September Newsletter 2016

Schools in from summer.

Yes, it is that time of the year again. The start of Autumn or “Fall” as Mike says, that crazy Canuck, eh. The beautiful summer days are numbered, a time of year when the days get cooler, the leaves start to change colour and winter (gasp) is around the corner. In saying that, lets be positive! With this, you have a great opportunity in taking some amazing pictures of the change in season and we’re looking forward to seeing what you upload in the next month – not all that bad right?

News from the community

Lots happening this month so lets get to it shall we?
Stephen Mole is hosting an Exhibition with Paul Macro Exhibition at Blickling Hall (National Trust) from September 20th to October 2nd and yes he did receive permission. The manager even bought a picture off Stephen of the hall. (It was shot from the road side)
Liz Alderdice is opening up her Studio for the North East Open Studios 2016event where artists and makers open their studios for 8 days so that the public can meet the artist and gain an insight into the way they work. Dates are 10th - 18th  September. She can be found here.
Thank you to Roger Green. With excellent research Roger spoke with the Senior Counrtyside Access Office for Cumbria regarding pictures of the Castlerigg Stone Circle, who informed him that,

"It seems safe to assert that purposes 'reasonably incidental' passing and repassing includes such things as stopping to look at a view, to talk to passer-by, to take photographs, or to have a picnic on the verge'.

So in my view there would be two questioned to be answered, was your passing 'reasonably incidental' or had you gone to the site to take the photograph for commercial gain.

The other would and I would think the most important were you on the public right of way or had you strayed off it?"

Therefore, if you feel that above applies to you, please reply to the declined image, email a link, or just re-upload.

Bel, donating commission to a worthy cause.

Bel Menpes is going to give all commission payments from the sale of her work to help Kelly Turner raise £1.2 million to fund life saving surgery in the US.

Who is Kelly Turner?
Kelly is a 16 year old from Dover who has a rare form of soft tissue cancer. Tragically, Kelly has been told that without surgery she has just two years to live.

Without surgery Kelly will not have a chance to achieve all she had hoped to. She would like to help others by becoming a radiographer, and to develop her passion for art. Surgery could give her the opportunity to fulfill her hopes and dreams, and allow Kelly to live her life to its full potential.

Bel is trying to spread the word and help raise money to fund Kelly's surgery in the US, surgery she can not have in the UK.

Bel will continue donating her commission until at least the end of Feb

How can you help?
Please search on Facebook for getkellytotheUS for more details and a link to her crowd funding page can be found here.
Also follow the hashtag, #doingitforkelly

What's happening?

As all parents and grandparents are probably well aware of, school’s return is coming up or for some, has just begun. Last month we saw the conclusion of the Notting Hill Carnival and the amazing performances of all Olympians. Speaking of which, please let us not forget the Para-Olympic games start soon (Sept. 7th to the 18th), so please do your best to watch, cheer and support  these inspirational and amazing people.

What else is? There is the London Design Festival which goes from Sept. 17thto the 25th. Might be worth popping by to see and get inspiration for your own work.

Also in the city there is Proms in the Park (Hyde Park), which takes place on September 10th.

Moving away from London, you can test your fitness levels at the Great North Run, which is taking place in New Castle where more than 54,000 runners will pound the pavement. If running is not your strong point, I’m sure the spectating support would be greatly appreciated.

None of those your cup of tea? (Excuse the pun - you'll see why) There is the Autumn Steam Gala Beer Festival in Yorkshire (Sept. 30th to the 2nd of October) See trains and have a pint, we can think of worst things to do on a weekend. – Google the event for more info.

Not to be outdone, Blackpool will light up the Lancashire skies for “Blackpool’s Light Fantastic” where over a million bulbs will light up over six miles of Blackpool’s iconic Promenade – this runs until November. Below is a picture from Jason Connelly who took the opportunity to take a picture of the event a few years ago. I’m sure there will be some great photo opportunities like this.

What's new this month?

Due to the annual holidays it’s been a quiet time for development work over here. What I can tell you is that we're working on a sharing function for the site that will make sharing your pictures a lot easier. Bigger audience, bigger chance someone sees you work, bigger commissions down the road.

Top effort everyone!

