News and Views from Dave Wilson

Archive for April, 2009

Time Lapse Helicopter Rescue

by on Apr.30, 2009, under News Commentary, Photography

I’ve been playing with the time-lapse video features of the Canon Powershot G9 recently so I was very interested in this wonderful video that appeared in various tweets recently. This is a superb example of time-lapse done very well. The use of a tilt-shift lens (or post processing?) creates a wonderful miniature feel. What do you think?

Bathtub IV from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

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Daily Inspiration #182 | Abduzeedo

by on Apr.28, 2009, under Photography

Abduzeedo is a very cool graphic design blog from Brazil which features a daily inspiration post containing assorted images from a wide variety of graphic artists and photographers. Most of the images posted are utterly amazing so I was extremely surprised and honoured to scan through today’s post and notice 3 of my Austin HDR images included! The post is, as usual, very long but you can find my shots about a third of the way down the page.

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Photoblog Awards 2009

by on Apr.26, 2009, under Photography

Voting is underway for the 2009 Photoblog Awards. If you like the pictures I am posting over on my photoblog, I would greatly appreciate one of your votes (you are allowed up to 60 but no more than 1 vote for any site). The process is rather tedious since you have to register but, if you have 5 minutes to spare, head on over and exercise your democratic right. In case you fall into the same trap I did, you vote by clicking the tiny “Vote” text which can be found immediately after each candidate’s vote count on the left of the page.

Electioneering aside, the award site is a great place to find a superb collection of wonderful photography so, even if you don’t register and vote, it is definitel worth a visit.

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“Clandestine Flickr Marketing”

by on Apr.25, 2009, under Photography

This has been an interesting week for me on Flickr. Over the last few months I’ve been working on ways to increase the number of people viewing my photos and some of those ways have involved Flickr but I didn’t expect to see such a dramatic increase in viewership as occurred two days ago.

When I started my cunning marketing plan 3 or 4 months ago, my daily average view count on Flickr was about 200. Yesterday, my stats showed over 2000 views.

Until Thursday last week, I had managed to increase the views to around 700-800 per day through various simple means:

  • I changed my posting pattern so that I never post more than 2 images per day. If I do a shoot and produce a dozen pictures, I now trickle them onto Flickr over a couple of weeks rather than upload them all at once. This allows my images to appear in my contacts “Your Contacts” list more often since this list only shows either 1 or 5 images from each contact.
  • I set up a Twitterfeed account and set it to tweet on any new post to Flickr.
  • I set up my new photoblog and similarly linked it Twitter via Twitterfeed. I also ensured that links to my other sites and Flickr appeared on each of the photoblog pages.
  • I started adding links to this blog, Twitter and my photoblog to all my Flickr postings.

These steps seem to have increased viewership by about 300-400% which is pretty impressive but what about the huge jump on Friday this week? Flickr stats showed a huge number of hits on 2 particular images but the source of these hits was marked as unknown. Only after a bit more thought did I remember that I had submitted these pictures to the CoolIris Inc, Beyond the Browser group. Images accepted into this group appear on the “Photos of the Day” page if you click the relevant link under “Discover” when you open the CoolIris viewer (which, if you haven’t seen it, is definitely worth a look). It seems that every view via this tool counts towards your Flickr total and I had 3 images in the first two pages on Friday. In addition to the huge increase in viewership for these images, I also noticed a drag effect with other images also seeing significantly higher view counts than usual – people must have been clicking through the image on CoolIris to get to the original Flickr page then wandering around my photostream to see what else was there.

I’m pretty sure the CoolIris effect won’t be sustainable since the group is likely to get a lot more popular as people find out about it and, as a moderated group, only some of the submitted pictures will be accepted but, for the time being, it has doubled my viewer stats for next to no effort.

Oh, I forgot to mention the significance of the picture I posted above. This is one of the images I took during an interesting 90 minutes at Allens Boots on South Congress this past Wednesday evening but has the greater distinction of being my 50th image in Flickr’s “Explore”, the daily list of the 500 “most interesting” images posted to the site. You can see the whole set here or as a single mosaic image here.

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The Joys of Automatic Translation

by on Apr.25, 2009, under Computer, Miscellaneous

I just received a rather odd message via Flickr mail. It was from an Italian photographer advertising one of his images. It was also in Italian, a language which is not my best (I barely know how to order beer in Italy let alone carry on a conversation about photography). As I usually do, I headed over to Yahoo Babelfish (or as it used to be – oddly, the “legacy URL” still works nicely) and pasted in the text. The final paragraph of the original message was:

“Flickr è la migliore applicazione per la gestione e la condivisione di foto online. Se sei curioso di sapere per che cosa lo utilizzo, guarda il mio profilo oppure naviga tra il mio album.”

…and the web site translated this as:

“Flickr is the best application for the management and the sharing of photo online. If you are curious of knowing for I use it what, watches my profile or is annoying between my egg whites.”

