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Don't understand focus rejections


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Hi!  I'm a new contributor and I keep getting rejections because of focus.  However, I KNOW I'm nailing the focus because I set the focal points in camera when I'm shooting.  I shoot with a Sony AR4 and a Sony Zeiss 50mm 1.4 so I know it's not an equipment issue either.  Is it because of depth of field background blur?   Should I shoot with a higher f-stop to make everything in frame in focus? For example, this one was rejected.  I set the focus right on the folded pages that makes the heart.  I know the flowers are tack sharp too because I shot this at 3.2 and they are on the same focal plane.  Somebody help me understand!  Just feeling frustrated because I know someone who is not a photographer and is getting her cell phone images accepted.  

DSC09777.jpg

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In the second image the roses are not sharp. The first one you had a very strict reviewer. The pages in the middle of the heart have a bit of a soft focus, the rest is sharp.  Some reviewers are like that.

There is an easy fix for your problem though: You seem to submit your photos in full size resolution. 8.104px × 5.968px. That's really not necessary for microstock where 90% of all images end up being used online in small resolutions. And even for most prints this huge resolution is not necessary. This large size will always make every soft focus very appearant and you seem to have a lot of grain/noise in your images. Just resize your images. As little as 2500-3000 pixel on the wide side will be enough. This will make your images overall much sharper and also get rid of a lot of the noise/grain.

Untitled-1.jpg

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The book seems pretty sharp to me. The main subject is the heart, thus the edges of the pages there should be tack sharp in focus. Note that the focal plane is not constant due the diagonal placement of the book. Your camera produces 60MP, which is insane high. You have the luxury to crop or downsize the image. Just try it again.

Smartphone cameras have a tiny sensor and places almost everything in focus. With enough light they are good enough for stock, but I do not think you can create the same photos with  the same lightning and get them accepted. I have many smartphone (iPhone 8 Plus) photos rejected for quality issues. I have stopped trying to submit those anymore and use my DSLR instead.

The edges of the (closest) roses (=main subject) should be tack sharp. Your focusplane is a little behind these edges.Everything else may as blur as you wish.

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In many cases the software that does the reviews will reject many images with shallow depth of field, even if it's a nice artistic creation. I've found that soft focus in the front and more than 50% of an image with soft focus, will get a rejection.

These might be nice photos, nice depth and composition, creative, but this is Microstock.

Make your depth of focus deeper. It's that easy. 3.2 is not a higher f/stop, minimum f/5.6 is higher

Also what @Firn suggested. You don't need to upload full size. I'm not at all familiar with the Sony AR4 I don't know what size you are starting at?

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18 hours ago, Firn said:

In the second image the roses are not sharp. The first one you had a very strict reviewer. The pages in the middle of the heart have a bit of a soft focus, the rest is sharp.  Some reviewers are like that.

There is an easy fix for your problem though: You seem to submit your photos in full size resolution. 8.104px × 5.968px. That's really not necessary for microstock where 90% of all images end up being used online in small resolutions. And even for most prints this huge resolution is not necessary. This large size will always make every soft focus very appearant and you seem to have a lot of grain/noise in your images. Just resize your images. As little as 2500-3000 pixel on the wide side will be enough. This will make your images overall much sharper and also get rid of a lot of the noise/grain.

Untitled-1.jpg

Hi, Thanks for your suggestion of using "2500-3000 pixel on the wide side". I have the same rejection problem so will follow your suggestion. I am using LR and then output edited photos from there. Here is the place I can choose the image size but I am not sure how to change the setting to achieve "2500-3000 pixel on the wide side". Thanks for your help in advance. image.thumb.png.12907ed720852a327bd649177b639799.png

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Karen,

To answer your question, "do you find inconsistencies in acceptance and rejections"?  Absolutely!!!  The reviews are now done by Artificial Intelligence as stated by SS's CEO and it is obvious that the system is not very intelligent.  Reduce the resolution of your images and resubmit them at least once. 

If you choose to submit images with substantial bokeh I would suggest you include some reference to "shallow depth of field" in your title.  This may help but there is no guarantee it will get these kind of images through the review process.  

Artistic imagery is not really what stock photography is all about.  Primarily, stock images are used to promote a thing, place or idea.  There are other reasons an image might be purchased, but they are primarily used for some kind of promotion.  If your images are just "pretty" you may be disappointed in your sales.  Good Luck!    

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They do need to get a grip of this. It's a bit of a farce to be honest. Today, submitted a load of landscapes and some with people (inc releases).

