Thursday, September 28, 2017

Why you should submit your photos to EyeEm







If you are in any way a serious photographer you will, at some time or other, have asked yourself "how can I make my photography pay?"

Well, one way is to submit your images to a stock library, of which there are many. Personally, I have images all over the place and to be honest, it's a bit of a mess. Trying to keep track of what images were submitted where is a real nightmare at times. However, of late, I have decided to submit images to just two places, Adobe Stock and EyeEm.


When I say 'images' I am referring to stock images. I still enter images in contests and also to sites like Zazzle and Redbubble. These last two are sites where can upload your images and add them to various products (mugs, postcards, prints, garments, clothing, phone cases... the combinations seem endless. Check out the link to see what I mean).


Stock libraries offer a great way to get your images seen by thousands of possible clients. Everyday millions of images are used in blogs, corporate websites, magazines, books, leaflets and these images have to come from somewhere. Also, these potential clients want fresh images so there is a constant demand for new images. This means that potentially you can earn some good money if your images are good enough. The stock library does all the hard work of promoting your images to potential clients around the world. They also manage the website where your images are hosted, deal with royalty issues and at the end of the day, hopefully, sending you your share (usually 50% of what clients are charged).


So, looking at EyeEm, what is on offer. Well, before we get into money, let's look at some other benefits of submitting your images to EyeEm.


1. You are joining an online community of 20 million photographers from 150 countries;
2. You will not only connect with some of these photographers but you will receive (and hopefully give) encouragement;
3. You will find endless inspiration for the craft of photography and I guarantee it will make you a better photographer;
4. Finally, you may even make some money!


Taking each of these points in turn, let's look at them in more depth. Twenty million photographers from 150 countries - I know, it's somewhat mind-blowing! Just think for a moment.... it's better than the UN in some ways and I bet more folk actively engage in the online community that is EyeEm than do with the UN. I am not, in any way, saying let's abolish the UN. No, all I am saying is that when you join EyeEm (no joining fee by the way, just to be clear) you are part of something bigger, much bigger, than your self. Think of all the good that can be done by interacting with folk from another country, who may be of a different gender, hold different political views and follow a totally different religion (or none at all).


This leads me onto my second point, that you will receive encouragement from other community members, and hopefully, give it in return. This will be through likes and comments on photos as well as following other photographers. Now of course, I am not saying that this interaction will be on a deeply personal and meaningful level. But it can be. There is nothing to stop you, through the use of the comments facility, building deeper relationships with other photographers. You could, for example, make links with others who live near you and even meet up to work on a project (say street photography in the nearest city) or start a friendship up outside of the community. It's up to you.


Thirdly, you will find plenty to inspire your photography on the site, simply by being able to view the work of other photographers. Also, EyeEm run regular 'missions' on a theme, often with prizes. For example, as of this moment, they are running one on the theme of 'Yellow', supported by Nikon (who have a yellow logo - hence the link) who are offering actual camera gear. By participating in these 'missions' you will improve your photography as they provide not only encouragement but an incentive to get that shot for the mission and claim the glory!


Finally, we come to money. Now to be absolutely clear, you will not become a millionaire through submitting your images to EyeEm. But you can, if you work at it, increase your chances significantly of making some money from your craft. By hard work I mean taking lots of diverse images and uploading them on a regular basis. Just remember that and accept you are unlikely to be an overnight success.


So, how much money are we talking? Well, EyeEm's fee structure for use of your images is as follows:


Subscriptions

When you sell a photo through EyeEm Market, you will always receive 50% of the revenue.

The amount the photo sells for depends on the license purchased:
• Social Licenses sell for $20 per photo.
• Web Licenses sell for $50 per photo.
• Full Commercial Licenses sell for $250 per photo.

If you want to know more about licensing and copyright issues, please refer to the Terms of Service page.

The Difference between EyeEm Market pricing and partner pricing

EyeEm Market Pricing offers a set price. More details about these licenses can be found on the Subscriptions FAQ. Photos sold through Partner Pricing can vary in price according to the partner’s own set pricing systems.


The Difference between Commercial and Editorial License


Photos with a Commercial License are more likely to sell because buyers can use them for a wider range of purposes. Photos that either require no releases or have had all the releases signed qualify for a Commercial License. Photos that haven’t had their releases completed are made available only with an Editorial License.

So, its possible to earn up to $125 (£93 approx) from an image. The thing about stock photography though is you can earn repeat fees as each image could be licensed more than once. In fact, some popular images may be licensed several times.

Just remember that you need to upload images on a regular basis and that they have to be images that not only technically good but also relevant. By that I mean that market for images is just that, a marketplace and like all marketplaces, what the customer wants, the customer gets in theory!). People want different things at different times. There are trends in the stock photography market as in any other. So, it's worth checking out what images you see on TV, in magazines and more importantly, online.

