Reflecting on trip to Andalusia

Nasrid Palaces and Palace Charles V during sunset, Alhambra, Granada

Being back from Andalusía, having processed all my pictures (750+), having 100+ pictures accepted at Dreamstime, and having already 4 sales, it is time to reflect on the trip and on the decisions I took about what to take with me.

First of all, it was a wonderful trip, for several reasons: it was the first major trip with my wife after my retirement, it was slightly off season (so, reasonable temperatures), plenty of time to visit various tourist attractions, and last but not least the mystic mixture of Christianity and Islam expressed in the architecture, the food, and the way of living. Secondly, my wife had made this trip before, so she had already made up her mind which attractions to visit to take pictures. It made life much easier for me.

Below my packing list before I left together with my comments:

  • Nikon D800 and iPhone I was pretty happy that next to the D800 I had taken my iPhone X. It was nice to put some pictures immediately, without extensive processing, on for example Instagram. Also, in the caves near Nerja the iPhone X did much better than the D800 by automatically taking several pictures at once and combining them into one perfectly exposed picture.
  • Nikon 28-300 mm lens  and Nikon 16-35 mm lens The combination of the two lenses was perfect, I used both of them  intensively. 
  • Small tripod In Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada I used the small tripod to take pictures in the evening. The pictures on Plaza de España in Sevilla and the Roman Bridge together with Mezquita (see below) look very good. The ones of Alhambra in Granada show a slight tremble. This may have been caused by the crowd surrounding me at Mirador San Nicolás or by the long exposures (10 seconds). On my next trip I will definitely take my small tripod with me. 
    Mezquita and Roman bridge in Cordoba by night
    © Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
  • Colorspace UDMA 2 The external storage to off load the pictures from the storage cards in my camera was very helpful. It remains on my packing list for longer trips.
  • Peak Design Capture I carried the D800 on the shoulder strap of my backpack quite often. I could grap the camera quite fast. However, putting it back was slightly more difficult. I will certainly continue using it during my hikes.
  • Peak Design Field pouch It is easy to carry smaller stuff like a polaroid filter in my backpack.
  • Peak Design Range pouch On the website of Alhambra it mentioned that we were not allowed to take large backpack into Nasrid Palace. So, I decided not take my backpack and only take my general-purpose zoom lens. So, I used the Range pouch for carrying a water bottle.
  • Peak Design straps During our visit to the Nasrid Palace I used the straps to carry my camera.
  • Arsenal I got frustrated with Arsenal, the smart camera assistant. I was going to use it for the night shots at Plaza de España. When I turned it on I was confronted with a firmware update in a 3G environment and I could not skip it. So, I put it back in my backpack again. Next time it stays home.
  • Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L I am very pleased with my Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L. I used it every day. It wears very comfortably and gives easy access to all the equipment. The shoulder straps are fixed to the backpack in a rotating way. Because I am not broadly shouldered the straps tend to fall off my shoulders. Therefore, I always used the sternum strap to hold the shoulder straps tight. Also, if the backpack is fully loaded it tends to tilt. Therefore, I recommend to use the waist straps as well. I am also happy with the 20L version. For a bigger load I use the 45L Travel Backpack.

Below are the first sales at Dreamstime:

Here are all the pictures of Andalusía accepted by Dreamstime.

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Malaga: more than Costa del Sol

Malaga: Alcazaba, Cathedral, and Museum of Malaga

Before reading about the region in preparation for our trip to Andalusia, I thought that Malaga was mainly known for its beaches (Costa del Sol). I realize now that Malaga has to offer quite a bit more than that, like the Cathedral, Alcazaba, and Gibralfaro. Also, just wandering through the streets of Malaga is a real treat. Around every corner there is a church, a square, a park, an alley that needs exploring. Here some pictures of parks and plants. In the area around the Alcazaba Roman, Arabic, and Renaissance architecture meet each other. Very inspirational. Furthermore, the early darkness of the warm evenings invites for late dining outside. The food is excellent.

Roman Theatre
Discovered only in 1951 the Roman Theatre is now one of the important tourist attractions of Malaga. It was built in the 1st century and is still used for special types of shows. On the square in front of the Roman Theatre there is always live music attracting a lot of people. Very nice atmosphere.

Roman Theatre by night

Alcazaba
The Alcazaba fortress palace was built in the 11th century by the Moors, partly with material from the Roman Theatre right next to it. It is situated against the Gibralfaro mountain and was later surrounded by the defence walls of Gibralfaro Castle.

