Monthly Archives: February 2007

Lightroom Podcast #28: Phil Clevenger, Grace Kim and Mark Hamburg

"I think pretty much any software has a personality," says Mark Hamburg, "but a lot of times it’s something that one sort of stumbles into, and people don’t think about that as part of the design process. When I started the project, I wanted to do something that was more visually interesting, for example, than Photoshop, and tried some directions in that regard. And I did bad KPT imitations."

Mark sat down with Lightroom UI designer Phil Clevenger, user researcher Grace Kim, and photography evangelist George Jardine on Dec. 11th.  George writes,

In this podcast, we take a retrospective look at the entire design process of Shadowland, and how personality played a role in the final look and feel of the software. Phil discusses the efforts that went into designing Shadowland to help keep your photography the focus of attention, and visually more important on the screen than the user interface.

"I think the exercise really brought to light people’s implicit assumptions about what they thought the Shadowland personality was, or should be. Things that were kind of hard to articulate, but people just had them as working assumptions." – Grace Kim

"While people in different parts of the country may have different notions of what sleek or stylish may mean, I think everybody knows what butter is." – Phil "Butter" Clevenger

The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under "1211 Podcast – Phil Clevenger, Grace Kim and Mark Hamburg"). It’ll also be available via the Lightroom podcasts RSS feed, and by searching for "Lightroom" in iTunes.

Automotive visualizations

I’ve come across some crafty ideas from the automotive world, visualized in Photoshop, 3D, and sheetmetal:

  • BMW tweaks nature to demonstrate why they don’t do front wheel drive.
  • Volkswagen drives home their power-to-weight ratio in this series of GTI ads (see larger).
  • Vive le blur: Recent design school grad Ian Hart created some rather excellent Ford Mustang ads as a student project. He writes, “Constructed from GE Lexan EXL semi-transparent resin, the billboard accurately blurs the scene behind it regardless of day, weather or season.” [Via]
  • Peugeot & Microsoft challenged designers to devise cars of the future, and you can see a gallery of the winners here.  Peugeot will build the winning entry as a full-scale concept car, and MSFT will feature a drivable version of the car in one of its Xbox 360 games.
  • No Photoshop necessary: Automotive artist Billy Gibbons (aka one of the bearded dudes from ZZ Top) has created the weirdly wonderful Bus Ball [Via].  It reminds me in some way of Heatherwick Studio’s groovy rolling bridge (video).

Lightroom is here!

I’m delighted to say that after a year’s worth of public testing, discussion, and refinement, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is now shipping (see the newly created Adobe PR blog for the press release, etc.).  Congratulations to the team & to all the photographers who have made this application what it is!  As a reader of this blog, you don’t need me to belabor the details, so let me point out just a few things:

  • You can grab a 30-day tryout version of the shipping product for Mac & Windows.  (The earlier Beta 4 build times out at the end of February, so you might want to grab the shipping version sooner rather than later.)
  • You can order the product for $199 ($299 after April 30).
  • The product page features roughly 2 minutes of great testimonials from pro photographers, as well as profiles of Doug Menuez, Sarah Silver, and Sye Williams.
  • The product pages also include plenty of detail on the application (e.g. its tight integration with Photoshop).

In addition, Adobe Camera Raw 3.7, together with an updated DNG Converter, is available for download (Windows | Mac).  In addition to bringing compatibility with settings created in Lightroom, ACR now supports more than 150 cameras, including the Nikon D40 and the Pentax K10D.  And though the cameras don’t appear on the official compatibility list, Phase One shooters will be happy to know that Lightroom and ACR now (unofficially) support a number of P1 cameras (H20, H25, P20, P21, P25, P30, & P45), and Fuji customers have preliminary support for the S5.

So, with that, thanks again for helping to guide & craft Lightroom over this past year, and happy shooting!

Can photographers be plagiarists?

That’s the subject of an interesting illustrated essay on Slate this week.  A father/son team of photographers has been accused of ripping off the work of another shooter–apparently after first calling him for advice on vantage points, film, etc.  The essay talks about ways photographers have played off & riffed on one another’s work over the years, even to the point of reproducing it wholesale (e.g. Sherrie Levine photographing Walker Evans’ famous Depression-era prints–making her an "appropriation artist").  At what point does homage cross the line?  It’s interesting food for thought.

Side note: I do have to ask what, exactly, makes this photo so special?  Maybe if I weren’t totally insecure about what I shoot, I could let this go, but…  I’d like to be enlightened about why a photo like this one is considered gallery-worthy.  It makes me think of that empty plinth getting mistaken for the actual artwork.

How the Healing Brush came to be

The new issue of Computer Graphics World features an article from Adobe VP of engineering Dave Story, discussing the origins of the Healing Brush*.  He writes,

The inspiration for the Healing Brush came from something you might hear in a Physics 101 lecture: When you place a piece of metal on a heated surface, heat diffuses through the metal until it reaches a steady state. But what does heat diffusion have to do with pixel restoration? More than you might think.

Dave mentions Poisson image editing and the Laplace equation, but overall he keeps the discussion out of the techier weeds.  If you eat that stuff for breakfast & want something more bracing, you could try this math-heavy 1-pager on covariant image reconstruction from Todor Georgiev, who is featured in Dave’s write-up.

