A shower curtain?

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Selling wall art & decor at Fine Art America
Virtual images are great! But if you’re looking for something solid, tangible, something nicely framed you can hang on a wall, or something artsy to wear printed on a T-shirt, or a very personal mug or maybe a shower curtain then…
why not to pay a visit to my shop at Fine Art America?
Near some fine art photography you’ll find images from my Old Times Collections stock images of https://vintage-nostalgia.com for a very unconventional and distinguished present 🙂

MY OWN STOCK IMAGES WEBSITE, ALL MINE!

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For a very long time I’ve been dreaming of a site of my own where I could sell my images.
Not that I hadn’t tried in the past, but the results weren’t very encouraging: updating and maintaining such a site proved way too burdensome even after automating (well, partially…) the image uploading procedure.

As it is I gave up on it and put away that dream in a drawer – until recently a number of ideas (see below) induced me to dust it off and try once more.
And this time I made it!
Now to sell my own stock images I finally have a fully automated website, easily maintained and – if I say so myself – functional and enjoyable to use.
To get started I chose a pretty profitable niche product I particularly like: beautiful venerable images from ancient books (that I keep collecting maniacally), scanned at a very high resolution and then processed to spotlessness using a set of tricks and procedures I’ve perfected during so many years of experience.

A FEW CONSIDERATIONS TO START WITH:

  • In these days the stock images market is saturated: just anyone can take excellent pictures today using a cheap camera or even a cellphone that does most of the thinking for them. Supply and competition are overwhelming.
  • The stock agencies work with tens of millions of images (to say the least); to rummage through them all in search of the ‘right’ one is definitely no easy job for the customer
  • IMO too many images produce a sort of boomerang-effect: after 4-5 online pages full of pictures and/or illustrations, the visitor’s attention tends to drop drastically. I’m wondering if the many thousands of images I’ve uploaded myself to the agencies’ sites are found at all despite all the care I took (and all the time I spent) to choose painstakingly the most appropriate keywords.
  • To back up that doubt there’s the fact that, although I lately added another few thousand images to my accounts by the fistful of agencies still worth posting to, my return in terms of royalties hasn’t changed appreciably. Where did my images go?
  • As I then read on the Wailing Wall the specialized forums have become, I cannot help getting a dark thought: not only are the current royalties quite measly, but also there’s no way to know how many of our images are actually sold – but for what the agencies themselves tell us.
    Shall we really trust them?

Giving free rein to the fantasy brought up the thought of a very decent way to get out of this nasty pickle: an online cooperative of artists residing on a virtual mega-site where each one has an own site-space and an own personal specialty-niche.

Not really mine as a matter of fact: in a way this was also the basic idea behind Simbiostock, that apparently for some reasons didn’t work out – which should be ascribed more to the way it was implemented than to the idea itself. Their original intentions looked actually good: I even got to use their free image management plugin, although it looked somewhat cumbersome.

However that notion may be (with some luck) a promising second step but hardly the first one: the first one has to be an independent niche-centered stock images site that, once it’s working fine, can merge with ‘sister’ sites and grow up with them.
Thus, like a dog gnawing at a bone, I growled and faced the problem of a fully automated personal stock site by breaking it down to a number of simple well-defined tasks to be munched one by one.

THE WEBSITE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

  • The site should be fast. Otherwise it wouldn’t be competitive and the search engines would penalize it – if not snob it at all. As such the host should be chosen with the greatest care.
  • The site should use a safe connection: nowadays the SSL protocol is indispensable for any well-bred site, in particular for a virtual shop.
  • The site should abide by the EU directives in matter of privacy and tax clarity.
  • The storage space should not be limited to a few gigabytes – images take a lot of space.

THINGS TO BE OPTIMIZED AND AUTOMATED

  • The images should be uploaded by chunks per ftp, the fastest available connection between your computer and the online server.
  • The metadata should be extracted from the images offline and automatically; in particular the keywords, extremely important as TAGS to optimize the web pages for the search engines and crucial to locate an image amid millions of others.
  • All the data (prices, keywords, sizes etc.) required to populate the web pages must be loaded automatically by means of an auxiliary text file. Generally used to this purpose are the Excel-generated .cvs files.
  • The .cvs files in turn should be built offline upon the data hidden within the images and all the other parameters required by the shop web pages, of course still automatically.

Obviously uploading the images and preparing the single ‘product’ web pages by hand is still possible, but it would hamper lethally the swiftness of the daily site updating – as well as swallow plenty of one’s precious time that would be better devoted to sorting, processing and keywording new images. Firsthand experience, you may take my word for it 🙁

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

A last most important requirement is that the initial financial investment be modest: even if you can afford it, you certainly do not want to put too much money in such a website until you see some promising return. Thus for now watch the costs: once your own agency takes off you’ll be able to loosen the purse strings at leisure 🙂

Next article: HOW TO GET STARTED AND BEGIN SELLING WITH $170.99 (no bul***it, it worked for me 😀 )

The new supernova over Munich, editorial photos (EN)

Inauguration of the ESO (European Southern Observatory) Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre near the Eso headquarters in Garching near Munich, Germany

GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public
GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public

A new great attraction in Munich!
Supernova provides an immersive experience in astronomy and technology and – I would remark – lot of fun with interactive gadgets and virtual reality.
Learn the stars, the new projects and the history of universe on colorful boards written with dedication and full of amazing images.

GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public
GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public
GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public
GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public
GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public
GARCHING, GERMANY - APRIL 27, 2018  The new Supernova Planetarium of ESO (European Southern Observatory) opens to the public

Digital art with watercolor filters (EN)

I have begun to play with Photoshop artistic filters for fun.
Adjusting the parameters, some results are remarkable: the starting point is always a shot of mine, but the overall feeling changes.