The ones with release, probably seen by a human all passed. Every single other one declined because of focus. All shot with a Sony A9, 24-105 at a min of f9. All are perfectly focused... I bin anything that is not perfect at 100% as I don't need to waste time on sub standard shots. Same way I could really do without wasting time with SS's crap AI. If you can't get it to work, stop using it and pay for someone to review it properly.... you're taking enough of our money so it's the very least you can do!

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In my experience, and agreeing with Firn (above) the reviewers do not know how to evaluate ultra high resolution.

I've had 50Mb files rejected and simply opening them in basic Windows photo viewer, pretending to edit, and then saving a copy results in a (reduced size) file that is then accepted.

It seems the reviewers look for noise/focus/sharpness at pixel level, rather than say a given zoom level. Consolidating many individual pixels into one larger pixel seems to satisfy their needs.

Ironic that the review policy encourages lower resolution, but there it is.

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12 hours ago, James Jiao said:

Hi, Thanks for your suggestion of using "2500-3000 pixel on the wide side". I have the same rejection problem so will follow your suggestion. I am using LR and then output edited photos from there. Here is the place I can choose the image size but I am not sure how to change the setting to achieve "2500-3000 pixel on the wide side". Thanks for your help in advance. image.thumb.png.12907ed720852a327bd649177b639799.png

In LR, in the Export panel you showed, change "Width & Height" to "Longest Edge", then pixels 3000

 

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On 1/19/2021 at 9:58 PM, Firn said:

In the second image the roses are not sharp. The first one you had a very strict reviewer. The pages in the middle of the heart have a bit of a soft focus, the rest is sharp.  Some reviewers are like that.

There is an easy fix for your problem though: You seem to submit your photos in full size resolution. 8.104px × 5.968px. That's really not necessary for microstock where 90% of all images end up being used online in small resolutions. And even for most prints this huge resolution is not necessary. This large size will always make every soft focus very appearant and you seem to have a lot of grain/noise in your images. Just resize your images. As little as 2500-3000 pixel on the wide side will be enough. This will make your images overall much sharper and also get rid of a lot of the noise/grain.

Untitled-1.jpg

Good advice for all.

 

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23 hours ago, EYPS said:

In LR, in the Export panel you showed, change "Width & Height" to "Longest Edge", then pixels 3000

 

Even easier as you pointed out, open in Irfanview, Image>Resize (CTRL+R) and I usually save with 6MP added to the old name so I know it's the SS version. Nothing complicated at all.

image.png.5e17da445c3a74368416654ac9e4d23b.png

 

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On 1/20/2021 at 2:58 AM, Firn said:

In the second image the roses are not sharp. The first one you had a very strict reviewer. The pages in the middle of the heart have a bit of a soft focus, the rest is sharp.  Some reviewers are like that.

There is an easy fix for your problem though: You seem to submit your photos in full size resolution. 8.104px × 5.968px. That's really not necessary for microstock where 90% of all images end up being used online in small resolutions. And even for most prints this huge resolution is not necessary. This large size will always make every soft focus very appearant and you seem to have a lot of grain/noise in your images. Just resize your images. As little as 2500-3000 pixel on the wide side will be enough. This will make your images overall much sharper and also get rid of a lot of the noise/grain.

Untitled-1.jpg

Thank you, I see that now.  I am new to stock.  I normally shoot portraits and always like to give clients a very high resolution image.  I would have thought that higher resolution would have been good for stock as well.  I will take your suggestion and try again.  Thank you for taking the time to reply!

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I'm struggling to understand these rejections as well... I have two TACK sharp images... astrophotography by it's nature has a slight noise to it, and the nebula will often have a "soft" appearance... I looked through some of the images already available and some of them are terrible but they they are posted.  Is there someone you can talk to to educate them on astrophotography?

IMG_4672 2.JPG

M42 HaRGB Final sharpened 2.jpg

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On 1/21/2021 at 9:38 AM, EYPS said:

In my experience, and agreeing with Firn (above) the reviewers do not know how to evaluate ultra high resolution.

I've had 50Mb files rejected and simply opening them in basic Windows photo viewer, pretending to edit, and then saving a copy results in a (reduced size) file that is then accepted.

It seems the reviewers look for noise/focus/sharpness at pixel level, rather than say a given zoom level. Consolidating many individual pixels into one larger pixel seems to satisfy their needs.

Ironic that the review policy encourages lower resolution, but there it is.

Yes, I do find that ironic.  

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On 1/20/2021 at 10:07 PM, Steve Bower said:

Karen,

To answer your question, "do you find inconsistencies in acceptance and rejections"?  Absolutely!!!  The reviews are now done by Artificial Intelligence as stated by SS's CEO and it is obvious that the system is not very intelligent.  Reduce the resolution of your images and resubmit them at least once. 