*On the off chance you’re unfamiliar with this technology, here’s a PDF for background on the Healing Brush.

Panopalooza: From Barcelona to the Moon

It’s rough–rough!–when a humble photog like me finds himself pursued from city to city by someone much more capable behind the lens.  But that’s the situation in which I found myself last week, when Dzone Magazine editor Hans Frederiks* (brother of Adobe’s own Ton Frederiks) joined us in Amsterdam, then in Barcelona.  I found time to squeeze in a few panoramic shots, but every time I’d turn around, Hans was shooting & had already uploaded images to his blog.  It’s all good, though, and I wanted to pass along a few of his images (stitched together with Photoshop CS3):

Since folks seemed to enjoy my Paris panorama, here are a few more from the journey**:

Figuring that if you’ve read this far, you must like panoramic flavor, so I’ll pass along a few more:

*I also can’t offer up phrases like "Eindelijk sneeuw! De lichtmeester ‘at it again’!"  But I can enjoy the sound. 😉

**Note: We’re still fine tuning the Zoomify implementation in Photoshop.  The output here is generally nicer than what you can produce with the CS3 public beta, but we still have some work to do (e.g. the panos are a bit soft when they first load).  Also, I’m trying not to Zoomify things just for the sake of doing so, and instead I want to use the feature only when it adds value (and when it doesn’t let you see just how noisy some of my captures are!).

Oh, and one more thing: This is post #500 on the ol’ blog-blog-revolution.  I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoy the writing.

How Lightroom & Warcraft are related, more

The blog since1968.com has posted the second part of its interview with Mark Hamburg, Adobe software architect & prime mover behind Adobe Lightroom.  The interview discusses challenges behind building a cross-platform application; why the team elected to build first on the Mac; Lightroom’s distant connection to Warcraft (the Lua scripting language); and more.  [In case you missed it, see also part 1.]

Adobe Magazine returns

Adobe Proxy, the quarterly design magazine from available in PDF format, has been rethought and relaunched as–dramatic flourish Adobe Magazine.  The new (historic) name should make the publication easier to find, and the format & content have been revised for easier browsing.  From the mag:

Many of you told
us you don’t have time to read the
magazine cover to cover. That’s
why we’ve designed all articles in
the new Adobe Magazine to give
a quick shot of inspiration and
instruction. You’ll see innovation
in the fields of photography,
publishing, interactive, and video,
and you’ll get specific details on the
techniques and software features
used to create it.

You can download the current issue (cut & curled by guest designer Josh Berger of Plazm), as well as sign up for notification of upcoming issues. The mag is also available in French and German. [Update: I’ve added links to French and German. The UK sign-up page, which lists other countries in the popup, is here. I believe the main page will be updated with these links.]

Master & Photoshop Commander

The long-standing Photoshop actions system (which debuted in PS4) makes it pretty easy to record a series of commands, then play them back.  Photoshop scripting (intro’d in PS7) lets developers do much more sophisticated automation, but it needs to be written by hand and is consequently much harder to create.  Thus there’s been a demand for a system that would let users use conditional logic in Photoshop (e.g. processing an image one way if it’s taller than it is wide, and another if it’s wider than it is tall), but without having to learn/write scripting.

To fill this gap, scripter Andrew Hall has created Photoshop Commander, a free add-on designed to put fairly sophisticated automation tools into the hands of non-programmers.  He explains,

Photoshop Commander is a Photoshop Script for CS2 and CS3 that creates powerful programming capability in Photoshop, using simple dialogs that anyone can work with and understand. Photoshop Commander provides a comprehensive easy-to-use menu system that allows non-programmers to create sophisticated workflow automations all without the need to understand a single line of programming code.

The script (which is free and is being released under the Creative Commons license), and a heap of accompanying Flash tutorials can be downloaded at
http://www.ps-scripts.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1363.

If you check out the first 10 minutes of the tutorials you will get some idea of what it can do and how it works.

Check it out, and let Andrew know what you think (via the comments section of the download page).

Master & Photoshop Commander

The long-standing Photoshop actions system (which debuted in PS4) makes it pretty easy to record a series of commands, then play them back.  Photoshop scripting (intro’d in PS7) lets developers do much more sophisticated automation, but it needs to be written by hand and is consequently much harder to create.  Thus there’s been a demand for a system that would let users use conditional logic in Photoshop (e.g. processing an image one way if it’s taller than it is wide, and another if it’s wider than it is tall), but without having to learn/write scripting.

To fill this gap, scripter Andrew Hall has created Photoshop Commander, a free add-on designed to put fairly sophisticated automation tools into the hands of non-programmers.  He explains,

Photoshop Commander is a Photoshop Script for CS2 and CS3 that creates powerful programming capability in Photoshop, using simple dialogs that anyone can work with and understand. Photoshop Commander provides a comprehensive easy-to-use menu system that allows non-programmers to create sophisticated workflow automations all without the need to understand a single line of programming code.

The script (which is free and is being released under the Creative Commons license), and a heap of accompanying Flash tutorials can be downloaded at
http://www.ps-scripts.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1363.

If you check out the first 10 minutes of the tutorials you will get some idea of what it can do and how it works.

Check it out, and let Andrew know what you think (via the comments section of the download page).