Archive for the 'Photography' Category

Boring is the new cool

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

tilthharvestfair_20100911-84I’m excited about my latest photographic equipment acquisition.

Is it a new super-wide-angle lens? The latest full-featured camera body? No, it’s…

A normal lens.

Yes, it’s the most boring of all the lens possibilities – what is sometimes called a “kit lens”. That’s the lens you get when you buy the camera – the assumption being that sooner or later you’ll get bored with its limitations and start buying more interesting lenses. Like telephotos, wide-angles and zooms.


iStock – what’s the point?

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

That’s a pretty depressing-sounding title. What’s the deal?

Over the past month and a half or so – after finally getting accepted – I’ve been uploading photos to iStock. It’s been an arduous process. I retouch each image within what I think are “reasonable” bounds: cropping, boost the contrast a little, lightweight sharpening. Then I generate a batch of keywords using Yuri Arcurs’ clever and helpful keywording service. The result is usually good but requires a bit more editing before being ready to upload. Then upload the image. Paste in the keywords and “disambiguate” – the keywords have to match words in iStock’s lexicon, and usually that means selecting something similar or related from their auto-generated suggestons. Then try to choose 2-3 categories from the extremely limited list. Then wait.



Thursday, December 18th, 2008


iStock rejected my submissions.

The stated reason for each of the three was:

This file contains artifacting when viewed at full size. This technical issue is commonly created by the quality settings in-camera, in post-processing or in RAWsettings. Artifacting may be the result of other factors such as excessive level adjustments.

I said “no way – those images are great”. Couldn’t believe they found “artifacts” – these were RAW images, never seriously compressed or post-processed.

After being dejected for a while I went on the iStock forum and did some searching on the subject. I realized there were two possible reasons for their response:

  1. Sharpening. I tend to like to sharpen, sometimes a bit heavy-handedly. It improves the pop when printed on my Epson, and helps maintain crispness when resized smaller for the web.
  2. Chromatic aberration (CA). CA is a by-product of the way light bends as it passes through glass. Different wavelengths (colors) of light bend differently when they pass through the air-glass boundary. This is how white light separates into a rainbow when it passes through a prism [illustrated in classic rock style here]. CA is more likely to occur in inexpensive lenses, but it happens in good ones too. These photos were shot with a Nikon 18-200 zoom – a flexible and useful lens for walking around, and considered very good (both Thom Hogan and Ken Rockwell like it a lot), but obviously it suffers from a little CA.

So I re-opened the raw images, didn’t sharpen them at all, and did some careful correction to minimize the CA. Resubmitted them and now…well…I guess I have to wait another 4 weeks.

Kind of an enthusiasm damper.

On the other hand, anything worth doing is worth doing well. I should probably be glad iStock is kicking my butt.

Seems like a great time to get into the stock market…

Friday, November 28th, 2008

OK – a statement like that sounds crazy given the current financial situation. But I’m talking about stock photography.