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We promise our buyers that all orders will ship within 48 hours, and we need to get this image corrected as soon as possible. Please let me know as soon as you've uploaded the new image. I have the order on hold until I hear back from you.
I don't think the grain is too much and adds a nice effect but can see a buyer might be surprised by it and return it. I suppose you could in theory upload a version without the grain effect (assuming it was shot digital and not film, which is a whole different story) but then again maybe the customer liked it fine with the grain and will be disappointed if it is missing from the print ordered. Damned if you do damned if you don't almost. Could FAA not just send an email to the customer explaining the presence of grain to avoid disappointment?
Anyway, congrats on the sale, very nice work. Hope the sale comes through for you.
I really don't understand why FAA are making decisions on whether to sell a piece to a customer when the customer themselves can look at the image detail at 100%, as is the case here. Asking artists to alter their work on the assumption this isn't what the customer will want seems very wrong to me... and what happens if the customer then receives the altered piece and returns it because it's not as grainy as they expected it to be?
Sometimes - you can get rid of noise (grain - whatever you call it) and sometimes you cannot and sometimes you want it there. My software program has a place to ADD noise to an image & I had to search for how to get rid of it.
I believe, in this case, Joshua intended the image to be this grainy. It's FAA that are assuming the customer won't like it, which is somewhat presumptuous given the customer can view the image detail at 100%.
Can you supply us with some info on how the image was taken?
Was this taken with a film or digital camera?
Was it taken during low light conditions?
Was this a long exposure?
If this was a digital shot, at a long exposure, Did you leave the VR turned on during the shot?
If this is a digital shot was the camera setting for noise reduction turned on?
Did you use some software package to enlarge the original size of the image?
BTW... Nice subject... Love the B/W idea for this shot.
Generally speaking, one nice thing about selling on FAA is that they produce, frame (if framed) and ship the piece without the artist having any out of pocket expenses. There are out of pocket expenses on FAA's part though and it costs a lot to print, frame and ship the art so FAA tends to be pretty choosy about what they will print. While the buyer "can" look at the full res image, did they before they bought it? Maybe yes, maybe no. So it is FAA that has to look at the risk of it being returned and them being out the money it costs to produce and ship.
I do understand the frustration here and have sold many things at live shows printed and framed WAY larger than FAA will allow me to print for the same reasons you were given Joshua. When it is my money that I am spending, I can make the choice how grainy it is but unfortunately at times, with FAA spending the money, we as artists may not be able to go as large as we would like.
You really have a couple options here. You can reply to the email and try and explain that it is supposed to be this way and see what they say, or you can try and clean up the print without losing the original look and feel of the piece. The latter will probably be more productive for you though.
JC - the risk to FAA can go in either direction. As I mentioned earlier, if the customer DID look at the image at 100% and it was part of the look and feel of the image that appealed to them (including the grain) then any print may well be returned if adjusted to remove that grain. Another thing, and I'm not sure how the background process works for customers who try to buy a print and are then informed it's not suitable, but to me the whole aspect of that sounds very unprofessional if the item is already available for sale at the requested size.
there are about 2 threads per week now on this subject where it is quite obvious that the effects in the images in question are intentional.
and i am going to repeat in each and every one of these threads that the printers/FAA need to change their approach and ASK THE CUSTOMER FIRST if that is what they wanted instead of conveying such an unprofessional attitude (cancellation due to subjective unsuitability).
I sometimes produce images that look really nice with added grain/noise. I just simply don't upload them to FAA to avoid the potential problem of a cancelled sale.
If I want to create a grunge effect for uploads here, I go with textures that can be seen in the thumbnail version and are obviously not due to a quality issue. I haven't sold any textured photos yet myself, but I do see in the recent sales that many do sell.
If that's what the buyer wants I don't see anything wrong with it. It doesn't look like digital artifacts, it looks like grain on a B&W neg that has possibly been pushed a bit. It's a major part of its character and it's pretty obvious it's like that even in the small version. If you tried "noise reduction" on this you would end up with a sloppy mess.
I agree that the first step should be to alert the buyer if they think grain is a problem and ask them if they want to continue with the purchase. I have a lot of B&W film among my shots and I would hope not to run into this problem.
I think the buyer should be contacted. While I understand FAA's reluctance to print this and others like it, the customer should be alerted and asked what they are expecting. As Paul said, trying to "fix" this is just going to muck it up.
