Friday, December 4, 2009

About photo: Clay angel praying towards God



You can buy the picture on top by following these links:

The subject of this blog entry is my best earner image that was submitted in November. This is the sixth blog entry in the series I have started to introduce my best photos: best earner photo, overall best earner in November, most downloaded photo.

History: This photo was shot as the closure of my Christmas series. I have been shooting Christmas themed pictures since early August. Most of them I have published by early September. I have decided that I will submit some photos even after the majority of my Christmas shots were already available, because I wanted to make sure my little portfolio gets some exposure in the huge crowd of Christmas photos. The best earner of this series is a composition of Christmas spheres and a plastic pine branch.

In this series I have made shots about the Christmas related objects of our home. We have started with the more obvious ones, that we use for decorating our home for Christmas. Then we have progressed towards those that could have some relation with Christmas. Since the Christmas season seems to be over, it is most likely that the series will not be extended till next August.

Content: This photo presents an angel praying towards the top right corner of the image. The direction suggests it is praying towards God. This is a plastic statue used for decoration. Even though it is plastic it has tremendous amount of detail imitating strokes of the hand during the formation of a clay statue. This can be best observed around the eyes of this little statue. The focus is on the face of the angel, therefore its wings and its kneeling legs are a little bit blurred. Finally the statue has a yellowish or brownish coloration. This however I don't think adds to the overall look of the photo so I recommend you to use it in black and white.

Technique: Finally let's talk about the creation of this photograph. It looks like this photo is easy to isolate. However because of its color is so close to white it is easy to burn parts of the statue. Since I still only have a single light setup isolating this object would be much better on a non white background. I have tried several backgrounds, but for me only the white and the red was working. The white background of this photo becomes gray if you don't want to burn parts of the statue, therefore this image needed a little more fine tuning than the red background ones. (You can see the red background ones here, and here.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

About photo: Single honey biscuit


You can buy the picture on top by following these links:

The subject of this blog entry is my best earner image during November. This is the fifth blog entry in the series I have started to introduce my best photos: best earner photo, most downloaded photo.

History: This image is part of two series. The scattered particles series that was born during the making of my longest series with the honey cookies (so called "Puszedli" in hungarian). In this series my wife thought it would be nice to spread some cookie crumbs in some of the shots. The honey cookie series however did not make a breakthrough, but the photos with the crumbs were the most popular. Thus we decided to take take the idea with the crumbs and since then we made a shot of scattered particles in every series in which it was possible. I have already introduced a prominent member of this series in august: a wheat pike with seeds. Another example is our coco biscuit bite (on ShutterStock) shot. This shot is actually the one that has established the scattered particle series.

Honey cookie is one of my favorite desserts. They are frequently part of my daily diet. I know it is quite unhealthy and too sweet, but still it is the best kind of cookies mankind can make around here :). Therefore it was obvious that I have looked around for shots in the area of honey cookies. I have searched both on Fotolia and Shutterstock as I usually do my research on new photo ideas, and I came to the conclusion that we can make a long series because it seems like there were no shots of honey biscuits in these huge photo galleries. So we have created a series of shots, and this one is the most popular among them.

In November this photo became the best earner with the help of two over dollar downloads on iStockPhoto even though there were more frequently downloaded newcomers in the month. This is one of my steadiest earner photos anyways so it is not surprising that it has achieved the best earner state in November.

Content: This photo shows a single honey biscuit after I took a bite. The crumbs are still scattered around the biscuit. These crumbs are mainly out of focus and only lead our sight towards the cookie. This photo is isolated as this is my favorite technique.

Technique: This shot uses a more complicated but not so successful isolation technique. I pointed my lighting directly towards the biscuit through a huge white bed linen. This linen has surrounded and covered the biscuit and the A4 paper I used as a base for the isolation. The only hole I have left in the linen was for the camera lens. As this technique did not let too much light towards the object, this image required heavy post processing in order to replace the gray background to a white one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Statistics of November

November has had slightly better results than October, but it was still far away from September's bonanza. These results are mostly coming from the almost identical month at Shutterstock and BMEs from Dreamstime and iStockphoto. But I am still under $50 in earnings from all the sites in a single month. I have had 130 downloads with no more than 333 images online. The number of downloads has decreased a little bit. I have got 26 new accepted images. Since I have started this is the least productive months of mine from the shooting point of view. This month I tried to produce more images, so I have almost reached my upload average. My PPD at Fotolia has drastically fallen to the previously unseen level of July, as a result I have sold more photos than I did in October but I have earned less. I wrote about Fotolia's good progress last month, however since then they have slowed down dramatically, maybe because they don't really like my non isolated shots and they were dominant this month. Other interesting observation that more than half of my monthly earnings from Fotolia and Dreamstime occurred at the first 5-6 days of the month (at least in my past four months).

Here you can find the details for my report:
AgencyPortfolio sizeDownloadsEarnings ($)ChangeViews
Fotolia310
4 sub, 2 OD
2.8
-7%1219 (up)
Dreamstime2476 sub, 4 OD
7.97
+22%123 (down)
Shutterstock333
95 sub, 2 OD
26.54
-2%N/A
iStockPhoto114
1 sub, 5 OD
6.46
+48%1281 (~)
StockXpert305
10 sub, 1 OD
3.5
-35%
1098 (up)

My multi-site view/download figure is 113 views/download in the month (86 views/download all time). This figure has also suffered a major increase mainly because of StockXpert. I am now almost sure that Fotolia (203/downs this month, 175 all time) and iStockPhoto (213/downs, 132 all time) counts the number of views of a photo differently.

