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Archive for March, 2007

Selling Your Digital Photography

Saturday, March 24th, 2007
Digital Camera Stock Photograph

The other day I paid a visit to Shutterstock, a seller of royalty free stock photographs. I wanted to get a feel for the stock photography market. I have a large collection of photos, an unfortunately large number of which are still trapped in negatives and 35mm slides, and felt that selling some via a stock photography web site might be a good way to generate some additional income. It was chance that took me to Shutterstock first.

My first step was to find out what sort of photographs they were selling. I found that the photographs they sell are organized into 30 different categories. My primary areas of interest are astronomy, landscapes, abstracts, nature, and science and technology so these are the areas in which my collection is strongest. Based on my interests I found that the following categories are probably most appropriate for me:

  • Abstract
  • Animals/Wildlife
  • Backgrounds/Textures
  • Buildings/Landmarks
  • Nature
  • Objects
  • Parks/Outdoor
  • Science
  • Technology

I then went to the relevant galleries to see what types of photos were being shown there. This is important because Shutterstock makes the call when deciding which of your submitted photographs to accept. If they know their business, then they know what is more likely to sell.

Shutterstock also has a web page that features their top selling images. Using a filter to limit the search to photographs, excluding illustrations, I was able to look over the Top 50 Images Ever. While I could understand the appeal of some of these images, I was quite surprised at some of the others. What this signaled to me was that what I thought would be good photographs to sell is not necessarily what people are looking to buy.

Now that I had an idea of what people were buying, I decided to check out what people were looking for. To do this I visited the Top 100 keywords for the past month. The top ten keyword searches were:

  1. flowers
  2. family
  3. background
  4. flower
  5. vector
  6. people
  7. nature
  8. abstract
  9. fashion
  10. beach

Fortunately, flowers, background, nature, and abstract are all keywords relevant to a number of the photographs that I have to offer.

My final step was to investigate Shutterstock’s submission requirements, terms, and what they pay. For payment, the photographer gets .25 cents for every download. Images being uploaded must be at least 4.0 million pixels, which works out to 2000 pixels wide by 2000 pixels high for square images. There are also content guidelines to be considered.

At first look, Shutterstock looks okay but I won’t know for sure until I have the opportunity to compare them with their competitors. My next step will be to visit some of the other online sellers of stock photography and undertake a similar investigation for each. Only then will I be able to make an informed decision on who to go with.

And no, that is not my camera in the picture. Rather it is a free stock photograph from

Ad Astra, Jim

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Vote for Your Favorite Catch a Star! 2007 Astronomy Art

Saturday, March 24th, 2007
N90 credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

Image: Hubble Space Telescope image of N90 star forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud

For several years now the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere has sponsored an annual art contest for school children. The “Catch a Star 2007” competition is sponsored by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the European Association for Astronomy Education (EAAE).

Right now you can visit the 2007 gallery and vote for your favorite pictures. There are five galleries:

  • Age less than 10 years
  • Age 10 and 11 years
  • Age 12 and 13 years
  • Age 14 and 15 years
  • Age 16 years and older

Voting is a factor in the awarding of prizes. The winners will be announced at the “Science on Stage 2” international science teaching festival in Grenoble France, April 2-6 2007, and will be posted on the “Catch a Star” website. So go check out the Catch a Star! 2007 Gallery and vote for your favorite entries.

In the Age less than 10 years gallery, some of my favorite pictures were In the Space by Matas, Meteor by Samantha, and Black Hole by Matthew. In the Age 10 and 11 years gallery, my favorite was Solar Corona by Alexey. In the Age 12 and 13 years gallery, I liked Mysterious comet by Lazar and Solar System by Swati. As it turns out, the Age 14 and 15 years gallery was my favorite overall. My favorites here were Mars by Daria, Planet by Juste, and Galaxy by Dibyajyoti. Lastly in the Age 16 years and older gallery, I liked Sapere aude! by Agnieszka. Strange but I felt that this gallery, which should have had the best entries, was actually the weakest.

So be sure to check out some children’s visions of our universe at the Catch a Star! 2007 Gallery.

