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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Keeping Your Images On Track

AF And AI Servo Settings • Noise Abatement • Selling My Pictures

Labels: How-ToColumnTechniques
Don’t confuse Long Exposure Noise Reduction with a newer feature called High ISO Noise Reduction. The higher ISOs (up to 102,400, theoretically) available in some high-end DSLRs increase the sensitivity of the sensor, which is helpful in low-light and/or fast-action captures. But captures at higher ISOs (more than 800 or more today, higher still tomorrow) are vulnerable to chrominance and luminance noise, which shows up as grain, especially in undetailed areas of the image. High ISO Noise Reduction is an in-camera process for JPEGs that reduces noise; the downside of automatic noise reduction is reduced image detail at the higher ISO settings. With RAW images, you can achieve noise reduction with more control in post-capture processing in either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Raw, or with programs specific to the problem, like Noise Ninja from www.picturecode.com and Dfine2 from www.niksoftware.com.

Selling My Pictures
Q I have a few spectacular shots that I’d love to make available for sale. What’s the best way to get my work out there when I’m not affiliated with any photo stock agencies?
P. Hinz
Via the Internet

A Push, push, push your work in every venue you can access. If you’re photographing with professional-level equipment, you can consider applying to stock agencies, or microstock agencies, which have proliferated in the digital age. Look through magazines and online sites that feature a lot of photographs of subjects you like to work with and target the agencies that handle those images. Consult the annual publication Photographer’s Market (by the editors of Writer’s Digest) for a directory of photo editors and other direct-marketing contacts. Be aware that the value of images has significantly diminished in recent years because there are so many free or cheap ones out there. Keep in mind that the quest for publication and/or commercial use of your images is time-consuming, meticulous and sometimes discouraging work. And be prepared for the possibility that your spectacular fine-art images may be deemed of little commercial value in the image marketplace.

But there are other arenas where quality and artistic merit really count. Participate in local exhibitions and donate your images to local hospitals and public agencies where they’ll be seen by many. The North American Nature Photography Association (www.nanpa.org) or the Photographic Society of America (www.psa-photo.org) have structures that facilitate competition and photographic achievement and a great international network of chapters and affiliated clubs. Regular entry into the imaging competitions of the local, regional and national PSA affiliates gains you visibility and recognition in the field.

Two other highly credible and visible annual photo competitions come to mind: Look at Nature’s Best (www.naturesbestphotography.com) for an excellent example; winners are exhibited at the Smithsonian. The British Museum of Natural History/BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year photo competition is considered to be the pinnacle of achievement for a wildlife photographer: see www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/wpy/competition/index.jsp. Don’t miss the frequent opportunities to submit your images to competitions conducted by Outdoor Photographer! The easiest way to keep track is to click on “Contests” at the OP website.

When entering competitions, judge the cost/benefit relationship. If the sponsor requires that you give up ownership of the image or grant broad usage in exchange for entering the contest, don’t go there. If the entry fee is out of proportion to the benefits of winning, someone is running the contest to make a profit for themselves, and you probably don’t want to be a part of that, either. But watch for occasional contests offered by image-oriented companies such as Canon and Microsoft; these can be great opportunities to get your work promoted in a larger arena.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.georgelepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.georgelepp.com.

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