Nice 12 minutes tutorial with a good level of details covering Adobe HDR Merge and Adobe Camera Raw. The author demonstrates a complete workflow, starting from 3 handheld-exposured images to HDR to the final adjustments in CS5. Worth watching if you play with HDRs, for mictostock or just for yourself
Lee Torrens, a well known microstock guru started a new welcome initiative by creating a new web site dedicated to microstock photography buyers.We can expect there comparisons of various licenses, evaluation of various microstock packages and subscriptions, microstock agencies reviews and interviews with the industry leaders.
Photo buyers community definitely needs better education understanding the various licenses and proper use of the licensed media.
Good luck with that Lee!
First announced at Photokina last year, Fujifilm X-100 is now close to reach the camera shops in North America and Europe. The point is that you have to see it before I am going to tell you anything else, so here is the image:
Remember the classic rangefinders by Canon, Nikon and of course Leica? Retro-styled super-modern Finepix X100 is very different inside, but very much reminds this superb rangefinders family externally.
Finepix X100 comes with fixed 23mm F2.0 lens (no, it is not interchangeable!), and with the world-first ‘hybrid’ viewfinder, which combines both optical and electronic viewfinders. EVF has 1.4M dots, and you can switch between optical and electronic viewfinders with a simple switch, adopting your vision to the challenging lighting condition.
Fast at F2.0 23mm is a non-folding lens, which means you do not have to wait them to open – your camera is ready for the shooting when you switch it on.
What really makes Finepix X100 to stand out of any P&S and a 4/3 camera is the 12.3 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and EXR processor, specifically developed by Fujifilm for this model. It produces 4288×2848px RAW & JPEG images and 720p HD videos (H.264). ISO goes 200 – 6400 (100 – 12800 in extended mode) and we can expect DSLR-class low noise even at high ISO. Small body of X100 (only 5″ / 12 cm wide, 15.7oz / 445gr weight) should not mislead you – with a spec like this Finepix X100 has the power of a DSLR.
Yesterday Fujifilm has published first X100 images samples gallery here and I reviewed a few samples of different subjects at the full size.
Full size 4288×2488 px image is here
- Apperture: f/4
- Shutter speed: 1/15
- ISO: 200
- White balance: Fine
- File format: JPEG
Image detail at 1:1
Another sample shows the portrait abilities of 23mm lens (35mm equivalent I guess, if Finepix X100 cropping factor is 1.5).
Full size 4288×2488 px image is here
- Apperture: f/2.8
- Shutter speed: 1/340
- ISO: 200
- White balance: Auto
- File format: JPEG
Image detail at 1:1
Yet another sample demonstrates the versatility of X100, from portraits to landscapes to street photography
Full size 4288×2488 px image is here
- Apperture: f/4
- Shutter speed: 1/2000
- ISO: 200
- White balance: Auto
- File format: JPEG
Image detail at 1:1
- Fast f2.0 lens and nice bokeh with 9-blade aperture diaphragm
- Non-folding 23mm ‘pancake’ lens -> the camera is ready for the shooting much faster
- APS-C CMOS sensor with ISO 200-6400. We should expect low noise on high ISO
- Innovative ‘hybrid’ viewfinder, eye detection sensor, built-in diopters correction
- Fantastic ‘retro’ styling, rangefinder look and feel
- Small and lightweight
- Intuitive manual controls familiar to anyone who shot once with a film body
- RAW capture
- Macro shooting @10cm
- Built-in up to 3 stops ND filter
- Enhanced picture modes to emulate the colors of Velvia, Provia and Astia
- Auto-bracketing in 4 types of bracketing functions: AE, ISO, Dynamic Range and Film Simulation
- Hot shoe for external accessoires. Fujifilm will sell EF-20 (Guide Number:20) and EF-42 (Guide Number:42) external flashes
- Built-in flash
I do not like:
- 440K px TFT LCD. 920K+ is the modern standard
- 720p @24fps is definitely a HD, but 1080p @24/25/29 fps Full HD would be much better
- Probably the most important: There is no filters ring on that 23m lens! Filters ring and the lens hood are sold separately. Definitely not good. However, once you get the ring, any 49mm filter works, and 49mm filters are much cheaper than 77mm filters
- Case is sold separately
From the technical specification and the samples I reviewed it looks like Fujifilim has created a real gem, an innovative light weight and compact DSLR-class fixed lens APS-C camera, which defines a new class of digital APS-C compacts. Street shooters, travel and landscape photographers should fall in love with it.
