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Author Topic: Next try at iStock - request for adviced and feedback  (Read 4827 times)

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« on: September 25, 2009, 16:05 »

my next opportunity to be accepted as a contributor to iStockPhoto comes around in a few days from now. I'm hoping to get some advice and feedback on which photos I should (and should not!) submit. I've been rejected a few times now, so fingers crossed for this try!

Here are a few shots that I was thinking of including (I need to pick three).

#1 - A christmas decoration
#2 - Chess pieces
#3 - Big Ben
#4 - Money
#5 - Pray Mantis

Thanks in advance!


« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2009, 17:21 »
The chess pieces and big ben look pretty good. :)

The christmas ornament looks out of focus. You're losing the string and be sure to clean up any blemishes on the ornament surface. Multiple problems.

There is a problem with the isolation on the praying mantis. I see gray around the front feet. The photo would be rejected because of that.

Coins may work. Doesn't seem like enough contrast on the surfaces.


« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2009, 18:23 »
Very good critique Epantha!  You should be an inspector.  :)

In addition to what she said, I also notice green/cyan fringing on the right hand side of Big Ben.

Also, along with the gray wrinkled parts still visible around the front legs on the praying mantis, his eyes are not in sharp focus.  Usually when photographing any kind of animal the eyes are the part you want to be in focus.

I might also rephotograph the ornament with a smaller f-stop to get more depth of field.   

That said, when I started at istock these pictures would probably have been plenty good enough to get you in.  I don't envy anyone trying to be accepted now.  Standards are really extremely high!

« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2009, 20:28 »
I don't think any 3 of these would work towards getting you in, for the reasons mentioned.  Also the money one just loses a lot of detail from the angle you shot it at.  The big ben one is almost good enough.  Focus and color look a little off.

But keep trying.

« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2009, 02:51 »
Thanks guys, at the moment then it's looking like Big Ben (I can do some work on the fringing), chess pieces and one other.

The Mantis' eyes are indeed in focus (focus point chosen on eye) - they have a milky/translucent quality though in real life, it's just what they look like up close. If you look at the edges, they're much sharper than the patterning in the eyeballs. No edge sharpening was applied to this shot at all - perhaps I should add a little? If I do submit this one, I'll be certain to work on the feet!


« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2009, 04:36 »
So, I did some work on Big Ben to remove the fringing (thanks for pointing that out):

I also worked on the isolation of the, Mantis around its feet (and added some edge sharpening):

Here's an alternative Mantis shot from the same series (any preferences for which of the two is better, or do you think I should I just avoid using this kind of thing altogether?):

« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2009, 04:49 »
I'd avoid the Mantis.  They're cool, but they aren't in focus.  Aside from the eyes, something on that head should look sharp, like the dots between the eyes, and they aren't.

The Big Ben shot is weird, because you've got a purplish blue cast on the clouds fading to a aquaish blue right next to it and back again.  Looks like you drew a hue line across it and played with it.

« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2009, 06:41 »
Yeah, I did mess with the colours on big ben, perhaps I'll unmess them a bit...

I think we'll have to agree to disgaree on the mantis focus though. Looks good to me (focuswise, at least).

« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2009, 06:47 »
Just went back to Big Ben to look at the colours. Turns out all I did was turn down the luminance on the blue. Think I'll just leave it as it is!

« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2009, 07:19 »
I agree with sjlocke that the mantis head does not have enough in focus. Not quite sharp enough.

Maybe lighten the midtones on the Big Ben building only (not background).

« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2009, 07:46 »
Just fix the sky, and your Big Ben is ready. I like the chess photo too.
Pray mantis looks like it could be fixed (regarding focus). Maybe just a bit sharpening on the head...or maybe just a bit of local contrast could make it look sharp. Try this:

1. Copy layer with mantis
2. Go to Filters/Other/High pass, and adjust it to 1,2, then apply
3. Set the mode for the layer with high pass filter to overlay
4. Put a mask on the same layer, click it to select it in layers palette, and click ctrl+i to invert it to black
5. Take white brush while the mask is selected and paint over mantis head to make a hole in the mask just to uncover the head of the mantis

The isolation on the left leg still doesn't look as it should be. Somewhere the edge of the leg looks blurred, and somewhere it looks too sharp. Also, there are some stray points just below the left foot.

Also, I think all images should look just a bit more bright, while keeping white and black in the same level.

« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2009, 08:36 »
Okay here comes some hars observations, don't take me too seriously :)

#1 - A christmas decoration

*the focus isn't in the right place. IMO the right place would be in the middle of the ball, the string needs to be in focus
*The ball would look better with one specular highlight
*the ball have scratches seams and dust that would be better if cloned off.
*a real natural branch would look better
*what's that hairy thing in the branch? (left side)
*some blue-ish color tints, the color temperature of the light sources doesn't match 100%

#2 - Chess pieces

*Too tightly cropped in the bottom.
*Light could be better, a strip light would give better light than two small-ish light sources.
*Some color cast here also, seems to come from the background.

#3 - Big Ben

*I don't like the leaning of the building. It could work if the crop was MUCH tighter
*Too dark and murky and the sky has some strange colors
*A sunny day with blue sky and white clouds would be much better (yes, I know it usually rains in England :))

#4 - Money

*The main subject (the coin in the middle) has very flat lighting. The coin in the left bottom corner has much better light

#5 - Pray Mantis

*There are some isolation issues.
*The position of the legs isn't optimal, now the legs are "melting together" too much
*The focus should be in the eyes.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 08:43 by Perry »

« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2009, 10:24 »
Is this any better?

I tried adding sharpness, clarity, contrast to the head (particularly the part between the eyes).

Honestly, the eyes really do look like that - if you're expecting sharp, well defined, black pupils then I wont be able to offer them up - this species just doesn't have them!  :-\

Thanks also for the advice on brightness - I'll brighten them all up a bit.

« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2009, 02:51 »
I like the last version of the picture. You are probably right concerning its eyes. However, the reviewer of your application would have to be aware of that too. If you decide to go with it, I would suggest to decrease its size to the minimum (1200 pixels on shorter side).

« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2009, 02:15 »
Istock wants photos that come out of the camera close to perfect.  They don't like sharpening, noise reduction, added saturation.  It sounds like you have spent quite a bit of time manipulating these photos already, perhaps that is a sign that you should look for 3 fresh photos.   Istock is very strict with isolations, and I'm betting they will be critical of the praying mantis shots.  I'm on a "not-calibrated laptop" but I can see fringing like crazy, and the rear legs and antennae look like the light has bled through.  Maybe it's just my laptop? 

Getting accepted at Istock is an accomplishment that it is worth all the fuss.   You already have an advantage by posting photos for other IS contributors to look evaluate. 


« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2009, 13:38 »
Is this any better?

I tried adding sharpness, clarity, contrast to the head (particularly the part between the eyes).

Honestly, the eyes really do look like that - if you're expecting sharp, well defined, black pupils then I wont be able to offer them up - this species just doesn't have them!  :-\

Thanks also for the advice on brightness - I'll brighten them all up a bit.

That does look better with the additional contrast added.  Also nice job getting rid of the fringing on Big Ben :)

I believe you that the eyes actually look that way, but unfortunately the reviewers will probably not know that is how it is supposed to be.  If they look out of focus to the majority on this board, they probably will to the reviewer too. 

I would say if you have already tried to get in without success you might want to go with images that are a sure thing rather than on the borderline.  Personally I would suggest reshooting the Christmas ornament with a smaller aperture.  It is also a more marketable image IMO. 

« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2009, 17:12 »
Rejected again :( Not sure why, perhaps it was the Mantis, we'll never know!

At least they were efficient about it - I got the reply within about 30 minutes of submitting the photos.

Although flawed, the shots we discussed here are about as good as I can manage at the moment, so I think I'm going to leave it awhile before applying again (perhaps until the new year). Hopefully by then I'll be in a better position to make a succesful attempt. In the meantime, I'll keep selling on DT, SS and FT - that should keep me busy (and moving up the learning curve).

Thanks for your suggestions here, sorry it was to no avail!

« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2009, 17:17 »
I'm sorry about your rejection! If I may suggest, before next application, try posting your images on the IS forum, or get someone to do it for you. It helped me with my application.

« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2009, 14:22 »
as others have mentioned, for your initial sub, try for more generic [but not cliched images], with a variety of subjects, well lit, brightly colored and avoid isolations unless perfect.

the Big Ben is a common shot, even at that angle, and the tower is a bit dark wrt the sky. for SS, lightening the shadows & midtones, ten increasing saturation would pop the colors and make it more likely to be accepted.  for istock it might work, but it might induce to much noise.

it took me several views to realize that the fuzzy part of the mantis wasnt a leaf, but the abdomen, due to low DOF  - dont submit anything where the reviewer has to think!  the horizontal shot is better, but at first glance there are only 5 legs



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