When you look at the imagery of our next featured age fotostock photographer, you might wonder whether Lluis Real inhabits the same world as you and me. His is a world of misty, desolate landscapes, strange and eerie human forms and continual artistic exploration.  Enjoy the 10 x 10 of this long-time age fotostock photographer, and see if you can answer the question, "What is real and what is Real?"

Q: Choose 3 words that describe you.

A: Will, perseverance, patience.

Q: How did you learn to be a photographer?

A: At a photography school.

Q: Any special artistic influences?

A: I nourish myself upon what I like the most.

Q: What’s your favourite lens and why?

A: All of them. Each one according to the idea to do.

Q: What is your favorite time of day to make photos?

A: Not really, photography is light and I look for the right kind for every occasion.

Q: What song or kind of music would go well with your photos?

A: Jazz.

Q: What’s the image that you are still hoping to make?

A: All and none.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: I knew several photographers that were in AGE at the time.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: The best: never turn in a photo that you do not like.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: A cook.


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Recently, we introduced the Inspiration collection to clients, partner agencies, agents and to you.  The interest has been high and the feedback positive.  And so let’s give thanks where thanks are due; to the creators of the images in Inspiration, to you, the age fotostock photographers.  Without your ideas, creativity and technique, we wouldn’t have the material to create Inspiration.

One of our photographers, excited to see some of his images marked for Inspiration, commented: 
This sounds very, very interesting! I think this is a good idea to communicate images to customers like this. Would it be an idea to inform photographers somehow which of their images were selected for inspiration? It might cause these photographers, like me, to make more of these, premium quality photographs? Stimulate their learning curve, so to say?!

And that question is the perfect introduction to today’s post, the Photographers' Profiles.  The answer is yes, we do share this information with photographers.  You can see which of your images have been tagged for Inspiration (along with other cool stuff) in your Photographer’s profile. We have had these public profiles in the works for a few months now, holding off on an official announcement until we could work out some of the bugs of our “beta” version.  There might still be a bug or two left, but we feel that the profiles are ready to roll, and many of you have already created one.  Last week we started sharing a Photographer Profile of the Week via twitter, and we plan to continue sharing the profiles that have been filled in by our photographers.

The profile shows statistics on photographer activity at age fotostock, sales/viewed images activity, and also allows a photographer to present him/herself with a self portrait, a bio, “About Me,” and a selection of up to 20 images of the photographer’s choice.  You can find your profile on the website by clicking the link that appears beside the images in the age fotostock, Pixtal and easyFotostock collections.  You can enter your bio and other information and opt to hide certain information by accessing the Profile section within the Photographer’s Corner.  The images shown in Editor’s Choice are the images which have been marked for the Inspiration collection or else were at one time (past or present) shown on the New Images section of the website. 

Why we photographer’s profiles?

It gives age fotostock clients and agents interesting background on the creators of the images that they are buying. 

Clients will be able to find your profile by clicking "See profile" beside any one of your amplified photos, as shown in the screen capture below of Kristina DeWees' image of a hibiscus.

We get to know you better!

It’s another way to search out and show the best work that our photographers are doing.

Promoting you helps us promote ourselves.

It’s a great reason to tweet!


Why should you your profile?

You get to talk about yourself.

There is a lot of valuable information on the popularity and sales statistics of your images that can enable you to make a deeper analysis of what is working for you and what isn’t.

It’s another way to promote your work through Facebook and elsewhere.  Get your friends to “like” away.

If you don´t have a website (from this decade) you could even use this link to present yourself to potential clients by preparing a custom selection of relevant images in Photographer’s Choice and filling in the requested bio info.

The profile sets your images apart from the images of our image providers since it is only available to age fotostock, Pixtal and easyFotostock photographers (with at least 50 photos online).

Obviously these profiles are the best thing since sliced bread!  What are you waiting for?  Go to the Photographer's Corner and get to work!