I do find unsolicited messages like this rather annoying (though I think this was the first example of Flickr spam I have seen) but, in this case, it ended up having great entertainment value and didn’t disturb my egg whites at all.

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Prints and eCards from the photoblog

by on Apr.21, 2009, under Computer, Photography

A couple of days ago, I heard about a new company in California offering an excellent service to photographers. Fotomoto offers the ability to provide print purchases directly from your web site without the need to tag, keyword and upload high resolution images to yet another site. I applied to join their beta program and was invited this evening.

Setting the service up on my photoblog was trivially simple. After logging on to the Fotomoto site and setting pricing for the various print sizes, I copied a small block of JavaScript and pasted it into the footer of the photoblog page. Immediately, all the images have a couple of new, unobtrusive links added beneath them, one to allow print purchases and the other offering to send an eCard containing the image.

Some of my images were taken in places which do not allow commercial sale of photographs taken there and one was taken with an old digital camera whose resolution was not really up to producing high quality prints so I had to return to the Fotomoto control panel to indicate which images were not for sale. Overall, the installation and customisation was incredibly easy.

So far, this looks as if it should be a superb service. I’ll purchase a couple of test prints and report back once I have checked out the print quality. Assuming it’s on a par with ImageKind, I will likely move all my online print purchasing there since FotoMoto do not charge an annual fee (they take a 15% commission on each sale instead which, given my current sales volume, works out better for me)

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Advertisting Shoot – episode 2

by on Apr.18, 2009, under Photography

Readers may remember a posting detailing my experiences on an advertising shoot for a real estate development on Lake Travis last October. I delivered the required photo and billed the client in November for a campaign that was supposed to run starting in late January. No payment was received by the turn of the year and I sent a reminder but later discovered that the development, like most other real-estate projects these days, had been delayed until the end of 2009 so didn’t push too hard for the check since the contract was based on usage fees and, obviously, the usage would be delayed. Today, however, I received a letter informing me that the advertising agency, Milesbrand from Denver, had ceased trading and would not be paying any creditors. It looks like I’ve donated 20 hours work to the economic downturn.

So what can I take away from this experience? As a result of careful research on cost estimates and contracts prior to this job, I contracted based solely on the usage of the final images. This seemed the best plan given that it had upside potential – if the client wants to use the images in an expanded way, they need to come back and ask for another license. Had I quoted based on an assignment fee with universal rights to the resulting images, this potential would not exist. In retrospect and moving forward, I will definitely change my quotes to include both a time-based assignment charge in addition to licensing fees for the resulting images and add a contract clause stipulating payment terms for the assignment portion of the bill.

I can’t be too bitter about this situation, I suppose, given that I am in the fortunate position of having a day job and not relying upon photography income to pay the mortgage but it will put a dent in my equipment purchases this year. Maybe I’ll sell 3 dozen prints of this image which I also took on the shoot to recoup the loss? 🙂

Lake Travis Promontory

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Court of Appeals, Texas State Capitol

by on Apr.17, 2009, under Photography

I was surprised to discover 2 rooms in the Capitol that were open to the public yesterday but which I had never seen before. The Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals are opposite one another in one of the wings of the old part of the building. Both, strangely enough, have two large pillars slap-bang in the middle of the room which serve to obscure the view of the bench for most people in the room and all visitors who are looking through the one roped-off door that is available to them.

Regardless of the poor sight line to the most interesting part of the room, I took a wide angle shot across the back and captured the seating, bookcases and very ornate door frames.

On a different note, there will likely be a bit of a lag in my photo posting for the next couple of days since my PC died this afternoon and I have to get round to fixing it. Fry’s is a long way from here and my local CompUSA is no more so it will likely be Monday before I can pick up a new power supply and get the machine working again.

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Speaker’s Seat, Texas House

by on Apr.16, 2009, under Photography

I had an hour or so free last night before a meeting in downtown Austin so spent it at my default photo location, the State Capitol. I had hoped to retake a picture I made there a couple of years ago which suffered from lots of ghosts due to people moving around in the frame during long exposures. The image was taken on a Saturday morning from the gallery of the House of Representatives but, as I discovered later, the gallery is locked at weekends unless a special event is going on. By showing up on a Wednesday evening, however, I could get back into the gallery without a crowd down below and I managed to retake the shot (which I will likely post in the coming week).

This image was taken using my Tamron 90mm lens and shows the dais at the front of the House of Representatives. I’m very impressed by the sharpness of this lens – click the image and navigate to “All Sizes” on Flickr to see what I mean.

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PhotoNetCast #27 – HDR Photography

by on Apr.13, 2009, under Photography

PhotoNetCast #27 has just hit the wires. If you are interested in HDR and don’t mind listening to me waffling on about it while interrupting a bunch of far more interesting photographers, click the link and have a listen.

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