Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fotolia Adopting Subscription Model

In a recently received newsletter from Fotolia, they announced Fotolia will have an option for its customers to download photos on a subscription basis. That means their customers will pay a lump sum every month, and are allowed to download a max number of photos as dictated by Fotolia.

This is another microstock agency that incorporate the subscription model in parallel with their 'safer' pay per download model. The agencies are taking a slightly bigger risk, but I guess the increase in sales and customer base will compensate for the extra risk.

iStockPhoto also adopted the subscription model a couple of weeks ago. Looks like subscription is the way to go. Hopefully as a contributor, I can benefit from the increased sales...

Friday, May 30, 2008


一个破了的葫芦, 可以让人漂洋过海; 一陀牛粪, 可以成为庄子口中的道。 有用与无用,就像天才与白痴,只是一线之差。 被骂无用, 不要太伤悲,你只是还没有找到你的用武之地而已。 不断的磨练自己,总有一天你会被你的伯乐相中。 可悲的是就此沉沦,机会来了,却是一无是处, 除了怨言之外,别无长处。

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

First Sale at Fotolia

After quite some time, I got my very first sale at Fotolia. The photo is the one shown above.

There is something special about Fotolia. For every sale, you can actually download the detail information about the sale. You will know the downloader's name, the downloader's company name, how many credits have been paid for your photo, and the license type. You can't find the same amount of information from any other microstock sites.

As a matter of fact, I am not very sure what is the minimum payout amount at Fotolia, and how about the payment mode? Do they pay by paypal? Mmmh.... I need to find out those information. Anyone has any idea?

Monday, May 26, 2008

An Image Search Engine

From Lee's blog, I learned of this online image search engine called TinEye. You can upload an image, or a URL of an image online, then TinEye will search through its database of 500 million images to find where your image is being used, how it is used. It only can identify identical images, it can even find images that have been altered.

It is an ego booster, isn't it? Now you can tell your family, friends where they can see your images being used. Wow....

It is supposed to serve another purpose, that is to detect piracy. I am not too sure how effective this function can be. Even if I find an image in use, I won't know whether it is legally downloaded from the couple of microstock sites I submitted, or the image has been used without paying me:)

Try it out at You may be surprised... :D

Friday, May 23, 2008

Slow Sales at ShutterStock

Laurin Rinder, a veteran microstock photographer, and also a prominent figure in ShutterStock's users forum, recently posted a thread in the forum, complaining about dismal sales growth of his portfolio at Shutterstock.

He has more than 1000 photos at ShutterStock, and his photos are of good stock quality. His normal sales should be a lot more than most of the amateur contributors. He even conducted workshops for aspiring stock photographers to help them improve their stock sales. He is also a reviewer (at least once was) at ShutterStock. So for him to speak up so boldly about dismal sales at ShutterStock, especially after the recent increase in payout rates for photographers, it really means something.

For myself, after the rate hike, sales had been quite sluggish. Maybe it is because Asian such as Singapore had two close public holidays, Labour Day & Vesak Day, then now the Americans are having their Memorial Day long weekend this week.

Indeed something fundamental is quietly changing recently. The old winning tricks do not seem to work as smoothly as in the past. Changes are happening, but I am not very sure what those changes are.

Mmmmh.... Time to do some home work...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ads for Marriage?

A friend who had been out of touch for quite some time contacted me again in the last few days. According to her, I am already old, and poor, and not handsome at all. My value is similar to the warrants that we trade, has a time decay in value... Hahah... Didn't realise I am so value-less these days.

So I should announce to the world that I am still single and still looking for the other half, a better half. Maybe I should even put up an ad so that more people will know this and drop me a message if anyone is interested.

Haha... I am getting crazy... Too much work stress...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Art of Living with Imperfection

Did a studio shoot together with S & C on Vesak Day. My last studio shoot was also with S & C I think, but that was like more than a year ago. Every time I enter a studio, I feel both excited and scared.

Excited because with studio lights available, you have unlimited possibilities. Even a slight move the light will give you a new perspective, a new angle, a new concept. Ideas are unlimited, they will only run out when you inspiration runs out.