 


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Welcome to the wild, wonderful world of Juan Carlos Muñoz. The images of this long-time age fotostock photographer show passion for, but also extensive knowledge of the animals, plants and natural environments of our planet. It is a potent combination which results in photography that is an authentic treasure; a treasure because it allows us to observe and appreciate species and places that we might never see in person and which will only exist for future generations if we can learn to conserve them.

You can see more of Muñoz´s work here or on his website which the photographer advises is currently under renovation.

Q: What 3 words best describe you?

A: Naturalness, Simplicity, Passion.

Q: Why did you become a wildlife photographer?

A: Ever since I was a child I liked nature so much that in college I majored in Biology, specializing in the environment.

Q: What is the animal or plant that you most like to photograph?

A: My group of “favorites” is very large, yet I am passionate about owls, penguins and meadow pastures.

Q: What is your favorite lens? Why?

A: A staple in my travel kit is the 24-105 mm lens because of its great versatility. In wildlife photography, I can’t do without my 500 mm lens.

Q: Are you more technical or intuitive in your photography?

A: Intuition is an essential element in all my images.

Q: What’s the image that you are still hoping to make?

A: Flowing rivers of lava.

Q: How do you finance your photographic trips around the world?

A: With the publication of my images in newspapers, magazines, and other parts of the editorial and advertising sectors.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: I decided to work with age fotostock because I found age to be the most focused and far reaching agency in the Spanish market. Also, my images fit in well with the wide range of photographic subjects which age represents.

Q: What equipment do you recommend?

A: Incredible photographs are not necessarily created with expensive equipment, but in sublime moments. Any of digital SLRs that abound on the market today can allow you to capture remarkable images.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: I’d be a field biologist.


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In case we have any faithful readers out there, we apologize to you for the delay since the last post.  Age fotostock has been seeing the world, specifically travelling to Istanbul to participate in the annual Cepic conference from May 17 till 22.  This conference generates a lot of work for us, both before and after the conference, so we haven´t been able to write in the blog.

We are pleased to report that one of the reasons that Cepic creates a growing workload for age fotostock is because age fotostock director, Alfonso Gutierrez, has been serving on the Cepic Committee and was in fact, re-elected this year to continue serving on the committee.  Alfonso is the chosen representative from the Spanish Association of Stock Agencies to represent them at European level.

Although you might not know of Cepic, it is important for stock photographers and videographers.  CEPIC stands for the Coordination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage, or more commonly, Center of the Picture Industry.  The goal of CEPIC is to be a united voice for the press, stock & heritage organizations of Europe in all matters pertaining to the photographic industry.  As such, CEPIC is involved in attempting to influence the decisions of the European Union in matters such as piracy, Google books, Orphan works, and collective rights management (see more here).  Policy for these matters and others is being decided at the level of the European Union, and those decisions will affect all photographers whose photography is being licensed at some place in the European Union.  That’s why age fotostock feels it is important to be involved and is glad to have a key person close to the events. 

If you are interested in learning more about the photo industry environment in this year’s Cepic conference, take a look at this reflection on the state of the photography industry by conference attendee Liz Pepper.


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Earlier this February, when age fotostock announced the opening of video for contributors in the Photographer’s blog, we were pleased to see a lively exchange of comments and opinions on one of our video requirements, that clips must be compressed in codec H.264.  We would like to follow up that debate with a little more information about video compression in general and specifically about the required codec and format for age fotostock.  We look forward to your continued comments, questions and feedback.

Why is video compressed?

The main challenge in the development of digital video was the amount of data required to represent a moving image. A digital photograph was only a few MB, but a sequence of 25 or 30 images was much more data to represent and process.  Too much, in fact…

The compression of the image in the video was absolutely necessary for the digital video work process. Without effective compression, the volume of information to process would make it impossible to do things like post video on the web.  The compression must reduce the flow of data from a video in the least destructive way possible. The goal is to compress as much as possible with a minimal loss of quality.

So digital video is compressed to economize on space, whether it's bandwidth or media, and a codec (compressor/decompressor) does the job of encoding and decoding. By improving the techniques upon which the codec is based, we're able to transmit higher quality video using the same bandwidth as before, in other words, more bang for your buck.  There are countless codec’s in use today, some of the most common ones are: MPEG4, Photo-JPG, DivX, MPEG-2 and H.264.