EyeEm help with this in a very clever way. They look at trends and then post on their blog articles about the latest trends and what actually sells. If you want to be a very successful stock photographer you will need to upload images that buyers are looking for. For example, as of this moment, the Four Top-Selling Photo Themes in September were:

1. Millennial Pink
2. Sources of light
3. Winter is coming (I blame Game of Thrones!)
4. Linework

For more details check the article on their blog. It's full of useful and inspirational stuff that is sure to get your creative juices flowing. If you do join EyeEm, let me know your username in the comments and I will check out your images. Alternatively, check out my profile and follow me and I will follow you back.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How good is Macphun's Aurora HDR 2018?

Yesterday I posted about the upcoming release of Macphun's Aurora HDR 2018. Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-order on September 12, and released on September 28. As well as including the press release information in my post, I also included an example of before and after images.

Well, just one example is not enough to judge (before you can get your hands on the software) of what it is capable of. To help remedy that I include a couple more examples. First up is a dramatic shot of Dubai by Dima Sytnix. You can clearly see how Aurora HDR 2018 has brought up the detail in the shadows and improved the highlights in the sky.

Dubai Before image (by Dima Sytnik)

Dubai After Image (Dima Sytnik)

The second example is a photo of a path through trees, also taken in Spain by Dmitry Sytnik.


Spain Before Image (Dima Sytnik)

As you can, once again the software has managed to improve on the original image, with more detail in the highlights and better contrast all round, without losing detail in the shadows.

So, I hope this has wetted your appetite for the software. If you would like to pre-order and benefit from some time-limited bonuses, go to Macphun's site here. It won't cost any extra but if you use this link it will help me spend more time writing posts, creating tutorials and tips for my readers. Speaking of which, I want to thank everyone who has helped me to reach over 2,000 pageviews last month.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Want to create stunning HDR images? Try Aurora HDR 2018.



HDR images are very popular these days. If you want to create HDR images you need to edit your photos in an image editor that supports HDR. You can use any of the many photo editors available such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Affinity to achieve an HDR effect in post-processing.

Macphun, the creators of several image editors also have one specifically for producing HDR images. They have just released details about the latest incarnation of their Aurora HDR. Keeping things simple, its called Aurora HDR 2018 and you can pre-order it today by clicking on this link here or by clicking on the image above.

There are various deals available so check out the press release below for more info.

In the meantime check out some Before and After images:



Brazil Before (с) 2013-2017 Dmitry Sytnik
Brazil After (с) 2013-2017 Dmitry Sytnik 

About Aurora HDR:
Aurora HDR is not just a tool for merging bracketed images, it also provides numerous tools and countless options to create perfect HDR photos for every taste - from one-click presets and advanced tone-mapping, to layers, noise reduction and powerful luminosity masking controls. 

Offer Availability: 
Aurora HDR 2018 will be available for pre-order TODAY, September 12th, and released on September 28th. 

Pre-Order Pricing: 
  • Current users of Aurora HDR may upgrade at a special pre-order price of $49 ($59 MSRP)
  • New users can purchase Aurora HDR 2018 at a special pre-order price of $89 ($99 MSRP)
  • A collection of bonuses will also be included with every purchase.

Pre-Order Bonuses:
  • Trey Ratcliff Deep Dive video (HDR Training by Trey Ratcliff) 
  • Travel Photography Tutorials by Matt Granger (2 hours of tips, tricks and techniques to capture the best travel photos) 
  • Source Brackets (5 sets of HDR brackets)
  • 3-month Zenfolio Pro website, including a complementary design consultation. $60 value.

What's new in Aurora HDR 2018:
  • Next-generation Tone Mapping – A new smart Tone Mapping algorithm automatically reduces noise, and produces more realistic and natural initial results.
  • Mac and Windows versions – Aurora HDR 2018 is available both for Mac and PC users, enabling mixed-computer households to share the same product key.
  • Lens Correction Tool* – The new Lens Correction filter easily fixes all kinds of lens distortion, from barrel and pincushion to chromatic aberration and vignetting.
  • Transform Tool* – Easily scale, rotate and shift your image to better fit your vision.
  • Dodge & Burn Filter – Selectively lighten or darken specific areas of an image to artfully direct your viewer’s eye towards the key subject of your image, similar to a traditional darkroom technique.
  • HDR Enhance Filter - Adds details and clarity to an image, adjusting colors, details and contrast without creating artificial halos or other problems.
  • User Interface – A new, modern and responsive user interface brings a powerful, yet joyful experience to HDR photo editing.
  • History Panel – An easy-to-reference list of edits made to your image, the History panel allows you to click on any editing step to revert the photo to an earlier stage of editing.
  • Touch Bar support for Mac – Aurora HDR 2018 adds Touch Bar support to give new MacBook Pro users fast access to key editing features and speed up their workflow.
  • Image Flip and Rotate* – Perfect for correcting photos with incorrect horizons or making creative compositions or other stylistic changes to an image.
  • IMPROVED: New Structure Algorithm – The re-developed Structure tool allows you to adjust detail and clarity of an image to get a classic HDR effect with great detail or a smoother effect with less details.
  • IMPROVED: RAW handling – An improved RAW conversion brings out more details in shadows/highlights, displays colors more accurately and reduces noise in RAW files.
  • IMPROVED: Crop tool update – Now specify custom crop sizes for even more versatility.
  • IMPROVED: Speed – Faster merging and masking performance, improvement in RAW image processing.
* Lens Correction and Transform tools, as well as image flip and rotate will be available in the Mac version at launch, and arrive in the PC version with the first free update in the beginning of October. Other tools and features that are currently available for Mac only would be added to PC version by the end of the year.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

