Monthly Archives: January 2008

Crazy-fast 3D slideshows for Flickr, Facebook, more

Several times now I’ve expressed my appreciation for PicLens, a beautiful (and free) little browser plug-in that enables full-screen, hardware-accelerated slideshows from Google Images, Flickr, MySpace, deviantART, and other sites.  It’s changed my whole online photo viewing experience.

Now Alec from PicLens writes to say that there’s a new version available for Firefox (Safari & IE updates to follow):

It features the all-new “3D Wall,” a magical virtual interface that can exhibit 100s, if not 1000s of images. There, you can drag, scroll, zoom, and, of course, jump into full-screen mode. You’ll have to try it out to really experience it. It brings the user one step closer to a fully immersive multimedia experience on the Web.

Once you download the 1MB plug-in (Mac or Win), go into a slideshow and try holding down and arrow key to cruise through the images.  I’d take a screenshot, but it doesn’t seem to get along with Snapz Pro.  [Update: Here’s one, though it doesn’t capture the motion.]  Really nicely done, guys!

[Update: Matthew from The Turning Gate has updated his free TTG Slimbox Gallery for Lightroom to offer PicLens compatibility.  I’ve confirmed that it does indeed work, provided you upload the exported gallery to a Web server.]

Lightroom Podcast #48: Gerd Ludwig

What’s it like to photograph inside Chernobyl?  That’s one of the many topics discussed in George Jardine‘s latest Lightroom podcast.  George writes:

This podcast was recorded on Wednesday November 20th, 2007 at the home of Greg Gorman in Los Angeles, Calfornia. Gerd Ludwig sits down with George to have a conversation about working with National Geographic on many interesting and diverse assignments. We discuss how he photographed inside the Chernobyl reactor, about the victims, the environment, and many other aspects that particular assignment. After that we delve deeper into his early cross country road trips photographing in Europe and India, and how his education with Otto Steinert played a key role in his photographic perspective today.

This “video” podcast includes photographs by Gerd Ludwig. It can be viewed by downloading it directly into iTunes (if you are accessing it by subscribing via the Music Store), or by copying it into iTunes on either a Mac or a PC (if you’ve downloaded it from my iDisk). Once copied into iTunes, it can be transferred to a Video iPod, and viewed that way as well.

The podcast (labeled "20071120 Podcast – Gerd Ludwig") is in the Public directory of George’s iDisk.

One *miiiillion* images per second

Dang–and I thought 1,200fps was pretty impressive, but that’s so last week.

The camera fiends at Vision Research have trotted out the Phantom V12, a crowd pleaser said to be capable of grabbing 1MM images per second (if you can live with 256×8 resolution; resolution goes up as frame rate goes down).  Their gear is “targeted at industrial applications ranging from biometric research to automotive crash testing,” they say. “Essentially,” opines Engadget, “this little bundle of joy is meant to be strapped into daredevil-type situations in order to grab as many photos as possible within a split second.”  Check out the company Web site for videos of a popcorn kernel popping and more. [Via Jerry Harris]

The proliferation of these high-speed capture devices makes me remember a talk given last year at Adobe by Microsoft researcher Michael Cohen.  He described the idea of “thick photos”–essentially taking little movies instead of single frames, making it possible to select the perfect moment in a series.  This development will probably further irritate photo purists, but I’d like to see a camera maker take a run at the idea.

[Update: Michael points out that his ideas are covered in some detail in this paper.  His own page offers more technical bits.]

Logos a Go-Go & mo'

Let's dis some designs

Nothing seems to bring people together quite like mutual dislike, it seems. :-) 

  • “Everyone who loves to bitch about crappy design now has RedesignMe,” says Core77, “a meeting place not just to complain and point out flaws, but to offer suggestions on how said crappy design could be better, and at best, push a redesign.”
  • Design Police: Bring bad design to justice with the help of these handy labels.  (Nice to see that “Unnecessary use of Photoshop effect” made the cut. ;-)) [Via]
  • Gene Gable has amassed quite a collection of vintage badges, and towards the end he dogs the Photoshop family logo (hey, what can I say) and terrible PS filter abuse.
  • Not so much ranting about design as using design to rant: Sh*tlist stationery.  [Via Maria Brenny]

Happy airing of grievances,

Mondrianum brings kuler to Photoshop

Joining a long list of apps integrated with Adobe’s kuler color harmony site, Photoshop & other Mac apps now get in on the game thanks to Lithoglyph’s CocoaKuler Mondrianum*.  The tool gives the Apple color picker the ability to browse kuler’s color harmony feeds, displaying the results in a slick Cover Flow view; here’s a screenshot.  To access the picker from within Photoshop, go into preferences and select the Apple (rather than Adobe) color picker.  Mucho groovio! [Via Lydia Varmazis]

*The name is a bit of a misnomer [name now updated], as Photoshop is Carbon-based (as are Final Cut Pro, iTunes, Office, etc.).

