I’ve mentioned before that I’m always interested in new experiences in photography and one which has intrigued me for a while has been the idea of making money from it.
Now, before I go on, the idea of photographing a wedding fills me with dread. I don’t have the confidence or the gear to shoot family portraits (though I did do a couple over Christmas – more on that another time). So, I kinda thought that was it.
Well, turns out there is another way. Taking stock photography.
When companies need a bit of fluff for a website or an advertising campaign, a nice piece of fruit or some bloke scratching his head, they use stock photography. When someone wants a picture of a city for a new book or for an article, they use stock.
Which is great if you happen to have a made a hobby out of taking pictures of it.
Now, given the amount of photos I take, I’ve always been a bit bemused about what to do with some of them. I’ve managed to sell a couple at an exhibition last year, but apart from that and my own personal enjoyment (and here I guess), they never see the light of day. Stock photography seemed like an interesting idea to try out.
I started “selling” pictures about 2 weeks ago and tonight I discovered I’ve made $5. OK, hardly enough to make me quit my job, but as was pointed out for me – I made that while sleeping, surfing and working. It’s also kinda cool that someone somewhere likes my photos enough to buy them. Best of all though, you can sell non-exclusive rights to the image so you can use it yourself or sell it on a number of sites.
I’m not going to get into what makes a stock photograph right now, and I’m not going to extol on the virtues of it anymore than above. If you’re interested, there are a lot of sites selling it and you need to be prepared for a bit of a meat grinder when it comes to getting accepted and getting an image on sale – images are moderated and no punches pulled when they tell you it’s not good enough. Still, it’s good fun.
The site I’ve been mostly using up to now has been shutterstock. The percentage you get for a sale is very small (think 25cents a picture), but I guess it does add up. Other sites are available and I’ve registered on some of those as well, but without getting round to posting much to them.
I don’t think it’ll change the photographs I want to take, but it is kinda fun to play at from time to time.
I’ll let you know how I get on.
Oh, and yes, there is a referral on that shutterstock link – if you sign up via it, I get 3cents for every picture you sell without it affecting your commission. Tell you what, if you start making me big money, I’ll maybe split it with you!
Last Tuesday was the annual NIPA beginners competition and as such saw several hundred of the best prints from beginners in clubs within Northern Ireland gathered together.
I was lucky enough to attend, and luckier still to come away on the night with some good results from my photographs. Looking at the entry however, one thing was abundantly clear. There are a lot of excellent photographers out there (and these are just the ‘beginners’).
I’m glad things went so well. I’ve been finding it tough to field entries for competitions and for general web fun recently. Losing the last half of last years photographs has been a lot more painful than I expected – it turns out there were a lot of prints I liked amongst it and each time I try to put something together I find myself looking for them. Hopefully there is some progress on their recovery – I’ll let you know in a week or two…
On an entirely different thread. I’ve started dabbling with “stock” photography. It’s early days and I’m still deciding if it’s something I want to progress, but I’ll post about my experience so far once I’ve been playing for a month (and surprisingly yes, someone has actually bought something of mine)
Anyway. Just a quick update. I haven’t gone away you know…
Was back browsing my street life pictures and found this one.
In retrospect, this is probably more along the lines of what the judges may have been looking for.
When you’re given a theme like “Street Life” and there is no brief provided to give a context, it should really be up to the photographer to interpret that theme. Sure, they may end up “outside the box”, but if it can be viewed as within theme then it should stand. However, with both themed NIPA competitions this year, the judge on the night has turned up and within seconds passed a comment to the effect of “the council have decided that <the theme> means…”
Instantly I was able to rule out a lot of my shots. More depressing was the fact that a lot of other photographers fell foul of this as well. On the night, I ended up getting second overall in the colour prints section, but to be honest it was marred by my frustration at this ‘secret rules’ thing that seems to keep happening. Myself and a few others mentioned our frustration to the NIPA rep – let me stress this is not his fault, he fell foul of it too.
Maybe next year NIPA will provide a context for the theme rounds on their web site? I’ll be dropping an email to ask them to do just that when the dust settles this year.
OK, I have a question and google has not provided me with an answer I understand yet, so I thought I’d ask here in case someone knows.
When choosing a shutter speed I’m told to beware of the reciprocal length of the lens as anything slower than that may introduce shake in the finished picture. Thus a 50mm lens has the reciprocal of 1/50 and so the ideal shutter speed for a shot should ideally be more than that.
But, and here’s my question.
What about on a digital camera? I mean, I assume the rule applies to a standard full frame digital, but since my Canon 400D has a magnification factor of 1.6 (that is a 50mm lens on my camera is effectively the same as an 80mm lens on a 35mm – full frame – body), does that mean I actually need 1.6 stops faster?