If you choose to submit images with substantial bokeh I would suggest you include some reference to "shallow depth of field" in your title.  This may help but there is no guarantee it will get these kind of images through the review process.  

Artistic imagery is not really what stock photography is all about.  Primarily, stock images are used to promote a thing, place or idea.  There are other reasons an image might be purchased, but they are primarily used for some kind of promotion.  If your images are just "pretty" you may be disappointed in your sales.  Good Luck!    

I did not know this was done with AI--which explains why it is so much quicker than other stock sites.  SS usually returns acceptance/rejection within hours where other sites I have submit to may take over a week.  I am coming to realize what you say about "pretty" images and marketability.  These were just from two still life set ups that I did for fun while in quarantine and not taking any client sessions.  I will definitely be thinking more along the lines of what will sell as stock images in the future.

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Karen, 

I appreciate your response to my post.  I've been doing this (photography and stock photography) for quite some time and enjoy helping new contributors when I can.  It's nice to see that there are some (new contributors) that will acknowledge that effort with a response.  Thank you!

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On 1/20/2021 at 7:33 AM, Robin Bouwmeester said:

The book seems pretty sharp to me. The main subject is the heart, thus the edges of the pages there should be tack sharp in focus. Note that the focal plane is not constant due the diagonal placement of the book. Your camera produces 60MP, which is insane high. You have the luxury to crop or downsize the image. Just try it again.

Smartphone cameras have a tiny sensor and places almost everything in focus. With enough light they are good enough for stock, but I do not think you can create the same photos with  the same lightning and get them accepted. I have many smartphone (iPhone 8 Plus) photos rejected for quality issues. I have stopped trying to submit those anymore and use my DSLR instead.

The edges of the (closest) roses (=main subject) should be tack sharp. Your focusplane is a little behind these edges.Everything else may as blur as you wish.

Thank you Robin!  I will work on fixing this in future shots.

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On 1/22/2021 at 10:49 AM, Karen Dunn Photography said:

Yes, I do find that ironic.  

Don't we all? This goes back to 2009 for me and helping people pass the first admission test. The first images appeared to be viewed at 100% or more and often rejected for focus, but if someone dropped the identical image down to 5MP they would pass. Apparently the AI is trained the same. I don't always take the time, but if it's something I think might actually make a sale, I'll make a 5MP version from a full size.

Counter intuitive is my view. But I'm not going to disagree with ironic one bit.

On 1/22/2021 at 11:07 AM, Karen Dunn Photography said:

I did not know this was done with AI--which explains why it is so much quicker than other stock sites.  SS usually returns acceptance/rejection within hours where other sites I have submit to may take over a week.  I am coming to realize what you say about "pretty" images and marketability.  These were just from two still life set ups that I did for fun while in quarantine and not taking any client sessions.  I will definitely be thinking more along the lines of what will sell as stock images in the future.

Hours? You must be getting slow reviews. Sometimes if I'm submitting one at a time, checking words, I get accepted or rejected while I'm still adding data to others. 😁

 

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On 1/23/2021 at 6:17 PM, HodagMedia said:

Hours? You must be getting slow reviews. Sometimes if I'm submitting one at a time, checking words, I get accepted or rejected while I'm still adding data to others. 😁

 

Since maybe 2 months I started having my images reviewed in different "rounds". Like, I will submit 15 images, all commercial, and maybe 5 will be reviewed instantly, and the rest will take hours, sometimes up to a day, even though they were all submitted at the same time. I suspect that one (probably the fast one) is an AI review that only is able to review certain images based on some criteria I don't know and what the AI can't review gets passed on to real people. Ironically I only get rejections in the first round of reviews, while I have a 100% acceptance rate for the images that take longer to review....

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6 hours ago, Firn said:

Since maybe 2 months I started having my images reviewed in different "rounds". Like, I will submit 15 images, all commercial, and maybe 5 will be reviewed instantly, and the rest will take hours, sometimes up to a day, even though they were all submitted at the same time. I suspect that one (probably the fast one) is an AI review that only is able to review certain images based on some criteria I don't know and what the AI can't review gets passed on to real people. Ironically I only get rejections in the first round of reviews, while I have a 100% acceptance rate for the images that take longer to review....

I agree, I didn't include that thought.

I was only speaking of generic microstock shots When I do something that goes beyond what AI can decide, I think you are correct, it goes to further review. Also from the past, video, illustrations, editorial, and some select subjects, will go to a different track for reviews.

But for generic, like if I took a photo of a squirrel in the snow, it could be reviewed in less time than it took me to type this message.

 

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