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Photo Hosting Sites Comparison

May 23rd, 2012 No comments

My work in video and photography is mainly in post-production as a graphic designer, digital artist and general technology assistant. I was helping a photographer to set up a professional photo site to sell his images, so here is a comparison.

All of these photo sites have the following features:

  • encourage social media sharing and give tools to help users and fans to share photos.
  • gallery and collection options.
  • a certain level of photo security from casual theft and re-use.
  • site customization
  • no infringement on your copyright
  • digital download pricing and print pricing
  • community of photographers and clients

Photoshelter

I have a free account on Photoshelter, vix.photoshelter.com but I think they have stopped providing free long-term accounts. When I signed up, I was able to store a small amount of images without paying, but now, after a short trial period, you must select a hosting plan. This is the largest and most established professional photo hosting and sales site.

The prices for hosting are quite reasonable because they protect your photos with the best anti-theft technology – a transparent layer over each photo. This means that anyone attempting to copy the image will only copy the cover layer. In addition, they provide the option of watermarking the images so a screen capture will be ruined.

One thing I found a bit bothersome, is that a commission is charged on all sales through the site. The commission rate changes depending on the level of hosting and more expensive plans pay less sales fees. This would not be an issue if this was posted on the sign-up page, but I only found out about these charges when I was preparing to price the photos. The photographer I was working for was aware of this practice, but for me it was a surprise.

Adorama, the industry standard in photo printing located in NYC fulfills all print orders directly from the site, or you can arrange to have the prints made yourself.

Smugmug

SmugMug also provides watermarking, and they use Amazon storage, known as one of the most secure clouds in the industry. They offer a “vault” membership option if you only want to use the cloud storage instead of displaying your images.

Three photo printing company options, four paper/print combinations and an expanded selection of merchandise to decorate with photos can be ordered. Once photos are in the shopping cart print quotes from each company can be compared before the order is placed.

I was not able to discover if they charge a commission on sales. A free trial period can be activated, but then, a hosting account must be purchased. They do prominently post their great return policy and full refund if prints or products are unsatisfactory.

500px

The most generous of the top three hosting sites, 500px offers a permanent free account to photographers. However, the pricing structure of photos sold in the market set by the company. All the photos sold in the 500px market are the same price, unlike the other two sites, which allow photographers to set their own prices and sell independently. Click here for a copy of the 500 px pricing guide. If the pricing structure works for you, then this could be a good thing.

Instagram

This Smart Phone app deserves a mention as it is one of the fastest growing photo sharing sites today. If you have an iPhone and are not interested in prints, the price is right – Free.

All of these sites are a great place to look at really excellent photos.

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Flash Video on Mac Power PC Chip

January 14th, 2012 No comments

Adobe Flash player no longer supports computers built with the Power PC chip although there are many of these machines in use, still serving their owners reliably. This morning I received a call from a G4 Power book Mac owner running Leopard OSX 5.8, he called because of an error message that insisted he upgrade his flash player. When he tried to upgrade, he found the new version did not support his chip or operating system.

One of the reasons I started writing this blog is that I act as a help desk for many of my friends, so I searched for a solution and found Elmedia Player, a free download on Cnet. Elmedia Player, from Eltima Software, is more than a player, it also helps you organize media files using an iTunes type of interface.  The Pro version also allows you to download and copy internet hosted media files, but there is a cost for this functionality.

Please note — anything after this content is an ad and I do not endorse the product or even know what it is.

My friend reports the free version is working on his notebook for Flash (flv) playback. The website claims El Media Player supports playback of FLV, SWF, XAP (Silverlight), RM and RV (Real), AVI, MOV, MP4, and many other formats.

These older computers are still functional and the push to constantly upgrade by Adobe and other companies can be resisted. Keep your faithful computer out of the landfill as long as possible. I am keeping older computer hardware functional using a combination of these types of helper programs and/or converting to the Ubuntu operating system.

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Arduino Sensor Control

August 22nd, 2011 No comments

I have a Sharp IR sensor hooked up to my Arduino Duemillanova board in the process of testing the interface for my show, “Bandwidth”. Despite the fact that I had this set-up working one year ago at EMPAC, I am having difficulties now.

Luckily, I live in a city that has a local hackspace with a regular listserv. I put out a call for help and was answered by a robot builder named Dan Royer who has a site called Marginally Clever. I was very impressed by his ability to write and edit sketches and his friendly, helpful attitude in reminding me how to hook up my sensor to the board. His website is a fascinating look into the world of do-it-yourself robotics. You will be able to see him at Burning Man if you are attending.

