Is your Royalty Free stock photo pricing in the ballpark?

Pricing of my stock photography is something I am continually thinking about … am I too high? …  am I too low? …  am I using the correct licensing model?

Reviewing the pricing of my images recently, I searched for a solution that would indicate if I was even in the ballpark.

First I had to determine the licensing option to use … Rights Managed (RM), Royalty Free (RF) or microstock.

There is always a lot of talk and confusion on the internet surrounding pricing and licensing models. Browsing around iTunes I came across two episodes of the Photonetcast Photography podcast that helped make some sense of the issue.

  • PhotoNetCast #31 – Stock Photography and different Licensing Models (April 2009) – Takes a look inside the business models of stock photographers Rich Legg and David Sanger . They discuss  their respective choices, advantages and disadvantages, marketing their photography,  and compare licensing photography with a Royalty Free or Rights Managed  model.
  • PhotoNetCast #49 – Revamping the pricing model for Rights-Managed Licenses (March 2010) – A discussion with Jim Pickerell covering an alternative to Royalty Free and Rights Managed  licensing models.

Many of my new images are configured for Rights Managed licensing, and pricing is handled automatically by fotoQuote software integrated into my Photoshelter based website. I find this very useful as the software is based on industry rates, and can supply the buyer with the best price for the usage they require. (This price is often lower than the Royalty Free equivalent).

I also have a number of images that have been sold through various stock sites in the past. This limits me to selling them with a Royalty Free licensing model, as you cannot use a RM  license for an image once it has sold as RF.

Configuring the Royalty Free pricing profiles on my Photoshelter site, I am required to specify the individual prices for each size of image.  To try and establish a market rate, I looked around at other photographers sites and found the pricing varied widely.

Taking a more scientific approach to the problem, I decided to analyse a couple of the internet agencies that sell Royalty Free stock images, and settled on Alamy, Getty Images, Corbis and Ozstockimages.

The bigger sites have collections that are priced differently, so I sampled images from various collections, and also some underwater images to make the selections relevant to my own photography.

RF stock photography pricing comparison
Figure 1 – Royalty Free stock photography pricing comparison (1USD = 1 AUD) – click to enlarge

Each agency was assigned a colour (e.g Alamy is red), and different collections are represented by different line types (shown in the legend).

All samples except Alamy are priced in Australian Dollars (AUD), and Alamy samples are in US Dollars (USD). At the time I did this comparison the exchange rate was 1USD = 1 AUD.
Continue reading Is your Royalty Free stock photo pricing in the ballpark?

46 Secrets to Improving your Underwater Photography

I recently received the following question via my website asking for some secrets to improving underwater photography, and as I started to compile the list, I thought that I would share a few of my secrets with you.

…” I just purchased a Canon G12 and the WP-DC34 underwater housing for it. I am an experienced diver, I have decided to get into underwater photography and was amazed by your photos and video with the Canon G12.. I was wondering if you could share some secrets and pointers for my upcoming trip to Belize. I would love to return with some quality video and photos…. hoping your insight could give me an edge. Thanks, Lowell”…..

Thanks Lowell for the great question.

I sat down and started to make a list. It got quite long (some people have written whole books on this subject), so I have tried not to get too carried away.

Some of these secrets are scattered around in previous posts, and I have tried to keep my list to a few key points. Some points relate specifically to the Canon Powershot G12 (which I also own), but most points are general and relate to all cameras that can be used for underwater photography.

Canon Powershot G11 inside wp-dc34 underwater housing

Before the Dive

My list starts before the dive, as I am a big believer in preparing things correctly allows you to be more relaxed during the dive, which in turn allows you to take better pictures.
Continue reading 46 Secrets to Improving your Underwater Photography

SEO keywords for photographers – my learning curve

I normally put in quite a bit of effort in the SEO keywording of my images, but submitting a recent photo to Getty Images, I realized I still have much to learn about professional keywording.

Using keywords helps my clients find the images they are looking for on my website, and also helps  my own searching for images on my network.

Adding keywords to my images is an integral part of processing my images in Adobe Lightroom.

Starting out a few years ago, I tried to populate my keywords off the top of head, but soon realized I was missing a lot of possible words.

KeyWord Lists

After reading about controlled vocabulary software in 2008 from David Rieick’s website controlledvocabulary.com , I purchased a copy of his CVKC keyword list with 11,000 keywords. (See my previous posts Lightroom2 keywording and CVKC for Bridge and Lightroom.

