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1
iStockPhoto.com / When, where and how do ELs show up?
« on: February 15, 2011, 16:58 »
During the night or early morning my balance jumped by 30 dollars or so ... there were not enough normal downloads to account for this so I checked for ELs.  The "stats" page shows that an EL of about that much was downloaded over 1 week ago (as an orange bar on the daily chart for the month) but the "extended license" page shows nothing except the old ELs that I got - though it's hard to tell because there is no date associated with any EL, only a dollar amount.

It's been a little while since I got my last EL but I don't remember anything like this kind of confusion in trying to find out which file sold, on which date and for how much $$$.  Is this the norm, or does it sound like a bug, or is it the "new normal" i.e. "whoops it's broke we'll fix it when we fix it".

2
General Stock Discussion / Stuffed toy copyright, etc.
« on: January 31, 2011, 16:13 »
I have some pictures which have stuffed toy animals used as props.  Not the main subject, without text, labels, or trademarks - but shown clearly in the photo.

The toys are from a large, well known retailer and for all I know probably had "copyright" written on their tags (before they were cut off).  But these are bland, boring, generic and cheap looking toys.

Looking through stock photo sites I see a lot of photos where the toy is not fully shown, not a main subject of the photo, and sometimes the toy looks homemade.  Those are obviously OK.  But there are many pictures which are a clear photo of a stuffed toy as the main subject, which is obviously commercially made.  Maybe the contributor altered some of the details but how would the inspector know?

Is there any clear rule or guideline at any of the big stock sites on this subject?  Or is it yet another ambiguous area like so called "classic" cars - where some photos are rejected, yet some photos are for sale with easily-recognizable classic models as the main subject, sometimes even with the brand name mentioned in the picture title and description.  (just g00gle "chevrolet" at your favorite RF stock site if you don't believe me)

I wouldn't have taken the pictures for stock out of concern for rejection, but they were done as a favor for someone and they look so cute I would like to see if they fly.  If I decide to submit them, I will alter some of the details but leave them alone otherwise.

3
I noticed that these two figures on the user_view.php page do not go up in sync, but when there is a sale the "account balance" is incremented first, and "total earnings" goes up some time later.  Sometimes it seems to be shortly afterward, sometimes it takes a day or more.

Does anyone know (or care) what the algorithm is for this?  I wouldn't mind but I haven't had a sale for a while (the "account balance" hasn't budged since yesterday morning) and neither has the "total earnings" moved, not even to reflect the sales from yesterday morning.

When web site updates appear to be so irregular and mysterious it makes me wonder what the heck is going on - if it's really a computer program (which you would expect to perform updates on a highly regular schedule, if not immediately) or if it's just some person randomly deciding when to click on a "compute totals" button.  Or is it a computer program which happens to crash frequently and must be manually restarted?

4
iStockPhoto.com / Does exclusivity at IS provide a bump?
« on: November 08, 2010, 23:16 »
I know it is not exactly fashionable these days, at least that people would admit around here, but are many people still choosing to go exclusive at IS?

And if one ignores the loss of sales (potential or real) at other agencies and takes into account the impending wallop to commission rates, can a bump in sales be expected after going exclusive?  In terms of $$$ and number of downloads (not that the number of downloads really matters if the $$$ are coming in).

I have been disappointed with some of the rejections from IS lately but by sticking to the kind of shots they prefer it is possible to get a high acceptance rate.  Sales are good, enough to not be discouraged yet.  Corporation seems at times to be run by dull minds (*cough* devious Machiavellis) at the behest of an evil market-dominating empire, but I am hopeful that their customers and important suppliers will thrash them until they discover their innate business sense.  The places where they need to improve have been discussed endlessly, but I will summarize: (i) better commissions, (ii) easier to use search tools, e.g. to differentiate by categories of the customer's choosing, especially PRICE, (iii) better IT infrastructure and more attentive responses to glitches and bugs, (iv) more fairness and transparency to outside contributors and customers, eliminating perceptions of conflicts of interest by insiders.  [If you think about it, getting (ii) to (iv) right is the key to winning on (i)]

5
iStockPhoto.com / Refund for a Purchase of Your File‏
« on: October 12, 2010, 15:35 »
I noticed the account balance dropped by a couple of dollars or so, then I saw that I had an email.  Evidently a customer asked for a refund on a file they decided not to use.  No problem with that, but I am surprised that anyone would go to the effort of sending in a "signed and witnessed Certificate of Destruction" for a $20 refund.  My impression has been that the cost of microstock is a tiny fraction of the other costs of graphic art design (such as the artists' time).  Things must be getting pretty tough out there   :P

6
iStockPhoto.com / Warning: keyword monster is on the loose
« on: May 26, 2010, 13:34 »
I know this is an old rant and it happens occasionally to everyone, but I just had an image rejected for at least a dozen keywords where every "not fully relevant" keyword is something which is actually in the photo.  I'm talking about objects, construction materials, plants and colors.  I gather that the inspector in this case is a newb, or badly hung over, or else Istock just put a severe fright into the inspectors by threatening to can anyone who allowed irrelevant keywords to pass.

