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Interview with Jim Goldstein

Published by Debs Slater · March 26th 2012

Milky Way Over Death Valley by Jim Goldstein (jimgoldstein) on 500px.com
Milky Way Over Death Valley by Jim Goldstein


Every day we see stunning photos from our peers in the 500px community, but not often do we turn the lens back upon the photographer. The Portrait series focuses on remarkable 500px users who may have something to teach us about their field of photography. This week's feature is Jim Goldstein, interviewed by Matt Knight.

Hi Jim, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a full-time professional photographer, based out of San Francisco, California who specializes in outdoor, nature and travel photography. I've been having fun behind the camera for over 15 years. In that time I've also been sharing my photography online on various photo forums, through my podcast and on my blog. Each year it keeps getting better and better.

What’s the best thing about being a photographer?
Creative discovery is the best thing about being a photographer. I get a natural high from the creative process and that high continues when I see others react to what I've created. I should note the creative process to me is the full spectrum of creation from finding/seeing my subjects to post-processing.

Are there any parts, or things you would change?
I look at things a little differently in that photography is about adapting as much as it is about discovery. Technology is always changing and that provides new creative opportunity. It would be easy to list things that are difficult or hard that I wish were different, but in reality I seldom think that way as it is never something that helps me move forward. I am constantly looking for opportunities to discover and create something new. That seldom or never happens looking at things in my rear view mirror. 

San Francisco Foggy Evening View by Jim Goldstein (jimgoldstein) on 500px.com
San Francisco Foggy Evening View by Jim Goldstein

What makes your work different to anyone else’s?
In all modesty, I like to think the differentiating factor in my photographic work is me. I bring a unique set of experience and quality to my photography. It'd be easy to say my style, my unique perspective or my knowledge of the areas I photograph, but really it comes down to who is behind the camera to make those things true. I am really driven to capture something new that is reflective of my creative & technical skills when in the field, or on an assignment, and I strive to have that shine through my work.

What makes a good photo?
I'm a firm believer that a good photo is one that can grab and hold a viewer's attention for an extended period of time... a minute, a day or longer. In this day and age, with so many photos that are only a mouse click away, the ability to hold a viewer's attention takes something special. Of course, the same can be said of prints at galleries, but these days most photography enthusiasts have an easier time scouring the Internet for great photography.

If you’re going out on a day trip what camera and what lenses do you take, compared to a more planned out photo shoot?
I'm a glutton for punishment as I take my gear with me everywhere. The exception is when photographing my 1 year old son when I use my iPhone 4 the majority of the time. By and large I always have my Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS and my Gitzo carbon fiber tripod.

White Sands Moonlight by Jim Goldstein (jimgoldstein) on 500px.com
White Sands Moonlight by Jim Goldstein

Do you plan projects? Or take photos with a particular shot in mind?
I always have several projects running concurrently. Some projects are very long-term, while others are much shorter in duration to complete. I'm always working on something and planning shots in advance is always part of the equation whether for a project or not. Many times the shots I have in mind are kept in mind, but my more complex or future forward images are mapped out in a notebook I keep. The goal is to write out as many creative ideas as I have to 1. remember them, and 2. to build on my ideas.  

I've heard that from a set of 100 photographs, a photographer may only be happy with 1 of them. How many shots do you take, and do you shoot for insurance?
It really depends on the subject I'm photographing. For example, a sporting event or wildlife subject may require many shots to be taken and produces fewer quality images due to timing or sharpness. On the other end of the spectrum, nature or landscape photos, where the subject is stationary, may require fewer photos, but span a broader time frame with changing lighting or varied compositions.

Ultimately, no matter what, you want to walk away from a shoot and highlight the very best of the best. If I walked away from a shoot with 50 great photos out of 1000 photos I'd still only want to show the best 2 or 5 photos unless there was something unique or special to highlight like a sequence. As for shooting for insurance I do, but in decreasing frequency. Over time experience helps reduce the need for this. But truth be told I'm a rather paranoid guy so I tend to side on the insurance side when it's a special moment or event. 