This has been a big help as the keyword list was designed in a nested hierarchical structure.

adobe lightroom keyword structureKeywords structure in Adobe Lightroom

When I search for a keyword, it also displays all the keywords further up the hieracy that are associated with my search entry.

In my underwater photography, I have been entering the fish species manually and populating my own list of marine life keywords. This has had limited success, having to spend signifcant time searching books and the internet to find the correct name and any associated keywords.

I recently come across the Marine Keywords list developed by Marty Snyderman, Barry Guimbellot and Eric Cheng.  It contains keywords for over 12,000 species of marine life and includes not only common names, but also genus and species names, and full taxonomic structure.

Continue reading SEO keywords for photographers – my learning curve

My obsession with preparing and cleaning my underwater housing and lens

Continually concerned with underwater housing leaks, and having experienced a number of images and videos ruined by dust or other material on the lenses, I border on obsessive when preparing and cleaning my underwater housing lens.

Underwater housing lenses suffer the usual problems of dust and lint, but are also susceptible to things like sunscreen (my pet hate), salt residue, sand and other nasties.

Whenever I travel through Cairns, I always stop in to visit the friendly staff at  Digital Diver and pick up cleaning accessories.

Preparation Tips

I follow a set procedure each time for housing preparation:-

  1. Remove the main o-ring and use a lint-free cloth to wipe around the o-ring groove, removing any excess silicon, sand or hair that may have lodged in the groove. A piece of hair or sand under the o-ring can cause the housing to leak. (Tip:- use a plastic credit card to remove the o-ring so you do not damage it. I use my cert card as a reminder for me to take it diving).
  2. Use a second lint-free lens cleaning cloth on the inside and outside of the underwater housing lens to remove dust, lint or finger marks.
  3. Unfortunately cloths can adsorb oils and spread them around. My new favourite cleaning accessory is lens cleaning tissue paper. lens cleaning tissue Continue reading My obsession with preparing and cleaning my underwater housing and lens

Which Canon Powershot to buy for underwater photography – G10, G11 or G12?

An email received today asked for my advice on choosing a Canon Powershot G10 or G11 for underwater photography. There are a number of things to take into account, so I thought I would cover a few in a post.

I received the following email enquiry today:-

“Carl, Please counsel with me on a camera purchase. I am putting together an underwater system and wish to use the Canon G10 or G11. I will get the Canon underwater case. Should I get a near new G10 (ie. from Craigslist – approx. $450 US) or get the G11. Please advise. Thanks! Darrell”

Thanks to Darrell for the question.

I am a keen user of the Canon Powershot G Series cameras for underwater photography, and have owned a G10 and G11 camera.

The G10 vs G11

The G10 and G11 are both good cameras and popular with many professional photographers. There are a few new functions in the G11, but the fundamental differences are:-

  • G10 has 15MP sensor, G11 has 10 MP sensor.
  • G10 has a flat screen back, G11 has a flip screen back.

The smaller sensor on the G11 provides better in-camera noise performance (see my previous post Noise Comparison – Canon Powershot G11 vs G10). I find noise can become an issue underwater, particularly when you are going deeper where there is less natural light.

Using an external flash or video light helps to keep the shutter speeds fast at those deeper depths, reducing noise.

Noise is also becoming less of a problem in post processing. Particularly if you are using Adobe Lightroom 3 with its new software engine, which is doing incredible things with noise reduction. (I have to regularly stop myself going back to old images and improving the noise, as I would never get anything else done.)

I also like the G11 flip screen for taking pictures from different angles, but in the underwater housing it does not make any difference.
Continue reading Which Canon Powershot to buy for underwater photography – G10, G11 or G12?

Keep the subject in focus and let the camera do the work

Catching the underwater video of fighting Reef Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) on a recent dive, some words from The Underwater Photographer by Martin Edge came to mind … ” Keep the subject in focus, and let the camera do the work”.

In his book, Martin describes an occasion when he and a group of other divers came across some dolphins. Starting to think about exposure and other settings, Martin decided there was no time, and chose to keep the subject in focus and let the camera do the work. He was able to get the shot while others were still playing with their cameras.

In underwater photography, you often have time to set-up your camera to create a shot. However, sometimes you see something and with no time to choose the appropriate settings, just have go with what you have to get the shot.

This is exactly what happened during a dive on Friday at Agincourt Reef  on the Great Barrier Reef with Quicksilver’s Silversonic.

We entered the water for our third dive of the day. I had just reached the bottom with the other divers of our group still on the way down. Checking my camera housing to make sure there were no leaks, I spotted a Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus) out the corner of my eye.

My camera housing still had bubbles around it, and struggling to read the screen settings, I managed to get it into video mode. I started thinking white balance, lighting, etc …. and decided I had no time.

