted by ale1969 - I will have a look at the RAW file - but I am afraid it looks the way it looks: even at 100% one has to see the jaggies: there is a lot of curvature and color change in that area - and the resolution of human eye is about 300 pixels/inch at a normal viewing distance of about 10" (or 6 to 8 lines per milimeter if you prefer). At 100% on the screen (which has 80 to 90 pixels per inch) you see it at least 3x magnified (depending on the resolution of the monitor) - which means that you have to see individual pixels. And with a sudden change in color - you will see jaggies.

Listen, I'm not judging your ability as a photographer, neither this is a race where I have to win.  So I simply don't catch why you put up all this stuff about human eye resolution and so on.
I CLEARLY see jaggies at 100%, even at 50% in your photo. You said you couldn't, so I put up the crop at 600% to make this clear as you asked.
If you like the shot the way it is, it's fine for me but you won't ever pass IS reviewers. It's your choice. I'm already in.

« Reply #58 on: February 07, 2008, 20:55 »
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As I said before - thanks for posting the 600% crop. I see that I need to clarify a bit what I said in the previous post: I was not questioning the usefulness of this - all I meant was that you will always see jagged edge on a 100% crop if the contrast is high - as in the posted crop. No one can help it because human eye can resolve pixels on the screen (that's why I put the numbers in).

Yes - I can see the jagged edge there at 100% - and it is in RAW file too. It shouldn't be there -  but this is no JPEG artifact. I will post 100% crop from RAW with all settings in neutral. The pic is quite possibly botched up - but I really want to get to the bottom of the real issue (focusing and possibly RAW conversion aside), not to start chasing non-existent issues. That's why I apprecciate a lot when people include a crop to illustrate, as only then we all can be sure what it is that we are talking about.

So - I am not arguing, really :)

« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 20:57 by leszek »

« Reply #59 on: February 07, 2008, 21:14 »
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all I meant was that you will always see jagged edge on a 100% crop if the contrast is high

If the contrast is ARTIFICIALLY high. Shooting raw you don't have any camera internal processing so even if you put a 5000W tungsten light behind that glass it won't come out with borders so jagged. This is why this thing starts to become boring, because it's clear that the problem is in post processing and I have also some guesses about why and how it was done (been there, done that, been rejected: underexposed shots can't be saved in digital 90% of times and curves or worse the brightness/contrast method don't work too much well).

- I am not arguing, really :)

Neither I am :D, but being defensive about your own work, while completeley understandable, is pointless because it will lead just to a longer learning path (and I'm still talking out of experience here).
« Last Edit: February 07, 2008, 21:24 by ale1969 »

« Reply #60 on: February 07, 2008, 22:11 »
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Point taken. It is evident that I did something wrong - as witnessed by a great number of excellent shots of glass.  Believe it or not - I am more interested in getting to the bottom of it than defending myself. Just give me a couple of hours to get back home and have a look at RAW. I indeed played with curves - but I wouldn't think it was excessive. Maybe I was wrong.

« Reply #61 on: February 08, 2008, 02:07 »
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OK, here is a comparison of the finished pic and the original unprocessed RAW (taken as screen copy with GViewer).

http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=6926354

Now - the prize I guess goes to ale1969. The pic is way overprocessed (although jaggies are present in the RAW file too).

Three things:
1) I tend to overprocess my images (as long as it does not hurt the prints). Thanks for pointing this out, I will try to cut back on that, my fault.
2) No excuses for bad focus and flat lighting - entirely my fault
3) All processing was done (it appears) on UNCALIBRATED monitor.

How did this happen ? Here is the story:

About a week ago we had a series of severe storms with lots of lightning strikes, which wiped out my neighbours electronic equipment - and my DSL modem+network card. Both have been replaced. Afterwards, on restarting the comp (and happy that it worked at all) I was getting a message "Processor has been changed". Off to BIOS, "Save and Exit" hoping that it would get rid of the message - it did. No more checks was done.

