Sunset at Noordwijk aan Zee

The colourful sky is one of the most fascinating scenes to take a picture of. Quite often people start to shoot too early, resulting in a very dominating orange ball called the sun. I prefer to start when the sun is almost disappearing behind the horizon. Then the sky and the sun are in balance and the clouds in the sky get an orange backlight.

Sunset North Sea, the Netherlands
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The above picture was taken at roughly 22:00 hours at the end of May along the coast of Noordwijk aan Zee, the Netherlands. Right at the time of the sunset. Just a few minutes later the sun had completely disappeared. 
What makes this picture special is of course the shape of the clouds and the way they are lighted. Some are dark and others are orange backlighted. Also the texture of the clouds adds to the special atmosphere of the evening. Furthermore, there is a subtle orange glow on the water. 
The picture was taken with the zoomlens set at 28mm, shutter speed 1/80th of a second, aperture f/5, and ISO 100. Below you see the unprocessed NEF version. It is not very appealing.

NEF version of sunset

In Adobe Lightroom 6 I did the following:

  • Lightroom automatically set the  temperature to 4900 (I did not change it)
  • set the correction profile for the lens I used (Nikkor 28-300mm)
  • set liveliness to +68
  • set saturation to +2
  • set the horizon straight
  • decreased locally the highlight caused by the sun.

The rest remained the same. This makes the picture much more appealing without overdoing is. It is important to only make subtle changes.
Here you will find more of my photo albums. If you are interested in having this picture on canvas, please click here.
The picture got accepted by Dreamstime within 2 days. 
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Enjoying The Hague

Political center the Netherlands
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Normally I visit The Hague for business reasons, for example to visit the ministeries. This time it was a short holiday with the family. We stayed in a very nice, spacious apartment of Stayci near the Grote Markt. Every morning we had a luxurious breakfast with Anne&Max near the Saint Jacob Church. It was a real treat. 
It just happened that we walked by an Escher exhibition in the former Winter Palace of Queen Mother Emma in The Hague. M.C. Escher is a famous Dutch graphic artist. Besides his earlier work on sketches of buildings, towns, and landscape when he was in Spain and Italy, he is most famous for his “impossible figures”, like the one below. 

Belvedere

One evening we had a wonderful diner in Restaurant La Passione (Italian cuisine). The food was really exquisite. We will definitely visit this restaurant again. Below you will see the owner preparing my dorade with sea salt crust.

Restaurant La Passione

One museum that is always worthwhile a visit is the Mauritshuis (see bottom, yellow building). They have paintings of, among others, the famous Dutch painters Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. One of their pearls is of course the Girl with a pearl earring of Johannes Vermeer.

Girl with a pearl earring

Strolling through The Hague was really enjoyable. The variety in  architecture gave us the feeling that we were abroad. However, the main reason for going was to show our youngest son the political center of the Netherlands: het Binnenhof, with het Torentje (office of the prime minister; see below), and de Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights, see top).

Political center the Netherlands
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Here are the pictures of The Hague that have been accepted by Dreamstime. I used two Nikkor lenses: 28-300mm and 16-35mm.
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Posts generate traffic to my albums

Homepage Dreamstime
Homepage Dreamstime

The posts on Peter Apers Photoblog have two purposes: on the one hand, I like to share my knowledge and experience of photography and, on the other hand, I like to share the beauty of my pictures. To do so, I always include a link to a relevant album in my post. I have been doing this now for more than a year.
Via Google Analytics I have noticed that, besides supporting family members, only every now and then somebody looks at my posts and albums. To increase the traffic to both of them I started a Facebook page Peter Apers Photography and started to write posts on the blog of Dreamstime.
As it turns out both are quite popular. My latest post at Dreamstime about Machu Picchu ended up on the homepage of Dreamstime for more than a week (see picture above). More than 870 people looked at it, genetaring a lot of traffic to my albums on my NAS. Also, the posts on Facebook are doing quite well. The last one on my visit to Yellow Mountain reached more than 160 people.
My albums on my NAS are produced using jAlbum. From such an album I can directly generate a post on Facebook. To also create a link to the relevant post on my photoblog, I include a few lines and a link to the post on the front page of the album. To attract people to my collection at Werk aan de Muur I also make posts on Facebook based on the pictures I have there.
The result is that my albums are viewed by a handful of people on a daily basis. The blogs on my Photoblog still attract only a few people. All in all, the sales have not gone up substantially yet, despite the increase of traffic to my collections at Dreamstime and at Werk aan de Muur. I guess I have to invest more time in this.
Here you find my pictures at Dreamstime and here at Werk aan de Muur. Enjoy!