As I already reported it on my previous statistics page the only agency that I can count on is ShutterStock. However, in the past months StockXpert seemed like it can become the second stable earner. Of course I came too late to StockXpert, because my majority of my earnings was coming from Photos.com and Jupiterimages Unlimited subscription sales. Since the removal of Photos.com my sales figures has almost halved. So I am still really interested whether the StockXpert sales alone would result similar sales. For the record here are the details of November: Photos.com Sub 5, Jupiterimages Unlimited sub 5 and finally I have got a single StockXpert OD sale. This seems a definite problem after they also remove Jupiterimages sales. Without these sites I would barely have a single download. This is worrying, especially for a site that I have had such high hopes for.

My strategy of uploading to iStockphoto all my work accepted by other agencies finally seems to starts paying. This month was BME and the number of downloads also reached a number where the earnings seem to become more sustainable. My portfolio at iStock have just passed the 100 accepted photos. Previously it seemed like they don't like my work, however the newly submitted photos have a quite high acceptance rate for me.

At the end of this blog entry I put the my total earnings comparison after the end of November. Since I have started at the different agencies at different times I have scaled the earnings down to an average day on each agency. On this figure you can see that agencies except ShutterStock started to get equalized results. If Fotolia does not catch up soon it will be hardly enough to catch up with the now decreasing sales volume of StockXpert. This month I have not seen any movement in the ranking, however iStockphoto starts to reach StockXpert and soon it will be again second in my stats.
So here is my current agency ranking:
  1. ShutterStock (-)
  2. StockXpert (-)
  3. iStockPhoto (-)
  4. Dreamstime (-)
  5. Fotolia (-)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Statistics of October

October could not beat September results for me. As a result I am again under $50 in earnings from all the sites in a single month. I have had 133 downloads with no more than 309 images online. The number of downloads has increased a little bit. I have got 29 new accepted images. Since I have started this is the least productive months of mine from the shooting point of view. I only made around half of the submitted images in the recent month. I made the others during August and July, back then I did not have the time to publish all the images I shoot, so now it was time to submit them. If I would not have two OD downloads early in the month Shutterstock would have produced little less money than last month. I wrote about Fotolia's good progress last month, however since then they have slowed down dramatically, maybe because they don't really like my non isolated shots and they were dominant this month. Other interesting observation that most of my earnings from Fotolia and Dreamstime are from the first 5-6 days of the month (at least in my past three months).

Here you can find the details for my report:
AgencyPortfolio sizeDownloadsEarnings ($)ChangeViews
Fotolia294
2 sub, 2 OD
3.05
-65%982 (down)
Dreamstime2183 sub, 4 OD
6.5
-17%136 (down)
Shutterstock309
93 sub, 2 OD
27.06
+7%N/A
iStockPhoto80
8 OD
4.35
0%1262 (up)
StockXpert27918 sub
5.4
-45%
714 (~)

My multi-site view/download figure is 81 views/download in the month (79 views/download all time). Dreamstime and StockXpert here still contributes a lot. I am now almost sure that Fotolia (245/downs this month, 170 all time) and iStockPhoto (151/downs, 134 all time) counts the number of views of a photo differently.

As I already reported it on my previous statistics page the only agency that I can count on is ShutterStock. However, StockXpert had more frequent downloads, so I could almost count on it two-three times a week. Of course I came too late to StockXpert, because according to other blogs and forums their merger just starts to show its results. So I am still really interested how do my overall sales figure will turn up at the end of the coming months there. For the record here are the details of October: Photos.com Sub 11 and finally Jupiterimages Unlimited sub 7. This seems a definite problem for the future because I read it several times that these two sites will not offer images from StockXpert anymore. Without them I would not even have a single download which is worrying, especially for a site that I have had such high hopes for.

The next paragraph is a recap from last month, unfortunately nothing changed since then, even though the number of accepted photos now are almost reaching 100: I also changed my upload strategy for iStockPhoto because others report sales comparable to ShutterStock there. And I also have surprisingly high rpi there. So now I started to submit all of the photos I have managed to get accepted somewhere. Previously it seemed like they don't like my work, however the newly submitted photos have a quite high acceptance rate for me. The earnings figures however did not change too much.

At the end of this blog entry I put the my total earnings comparison after the end of October. Since I have started at the different agencies at different times I have scaled the earnings down to an average day on each agency. On this figure you can see how much StockXpert gained even in a single month. Also iStockPhoto started to drop a place which is probably because the small amount of photos I have uploaded so far (the new uploads does not seem to catch downloads so fast).
So here is my current agency ranking:
  1. ShutterStock (-)
  2. StockXpert (-)
  3. iStockPhoto (-)
  4. Dreamstime (was 5th in Sept)
  5. Fotolia (was 4th in Sept)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

About my most viewed photos

This blog entry is about those photos that attract viewers only. Currently I have two really disappointing photos. One is my most viewed photo at all agencies where it has got accepted. And one is the photo with the highest number of views in the past two months. It seems like both of them present an interesting idea, and they both have really good keywords also. They even come up early in search results somehow (surprisingly because I thought search results are influenced by the number of image downloads). Finally they also look promising in icon sizes. But they still could not earn a single download. After all, I decided to present them here, and share some of my ideas why did these photos are not among my best earners as their view count would suggest.

