Monday, March 23, 2009

Jennifer Lin - Piano Improvisation from a 14-year-old girl

Dear Diary,

Another miraculous performance straight from TED.

This time a 14-year-old girl (Jennifer Lin), with a jaw dropping performance.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Awful Truth Part II

Dear Diary,

My second attempt was a bit tricky...

I wanted to investigate, wether you can get area-light soft reflections on a reflective/transparent object, with everyday equipment...

Here are the results...

{ f14 - 90mm - 30" } { shot in total darkness / no ambient light }

Unlike my previous post, I have post-processed the final image a little bit in Photoshop (straighten, vignette, noise reduction, white balance, gradient filter, saturation and some minor brush adjustments to increase contrast)

Of course the image itself is not anything special, but what I realised (once more) is that you do not need all this super-equipment in order to take good looking pictures. More experimentation of course can always push the results on a higher level of quality.

The original out-of-the-camera image:

And of course... The Auful Truth behind it :

Ps. Here, an iPhone used to provide the main soft white light & reflection, a mini reading light used to provide a circular gradient of back-light in order to create the black outlines of the sides of the bottle and the old cellphone used as a fill light (i used it to "light-paint" the left side while the shutter was open for the whole 30 seconds)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Awful Truth

Dear Diary

The other day I was wondering of a way to express creativity by minimal resources.
So, I grabbed my camera and I started to explore such ways...

Problem : How to cast a soft-light to a small object, in less than 5 minutes, by using only one light source, your camera and a tripod.

Note: I have used a Nikon D300 for the shooting. ISO 200. Focal length 200mm. Exposure info provided for every snap.

F36 - 15" (white light on the right side)

F5.6 - 2" (white light on the right side)

F36 - 6" (white backlight)

F36 - 30" (blue light on the right side)

F36 - 20" (blue backlight)

F36 - 30" (blue light on the right side)

And the awful truth...

So, obviously in my case the solution to the problem was an iPhone casting the light (there are several free "flashlight" apps that let you set color and even intensity of the light)

That's all for now...

I have to wash some dishes I guess :P

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Siftables - What an awesome idea !

Dear Diary,

There are times you think "Oh... well I don't think that technology is going to amaze me any more... I mean, ok there are plenty of nice gadgets out there but nothing really SPECIAL"

Of course I am wrong... and I know I am wrong when I see people like David Merrill (MIT graduate) doing serious job on real INNOVATION

Since my birthday is on 12th of the month, this is what I would like for a present :P

A mighty Siftable !!!


Ps. Seriously, these guys are doing a great job and proving for once more that Simple is Beautiful

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Microstock Sites - Earn money by doing your hobby

Dear Diary,

Two years ago was the time that I heard about the so-called microstock sites and decided to give them a try...

Although I became a member on these sites, I didn't submit any serious work to them until last December. So, here is my feedback on this issue...

(Obviously this article is for people that have as a hobby (or profession... why not) photography or vector / 3D design)

For those who are not familiar with the term, microstock sites are agencies that sell your photos/graphics to their well-established buyer communities. There are 4 major ones and dozens of new that trying to get on the game. Usually, the contributor gets a percentage of the sale (50% max) but this varies on each agency. Membership is absolutely free and you get paid by check or paypal.

Let's see them one by one and examine the income possibilities :

Ok. This is the King of microstock for many, many users. The main reason is that you begin to sell almost immediately after uploading your files. Though, shutterstock uses a very different scheme for its sales. For every file that you sell, you get 25 cents. Ok I know what you think... How on earth I am going to earn a decent monthly income by 25c sells? Believe me, if the files are good they sell like CRAZY there :)
My experience with Shutterstock is that is the best site to begin with. They are not so picky as other agencies, they have very fast reviews (especially for vectors) and you can do serious sales out of the box.
The procedure is fairly simple. Click on the link in the beggining of the paragraph to go to the "submitters" part of the site. Create an account by filling all required info. After that, they ask you to submit 10 images of yours just to check if your work is suited for what they sell (don't worry I said they are not too picky). Now, if 7 or more of your files being accepted, they are immediately available for sale :)

A couple of notes that will save you time :

- Photos must be rgb, jpg, 4MP minimum
- Vector standard for all sites (although some accept several types more) is .eps version 8. Do not use any transparency on your work or effects like shadows - create these effects with gradients, gradient meshes and blends - to avoid rejection
- You must submit an rgb, jpg preview of your vector resized 500px on its maximum side, with the same name as the .eps file (for example my_masterpiece.eps & my_masterpiece.jpg)
- You can also submit footage or motion graphics if you like. They accept every major format.

I do really recommend you to start with Shutterstock and I would love to see your comments to hear how it is going for you :)

Dreamstime is my second favourite. They have a very user-friendly interface, they are not so picky as well and you can have decent sales. The prices that you sell are depending on the image size that is being downloaded and the number of total downloads for each image (your files gain "levels" as they sell through time, so you earn more money from them). Also you can set a price yourself if you choose to have the option to sell the rights of an image (min 350$). They offer a lot of options such as file exclusivity (so you upload the file exclusively on Dreamstime and you get a better percentage over sale) etc. Feel free to visit their forum and read the FAQ for details.

3. iStockphoto View My Portfolio

(First of all if you click the button to sign up you get to my portfolio on iStock, sorry but they have it as default. If you signup though through the button you get 10 free credits :) )

iStock is a complicated case... Either you hate it or you love it. The guys there are VERY picky, but they maintain a good overall quality and as many users report the income through iStock may be really really good if your work is compatible with their standards. They also support vectors, audio and video. You submit 3 files for initial inspection and all of them have to be accepted to get started. Also, they will need a scanned copy of your ID/Passport for a valid application. Since my portfolio is pretty small there, I guess that I can not help you very much on this one :)
I would also love to hear your comments.

Fotolia gains ground lately and you can also make good sales there. Also they are selling pretty good in Europe too and offer payments in Euros for European contributors (something that other agencies do not).
Simple and friendly site. Main difference is that they require .svg files for vectors (SUPER tip: ALWAYS draw a white rectangle as background -below all layers-. Otherwise your thumbnails will look terrible (aliasing issues) ;) )

I hope that this article will help some people to get started with microstock.
If you have any questions on this please throw me a comment or an e-mail.

I can assure you that with some decent work, your hobby is going to pay you back and just to have an idea on the figures... in about 2 months if your portfolio grows to 100 images for example, earnings must be sufficient to buy you a 24" display, just to see your masterpieces on their full extent :D
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