Ad Astra, Jim

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ISDC Space Settlement Art Contest Presentation

Sunday, March 18th, 2007
International Space Development Conference

This coming May I’ll be attending the International Space Development Conference in Dallas TX. I always look forward to ISDCs for the people and the presentations. I am especially looking forward to the space art related presentations, the space art show and art sale.

I am slated to give two presentations at the conference. One presentation I’ll be giving is Selling Space: The Waterfall Approach to Public Outreach which deals with a methodology for organizations to consider in implementing public outreach efforts for the purpose of promoting space exploration.

The other presentation I will be giving is The National Space Society Space Settlement Art Contest and deals with the recently concluded NSS space settlement art contest. Our committee recently completed work on the associated calendar and it is now in the hands of the publisher. The calendar will first appear for sale at the ISDC. I also completed an article about the contest and calendar for Ad Astra magazine. Unfortunately there was only room enough to cover the grand prize and four first prize winning images.

Writing the abstract was somewhat difficult given the word count constraints and the fact that I definitely wanted to mention all 12 winning entries and artists. To do that, I had to omit the background on the organizing and execution aspects of the contest. The abstract that I submitted follows.

Title: The National Space Society Space Settlement Art Contest

In 2006, NSS launched the Space Settlement Art Contest. The purposes of the contest were to generate new artwork depicting space settlement; encourage artists in the creation of such art; to raise public awareness about space settlement by maintaining an online art gallery and featuring the best contest art in a space settlement calendar. To ensure the success of the contest, sponsors donated over $10,000.00 in prizes. For three months artists from around the world submitted art to the contest. Of more than 100 entries submitted, seventy were accepted.

Contest judges faced the task of choosing just 12 winning images for the calendar. A panel of judges was assembled by Chief Judge Jim Plaxco, committee chair. The panel featured two world renowned space artists: David A. Hardy, author and a winner of the Sir Arthur Clarke Award, from the United Kingdom; and Pat Rawlings, SAIC Art Director, of the United States. Also on the panel were George Whitesides, Executive Director of the NSS and Peter Kokh, President of the Moon Society. Winning artists were from Germany, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Grand Prize image came from the Orbital Settlements category. The Return To Abalakin by Alexander Preuss excelled in its representation of a toroidal space city of a million inhabitants.

Winning First Prize in the Orbital Settlements category is a beach view of sunrise in an O’Neill Colony. Islands of the Gods is the creation of Richard Bizley. Another submission from the Orbital Settlements category that will be featured in the calendar is Inside Orbital City by Murphy Elliott.

First Prize winner in the Martian Settlements category is Javier Arizabalo. His Mars from a Young Perspective features a spacesuited boy gazing dreamingly into the distance as a rocket lifts off. Other images chosen from the Martian Settlement category for inclusion in the calendar are: Second Outpost by Janek Kozicki featuring an early outpost on Mars; Mars Gardens by Alex Aurichio which illustrates the use of bioengineered plants to enhance the martian atmosphere.

In the Asteroid Settlements category, First Prize went to Dr. Chee Ming Wong for his Asteroid Settlement: Slingshot To The Galaxy. This work illustrates the use of an asteroid’s raw materials for the creation of space settlements. Other images in the Asteroid Settlement category which will be featured in the space settlement calendar are: A Mining Settlement On 90 Antiope by Walter Myers which gives a bird’s eye view of a mining settlement on the double asteroid 90 Antiope; City Under Glass by Raymond Cassel illustrating asteroid cities connected by tethers.

Winning First Prize in the Moon Settlement category is Warren Turner. His Moonbase Preparations features mining operations on the lunar surface. Other images from the Moon Settlement category to be featured in the calendar are: Descent Into The Dark Side by Raymond Cassel featuring a night time lunar orbit view of a moon base; The Soaring Arena by Bill Wright illustrating the potential for human powered flight inside large lunar arenas.

If you’re curious, here are links to the Grand Prize and four First Prize winning entries:

Or you can just go to the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest Gallery.

Ad Astra, Jim

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