Today (prompted by ale1969's words "If the contrast is ARTIFICIALLY high") I decided to check and recalibrate the monitor - and in the process I noticed that the monitor profile is gone from the Color Mangement settings (it always loads automatically on starting the comp, so I never check it). So - it appears that I was pushing the curves and contrast way too high.

If you think I am making this up - I will post the receipts for the modem and the network card  :)

Having said that - there is still no guarantee that I will pass next time, of course...

Thanks to all who dragged me (screaming and kicking) in more or less right direction.


« Reply #62 on: February 08, 2008, 03:02 »
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The camera: 1DMkII + 24-70/2.8L. RAW with minimum of adjustments barely touched in PS. ... Saved as JPEG in CS3 with quality=12 (max).

The 1DMkII has a resolution of 3504 x 2336 (8.2 MP).  The image as posted has a resolution of 3000 x 2400 (7.2 MP).  Why the vast difference in resolution?  How did the height get to 2400 when the camera can only do 2336?

« Reply #63 on: February 08, 2008, 03:05 »
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So the reviewer was spot on :

This file contains artifacting when viewed at full size. This technical issue is commonly created by the quality settings in-camera, in post-processing or in RAWsettings. Artifacting may be the result of other factors such as excessive level adjustments.

And this was in fact incorrect as you MUST have being over compensating by moving sliders etc.

"The camera: 1DMkII + 24-70/2.8L. RAW with minimum of adjustments barely touched in PS. The image didnt need adjustments"

You may have been using a raw converter that you were not familiar with but you ought to have been suspicious if you were having to alter the default settings on a well metered image. I wonder if you had been more open to the reviewers comments in the past whether you'd have been constantly rejected all these times.

And to amplify a point, as for the rest of your folio on photo.net, you will find that files that get heaped with compliments on such site, from other photographers a different beast from stock buyers, do tend to be hyper real over saturated over processed artworks.

Pull back on your processing and take rejections at face value and not third in a list of conspiracy theories!

« Reply #64 on: February 08, 2008, 05:42 »
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"So the reviewer was spot on"

Well - there is a comparison of RAW with no adjustments and the finished image - just above. You need to tell me if these are artifacts or not. I still would not call it artifacts. The lighting was not the best, the stem out of focus, but jaggies are there and will be there in anybody's picture when photographing similiar subject.

I just have spent about 3 hours experimenting with light and different lenses. And different subjects. I am getting perfectly sharp and well exposed images - of different subjects. This glass vase, while beautiful to look at, is extremely difficult to photograph.  It needs different lighting - and trying to produce white (or close) background simply does not work. I put separate light on the background trying to blow it - and it worked, except that the reflected light went straight through the clean glass into the camera - swallowing most of  detail in the glass. The contrast between white background and the glass is very low - that's why perceived sharpness is low. The light needs to be set up to produce reflections on the edges (except that the corners are rounded, so no cigar). This leaves me with underexposing the picture , playing with curves - and using clipping path to produce 100% white background.

I guess if you tried to do that (or if you mastered photographing this kind of subject) - then you know what I am talking about. If not - then just for the kicks - get a similiar piece of glass and let me know how it went.

I made several errors - but the largest one was the selection of the subject. The total DOF is under 3" - which is less than the diameter of the vase (and less than the length of the stem). I could go on and on. So - I think I know what went wrong, and I mostly know now what I would do better next time.

Why I have been rejected so many times ? I guess the type of photos I take and the amount of processing I put in the images is a big no-no at iStock. I am not arguing with that - but I am not entirely sure that I want to conform. Some may say that (255,255,255) background equals quality. For me - it is just painting pixels for the sake of it (if a clipping path is provided - then the designer can extract the subject in 3 seconds anyway). I guess my perception of "quality" ends somewhere at 50% magnification - which on the screen still produces an image about 20" high (or wide).