Just for the record, if there are red flowers in the photo, but the photo is not primarily of the flowers, is "Red (Descriptive Color)" considered to be spam?  Or does a color have to be one of the "main" colors in the photo to be promoted to keyword status.

It's a good thing that I didn't add keywords related to the concepts implied by the photo but which were not literally present.

7
Canon / Canon T2i/550d focusing issue
« on: April 12, 2010, 20:03 »
So I got one of these cameras after all, and I'm extremely happy with it.  My acceptance rate went to 100% except for a couple of random quibbles about "overall composition could be improved".  Whatever.

Everything about the camera works great (still photos, not trying videos yet) but one problem has been happening consistently.  Shooting about 15-20 feet (5-6 meters) away from from a standing subject with a 50mm lens (around 85mm effective with APS sensor) at f/8 I find it almost impossible to get the camera to focus on the subject's face in full-length shots - especially if they are holding anything in front of them like a camera, football etc.

There are 9 autofocus points.  I use the menu/buttons to switch from "camera decides which zone to autofocus" to manually select the autofocus point, picking the point nearest the subject's face.  I tilt the camera slightly to place the point over the face, hold down the button halfway and it locks.  Then I quickly recompose and shoot, before the subject moves.  But the focus is virtually never on the face, but always somewhat forward, in the region of the object they are holding (maybe 6 inches in front).

Do you think that the camera is basically overriding my selection of the focus point and trying to compromise between the area of the image under the selected point, but still taking data from some of the other points?  I can see how in amateur shooting this might help save someone's vacation shots, but when I absolutely must have the eyes and teeth "tack sharp" at 100% it's very annoying.

I'm sure that better cameras have more sophisticated focusing, but for now I would like to get my $1000 worth of photos out of this baby if at all possible.

If there isn't a way to configure or trick the camera's computer then I guess I'll have to switch to manual focus on a tripod or monopod and try to discourage the model from moving too much.  Or is that how most people shoot standing models in the studio anyways?

Or maybe switching to f/11 and cranking up the lights would be sufficient ...

8
iStockPhoto.com / I don't understand
« on: April 12, 2010, 19:21 »
... when images begin to show up in the search engine.  When I go searching for my own images it seems to take maybe a week after approval before they start showing up using their original, approved keywords.

You can see this for yourself if you try a really generic search like "one person" AND computer.  The newest image that I can find in any keyword search sorted by 'Age' is always around a week to 10 days old.  Even the "Browse Recent" button seems to show exclusive images (presumably reviewed and approved in only a couple of days) that are over 5 days old.  Not exactly hot out of the camera.

Yet the "views" ticker for my newest images starts going up, often within minutes of the approval email being sent.  Somebody is finding my images right away, but how?  Are there different search queues, indexes or servers for some users versus others?

Among other problems, if the length of time before images show up in queries is slow or irregular then this will make it harder to drop seasonal content into the hopper "just in time".

9
Question for buyers or for experienced photogs - does it actually help to put in an image title that the image is XL, XXL, etc. or are multi-megapixel cameras so common that this is of relatively little worth?  And shurely most buyers are aware of how to use image size in their search criteria?

10
I understand that these patterns of cut glass are probably distinctive to the maker and the product line ... but are images of these products considered suitable for stock?  Or are they rejected on the grounds of copyright/trademark?


11
iStockPhoto.com / When did you branch out?
« on: March 26, 2010, 12:11 »
Many of you (I suspect) started out selling stock at IS.  Then at some point, if you're like me, you shoot enough to run into the 15 per week upload limit.  Maybe some of you decide to stick with IS, nurture it, play along with their limits, to eventually go exclusive according to their schedule.

But this question is for the rest of you, who upload to several sites.  When is a good time to stop cutting your teeth on your first micro agency and start applying to the rest of the top tier of sites - when you have a big library (1000+), as soon as you have a modest portfolio (100 or so), or sometime in the middle?  Do you pound as many images as possible into the pipeline as quickly as possible, or do you stalk the agencies patiently, one by one, uploading only a few of your best images in order to get your feet wet?

12
I'm having a problem which is puzzling me.  While shooting with my Canon T2i/550d in Raw+Fine mode in the studio, the background is blown out pure white as I intended.  In the camera's playback with histogram, the background is blinking to indicate this.