What’s better, photographing by yourself being able to do what you want? Or shooting with friends?
Photographing with like-minded individuals is always fun. I've run photo-walks here in San Francisco with 50 people and I've hiked in the backcountry with 1 or 2 friends. In both instances it's great fun. The one exception is when I'm keeping a very aggressive travel schedule (traveling and shooting 18-20 hours a day) then it's easiest to shoot solo. I want my friends to remain my friends!

Mobius Arch Star Trails by Jim Goldstein (jimgoldstein) on 500px.com
Mobius Arch Star Trails by Jim Goldstein

How important is it to have the best (and potentially the most expensive) gear? How much do you own yourself, and what couldn’t you leave the house without?
First and foremost I never travel anywhere without a camera. Whether that is my iPhone 4 or Canon 5D Mark II. I'm not fixated on having the most expensive gear. Whatever equipment I'm lucky enough to have I'll find a way to push it to its limits. It's the photographer not the gear that makes a photograph. That being said when traveling light, as noted earlier, I bring my Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II and Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II IS. I do own 4 or 5 more lenses beyond that and anything else that I need for specialty use I'll rent.

Street/Landscape?  People/Animals? DSLR/ SLR?
Simply put I love photography, all types of photography. Given the opportunity I'll experiment taking photos of any subject. What people see most of mine is my nature, landscape and travel work, but in my personal library I have a variety of different types of photos. My personal passion though will always reside in the genre of landscape and nature photography. I shoot exclusively with digital SLRs, but I do have a film SLR still and I swear I'll use it again someday.

Which photographers, or any artists, inspire you the most?
Art Wolfe, Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Elliott Erwitt are but a few of many photographers that I'm inspired by. In terms of inspiration though, there are numerous artists outside of photography that are also an influence including Josef AlbersGerhard Richter, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and many others.

How important is post-editing? To what extent do you use computer software to improve your photos?
Post-processing is a critical step that is employed for all of my photographs. I am a stickler for color correction to help bring my photographs closer to what I perceived. While cameras have made leaps and bounds in technological advancements they're still non-thinking electronic devices. Their clinical representation of the world lacks the real-world interpretive dimensions that our eye and brain see before the camera. As to the extent of my post-processing, I lean towards a natural representation of my subjects. My work flow includes contrast, luminance, saturation and basic color correction adjustments for each of my images.

Lunar Rainbow (Moonbow) Close-up above Upper Yosemite Falls, Yos by Jim Goldstein (jimgoldstein) on 500px.com
Lunar Rainbow (Moonbow) Close-up above Upper Yosemite Falls, Yos by Jim Goldstein

How can new photographers improve their photography?
The best tip I can provide to new photographers looking to improve their photography is to keep an open mind and never stop learning. And, for that matter, never stop experimenting. What you see from the best photographers are often a small percentage of images from their photo collection built upon years of experimenting and learning by experience. For every great photo you see there are often hundreds, if not thousands, of mediocre images that never made it. 

More and more people are gaining popularity through photo sharing sites such as 500px; are galleries still important?
While I'm a huge fan of photo sharing sites like 500px, nothing will replace galleries or museums. Galleries and museums are exceptional places to both find inspiration and to showcase work. In addition to galleries and museums I'm extremely big on photobooks, both in print and electronic form such as iPad apps. The ability to showcase your work is important and by any means possible. Online photo sharing sites make it easy to access a variety of photographic work, but seeing a showcase print or book is an experience that all photo enthusiasts should experience.

Can you explain why you signed up, and what you like about 500px.com?
I found 500px by word of mouth, from a friend, and I was immediately drawn in by the great photography and sharp presentation. After creating an account I was impressed with the many features missing from other photo sharing sites such as integration to more robust metrics and and e-commerce functionality. Technical features aside, photo sharing sites for me excel when built upon a community of inspiring photographers. I immediately found that at 500px, making it easier and more motivating to be a part of the 500px community.