Scared because every time I enter a studio, it will be a new experience. I know I will make new mistakes, or repeat old mistakes, or whatever. Someone once said movie-making is an art of regrets, meaning you can always find fault with your own movie, there is always room for improvement. No matter how perfect it looks when you make it, you can always find imperfections afterwards. Same for photography, even with instant preview available at all the digital cameras.

I tried out a new lighting setup that I had not done before on my own. I saw other photographers' work using the same lighting setup. Their photos enticed me to give it a try. My sifu once said no two photographers will have the exact same photograph. True. I didn't get the same effect, I had blown high lights, I had uneven lighting, nevertheless it is my learning process. I only feel a bit sorry for S & C. They both pointed out to me the light may be too strong and some highlights are blown out. It was my stubborness that led to all the blown high lights.

Monday, May 19, 2008

China Earthquake Donation Appeal

You have seen it, heard about it, so please give the needed your helping hand.

Donation is through the Singapore Red Cross. You can make the donations as shown in the link below:

Thank you for your help and your kindness.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Kung Fu Dunk & The Forbidden Kingdom

Watched Kung Fu Dunk & The Forbidden Kingdom in the past few days.

Kung Fu Dunk starring our famous Jay Chou. The story is too simple, too idealistic. From the beginning to the end, there isn't any real hardship for Jay Chou, almost everything was smooth-sailing. As for his struggle in the basketball court, still too idealistic, and fairy-tale like.

The Forbidden Kingdom is a typical Jackie Chan movie, lots of fighting and some not so funny jokes, but the story is again, too simple to have any taste. The good thing about this movie is at least it has nice graphics, and it can give you some hearty laughters.

My verdict on these two movies: 2.5/5, watch them when you are bored :D

Saturday, May 17, 2008

TV License

Received a notice from MDA last night, saying I have a TV set in my home but I don't have a license to operate it. I must apply for a valid TV license from MDA within 14 days of the grace period, otherwise I will be fined. A TV license is S$110.00 per year.

It is again one of those uniquely Singapore thing. You have to pay in order to watch TV, and all the advertisements bombing your TV screen. The reason given by the government is that the government spends money to buy some 'educational' programs, such as documentaries from National Geography Channel, for airing at the free channels, and also TV programs for the minorities such as Malay and Tamil programs.

Doesn't sound logical to me, but if you have only one guy in power, what can you do?

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Bad Month

Half of May has passed and it appears May is not a very good month, at least in terms of photo sales. My sales at all the microstock sites that I am contributing to are slow. Numbers just freeze and refuse to go up.

ShutterStock, the site that usually gives me the most money, is getting extremely slow. Occasionally there will be a couple of downloads, that's about it.

iStockPhoto is making a record low so far. My worst ever month, other than the very first month that I signed up at iStockPhoto.

Dreamstime, BigStockPhoto and 123RF, I didn't see my earnings page having any change for quite a while.

As for Fotolia, I only have 4 photos in my portfolio, and yet to have my first sales there.

Someone once mentioned May is always a slow month, because people in North America go for holidays in the pleasant weather of May, the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere.

I had a 19% drop in sales in May 2007, and a 42% drop in sales in May 2006. Mmmh.... Looks like May is really a bad month, for microstock at least.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Raise at ShutterStock

After a long wait, ShutterStock announced their new rates last night.

For those who have a lifetime earning less than US$500, they are still paid at the same rate of $0.25/download for standard license;
For those who have a lifetime earning more than US$500, they get a 10% raise to $0.33/download for standard license;
For those who have a lifetime earning more than US$3000, they get a 20% raise to $0.36/download for standard license;
For those who have a lifetime earning more than US$10 000, they get a 27% raise to $0.38/download for standard license.

For extended license downloads, everybody gets a raise to $28/download, from the current $20/download.

As usual, some are happy, some are not, with the new rates. For me, I am happy at least the 10% raise should partially cover the loss of value of the US dollars.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Day Trip to Malacca

Went for a day trip to Malacca yesterday. Started the day at 6am, left home at 7am, reach Woodlands Checkpoint at 7.40am, then a long wait started. The roads leading to Woodlands Checkpoint was again jam packed. I waited at the departure hall for more than two hours, then the tour bus arrived, by the time I boarded the bus, it was already 9.45am!