Alcazaba and Roman Theatre

Gibralfaro Castle
The Gibralfaro Castle is named after the mountain it is built on. It dates back as far as the 14th century. From the walls you have spectacular views over the city, the harbour, and the sea. It was quite a climb to take this picture.

Malaga from Gibralfaro

Here some pictures of the Roman Theatre, Alcazaba, and Gibralfaro.

Cathedral of Malaga
The Malaga Cathedral was built in Renaissance style within the limits of old Moorish walls. It was suppose to have two towers. However, after the first tower was finished there was no money left to build the second tower. Here some pictures of the cathedral on the outside accepted by Dreamstime.

 

Here some pictures of other churches as well.

We really enjoyed Malaga. Of course we went to one of the beaches (El Palo) to take a swim. However, most of the time we spent on exploring the city beyond the obvious tourist attractions. What struck us most, was that around every corner there is a church and that every hour of the day somebody gets married. Malaga is definitely more than just Costa del Sol.

Photographic tips:

  • for daytime I use my camera and the general-purpose lens (28-300mm)
  • in the evening I normally add to this my tripod (for Roman Theatre, however, I used ISO 64000 and hand held, good quality, already sold at Dreamstime)
  • indoors I use my camera and the wide-angle lens (16-35mm)
  • for street photography, panoramic and live pictures, and when I travel light, I use my iPhone X.

Here you can see all the pictures of Malaga accepted by Dreamstime.

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Rotterdam Central Station

The Dutch Railways realises that railway stations form an important part of the center of cities. I guess that is one of the reasons that the architecture of the railway stations is regarded as extremely important. Rotterdam Central Station is no exception. It was officially opened in March 2014. A year later I took this picture.

Central Station Rotterdam
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

It is one of my best selling pictures, especially in 2015. The most recent sales was this week. Below the original picture, it was taken with my Nikkor 16-35mm lens (settings: 16mm, f/4, 1/400sec, ISO 100). Especially, the wide-angle setting gives the pointy shape of the building special attention. 
Rotterdam Central Station: original picture

As you can see, I did quite a bit of post-processing:

  • The diagonal roof line is an essential characteristic of the building, so I cropped the picture to map the roof line close to the diagonal line of the picture. It makes the picture a lot stronger. The additional advantage was that I got rid of the glass building on the right (it distracts).
  • As you can imagine, I took a lot of pictures of this building. In the end, I chose the one with the person in front. It gives depth and it leads your eyes to switch between the shape of the station and him.
  • Last, I made the picture more lively: blue sky and yellow in the building. Especially the diagonal roof lost its color because of various shadows. 

Also inside it is a nice building, definitely worthwhile to pay a visit.

Central Station Rotterdam
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Rotterdam is famous for its architectural innovations. Here you will find more pictures of Rotterdam and here a post about it. Enjoy!
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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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Water reservoir Griessee: how well will it sell?

Water reservoir
© Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The above picture was taken during a hike in the Alps. In this blog I wrote about the hike through the Nufenenpass before. I really enjoyed it and I hope you will also enjoy it.
Half way the hike I saw this water reservoir. It is called the Griessee. Compared to other pictures I took during my many hikes in the Alps it is not spectacular. However, I decided to see how well it would sell on Dreamstime (of course, if it would be accepted).
As you can see it was accepted by Dreamstime and it is selling reasonably well. It has been sold 5 times, the last time was yesterday. The question is: who is interested in a picture like that?
This question is difficult to answer. On microstock websites the buyer is anonymous for the seller. A consequence is that as sellers we do not know what type of buyers make use of these websites and what they are looking for.. Would it not be nice if, possibly at an aggregated level, we would know the type of buyers and what type of pictures they are looking for. Knowing more about the characteristics of the buyers would give the sellers a better opportunity to contribute pictures that match the need of buyers. Which is also beneficial for the microstock websites.
It would be nice if websites that bring sellers and buyers together would start “Webservice 2.0” by sharing information about buyers with the sellers: what they are looking for, and searches that did not result in sales etc. This would be very informative for the sellers and creates a win-win situation for the sellers, the buyers, and these websites. Based on all the searches it is relatively easy with data mining algorithms that are developed for Big Data to extract that kind of information.
Dreamstime has recently started with mailing the sellers Trending Searches. This a good start.
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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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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.