How to earn money from your photography.


At some point or other, if you are keen photographer, you may have thought about making some money from what can be a very expensive hobby. One of the ways to do this is to get into stock photography. Now, in case you wonder what all this is about, here is the Wikipedia entry on the subject:


Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses.[1] The stock photo industry, which began to gain hold in the 1920s,[1] has established models including traditional macrostock photography,[2] midstock photography,[3] and microstock photography.[4] Conventional stock agencies charge from several hundred to several thousand American dollars per image, while microstock photography may sell for around USD 25 cents.[4] Professional stock photographers traditionally place their images with one or more stock agencies on a contractual basis,[1] while stock agencies may accept the high-quality photos of amateur photographers through online submission.[5]

If you think that your photographs are good enough, this can be a way to recoup some of the money you have spent on your hobby. Not many people get rich this way, but you can make an income that may or may not cover all your costs but could help to some degree in paying for your equipment, travel costs and internet connection.

One of the many ways to get into stock photography is via an app on your smartphone. In fact, some photographers only submit photos taken on their smartphones and that is perfectly acceptable to some stock libraries. One of these is EyeEm and I myself have over 1,000 images on their site (see image above). You can also upload images from your computer as well as from your smartphone.

As well as EyeEm there is also Foap and I am sure there others. You can also join Adobe Stock to sell not just photos but graphics, video, type and other graphic related items. Adobe Stock has the advantage that you can upload directly from within Lightroom etc.

Check out my premium images on EyeEm here.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Photolemur is now available on PC and Mac!






Photolemur is an innovative and fully automated program for getting perfect photos. It is now available on both Mac and PC. Photolemur works by automatically analysing your images and doesn't require you to do any manual editing.

Designed for anyone who takes photos., you just drag and drop your image onto the program and leave the rest to Photolemur. Using artificial intelligence, smart tech and a bit of magic, Photolemur doesn’t rely on hard-coded filters or presets. Rather, by applying specific targeted enhancements to every pixel and object in your photo, it will automatically come up with the best result possible. Photolemur is powered by artificial intelligence that recognizes objects, faces, trees, sky, foliage and more; distinguishes between portraits, landscapes and macro photographs; and applies the appropriate enhancements for each type of image.

Why not check out the video above that will introduce you to what may just be the most innovative photo editor out there. You can purchase Photolemur for just $30 (single install) or $50 for the family edition (up to 5 installs). Click here now. 
Get the Free Version with watermark and no batch export.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

How the X-T2 performed at Clacton-on-Sea Airshow 2017

After Silverstone, the next event on my hit-list was an airshow. As it happens, living in Colchester, we have the Clacton Airshow on our doorstep. So, I just went along for the first day on 24th August. I did originally intend to go both days and stay for the evening flights on Thursday. However, I decided not to do so. One reason was that the programme for both days is essentially the same, at least for the daylight period. The only difference between the two days was that on Friday there was planned to be an appearance by a Hurricane. Another reason I left after the daylight programme on Thursday and missed out on the night flights was that I had foolishly not taken something to sit on. As a result, I was suffering a great deal of pain in my spine (I have osteoarthritis) and needed a good lie down.

Having said all that, I had a great time at the airshow and to say it's a free event, its great value for money. Of course, I had to drive there, so there were fuel costs and parking (£6 all day) to fork out but that's nothing really. I did also buy an official programme for £5. I also came away with a lot of shots I am very happy with.

Now, in terms of an event like an airshow, lens choice is important. For me though, there was no choice as I currently only have one lens, the FUJINON LENS XF50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR. I also have the FUJINON TELECONVERTER XF1.4X TC WR and together these equate to 106mm to 298mm. I do have two Carl Zeiss lenses for the Contax G camera (a 28mm and a 90mm) that I can use with an adapter ring. However, these would not suffice for capturing images of fast moving aircraft as they are manual focus and too short a focal range.

As it was, I was wishing I had bought the FUJINON XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR instead as it would have been more useful. It would have given me the equivalent of 152-609mm in the 35mm film format, without the T/C. However, when photographing more than one aircraft, the 50-140mm with T/C was perfect. I shall definitely be saving up for the 100-400mm though as it will prove useful for the kind of subjects I want to photograph more these days, such as wildlife, aircraft in flight and motorsports.
So, overall, how pleased was I with my X-T2 kits? Well, let's start with the negatives first.