So, does a 50mm lens on my camera needs 1/80sec?
OK, I know my mileage will vary and some people have remarkably steady hands (not me) but does this make sense?
If it does, it would explain away a lot of disappointing shots I’ve taken that I blamed on me being Mr Shaky Hands man.
I have a feeling next weeks NIPA inter-club competition will be the worst one for me yet. It’s been hiding in my mind since September and no matter how I approach it, the subject just doesn’t do anything for me.
It’s funny in a way, since I’ve yet to find a type of photography I haven’t enjoyed apart from the sort of “Street Encounter” shot which I think the theme is hinting at.
Actually, while I’m talking about titles, if I could change one thing about the NIPA rounds it would be these two word titles. When you look at something like Fujimugs, this approach works well, but NIPA seem to have a habit of changing the rules right up until the closing date of a competition and when it’s decided that “Water” must be a certain percentage of water and you only find out on the night of judging, it can be a pain in the rumpus. I’m kind of dreading what rules they’ve decided on for “Street Life”
Anyway, I don’t think I’ve done myself justice this round, but I thought I’d share.
Ever since I read the post by Paulo about lighting the cocktail glass, I’ve wanted to try Dark Field Lighting.
I mean, even before we look at the science of it, it sounds like something sci-fi. I can just hear some alien captain telling his crew to fire up the “Dark Field Engine”.
Oh go on. You know you thought it too.
Anyway, when it comes to lighting, it’s a great technique for photographing glass. My understanding of it is that you need to light the object indirectly, providing a rim light only. To do this, you’ll need a few things.
- A flash gun you can trigger remotely
- Something white/light coloured to reflect the flash (I used a wall)
- A tripod and camera
- A black card or black background (I used a t-shirt and black card)
- A dark place to work
(It’s a good thing to try now when it’s dark early)
Basically, place the object you want to shoot in front of a black background. Make sure the background isn’t too big (bigger than the image you’re shooting is all you need). Now, behind the black background, place your flash gun. In my case I pointed it away from the black card and bounced the light off a wall but you might use a translucent sheet to shoot through if you wish (it’s just important to diffuse the light). Set the camera up for a 6 second exposure, focus it (and change the focus to manual) and then turn off the light. Open the shutter, fire the flash and hopefully…
My result is OK. If you want a good example of it, check Paulo’s picture.
There are a few lessons I learned while trying it.
- In a dark room, shutter speed is irrelevant so you can’t use it to control exposure. Instead you need to use the power on the flash gun. But be warned, I think a higher power on the flash equates to a longer exposure so if you’re trying to capture movement you may well introduce blurring
- Be sure where everything is before you turn off the lights…
- Make sure the glass is clean. Very very clean. This lamp looked clean to the naked eye, but look at the dust on it and in it
- Make sure the room is clear of clutter if possible or cover it out with black sheets in some way. If you look at the reflection in my image, you can see my dining room chairs off to one side
All in all, it’s a good thing to try. I believe it’s covered in the book Light Science and Magic and it’s on my Amazon Wish List so I can find out more.
There is a great article in the January Digital SLR Photography magazine, describing a technique to create reflection of an object in a studio (or in your dining room if you don’t have one).
The technique seems pretty simple so I thought I’d give it a go tonight.
(f/8, 3.2secs, 100mm, ISO-100, 08/01/2009)
In summary, the technique is to place the item on a piece of glass sitting on a black cloth or card then using a light source (in my case a desk lamp) angle the light until you get a decent reflection.
Key thing – The glass needs to be clean. Really clean.
I guess I wasn’t too successful with this one. I like the glass, it’s sharp and clear, but the reflection isn’t as defined as some of the examples in the magazine. I’m not sure if that’s because of my lighting, my glass not being clean enough or some other factor.
But I thought you’d like to see it anyway.
I’m back in the picture picking mode again. Now Christmas is over, the club competitions are coming thick and fast. Over the next few weeks there is an open round, a street scenes round, a photo essay round and the club exhibition.
Now I don’t expect to do well in any of these, I’ve been lucky so far to get what I’ve got, but I’ want to submit so I get feedback and can see where I’m improving and going wrong.
Meanwhile Jim Mooreland was at the club last night presenting images from submissions to the Royal Photographic Society. Some of the stuff was inspirational, but two sets of prints displayed were just out of this world. (I’ll post details of them as I get more information).
So, where does that leave me?
Well, I’m left wishing I was as good as the guys I saw last night and hoping that maybe just maybe I’ll get there in the future.
On the other hand. I could just continue to take curious photographs of plastic glasses.