I have a few shots where I have intentionally applied grain/noise or some other effect that could be interpreted as being unfit to print. I have made prints of at least one of these and am quite happy with the look. So do we need to start including comments about such effects? I prefer to let my work present itself without explanations of how and why it looks the way it does. But if the words "Grain intentional" will prevent a rejected sale...
BTW, it seems the increase in these rejects has followed the addition of a couple of new employees. Perhaps they are being overly cautious?
Here's what I would have FAA do in these situations.
Email the buyer and point out that there is some anomaly in the image purchased and would ask that the buyer to acknowledge that they have seen this with the high res box. If so, FAA will print this and fulfill this order. If the buyer hadn't noticed or didn't understand the "green box" value for inspection, FAA would wait for a response from the buyer,before going ahead and fulfilling the print order. If the buyer still wants the print, but without the anomaly/noise, FAA will email the artist and request that the issue be corrected,if possible. If not, the order would be cancelled.
This saves FAA any expense,due to printing and shipping and also supports the artist and buyer, to both have a satisfied experience with FAA.
Unfortunately you can't email the buyer, because there is no information provided about who bought you image.
I was asked to replace my image for the same reason ( too grainy), the grain in my case was a texture blended with my image, overall the image had a grungy look which I liked.
I asked FAA to contact the buyer and make sure that he/she is aware of the texture, before I make any changes, never happened. I replaced the image and I hoped that they at least let me know if it worked or not, never happened either.
We can't email the buyer, but Rich wasn't saying that I would email them, he was saying the site would.
The image was taken using a DSLR hand held in mist from the tallest waterfall in New York State, and stitched together using Adobe Photoshop. I didn’t enlarge the image in any way. The image was then converted into a black and white using Silver Efex Pro 2 from Nik Software. The noise that exists comes from the fact I’m standing in the MIST OF A WATERFALL. According to Windows it has a shutter speed of 1/1600th at F8 200 ISO. The image’s size, at its native 314dpi is 7.79 inches wide, and 26.97 inches high. The photo reached the size that the customer wants to buy it at via whatever system FAA uses to increase the size if images.
Now, I have a new version of the image that has been “denoised” via Photoshop, but that doesn’t change the fact much of the noise/grain comes from the fact that there is a near infinite amount of water droplets in the air, a fact I suspect the person who wants to buy the photo knows perfectly well considering they live a half hour’s drive from this waterfall. I will email it to “Rosemary” and see if this one is acceptable, and also ask her to take the time to contact the buyer.
I realize you are upset at the potential of a lost sale (heck, I would be, too), but mist? I've shot a lot of waterfalls and never once did the mist cause grain or noise in the image. It's caused flares, blurry spots, and some odd moire, but never noise. Especially not in the rocks. Now, Silver Efex Pro can cause it, depending on the filter you use.
Unless it's being caused by the program itself I'm not sure what else would be causing it, unless 1600 is just too fast for the lighting around the rocks, since I had naturally exposed for the sky and the fall itself.
If you want to see an insane shot an amazingly lucky photographer got of a 54 ft wide chunk of the wall dropping into the pool have a look at this link here (you have to "mouse over" to see the before shot).
First, 1600 ISO will cause exactly that kind of noise/grain in my camera's shot.....
I get what everyone is saying, I really do but this decision was made long before I was even on FAA and WAY above my pay grade. It is a business decision but would recommend you drop your ideas in Beth's suggestion box thread.
I am not sure FAA has added any employees unless you mean Jeffrey and I but we are freelance mercenary interns and not employees. (ie, we simply work the forum on a volunteer basis)
I love your shot Joshua but to consider future sales and eliminate future disappointment you must (!) to buy better camera or
add lens if you crop image a lot. Did you made vertical format from horizontal and upsized?
In accordance with green box your camera producing 2446 x 8471 image.
You'll need trusty DSL, man and tripod at location like this. Handheld camera is no-no.
Stitching a pano reduces any visible noise so the pre-Silver Efex version should not be showing any noise at all from stitched ISO200 shots. However, the purpose of Silver Efex is to mimic film as closely as possible - right down to the slightly different appearance of different brands of film, so my guess is that this had a filter converting to a high-ISO film, such as Tri-X 400 applied.
