Shooting stock photos – around Ann Arbor

This week I had some time to take a few stock photos around Ann Arbor. I have a long list of possible photos I think would be good to take, so when I have some time I can check my list and see what I feel like taking. This week I focused on some companies headquartered in Ann Arbor, the Ford Presidential Library, and people getting off the bus at a commuter lot nearby.

What I did right:

– Had the list of potential photos in the first place, so I could quickly get a set to focus on. Ford library has been on my list for over a year, I knew I wanted the sun on the front of the library, but not too bright or the contrast would be too much. That afternoon was pretty good for that.

Ford Library
– Looked for other opportunities as they came up keeping national issues in mind, such as the traffic jam that I could see as I waited at the commuter lot.

Highway traffic
I again started with making sure my ISO was at 100, since I was outside on a nice day, set the white balance to sunny (with change to cloudy as needed), and used shutter speed priority with 1/250 or higher. As I took the shots I checked whether I had to make adjustments to the exposure to span the full histogram and not cut out darks or bright whites.

What I should have done differently:

– Looked up the bus schedules, so I didn’t waste time waiting for buses that didn’t arrive… Didn’t even think to go inside the bus shelter, where the schedule was displayed. I found that out the second afternoon I went, having just missed the busiest bus the first afternoon…

In cleaning up the photos there is not much to do since I had good settings to start with, so mostly focused on a good caption and good keywords. I have submitted them, we’ll see how they do…

PS Update – Shutterstock took some of them, not all, but I liked them enough to submit to others, you can see Dreamstime took the highway one.

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From DPS – How to Master Your DLSR in One Afternoon

Digital Photography School has another great article for beginners, this one gives an introduction to

ISO
Aperture
Shutter Speed

These are the three components that determine how much light gets into your camera, and discusses each component’s effect on other factors such as focus area, noise, and focus, with good examples.

Read it here

Shooting stock photos – Roller Derby game!

Last Friday I attended an event I’ve wanted to attend for a long time, Roller Derby! The Ann Arbor Derby Dimes are a terrific organization that fields three roller derby teams. Last Friday they had a meet with two matches.

Here’s what I did to prepare for the event:

– Read the organization website to learn more about them
– Read the rules of roller derby so I’d have a better sense of how the game works. You can get a quick sense of it in this YouTube video .
– Contacted the team to ask for permission to take photos. I didn’t hear back from them and as it is I had a conflict that first night I planned to attend, so I ended up just showing up at their next event, last Friday.
– Did a search on photographing roller derby events to get some tips. The ones that stood out included:
– Use very high ISO for the terrible light conditions
– Use very quick shutter speeds to freeze motion
– Try focusing on a place on the ground and shoot when
the pack gets to that spot so you don’t lose time focusing.
– Don’t take photos of anyone who get seriously hurt
– Take photos of everyone, rather than focus on just the jammer.

OK, then I was ready to go. I went to the site, paid for my ticket, and explained that I was a stock photographer and was interested in taking photos, and shared my policy: I send them the photos first, and only submit them to stock agencies if I get their permission in writing after they see the photos. I also assured them that I would not use any photos that would be disrespectful.

The team members couldn’t have been more welcoming! They seemed very pleased at the attention. They even said I could eat from the volunteer refreshments table if I wanted to, though I didn’t take them up on that offer, I didn’t want to make the players uncomfortable during their breaks, and I wasn’t sure if the photos would turn out OK…

Then the game started, and what a great display of athleticism and sportsmanship! Here’s what I did right:

– Brought my business cards, which gave me greater credibility as a professional.
– Checked my photos frequently and adjusted ISO, shutter speed, and exposure as needed. This is called “chimping” by the way…
– Wasn’t afraid to go to high ISOs
– Took photos of more than just the players, to include many of the volunteers
– Agreed to take photos of the entertainment, Devil Elvis when the lead singer asked for photos for their website.
– Used the “continuous slow” setting to get many photos of the action, but not so many that my card fills up too quickly.
– Respected all rules and stayed out of the way of everyone.
– During pauses in the action I erased photos that I could tell were terrible. Even with that I ended up with over 800 photos…
– Let the photos sit for a couple days because when I first looked at them all I could see were the mistakes. Going back after a few days more objectively I could see that there were some good shots in there…
– Edited down photos like a mad woman to get to the money shots.
– Use the noise filter in Photoshop to remove some of the noise that invariably was there with such high ISOs…

What I would do differently next time:

– Clear out my photo cards before the event. I had photos still in there from another event, should have cleared them to my laptop and erased them so I didn’t have to worry about limits on memory…
– Move to the other side of the track for the second game. The first game I aimed at the wall at one end because all three other sides were open and light was very bright, which would lead to blowouts. However, after the sun set the area near that wall was very dark, which made for some very dark backgrounds for those photos… Have to be more mindful of changing photo conditions throughout the event.
– Asked some of the other photographers what settings they were using. I was too shy to do it, and likely would have learned a lot by taking to them, lost opportunity…

Here are some of the first photos I have processed:

Ann Arbor Roller Derby, defensive preparation - Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby, defensive preparation – Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby -  Jammer super move - Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby – Jammer super move – Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec

 

Devil Elvis, half-time entertainment
Devil Elvis, half-time entertainment

 

I was so very impressed by these athletes, what a terrific evening! I’ve sent them some sample game photos, I’ll post an update after I hear from them and (I hope) get to post some on stock photo websites.