iStockphoto plans to offer editorial images in February yet. iStock decided to join Shutterstock, Fotolia and Dreamstime who already sell editorial images for years. Got fresh editorials? With iStock joining the microstock editorials club you have more options to sell them.
I was lucky enough to meet many wonderful microstock people at CEPIC event in Dublin last summer. Vita Valka, the CEO of Pixmac is one of them.
Pixmac is a newcomer, operated from Prague, Czech Republic since mid-2008. I like these guys because their understanding of the microstock market differs from the traditional “it’s all mine!” policy of the top microstock agencies.
It’s not a secret that the microstock industry has no problem with supply. Oversupply creates tough competition between agencies and between the photographers, and many microstocks do not care too much about their contributors.
No, they do not state that. They simply do it. They reduce photographers’ commissions (iStock Q4-2010, Fotolia Q1-2011), terminates contributors affiliates programs with no notice (Fotolia), and keep changing the rules of the game ‘on the go’, trying to increase company’ profits by reducing their payouts to the artists.
Pixmac’ approach to the microstock fairness is quite different, and I am happy to let Vita and his team to speak by themselves:
— Pixmac Press Release —
Microstock Maturity by Pixmac
Prague, 3rd January 2011
Howdy folks everywhere. A very happy and prosperous 2011 to all our Photographer Contributors and to other friends around the globe.
As we know, it all started a decade ago. A great passion for photography blended with understanding the everyday designer’s needs. It was iStock’s team that launched the best photographer community ever.
Way back in the early days, the opportunity was quickly spotted by other agencies, resulting in a true revolution in the stock photo business. Unfortunately due to changes in technology and market forces the role of the photographer changed somewhat from being the master of microstock to almost it’s ‘slave’, as many of you will remember.
Pixmac is bringing in fair rules
Some of you may notice that we at Pixmac endeavor to respond and explain. We are flexible. We change our minds. We listen and we fix what needs to be fixed. We’ve learned a lot from our competition and you guys and gals contributing to the agencies are a true inspiration to our team!
In the microstock marketplace there are some old customs that we’re going to change at Pixmac. One of those is exclusivity. Exclusivity is something like DRM in music. It doesn’t work long term. The world has changed. So starting today Pixmac removes exclusivity restrictions for its contributors.
Contributors should be partners
There are many things that microstock contributors don’t like. Obviously they don’t like low revenue split. Inspired by Robert Kneschke, Pixmac has decided to guarantee 30% revenue and at least $0.25 (it was $0.10) per sale – FOREVER. And after the first $200 made on revenue it’s raised to 40%. We’re also raising the Extended License pricing from the flat $30 to $40-$120. Starting today, we guarantee a minimum commission – forever.
Pixmac has been open to listening to you since day one. And we hope you’ll be asking us questions first before going to forums. We’re here for you and if we make a mistake (which we are sure we will do – we are people like you), so please let us know because we’re usually quick in fixing it.
Vita Valka, CEO of Pixmac says: “We’re trying to become a true Open Company . And it’s not always easy. But if you have a fair vision and if you know what your Contributors need there’s always a way how to work it out. The problem of a few Agencies is that they just don’t care. We genuinely care about the photographers as well as about our buyers alike.”
Declaration of Fair Stock Photo Agency
We thought it would be nice to have a list of things that an Agency would respect and Contributors would like. We’ve thought about a few points (below), but we’re quite open to discussion about what’s missing or what’s not an issue.