The first one is my all time winner of the most viewed photo awards:
This photo is about an old sniper scope (and you can buy it at Fotolia, ShutterStock, StockXpert and DreamsTime). It was so heavily used it shows heavy wear. I believe this wear is not the main cause of the non buyers. This is one of my images with some distracting shadows that shows the deficiencies of my earliest isolation techniques. However I don't think this could be the full reason behind the small sales potential. In the same series of shots I have got really successful earners also, and they all share the shadow problems you can see above. For example the photo about the isolated gun is highly successful even though you can clearly see these problems on it. I guess the main problem with this photo that people has preconceptions. This scope was used only by real snipers. Meanwhile my photos about telescopes for hunters are the ones people want as sniper scopes if I am not mistaken. You can see a scope used exclusively for hunting on the right. The surprise that this photo has significantly less views but already has several sales (if you are still not convinced you can still buy the hunting scope on the right on these links: Fotolia, ShutterStock, StockXpert, Dreamstime). So it seems like people don't like the photos that does not match their preconceptions of an object.

The second shot is my most viewed photo in the past two months:

Red parfume bottle: buy at ShutterStock, Dreamstime, StockXpert

Oxeye daisy in a tin: buy at ShutterStock, Fotolia, Dreamstime, StockXpert, iStockPhoto
This photo is part of a less downloaded series (you can see some of its members on the sides of this paragraph). It presents an open perfume bottle and oxeye daisy decoration (you can purchase it from Fotolia, ShutterStock, Dreamstime, StockXpert). This photo is one of my favorites. The contrast between the sharp blossom and the slightly out of focus red perfume bottle beautifully presents the idea "gentle care". This shot however still did not catch up with downloads. I see three main problems here, first there is a quite sharp edge between the leaves and the white background. Secondly the leaves in the background might be distracting entirely. Finally the buyers want the bottle sharper than it is currently. This last reason came when I first seen the photo on the left sold on ShutterStock. However I don't think it is the strongest one, because the shallow depth of field might even help a little to emphasize the gentleness of the photo.

Feel free to comment if you can think of any further reason about why my viewers turning back before they would buy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Prediction results for september

I have discovered the tool of Yuri Arcurs that can predict your monthly earnings based on the sales you had so far. This tool uses historical data of Arcurs. I started to use the tool and compare it to the linear prediction in my previous blog entry here. Now that I have reached the end of the first full month with logged predictions, here are the basic statistical details:

Arcurs's predictionLinear prediction
Median$63.78$61.6
Average$69.17$68.06
Minimum$57.71$54.83
Maximum$111.44$123.8
Standard deviation$12.53$16.01

As you can see there are not too many changes in the data if you compare them to the previously published ones (E.g. minimum and maximum values did not change, they were all reached by the 10th of the month). It still shows that the linear prediction is not that different.

Below you can also see the chart showing the relations between the current earnings and the two predictions.

As you can see I have stopped collecting the data after 27th of Sept, because I don't think anyone would need any prediction on their earnings so late in the month.

Here is how close the two predictions get to the real number ($55.91):

Arcurs's predictionLinear prediction
Median difference
+$7.87$5.69
Average difference
+$13.26$12.15
Closest match
+$1.8-$0.05
Maximum difference
+$55.53$67.89

So on the first 5 days of the month Arcurs's prediction gives more precise numbers (+86% overprediction instead of the linear's 106%). However this advantage disappears soon in the last 7 days of my measurements there were several predictions over $7 from Arcurs's tool meanwhile the linear prediction have had less than $5 as its error. The smallest error in the last seven days was $0.34 (or 0.5%) with the linear prediction and $1.91 ( or 3.2%) with Arcur's tool. So if you are as eager as I am for new numbers (and your portfolio's profile is similar to mine or has small amount of sales during a day), than I suggest you to use Arcurs's tool in the early days. Arcurs were predicting consequently closer numbers to the final result - the 10 predictions I made during the first 5 days have had more than $11 advantage for Arcurs on average. Then after 5-7 days you can switch to the linear prediction algorithm. At least that's what I will do till my earnings don't start to get different. (e.g. if my total earnings reach several hundreds of dollars a month).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Statistics of September

Updated with the number of views and analysis.

September was BME on Fotolia, Dreamstime and StockXpert for me. And this was the first time I have earned more than $50 from all the sites in a single month. I have had 132 downloads with no more than 280 images online. I have got 21 new accepted images. Since I have started this is one of the least productive months of mine. Even though I slowed down submissions there was an increase on monthly total earnings at all agencies save ShutterStock. Shutterstock started to produce more countable income with 3-4 downloads every day. Fotolia is getting interesting because since April I always earn more there.

Here you can find the details for my report:
AgencyPortfolio sizeDownloadsEarnings ($)ChangeViews
Fotolia273
2 sub, 4 OD, 1 EL
8.7+45%1238
Dreamstime1993 sub, 4 OD
7.83+347%198
Shutterstock280
101 sub
25.25-22%N/A
iStockPhoto434 OD
4.33+375%501
StockXpert26511 sub, 2 OD
9.8
+113%
725

My multi-site view/download figure is 88 views/download in the month (79 views/download all time). Dreamstime and StockXpert here still contributes a lot. Even though Fotolia has increased the earnings significantly its views/download figure is still around 200... It seems like Fotolia and maybe iStockPhoto counts the number of views of a photo differently.