  1. Even with the booster grip (i.e. 3 batteries), I found that I was down to just 3 bars on the last battery by the end of the day. Granted I took over 5,000 images and used 3 64GB cards, but in terms of time, the first shot was taken at 10:02 am and the last one at 16:59 pm. That's about 7 hours. If I was shooting professionally I would definitely have a second set of three batteries charged up and ready for use.
  2. I did have a couple of glitches with the camera (this happened at Silverstone too). After taking a series of shots, the camera froze and became completely unusable. However, I have discovered a workaround that is 100% successful. As I was using the booster grip, I loosened it until the camera unfroze and then tightened it up again. I think that the lock-up was due to the grip not being absolutely tight and certainly, after I did this for the second time, making sure it was as tight a fit as possible, I had no further problems. I don't believe this is a firmware update I am still on ver 2.00). I will now update to the latest and see if the problem reoccurs.
In terms of positive:
  1. Weight - although the combination of camera, lens, booster drive, 3 batteries and the t/c is quite hefty, I didn't find the weight too much of an issue. Granted I was sat down for periods (after the tide came in and I had abandoned the beach, I sat on the steps to the beach) and not walking around all day with the camera around my neck.
  2. Ease of use - the design of the X-T2 (other X-Series cameras) is a real boon for the photographer. By setting up my custom commands beforehand and by setting the ISO to A, the lens to A and unlocking the shutter speed dial, I was able to change shutter speed without taking my eye away from the viewfinder. This is really useful when trying to capture fast moving jets with a big zoom lens!
  3. The speed of autofocus is almost instant. Granted it failed on occasion but that is down to me and my lack of experience at panning whilst looking through the viewfinder at a jet travelling laterally across my field of view!
  4. Aperture is fixed throughout the zoom range. This means that the viewfinder is bright and this makes life a lot easier than say if I was using a lens that went from, say, F4.5-F6.0.
So, here are some shots I took on the day. Obviously, they are a small selection and I will be putting up a gallery on my Flickr page in the near future with many more images.


Giant wind turbines offshore

Sign of the times - more plastic in our oceans!

Boats stand ready to rescue anyone in trouble.

Lots of seabirds joined in the aerial displays!

Crowds transfixed by the Tigers Parachute Display Team.

More amazing stunts by the Tigers!

Yes this is genuine and not photoshopped!

Yes, they did land in the sea! Due to delays, the tide had come in so they got wet. They are soldiers so they are used to it.

Once the tide came in all those folk on the beach (me included) had to find somewhere else to watch the dispalys from.

Didn't realise it at the time but this seabird decided he wanted in on the picture too! The two planes in the background are D.H. Vampires FB.52's.

Here they are again, this time without some seabird trying to steal their glory!

A couple of locals in their inflatable.

Members of the Twister Aerobatic Team in their Silence Twister Aircraft.

The tow D.H. Vampires in formation with a Mig-15!

So, overall, I am extremely happy with how my X-T2 kit performed, despite one or two minor niggles. Hope you like the photos and if you ever have the chance to go to the Clacton Air Show do take the opportunity. Just remember to take something to sit on!



Friday, August 04, 2017

Sunset over Abberton. Greetings cards with original photography.

Sunset over Abberton Card
Sunset over Abberton Card
by celtxian

If you like my images why not consider buying some greetings card with them on? They come blank inside so you customise them before printing. You can whatever message (even your own images) to them and they are suitable for all sorts of occasions. Click on the link above and check out my store on Zazzle. you will find literally hundreds of products. 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

How to use the Dehaze tool in Lightroom to improve your images.


The Dehaze tool in Lightroom can be found in the Effects panel in Lightroom. Its a very useful tool and can make a dramatic difference to how your final images look. So, what is it exactly and how do you use it?

Well, the clue is in the name, "dehaze". Yes, it reduces haze and fog in an image to bring back the colours that have been desaturated by atmospheric haze or fog. So, whenever you have an image where the colours look a bit flat due to atmospheric haze or fog, try using the dehaze to remove the haze or fog.

Another use for the tool can be to actually add haze or fog to an image. Now why do that you might be thinking? Well, with portraits, used sparingly, it can help soften an image, adding a low-key effect to the image. It doesn't work with every image and you will probably need to use a mask its effect is restricted to just the face of your subject. Also, you may want to turn a bright and clear day into one that looks like it was a foggy one!

So, what about images that don't have haze or fog in them, does the dehaze have anything to offer? Well, in my own experience it does. It's great at adding punch to an image and with skies, it has a similar effect as a polarising filter does. In fact, I am finding myself using it in lots of my images, not just to remove atmospheric haze but to boost contrast in the mid-tones, something that is not always easy to do using other tools such as contrast or the back slider in the Tone panel.