1. An Agency should state proper attribution (Contributor’s name/nickname) next to the images on it’s site and should require the attribution on its resellers’ sites. The Agency should sell the images (even resized) with embedded attribution. The Agency should embed attribution metadata into large thumbnails.
2. An Agency should state the name of each reseller and let Contributors opt-in or out for each of the resellers and from subscription offering on the Agency’s or a resellers’ site where appropriate. The Agency should display the reseller’s name per each sale.
3. An Agency should notify Contributors about commission changes. In that case the Contributor should be able to withdraw his/her images and stop selling through that Agency. In an ideal case the Contributor should be able to withdraw part or the entire portfolio anytime.
“Thanks to David Mail, Lee Torrens & Roberto Marinello to help us with defining what should be mentioned in such a document. Thank you Robert Kneschke for inspiring us. We’d really like to hear and read any ideas you might have. The ‘Declaration’ is a first step to an even better microstock market.”, says Vita Valka.
Sales define contributors’ satisfaction
We love to focus on buyers. It’s the best way to satisfy Contributors and partners like Dreamstime. We’ve decided to try to be the smartest guys and gals in marketing. We design banners while sleeping. We live with AdWords 24 hours a day. We write down ideas when we’re at the bowling alley. We love the job at Pixmac as much as you love being photographers!
We’ve grown already. Pixmac sells thousands of images a month. Pixmac is localized into several languages. And Pixmac is already inspiring others.
“Pixmac is one of the few agencies doing SEO right.” – Yuri Arcurs, speech at CEPIC 2010
“I LOVE your one-stop-shopping idea! It has always been a missing element of microstock agencies.” – Lee Torrens, microstockdiaries.com
“I am impressed by the determination of Pixmac to treat photographers fairly. They have just set the bar to a new level.” – Tyler Olson, microstockgroup.com
“I like the Pixmac team’s open approach, the responsiveness, the attention to the Contributor side perspective, the focus on marketing our products – for example, have you seen how many contests they have been running in the last months?” – Roberto Marinello, mystockphoto.org
“Pixmac’s agreement changes capture each of the best things from other microstock agencies into a great deal for contributors.” – Bob Davies, picniche.com
“Pixmac is a living proof that a newcomer can compete and succeed on a modern crowded highly competitive microstock market. Differentiation is the key. And Pixmac got it right.” – David Mail, prostockmaster.com
See? Yes we are a relative newcomer. But we have been doing things differently since beginning and it is working. Check out the Alexa (link below) or Compete (link below) for ranking of www.pixmac.com and read some forum threads where we were active. Even our blog would tell you a lot about our philosophy. We love companies like Zappos & Apple and we know that we’re in the same boat with each of you. We’re partners. United we stand.
If you don’t know the story of Pixmac yet, please check out these two resources:
We believe no other microstock Agency is as successful as Pixmac since those old fellas launched in 2005 or earlier. As you can see on Microstock Diaries (link below) at least 10 microstock Agencies have closed in the last two years.
We see ourselves as a sort of ‘Food Court’ in the microstock arena, providing a rich smorgasbord of choices. A place where buyers can go to find all kinds of top brands and names, as well as the creative work of smaller players. Fun, fast, diverse, efficient, and easy to use.
We wish the best of luck to all the other competitors that we love such as YayMicro and BigStock with their focus on easy use. Photocase and StockFresh have a great passion for photography. Shutterstock with their highly respected business model. And Dreamstime with their focus on photographer community. Guys, please motivate and inspire us! The good old days when the user base grew instantly are gone. Pixmac has a challenging 2011 ahead – there is no doubt in that.
Let’s sum it all up
To summarize the long list of changes and improvements at Pixmac, this is a shortlist of the positives arising:
1. Commissions at least 30% / $0.25 forever
2. Raised prices based on downloads. Raised prices of EL.
3. Removed exclusivity lock-in
4. Declaration of Fair Stock Agency
Vita Valka, the CEO of Pixmac and a former designer, knows exactly what the buyer needs. He also identifies wholeheartedly with the company’s Contributing Photographers. Without your creative input there’s no microstock! No Pixmac!