As I already reported it on my previous statistics page the only agency that I can count on is ShutterStock. This has not jet changed, but in case Fotolia holds on to its steady growth for the coming months then it will be my second agency to provide useful income. As you have seen from this month figures the others are still heavily jumping back and forth, so I cannot count on them too much right now. However, surprisingly StockXpert reached second place with the same amount of downloads that we have seen in last month. I start to believe that StockXpert buyers like my images more than the other fluctuating agencies. Of course I came too late to StockXpert, because according to other blogs and forums their merger just starts to show its results. So I am still really interested how do my overall sales figure will turn up at the end of the coming months there. For the record here are the details of September: StockXpert PPD 2, StockXpert Sub 5, Photos.com Sub 4 and finally Jupiterimages Unlimited sub 2.

I also changed my upload strategy for iStockPhoto because others report sales comparable to ShutterStock there. And I also have surprisingly high rpi there. So now I started to submit all of the photos I have managed to get accepted somewhere. Previously it seemed like they don't like my work, however the newly submitted photos have a quite high acceptance rate for me. The earnings figures however did not change too much.

At the end of this blog entry I put the my total earnings comparison after the end of September. Since I have started at the different agencies at different times I have scaled the earnings down to an average day on each agency. On this figure you can see how much StockXpert gained even in a single month. Also iStockPhoto started to drop a place which is probably because the small amount of photos I have uploaded so far (the new uploads does not seem to catch downloads so fast).

So here is my current agency ranking:
  1. ShutterStock (-)
  2. StockXpert (was 3rd in Aug)
  3. iStockPhoto (was 2nd in Aug)
  4. Fotolia (-)
  5. Dreamstime (-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

About photo: Hungarian highway

You can buy the picture on top on these links:
The subject of this blog entry is my new best earner ever photograph. You can find the previous one about the blue vase here. This is the fourth blog entry in the series where I introduce my top photos according to the buyers. I have already wrote about my best photo in July and the all times most downloaded photo. However this entry is about the new king of the hill.

History: This is the first time my D90 was with me on a flight. I took this shot from a plane back from Lyon. We almost reached Ferihegy Airport, and just before landing the plane crossed the M0 highway that surrounds Budapest. I made this shot just when the plane crossed M0. When I got back to my computer I immediately loved the shot, so even though I read it several times that it is not a good idea to upload photos taken from a commercial flight I still tried. And as it turns out this photo became one of my most predictable earners.

Content: This photo shows the M0 highway of Hungary in westward direction shot from the air. You can also see that a junction of the highway is just outside the photo. The four lanes cross two small bridges, first to avoid some rural roads and secondly to pass over a small brook. There are several cars and trucks coming and going, but it's not too heavy traffic. Finally the road disappears on the top right corner of the photograph.

Technique: If you are familiar with my portfolio (for the portfolio links see the left side of the blog), then you know that I am not too familiar with moving subjects. I mainly take photos of isolated objects. So this photo was different. I had an entire flight to exercise to finally come up with a recipe for the shot. The result was simply using focal lengths between 60-80mm to avoid the wing of the plane, and to use apertures between F8-11 to make sure the lens is giving me the best sharpness, finally I used 1/200-1/500s shutter speeds to avoid blurring. During landing even 1/500 seems slow... So don't be surprised that I don't have photos about landings yet. To avoid reflections on the window of the plane I pushed the lens as close as I can to the window. While I also tried to make the front element of the lens parallel to the window.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Predicting earnings by the end of the month

I have recently discovered a tool of Yuri Arcurs that can predict your monthly earnings based on the sales you had so far. This tool uses historical data of Arcurs. I started to use the tool and compare it to the linear prediction I believe most of us use. Its formula is simple and straightforward:
LinearPredicion=TotalDays*SalesSoFar/DaysSofar

I have started to take notes on both predictions from 3rd of September. Now that we have reached the middle of the month here are some statistical details:

Arcurs's predictionLinear prediction
Median$71.31$68.51
Average$75.21$74.62
Minimum$57.71$54.83
Maximum$111.44$123.8
Standard deviation$14.69$19.76

As it can be seen from the table above the usual difference between Arcurs' tool and the linear prediction is within the boundaries of standard deviation. For me it means that the tool cannot be used more precisely for my data than the simple linear prediction algorithm.

Below you can also see the chart showing the relations between the current earnings and the two predictions.
Finally you could observe that the linear prediction always grows within a given day. Its because the formula I used for the calculation is on daily basis. If I would have used smaller granularity in timing the differences between the two predictions would be probably smaller.

At the end of the month I plan to report when did these two predictions reached the best prediction and how close did they matched the real earnings figure.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Statistics worth monitoring

If you remember I was writing about my own stock statistics application on this blog already. You can see the previous entries here: about Fotolia's tag cloud, about photo views monitoring. Now that my application is running for more than a month I started to collect more than just the basic statistics I have built the application for. Basically my app monitors the sales and views of every picture I have on SS, FT, IS and DT. From these data I can calculate the following stats:
  • How much did I earn overall or at a particular agency
  • How many views I have had overall (excluding SS for obvious reasons) or at a particular agency
  • Number of views/download - overall stat (all views/all downs) or per agency stat
  • How many downloads do I have with a particular download type (overall, per agency)
  • Detailed view on the statistics above for every month/week/day
  • Total earnings/views per photo (independently from particular agency) - this stat aggregates all earnings/views of the different agencies for a particular photo (I made an algorithm to find the same photo's different id's at the agencies I am submitting to)
  • Latest views/downloads per photo - this is useful to identify if a photo has lost the appeal to the buyers or it was not listed in any searches at a position visible to them.
These are the ones I currently monitor. If you can figure out some more that you think I could include in my stats I will do my best to include them. I plan to publish the app as soon as it gets stable enough for others, so stay tuned. I hope it will be useful for others. The good thing about the app that it collects all the data to a simple SQL database, so in theory you could write your own statistics queries. The bad thing that you will probably won't like the app because it does not have a GUI currently (ok, there is a simple GUI for prompting you the recaptcha image for shutterstock login, but that's all).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Statistics of August


