Photography + Keywording + Graphic Artist = Stock Photography

Hi there!

I thought I would take a couple of minutes to talk about Stock Photography and why I love it!  When you sit at your computer and read the latest news on yahoo or other online sites, there’s almost always a photo for the article you are reading.  If the story is about debt, maybe the photo is a stack of dollar bills, or a stack of papers that look like overdue bills.  Chances are very good that you are looking at a stock photo, chosen from millions of photos available online through different agencies.  Every agency has different requirements for contributors, but in general, the photo has to be technically correct (proper lighting, “copy space” for copy to be added if needed, in focus, correct white balance, no harsh shadows, etc) and it needs to be able to sell an idea, a product or a service.  (Or it could be an abstract background)

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:

1304BlogThis is a close up (macro) shot of some brightly colored leaves that I took in the fall.  Although someone might want this as fine art to place above their orange sofa, it really doesn’t sell an idea, a service or a product….Also, since it’s not in focus 100%, it probably wouldn’t be desirable as a stock photo.

Here’s another one:

1304Blog-2This is a photo of my little guy playing with water in the pool.  It was taken at a very fast shutter speed, to freeze the movement of the water.  I believe that patterns like this are what he sees when he splashes and plays!  The water is beautiful, but it also feels “alive” in this photo…

I submitted this photo to one of my stock agencies, and it was rejected. You become very good at accepting rejection when you first start submitting for different agencies!  I think the process keeps you humble!

Here are a couple others, that are currently for sale at http://www.shutterstock.com/g/wallybird

1304Blog-4 1304Blog-3My friends weren’t crazy about the first one.  It’s a self portrait (selfie) taken right after a big ice storm here in Memphis.  There was a thick layer of ice on everything, including my car.  I set up my tripod and camera and took some shots looking through the glass.  Although it may appear as though the photo is out of focus, it is, in reality, in perfect focus through the thick ice.  Keywording is everything in stock.  It’s how your potential customer finds you.  This photo reminded me of people with alzheimer’s and dementia.  It’s as though they are there, but there is a thickness or fog around them that you have to get through!  The title is “Hope through the Winter”.  It’s selling very well!  Other keywords for that image would be depression, health, mental, medication, therapy, therapist, etc.

The last one is a close up of hens at our local community garden and farm park.  It’s in focus, no harsh shadows, there’s copy space, and backyard suburban farming is making a comeback!  I noticed a chicken coop for sale in my catalog for Williams Sonoma!!!  If you need more information about how to get started in stock, look into some of these:

shutterstock, bigstock, fotolia, dreamstime, and istock

Even if you decide it’s not for you, there are some wonderful tutorials on these different sites (for photographers) that will help you improve your work!  My favorite right now is shutterstock.  They market to many different countries, so even if something isn’t big in the USA right now, you have a global community of buyers that have a chance of finding you through your keywords!

That’s it for now.  Enjoy your week!

 

 

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exploring something new…HDR for beginners!

hi friends!

I thought I would talk about something completely different this week!  This week, I took my first steps into the world of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photos.  Let me show you the end result and then talk about how I got there:

1303NatureThis was taken at the Lichterman Nature Center here in Memphis.  It was a rainy day, and I used my most “waterproof” lens, the Canon 70-200mm  f/2.8 L  IS, and a tripod.  Let me tell ya, if you want breathtaking landscape photos, with or without HDR, you have to invest in a tripod!  And if you’re going to shoot in the rain, invest in a very inexpensive plastic “rain sleeve” which keeps your equipment protected!

Anyway, back to our story.  To use HDR software, you really need to take 3 photos of the same, exact thing at different exposures.  You want one that is underexposed (too dark, not enough light) like this one:

1303Nature-2one that is overexposed (too much light) like this one:

1303Nature-4and one that is properly exposed, like this one:  (not too much light, or too little)

1303Nature-3Now, that last one isn’t too bad!  But I’ve lost some details in the shadows, and some details in the very light areas!

Let’s compare the first and the last one once again:

1303Nature

1303Nature-3Now, I have to say right now, that usually  you DON’T want any fast moving objects in your HDR photo!  This means that typically animals and people are not going to give you very good results.  I was taking a big chance on the geese in the picture.  They seemed to be moving VERY slowly, if at all!  Now, look for the AEB setting on your DSLR.  AEB stands for Automatic Exposure Bracketing.  You want to set that to take your 3 shots about 2 stops apart.  Don’t worry if I just lost you…I’ll give you some online references in a second.  Now, set your camera drive from taking a single shot to taking “continuous” shots.  When you click the shutter button, your camera will now take 3 photos very rapidly, with those 3 exposures.  (underexposed, exposed, overexposed)

I purchased the “essentials” package for HDR from http://www.hdrsoft.com which has some additional examples for you to look at.  The “essentials” package was $39 and you download your 3 photos (underexposed, exposed, overexposed) into the software, and it merges or combines the 3 to pick up the details in the shadows, and the details in the light areas!  I was completely amazed at how the final image appeared!  It was almost like taking a step into 3 dimensional  photography!

Okay, I know I lost some of you that are new to DSLRs, but here are a couple of my favorite websites if you need help understanding your camera settings, or with “photography speak” in general:

http://www.freephotocourse.com    (look at February 2013 contributor gallery for wallybird photography’s featured photo!!!)

http://www.digital-photography-school.com

Have a wonderful week!

despite what the groundhog saw…

hey friends.

If I’m not mistaken, that expert on forecasting, the groundhog, predicted an early spring this year.  I know most of my friends in Minnesota and upstate New York are wondering about this prediction, with even more new snow added to their accumulation!

We’ve lived in many states, and experienced Spring in many places.  Here in the (mid)South, spring starts early with daffodils in February and progresses through almost every color of the rainbow by June.  Our winters are fairly moderate, with an occasional ice storm or some snowfall, usually melted within 48 hours.  Here’s what our winter looked like:Image

As much as I enjoy the moderate winter, it isn’t the celebration I experienced in Minnesota.  After a long, hard, winter, I took great joy at EVERY perennial that reappeared in my yard!  I marveled that anything could survive outside in such harsh conditions.  I thanked God for every plant that showed the tenacity to come back after sub-zero wind chills and layers of snow and ice.  It gave me hope that I, too, could survive my experience here, as a seasoned, “perennial” parent.  Maybe God celebrates my growth and resiliency as much as I was celebrating these little blossoms!  The thought put a smile on my face.  Although Spring is not as much of a celebration here in TN,  it still fills me with wonder.  The other day I was driving and rounded the corner to see an old barn, sitting on a hill, with a vibrant green field below it and dark, threatening skies above it.  The contrast between old and new, darkened skies and bright clouds was amazing:Image

Hoping you find wonder in Spring, wherever you may be this year!