Pixmac’s dream team, situated in Prague, Czech Republic, is a flexible group of experienced professionals always willing to help you. Pixmac managers are active in 15+ countries around the world including the Americas, Europe, Asia & Africa. And there’s always a tasty cup of coffee or tea ready and a cookie at the office for any Contributor who is in our neighbourhood. If you come to Prague, please let us know!
Feel free to contact Pixmac on twitter.com/pixmac or Facebook. Or via any of the standard methods such as email at [email protected] or call us at +420 296 566 268.
New free microstock submission service LightBurner keeps adding new functionality. The latest update includes more new stuff in the Analytics sections of the subscribers account.
In this post I will review the first group of LightBurner’ Analytics tools, discussing how they cgoan help you to sell more photos via microstock photography sites.
Disclaimer: all numbers, stats and graphs in this posts are used for illustrative purposes only. They may or may not be based on the real statistical data.
LightBurner Analytics: The SEO Group
This group of graphs shows the current status of customer’s LightBurner portfolio from the SEO perspective. Microstock is a part of the Internet domain and online stock photography agencies play the Internet game following the common SEO rules. If you want your images to sell well you also have to know these rule and to follow them. For a large and quality online portfolio SEO-compliance is probably one of the most important success factors, particularly on the highly competitive microstock market.
Microstock agencies use image metadata in searches, and embed it into dynamically created web pages when showing images, categories, authors portfolios and similar.
Most online stock photography agencies will use a stock image title as the title of the dynamic page, created for that image. See “Beautiful blonde woman” text in the browser’ title bar on the top of the image above? This is the image title taken by iStock system from this image’ IPTC/XMP metadata on upload, and saved in iStock database. Now this title is displayed each time a page for “Beautiful blonde woman” is viewed. The title is also repeated on the web page itself, describing the image to the buyers and to the search engines.
Search engines pay special attention to pages titles because this is what they display in search results as hyperlinks.
Keywords are probably less visual on this iStock page, but definitely not for the search engines. Keywords come at least twice on a stock image page at major microstocks: once as HTML metadata, and the second time as visible hyperlinks helping to perform a search by that keyword. Here are the keywords for this page embedded into HTML metadata:
<!DOCTYPE html><html><head><title>Beautiful blonde woman | Royalty Free Stock Photo Image | iStockphoto.com</title><meta charset="utf-8"> <meta name="language" content="EN" > <meta name="title" content="Beautiful blonde woman | Royalty Free Stock Photo Image" > <meta name="description" content="Royalty Free Stock Photo, Beautiful blonde woman, copyright gruizza, iStockphoto LP" > <meta name="keywords" content="Beauty, Beautiful, Blond Hair, Blue Eyes, Carefree, Caucasian, Close-up, Copy Space, Color Image, Cute, Looking At Camera, Human Face, Female, Human Finger, Ring, Earring, Teenage Girls, Women, Human Hand, Human Head, Horizontal, Head And Shoulders, Make-up, Candid, Nature, Mouth Open, People, Photography, Purity, Sensuality, Naked, Sex Symbol, Studio Shot, One Woman Only, Young Adult, One Person, Expressing Positivity, Young Women, Only Young Women, Front View, Touching, dark background, stock images, royalty free images, stock photography, stock photos, inexpensive, istockphoto" ><!--[if lt IE 9]><script src="/static/1293128469/js/html5.js"></script><![endif]--><link href="/istock_news_rss.php" rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="iStockphoto.com - Latest News" > <link href="/feeds/newest/" rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="iStockphoto.com - Latest Images" > <link href="/istock_forums_rss.php" rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="iStockphoto.com - Latest Forum Threads" >
I would not say that iStockphoto does a great SEO here since very similar keywords like “Young Women, Only Young Women” will be typically considered as duplicates and the list of keywords in this HTML meta tag is way too long. Anyway, it’s good enough to illustrate my point.