August was BME on Fotolia, Shutterstock, and StockXpert for me. I have had 148 downloads with no more than 259 images online. I have got 60 new accepted images. This is almost comparable to the number of accepted images in June (which was 70). Even though there was an increase on submissions my monthly total earnings were not increasing at all agencies. On first of August my 23 day long download record has not counted further. But my downloads only stalled for a single day and it turned out that only 1st of August finished without downloads in the entire month. So now I have a new record still running and it is now on its 30th day. Therefore if this tendency is not broken soon I would count the days where I have had more downloads than a single one.

Here you can find the details for my report:
AgencyPortfolio sizeDownloadsEarnings ($)ChangeViews
Fotolia251
1 sub, 3 OD, 1 EL
6
+79%1117
Dreamstime1685 sub
1.75
-74%211
Shutterstock259
123 sub, 1 OD
32.43+73%N/A
iStockPhoto9
2 OD
0.91-85%115
StockXpert23612 sub, 1 OD
4.6
+1433%
624

I usually monitor the number of views on my images also, and from now on I plan to include the views column my the statistics. My multi-site view/download figure is still around 85 views/downloads, thanks to StockXpert. Fotolia's figure has dropped significantly first since I have started to calculate this number, and now instead of 135views/downloads now I measure 156. And these are the all time figures this month Fotolias monthly average has gone over 200!

As I already reported it on my previous statistics page the only agency that I can count on is ShutterStock. As you have seen from this month figures the others are heavily jumping back and forth, so I cannot count on them too much right now. However, surprisingly StockXpert starts to rise the volume of its sales for me. It might happen that StockXpert buyers like my images more than the other fluctuating agencies. Of course I came too late to StockXpert, because according to other blogs and forums their merger just starts to show its results. So I am really interested how do my overall sales figure will turn up at the end of the coming months there. For the record here are the details of August: StockXpert PPD 1, StockXpert Sub 4, Photos.com Sub 7 and finally Jupiterimages Unlimited sub 1.

At the end of this blog entry I put the my total earnings comparison after the end of August. Since I have started at the different agencies at different times I have scaled the earnings down to an average day on each agency. On this figure you can see how much StockXpert gained even in a single month.
So here is my current agency ranking:
  1. ShutterStock (-)
  2. iStockPhoto (-)
  3. StockXpert (was 5th in July)
  4. Fotolia (-)
  5. Dreamstime (was 3rd in July)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Photos from the cultural capital of europe 2010

We have been on vacation with my wife in early August. Our target was Pécs, the city selected to be the cultural capital of Europe in 2010. We did not just target the city but the surrounding area that has several interesting touristic targets. The city is lovely however so we took several nice walks in the center. During these walks we have checked the Basilica that shows the strong catholic heritage of the city:



I have also made some successful photos about the city hall on Szechenyi square (buy at Shutterstock or Fotolia), and about the Barbakán bastion that is also available for buyers on Shutterstock. Most of the images were accepted at Dreamstime so for the full coverage about Pécs please visit my galery there.

As I already wrote we also made excursions to the surrounding area in Baranya county. The weather was not so welcoming, so I could not take too many photos. However when we have visited the castle of Siklós the weather was pleasant for a little while so I made some shots about the castle and the mosque next to it. Here, you can see the mosque which is still used today. It is not so frequent nowadays in Hungary that a mosque is used, this particular one is only used on Fridays by refugees from our southern neighbors. The staff of the mosque is really helpful and they answered our silliest questions about the Islam or the mosque. You can buy the photo of the mosque at Shutterstock or Dreamstime:
After the visit in the mosque we have visited the castle, however the castle's staff was not so helpful so it was not worth visiting except the beautiful panorama of the south Hungarian border. The exterior of the castle is really nice you can see it yourself on these photos:
Buy the photo above about the watchtower of Siklós castle at Shutterstock or Dreamstime. Finally the next photo is the entrance of the Siklós castle that you can buy at Dreamstime by clicking on it:
Entrance of castle of Siklos,
© Photographer: Dbtale | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Monday, August 24, 2009

About photo: Wheat spike with seeds

You can buy the picture on top by following these links:

The subject of this blog entry is my most downloaded image during July. This is the third blog entry in the series I have started to introduce my best photos: best earner photo, most downloaded photo.

History: This image is part of two series. The scattered particles series that was born during the making of my longest series with the honey cookies (so called "Puszedli" in hungarian). In this series my wife thought it would be nice to spread some cookie crumbs in some of the shots. The honey cookie series however did not make a breakthrough, but the photos with the crumbs were the most popular (see the most popular photo of this series: Single honey biscuit on iStockPhoto). Thus we decided to take take the idea with the crumbs and since then we made a shot of scattered particles in every series in which it was possible. Another example is our coco biscuit bite (on ShutterStock) shot. Therefore by the time we have arrived to the creation of the wheat series it was straightforward that we are going to do some scattered particle photos with the wheat spikes.