What is the advantage of codec H.264?

The H.264 codec reduces the amount of information required to reproduce the input video by recognizing the redundancies in the frames of a clip in a process generically called motion compensation. This process exploits the fact that between frames is the camera or the subject is what is moving therefore in reference to a video file that means that much of the information in one frame is repeated in the next frame, so by removing redundancies the video files reduces the size. A digital video clip compressed with codec H.264 only uses half the space of MPEG-2 to deliver the same quality video. This means you can enjoy HD video without sacrificing speed or performance. 

H.264 has become a new standard for high definition video and is set to supersede some of the formats that are commonplace today such as MPEG-2, the standard for DVD video and some types of cable TV and digital broadcast.  The proof is in the use of this codec by some of the giants within the technological and multimedia world such as Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, Canon, etc (and age fotostock, of course!).

Are there any disadvantages to codec H.264?


As we’ve already explained, H.264 is a very efficient codec, able to reduce the bit rate and achieve an excellent quality and compression rates. These characteristics make the codec ideal for HD video which will be distributed on internet.  In addition, nowadays all video-editing programs include the codec, which produces good results during the editing process.

Nonetheless, if you are planning to edit your audiovisual material extensively, such as retouching, subtle color adjustments, or extracting a chroma-key, than you should try to work with the minimal compression possible.   In these cases, consider converting your H.264 compressed file to a codec with almost no compression, such as Apple Pro-Res.  Once you have finished your fine adjustments, you should encode with H.264 in order to send and handle the file. 

What is the difference between a codec and a format?

A video format is the type of file used to store the information of a video clip (AVI, MPEG, MOV, WMV, FLV, etc…)  This is comparable to the file formats in images, such as JPG, TIF, GIF; BMP, etc..  Video formats are considered multimedia “containers,” because the format stores all of the information for images, audio, subtitles, etc. for a clip. 

This information within the clip must be compressed so that the clip can be easily handled.  In video, the algorithm used to generate the compression is known as the codec (ex. Photo-JPEG, H.264, MPEG, DivX, etc).  For example, a Quicktime file (abbreviation .mov) is a container for information which might be compressed with any of the following codec’s (Photo-JPEG, H.264, etc...).  This differs somewhat from the world of digital imagery, where you can choose to use formats (such as TIFF) that have no compression.  A photo format such as JPEG, on the other hand, always has some level of compression included (you can determine the degree) so it more easily comparable to a digital video format. 

So what is Quicktime?

As we already mentioned, Quicktime is a type of “container” file which is capable of storing a high quantity of multimedia information.  Currently, it is the video format most commonly used for multimedia purposes because it is compact and easy to handle and edit.  It is also multi-platform, compatible with Mac, Windows and several version of Unix.  Quicktime allows for an easy synchronization between audio and video and lastly is versatile with a number of additional technologies (3D, Virtual Reality, video-conferencing, etc) that not all video formats can handle.

Since the version 7.0, Quicktime has been implementing the codec H.264, as a standard codec which allows for a good quality of HD file and with lower bit rates, as previously stated.  age fotostock has chosen to work with Quicktime for all of the above reasons, namely because it is a multimedia system which can reproduce and transmit high quality content online.

What should you do if your clips are not in Quicktime (with H.264 codec)?

As we explain in the Road Atlas, you can convert both the codec and the format in the same operation using a software conversion tool. There are numerous convertors; we recommend a free one called Mpeg-Streamclip that you might know of.

Please feel free to write us with any other questions about creating and processing video or about the video submission processes for age fotostock.  If you have a lot of extra time on your hands or you would like to make sure that we didn’t just make this up, check out these additional resources.

Additional Resources on H.264 and Quicktime

H.264/MPEG-4 AVC

H.264 overview

Steve Jobs talking about H.264

H.264 vs MPEG-2 presentation

Quicktime features


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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