Monday, April 28, 2008

The Stockxpert conference is over and I will write a report about it in a few days.

The day after the conference we went around Moscow with Ron Chapple. Ron is a very successfull stock photographer. He has about 35 years of photography experience, he is doing stock photography for over 20 years, and doing very well on microstock with 14 months experience so far.
Ron shoots St.Basil Cathedral

It was a great day. We started early to catch the good light and to avoid too many tourists. As I am a lazy person I would for sure not start so early on my own. I would have missed the opportunity of making pictures in wonderful early morning light that we got. The picture above is St. Basil Cathedral - and the Red Square is just on the opposite side of the Cathedral.

The picture below shows Ron in front of the former KGB building.

Ron in front of former KGB building

As we started at 6 am and stayed on our feet up until 3 pm we got tired and decided to stop. That allowed me to catch one of the workshops that was organized by Russian photographers. They used the opportunity of many Stockxpert contributors being in Moscow for the weekend and organized few events on Sunday - and I catched the last one. The workshop was about studio light and work with model. It was led by photographer Vlad Gansovsky and one of his models. Vlad is Russian nude and stock photographer (,, Workshop was very interactive, and I learned quite a bit (and I truly enjoyed it).

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

After economical decline in Russia in the end of 1980's and almost complete collapse in the beginning of 1990's, economy started to grow at the end of XX's century and is growing very rapidly in the last few years. There are still huge social problems, corruption and there is still a long way to go, but things are moving fast.

Part of the growth resulted many more private and business cars on the streets. Moscow can't cope with the current number of cars and tremendous efforts are made for a major road reconstruction in Moscow. As part of this efforts a new bridge across Moscow riverhas been recently constructed:
New bridge across Moscow river

There are more and more modern office and appartment buildings (some of them skyscrapers) built everywhere in Moscow, between boring grey blocks from the previous decades.

Every time I come to Moscow I see it changed significantly.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Stockxpert contributor conference

Stockxpert agency organizes contributor conference this Saturday in Moscow, Russia. I will be attending it and I will share my experience in this blog.

I am particularly interested to talk to Ron Chapple who is long time professional photographer, veteran of traditional photo stock and also successful in microstock. The other items of the agenda also look interesting.

iStock was the first microstock agency that started organizing events for it's contributors on a regular basis - but iStock is community driven so it was quite natural move. The next was LuckyOliver but that startup company didn't succeed and is being closed down now. Other agencies didn't organize anything similar so far, so we can consider Stockxpert being the second (although it is doing it very different comparing with iStock).

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Photo exhibitions in Belgium

A few days ago I received an invitation to a photo exhibition in Leuven:

The club Foto Gamma Leuven will have an exhibition at Diestevest 39 te 3000 Leuven (close to the station) on 26-27 April and on 1-4th of May (open 10:00-18:00).

International annual photo festival in Knokke-Heist is running from March and till the 1st of June. The main guest this year is Dutch photographer Frans Lanting (,

Details at

Another event possibly interesting for photographers will be 2008 Steam Festival in Maldegem on the 3rd and 4th of May. Maldegem is not far from Gent and from Knokke, so it's possible to combine a visit to steam festival with the visit to Knokke photo festival. There will be 2 guest steam engines in Maldegem and one local on the show. Besides that there is interesting program including steam train rides, model railways, etc.

More details and pictures at
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Canon G9 - first impression

While my EOS 40D was in repair I have purchased Canon G9 camera. I had a few reasons for that - having some backup for my SLR, but also having a compact camera that is easier to carry with me in case I don't have SLR; and also having a camera that other family members can easily use.

In case you don't know, Canon G9 is not a usual compact camera. It has a number of features that make it interesting for serious use: good quality pictures, RAW format, full manual control, image stabilization, hot shoe for external flash.

Canon G9

I haven't used it intensively, neither I run a formal test - this is why I titled this post "first impression".

Some reviews of G9 that I have read position that camera similarly to range-finder in comparison with SLR (and by that they distinguish it from cheapy plastic full-auto ones). I must admit that it doesn't really feel as a rangefinder. In fact it feels similarly to full-auto models. However controls and functionality do make different impression indeed.

RAW format

Although RAW files from G9 have the same CR2 extension as from Canon DSLR cameras, Canon Digital Photo Professional software doesn't work with the files from G9. The only native Canon software that works with G9 RAW files is 'RAW Image Task' that is called via Zoom Browser EX.

I use different workflow anyway, but just need to warn you: 'RAW Image Task' enforces some sharpening and some noise reduction even when you set corresponding parameters to 0. In case you use 3rd party RAW converter such as Adobe Camera RAW there is no problem (and you can clearly see the difference).

I am not sure about the older versions of Adobe Camera RAW, but version 4.4 works with G9 RAW files without any issues.

Image quality
The optics is quite good - no visible vignetting and quite sharp picture with good resolution. Cityscape picture with tiny aerials shows good detail through the whole frame.

In some situation barrel distortion is obvious, but it can be corrected in post-processing.

Chromatic aberration / purple fringing is reasonable, and can be fixed in RAW converter or photoshop when it shows up.

G9 image looks much noisier comparing with EOS 40D or even EOS 350D, and I don't mean color noise. I mean the picture is less smooth, it resembles EOS picture when sharpening is applied. When you enrlage G9 picture to 400% or 500% you can see that color transition between pixels isn't very smooth even on single-color surface.

placeholder - to be replaced with sample picture

Depending on your requirements this effect might be not too important for you. It can be reduced in post-processing; and also down-scaling the picture to 6 megapixel can reduce the effect a lot. Microstock agencies that are extremely picky about the quality of pictures accepted my test shots (filtered and downsized to 6 MPx).

  • Full manual control - you can set ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
  • Aperture priority and shutter speed priority - similarly to DSLR you can set it manually, and you can set the camera to underexpose or to overexpose in this mode
  • External flash - just same as with DSLR can operate in ETTL mode or in manual mode
  • Histogram - can be seen after the shot is made, but also can be seen before releasing the shutter. That helps to evaluate the right exposure.
  • Autofocus works quite well, although you can not select the exact point other than central one.
  • Image stabilisation works well. A good portion of my 1/13th second pictures taken handheld appeared sharp afterwards (indeed shorter exposure means higher per cent of sharp pictures).
  • Macro mode works well, but you can only take the lens very close to object in wide-angle mode. Still quite nice, not possible on DSLR without special macro lens.
  • Battery life is quite long. Even when battery indicator flashes at low level, quite a few shots can still be made.

There are no miracles - Canon G9 has quite obvious limitations and the quality of images is below DSLR. Still, G9 is very nice camera with good features capable of producing decent quality pictures.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Canon RAW files and in-camera settings - continued

This is a follow up to the story about in-camera setting affecting RAW files for Canon EOS 350D.

I have made a quick test on my EOS 40D and found no difference in the RAW files that were photographed with different sharpening setting on the camera (called "Styles" on that camera).

I have placed camera on tripod, and made 2 shots with identical lighting and identical aperture/exposure/ISO settings; with the only difference being the sharpness level. I photographed RAW+JPEG. While I can clearly see a difference between 2 JPEG files, the 2 RAW files look virtually identical.

I would be interested to know about other cameras. RAW format is indeed supposed to b e independent from in-camera processing settings but it is not the case for EOS 350D. I wonder if there are other cameras having this issue.
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