We have found out the reason why when you share your images/portfolio on Facebook, and the image doesn’t come up as your own and your name is not mentioned. This is due to Facebook “scraping” the information from Photo4me is incomplete. To fix this issue, please go to your Settings page, at the bottom under “Commercial profile” add your own unique TinyURL. Once saved you can share your portfolio on Facebook without problems. Not only that, it will also make your link a lot more professional when sharing it among friends in print. For example,{whatever name you chose}

We’ve noticed an influx of declines because of wrapping issues/cut subject. Remember when cropping and taking your great pictures you need to give about 1cm (on all sides) of clearance on the screen to avoid a wrapping issue.

A few of you have been a little confused when we give an explanation for a declined image, which is understandable. To clarify, we are given a list from a dropdown menu, most explanations are very general, therefore, if it is not obvious, kindly feel free to ask us to clarify and we can be very specific. Now the reason why we have dropdowns rather than the need to type each reason – it’s a time saver. Imagine having to give a specific detailed explanation for every decline, we wouldn't have time to go anything else.

With all these flags, people may feel that they are being picked on – I know getting flagged isn’t fun, but it’s for the best, and no one is picking on you. Yes, you may be getting 3-4 images flagged, it happens, no sweat. Overall we get about 100 – 200 flags over a 24 hour time span, some images are from recent uploads, some are from images uploaded 5-6 years ago. If there is a problem with the image, it’s best that we know about it now, than if a customer purchases the image and we need to stall the order or cancel the order outright. Then it becomes a little embarrassing for us and the photographer because we can’t fulfill the order on something, which we should have been able to avoid.

The flag system is to keep the quality of the images on the site to the highest standards possible.

We’re always looking for something to report or to announce, anything that would interest the community. Would you like to write up a blog? Start a photography club in your area? Have any tips? Locations? Advice? Let us know and we’ll be more than happy to read and even put it into the newsletter.

Have a great month everyone, and thank you for being part of the community. 

Best wishes,

Jon & Mike

Observations for declined images.

My observations regarding why some images are declined but in fact the reason for declining is not apparent.

Wording declines

Sometimes I will decline an image if there is a lack of wording however there is wording but it can use more work.

For example, I see a lovely image that has the description of a dog.

Description: “My dog Biscuit on the beach.”

It would be more advisable to write, “A Golden Retriever on the beaches at Watergate Bay, Cornwall. “ – Generalize, people will remember their dog at the beach, not your dog. They will have a personal connection with that moment if you can bring them there.

Avoid using the word “MY” in the description, it means something to you, but it won’t mean anything to the average customer.

Quick examples to avoid– My wife, my dog, my cat, my hands, my feet, my friend. You get the idea.

Blown Sky

Another reason for a confusing decline is a “Blown Sky” when there is no sky in the image. It could be just written as a blown object.

A blown sky is a general term, which normally occurs in the sky. However one of the most common places it occurs is during long exposure photography and to be more specific in running water. Over the course of the long exposure, the running water will dominate the sensor and the colours and come out all white. This will cause a blown effect thus bleaching the colours around the blown area.


Dust Spots

A word about “Dust Spots.” Dust spots can occur on the lens sensor any part of the photography process, which just needs a quick clean and away you go.

But sometimes we can’t determine what the spot is. More times than not we know from experience that the spot is in fact a bird in the distance. The average customer will see the spot and assume is some sort of problem or defect and move to the next image. Look at your image through the eyes of customer. Does it look like it’s perfect? This is why we call it a dust spot, because it is a spot on the image and the customer cannot determine what it is.

Lens Flare

The last subject is about “Lens Flare.” This is the complete opposite with the dust spot. A customer will purchase a canvas, but when the canvas is made, a 10mm sun flare is in the centre of the picture. The customer, never saw the flare and will demand a return/refund or a re-print. Therefore please be very careful with the flares and unless it is 100% visible and part of the picture it can be flagged, refunded or a re-print which causes a waste of time for the customer, photographer (fixing and disappointment) and for us.

Copyright Infringement

Although sometimes a copyright infringement is straight forward, it can be confusing. Essentially, anything that you need permission to take a picture can be flagged as a copyright infringement. For example last week we had a churchwarden email us asking who gave permission to take and post images of the church. Due to the church being “private property” they needed permission and was flagged accordingly. Please be sure you have permission to take pictures before posting.


This leads us into accreditation. Closely linked with copyright. If you are at an event which credentials given out, you must have the accreditation to post. It doesn’t matter if the stadium is empty, you are still on private property and accreds are given out at the clubs/events discretion. Failing to comply can land you in some hot water.

