Monthly Archives: May 2008

Friday photos: Earthquakes, birds, war, & more

  • Slate features an excellent photo essay from Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak, Wars: Chechnya and Iraq.  The subject is heavy, but his sardonic narration is well worth a listen.
  • Happening to have a camera on hand during a terrible interruption yielded this rather amazing earthquake wedding photo gallery. [Via]
  • The NYT profiles photographer Nikola Tamindzic.  “He uses long exposures, then shakes the camera while the shutter is still open, causing colors to blur and lights to streak. ‘I’m not recording what is really happening, but it’s something like what the brain is seeing late at night, especially if maybe you’re drunk or very excited,’ he said.” [Via]   On his own site he offers one of the more punishing self portaits I’ve ever seen.
  • Ernesto Scott teaches photography near my old home town & offers lots of lovely bird shots.
  • Raw in the raw: camera tech nerds (or just the curious) may enjoy Looking at a Real NEF Bayer Pattern. [Via Dave Polaschek]
  • Photographer Jay Maisel is offering more intensive NYC-based photography workshops (July 14-18, Sept. 15-19, and Nov. 17-21).  Details are on his site.

Good intentions gone awry

Note to self: "Blog first & ask questions later" is a really bad approach.

 

On Saturday I posted a blog entry in which I tried to clarify some details of what we’ve been developing in Photoshop.  Unfortunately, looking back, it’s clear I did a poor job of communicating what I intended.  In particular I regret the way I went about pointing out some errors I’d seen in stories.

 

Let me give you a little context about how things unfolded.  A few weeks ago I demonstrated some "potential future Photoshop technology" (more on what that means in a minute) during Adobe’s meeting with financial analysts.  Some folks at NVIDIA saw that demo and asked whether we’d mind repeating it at a press gathering they’d scheduled for last Thursday.  We said sure, and I got busy testing everything on a system they supplied.

 

On Friday I saw Theo Valich’s story on TG Daily covering the demo.  One detail jumped out at me: "The package is expected to be released on October 1."  As anyone who’s dealt with Adobe will tell you, we very rarely share details about when most products are expected to ship.  In fact, during my demo I’d noted a number of times that I was just showing some possible future technology, not announcing a new version, timing, etc.

 

Throughout the next day and a half, I kept getting Google Alerts linking to articles that repeated and amplified the news, occasionally misstating various details.  I started getting mail from colleagues to the effect of, "You said what??"

 

At that point, watching the story morph and replicate, I decided to try to nip things in the bud by sharing some clarifications.  Given that we were in the middle of a long holiday weekend, I opted to act quickly–too quickly.  I ended up overreacting, and whereas I should have dropped a line to at least some of the various media outlets, I called them out here.  The irony is that I was complaining about people blogging too quickly without checking all their facts, and in the process I was blogging too quickly without checking my facts!

 

On Sunday I got a quick & courteous note from Jonathan Fingas of Electronista thanking me for the clarifications & noting that they’d updated their story.  Similarly I heard from staff at Gizmodo & TG Daily noting that they’d made updates.  I greatly appreciate that, and in the future I’ll find a much better way of pointing out needed changes.

 

As for the content of my post, I know there’s been some lingering confusion, so let me try to clarify a few points for the record:

 

  • I didn’t say whether the next version of Photoshop would or would not be called CS4.  Instead, I was simply trying to point out that what I was showing was a technology demonstration that was independent of a particular version.
  • Similarly, I didn’t say that GPU-enabled features would or would not ship in the next version of Photoshop.  Think, "I can neither confirm nor deny…"  When developing any product, details are always subject to change, and it’s always possible that some unforeseen roadblock will appear.  That’s why we try so hard to wrap a lot of caution tape around any future-looking statements: we’re excited to be showing you some of what we’re building, and we hope you are, too, but we want to manage expectations & not over-promise anything. Make sense?
  • Lastly, I didn’t say that the next version Photoshop would or would not ship on a particular date.  My (badly made) point was that nothing had been announced, so the fact that a date of "October 1" kept getting repeated should be taken with the appropriate grain of salt.