Now, the fact that the filter was deliberately applied rather than the appearance being a consequence of the materials used makes it clear that the "grain" represents an artistic decision - just as a painter deciding to represent something through pointillism rather than by using a pallete-knife would be. So would it be considered right for a pointillist painting to be rejected for being "too grainy" and the painter be told to "de-grain" it? I suspect not. So the printer is, in effect, acting as an artistic censor.
If it had been shot with film then the grain might have been an accidental "fault", but then again, the decision to shoot film is an artistic one these days, as is the choice of film and, if someone is expert enough, it is possible to process for increased grain if desired. , In any case, however the grain got there, it is an integral part of the creative process and for the printer to rule that the purpose of film is to try to mimic the digital look seems to me to be entirely wrong.
Of course, I understand the consequences of the guarantee and the fact the printer does not want to lose money, but I think there should be a way found around this. Personally, I would rather underwrite the guarantee for "grain" rejections and take delivery of rejected work myself than run a plastic-digital-look filter over black and white photos. It's about being true to the original intention.
I suppose I should regard this and most of the rest of my black and white shots as being unsellable, at least at sizes larger than 10x10 or thereabouts.
Also, while I think about it, isn't the printer actually creating a greater likelihood that pictures will be returned if they take an order for something that is obviously meant to look like - or is - black and white film and then have a digital smearing filter put over it before they ship it? I kind of expect that if someone wanted the image above they would want it BECAUSE of it's retro look, not despite it. That's one reason I tend to shoot with Fomapan film that uses a 1950s formulation, rather than with a modern emulsion.
Originally Joshua stated that the look of the image was 'intended', which suggests it was either shot to produce the effect or edited as such. Now we seem to have gone off into 'what's causing the noise' territory, suggesting it wasn't intended after all :-s So... intended or not?
If it wasn't then look carefully at the original. You say you exposed for the sky and fall, both of which are the brightest parts of the image, suggesting it was actually underexposed. Looking at the picture exposure should have been for the rocks, taking care not to clip the highlights. I mention this because increasing the exposure in post will create noise.
ISO200 on a dSLR should not create any adverse noise providing exposure at capture was accurate.
I see mist at the bottom of the fall, but the distance from the fall seems to be sufficient that it wouldn't be mist that was causing the issue.
SFX Pro - if you used a preset it's highly probable that grain was added by the app. Presets are great for gauging a look, but still you should always check on what sliders have been activated and adjust to personal taste, rather than fire-and-forget.
Sharpening without masking flat and grainy/noisy parts of the image will only go to increase the effect in those areas and make it much more obvious.
FAA, as far as I'm aware, doesn't up-rez files and only allows files to be printed at a size that doesn't compromise print quality.
I'm just throwing these out there as possible causes. Of the two versions, I still prefer the original.
David, does it really matter whether it was intended or not? Surely, the first assumption must be that artists intend their work to look the way it does. Sure, there are plenty of people here who don't understand sharpening or digital noise and end up with heavily fringed, jagged edged or blotchy images because of that; but a grain filter effect is different from digital noise and could hardly happen unless it was deliberately applied or is actually real grain, either of which should surely be regarded as legitimate.
And, has been pointed out, the grain is perfectly obvious under the loupe, it's hardly a "defect" that would be accidentally overlooked by a buyer.
Paul - yes, I believe it does matter in the context of this post. Joshua originally stated that the grain/noise was intended, and yet later there comes "Unless it's being caused by the program itself I'm not sure what else would be causing it" Hence my confusion on whether it was intended or not. Let's not forget that grain can also be added by presets, as mentioned, and therefore not necessarily WITH intention.
The argument was whether FAA should censor a sale because of an image effect like this. My first statement was that they shouldn't. However, if the effect is in fact a mistake on the part of the artist and not intended, then my opinion changes as some form of QC needs to come into play to protect the customer, FAA and the reputation of the artist (we all make mistakes).
Anyway, it's up to the powers that be at FAA to decide. I was just trying to seek clarity on intention, or not, and offering a bit of what I hope was helpful advice if the latter. Perhaps some form of check box during image u/l that states "Does this image have any texture added that the customer needs to be aware of?", and then a customer notification which pops up during the buying process which they then have to acknowledge before proceeding with the purchase. In cases where the artist doesn't check this box and an anomaly is present, then FAA can refer for any correction.
