N.B. I'm going to start putting my posts in this format. Showing where I've been, what gear I've used and explaining why I used what I did, how I shot what I did and the decisions that I made concerning what images to create. I've said previously that I'm going to be focusing on my stock photography work and I've talked about workshops, videos and e-books etc. However at the moment I just haven't got time to do that. So I thought I'd try this instead. I'd be glad of any feedback on this.
This will also include my reviews and user / owner experiences of the gear that I'm using and it is intended that these posts will have a dual function, an analysis of what it's like to be a full-time stock photographer plus the reviewing. This style of post will be given the keyword / tag STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY REVIEW in the categories section.
As you will also see, I've made some design changes to the site. It's now a lot 'cleaner' and I think easier to navigate. All the posts I've added since I moved the blog here are now easy to see with thumbnails and headlines. I've also put together a review archive page of recent reviews / user experiences. Plus the search box had a bug which is now fixed. The folks over at Squarespace have been very helpful with this because of my inexperience. However I'm getting the hang of this now and I'll keep improving things as I go along. Again any feedback on this would be appreciated.
7th. October 2014
Packwood House, Warwickshire, UK
Olympus OM-D E-M10, Voigtlander 20mm f3.5 Color Skopar SL II Lens - Nikon Fit, Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E
Nokia Lumia 1020 Smartphone
Packwood house is an old Tudor manor house not gar from where I live. The attraction for me i terms of shootimg stock is that there are extensive gardens and grounds, which give the opportunity for shooting lots of 'generic' images. Though it's important to always make sure that I get the 'straight ahead' tourist / travel type shots as well.
Above are three versions of the main house. One shot on the Olympus and two on my Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone. These days I always shoot something I can process later to create a flltered 'smartphone' type image. The bottom shot above was sent from my phone to Instagram using the filters in the app. Doing this gives me three distinct 'looks'.
As is my usual practice I concentrate on strong, graphic, colourful images that concentrate on the subject. Stock image thumbnails have to stand out from the rest on crowded website pages, so saturated colour and strong contrast are essential.
It's also important to include a seasonal element. You can see from the above images that it's 'harvest festival' time, plus with Halloween coming up a pumpkin picture is always useful. Like many stock photographers I visit the same places over and over again, but throughout the seasons there is always something different to photograph. Plus even with the vast amount of images available these days, you can bet that there are picture researchers who still can't find exactly what they are looking for.
Part of the reason for shooting with the MF Nikon lenses was to see how focusing using the peaking and the in body camera IS worked. And both were OK. The peaking worked much better with Nikon 100mm than the Voigtlander, when sometimes there was no peaking effect at all. The IS seemed to work reasonably well and you can certainly hear it as it's very noisy, but I still prefer lens based systems since I seem to be able to use slower shutter speeds. Now this may well be me, but it is certainly the case.
Manual focusing on the Olympus is also quite fiddly, which is something I've found with all Olympus m4/3 cameras. I had to set up a function button to turn on the peaking and I have to remember to make sure that it's pressed before I take pictures after turning the camera on. Plus there is still that annoying Olympus thing whereby I press a button to get the magnified view and then have to press it again to get back to the full screen. My Sony and Fuji cameras do that when I press the shutter button.
On the manual focusing issue I will conclude by saying that after only a few shots I was regretting my decision to use the lenses with me and I wished I'd brought my AF lenses. So I probably won't be doing this again for stills. Basically, it's just such a slow and fiddy process and to be honest the lenses I used din't really give me any advantage over my 'native' Olympus lenses anyway.
However, aside from that I am again impressed by the Olympus OM-D E-M10. The images produced are nice and sharp, with good dynamic range and punchy colour.
Finally a word on the Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone that I always carry with me. I haven't written much about it lately, but I am continuing to shoot with it every time I go out. That wide-angle close up ability it has is incredibly useful, as is the fact that I can use it in all sorts of places it is difficult to use a 'conventional' camera. With it's amazing screen and image stabilisation I can hold it at arms lens, still see the screen clearly and be sure of getting sharp pictures. Plus that front to back depth of field produces some very different looking images. It is now fully integrated into what I do and to be honest, I'd miss having it to shoot with much more than the majority of my other cameras.
So there it is, I hope you found this new approach interesting and / or useful. As I indicated please let me know your thoughts and anything else you'd like to see. No promises but I'll try to respond to requests if I can.