 

In short, I just meant to say that we weren’t promising any particular features at any particular time–nothing more, nothing less.  Hopefully needless to say, we’ll work as hard as we can to bring you the good stuff sooner rather than later.

Adobe product tryouts unavailable in June

According to an FAQ on Adobe.com,

 

During the month of June 2008, certain product trials that are launched for the first time (regardless of when they were installed) will function for only one day instead of 30 days, due to an error in a line of code that counts down the remaining days in a trial. You will not experience this issue if you have launched your trial before June 1, 2008, or do not launch it until July 1 or thereafter.

 

Therefore product trials are unavailable for download from Adobe.com at the moment.  Customer Service says, "If you tried to use an Adobe trial in June and it expired after one day, please visit www.adobe.com/go/trialupdate for more information."

Interested in testing the next Adobe Bridge?

The Bridge folks are looking for more input & testing coverage on the next version of the software, so they’ve asked me to pass along the following note:

 

Bridge Customers,

We are looking for a few interested Adobe Bridge users to join our Prerelease Program. We need customers who use Bridge in their workflow regularly and want to provide constructive feedback to the Bridge team on monthly prerelease builds of Bridge. If you are interested, please complete the prerelease request form.  Be sure to select ‘Adobe Bridge’ from the product list.

Note: A non-disclosure agreement will be required and space is limited, so unfortunately we won’t be able to accept all who apply.

Thanks for your interest in Adobe Bridge!

Fire on the Mountain

As you may have heard, for the last few days large fires have been burning in the Santa Cruz mountains overlooking Adobe HQ.  Quite a few of our colleagues live in or over the hills, but fortunately no one on the Photoshop team has (as far as I know) had to evacuate.  Bryan Hughes didn’t sleep well on Thursday night, I know, with the fire half a mile from his house (shoes on, cats in hand).

 

I mention it because on my way to an air show yesterday, I snaked through the mountains via some back roads and was surprised to see a very large and imposing Chinook helicopter barreling towards our car, on its way to reload water from the pond right behind me.  I pulled over and popped off a few frames that may be of interest to other aviation nerds.  Included in the set is the swift, violent, helicopter-borne death of a white Jeep Cherokee.  (Yeah, it blowed up real goood!)  Plumes of smoke from the mountains are visible in a few of the shots.

 

As for other fire-related photography, I honestly can’t compete with things like this.

Sunday photos: Tintypes, timelapses, and more

 

  • The NYT showcases Tintype Buckaroos.  Robb Kendrick uses archaic gear to capture the enduring lifestyle of cowboys.  “When I’m doing tintypes, everything has to be driving, not flying — all the stuff for the developing is fairly flammable,” he explains.  An interactive feature shows the work while providing narration from the photographer & the article’s author.
  • Pioneering photojournalist (and ICP founder) Cornell Capa passed away on Friday at age 90.  The NYT features a selection of his photos.  I particularly like this one of 7,000 white-shirted Ford engineers.
  • Rob Galbraith points out some great photos in MSNBC’s weekly photo gallery.  I love the frog-hopping image, though it took me a moment to notice the frog. [Via]
  • Matteo Ferrari is doing an interesting little project showing before & after shots of people who drive the same car for a long time. [Via]
  • How does one actually measure the temperature of light?  James Duncan Davidson explains.
  • Timelapses:
    • The New Yorker features a hard-to-watch timelapse video of a man stuck in an elevator for 41 hours. [Via]
    • A new Canon TV spot is composed mostly of stills shot by EOS-1D Mark III cameras.  (Ironically, the ad is for the lower-end Canon Rebel.)
    • CHDK (the Canon Hacker’s Development Kit) is a set of firmware enhancements for a wide range of Canon cameras.  Scripts “provide functionality like motion-sensing photography (which reportedly works for lightning strikes) and unlimited interval time-lapse photography.” [Via Ashish Mukharji]

"Oct. 1" (aka, "Just make something up")

It seems that news of the demo I did the other day (a repeat of what we’d shown publicly three weeks earlier) is bouncing all around the online tech press.  People are excited that the Photoshop team is exploring ways to make the app feel faster and smoother, and that’s all good.  What’s irritating, though, is just how much bogus info is getting invented, passed around, and swallowed without question.

