Archive for April, 2010

One of the necessities of being a stock photographer is obtaining the required model releases for your images that contain people. A release states that your model/person(s) contained in the photo gave you permission to use their likeness. It is one of the primary differences between royalty free stock and editorial photography. I don’t have trouble obtaining the releases, but I do have issues with the methods and storage. My model releases are well over a thousand.

I have participated in shoots when there were 30+ people involved, and I didn’t know a single one of them prior to the shoot. This makes it difficult to identify who signed what release. Chances are good that one year later I may not be able to identify the person by name. I have to take a photo of the person holding the release as a digital way to identify them. This is time consuming and not always possible.

Enter a new iPhone application that will facilitate creating, storing and sending model releases directly from your iPhone. It’s called ID Release. You can use your iPhone’s camera to ID the model visually. The model can sign (I’m assuming using touch technology) the release digitally and you can email the release form as a pdf to yourself and the model. Easy right?

Should I need to swap out my iPod Touch for an iPhone? There’s always associated costs with business.


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Just finished up shooting a local production of Guys & Dolls. The acting was great and singing amazing. It is my favorite musical so I do know how it should sound.

Shooting under these kinds of conditions is difficult. It’s low light with fast motion. Flash is normally prohibited so you’ve got to use settings that allow you to get the capture since you cannot add in light from an external source.  That translates into shooting wide open with an aperture of f/2.8 or larger using a fast lens. It also means boosting your light sensitivity or ISO up to bring up your shutter speeds. A longer lens is also needed so stabilization to avoid camera shake means Image Stabilization or VR in Nikon speak for Vibration Reduction. A 70-200mm f/2.8 was used since it is less intrusive in working distance.

Here’s a shot from the Rockin’ the Boat scene. Congratulations to all the actors for an amazing performance.

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The proliferation of microstock agency start ups has been growing. There are many articles that beckon readers to try their hand at becoming contributors with the suggestion that one can make money shooting stock. Yes, you can make money, but it takes more than a camera and equipment to make a go of this.

One of the integral components is identifying what is stock imagery. It’s not about piling in hundreds of images willy nilly that are taking up hard drive space. You need to determine what the concept of stock is before you take the shot. If you cannot identify what stock is, how are you able to shoot it? A return for your investment of time and money should yield results.

What is stock?

This is a very broad definition. Stock is the embodiment of an idea to convey a concept to the audience. It can be simple, amusing, serious, etc. It can contain objects, people, scenarios…. Some of the best stock imagery is actually quite boring because it is generic and has widespread usage. Stock is not your ordinary thinking of beautiful landscapes and flowers, although there is a need for that kind of imagery in stock. Those common subjects come to mind when most people think of photography. If you have plans to shoot and submit to an agency, those subjects must be executed to the Nth degree because there is such a plethora of them in collections. Let’s face it, stock is not going to be hung in the Louvre alongside Mona.

It’s often easier to distinguish what is not stock than to specify exactly what it is.

Don’t out think the designer

The clearer depiction often wins simply due to the subject being generic. Designers are creative individuals by virtue of choice of their profession. What you want to do is suggest a usage by portrayal and leave it to the designer to determine if they need it and how it is going to be used. Images can be used straight up, cropped only showing an enlarged part or built into a montage with other images and design elements. Resist the temptation to suggest how your image can be used in your written description. It’s insulting to a designer’s creativity to tell them how to use it. A description should provide more detail than is visibly seen. Suggest by what you submit. Compel the purchase by execution and portrayal. It is a visual business. Allow the image to do the telling.

It’s not what is there, it’s how you think about it. Go in with clear purpose.

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Spring has sprung and looks like Jason Odell has too in launching his offerings of Spring Webinars for Capture NX2. You do need to attend live, and I don’t think he’s offering a download for the course. Jason handles the broadcasting of The Image Doctors for Nikonians. The guy knows his stuff.


I purchased his ebook, The Photographer’s Guide to Capture NX in pdf format. Capture NX does take some time to learn and it is helpful to have a guide to learn. Capture NX is Nikon’s proprietary software used for conversion of RAW files (NEF) and postprocessing. There are other applications such as Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom that enable you to convert NEF files to workable product such as tif, psd, and jpg.

There are some paperback books available too. Real World Capture NX2 by Ben Long. Nikon Capture NX2 After the Shoot by Mike Hagen. Will Capture NX2 replace Photoshop? Not really. Despite the healing tool and other features that you’d find in Photoshop, you will need an application that would allow you different types of tweaking such as removing logos. CNX2 is not a replacement for Photoshop on the back end.