Badwater Sunset by Jim Goldstein (jimgoldstein) on 500px.com
Badwater Sunset by Jim Goldstein


For more of Jim's photography, check out his 500px Profile and his blog. If you're a fan of his star trail photos you can also sign up, for free, to his ongoing, online Mastering Star Trail Photography Video Course.


     

New Pricing for Canvas Prints

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · March 7th 2012

We have released the Market alongside with a complete website redesign just over two weeks ago.

We launched it without much fanfare (sort of a soft launch), but even without the press and all the buzz it has been a great start — there are now almost 200,000 photos available for immediate purchase as prints and downloads.

Startrails by Noriko Tabuchi (white-roots) on 500px.com
Startrails by Noriko Tabuchi
Buy Canvas Print or HD Download

We have been listening to your feedback over the last two weeks, and have received thousands of useful comments and suggestions on how to improve the Market. We heard you and decided to make changes to the pricing of prints to make them more affordable for everyone to enjoy quality art works in their homes and offices.

Starting March 12, the price of canvas print will be just $199.

There are thousands of beautiful photos that could now be printed on the highest quality canvas available in the US, and every print comes in a gorgeous 24x36 or 30x30 inch size on a beautiful 1.5" deep frame.

At this new price, and with hundreds of thousands prints available for immediate purchase, everyone can enjoy the most beautiful photographs in the world.

The shipping is only $8.99 to 48 lower states, and just $38.99 to Alaska, Hawaii. We are also starting shipping to Canada for just $38.99.

The Market is available for free to all photographers. To enable the store, visit http://500px.com/settings/store. You can select the photos for sale, upload separate watermark-free hi-resolution photos for safe storage, or disable the store at any time.

It's a big change and we want to communicate it to photographers early, so that everyone can make a decision to open the store, alter the offerings or disable it altogether, if they so desire. The new pricing will be in effect starting Monday, March 12.

Since canvas prices may change, and processing fees differ from transaction to transaction, we calculate payments on individual transactions. Photographers are paid 70% of net costs, and will receive, on average, $40 dollars from each 24x36 canvas print sold. As previously, we have a minimum $100 payout, and photographers can request a Paypal transfer or a cheque.

Starting March 12, photographers will be able to buy their own prints on canvas as well, at a price of just $159. When buying your own prints, you will not pay or receive a commission on that transaction.

We believe that beautiful photography should be available to everyone, and believe that the new pricing will allow everyone to experience the beauty of a unique photograph in their home or office.
     

New 500px look and functionality

Published by Oleg Gutsol · March 3rd 2012

Last week we rolled out new design and new fuctionality on the 500px platfrom. We were working on this update since around October and at the end of February it was finally ready to be released. The rollout wasn't as smooth as we hoped for, but our dedicated team was pretty quick to respond to the issues. Kudos to our developers, designers and support specialists who worked 48 hours straight to fix things that were not perfect.
With this release we introduced a number of important things and removed some features that we viewed as unnecessary. This caused mixed reactions among our users — some loved the new look of the site, others preferred the old design better. Here, I will explain what we did and why.


Flow


One of the most visually impressive features we created is the Flow — an activity stream from the people you follow, created specially for you. Now photo discovery and sharing will be quite different. Now you can enjoy not only the new photos that your friends uploaded, but also discover the photos they liked, commented on and added to their favorites; as well as follow their stories, collection updates and other activity. Flow is like a personalized photo magazine that you can browse for hours. And now it is on the homepage of 500px. In the nearest future, we will be introducting filters to the Flow, so if you are interested in viewing just one type of your friends' activity — you will be able to view just that.


Stories


For the longest time we thought that everybody, not just professional photographers, should be a part of 500px. Maybe not all photos everybody takes are artistically impressive, but there are many photos in your collections that can tell an interesting stories — a friend's birthday, a trip to an exotic destination, something interesting spotted on the street one day, a concert you went to, etc. Everyone has something to tell with the photos they took. With 500px Stories, we made it easier than ever. Redesigned from the ground up, Stories focus on life events shared with large photos. Tell your story with one photo or a dozen — your choice. Add a location on a map where the photos were taken, describe each individual image, add technical information about the capture — and your post will be unique and captivating.
The layout is clean and simple. The unobtrusive and practically invisible design wraps the photos in a beautiful presentation, making every post a unique expression of your artstic vision. Personally, I wanted to have an expressive outlet like this for years, and it's finally there.