Keywords you select play an important role in SEO, used at least once, and typically twice on each stock photo page. Keywords help search engines to index microstock content with proper tags, and help microstock buyers to easily search by clicking a keyword link.
And here LightBurner comes to help. New SEO analytical tools available with any free LightBurner account help microstock contributors to properly index their stock photos with metadata before submission, optimized for the search engines and for the online use.
Let’s review a few samples.
The graph above shows that this LightBurner portfolio got 586 titles shorter than 30 characters. It is a a serious warning, since we typically will try to keep our titles reasonable long and keywords-intensive. The graph suggest to target the ‘long titles’ group, which has no image in this specific portfolio at the moment.
In fact, the above iStock image of blond woman is a good example of a bad title 🙂
Here is why – the title has only 3 words, and the total length is 22 characters only. Even knowing that iStock’ cannibals always eat up about 60-70 title characters by adding most searched general terms like “stock photo” and “royalty free”, we still can easily have our own 50-chars title, getting much more sympathies from the search engines.
Do that. Try 50+ characters length titles. I am sure you will see the difference in your stock photos sales quite soon.
And here is another graph, showing how many images carry keywords in their titles.
And here we are getting the red flag again!
Less than half of the portfolio has a keyword in the stock photos title.
We specify the keywords because it’s a good way to describe the stock image. Furthermore, buyers search by the keywords. If no keywords are used in the title it simply means that that title is non-descriptive and it should be replaced.
Non-descriptive titles are really bad for SEO. With no keywords in the title images will not be found in the search engines. An image by another microstock photographer, who reasonably used keywords in the images titles will be preferred by the search engines.
Yet another graph below shows the distribution of the stock photos portfolio by the keywords groups depending on the number of keywords.
It looks like the images in the reviewed portfolio are heavily ‘over-keyworded’. Indeed, 35-50 keywords are typically enough to describe an image for any microstock agency. We need even less than that for the proper SEO. 35-50 keywords per image will typically give the best performance for our stock images portfolio.
In the next post I will review other microstock portfolio analytical tools coming with you free LightBuner account.
Get a free LightBurner account now, check out how your portfolio looks to the search engines. Maximize the portfolio’ visibility and sales.
I am glad to invite you to try LightBurner Beta, our new free microstock content distribution and analytical service.
LightBurner customers can submit images to the following pre-integrated microstock photography agencies:
Also you can define unlimited Custom FTP Channels, delivering your images wherever you want to, for instance your blog’ FTP server or your backup FTP site.
I plan to have at least 20-25 pre-integrated microstocks supported in December yet. Your suggestions for more destination are warmly welcome.
The famous keywords suggestions + translations, first introduced in ProStockMaster in 2006 (wow, 4 years ago – who can believe it), is now a part of LightBurner too.
Other interesting features include built-in search in your portfolio, Similar Media area, cataloging by Lightboxes, Folders and Categories, notes on images and sales balance for each channel. Of course, LightBurner reads IPTC for any uploaded JPEG, so you get your files with all the metadata – searchable and cataloged, at your fingertips.
The service is still far from being completed, however I believe that existing functions work quite well and have a great value to any microstock contributor. More agencies and more features will come in the next weeks. Without getting into the details, you can expect nice surprises in your LightBurner account.
How to get started
- register for a free account. In a few moments you will get a Welcome email with your credentials, including SFTP access.
- upload your files by SFTP (FileZilla will do)
- login and go to My Account -> My Portfolio -> Channels/Edit and select your sales channels / agencies
- select what files go where. Multiple options available, including “Assign” X files to Y channels, “Edit” of multiple files or simple drag-n-drop a file to a channel
Actually, that’s it. The distribution is automatic, so you do not have to do a thing.
Your files statuses are updated accordingly: red square (undistributed) is replaced by yellow (partially distributed) and then by green (fully distributed). You will have to hit Refresh from time to time to see these statuses changes.