Now my Arduino is happily blinking, but I still have to develop a sketch that allows me to use two sensors on the same board without an extreme amount of latency. As Dan writes in a post “Robotics is a lot of Trial an Error” — Integrated Art is exactly the same. Build it and see if you can make it work.

Photos coming soon.

 

 

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Propane Powered Van Sold

July 23rd, 2011 No comments

DSC_0014_03

SAVE ON FUEL COSTS — Less pollution with propane the original alternative fuel

My beloved propane-powered 1985 Ford Econoline Travel Van is sold.

Note: the price of propane is approximately half of the cost of gasoline and I have been driving this van since 1992 for the same cost as a small compact car.

DSC_0009_03All receipts for work, including motor rebuild of economical, reliable 302 V-8 with special propane motor parts. Parts are easily available for this van.
Brakes are good, starts and runs very well — no known mechanical issues.
A really fun van for travel – can seatbelt 11 including driver.
Four captain’s chairs with removable snack table in front.
Foldable table and bench seat in rear — can be converted to a flat deck for equipment or padded with cushions for a bed.
Secure storage area accessible from back doors — not from van interior — allows safer storage of valuables.
Trailer towing package — original equipment installed in factory — sold with hitch.

Interior photos included in slide show.

FAQ

How many Km on the van?

Odometer reads 263548. Motor rebuild 99/01/16 odometer reading 195988 — receipt available.

The rebuilt motor has only 67560 Km

Where is auto propane available?

CANADA

http://www.cdnauto.org/archive/propane/propane.asp

Map on Google with names and addresses of stations — not all are 24hr, so call ahead

This map does not show Superstore, Co-op, Super Save or other stations that I know about in Vancouver and area.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=205898274833613305051.0004a3fa4bd451087989f&ll=50.903033,-83.100586&spn=17.403966,46.362305&source=embed

USA

http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/propane_availability.html

http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/locator/stations/

Example: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/progs/ind_state.php/WA/LPG

What is the difference in cost between gasoline and propane?

In Vancouver, gasoline is $1.34 per liter and propane is $0.64

The van travels the same distance on propane as gasoline and it has a 99 liter tank.

What are other advantages of propane?

  • Propane causes less pollution. Note that forklift trucks, ice rink surface machines and other indoor motorized vehicles run on propane because the propane engines emit far less toxic fumes.
  • A propane engine runs cooler than a comparable gas fueled engine, so there is less stress and wear on parts. Oil changes are required less frequently because of the clean nature of the fuel.
  • More information: http://www.autogaspropane.com/why_propane_auto.htm
  • From Australia: http://www.lpgautogas.com.au/index.cfm?Action=MyFleet#3
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Categories: How-To, Uncategorized

Boarduino Build

October 22nd, 2010 No comments

Now the new Arduino Uno has come out, I can’t wait to acquire one. Until then, I decided it was time to get to work and build my Boarduino kit.

After unpacking everything I compared the contents of my bag with the list that LadyAda provided.

Oh-oh, some of the components did not look the same and it seems like I had too many of a few things. I decided I wasn’t missing anything, so I went to work.

I soldered on the power supply and started on the other components. It has been a long time since I soldered anything and my iron is old and well used. I don’t have a cool vise, so I used a vise-grip plier tool to hold the board.

The directions were very clear, except I didn’t really know what components I should use because they did not look like the photo.

These three items are the real problem, I used the larger one instead of the blue part in the photo, now I have two identical parts left and I only need one. I will have to contact AdaFruit for help.

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Categories: How-To

Voltaic Software for HD USB Video Cam

January 17th, 2010 No comments

At the end of 2008, I purchased a Blu-Ray Hitachi video camera with a built in mini DVD burner. I thought this was a wonderful technology because, not only did it have the 30 GB hard drive, but if you ran out of space or wanted to create a back-up file, the rewritable DVD was at your service. The image was taken from the Hitachi site and my camera is the shiny silver one on the right.

I immediately ran into problems because the compression system used on the camera creates m2ts files, a file type that could only be opened and edited with the very basic software from Pixela that came with the camera.

This software had few conversion options, no titling and basic edit functions with no transitions. The editing features in the camera were just as as good. Even home movies should look better than this!

When I went to Banff, I used the music dept’s Sony and Pauline and Ione’s Canon HD cameras because they store information in mts format. The mts format is readable by Final Cut Pro and can be converted into useable 1080p HD video with no loss of quality.

Despite the best efforts of the video experts at Banff, my camera was useless because the files could not be converted into an editable format such as AVI or Quicktime mov.