And finally — the Market


With the 500px Market you can now sell your photos as prints and digital downloads. It is the easiest way to earn money and transform your photos into the works of art on other people’s walls. We designed the Market from scratch, and will completely redefine the way people buy photo art online. No more endless frame options or hundreds of different papers — just the best quality canvas available in the US printed in two large, vivid sizes — 24x36 and 30x30 inches. Every printed photo will look great on such a beautiful canvas. Photographers will love the Market because each sale will bring real profit, and we are going to take care of billing, printing, shipping and quality control.


All high-resolution photos in the Market are securely stored and are only used to print the order or create HD downloads (1920x1080).

With the Market we are also introducing HD downloads as an option for buyers. Different from usual 20-25% revenue share the other photo platforms offer, 500px Market provides photographers with 70% revenue, taking care of orders, credit card processing and storage. All HD downloads are available in crystal clear full 1080p (1920x1080 or similar, depending on photo dimensions), and cost just $2.99.


There were many other changes, like the new Organizer — a combination of the uploader and photo manager. Uploader is now built with HTML5 and does not require Flash, the collections can be managed by just dragging and dropping and photo organization is now much easier. The photo page got simplified and cleaned up, the comments now have nested replies and votes and spam reporting mechanisms.

The idea behind the most recent changes is to make the 500px interface less intrusive and focus even more on the great photos our users upload and share. I think this was successfully achieved by the amazing 500px team.

And last but not the least, I would like to thanks all of our users — all those who wrote us emails and sent us tweets with comments and suggestions for improvements. Please remember that our goal is to provide the best user experience in everything we create, and we greatly appreciate your feedback, suggestions and criticism.


Thanks,
Oleg.
     

Flavors.me brings support for 500px

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · January 12th 2012

We are excited to announce that Flavors.me has been working on integration with 500px and now all Flavors.me accounts support 500px. Flavors.me is the great way to establish a beautiful web-presence online — it's like a summary of you on the Internet that you can easily share with other people.



Now, with 500px, Flavors.me offers even better service for photographers. With several options to display your 500px photos you can customize it right for you.

Flavors.me is offered in a premium flavor as well, and it brings you unlimited services, more themes, custom domain and more. To celebrate, Flavors.me is giving away $1000 worth of prizes to our members. To get your premium Flavor.me account for a year, simply enter your Flavors.me username in the comments below and enable your 500px account on it. First 50 people will be upgraded to premium by the Flavors.me team.

PS: We'll be giving away 10 annual awesome accounts as well. See Flavors.me blog for details! :)

500px has worked with Flavors.me, Google Currents and Flipboard to integrate our most popular feeds and your personalized photos to deliver users on every platform the most inspiring photos in the world.
     

This Season, Give a Gift

Published by Evgeny Tchebotarev · December 9th 2011

We intentionally kept it to ourselves, but since the gift season is here, we wanted to share a news with you that might help you make a perfect gift to a great photographer that you definitely know. Head over to a secret Gift page for a surprise.



Here, you can purchase a gift for yourself, a photographer of your choice or just get in early (and receive a gift code you can gift anytime). It's that simple. Just $50 for 1 year of Awesomeness.

Wondering if Awesome is right for you? Well, it allows you to create your personal unlimited web-site, with 18 elegant themes, unlimited uploads and collections, advanced SEO customization options, Google Analytics, and custom domain (yes, you can hook it up with your dormant .com domain).

If you have received a Gift of Awesome yourself, head over to https://500px.com/gift and click "Redeem your gift account" to get your awesomeness. If you don't have an account yet, don't worry — you'll be able to create it during the process.

Enjoy the season!
     

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