Once upon a time we passed a wheat field on the way to my in-laws home. The harvest was soon due. My wife immediately thought the spikes would make good stock photos. So we took action and collected some wheat from my in-laws's little farm. After we arrived back home I take several shots about our newcomers. This photo is two of them one used entirely the other only with its seeds.

This photo became my second best selling photo at StockXpert in early October 2009.

Content: This photo shows a single wheat spike right before it would have been harvested. It has a single long dried leaf and the photo is cropped close to the beginning of this leaf. Several wheat seeds are scattered around the head of the spike. These seeds were collected from another spike by hand in order to make sure there will be no scratches on their surfaces. The scattered seeds make this image unique on some level.

Technique: This shot uses a simple isolation technique, I pointed my lighting towards the ceiling of the room and I put an A2 sheet of white paper underneath the subject. This image required little post processing because neither the seeds nor the spike has reflective surfaces, the only new technique I found out while making this shot that I can lower the brightness of the raw photo by some level before the burnt out whites start to become grayish. Previously I used only the exposure controls in post processing however the whites are transforming to gray much faster when I change the exposure.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

About photo: Isolated gun with a telescope

You can buy the picture on top by following these links:
The subject of this blog entry is my most downloaded image at all times. This is the second blog entry in the series I have started with my best earner photo here.

History: This photo is one of my earliest isolated photos and it is part of my hunting series. I made it in a weapon and hunting shop, where I had access to some of their inventory items for a short photography session. This is one of the very first photos I took during that session, while I was still experimenting with the isolation techniques. I have got very surprised that the later photos I took in this session are not so successful, even though I thought I mastered a little more about photography during the photo session. Until the very end of last month this was also my best earner photograph.

Content: This photo is a portray of a hunting rifle regularly found in hunting shops in Hungary. This particular one also has a nice telescope mounted on top. This telescope is not just there to help the aiming, but I also believe it is the primary cause of the popularity of this photo.

Technique: Rifles are long items and it seems like they are really hard to light from a single source. So I made a bridge over the rifle on which I hang my incandescent lighting aimed on the middle of the gun. This resulted shorter shadows on the middle, but the ends of the rifle cast longer ones. I have not used any diffuser or light softener so the shadows are really harsh on this picture. Therefore it needed a lot of post processing. Even with this level of post processing iStocphoto did not like the lighting. So later on I started to use reflectors as cheap secondary light sources to eliminate the disturbing shadows.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Number of photo views at different agencies

I have started to create a statistics app in order to replace picniche contributor toolbar. I already wrote about it on my first statistics related article (Fotolia API). Since then fotolia revoked my API key because they did not like the amount of queries I made. So I decided to go on the hard way and collect the necessary info like you would with a browser. I plan to collect the number of views, the number of downloads and the earned money on each individual image in every hour or so. I have written the collectors for Fotolia, Dreamstime, and iStockphoto. The iStockphoto one is only partial because I don't have enough images and sales to see how do they split your photos and earnings to pages. The good thing that my collectors are doing their jobs in the past two days. During these two days I did not have too many sales so I cannot conclude anything on them jet.

The only missing agency that provides the number of views for my portfolio is Stockxpert. However I did not really started to sell photos there, and I read on several sites that they have just started to decline in the past few months. So maybe it is not worth doing the collector at all for them. If they will produce more earnings I will reconsider writing one.

But anyway I have started this entry to tell you my observation about the views on my portfolio in the past two days (I know it is not a huge sample, so later on I might update the numbers if they will change dramatically). So in the past two days I have had 126 views on these three agencies. From all these 110 was from Fotolia, 6 was from Dreamstime, and the remaining 10 from iStockphoto. The 110 views of Fotolia is a little biased because that was the first collector I finished and it had half a day extra to collect views. So practically its view number should be a little bit lower than 100. From my previous hand made measurements Fotolia and Dreamstime has had the same amount of views, maybe Dreamstime had even a little bit more before they stopped counting the views of not logged in users. So I suspect Fotolia also has a similar policy.

I hope you found this entry useful, I plan to report also on the Shutterstock collector I am doing right now. Even though Shutterstock is the highest earner for me I left them last because they do tricks to avoid automated data collections. Right now I have just finished the creation of the captcha extractor so the statistics app could ask the user to provide the reading for the captcha figures.

Update: After another 1.5 days here are the standings: FT - 140, DT - 23, IS - 20

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Statistics of july


July was BME on all agencies for me. I have had 86 downloads with no more than 199 images online. I have submitted 34 new images. This is a huge drop on the number of submitted images compared to more than 70 in june. Even though there was a drop on submissions my monthly total earnings on all agencies got doubled. I have broke my record of 9 consecutive days with downloads. The new record is still running and it is now on its 23 day.

Here you can find the details for my report:
AgencyPortfolio sizeDownloadsEarnings ($)Change
Fotolia1987 sub, 3 OD
3.35+86%
Dreamstime1263 sub, 4 OD
4.94+312%
Shutterstock19964 sub, 2 OD
18.69+55%
iStockPhoto82 OD
6.09inf
StockXpert1761 sub
0.3inf

I usually monitor the number of views on my images also. I started to submit to StockXpert late june because I have seen a serious drop on the number of views at Dreamstime. Later on I have realized that Dreamstime changed the algorithm behind logging views. But I was afraid of the possible drop on sales, so I have chosen another popular agency. StockXpert did not have any sales in June because I have had very few images submitted back then. But now I am a little disappointed that with my full portfolio it still did not produce so many downloads.