Here is a "before" and "after" pair of images where I used the Dehaze tool.

BEFORE

AFTER - DEHAZE AT 100%
Now, I rarely use the Dehaze tool at 100% as in the second image above (check out the bottom right of the screenshot). You can see that the sky is much more vibrant, the clouds have more definition. It has also darkened the shadows and this may or may not require some adjustment using the Blacks and Shadows sliders in the Tone panel.

Personally, I would dial down the Dehaze setting, adjusting bit by bit, all the while keeping an eye on the preview until I am happy with the result. I would use the Dehaze tool before any other tool and then once I am happy with its effect, I would then adjust the Clarity, Vibrance, Saturation tools until I was happy with the result. Sharpening and Noise Reduction would be left until last. All the while I would be checking the result at 100% to make sure no artefacts have been introduced.

Note: If there are spots in your image (either because of dust on an original negative/slide you have scanned or on the sensor if using digital), then the Dehaze tool will bring them up and you will then need to use the retouching tool (in Lightroom that would be Spot Removal - Q key).

So, here is the final image after I have applied all the corrections I wanted to.


Settings used were: Dehaze +75, Clarity +25 and Auto Tone.

Friday, July 21, 2017

How do you like the sound of some bagpipes?

Lately, I have been attempting to do some 'spring cleaning' of my files. I know, Spring is long gone and we are in the middle of summer. So, I have been trying to reorganise my image files by copying them across from various drives to an external 2TB drive. Whilst doing so, I rediscovered some old video files. One of them was a brief video of the Accrington Pipe Band (Est. 1885). You can watch the video below:


I recorded it on my Sony A6000 and to be honest, as it was hand-held throughout, I am pretty impressed how steady the footage is. I didn't do any post-processing; it's straight from the camera and uploaded to YouTube. It was recorded in the summer of 2015 whilst we on a visit to Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales. If you get a chance to visit, you should. It's a lovely market town set in beautiful Yorkshire... God's own country as they say 'up north'!

For more info on the band, you can visit their Facebook page or their website.


How did the Fuji X-T2 hold up at Silverstone?


I bought the X-T2 with Silverstone in mind, so I also bought the Vertical Power Boost Grip VPB-XT2 as well, in order to benefit from the extra two batteries it carries. The speed boost to 11 fps also helps! I also bought the Fujinon LENS XF50-140mm F2.8 R LM OIS WR with the FUJINON TELECONVERTER XF1.4X TC WR for Silverstone too. After all, our trip to Silverstone would be the first time ever I had seen a Grand Prix up close. It was a lifetime ambition of mine to go to see Formula 1 and my 60th birthday and that of our daughter's 21st was as good as any reason to make this the year it all actually happened.

The big question is, "did the Fuji X-T2 hold up at Silverstone?' By that, I mean, 'did it perform as expected?' The answer would have to be a qualified 'yes'. I say ' qualified' because it had one or two glitches, which didn't ruin the day but were a little concerning at the time. One is an issue that others have reported, namely the camera locking up and the only way to get it back to normal functioning is to remove the battery. This happened twice, once at Silverstone and another time when I was checking battery levels back at our accommodation. Both times I found that loosening the power grip (which has two batteries in) did the trick. The other glitch may or may not be the cameras fault and I am still investigating it. During the race, I was shooting the drivers' parade, a feature of the F1 British Grand Prix in which the drivers go round the track before the start of the race and they do so in vintage cars. It's quite a photo opportunity but during it, the camera suddenly overexposed a sequence of images. It could have the camera, it could have been the memory card having a glitch writing the data or it could have been me accidentally altering a setting in the excitement of the moment.

Here is an example of the images affected:




As you can see, the image is greatly overexposed. The exposure settings recorded by the camera were as follows: 1/1500 sec, F7.1, ISO 800.

Here is an image that was taken just before the sequence of 'over-exposed' images:





As you can see, much better! However, the exposure settings recorded by the camera are as follows: 1/1000 sec, F10, ISO 800. Not much difference I think you will agree. So, either it was a write error to the card (so camera at fault, maybe) or the card had a glitch and saved the data badly. I think I can rule out user error as the exposure values are pretty much the same.

I immediately changed out the cards in case it reoccurred and fortunately, all the images recorded earlier were ok.

So, what're my final thoughts? Well, I will certainly upgrade to the latest firmware for the X-T2. I have version 2.0 and Fuji have released 2.10 back in May. I didn't do it earlier due to being busy with other stuff. I doubt the firmware was the cause of the problem and it's more likely to be the memory card, in my opinion. The card in question was a Lexar Professional high speed 1000x UHS-II (U3) SDHC memory cards. It's interesting to note that Micron, the company behind the Lexar brand, is pulling out of the memory card business. Check out this article for more on the story.