I open the raw CR2 image in Digital Photo Professional v3.8.0 and adjust the camera/lens settings (noise reduction, sharpening, or whatever).  In DPP the "View->Highlight Alert" indicates that the background is blown out.  So far so good.  I do "File->Convert and save ... " and save as "TIFF 16 bit".

Then I open the TIF in Photoshop CS3 to touch up specks of dust, etc.  Moving the eyedropper around the background, the info window says:

Quote
  R: 255
  G: 255
  B: 255

  8 bit

When finished I do "File->Save for Web and Devices ..." and save with the parameters JPEG/Maximum, Quality: 100, Blur: 0.  Here's where the first problem is apparent.  Moving the cursor around the background in the "Save for Web" window, the bottom of the screen says:

Quote
  R: 255  G: 254  B: 255  Alpha: 255  Hex: FFFEFF  Index: --

Why is the green channel now indicating 254?

If I save the file and then open the JPG in CS3, the eyedropper now says that the entire background of the JPG file is:

Quote
  R: 254
  G: 254
  B: 254

  8 bit

Weird, huh?  Some kind of rounding error converting from 16 bit to 8 bits?  Something not working in T2i/550d raw mode, in DPP or in CS3?

I went to a lot of trouble to get the proper studio setup so I wouldn't have to cut out, isolate, brighten the background, etc. in postprocessing, and the software is misbehaving in a way I don't understand.  Or maybe I'm misbehaving.

13
Canon / Anyone using the Canon T2i/550d for still photos?
« on: March 06, 2010, 12:13 »
I haven't been able to find a detailed, hands-on review yet at the usual sites (dpreview.com, imaging-resource.com, photozone.de).  A typical question in the pre-reviews seems to be, "Can the kit lens produce decent 18 mp resolution?"  I would like to see some RAW images produced with the kit lens (EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS) and also with a decent fixed-focal lens (e.g. 50mm f/1.4 USM).

The 18 mp resolution handily fits the istock XXL size limit with some room to spare for leveling, cropping and even moderate downsizing.  If it produces images (with decent lighting and a decent lens) which are high enough quality then I don't think that any budget-conscious still stock photographer with significant sales at istock can ignore this camera (given the limitations and compromises of a "consumer" or "prosumer" body).  Not to mention the potential for stock video  :o

14
I was wondering if anyone happens to be using either of these 2 cameras for stock, or else is investigating/evaluating either or both of them.

 I'm not married to any brand right now, but I am using a Nikon D40 currently, I have a couple of lenses and I'm fluent in Capture NX2 for the purposes of setting "Sharpening" to "None" before saving to TIF before punting to PS for cloning out random strangers, etc. and saving to JPG  :D

Following the old saying that camera bodies come and go but you're really buying glass, do you have any opinions about Canon 17-85 kit lens compared to Nikon 18-105 VR.

Both these cameras are small-sized sensors.  How important do you think a full-sized sensor is for stock?  E.g. return on $$$.

I'll be investigating the various review websites myself, but if anyone with the specific requirements of stock photography regarding sensor noise, sharpness, etc. already has an opinion and is ready to sound off, please let 'er rip.  And of course any alternative suggestions of different camera/lens combos will also be greatly appreciated.

I'm primarily interested in STILL stock photography.  I'm not against stock video or anything, but it's something I know nothing about and it's not a priority to start shooting video at this time.  So the relative abilities to shoot HD video are not as important to me.

15
General Stock Discussion / Model apparel
« on: February 05, 2009, 14:49 »
This quote popped up in another thread.  Apparently a "client" posted this
at a warez site where content is shared illegally.

"good share, shame the kids look so dated. why do they dress
these american kids up in such old and bad fashions...I know
most Americans get clothes from Walmart, but these fake stock
kids would be a last resort for any client job....thanks for upload
....but I need REAL pictures of REAL people.not just badly dressed
models....I see a gap in the market!!!Stock Photographers - any
balls, ??!!??"


Aside from the absurdity of complaining to content providers about
the quality of the stolen content which s/he is enjoying, does this
person have a legitimate complaint?

I rather think that stock, royalty-free images will always tend to contain
bland, Walmart-ish no-name apparel, for reasons of not violating trademarks
or copyrights.

Or maybe what the "client" was complaining about really was 5- or
10-year-old content, and it's just whinging because the latest and most
trendy stock images have not yet been ripped off and shared.

In any case, would anyone care to share some tips about dressing models
for microstock?  Is it Walmart or bust?  Or do you aim for trendy, but
understated fashions from more hip outlets?  I.e. with small or non-existent
logos/labels and without truly distinctive patterns or prints. 

I assume that someone actually plugged into the retail clothing industry
would be able to recognize practically anyone's products in a second based
on color, cut, etc., but the question is, where is the happy medium between
trendy/bland?

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