Malaysia Custom for Tour Groups

Once we reached Malaysia, our stop was a breakfast stop. Everybody was hungry. Our Malaysian guide brought us to a famous fish-ball noodle shop for breakfast.

The Famous Fish-Ball Noodle Shop

My Breakfast - Seafood Fishboall Noodle

The fishball & the noodle were not bad, but the price is not low. That small little bowl of noodle of mine cost RM7.20. I was not full at all. More than food sampling than a serious breakfast.

After the breakfast, we continued our journey north to Malacca. Our second stop was at a Bee Farm. To be more precise, a honey shop, a very commercialised honey shop. They are selling local produced honey, but their honey is really pricy. A small little bottle costs about RM20.00. Considering a bottle of similar volumn of New Zealand honey is only about half the price, don't you think their honey is pricy?

We finally arrived in Malacca at 1pm. Lunch till 2pm, then we started our city tour of Malacca. No other place can be a better starting point than Jonker Street. It is the part of the town that was left (almost) untouched over time, where the charm of old time lingers.

Starting Point of Our City Tour - Jonker Street

Jonker Street Shops

Jonker Street Scene

Another famous place is the QingYunTing (青云亭) Temple. It is the oldest Chinese temple in Malacca, which still yeilds lots of influence. About a decade ago, the Malacca government wanted to level Bukit SanBao (三宝山), a Chinese cemetery dating back to the Ming Dynasty in the city centre of Malacca. Strong opposition came from the local Chinese community, but the local government still pressed ahead the decision. A legal tussle started. At the end, it was QingYunTing Temple that came up with the original decree from one of the Sultans that clearly stated that Bukit SanBao was awarded to the Malacca Chinese community. The decree proved the local Chinese community being the legal owner of Bukit SanBao. The government lost the suit and had to scrap the plan.

QingYunTing Temple Main Hall

QingYunTing temple has some unique features that other Chinese temples don't have.

1. If you look at the horizontal pillar across the main hall, you could see 8 golden men supporting the pillar. These eight are not of Chinese origin only, they include Indians, Bangadesh, Westerners as well.

2. There are two poles in the front of the temple. They represent the sails of a ship. It signifies the local Chinese, being overseas Chinese, will one day sail back to their home country - China.

3. The temple has camourflaged signs of anti-Qing Dynasty & support for the movement to restore Ming Dynasty.

It is quite interesting to learn all these, right? When I was there for the first time many years ago, I didn't know any of these. QingYunTing just looks like any other temple, boring! Now with such knowledge, everything becomes interesting.

And how can we miss the landmark of Malacca - The Dutch Square, with its red buildings.

Dutch Square

Another place that the Chinese tourists will not miss is SanBao Temple at the foot of Bukit SanBao. SanBao Temple is very much a mis-nomer. The god being worshipped there is an earth deity, not Admiral Zheng He (郑和). Zheng He's original surname was Ma (马), and he was a Muslim. His tribe lost a war with the Ming army and he became a prisoner of war. As he was still at a tender age, he was chosen to become a eunuch to serve the imperial family. He made great contribution to the success of Emperor Yongle, so the emperor awarded him to have the surname of Zheng, and a title of SanBao.

Then why is this temple called SanBao Temple then? Mainly because of a well in the temple's premise that was said to be dug by Admiral Zheng He when his fleet came to Malacca during Ming Dynasty.

Main Entrance of SanBao Temple

Statue of Admral Zheng He

There is a sad story about the statue of Admiral Zheng He. The statue was donated by some community. At first, it was supposed to be placed in QingYunTing Temple, but the temple management rejected the proposal, reason being QingYunTing temple is a buddhist temple, but Admiral Zheng He is well-known to be a Muslim. For a period of time, nobody wanted to have this statue on their soil. At the end, the statue found home in a museum. Now, with the rise of Chinese economic power, Chinese tourists flock to cities along the silk road on the sea. Everybody is competing for the Zheng He statue.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Philosophy of Life

Something that has positive influence on me

Monday, May 5, 2008


I didn't know this small little blog of mine attracted the attention from 123RF. Their admin actually made a comment on my blog. Thanks.