Secondly, I have to say that apart from these two issues, I was very happy with the performance of the X-T2. I took literally thousands of images on four 64GB cards and captured some great shots. Despite the restricted view at times and the speed of the cars, I came away with a good bunch of images from the weekend. Could I have done better, 'yes'? My technique certainly needs plenty more practice, especially at panning. However, the camera was great at taking shots of people on the stage or in the crowd, and I just so love the way Fuji reproduces colours!

In future posts, I will share some moments from the weekend and images that I feel were successful. In the meantime, why don't you check out my Flickr page here?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hammer time! How great are the British Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton!

Silverstone Circuit Map | by Stephen Hill Photography
You can't really ask for more when it comes to thrills and excitement than the British Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton on fire (not literally, although Vettel's car nearly was!).

I was fortunate enough ( and have a very kind and generous wife!) to be able to attend this year's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Our daughter and I are both F1 fans and it's been a life-long dream that one day I would get to see the Grand Prix at one of (if not the) best circuits in the world - Silverstone. As a birthday celebration (I was 60 this year and our daughter 21), we had tickets for the whole weekend (Fri included). It was also great that family live just 1/2 hour away from Silverstone and could put us up. That meant not only did we save money on hotel bills (sorry but I am too old for camping!) but we got to enjoy great hospitality and catch up with family news first-hand. I also got to meet a lovely couple who have an amazing story that involves terrible tragedy, a murder and forgiveness - maybe more on that later.

So, at last, I could get to try out my new Fuji gear at an actual Grand Prix! I could hardly contain myself at the prospect. I had attended the Harewood Speed Hillstart in June and got in some panning practice but those cars were travelling at speeds around 100 mph. At Silverstone, cars would be reaching speeds in excess of 200 mph!

Well, one thing I learnt was that, unlike at Harewood, the views are somewhat restricted. In addition, you are further away from the track and there are lots of other fans trying to get that all-important panning shot, especially of Lewis Hamilton! This meant heads in the way, hands in the way, folk deciding at the key moment to go to the loo and you have to stand up to let them squeeze by. This meant a lot of missed shots, panning shots ruined by a blurry head or hand obscuring the car etc.

Also, deciding on the right shutter speed was a bit of a nightmare at times. From Luffield stand we had a good view of cars coming out of Brooklands. They turn almost 90 degrees left before turning right twice at Luffield and then heading up towards Woodcote. During each phase of this part of the track, they accelerate and brake quite a bit, which requires different shutter speeds. Fortunately, the Fuji X-T2 makes life a lot easier in these circumstances as you can set the lens to A, ISO to A and easily adjust shutter speed whilst keeping your eye on the subject in the viewfinder. You can do this by using the rear control dial (I realised too late!) or, just use your right hand to change the shutter speed whilst seeing the readout in the viewfinder.

So, did I manage to get any decent shots? I think so, and here are some examples:

ISO 800, 1/250 sec, F14, 196mm (294mm equivalent) 

This is one of Stoffel Vandoorne, the young Belgian driver for McLaren Honda F1 Team. He has just come out of Brooklands into Luffield. In the end, he came 11th, having started at 8th, with his fastest lap being 
1:33.464. He managed to be in the top ten for about half the race and only just missed out on the points, behind Felip Massa (Willams Martini Racing).


ISO 800, 1/2000 sec, F4, 70mm (105mm equivalent).

This one was taken from the Internation Pits Straight Stand. You can see that one of the problems when it comes to photos is the safety fence can get in the way. This shot is of Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber F1 team). he started 17th on the grid and finished 17th, with his fastest lap time of 1:33.342.


ISO 800, 1/320 sec, F13, 196mm (294mm equivalent)
Here is Felipe Massa (Wiliams Martini Racing) coming out of Brooklands into Luffield. He managed 10th, an improvement from his grid position at 14th. His fastest lap time was 1:33.562.


ISO 200, 1/750 sec, F5.6, 104.2mm (156mm equivalent)

This is Louis Delétraz, a Swiss F2 racing driver (Racing Engineering) and is the son of former Formula One and Le Mans 24 Hours driver Jean-Denis Délétraz. This was taken during the FIA Formula 2 Championship qualifying session. He came 13th in the final race. His best lap time was 1:45.168.


The final image for this post is one of the Hammer himself, Lewis Hamilton.



ISO 800, 1/320 secs. F11, 196mm (294mm equivalent)

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport) on his victory lap, waving to his adoring fans (most of those there)! He came 1st (having started 1st on the grid) and his fastest lap was 1:30:621. He closed the gap between himself and Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari) to just 1 point in the championship, with half the season remaining.

You can see all the race results on the official F1 site at https://www.formula1.com

Finally, I mentioned earlier about an interesting couple I met whilst at Silverstone. Actually, I met them in Milton Keynes, where we were staying with family whilst attending Silverstone each day. They are called Fred and Fran Gill and they had a son, Robert (adopted) who was murdered, aged just 17. I won't go into all the details here, just to say that in memory of Robert they commissioned a tribute bike (motorcycle) and take it around the country, sharing their story. It's quite a moving story and I highly recommend you read it on www.bedfordstreetangels.org.uk and watch a video made by the BBC here.