A total of 500 uploads at Dreamstime

Madonna del Sasso, Locarno
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This week I reached a total of 500 uploads at Dreamstime. I am extremely proud of that. As an amateur photographer it is very rewarding to meet the high quality criteria of a professional organization like Dreamstime. It is rewarding to get your pictures accepted and even more rewarding to sell them.
By reading and practicing a lot, by participating in the Dreamstime community, and by trying to match my own ambitions and the preferences of the buyers, I have learned a lot.
In the first year my acceptance rate was 47% and this year it is 100%.
Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Sept 2016
Acceptance 47% 51% 71% 70% 87% 91% 100%

And in the same period the sales, in terms of numbers, have almost quadrupled.

Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Sept 2016
Sales 22 35 41 33 49 66 85 52

Here you can see all my pictures at Dreamstime: in chronological order, categorized, and the ones that are sold.
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Turn of the year 2015/2016: sales and plans

Laguna Querococha
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

At the turn of the year I thought it was a nice idea to look at my sales at  my two shops: Dreamstime and Werk aan de Muur (a Dutch website).
Sales
Currently, I have 478 pictures online at Dreamstime, and a total sales, since 2009, of roughly 300 pictures. The last couple of years there is a substantial increase. I guess that has a lot to do with my trips abroad.
Looking at the sales figures I wanted to know how these sales are distributed over the various categories. The obvious categories are landscape, cityscape, and portrait, however, I have the impression that buyers were more interested in the location they were taken. So, I just made up my own categories.
Below you see that my pictures of major European cities (mainly Budapest and Paris) and some Dutch cities (Maastricht and Rotterdam) are leading. Directly followed by pictures of my two visits to China (Beijing, Wuhan, Yangtze River, and Yellow Mountain). Also, the portraits I made of my two models are doing quite well. The holidays in the Alps with the many hikes produced many sellable pictures. The same is true for the sailing holidays near Corfu and in the Netherlands.

Cityscape 25%
China 21%
Portrait 17%
Alps 14%
Boats 7%
Animals 6%
Peru 4%
Concept 3%
Nature 1%
Coast 1%

Since this year I have more than 50 pictures at Werk aan de Muur, although this figure does not mean much. I can easily add or drop pictures. Two of these pictures belong to their Collection: the Dom Tower in Utrecht and Machu Picchu in Peru. The first one has been a couple of times, this is also the total sales at Werk aan de Muur.
Plans
The upcoming year my plans are:

  • Gaining more experience in low key studio lighting
  • Capturing more of the character of historical cities both in the Netherlands and abroad
  • Capturing more of the atmosphere of landscapes
  • Overcoming my fear to do street photography.

So, there are quite a few challenges ahead of me! At the top and the bottom of this blog you will find two of my favorite 2015 pictures.

Market at Chinchero, sacred valley of the Incas
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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Season's Greetings

While writing this blog the temperature in the Netherlands is close to 15 degrees Celsius. It looks we are heading for an all-time high average temperature in December, no frost at all.

Japanese pagoda in snow
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Because most of us have a short-term memory, here are some pictures of January this year in my garden. As you can see there was quite a bit of snow, and it was pretty cold. Maybe the beginning of next year will bring us the same. Who knows?
The picture on the left is a Japanese pagoda. Below you see a Japanese lantern (sometimes also called light basket or light tower) surrounded by the snow-topped remains of some plants.
Snow-topped Japanese lantern
Snow-topped Japanese lantern

The last one shows that our future may go in many different directions, like the branches of a tree.
Branches covered with snow
Branches covered with snow

This is the last blog of this year: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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Architectural photography

My enthusiasm for sharing pictures started when I submitted my pictures of Maastricht, a city along the Meuse river, to Dreamstime. They were the first two. Both still have a top ranking as far as sales is concerned.

Maastricht at night
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Maastricht along the river
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Whenever I visit a city I always want to take pictures of both the old and the new buildings. I enjoy the tension between them. Architectural photography has become my thing. For that reason I love to go to Barcelona (see this blog) and Valencia (see this blog) and take pictures. In Valencia they did something spectacular. In a dry river they built some manificent, artistic buildings (Hemesferic and Agora, see below).