Not all the images are suitable for this kind of treatment, but some are really enhanced by the watercolor effect:









They are accepted by Shutterstock as illustrations and they are selling!

Editorial images: spring flea market (EN)

Spring in Bavaria is the best time to visit flea markets.
The season begins with the biggest of all, the Riesenflomarkt in Munich at the same location of the Oktoberfest in autumn.
A big flea festival reserved only to private sellers, about 2000 stands just for one day of bargains.

Munich, collectible objects, home decorations, dishware and lamps on sell at the open air giant flea market
Munich, vintage movie posters and clothing on sell at the open air giant flea market
Munich, great choice of classical and modern guitars on sell at  open air giant flea market

Fancy a cowbell? Great choice here!

Riesenflomarkt in Munich, spring flea market

… or a trophy for your drawing room?

Munich, ibex head with horns as taxidermic trophy on sell at the open air giant flea market

I always find something to buy: ancient books, coffee cups and absolute useless trinkets that I cannot leave there, because they are telling me a story.
After this shopping ordeal, you can have a beer and a merry-go-round at the nearby spring Festival!

Munich, spring festival

Editorial images: the march of Science, Munich April 22 (EN)

The calendar read spring but the weather in Munich seemed to differ, thus I feared that a lot of people would desert the march and look for something cozier to do. But I was wrong: Karlplatz was full of merry people, who turned this meeting in a sort of civil festival.

All signs were clever, funny and appropriate:

why science? because it works, bitches
make science great again!
don't mess with science, we have laser
the best, typical Bavarian: NO SCIENCE, NO BEER !
NO SCIENCE, NO BEER !

the participants spoke in a calm and cool matter-of-factly tone to an utterly attentive audience. Then the march: first time in my life I see such a march stop on red traffic lights – apparently science and civilization walk hand-in-hand!

stop at traffic light

The gloomy side:

is it really worth the while to demonstrate against “alternative sciences” (alas, nowadays calling them “superstitions” wouldn’t be politically correct), or against “alternative facts” ( calling them “blatant lies” would be risky)?
Yes, I definitely believe it’s worth the while.

If we don’t, tomorrow we might have to demonstrate against “alternative honesty” or “alternative democracy”, and end up in a jail if we call them with their true names.

fakt not fake

I’m persuaded that we must remember constantly that the independence of science from politics, superstition and bigotry is an essential factor to the welfare of society and humankind, and that the survival of a millennial culture depends entirely on it.

Feel like buying a lake? (EN)

Yes, nothing wrong with your eyes: a LAKE! And a damn beautiful one too, with a wonderful view on the Bavarian Alps, a complete immersion into unpolluted nature, clear waters, plenty of fishes, and as a topping an antique though entirely restored inn right on the bank, enjoyed for holiday and relax (among so many others) also by Sigmund Freud.
All included in the package (well, except for the Alps…)

Thumsee lake

Such an opportunity doesn’t really occur every century, nor does it having to design a website for it.
Et voilà: the Thumsee lake in Germany, near the Austrian border and 20 minutes away from Salzburg (does the name “Mozart” ring a bell?).

Thumsee Wewbsite
Fotos by Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall

The adventures of a web hosting wanderer (EN)

After my massive malware attacks at HostGator (see my previous post) I decided to change host provider.

The first condition to do it freely is:
always register your domain names by a registar indipendent of the host.
This way, when you want to change host, you have simply to point your domain to the new DNS severs and it is done, no permission to ask.
Several hosts offer you to register your name for free but then, when you want to change host, they keep it as hostage (bad pun, huh?) and make all sorts of trouble before releasing it. Beware…

Since many years I use directdn.com: I appreciate their fair prices, their smooth service and the easy way to manage my account.

After a look at one of the countless web pages “2017 Most Wonderful Web Hosting Services” (most of them quoting for some reason HostGator at the top) I landed on IPage, attracted by their low prices – though most hosting providers offer impressive discounts at the beginning and then double or triple the price the following years.

Alas! soon after paying my invoice I found out that it was impossible to set an email of the kind me@mywebsite.com (only me.mywebsite@ipage.com was allowed). In order to get a service provided for free by any other host I would have to pay a considerable monthly external fee to Google – once for every one of my 10 email boxes, of course… okay, IPage was definitely not my host of choice: money back, run away and try elsewhere.

My second landing was at InMotion, and here I hope to stay: the customer service looks helpful and nice and they offer a lot of useful literature about all the ghastly things that could happen to your website, their causes and the possible remedies. In case I need something to read before sleeping…

It’s about time for restyling (EN)

I just spent two hellish weeks on my 5 websites, which suffered a massive and repetitive attack of malware at Hostgator.

Repetitive I said: it had to be a backdoor on my hosting place – or, as I suspect, on the whole server – because a few hours after a complete cleanup all sites were infected again. And again. And again.

I decided to:

1) change host

2) dismiss completely SiteLock, which proved absolutely useless (no alert, no communication whatsoever). Only after the disaster, as I was seeking help by Hostgator, I was put in touch with their people instead, and all they did was try to sell me a manual cleanup (! ! !) for $99/month. Some help!
So please think twice before donating your money to them, there are better and fairer alternatives.

3) park my stock images websites elsewhere at the moment, for further consideration

As I’ve been changing so many things, I decided to start from scratch with this blog.
I was looking for something funny and nice for the home page and I run into this lovely movie clip by Jeffrey Wilson. I couldn’t resist, I bought him a coffee and grabbed it 🙂