Always Double Check Your Work

Photograph of a mule deer doe in tall grass. Image Colorado
Mule deer doe in the Rocky Mountains.

Sometimes we get complacent about what we do.

When I’m editing images for stock, I normally have a developing formula defined in Adobe Lightroom that creates a suitable jpg image for the stock portfolios.

Every so often, I get a slap back from one of the stock agencies. I’ll submit a group of images and get a flurry of rejections. My first reaction is “WHAT? I’m a good photographer, my images are perfect, what are you talking about?”

Then I calm my emotions and actually go look at the files I submitted and examine them for the problems explained in the rejection. Usually, they were right, I did something wrong.

What “wrong” usually is for me is that I failed to check the actual file I submitted before submitting it. Sometimes, my developing formula isn’t very good for a particular image. This usually happens when I push the boundaries and try to take a high ISO photo and make it suitable. The problem with that is high ISO photos don’t really have a formula.

There are a number of problems that can manifest themselves with a high ISO photo. First, and most common is the amount of noise in the image. I normally just comb over that issue and export a high ISO shot to DXO Photolab, which in most cases cleans the noise like a boot camp recruit cleans the barracks.

But, the noise isn’t necessarily what is going to get you, and I keep fudging up when I take that attitude and don’t actually examine the output file.

Sometimes, it’s the sharpening of the image that gets you. My develop formula in DXO is a little bit persnickety about what and how it alters the photo, and more times than I’d like to admit, it will over-sharpen the image and create a problematic result. By assuming I’ve got everything taken care of with my developing preset, I sometimes find that I’ve created a problem that didn’t exist. Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), one of the stock reviewers will summarily dismiss my submission as inferior.

So, I go back and rework the file and create something a little bit better and resubmit it and 9 times out of 10 they’ll accept the re-submission.

The moral of the story… Complacency is a bitch. Always double check your work.

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