July 16 update – Heard back from the team, they loved the photos, are going to use them in their advertisements, and they have invited me back as a guest to their next match, I’m thrilled! Still waiting on official permission to take the shots, so not submitting anything to the stock agencies yet.

August 28 update – Permissions all ironed out and approved by Shutterstock, photos submitted and approved so far are here .

Shooting stock photos – Detroit solo photo day

Had a great day in Detroit Sunday, spent much of the afternoon taking photos. Here’s what I did:

To prepare I saw what photos already existed, looked through Things To Do in Detroit, and through FourSquare found this great list of Historic Areas of Detroit. I also looked up companies with headquarters in Detroit and noted their addresses.

Then, with a general sense of what I wanted to get, I set off, stopped at the Uniroyal tower on the highway and took some shots of the abandoned Detroit Central Depot, walking around trying different angles, etc. until I got one that worked:

Central Depot Shutterstock

It was great to be flying solo today so I could take as much time as I wanted and try different angles.

Drove toward downtown, spotted some casinos, and headquarters of DTE Energy:

DTE Energy Shutterstock

I then spotted Cass Tech high school and stopped there, where I met Burt, a homeless man who accepted my offer to take some photos of him in exchange for $5. We had a nice chat, I emailed him his photos – he mentioned he had not checked email in over a year…

Detroit Burt

Kept heading downtown and parked near Campus Martius park, found my bearings and decided on a walking path that would take me to Hart Plaza, the River Walk, Greektown, and back to Campus Martius. Lots of nice photos, though I wish there had been more people around to make it livelier…

I drove on to the Fox theater / Comerica park area, got some photos there. By then it was after 4 pm, but the game wasn’t until 8 pm, so not that many people around, had to wait a bit to get some folks in this photo:

Comerica Shutterstock

Then over to Ford Field, and while I was there a fellow asked me to take his photo – I obliged, he gave me his email address and I sent him the photos, why not?

Ford Field fellow 1

I was going past the Detroit Opera House when it was letting out a matinee performance, so got some shots there, then called it a day, I was tired from all the walking!

I took 216 shots altogether, resulting in 41 photos submitted to Shutterstock, and 39 acceptances! To see all the photos, visit  my Shutterstock site

What I did right:

– Good planning so I had some sense of what I wanted to catch, but left myself open to serendipity. A general check-list but no strict to-do list, since I live nearby and can drive in another day to catch remaining ones.

– Generally good camera settings. Again went with ISO 100 and shutter priority with 1/500 shutter speed, adapting as needed. I increased ISO in shady areas, changed exposure to make sure my histogram was squarely within the range and I wasn’t cutting off blacks or blowing out whites.

– Comfortable walking shoes, I was exhausted from all the walking…

– Was friendly and cordial, took photos of those who asked, chatted with people who asked questions, and if folks wanted me to send them photos I did. Some just asked to have their photos taken and then just walked on happy…

– Went early on a Sunday, so free parking was plentiful.

What I’ll do differently next time:

– For a different set of photos I’ll go at a busier time or to an event in Hart plaza, to catch it at a livelier time.

– Bring my water bottle with me. I filled it up and left it in the car…

Overall a wonderful day, just me and the camera and all the time in the world…

Susan

From PictureCorrect – Eight Worst Habit of Beginning Photographers

Another great list, this one from PictureCorrect, of what not to do:

BAD HABIT #1: SHOOTING IN BRIGHT DAYLIGHT (need to avoid harsh shadows)
BAD HABIT #2: SHOOTING JPEG (though I do it…)
BAD HABIT #3: CENTERING THE SUBJECT (reminder of rule of thirds)
BAD HABIT #4: SHOOTING FROM EYE HEIGHT (so many angles you miss out this way)
BAD HABIT #5: IGNORING THE BACKGROUND (you saw this in my 4th of July entry)
BAD HABIT #6: TAKING COMMONPLACE SHOTS (that’s been fun, getting creative)
BAD HABIT #7: HAND-HOLDING EVERY SHOT (though I’m learning to get away with it)
BAD HABIT #8: TAKING ONE SHOT (definitely, don’t take the shot, make the shot)

Check out the details at PictureCorrect.

From Shutterstock – Things to keep in mind when shooting stock

Shutterstock’s blog has a great infographic of things to keep in mind when shooting photography for commercial purposes. They address copyright, trademark, editorial, releases, and credentials, and end with a checklist, and an option to download a guide to protecting your content.

Check it out here

From DPS – 5 Photoshop Tools to Take Your Images From Good to Great

From the folks at Digital Photography School, 5 very quick and easy to understand tools that will get your photographs that “pop”. They discuss the following tools:

– Shadow and Highlights
– Levels
– Color balance
– Hue and saturation
– Vibrance

which are pretty much the tools I use most of the time. Check them out here