Finally, just to say I will be posting more photos from Silverstone and not just of racing cars. The Red Arrows were there too! Be sure to come back soon or even sign up for updates. Thanks for reading. If you would like to support this blog you can click on any of the images below to purchase the items on Amazon.


Friday, July 07, 2017

How do high ISO images from Sony A6000 actually measure up?

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I used to own the Sony A6000, along with a couple of kit lenses (zooms) and adapters so I could use vintage lenses such as the Carl Zeiss T* Biogon f/2.8 28mm.

Well, not long before I switched from Sony to Fuji, I visited a Pin Mill in Suffolk. Pin Mill is a hamlet on the south bank of the tidal River Orwell, located on the outskirts of the village of Chelmondiston on the Shotley peninsula, south Suffolk. I once had the privilege of sailing on the Nancy Blackett, a boat that was owned by the children's author, Arthur Ransome. Nancy Blackett is a fictional character in nine of the twelve juvenile novels in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series of books. The author was a keen sailor and the Nancy Blackett was Arthur Ransome’s favourite amongst his various cruising yachts.

A friend of ours owned her for a while and we joined him for a day's sailing up the river to celebrate my father-in-law's 70th birthday. Dad was a keen sailor himself and had served in both the Royal Navy (he captained an LCT on D-Day at Sword Beach) and the Merchant Navy. We enjoyed a pleasant day's sailing until sundown, at which point we rejoined the other members of the family who had stayed ashore. The boat is now owned by the Nancy Blackett Trust and I highly recommend checking out their site and learning more about the Nancy Blackett, Arthur Ransome and his interesting life. You can also visit the site of the Arthur Ransome Society (TARS) for more information on him. As well as being an author, he was also a journalist and he was in Russia during the Russian Revolution. He personally knew many of the key characters, including Lenin and Trotsky. In fact, he ended up marrying Trotsky's secretary, Evgenia Shvelpina. She was his second wife and they are buried together at Rusland in the Lake District.

The reason I was at Pin Mill in the first place was because of the happy memories of that day's sailing with my father-in-law. I was also a huge fan of Arthur Ransome's books as a child and knew about his connection to Pin Mill. I had also sailed from Pin Mill with a friend and his parents, along with my wife. We had enjoyed a day sailing and sleeping overnight on the boat after a wonderful BBQ on the shore.

Well, that was quite a diversion! Let's continue with my tale of taking photographs with my Sony A6000 shall we. By the time I arrived the light was already starting to fade as it was January. This meant that I was using the lenses wide open and the ISO was set at auto. This meant that when I first started taking photos I was having to use around 1000 ISO. By the time I finished it was much higher at 3200 ISO. I wasn't expecting great things to be honest as my experience with the A6000 was that it tended to be prone to noticeable levels of noise beyond 1600 ISO. So, lets see how some of the images came out.

E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS. ISO 1000. 55mm.ƒ/4.5. 1/200 sec.
So, this is the first image I shot. It was taken on 24 January 2017 at 17:27. I converted it black and white because I think it works better as a monochrome image. I think it looks ok considering the light levels.

Here is another image taken shortly afterwards.

E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS. ISO 3200. 110mm. ƒ/5.6. 1/90 sec.
Again, I converted it to black and white. I also tweaked the contrast and sharpening (the originals were RAW format, which always come out softer than in-camera Jpegs as most cameras apply some sharpening to Jpegs by default). Considering its at ISO 3200, I think it came out quite well. Of course, all you pixel-peekers out there (I was one too so its ok to admit to it!) will say that you can see noise in the image. Yes I did apply some noise reduction, but like sharpening, I prefer to apply a minimal amount. Its far too easy to go over the top and to ruin an image.

Well, lets try another image, this time taken near the end of my time at Pin Mill, when light levels were really low.

E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS. ISO 3200. 119mm. ƒ/5.6. 1/125. 
This one was taken at 17:43, so you can see that the light fades quickly in winter once the sun has gone down. I think that the noise is greater in this image, partly due to the subject matter. I tend to find in photos with large areas of the same tone that noise is more evident. In the rope one about, the complexity of the subject means we don't see the noise as much. It's there but we tend not to notice it. That's my theory anyway!

So, what conclusions can we draw from this?

  1. If you are ever in the vicinity of Pin Mill (not far from Ipswich) it's well worth a visit. I can recommend the pub there too, especially for the seafood. It's called the Butt & Oyster. It can get busy as it's popular so you may want to ring ahead and make reservations.
  2. Don't be afraid to use high ISO settings. Modern cameras are good at coping with noise and you can always reduce the effect later in software. Also, when we used film (some folk still do - another post on that topic!) we got used to grain. Some of us even chose our film/developer combinations to make the most of grain!
  3. Early in the mornings and late in the day, the light can be gorgeous and if there is mist about or its winter, you will get some lovely images. So experiment, don't be afraid and who knows, you may get to love high ISO settings!
  4. Finally, it's not so much the camera and lens you use, it's all about your vision and creativity.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post and see you soon. Until then, go and shoot some photos or edit ones you have sitting on your memory cards or hard drive.