Getting the Cuttlefish in the screen, I hit the record button, hoping the camera would have the correct focus. Cuttlefish are able to rapidly change colours to blend in with their surroundings, and this can often confuse the camera focusing system.

Trying to keep the subject in the screen, we got more than expected with the following video.

Fighting Cuttlefish (Sepia latimanus)
Video ID: V0036
Run time: 40 sec
Format: 640×480
Purchase Option – Royalty Free (RF)

The Cuttlefish made its way towards another one, changed colour from light grey to black, and attacked the second one. They then separated and went opposite directions…. something you don’t see ever day, and a great example of their ability to change color.

Forty seconds from touching the bottom, and the whole event was over.  Had I been deciding between stills and video, or been messing around with settings or lighting, I would have missed to whole thing.

Sometimes to get the shot, you just have to keep the subject in focus, cross your fingers and let the camera do the work.

How to use the Canon G11 Control Dial in an Underwater Housing

For a while now I have been under the impression you could not use the Control Dial on the Canon Powershot G11 when it was mounted in an underwater housing, but a recent review by Lawrence Alex Wu reveals a little known secret.

I was reading Underwater Photography Magazine (No 55 Jul/Aug 2010), and a review of the Canon Powershot G11 by Lawrence Alex Wu describes a key shortcut that allows the photographer access to the Control Dial functionality while underwater.

Canon Powershot G11 inside wp-dc34 underwater housing

Out of the housing, rotating the G11 Control Dial next to the screen allows you to adjust settings that include:-

  • Aperture size in Aperture Priority Mode (AV)
  • Shutter speed in Shutter Priority Mode (Tv)
  • Metering Modes
  • Manual Focus
  • Brightness Exposure Compensation
  • Auto Exposure Bracketing

I often use the Canon WP-DC34 underwater housing with my G11 camera, but the problem is that once you close the housing you no longer have access to the control dial…. or so I thought….

Continue reading How to use the Canon G11 Control Dial in an Underwater Housing

Noise Comparison – Canon Powershot G11 vs G10

After hearing of the Canon Powershot G11 noise improvement, I grabbed one while in Hong Kong and compared it to my G10.

I had been aware of the improved noise performance of the Canon Powershot G11 since October 2009, and thought this would be beneficial when shooting underwater where you need every bit of sensitivity you can get.

In Hong Kong on business I picked up a Canon G11 and compared it directly with my Canon G10. The results were better than I expected and show considerable improvement in noise levels.

Test Conditions

I setup the G10 and G11 next to each other on the window sill of my hotel room. Both cameras were set to the same settings at f5.0 and center weighted average.

Focusing on the same apartment block I took shots with ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 at focal lengths settings of 6.1mm and 25mm. (Due to the smaller sensor, the focal length multiplier of 4.8 gives 35 mm equivalent focal lengths of  29mm and 121mm.)

The images were compared in Adobe Lightroom.

Exposure Differences

The first thing I noticed was the G11 image was brighter than the G10 image. Analyzing the Histogram for the images, the G11 image is exposed 0.70EV to the right making it brighter.

Exposing the image more to the right is a smart idea as there is more image information in this area.

Continue reading Noise Comparison – Canon Powershot G11 vs G10

The Internet on a Slow Connection – Less is More

The internet is a very different experience on a slow connection, as I was reminded when I ran over my wireless data allowance recently and was limited to 64 kbps. The art of optimizing page download speed seems to have been lost, but there is hope on the horizon.

The usage indicator on my BigPond wireless broadband account has been broken since November 2009. There is some kind of server problem accessing the information for my account. I have a request in with BigPond technical support to fix it, but in the meantime I am not able to tell how much data I have used.

Last month I ran over my 10GB allowance due to having to reinstall Abode Creative Suites and eLearning Suite twice. They did not load correctly the first time, and each reinstall came with an 850MB update download…..Ouch!!!….. It must be time for CS5 release.

Continue reading The Internet on a Slow Connection – Less is More

Lightroom RGB Percentage vs Photoshop RGB numbers

Trying to get my Lightroom refined images as close as possible to Photoshop optimized versions, I discovered that the Lightroom RGB percentages do not match Photoshop RGB numbers.

Lately I have been finishing my underwater images in Photoshop, as Lightroom does not offer the amount of color correction control I waned.

However, reimporting my corrected images into Lightroom, the black point RGB numbers were not  consistent with my Photoshop RGB numbers.

Continue reading Lightroom RGB Percentage vs Photoshop RGB numbers