Community-powered Lightroom help goes live

Ever complained that software documentation kind of sucks*?  (Do you have a pulse?  The correlation seems to be about 1:1.)  We all have, which is why Adobe’s technical writing team has been working to enhance the product docs with community-sourced content.  If you think something could be explained better, jump in and make it so.

Adobe tech writer Anita Dennis passes along the news:

We’re pleased to announce the new Lightroom community help system, which provides core Adobe documentation for Lightroom as well as links to additional learning content from around the web.
The new site takes the current online help—LiveDocs—and makes it more useful and interactive. You can still navigate to topics using links the left side of the browser. But now, when you click a topic to read about it, you’ll find a Basics panel with Adobe documentation as well as a Learn More panel that offers links to tutorials, white papers, technical articles, and other instructional content.
This site is administered by Adobe, moderated by community experts, and developed with the assistance of a panel of Lightroom Learning Advisors. So you’ll also find links to the moderators’ and advisors’ favorite Lightroom sites, plus links to troubleshooting sites and a page that lists third-party presets, galleries, and extensions.
We invite you to visit, comment on our documentation, add links to your favorite tutorials and articles, and share your opinions by commenting on the links that others have posted. And feel free to send feedback on the site to us at

If the idea of integrating community knowledge into the apps lights your fire, check out my proposal on the subject.

* I’m not picking on the hardworking Adobe writers: beefs about software docs seem to be pretty universal.  I’ve often wondered why that is, and I think a few factors conspire keep things as they are.  Among them:

  • No one actually wants to RTFM.  We want expertise jacked straight into our heads.  As with photography, driving, or most other pursuits, it’s much easier to buy gear than to learn to use it well.
  • Due to publishing/localization schedules, tech writing staffs are trying to document features as they’re being written, instead of after the dust has settled.  Outside authors tend to write later in the cycle.
  • In-house tech writers have to be as broadly useful as possible.  That means it’s harder for them to pick a tone or approach that’s especially suited to one audience.

"Enter The Ghetto Matrix," Flash Panos, & HDR

  • "How to Enter The Ghetto Matrix": Graffiti Research Labs built their own bullet-time camera rig, then used it to make a music video. [Via]
  • Flash-based panoramas:
    • The NYT features a pair of interactive panoramas shot at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.  The audio helps add to the sense of being there, though I’d recommend skipping the built-in animation & instead clicking and dragging to navigate for yourself.
    • Rob Corell passed along these 360° video panoramas, created with the help of Papervision 3D. Go Irish.
  • More high dynamic range action:

Bill Gates, the Adobe IPO, and more

I always enjoy learning about the history of Adobe, and this video celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary revealed some bits I hadn’t known.  Among them: investor Bill Hambrecht talks about how, during the Adobe IPO process, Bill Gates called looking to buy some stock.  "I thought, ‘Okay, now I know we’ve got a good one,’" he says.  And yes, they let Bill buy some.

In looking at the culture shaped by company founders John Warnock & Chuck Geschke, long-time Macromedia (and now Adobe) veteran John Dowdell had this to say recently on his blog:

Adobe’s social culture is very strongly influenced by the values of its early years — Warnock, Geschke, Xerox PARC, PostScript, the wildly democratizing effect of desktop publishing, the years of work towards portable documents. These events set Adobe’s corporate culture, and shape it to this day. I had heard of this cultural environment when I worked at Macromedia, but really saw it, very strongly, after the acquisition. There’s an idealism, an academic approach towards technological democratization, that you can still see inside Adobe today.

I’ve heard one other bit about the early years (though now I can’t find the source*) that seems worth passing along.  I read that when employees would arrive at their desks, they’d find disassembled shelving units, a screwdriver, and some screws.  The message: unlike at PARC or other big companies, here you do it yourself if you want it to get done.  There’s no room for slacking, and you see quickly the results of your efforts.  I’d like to see us bring back that tradition.

* If I’m misremembering those details, I’d welcome any clarification from folks who were there.

Sunday Illustrations: From snowboards to Wonderbras