David, it does look a bit like the "pull process N-1" preset, which would add grain just like that.
The trouble with censorship based on intent is that it requires that FAA can see inside the head of each artist in order to know what the intent was. Right now, Joshua's shot is a bit like Shrodinger's Cat, it exists simultanously in the intended and unintended states and will only collapse into one or the other if he clarifies what happened.
I suppose that in theory my images would get through under your criteria, given that using film obviously involves a decision (but what if they consider that !SO400 film is actually badly exposed or processed ISO 100 film?). In any case SX-pro is a very good mimic of film, so I don't know if FAA (or the printers) would even have been able to tell that this wasn't a film original (stitching generally strips the EXIF data, doesn't it?).
It's a significant issue for me since more than 10% of my portfolio is B&W film and some of the 35mm shots, especially, are attractively rugged and grainy.
I too have images that were taken on 35mm and grainy on purpose, like the one below.The green box doesn't do justice to the grain or sharpness of it though and I might remove the full res preview box from such images and also offer them in much smaller sizes only ( not all images work or are at their strongest in larger sizes to begin with, regardless of grain or not ) . This one's largest printing size here is 48 inch, which might give a perfectly good photograph and viewing experience IF one doesn't look at it at a nose distance. That's one of the problems with viewing and pixel peeping screen images and also the green box preview : it is not how a large print on a wall is to be looked at or is going to be looked at, not like a small image that you can hold in your hand. For some work, the more intimate small size works better than larger and can be as much a creative intention ( to only offer them in small size ) so it's not that we should always strive for the largest size possible.
I can't help but wonder how these print issues effect customer relations.
Imagine you are an average Joe or Jane and decide you want "something pretty for your wall" so you find your way here to FAA (on purpose or by stumbling in through google). You want a sunset picture or a kitty cat picture so you search and search and search. Then you find it! A kitty looking at a sunset! It is love at first site so you place your order. You order a framed 24 x 36 print. Pick out the perfect yellow mat with red frame. You are so excited. This is the picture of your dreams! It is going to look great above the orange couch in your living room.
Then you get (I assume) and email from FAA telling you there is an "issue" with the print you ordered. For reasons you don't understand they are not going to send you the picture you wanted.
I know my first reaction would be "why the hell do they have pictures for sale that they aren't going to sell?"
When someone orders something you expect it to be available. If it is not, you would expect it may be on back order. You would NOT expect the company is not able to create it. Why would you advertise something you cannot produce?
So is the above buyer going to come back to FAA and try to find a replacement for the picture they fell in love with? Some may, some may give up for fear it will happen again (once bitten...).
What is the solution? Not sure I know. It seems obvious there will be no "vetting" of the images posted to the site, even though that would probably be the best thing to do. Don't other "art" sites check images before they are offered for sale? Don't stock agency sites check them first?
How about just offering the three smallest sizes available for sale and if the customer is looking for something bigger, they can send a request asking if the print is available at "x" size?
I would like to know how many images FAA rejects every day. If it is 10 it may not be worth changing. If it is 100 something should probably be done.
"How about just offering the three smallest sizes available for sale and if the customer is looking for something bigger, they can send a request asking if the print is available at "x" size? "
The problem here is MOST consumers will not take the time to ask anything. They want to find what they want and buy it. Offering nothing but 12 inch prints and smaller would cost FAA and the artists a LOT of money. To be frank, I would not spend any more time marketing this site if it were done this way as 12 inch prints simply do not pay the bills.
Stock libraries generally check the image quality prior to making them available for license. That takes time and effort on the part of somebody, and is not without a whole load of other issues. If we take Alamy, as an example - their policy is to check a handful of images from an upload and, if any of those don't meet QC guidelines for whatever reason, every image in that batch is rejected. So it could be you upload a couple of hundred images in one batch and the quality of one is enough to reject all. This approach seems a bit hit and miss to me, as they could just as easily happen to check a few good images and let a load of bad ones through. There's also the delay while you have to wait for your images to go through QC, which can be anything from a day to a couple of weeks.
No, I think the onus really has to rely on the artist being open and honest about their artistic interpretation and intent when they upload, as well as reviewing their artwork carefully, and the customer making sure they are fully aware of the qualities of the image before checking out. The 'review at 100%' option is there for a reason. It's the customer that should be deciding what is or isn't acceptable for them. FAA having to step in and call time-out is very unprofessional, IMO.