 

Gizmodo is repeating info found on a site called TG Daily, stating that "Photoshop CS4" (a term that I’ve never heard anyone from Adobe use publicly) "is expected to be released on October 1."  Uhh… expected by whom?  And based on what?

 

I didn’t say anything about schedule.  In fact, I never said that any of this stuff is promised to go into any particular version of Photoshop.  Rather, as with previous installments, it’s a technology demonstration of some things we’ve got cooking–nothing more.

 

Doesn’t matter, though: Someone pulled a date apparently out of thin air, and now everyone who can copy & paste is dutifully repeating it.  The fish story grows with the telling, too.  In addition to repeating the date, Electronista is inventing new details (e.g. "CS3 has already had limited support for graphics processing units (GPUs) for certain filters"; sorry, no; "An upcoming wave of video cards with special physics processing will also help, Adobe explains"; nope, didn’t say that; and more).  Where do people get this stuff?  It’s particularly annoying to see made-up info presented as a response from Adobe–to questions that were never asked. (Contacting Adobe PR, or me directly, to confirm some detail isn’t exactly tough.)

 

I’m not feeling a lot of confidence in the tech press these days.  People just make up whatever they want, creating a bunch of expectations & misperceptions that people like me have to try to unravel.  There’s no disincentive to doing so: the sites still get their ad impressions, and clearly bloggers and readers are all too happy to take what they read at face value.

 

I don’t know what to tell you, as the quest for ad bucks is eroding journalistic standards across the board.  "Caveat lector," and I’ll keep trying to share actually legitimate information here.

 

J.

 

PS–I found this warez link kind of hilarious.  Not only are people inventing product info in order to entice you to download a bunch of unknown executable code onto your machine (something from the Eliot Spitzer Memorial Hall Of Unprotected Terrible Ideas); now they’re actually using Photoshop to design fake Photoshop packaging! (Screenshot here in case the shady server disappears.)

Miscellaneous interestingness

New fatherhood -> sleep deprivation (yeah, still) -> abandoning any pretense of categorization.  That said, here are a few interesting bits I’ve seen lately:

 

Pixel Bender now showing in Flash Player

Earlier today I found myself over at NVIDIA, demoing some of the new OpenGL-accelerated Photoshop technology we’ve got cooking in the labs.  The latest GPUs are just crazy-fast, and it’s a great pleasure to see a 2-gigabyte, 442-Megapixel Photoshop file gliding around like buttah*.

 

Adobe’s efforts to take advantage of the GPU certainly aren’t confined to Photoshop.  In a short video on Adobe Labs, Flash Player PM Justin Everett-Church demonstrates Pixel Bender filters running in Flash Player 10.  If you’ve installed the FP10 beta, you can play with Pixel Bender yourself in this interactive demo.  It comes pre-loaded with some cool (and very fast) filters, and you can grab more from the Pixel Bender exchange.  If you want to experiment further, check out documentation from Adobe’s Lee Brimelow.

 

On a slightly tangential note (using the shipping Flash Player 9, not FP10/Pixel Bender), Robert Lewis & co. of Fashion Buddha have created "dynamic
transitions
that arrange the byte arrays of the images and then re-compress them as JPEGs – all within Flash.  By displaying a sequence of
these byte-tweaked images quickly we can create an effect similar to
an old TV tuner that badly needs to be adjusted. The glitch effect is
subtle by default, but can be increased using the slider in the menu."  I can’t wait to see what these guys can accomplish with FP10 & Pixel Bender.

 

* Incidentally, to the folks recently carping that nothing meaningful ever improves in Photoshop, I’d submit that expending a heck of a lot of energy to make the display of every single pixel faster and smoother is, well, *rather meaningful*.  Effort really doesn’t get more fundamental, or more broadly useful, than that.

[Update: Flash Player engineer Tinic Uro gives a detailed overview of Adobe Pixel Bender in Flash Player 10 Beta. Pixel Bender code runs well on a GPU or CPU, and FP10 introduces more GPU support, but it doesn’t run Pixel Bender code on the GPU.]