Want to enter photo competitions for free?

If you are photographer (and I am guessing many of my visitors are), then you have probably dreamed at some point of winning a competition with one of your images. Be honest now, we all would love to win something!

Well, entering photo competitions can be an expensive business. That's because many charge an entry fee and the more you enter the more you have pay. These fees can be quite large. For example, here are some entry fees for recent or current competitions:


Fine Art Photography Awards

Entry Fees:

Amateur: $20 per single entry, and $25 per series.
Professional: $25 per single entry and $30 per series.



Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2017

Entry Fees:

A single sum of £30.00 is required per adult entrant and allows up to 5 photographic entries. Further entries may be submitted at an additional fee of £6 per entry.

The exception being for entries to the Food Sn-apping category, the fee for which is £6 per entry only, £2 of which will be given as a donation to Action Against Hunger

To enter the category unearthed® Food in Film, the fee will be £30 per video submitted.

Once entered, images cannot be withdrawn unless the Organisers are notified that there is a permissions issue, in which case the images will be withdrawn on request of the copyright holder / entrant but no refund will be payable.

Payment is made online using Paypal.

Entry to the Young (under 18) categories is free of charge. A maximum of three entries may be submitted to the Young (under 18) categories.



International Photographer of the Year

Entry Fees:


EARLY DEADLINE FEES

Amateur: Single Entry - 15 USD
Amateur: Series - 20 USD
Professional: Single Entry - 20 USD
Professional: Series - 25 USD


FINAL DEADLINE FEES

Amateur: Single Entry - 20 USD
Amateur: Series - 25 USD
Professional: Single Entry - 25 USD
Professional: Series - 30 USD

So, as you can see, the cost of entering can quickly add if you enter more than one category or enter more than a single image.

However, there are plenty of free competitions to enter. Below are some suggested sites to check out.

Photocrowd:



Photocrowd is an online community for photographers and it's free to join. They also have subscription accounts, offering a range of additional benefits such as additional entries to otherwise free competitions and the option of selling your work online. Here is a chart with all the features for each tier of membership.


As you can see, even with the free membership you can enter competitions they host (such as the POTY one mentioned in my previous post) but the paid memberships give you additional entries. So, with Challenger membership for £2.50 pcm, you can submit an extra image into competitions, whilst Pro Membership at £5 pcm allows an extra two entries into competitions. The most expensive plan, Master, costs £10 pcm and allows an additional three entries into competitions.

All plans allow you to sell prints via the site, though you are limited to just 20 with the Free Plan. Your share of the sales commission also goes up with each plan, so with the Master Plan, you get 80% of the sales commission. Also, with all but the Free Plan, you can set your own prices for your images that are for sale.

Printing off your prints is also offered and even with the Free Plan, you get a 5% discount of the cost of printing Lumijet prints. As you go up the tiers, this discount grows, so with the Master Plan, you get a 20% discount on Lumijet prints of your own images.

As I said, Photocrowd is an online community so you can also rate images by other members, leave comments and leave comments. However, we are really interested in the competitions side of things, so how does Photocrowd measure up?

Currently, as I write this post, there are 46 competitions open for entries. of these, 19 are prized and 21 are Community Competitions. More on that in a moment.

Prizes range from discounts on products (up to 100% e.g. 'free') from partner companies, to a $100 voucher from ON1. Other prizes include a $300 prize package from Lexar, to the £1,000 Sigma prize package in the AP POTY competition.

Community competitions are ones organised by members of the Photocrowd community. These are a way of gaining exposure on the website but don't offer cash, vouchers or specific prizes. They are still worth entering, as they will raise your exposure on the site and social media.

Viewbug




Viewbug is another example of an online community that also offers competitions. Again, there is a mix of free to enter competitions and paid ones. Currently Viewbug has 88 competitions listed, of which just 16 are free. There are 39 Pro competitions and 33 Premium ones. The difference between the last two is that Pro ones are open to Pro members, who pay $11.55 pcm (annual plans, otherwise $13.99 pcm) and Premium ones are open to Premium members who pay $4.92 pcm (annual plans, otherwise its $6.99 pcm).

The prizes you can win in the free competitions range from accessories to evcn a Nikon D3300! In the Pro ones you can win a mystery prize, accessories, instant camera or even a Fuji X-T1! Premium competitions offer prizes such as 1TB portable hard drive, a flash unit or even a Canon 5D Mk III!

Like with Photocrowd, you can also rate other people's images and leave comments, follow other photographers and generally contribute to the community.



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