When I first discovered 123RF, I was very happy. Their uploading process is simple, although the time it takes maybe a bit longer. My acceptance ratio there is also high. But after a while, my excitement died down. My photos don't sell well there.

I know a local advertising agency is actually using a lot of photos from 123RF, so I am sure they are a trustworthy agency, but my sales there is really low.

I have 210 photos in 123RF, whilst only a mere 62 at iStock, but my monthly income from iStock is much higher.

Different agencies have different types of customers, so maybe I am contributing the wrong type. :(

Anyway, over more than a year, I did get paid twice so far, so no complaints :)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Crab Bee Hoon & YanZhiGanLu (杨枝甘露)

Met with Elf today after almost two years. We went to a shop beside Far East Plaza, near the Ya Kun store for the famous crab bee hoon. Bee Hoon is a Chinese pasta, or say kind of rice noodle.

The soup was fantastic, but I suspect they add some MSG. The crab was tender and fresh, and deicious. It even had lots of roes. Yummy, yummy... I like it.

After that, we went to Temple Street for YanZhiGanLu (杨枝甘露) as desert. Ashamed of myself, it is my first time having it although it is so famous. The weather was hot, not a piece of cloud was visible in the sky. In such a hot summer, it was paradize on earth to have some ice-cold deserts :D

Saturday, May 3, 2008


After a long long delay, finally I decided to sign up for Fotolia, another microstock site, as well. I don't know how much revenue it will bring to me, but there is always good to have more sales channels than less.

I hesitated to sign up for more stock sites because the amount of time needed to upload photos is not something to be sneezed at. It might look trivial at first, but when you actually do it, it is time-consuming.

With the experience with 123RF, which some even said they are scam, I am less inclined to put in more work for those sites that do not give me sensible income.

Ok, let me see how it goes over at Fotolia. Hopefully everything will be good :D

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Tom Yum Kung

Tom Yum Kung


1. Prawm with shell
2. lemon grass
3. laksa leave
4. ginger
5. onion
6. small lime
7. mushroom
8. garlic
9. red chilli


1. cut garlic, red chilli, ginger into small pieces
2. cut lemon grass and onion into pieces
3. wash clean mushroom
4. remove head & shell of the prawns. cut the prawn into halves and devein. Put the heads & shells aside


1. Heat up a wok, put in some cooking oil, wait until the oil heats up
2. Put in garlic & chilli, fry till the garlic becomes golden
3. Put in prawn shell & head. Fry till they turn orange.
4. Add in water. Wait until water boils.
5. Put in ginger, lemon grass, & laksa leaves
6. Wait till the soup boils, then leave it boiling for a couple of minutes
7. Drain the soup through a filter to remove all the contents
8. Put the soup back into a wok, wait for it to boil again
9. Once the soup boils, put in mushroom, onion, and let it cook for a few minutes
10. Put the prawns in the wok and cook for ~3 more mins
11. Squeeze small limes, and add the juice to the soup for the final touch

When serving, it is optional to add fish sauce and some chilli. Fish sauce is made from fermented fish. Popular in South East Asia, but it is said to have some health hazards related to fish sauce.

This is my personal recipe. It works well for me. You are most welcome to try it out and give me some feedback.

This recipe is only for prawn Tom Yum, you can actually modify the recipe for chicken, or squid, or whatever you like, for the hot & sour taste.

Milan Milan

Someone in Shutterstock downloaded 10 photos of mine of Milan in a single day. That is quite impressive. But then when I look at my photos when they are put together, I find I have developed a 'style' in taking photos. Nah, 'style' is just a make-you-feel-good way of saying you are going into a trap of yourself. I have consciously or unconsciously taken photos in 'standard' formats. It is either horizontal, or vertical, like passport photos. There is no 'personality' to talk about. Time to hide in some high mountain and meditate for breakthrough ideas.

My horoscope dictates that I will always look for new adventures. Too bad, that's my fate :D