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
Dreamstime1263 sub, 4 OD
Shutterstock19964 sub, 2 OD
iStockPhoto82 OD
StockXpert1761 sub

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.