If you do have accreditation, then you do not need a model release.

I hope this helps clarify things.


Why has my image been declined?

We hear this all the time and sometimes it's totally unclear why an image has been declined, although more often than not on P4me there is a note to explain. On some POD's such as 500px you simply get a standard email which says your image has not been 'licensed' as there are 'issues' which they can't specify, but there is a list of potential things to look at.
These 'issues' are almost always simple ones that are avoidable and stem mostly from CBBS. (Can't Be Bothered Syndrome)

Some people especially those very new to photography have CBBS because they haven't yet established a workflow. A workflow is nothing more than a set of habits that you carry out after taking photos and while some say they are unnecessary, their own way of doing things usually falls right slap bang into a specific type of workflow.
Everyone develops their own to suit themselves, but for those who don't know where to start or those who have never heard of this, here's mine as an example. 

Import and First Culling

I use Lightroom to transfer my images to computer and I keyword at that point with broad, general keywords to suit the shots. Once imported I quickly scan them and mark for deletion those that are out of focus, so poorly exposed as to be unrescuable, very badly composed to the point they can't be fixed, or where something is in the background that I hadn't noticed and it would take a huge amount of work to fix. You have to be harsh with this initial cull, take no prisoners, if in doubt chuck it out.

Second culling 

The second cull is most important: if I spot more obvious poor ones they are marked for deletion, sometimes at second glance I see that what I thought was a 'possible' would in fact entail lots of work for not much result, I also might see one that I think is definitely a good shot, I mark that in purple. At the end of this cull I have some marked in red for deletion, some marked in purple for definite processing, and some marked in green which I need to think harder about later on. I might end up here with 30 shots from 100 taken, only 8 of which are purple. This process focusses the mind but you have to be harsh. Imagine you're picking shots for a nation wide competition and you know they have to be great.

First process 

The first process is the purple ones that I see are good shots. The very first thing I check is overall exposure and white balance, and then I check they're level. If I need to crop I do that now so I don't waste time on part of the image that won't be kept.
Once that's done the image looks better already so I check for dust bunnies, enlarging the image to 1:1 on screen for this process.  When dust bunny hunt and fix is over I remain at 1:1 and check the image for things that may spoil it: a car bumper intruding in the corner, a pylon cable crossing the scene, perhaps a large piece of litter on an otherwise clean piece of grass. One by one I fix these issues and the key here is not to hurry to finish, it's to make sure you're thorough as you go. I may at this stage change my mind if an image is too much work to fix and simply put it to one side or delete it. 

Second process

I've now got a set of very nice images that are correctly exposed, level, clear of dust bunnies and clean of extraneous intrusions. Now I can check the colour balance, altering maybe some yellow, saturating the blue sky slightly maybe, or toning down the red in something to stop it being garish. With a scene that includes a field of crop perhaps you may indeed want to turn up the saturation of yellow and green for corn. I should end up with an image clean of dust bunnies and other distractions, levelled, with good white balance, good dynamic range of light and balanced colours.

Final process 

Now I've got a great image, I sharpen if need be using a mask for only the main edges, I check for noise especially in shadow areas, areas where I have increased exposure and areas where I have saturated the colour. I'm still in 1:1 view so as I check I also keep an eye out for chromatic aberration at obvious points, where distinct edges of highly different contrasts meet. I then go back to standard view where the image is equivalent to a 10 x 8 and view it from a distance to get an overall feel for it. 

Finishing touches 

Once I am happy with the final image I think of a title for it. The title should be very descriptive, so "Ashness bridge in moonlight" rather than "The moon reflects summer warmth onto a cold night scene" which doesn't really tell us what or where the image is and for selling online it's important that people find images by what they are and where they're located.
Then I write a description. You can get slightly more prosaic here or even poetic but it's best still to include the name again and location. "The moon shines brightly on the Lake District National Park bringing into muted relief the ancient stones of Ashness Bridge, the waters beneath it tumbling chaotically down to Derwentwater near Keswick."
Now I can export the image as a full size JPG, give it a final check and upload.


Your description and keyword are the only things that put your image on the shelf. Whether they're chosen to buy or not is down to your workflow in creating a nice image. Try setting out the major parts of processing an image and make yourself a workflow and give yourself a chance to get used to it. It really does make a difference.