Fotolia has a really good way to monitor the views on the portfolio, so from the very beginning I have tried to make predictions on downloads based on the view count. Earlier I have had 190views/download, but nowadays this number seems to decrease and it is already at 135views/download. This is an all time figure, however I have also counted it for monthly periods and this month I have had it at 85views/download. I have also started to take notes on the views number at Dreamstime and iStockPhoto. Since I have more downloads on Dreamstime I can calculate a meaningful number now: 19.5views/download. Unlike Fotolia I have not had time to check how accurate this number is (especially after the recent changes in view counts at Dreamstime). On Fotolia I really get a download around every 135 views (+/- 30 views usually).

I think if the downloads will be more frequent, then the number of views will not be that interesting for the statistics. However for example on iStockPhoto I have not had any downloads in June, so all I could measure was the number of views - this is the reason the value of change column for iStockPhoto is infinite. Later on the only reason to still have a look on the number of views would be the identification of those photos that have good keywords but bad execution. This will show when I would need to take a new shot about the subject.

Because my sales are so small the only agency I can count on is ShutterStock. The others are heavily jumping back and forth, so I cannot count on them too much right now. At the end of this blog entry I put the my total earnings comparison. Since I have started at the different agencies at different times I have scaled the earnings down to an average day on each agency.

Friday, July 31, 2009

About photo: Blue vase with sunflowers

You can buy the picture on top on these links:

As I already wrote I plan to publish here my best photographs according to the microstock sites. As a starter this blog is about my best earner ever photo. (This photo was my best earner between July and September in 2009, the it was superseded by a photo about a Hungarian highway.)

History: As you can see it follows my style of isolated on white photographs. I first made another photo about an orange vase that also sells really well. So I decided to have a series of vase photographs about our better looking vases we have home. This is the second in the series of vase photos and it recently became the best earner of my entire portfolio.

Content: I choose this vase as the second because it has sunflowers painted on it. It seems like stock buyers like sunflowers so I thought I give it a try to have my very own sunflower related image. These two sunflowers really pop out in front of the blue background of the vase similarly as real sunflowers would do with the sky as their background. Like the real sunflowers this image also shows their leaves, however the curvature of the rounded vase hides a leaf partially.

Technique: This photo was taken with no extra lighting as the sun. I put it in the shade of an A2 sheet of paper. Also I put another sheet underneath the vase, and that was it. I did the shading of the vase during my camera took the picture from the top of my stand.

My upload strategy

Originally I have only contributed to Fotolia. They were really patient because I have uploaded so many bad images and luckily they did not fed up with me. By the time I have joined dreamsitme and the others I have had several photos that were accepted by them so I used these photos to get accepted or have a look on how other sites perform with the same images. By march this year I was part of shutterstock, fotolia, dreamstime and istockphoto. I also have had some experience on how much time does it take to upload an image. I have read discussions on whether the upload times worth dealing with. However I usually see if someone considers a site worth uploading then they will try to upload to every site all of their images.

When I realized that some sites review images considerably slower than the others I decided that I will not submit there such images that does not have a chance. So I started to upload to only my two favorite sites Fotolia and Shutterstock. It is easy and fun to upload on these sites, and their review process is so fast that I practically don't waste any time by delaying the uploads to the other sites.

So here is how I work: first I upload to both fotolia and shutterstock in parallel. Then I keyword the photos at shutterstock, because they have more strict keywords policy. After they have accepted all my keywords and titles I copy these details to fotolia. At fotlia I rearrange the keywords to have the most important words in front. And then I submit the images at both sites. After the review finishes on either of the sites (e.g. fotolia) I upload the accepted images to dreamstime and stockxpert. If the other site (e.g. shutterstock) accepts some images that were not accepted previously, I also upload these to dreamstime and stockxpert. Finally my protfolio is not so heavy in sales so I have enough sales only on shutterstock to decide on the best pictures. So the most downloaded pictures on shutterstock go to istockphoto. I upload only the best of my pictures because the istockphoto's lenghty upload procedure. Currently I upload a picture when it reached 6 downloads on shutterstock.

I hope it helped someone, if you have an upload strategy to consider feel free to comment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fotolia's tag cloud and search results

I have started to play a little with fotolia's API. I thought it will be harder to get some useful data out of it, however it turns out it is a great fun to use their API. My only problem so far that they do not allow access to all the details on the contributor page (e.g. it is not possible to collect the credit earnings data on an individual image). I also had a technical problem with the user login that is required to access some more details about an individual contributor. Even though I am not able to access this data right now I am not going to press it harder to have a complete Java API. Instead I have started to focus on the stats I am planning to do. And thankfully these stats have nothing to do with the details you can get when logged in as a contributor.

My first trial on how can I use the API for improving my photography is to do a single search on every word in the tag clouds. The results will let me choose the keywords that are least used thus they are worth using. These keywords are the ones which are well searched but has the lowest competition: Laos, ships, wreck, lorry, nuclear, cables. So I believe the best picture you can make for Fotolia would be a nuclear aeroplane carrier wrecked near to Laos that is rescued by lorries pulling it off the coast with strong cables. OK this was the fun part.

