Category Archives: Product Reviews

Free Photography Book

Actually, not technically free as the authors are asking for a “pay what you can” donation, but that payment is totally separate from the actual download, so you can read the book and decide if you liked it and then make a choice about donating. The book in question is “How to create Stunning Digital Photography” by Tony Northrup and the free site is available here.

I’ve downloaded it and am currently reading it – so far I would say that is it a nicely put together book and I’ve already learned (or re-remembered perhaps) some interesting tips. I’m definitely going to be one of the people that donate. The book has five stars on Amazon from almost 2300 reviews, and is deservedly popular. So check it out!

Steadify Kickstarter project is now live

Earlier this week I talked about Steadify – a new approach to a tripod for relatively slow exposure times. The project to actually build and sell this is now live on Kickstarter, so if you want to take advantage of the early bird offers, now is the time to do so.

I’m planning to buy one and review it in due course – I’m always looking for something to reduce weight and this might help for some types of shoot.

Here is the link to Kickstarter for Steadify – it isn’t an affiliate link, just customized so that they know where interested parties are coming from.

Steadify – you are the tripod

I’ll start with a confession. Eight years ago, I spent $216 on a carbon fiber monopod and I’ve used it maybe twice in all those years! It just goes to show how we are always seeking something to provide stability in those difficult lighting conditions that travel photographers both seek and struggle with. A tripod is great, and I almost always take one on vacation with me, but that doesn’t mean to say that I always have one with me! Not only do you have the weight to contend with, you have the problem that many locations don’t allow tripods inside the building – which is exactly where you need it. There are alternatives that I’ve used such as boosting the ISO to very high levels and taking 6 shots in quick succession and using the stack mode trick in Photoshop, and I must admit that stabilized cameras are also great, but as I get a (bit) older, I also find my hands are not as stable as they once were!

So I was very interested to see a new Kickstarter project starting up for something called Steadify.


Rather than carrying a monopod or tripod with you, this device is attached to a belt that you wear and it fits under the camera lens or to the tripod connection on the base of the camera and provides a solid support that is basically formed from your legs and arms. It also appears to be very useful for smooth panning for video as you basically rotate around this solid point rather than just move your arms or body to change the viewpoint. The Kickstarter phase starts on July 18, but in the meantime, you can sign up for early bird specials at the Steadify website. And here is the Kickstarter link for when the project goes live later this week.

I obviously haven’t tested this myself, but I’m definitely interested in trying it out. After all, it is cheaper than my monopod (at $89 for super early bird sponsors) and it might get more use!

New Year Sale on Stock Submitter

I do talk about Stock Submitter quite a lot, but that is because it is now such a key part of my workflow, so much so that I don’t think I could ever go back to visiting each site in turn to fiddle with their categories and model release approaches to do that final piece of submission. I noticed a post from the developer that he is having his annual New Year sale on subscriptions for the software. It only applies to one and two year subscriptions (which apply to the larger upload packages), but if you were thinking of subscribing, now would be a good time to do it.

The best drone I ever had

This should really have been titled the best drone I never had… About a month back I finally gave in to my impulse to buy a drone for stock photography and videos. I did a lot of research, and my key requirements were obviously a good camera for stills and video but also something that I could travel with on my jaunts around the world. I’m going on a cruise later in the year and thought lovingly of a great shot of the cruise boat sailing from port with my drone up in the air above the stern! To get there, it had to fit in my luggage in some way on air flights. The answer for me turned out to be the DJI Mavic Pro which I bought from Amazon:

For just less than $1000, you expect something good, and this surpassed my expectations. It was solidly built but not too heavy at just over 2 pounds, and folded down into a small space of perhaps a large bottle of water. The controller uses a smartphone as the controller/viewer which saves weight on travel as well. I practiced around my home and found it really stable in the air, easy to fly and the early video output was very good. I flew it above my house to see why the gutters were leaking and saw some debris in there – great first success!  Continue Reading

Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography

This may seem strange – I have my own book on stock photography and here I am talking about a competing one! However, the new release by Alex Rotenberg called The Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography is actually a very nice complement to my own book! Alex takes a broader view of the subject of stock photography, first looking at the market and what buyers are seeking, then going through some very useful tutorials (or reminders) of the various photographic approaches and techniques that can make (or break) a stock photograph. He reviews the various agencies and their approaches, and he is also very honest (as I am) on the effort involved to really make it in stock photography. Indeed, he makes the very useful point that the skills we are learning will translate very well into other photographic opportunities and has an interview with an architectural photographer who made exactly that move. My book dovetails nicely with this because I focus less on the market and the photographic skills needed and put much more detail around the “OK, so how do I do it?” question, with chapters about how to work with each agency, a workflow for handling all the images, sections on keywords and keywording tips and so on. You can read more and buy Alex’s book for $7.50 via this link, but we both have agreed to bundle our books together for a grand total of only $10.99. This includes both the PDF and eBook formats and is a whopping $4.50 less than buying them from Amazon or individually. You can buy the bundle from my site here.

Sunset Cruise with Na Pali Coast Hanalei Tours

For something different, I thought I would post a review of a sunset cruise I recently took in Kauai with Na Pali Coast Hanalei Tours and illustrate it with some of the images that will be finding their way onto stock agency sites in the near future! I’ve been to Kauai quite a few times but always in the winter and then the boats along the Na Pali coast leave from Port Allen in the south of the island and don’t get very far down the coast before they turn back. And, of course, the sea is pretty rough off that coast in the depths of winter! This time we were lucky to go in May and so boats leave from Hanalei on the north, and are able to spend much more time along the interesting bits of the coast. The seas, at least when we were there, were still pretty rough!

Leaving from Hanalei Bay

The first day we arrived was a gorgeous day and the forecast for the evening was similar and so we searched around for a tour company that had space for two that evening. Na Pali Coast Hanalei Tours fitted the bill and they were very friendly on the phone as I booked. They have a relatively small Continue Reading

My favorite Sony full frame lenses

After moving from being a long-time Canon shooter to the Sony mirrorless full frame system last June, I started questioning one of my lens choices. I started with the 16-35mm F4, 24-70mm F4 and the 70-200mm F4 Sony lenses and carried those around in my backpack. Right from the start, I was a bit uncertain about the sharpness of that 24-70mm lens and even had some rejections from stock agencies about lack of sharpness. Even though I did some tests on a tripod of a stone wall, which looked generally OK, I found myself downsizing images and sometimes avoiding that lens if I had an opportunity to do so, which isn’t a great tribute to it’s quality! When I read a review and checked out the price of this Zeiss 55mm F1.8 lens and saw how light/sharp it was, I couldn’t resist.

New 55mm F1.8 on my Sony A7Rii

New 55mm F1.8 on my Sony A7Rii

What I always do on Amazon Continue Reading

Microstock Analytics – Deep Dive into your sales

In previous posts I have reviewed the use of Microstockr Pro for monitoring your sales and how I used it to find images that were selling well but missing from one of the main agencies. There is an alternative application on the market that promises far more detail about your portfolio and so I decided to investigate Microstock Analytics in more detail. This is a far more complex system aimed at really understanding which shots are selling and why, whereas Microstockr Pro is more like a fun system to see the sales coming in. Microstock Analytics is available for Windows and is priced based on the number of images on any number of sites. At present, if you have no more than 500 images on your various sites, it is free. The next band to 1000 images is $29.99 a year, 2000 images is $59.99 a year, and then unlimited images are $119.99 a year or $299.99 as a one-time payment. The system currently covers seven agencies, Shutterstock, iStock, Dreamstime, Adobe Stock, 123RF, BigStock and DepositPhotos.


The main screen gives you the overview of your earnings performance, with many different choices for each window. Continue Reading

StockSubmitter – an elegant replacement for StockUploader

As many readers know I have been using StockUploader for 3 or 4 years and it has always served me well. However, it has not been publicly available for at least 12 months and will be totally unavailable at the end of the year. So what should new stock photographers do? The answer has also become more complex for me because of the need to identify and prioritize the first seven keywords to fit in with Adobe Stock’s process and while there is a workaround if you have a copy of StockUploader, it isn’t great. And, of course, we still have the issue of iStock and having to go to another site (qHero) to sort the controlled vocabulary issues of that site. Is there a one size fits all solution?

I think I have found it in StockSubmitter.

StockSubmitter, a free program to automate the upload of images (using FTP) to as many sites as you care to configure. Continue Reading

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