Thursday, October 23, 2008

Absences and apologies

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. I've been flat out trying to get new images up on the web as well as look after my two young boys - who take great delight in making a huge mess straight after I've cleaned everything up!

Maybe I need to be stuck in one of these. This is a bona fide homemade electric chair! I found it for sale at a flea market in Japan.

Not any old flea market mind you but the biggest flea market in the whole of Hokkaido. And, for someone who's not the biggest shopper in the world, I was very tempted to go home with this little beauty. It would sure come in handy for those little brats of mine. :)

A good tip when you're travelling is to try and get yourself a copy of the local English newspaper. You can often find them at embassies and English language schools. The great thing about local newspapers is that they point you in the direction of events that may be great to photograph, but which the tourism people don't tell you about.

Tourism bodies often have an agenda to send you information about the products that pay to be members of their societies. As a result they often have a great knowledge of the major events and products but might not be up to date on the little things happening in town. By getting your information locally you can bypass this little problem and find some not often visited events to take pictures of.

This is the entire flea market inside the dome of a giant indoor sports stadium. I shot it from up high in the seating stands with a very wide-angle lens. There was such an exposure difference between the roof and the floor below that I had to choose which part I wanted to expose properly. I ended up deciding to let the market go a little bit dark and retain the detail in the roof.

Anyway I hope to be posting as normal real soon. The weather is gorgeous here in Cairns at the moment and it's just too tempting to be outside! :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keeping it all together

I thought you might like a little insight into my world. Well my world of stock photography. For those of you who don't know, stock photography is the licensing of photographs that already exist in your files. In other words not stuff that you do on assignment for people, but photography that you do on your own time and then hope to license down the track.

I say license here because you don't sell your pictures. You let people use them for certain uses and then charge them money according to what that usage is.

Anyway lately I've pulled my finger out (Australian slang for not being so lazy!) and decided to submit more images to one of my stock agencies. To do this I need to have a good record of what I have already submitted to them, what I have submitted to my other agencies (so I don't submit the samepicture to two different agencies) and what pictures I can't submit for various legal reasons.

This means that I need to keep a good track of all my pictures. As we all do. Now that the world has gone digital we fill up hard drive after hard drive, DVD after DVD and lose track of a lot of pictures. We end up spending more time looking for pictures than we did taking them. That's why I'm going to recommend that you all go out and buy some image cataloguing software. There are various types of software but the one I use and recommend started off with the name of iView MediaPro before it got bought by Microsoft and is now called Expression Media.

Here's one of the best things about it. From the picture above (click on it for a bigger version) you can see all the thumbnails there. Nothing unusual about that, lost of programmes give you thumbnails. But each one of those pictures lives in different folders in different hard drives. Most programmes only let you look at the pictures in one folder. This programme will let you look at ANY picture on ANY hard drive or DVD. How does it do it?

The thumbnails aren't the pictures themselves. They're just links to the pictures. If you look in the top left hand panel you can see it's called Catalog Sets. Four lines from the bottom you'll notice the Set called Blog Pics. And next to that title you'll see that the little circle is highlighted Green. This tells you that all the pictures you're looking at are ones I've posted to the blog. These virtual sets are the best thing since sliced bread. They enable you to group pictures in any way you like. You just drag and drop the thumbnails into these little Sets and that picture joins the group. But the actual original digital files themselves don't move! So that means one picture can live in as many virtual sets as you like without affecting the original picture.

What that means is - wait for it. If I want to burn a DVD with multiple images from multiple folders on multiple hard drives I just need to create one of these virtual Catalog Sets and drag and drop the thumbnails in there. The software will then let me burn a DVD and it will automatically grab all those pictures from their various homes on various hard drives and burn them all to one DVD for me! No more hunting for pictures, making copies and sticking them in a folder before you can burn a DVD. Now it's all drag and drop and Bob's your Uncle.

I have catalog sets for every country I've been to (so I can see all the images from one country in a single click), catalog sets for different regions within Australia and Japan (where I have the most images), and temporary Catalog Sets that I create when I'm putting together submissions for various clients. You can see I also have sets for the images published in a certain twelve month period.

You can also do a search for all the metadata in the pictures. Metadata is all the information you enter about the location you took the picture and the content of the image. You can do a search for file type (jpeg, tiff etc), the date you took the photo. You name it you can search for it.

This metadata is the future of image searching. No longer do you have to give your pictures a file name which includes information about the contents of the picture. As long as you have put some information into the metadata of the file you can find anything you want. Need a picture of an elephant? Type elephant into the search engine and all your elephant pictures will come up! Need to find out which pictures you've already posted to your blog? Just click on your Blog Pics catalog set and they'll all come up.

This software has literally changed my life. If you want to learn how to organise your files get a copy of The Dam book and Expression Media and prepare for your life to change!