Monthly Archives: August 2007

"Most of your pictures suck"

I tend to get in my own head about photography.  Maybe because it can be praticed with fairly little physical skill (compared, say, to sketching, which came rather naturally to me), photography seems to put more emphasis on one’s "eye," one’s taste.  That can be nerve-wracking, making it seem like a failure to take a good shot* is a comment not only on your technical chops, but on your worth as an aesthetic being.  See, I told you I get in my head about it.

Maybe that’s why I found this comment from experienced photographer Mike Johnston refreshing:

To be honest, most of my pictures suck. The saving grace of that admission is that most of your pictures suck, too. How could I possibly know such a thing? Because most of everybody’s pictures suck, that’s how. I’ve seen Cartier-Bresson’s contact sheets, and most of his pictures sucked. One of my teachers said that it was an epiphany for him when he took a class from Garry Winogrand and learned that most of Winogrand’s exposures sucked. It’s the way it is.

Whew.  It’s nice to know that bad photos happen to all guys sometimes, so to speak.  And as Mike reminds his sometimes gear-obsessed readers, "Cameras don’t take good pictures, photographers do."  Just not all the time.

*There’s also the whole angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin question of what good is.  In Ireland I’d joke, "Look, honey, I set the camera to ‘Trite‘…"

Superheroic typography

  • Sam Potts sets cool type (“All projects 100% Times Roman-free,” he promises).  Check out his designs for pal John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise; the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.; and more.  Sam was kind enough to let me pick his brain at his studio in NY last week.  While we were talking, a shipment of Gmund paper (made in Germany from recycled beer bottle labels) arrived. “I’ll sleep with this paper,” he said, “if it’ll have me…” [Via Maria Brenny]
  • Giant typography as high school prank: The students of Davidson punk rivals Darby via sabotaged flip cards. The stunt echoes the Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961.
  • Take care when you rotate type, or you might end up with something like the WTF Mac Store. [Via].  Elsewhere in the Dept. of Signs Begging to be Misread, my wife remembers two signs in stairwell in Seattle right next to one another: one for “Gary’s Den” (the words stacked) and the other for “Rage” (some sort of boutique). With no distinction in background color it read as “Gary’s Rage Den”.
    Every single time I stood in line at the Neptune,” she says, “I replayed the same line of questioning in my head about angry, angry Gary and his need for a Rage Den.”
  • A bit of historical fun: the NYT features an image of the Women’s Typographical Union aboard a float in 1908.
  • FontShop’s magazine devoted to all things typographic has a new issue, Font 006, cruising through the snail mail system.  Previous issues are online on the site. [Via]
  • Steve Patterson has produced a nice, approachable tutorial on creating faux 3D text in Photoshop.  The cheese factor is refreshingly low.
  • Typographica list their Favorite Fonts of 2006. [Via]

Fresh Podcasts: Pete Turner, Kevin Connor, Magnum

  • George Jardine sat down recently with pioneering color photographer Pete Turner at Pete’s home studio in Wainscott, NY, discussing how he got started in photography and his early experiments with color.  The podcast can be downloaded from George’s iDisk (“20070809 Podcast – Pete Turner”), or from iTunes by searching under Podcasts for “Lightroom.”
  • George writes, “If you haven’t been watching the Magnum In Motion podcasts… now
    is the time. (They are short. You do have time.) Lots of stunning
    stuff here.”  Among the highlights he recommends:

  • Scott Sheppard of Inside Digital Photo has interviewed Kevin Connor . Scott writes, ”
    Kevin shares the details of how they setup their popular public beta programs and how they ultimately implemented the feedback they received firsthand.  He explains Adobe’s vision and synergy behind both Photoshop and Lightroom… He shares some tips, including using the “targeted adjustment” tool in Lightroom. Hear how other markets, including medical imaging, influence future application features.”

Taliban as Boy George; Frozen photos; more

Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak has posted a fascinating 7-minute look at the Taliban & photography.  Their religious beliefs led them to deface any human or animal representation (from ancient statues to bottles of shampoo), yet numerous young men posed for images that make them look "like gay icons."  Western reactions say something about our times, too.

Elsewhere in photography:

New Photoshop Hall of Fame inductees

It’s great to see that two very worthy guys–Andrew Rodney & Kevin Connor–have been inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame.  Andrew has been helping mere mortals untangle color management issues for years, and Kevin (boss’s boss to yours truly) has been guiding the Photoshop ship since version 4.0. 

[Kevin’s headshot on Photoshop News apparently comes from his “Young Seinfeld” period. ;-)  He now looks a bit more like this.  Oddly enough, Google Images pulls up evidence of a possible horrifying past career (scroll to the bottom of the poster)–maybe something to discuss at our next 1:1.]

In any case, congrats to both Andrew and Kevin.  The honor couldn’t be more deserved.

Imaging heavy hitters join Adobe

A number of rock stars from the world of image science have recently joined Adobe:

Adobe Senior Principal Scientist David Salesin, who manages this crew, notes that "If you count their SIGGRAPH papers as well, you’ll see that current Adobe employees had 11 of the 108 papers in the conference."

Now, let me inject a disclaimer:  Just because a particular researcher has worked on a particular technology in his or her past life, it’s not possible to conclude that a specific feature will show up in a particular Adobe product.  How’s that for non-commital? ;-)  In any case, it’s just exciting that so many smart folks are joining the team (more brains to hijack!).

[Update: Cambridge, MA-based Xconomy provides additional context for this news.]

New Flash gallery power for Photoshop

Felix Turner, creator of the slick, elegant SimpleViewer Flash Web gallery (example), has provided a SimpleViewer script for Photoshop.  The script makes it possible to set parameters and punch out a gallery right from Photoshop, and it’s a free download from the Airtight Interactive site. 

If this is up your alley, check out the earlier PostcardViewer script for Photoshop (example), as well as the same templates for Lightroom.  Thanks to Felix, and to Jeff Tranberry in Photoshop QE for his help in making these happen.

In related news, the source code for the Flash gallery used by the Adobe Media Gallery extension for Bridge (see earlier announcement) as well as Lightroom has been updated (example).  Gallery developers Bluefire have posted details of the enhancements on their blog.

New monochrome photography

Top Lightroom shortcuts, Barbarians, & more on Designer Center

The Adobe Design Center bobs, weaves, and takes new content to the hole:

New Dialog Box:

New Gallery:

New Think Tank:

New Tutorials:


Adobe training content-wranglers Luanne Seymour and Jen deHaan are blogging, so check out their sites for fresh material.  And as always , check out some of the ~1000 Adobe links on del.icio.us.  Info on how to contribute links is here.  [Via]