You see - I am not really arguing with the reviewers. They are 100% right - according to their standards. I just need to decide whether it is worth my time to meet those standards, and essentially converting to entirely different type of photography to meet their requirements.

I am not doing it for money - I would have to have many hundreds of downloads a day to match my daily job (aircraft design). I just like taking pictures that I like, not pictures which have debatable jaggies at 100% or at 200%. How long is a piece of string, after all ?

I am still very grateful for comments and help I have received here. It opened my eyes to couple of issues and helped me to find out that the bloody comp was misbehaving. It helped me to look with a different perspective at what is important at a microstock site. Perhaps it even helped me to take better pictures - although I will let others to decide.

Cheers  :D
« Last Edit: February 08, 2008, 05:43 by leszek »

« Reply #65 on: February 08, 2008, 09:42 »
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You see - I am not really arguing with the reviewers. They are 100% right - according to their standards. I just need to decide whether it is worth my time to meet those standards, and essentially converting to entirely different type of photography to meet their requirements.
I don't think you have to change much. Just stop inflating image size. Look at GeoPappas post. Your camera's native resolution is 3504 x 2336 and your submitted image 3000 x 2400. Istock summarily rejects any photo where you've have upsized. Only upload photos that are at the native resolution of your camera, or smaller.

« Reply #66 on: February 08, 2008, 22:00 »
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Thanks - GeoPappas and yingyang0. This is a useful bit of information :)
I usually do not upsize as such - just crop 8x10 at 300 ppi (most frequently using the whole 2336 pixels. So - strictly speaking there is no much upsizing there  some 3% in one direction only. But - thanks again, I will keep the image size according to your advice.

CCK

« Reply #67 on: February 08, 2008, 23:49 »
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Remember that iStock is not the end user - the buyer will do the post processing he needs. The adjustments you make before uploading is irreversible, and therefore makes the photo less attractive to prospective buyers. I never do any post processing whatsoever, except for minor adjustments in levels where necessary and selective noise reduction where necessary.

« Reply #68 on: February 09, 2008, 01:14 »
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Thanks CCK. This is again a useful bit of info. I guess I will have to change the workflow: first RAW conversion and REALLY minor adjustments, then post-processing for the other sites - hey, no post-processing means taking away half of the fun :)
« Last Edit: February 09, 2008, 03:58 by leszek »

« Reply #69 on: February 09, 2008, 08:00 »
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Remember that iStock is not the end user - the buyer will do the post processing he needs. The adjustments you make before uploading is irreversible, and therefore makes the photo less attractive to prospective buyers. I never do any post processing whatsoever, except for minor adjustments in levels where necessary and selective noise reduction where necessary.

I'm the exact opposite... i do as much post processing as possible :)

« Reply #70 on: February 09, 2008, 08:27 »
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As much as possible ? Well, it probably is OK, but I can assure you - not for initial application  ;D

« Reply #71 on: February 09, 2008, 09:11 »
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Remember that iStock is not the end user - the buyer will do the post processing he needs. The adjustments you make before uploading is irreversible, and therefore makes the photo less attractive to prospective buyers. I never do any post processing whatsoever, except for minor adjustments in levels where necessary and selective noise reduction where necessary.


I'm gonna run around disagreeing with this comment... I'm finding more and more that there's a good sized population of buyers on microstock sites that are NOT designers... this group wants mostly finished images and doesn't want to do all the work themselves!

I have recently tried posting images that are "filtered" - and i've posted both the unfiltered and filtered images - and both are selling well. Here's another heavily filtered image that not only got approved but is selling well.

So... although the traditional thought is to leave the image close to raw, there's a portion of the market that wants finished goods - so i'm starting to upload both.

« Reply #72 on: February 09, 2008, 09:13 »
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i think the no editing rule mostly only applies to istock.  Other sites seem to have good sales with 'photoshoped' images.


 

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