Hemesferic and Agora, Valencia
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Also Rotterdam is famous for its new architecture. For me Rotterdam Central Station and the Food Market Hall are the winners. Buyers particularly like the train station. It has already been sold nine times.
Central Station Rotterdam
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Dom Tower in Utrecht is popular at Werk aan de Muur.
Dom Tower Utrecht
Dom Tower Utrecht

Roombeek in Enschede is the rebuilt quarter after the fireworks explosion of May 2000. Here are my two favorite pictures.

Museum and restaurant in rebuilt Roombeek
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Symbol of fireworks explosion Roombeek
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Enjoy the architectural pictures of the various cities I visited and if possible visit the places yourself!
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Dreamstime: 25 sales in one month

Yellow Mountain - Huangshan, China
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

On the average I sell 6 licenses per month via Dreamstime. Last month something spectaluar happened. One buyer bought 14 licenses of pictures of Peru and, probably, another one bought 8 licenses of Yellow Mountain (Huangshan) in China. In total 25 licenses were sold in November. I never sold so many before.
I celebrated this via two blogs on Dreamstime and got many positive reactions from colleague-contributors. Four of them decided to follow me. I regard that as a big compliment.
My trip to Yellow Mountain was actually the start of this photoblog in which I want to share my knowledge of photography and to show the pictures I take. Here are the pictures of Yellow Mountain. Dreamstime accepted 13  pictures.
The trip to Peru was more recent. I wrote quite a few blogs on it, starting with the preparation and ending with processing them. Here are the pictures of Peru. Of these 50 were accepted by Dreamstime.
For me the common theme between these two big sales is that they are about places you really have to put some effort in to reach them in combination with a small number of pictures available. I noticed that especially about Peru. The buyer did not buy Machu Picchu, however, he did buy pictures of Chavin de Huantar (first 8 hours by bus from Lima to Huaraz and then another 3 hours to Chavin de Huantar). The same is true for Yellow Mountain, first you have to fly to Hefei, China (via Beijing or Shanghai), flooded by 4 hours by bus, and then the final climb starts.
Enjoy the pictures and realize the effort that was required to take them  🙂
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First sale on Werk aan de Muur

Dom Tower, Utrecht
Dom Tower, Utrecht

Werk aan de Muur sells pictures on canvas, wood, Xpozer etc of photographers that have a shop within Werk aan de Muur. Photographers can open their own shop, upload pictures, and decide themselves how much they want to earn. A very interesting concept.
Since April 2015 I have opened such a shop (see also my previous blog on this topic). By now I have uploaded 50+ pictures. Some of them are popular, others are not.
The team behind Werk aan de Muur selects certain pictures to belong to their Collection. They don’t tell you, however, you can find out by scrolling through What is new in the Collection. A pleasant side-effect of being selected is that more customers will view this picture.
As it turns out two of my pictures are part of the Collection: Dom Tower of Utrecht and Machu Picchu. As a consequence they are viewed a lot more than other pictures. Until now no sales. However, this week I got an email saying that the Dom Tower was sold to be used for an Xpozer. My first sale on Werk aan de Muur. I am very excited about that.
Have a look at Werk aan de Muur and get high quality art on your wall. Many good artists sell their art there. Please feel free to suggest more pictures to be added to my shop. Enjoy.

My own shop @ Werk aan de Muur

Erasmus Bridge Rotterdam
Last week I openend my own shop at Werk aan de Muur to sell my pictures. They sell pictures from various photographers or artists, each having their own shop, and print them on different materials, such as canvas, aluminium, Xpozer, or even wood, in a number of sizes. Or just image prints to frame yourself.
It looks like an interesting concept because they bring photographers and artists closer to the public because they sell what the audience wants: art on the wall and freedom to choose.
The other interesting concept is that the photographer may decide himself how much he wants to earn for his image as a percentage of the material it is put on. A small percentage may increase the sales, a high percentage may show exclusivity. I will have to find out how it works.
They really strive for quality, for example, the pictures should have at least 9M pixels, to make sure that they can be blown up quite a bit. This means that I cannot submit some of nice pictures taken with my older cameras. Furthermore, they select some of the pictures to be part of their collection, which are presented first to potential buyers.
Until now I put 20 pictures in my shop to see how the traffic to My Shop @ Werk aan de Muur picks up. In a later blog I hope to inform you of my first sales.