In September of 2009, almost a year later, I decided to try to use my video camera again. I wondered if some kind of conversion software had been developed. There had been some advances in that Windows movie player would now play the uncompressed m2ts files, but it would not convert them to wmv. VLC media player would convert in Ubuntu, but only to SD. There were several other conversion software brands available on the internet, but they all either converted to SD, produced artifacts or other visual problems or had no sound.

Enter Shedworx Voltaic conversion software!

This software works to convert my m2ts files to editable formats with a number of options of output. I just upgraded to version 2 and there are even more conversion options that re-compress for iPhone and other video applications as well as for editing in professional software.  It also includes an editor and will automatically upload edited movies to your You Tube account.

I have not tried all the new features, but the conversion is rock solid and I have been producing Blu-Ray quality films on the Apple Macintosh version. I understand the newest version of Final Cut will convert m2ts files now, but for those of us on a budget, the $39.99 USD price tag for Voltaic is a lot more economical than an upgrade of FCP for $299 USD.

Another problem with upgrading is the new FCP will only run on the intel chip and requires a newer operating system. Voltaic is working great on the Power PC quad core G5 with 10.4.11 Tiger.  It is really expensive to keep up with the latest and greatest Apple offerings, so Shedworx gives the indie film maker a chance to produce in Blu-Ray without having to recycle a wonderful, working computer.

Thank you Shedworx, for providing me with a free upgrade to 2.0 because I bought my copy of the software late in 2009! This is a very generous program for a software company and I am happily using my new update today.

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M-Audio Delta44 Cards finally working in Ubuntu 9.04

October 11th, 2009 No comments

As a devoted Ubuntu user, I always tell the skeptics that in Windows or Mac OS, I have to pay money for my operating system and applications, then I have to do their beta testing for them. In Ubuntu, if you can fix it — it is yours with no need to pull out the credit card.

I was challenged when I upgraded from Ubuntu Gutsy 8.10 to Jaunty 9.04 in May 2009,  because my trusty M_Audio Delta 44 sound cards refused to make any sound except in the Audacity application.  I went into “Tech Mode” and started checking out the Ubuntu Forum. I found some confirmation that I was not alone in this post HOWTO: PulseAudio Fixes & System-Wide Equalizer Support. I also found a lot of information on ALSA here.

There was no quick fix for me so I submitted a launchpad bug report 425435. Read more…

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Net Tuesday Meet-up

October 7th, 2009 No comments

There is a really interesting group in Vancouver that has been formed through the “Meet-up” networking site. The “Net Tuesday” group purpose is to support non-profits with technology information and to share information. Part of doing “Tech Help” is keeping up with the nuts and bolts of Google Tools, so I decided to see what I could learn.

This particular meeting was the first one I attended and it was worth it to be able to go through security in the new CBC building. The plexiglas security gates will star in my next lo-budget sci-fi film for sure. Only moving pictures will reveal the wonder of it all.

The topics this evening were:  Google AdWords with Omar Al-Hajjar, Search Marketing Director for Magnet, a division of  Cossette West and Google Website Optimizer with John Hossack of VKI Studios.

As I have been posting AdWords on my site and considering advertising myself, the Google Ads presentation was timely. The Website Optimizer was a tool that I had looked at, but decided that I do not have enough traffic to use. Both presenters were very informative and it seemed like a great collection of people attending. Read more…

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Nexstar 3 Drive Enclosure How-to and Mac Warning

September 20th, 2009 No comments

External hard drives have been the most helpful item that I have purchased. I admit that I buy many of them and particularly now with high definition video where files sizes are large and a 30 Gig camera drive can uncompress to 10x in size depending on the final file type.

This post will serve two purposes:

1. How to install a hard drive in an external enclosure

2. Give a Warning on a problem that I had trying to use a Nexstar 3 enclosure with Mac OSX.

[I am trying out the anchor function with a new plug-in and it only works after you open the “more” tag — working on it.] Read more…

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Categories: How-To, VIX at Work

Word Press Themes and Plug-ins

September 7th, 2009 No comments

Screenshot-Welcome to AdSense

My Tech Help blog is using the iNov theme developed by mg12. I am not sure that I will keep this theme, but I am investing work into it. After getting my feeds set up, I had decided that I was going to try Google AdSense on this blog. I finally got it to work using the WP AdSense plug-in. I also figured out that I can insert the code directly into the post by using the HTML option in the WordPress editor. The Google Custom Search still is not working properly.

I was warned that Google only allows three ad sections per page, so I now put in a “more” tag and paste the ad code beneath the tag. That way the ad on the footer counts as one and the code in the blog only displays when the reader opens the post.  This prevents exceeding the limit when the posts are attached one after another on the home page. Check it out. Read more…

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