I think the statistics might be useful for others too, so here is the entire table with the results:
Word from the cloudResult number with the given search term
abstract 474639
adult 391461
aeroplane 7687
animal 267064
apple 63639
architecture 231558
art 388796
artistic 103662
asian 91753
attractive 387251
autumn 136617
baby 106735
background 1215977
ball 114731
bank 67915
bar 59474
bath 39187
beach 196972
beautiful 795328
beauty 723581
black 522012
blue 825436
boat 80536
body 191913
box 72334
bright 252399
brown 293568
bubbles 18666
building 219207
business 532649
businessman 103433
cables 4245
camel 4353
car 68069
cat 42961
chair 41408
chinese 48275
chocolate 53370
christmas 204301
church 82433
city 176029
clock 28908
close 170458
close-up 333882
closeup 317549
cloud 143778
clouds 144985
coffee 81804
cold 136037
color 582343
colorful 246727
colour 121638
colourful 52380
communication 148925
computer 189182
concept 297522
conceptual 84237
container 42900
contrast 35591
corporate 120485
couple 102150
dance 43843
design 477125
detail 187274
diet 201798
digital 119039
earth 90043
eat 162627
education 102992
element 113168
emotion 96372
england 25131
euro 38425
europe 137412
exam 12820
expression 170603
eye 132349
eyes 175234
face 430993
fashion 337929
female 698202
field 164149
finance 110678
fish 76783
flower 389416
flowers 130401
food 605394
fresh 418976
fruit 256382
fun 310592
garden 205273
gift 154507
girl 637715
girls 97486
glass 247302
golf 13905
graphic 223569
grass 242782
green 785660
hair 291919
halloween 27933
hand 338792
hands 305858
happy 487771
head 163523
health 379428
healthy 478027
holiday 453015
home 207421
horse 37515
horses 10061
hotel 42942
house 198186
houses 17190
hue 8397
human 259340
illustrated 14203
illustration 599161
india 18695
interior 71289
internet 131033
iron 42292
isolated 1017834
keyboard 43280
lady 272808
landscape 288477
laos 2188
laptop 76442
leaf 238279
leaves 123692
light 345880
line 121801
london 11925
lorry 3804
love 292563
macro 321267
mains 4067
male 283680
man 395532
massage 22978
metal 184531
mobile 45632
model 288051
modern 282430
money 135345
moon 20261
mouse 20337
naked 34700
natural 362542
nature 926853
network 43299
new 140556
night 91234
nuclear 3884
nude 23280
ocean 182247
office 218516
old 288378
orange 262735
outdoor 181237
pain 21897
park 153525
party 180518
pattern 326242
peace 67999
people 607619
person 547142
photo 84595
pictures 7157
piggy 4765
pink 195723
plant 335411
portrait 493059
pose 115890
pound 7815
prayer 15442
pretty 429187
project 15255
rainbow 29635
red 794417
reflection 182065
render 86682
rendered 13095
restaurant 113335
river 98444
rose 80663
rural 82517
sand 130866
saving 11403
sea 321684
season 231173
security 68477
sex 23606
sexy 239721
shadow 100105
shape 220202
ships 3495
shoes 24100
shop 48950
shopping 56435
sign 208787
silver 91483
skin 184817
sky 528451
smile 393893
smiling 282110
snow 130357
space 139370
spring 291685
star 84974
stone 157637
summer 522733
sun 261161
sunflower 15821
sunny 114855
sunset 78561
support 34304
sweet 251855
symbol 331583
teacher 12413
technology 227710
telephone 45844
texture 286721
thailand 18810
time 65216
tint 6448
training 48937
travel 316605
tree 357604
trees 357604
trust 12948
two 102863
up 115776
urban 102896
vacation 250911
vase 12711
view 151774
wall 113257
water 492384
weather 60250
wedding 87243
whiskers 6395
white 1444849
winter 191020
woman 798790
women 271044
wood 215094
work 221185
wreck 3518
yellow 468039
young 736731
youth 216241

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

Hi everybody,

I am new Hungarian member of the microstock community. Previously some people really liked my old pictures, so I decided I give it a try. I have found a fotolia advertisement on a photography webpage, and without any investigation I have started submissions to Fotolia in last October. Back then I have just submitted the photos I made prior I made the move towards microstock. By the time I finished uploading my favorite pictures almost a month passed.

However I have had a high rejection ratio, so I decided to choose a different direction. I have started to read what kind of photos Fotolia would accept. I have gone through several thousand messages in my favorite forums. Since I am doing photography as a hobby I did not want to investigate purely on the microstock photos I will take in the future. Then I had a look on my current equipment: Nikon D90, kit lens (18-105VR), Nikon 50 mm F1.8D. That's it I have to choose a direction with these items.

It seems like if you want to go for microstock you have two basic options take photos of people or not to take photos of people. The first option I don't like because I cannot tell where my photos get published. I don't want those men and women I photographed placed in an environment they would not like. With people out of the picture I have had to consider my equipment for the further directions, and finally I came to the idea that I will take pictures of isolated objects.

Isolated pictures however needs better lighting. And as you have already seen I did not have any lighting equipment so far. So I decided that I will go for hot lighting because I can use that also for shooting film (my other hobby), and of course I also choose it because it was cheap for a starter. I have got 2 pieces 500W incandescent lights with stands.

After some experimentation in January I have started to take photos in late February. By this time I have joined Dreamstime and Shutterstock. I have passed the shutterstock application procedure with the top images on Fotolia.

Finally here are my current galeries in the order I have joined the agencies:
I hope you will like reading my blog, later on I plan to publish my best pictures, the evaluation of my sales progression, and the making of my current photos in progress.