Whether it's an artistic choice or not, whether the artist explains it on the description or not, the bottom line is that FAA has to eat the cost of producing it if it gets returned. I can't imagine they would just start tightening up on quality control if they didn't have problems with returns. Personally, I would rather be made aware of any issues up front and given the chance to correct them then have an image returned. (And I don't even have to invest the cost up front.)
Returns are a factor of any business that produces a product for public purchase. As a customer, if I was informed that there was a problem with the product I was trying to purchase, I simply wouldn't bother. Not only that, but I wouldn't bother trying to purchase from the website again. So it's not just the impact to one artist that needs to be considered here.
If you were informed there was an issue with the product you might reject it and not return to the site
If the product was delivered looking grainy and you hadn't noticed when you ordered it you might reject it and not return to the site
If the product was delivered with a smoothing filter that made it look entirely unlike the grainy one you ordered to might reject it and not return to the site.
Isn't that so?
So there is no correct answer based on customer reaction.
As a result of this thread, I picked up a book by one of my favourite photographers - who is also one of the greatest alive - Sebastiao Salgado. In his pictures of Africa from the 80s and 90s you can see grain. You would pay thousands for one of his shots today, so grain is not or should not be a problem per se. I believe he used Tri-X 320 in both 35mm and 645 formats/
If you make an artistic choice, are you willing to back it up with your money? What if FAA contacted the artist and gave them the option to pay out of pocket for the printing/framing/mounting? Would you do it? That way you would eat the cost if it was returned, not FAA.
There is a workable answer - and that's to ensure the customer has all of the facts presented to them prior to purchase, so that they have no recourse for a return based on image quality. That, to me, is the sensible way of approaching an issue like this. If the image has the 100% detail view enabled, the information is all there, so why does this have to be so complicated?
Artist choice is all well and good. There are images with nosie and blur on purpose but how does the buyer know?
I think the customer that comes here and buys is more important. They should expect good, quality prints and expect what they see is what they get and what they want is what they'll get.
I think the only real solution is to vet the images. Sure FAA may have to pay numerous people to check images but there is nothing wrong with "giving back" some of the money being made to improve the expierence of the customers here. JC recently asked what a view was worth. What is a satisfied customer worth? What does it cost when someone wants an image only to find out they can't get it?
Now if they vet images and reject an image for quality but the artist insists it was done on purpose for artistic reasons that is well and good but that image could be tagged so the artist eats some of the cost somehow if the print is returned. How confident are you that your artist blur is what the customer wants? Would you be willing to put your money where your mouth is?
John, if you switch the loupe on the customer can see what your image looks like at maximum size, so he should know whether of not he likes it. Surely the rule of caveat emptor applies to pictures as well as to everything else?
(Oh, and be careful what you wish for: If you put me in charge of image QC then 95% of the pictures here would be chucked out).
I think the image has way too much grain, and I think it was added to hide the fact that the image is not in focus. Added grain, fine, but if I look at that image at 100% all I see is snow, its hard to even see the waterfall, and its not sharp behind the grain. Its a messy photo in my honest opinion.
Here's a suggested procedure for FAA-questioned quality & a new feature...
New feature: option to always show one or more selected details of the image at full resolution alongside the regular image on the page.
1. Contact the artist if suspected flaw is not illustrated (directly or by example) by one of the selected details from abovementioned new feature, otherwise print & ship since the buyer already saw it before ordering.
2. If artist indicates the suspected flaw is intentional, add the suspected flaw to the details shown, then contact the buyer.
2b. If the buyer confirms the image is acceptable, print & ship.
3. If the artist indicates the flaw is unintentional, tell them to fix it, contact the buyer re technical issue, etc.
3b. Flag the image to watch it for upload of improved version, then re-evaluate if buyer indicated they want it if fixed.
Subsequent viewers will be shown the detail in question so buyers will be known to be aware, saving time in the future.
I think that should cover the bases of customer satisfaction, artist intention, and production efficiency.
The grain isn't there to hide anything. I'm locking this before I decide to get intentionally rude after people are now being allowed to accuse me of dishonesty. Especially when those people have had examples of their own images having similar problems. Planks in your own eye methinks.