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This type of news always makes me go hmmmmmmm despite periodic Nikon Instant Rebates that go into effect. There is a tendency of Nikon to offer rebates on merchandise before the release of a new model. There hasn’t been much in the Pro lineup releases for a while. Rumors are squashing a D700 replacement. The D700 will be two years old this summer.

Here are some instant rebates available from Calumet on Nikon products.

Bundled Rebates are available from B&H. $400. off a combo kit D700 and a Nikkor 70-200mm f/w.8 G AF-S ED VRII (until May 1)

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I’ve been using Nikon’s software for converting my RAW NEF files since I began shooting the D100 in late 2003. It started out with Capture but later renamed Capture NX.  I later began using Adobe’s Lightroom when the first version was still in beta.

Why? Because conversions of the RAW format are interpretations. Nikon has had its own proprietary software from the beginning. There was a bit of a battle between the developers of the RAW format and Nikon when RAW was coming on board. There were claims that Nikon had encrypted the white balance and not released the SDK code to the other developers. I think they ended up releasing a mini SDK to the developers for conversions of NEFs after the dust settled.

NEF files are the RAW files generated by a Nikon camera. You can open/convert and resave to tif, jpg or psd file formats.

I tested Lightroom and its conversion of RAW files against Capture NX2 when I began using LR. The images were different in appearance due to differences in interpretation. There was also chromatic aberration in the LR files where it was practically non-existent in the files rendered by Capture NX2. Lightroom has tweaked things further using Camera Profiles.

This is an ongoing process. Here is an March 2010 update for new beta camera profiles for the Nikon D3 and D700. These are beta but give them a whirl.

Download beta Camera profiles for D3 and D700

In Lightroom, go to the bottom of the Develop Module and you’ll see Camera Calibration. There’s a drop down menu that gives you options to choose. Adobe Standard, Camera Neutral, Portrait, Standard, Landscape and Vivid are the standard options. So, if you are shooting a Nikon D90 Camera Standard is the profile for a Nikon D90 or as seen in the screenshot, Camera Portrait for a D90. If you were shooting a Canon 5D2, then the Camera Standard would be for the Canon 5D2. The actual name of the camera that the image was taken with doesn’t show up in your drop down list. Some of the ACR profiles are also available.

I have loaded additional profiles for the D2x mode 1, mode 2 and mode 3 since I have owned that camera and still have thousands of images from it. The rendering of skin tones was superb with a D2x. D2x mode 1 is the original “borrowed” standard taken from the Capture (stopped at v.4 before the release of Capture NX and Capture NX2. Mode 1 was the Kodak standard for portrait work and Mode 2 was pretty close. I’ve found Modes 1 and 2 less punchy than Adobe Camera Standard by comparison. Eye pleasing color is not the same as accurate skin tones. I always felt that I preferred less red in my skin tones. Mode 3 was generally used for landscapes with a lot of green and blue.

According to your “taste” use what you will. One of the best ways to see the differences is to open the same NEF file using Lightroom, (or Photoshop) and then open it in Capture NX2.

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istockphoto.com turns 10 years old April 7, 2010. istockphoto is the leading microstock agency that provides stock content to a vast bunch of users. That content includes photos, vector illustrations, flash bits, video clips, audio and who else knows what will be offered?

istockphoto was originally known as the Designer’s Dirty Little Secret. I first discovered istock in 2002 when I was shopping for some imagery for a brochure that I was designing. I couldn’t believe that they were selling 300 dpi images for five cents a download. I didn’t find what I was looking for so I skipped off. I passed the contributor’s test a year later when I returned to look for more imagery. Bruce Livingstone, the founder of istockphoto, was the one approving new contributor apps. It didn’t dawn on me until late 2003 that I might be able to contribute stock imagery and exchange my earned credits to download what I needed for my design work. That started the ball rolling in early 2004 as I began to upload my imagery. Years have passed. Getty Images now owns istock. OMG. The garage upstart has gone mainstream. Thanks Bruce for all the encouragement and allowing so many to follow their dream by your example.

Happy Birthday, istock!

Join in the festivities to see what giveaways are happening here. Follow istock on Twitter for a chance to win some prizes. 24 hours of madness with a prize an hour.

LOL, if I ever won a Canon camera body, that would force me to dip my toe in the other camp~

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