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I think it’s worth the time to quickly mention something that wasn’t apparent to me when I first started shooting for stock photo agencies. It’s a list of overlooked items that could make or break your acceptance rate when you submit images, so hopefully this will save you some time and heartbreak! Listed below are several things you need to know about camera settings to shoot stock photography.
Most high end digital SLRs have settings in the camera that come from the factory with a default setting of “On.” These particular categories need to be turned off before you start snapping away, because they affect your images in unflattering ways and will get the pictures booted right out of your submission queue.
Make sure that the following default settings are turned off in your camera:
- Noise Reduction – this command is normally used to smooth over artifacting that occurs most commonly in blue skies
- Sharpening – this command is utilized to make slightly out-of-focus images appear in focus
If, after turning off these elements, you discover noise in your images, you can use a photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop to correct it. On the other hand, if you have a shot that requires using an Unsharp Mask, don’t bother submitting it to a stock agency. Rather, toss the file and reshoot it in sharp focus! One thing you will find as you get further down the road toward successful stock photography is that you will become more precise in your shooting, selection and submissions, because the standard is set high by reviewers of your work.
One final setting in your camera is paramount to your success in shooting great stock photos…your camera’s ISO setting. Many photographers have come to depend upon the specialty modes in their digital cameras. The sports mode can be a great help in capturing images of moving people, vehicles, etc. and the portrait mode does a great job of taking into account special lighting needs. However, these modes not only manipulate your camera’s shutter speed and aperature, they also change the ISO in certain instances. An ISO of 800 or more can enhance noise, or what film photographers call “graininess.” This is usually unacceptable in stock photos and should be avoided for the most part. So get in the habit of shooting only in manual, aperature-priority, shutter-priority or programmable (automatic) mode and manually set your ISO at 200 or lower when at all possible. You’ll have much more success with your submissions to stock agencies.
The RAW Facts
An important note here: shoot your images in RAW format so that you have a wider variety of tools available to you when editing with software. I have found that tweeks made to images in RAW are not nearly as noticable as those that show up in your histogram when working on the file in PSD format.
If you are familiar with your camera and the basics of exposure, shutter speeds and lighting, you should be ready to start shooting quality stock photographs. Move on to Shooting Stock Photo Suggestions #1 to start planning your first photo shoot!
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