A few notes:
- All the original uploaded files are removed after 3 days
- Shutterstock delivery is over FTP, stats / balance can not be displayed due to submitters accounts blocking with a captcha
- At the moment LightBurner supports JPEGs only, no other formats and no model releases
- Later on ProStockMaster will work directly with your LightBurner account, thus saving you traffic, costs and time by uploading media just once
- The last but not the least: bugs happen. Please be patient, and report them! Contact: support(at)pixamba.com, david(at)pixamba.com or via LightBurner’ online form
Swiss right wing party Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP) misused images licensed from iStockphoto in their poster.
Microstock models are displayed here as criminals. Here is the original article on a Swiss web site “20 minutes online” (in German)
Here is what Stock licensing agreement says on that:
…For greater certainty, the following are “Prohibited Uses” and you may not:
7. use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner (a) that would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (b) except where accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the Content is a model, that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content, unless the Content itself clearly and undisputedly reflects the model or person in such potentially sensitive subject matter in which case the Content may be used or displayed in a manner that portrays the model or person in the same context and to the same degree depicted in the Content itself;
I always thought that only spam Internet robots can write such a long message in one sentence with no periods. Well, may be Tolstoy could too. So the well-paid iStock lawyers are in a good company.
Never mind, here is the relevant part of that:
accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only
That’s all that the iStock laweyrs found to protect iStockphoto, their artists and models for such an abuse of their work!
With all due respect iStock licensing agreement is mumbling when it goes to deal with such a case.
To compare, look how clearly Fotolia agreement deals with that:
(n) use the Work in a way that places any person in the photo in a bad light or depicts them in a way that they may find offensive – this includes, but is not limited to:
(1) the use of Images in pornography;
(2) tobacco ads;
(3) ads for adult entertainment clubs or similar venues, or for escort, dating or similar services;
(4) political endorsements;
Fotolia says all the right words in the right places and their licensing agreement looks understandable, clear, and protective for the microstock artists and their models.
According to CEPIC, “Sven Ole Schubert, iStock spokesman, announced intentions to approach the organizers after having finished examinations“.
iStockphoto keeps mumbling!
Do they actually have a choice? Can iStock proceed and sue SVP because they did not mention that the microstock models are not related to the SVP’ political campaign?
I wish they could, but iStock Licensing Agreement makes me feel so uncertain on that.
And even if iStock will go to the court this time, still –
When SVP or yet another political movement will do exactly the same next time, now putting a small notice under the abused image, would it be OK for you, iStock?
I am not good in promoting anything, so let me put it simple:
Today is Black Friday and my trusted Texas-based hosting provider Hostgator is getting absolutely nuts. Well, at least for 14 more hours or so. Here is what Hostgator’ email says:
We’re offering 50% OFF EVERYTHING From 12:00AM CST – 5AM CST
We’re offering 80% OFF EVERYTHING From 5AM – 9AM CST WHILE SUPPLIES LAST (first come, first receive; so definitely don’t miss out!)
From 9AM – 11:59PM CST OR after 80% OFF accounts have sold out, we will continue to offer 50% OFF EVERYTHING
This applies to ALL Accounts and ALL Term Lengths.
- Shared Hosting – $4.95/month AS LOW AS $0.99/month
- Reseller Hosting – $24.95/month AS LOW AS $4.99/month
- VPS Hosting – $19.95/month AS LOW AS $3.99 First Month
- Dedicated Servers – $174/month AS LOW AS $34.80 First Month
I am with Hostgator for something like 3 years now and I must say that they are the absolutely best hosting I ever had.
Otherwise I would not write this post.
They got a fantastic customers service with 24×7 online chat. All my emails are answered within 2-3 hours max. Linux hosting with CPanel gives everything you need to run your own sites using intuitive visual tools. Never had any downtime with them (well, at least I am not aware about any). Shared hosting is probably the best (and the cheapest) thing to start with, you can always upgrade if you need better than that.
Well, if you feel like you want to give these guys a try here is my Hostgator’ affiliate link: