Monthly Archives: May 2009

Sunday Photography: Thomas Hawk, LR tips, & more

Web Photo Gallery Flash detection script revved

The Web Photo Gallery export plug-in that shipped in Photoshop CS2 & CS3 (and that’s available as an optional download for CS4) featured the ability to export Flash galleries (like this). As Matthew Richmond from the Chopping Block (which developed the gallery templates) writes, however, “The release of Flash Player 10 unfortunately breaks the JavaScript Flash Player detect that was initially included in the Flash WPG templates.”

Matthew & co. have updated the templates & have provided instructions on revising already generated galleries. Check out his post for more details. (Thanks, guys, for going the extra mile on this one.)

Friday Illustrations: iPhone art, Mao, & mo'

Alien Skin rocks out with Configurator, Flash panels

I’m delighted to see more developers leveraging Flash panel support in Photoshop CS4, delivering new levels of integration and usability. Alien Skin has introduced a pair of panels that drive their cool Snap Art 2 product. They write:

One of [the panels] lets you start any of the Snap Art filters with a single button press. No more navigating deep into the Filter menu! The other panel uses the Snap Art Pencil Sketch filter to make even more photorealistic portraits.

Groovy. “Expect panels for some of our other plug-ins in the coming months,” say the Alien Skin guys, and I look forward to sharing more news from other developers soon.

Julieanne Kost makes Fast Company's Top 100

I’m delighted to see that our globetrotting colleague & friend Julieanne Kost, Adobe Evangelist, is #67* on Fast Company’s list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. Congrats, Julieanne! They could not have picked a nicer, harder working, more down-to-earth person to honor. Check out Julieanne’s photography, tips on Photoshop & Lightroom, her book Window Seat, and her blog (available inside PS CS4) for more info.

* “So, according to this, do you know who she’s more creative than?” my boss Kevin started to ask in his staff meeting, meaning to mention Brian Eno (#83), Zaha Hadid (#68) and other luminaries. “You mean besides all of us in this room?,” I asked.

Saturday Illustrations: DIY Terminator, useful AI scripts, and more

Saturday Photography: Iced wings, giant faces, & more

Camera Raw 5.4 supports 24 new cams, now on Adobe Labs

A new release candidate (5.4) of Adobe’s Camera Raw plug-in for CS4 products is available for download from Adobe Labs.

Newly supported camera models:

  • Canon EOS 500D (EOS Rebel T1i)
  • Epson R-D1x
  • Hasselblad CF-22
  • Hasselblad CF-22MS
  • Hasselblad CF-39CF-39MS
  • Hasselblad CFH-22
  • Hasselblad CFH-39
  • Hasselblad CFV503
  • Hasselblad CWDH2D-22
  • Hasselblad H2D-39
  • Hasselblad H3D-22
  • Hasselblad H3D-31
  • Hasselblad H3D-39
  • Hasselblad H3DII-22
  • Hasselblad H3DII-31
  • Hasselblad H3DII-39
  • Hasselblad H3DII-39MS
  • Hasselblad H3DII-50
  • Kodak EasyShare Z980
  • Nikon D5000
  • Olympus E-450
  • Olympus E-620
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
  • Sigma DP2

A corresponding Lightroom update is in the works, but it’s not available yet.

The release also includes new DNG Compatibility conversion options, meant to help address the additional options available with an upcoming revision of the DNG Specification. The latest version of the free DNG Converter (downloadable from the same page) converts the raw files from well over 200 cameras, including those mentioned above, to be compatible with DNG-reading software (including previous versions of Camera Raw).

Why post on Labs before declaring the update complete? According to the Labs page, “The Camera Raw team would like the community to help verify the quality of the plug-in through normal usage as this will ensure that the plug-in is tested on a diversity of hardware and software configurations not available internally at Adobe.”

If you have feedback on this release, please visit the Adobe User-to-User forums.

Thursday Type: Steve Jobs, flying milk, & more

Wednesday Illustrations: Swine flu, Gang bangers, & more

Brief HDR bits

  • In talking to photographers recently, we’ve heard that clients are requesting “that HDR look”–i.e. the somewhat wonky, overprocessed look often seen in places like the Flickr HDR pool. With that look in mind, Russell Brown shows how to create “faux HDR” from one image using Camera Raw/Lightroom.
  • FDR (Full Dynamic Range) Tools have released an updated version of FDRCompressor, their tonemapping plugin for CS2, CS3 and CS4. The tool works on both HDR (32-bit) and individual JPEG and raw files. [Via Manfred Schömann]
  • Planet Photoshop posts a reminder about Bridge CS4’s ability to auto-stack components of an HDR image, then have Photoshop batch-merge the files.

"Ask A Photoshop PM"

For years now The Onion has been running their “Ask A {So-And-So}” series of articles (e.g. “Ask A Navy SEAL“), in which a bizarre choice for an advice columnist replies to every inquiry with complete non-sequiturs. Last night my fellow PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes asked me a family-related question that I somehow turned into a discussion of a planned Photoshop feature. “You know,” he said, “this whole thread is straight from the Onion’s ‘Ask a Photoshop Product Manager'”:

Dear PS PM, I’m having trouble choosing a good gift for Valentine’s Day. I just want to do something special for my boyfriend. Do you have any ideas?

PS PM: So, you want to start through Camera Raw or Lightroom, making sure you’re converting to DNG. I really recommend that you preserve the fidelity of your image’s 16-bit data and embrace a Smart Object workflow….once in Photoshop….

Worldwide Photowalks, live online retouching

Brief notes on upcoming events:

  • Scott Kelby & his crew have announced their Second Annual Worldwide Photowalk. The event is set for Saturday, July 18th, and plenty of details are on the site, including a list of the ~200 cities already signed up. Check out Scott’s brief FAQ for more.
  • is launching RetouchPRO LIVE, a two hour real-time retouching demonstration and Q/A event. Chris Tarantino is slated to present the first installment on Wednesday, May 27, at 8pm CDT (0200 GMT on the 28th). Doug Nelson of RetouchPro writes “Tickets are only $10, and attendees will watch Chris Tarantino do a beauty retouch in real time using PS CS4. I’ll be along as host and interviewer. If there’s enough time afterwards, Chris will answer questions from the audience about his technique or working as a professional retoucher.”

Monday motion goodness: Waves in HD, bearded hippies, and more

  • Lucinda Schreiber and Yanni Kronenberg used chalkboard drawings to produce the Autumn Story music video for Firekites. [Via]
  • Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational early-70’s Scanimate demo. Some part of me kind of wishes that Adobe tools involved more retro levers, switches, cable splicing, etc.–and of course that their use was accompanied by funky 70’s horn sections.
  • Infographics:
    • Melih Bilgil’s The History of the Internet tells, well, you know, using minimal lines but loads of attention to detail. (The fly-over of Cuba is terrific.) Adobe designer Ethan Eismann writes, “My new personal mission in life is to bring this level or higher of engaging instruction to an Adobe welcome screen near you.”
    • Slagsmålsklubben would be cool just for its name.

Photoshop engineers talk GPU: Birds, biplanes, mules, & more

A couple of senior Photoshop engineers have offered sometimes colorful perspectives on the challenges inherent in tapping into graphics processors’ great potential.

  • TGDaily spoke to Photoshop architect Russell Williams and me about Photoshop and the GPU. To illustrate the bottleneck of reading data back from the GPU, Russell “compared this scenario to a company that would like to print local papers in San Jose, but decides to go with a printer in New York. ‘You will have to fly the data to New York, and it’s returned on a bi-plane.'”
  • Imaging Resource conducted a similarly themed interview with Jerry Harris. “It’s hard to actually achieve that theoretical goal when running in parallel,” he said. “So it’s sort of like working with a bunch of mules. You might work with two of them but four or five, forget it. They don’t want to behave. Where a GPU is more like a stream of fish you see in the ocean or a flock of birds. They just seem to do better with more of them. More naturally suited.”

PS: I should reiterate that we’re quite actively engaged with the GPU makers. We’re working together to tune both the hardware & the software sides of the equation, and I see encouraging signs.

Bloginator: Salvation

Cue Neil Young warbling “Tonight’s the ni-iiiight…”
Well, after many years of discussion, planning, and pauses, Adobe’s blogging infrastructure team is due to push us live to a new system (based on Movable Type 4.25) tonight. Much goodness should result (at a minimum not having the server crap out when you’re trying to post a comment), though from about 10pm Pacific time (0600 GMT) I won’t be able to post anything for a while. More importantly:

Commenting will be disabled until the transition is complete, and you’ll experience errors if you try to post a comment.

I’ll post the all-clear when things are back to normal. And if that doesn’t happen & you never hear from me again, well, it’s been real!

Tilt-shifting in AIR; Slick, simple 3D

  • Developer Art & Mobile has created TiltShift Generator, a simple little Flash app that lets you selectively blur parts of an image, simulating very shallow depth of field. You can download the app for use outside your browser, too. [Via Rich Townsend]
  • Box Shot 3D is a very simple, very easy-to-use little app for mapping images onto common 3D objects (boxes, bottles, business cards, etc.), then rendering a nicely lit result; see screenshots. I downloaded a copy and got good results in a minute or two.

Photos from Above: Punking satellites & more

Flash, Fireworks, and InDesign CS4 updated

In case you’ve missed it, the CS4 versions of Flash, Fireworks, and InDesign have received updates in the last couple of weeks.

  • Flash PM Richard Galvan lists the issues addressed in the Flash release, including performance problems & crashes.
  • InDesign’s 6.0.2 update (download for Mac, Win) includes the cumulative fixes from the 6.0.1 update (posted in February). For a list of fixes, check out its release notes (PDF), plus info on previous updates.
  • Of the Fireworks update, newly minted Fireworks PM Bruce Bowman writes, “This updater fixes the most common bugs that we know about in Fireworks CS4, including numerous text shifting problems, stability issues on Mac and Windows, and bugs related to pasting text from Microsoft Office applications. The team would like to thank you for your patience as we developed this updater.” Here are the full release notes (PDF).

Old-school imaging: Warhol on the Amiga

Let’s hear it for flood fill! [Via]
I lusted after an Amiga or a Mac back then. It took several years to talk my folks into getting an Apple IIgs (2.8 MHz, suckkaz!). I’m reminded of a tweet I saw yesterday: “Going to take some pictures that will blow your mind today. With an Apple Quicktake. Oh yeah, 0.3 Megapixels of pure digital SEX.”
In other news, David Hockney now draws with an iPhone. I mostly dig the tiny easel that supports it.

Tuesday Illustrations: Terminators, Punx, & more

Monday Adobe news bits: NYT Reader, "Clean" font, & more

  • The New York Times has ditched Microsoft’s WPF technology and has introduced Times Reader 2.0 a 2.4MB Adobe AIR application. The app downloads & displays the entire day’s Times (including an interactive version of the crossword), so you can carry it wherever you go (e.g. planes, trains). Here’s a quick demo plus the download link. [Via]
  • Adobe is getting a new corporate typeface that you’ll be seeing in future product updates. Clean (screenshot), designed by Robert Slimbach, is already used in the two-character application icons. (“PS,” etc.) [Via]
  • Samsung’s new LED flat-screen TV has Flash support built in, enabling developers to deliver richly interactive content on these screens. I’m not sure about streaming HD video, but Adobe’s Digital Home announcement at NAB last month talked about embedding Flash for that purpose. (Flash Player PM Justin Everett-Church recently bought a Samsung TV and discovered that the TV’s documentation ships as SWFs on a USB memory stick.) [Via Mayank Kumar]

Sunday Type: Letters as particles, leaves, & more

Le Sens Propre: A new short film shot with RED + CS4

Working on a commission from Adobe, Brazilian director Cisma* recently created “Le Sens Propre,” rather surreal story about “a dream-like voyage in the universe of a little girl.” Cisma & team used a RED camera followed by an exclusive Adobe CS4 Production Premium workflow (no non-Adobe products touched the film–no 3D software, etc.).

Adobe’s Scott Morris writes,

Several high-profile artists have been commissioned by Adobe to do work using the various CS4 toolsets, to really show off what the products can do. Le Sens Proper now joins work from other artists and graphic designers including John Kelly, Nando Costa, Genevieve Gauckler, and Erik Natzke.

Check out their work on the new For a Q&A with the director plus production stills, check out this piece from Motionographer.

* According to the Adobe Artists site, “Cisma” (aka Denis Kamioka) took his name from the Portuguese word for “strong and irrational conviction.” My kind of guy.

Thoughts on FXG Design and Motivation

On Monday I mentioned the new FXG format being developed to offer and easier a way to exchange data between Photoshop & other applications. The mention attracted some questions in the post’s comments & elsewhere. Adobe Sr. Principal Scientist Mark Anders was instrumental in the design of FXG, and now he’s posted his Thoughts on FXG Design and Motivation. It’s a fairly geeky subject, but if you care about things like file formats and standards, you may find Mark’s post interesting.

For what it’s worth, I started petitioning Macromedia and Adobe ten years ago for something like FXG for motion graphics–an XML-based way to move layers, keyframes, etc. between Flash, After Effects, and other tools. Flash is at last moving away from the opaque FLA format to something called XFL, and FXG works hand in glove with XFL. Progress can take a while, but dammit, it does happen.

I, Twit(ter)

I have the attention span of… wait, hang on… uh… {spinning beachball pupils}… shiny thing shiny thing, start two emails, open three tabs… ah yes–the attention span of a sugar-smacked third grader. Therefore I’ve tried to keep Twitter at arm’s length, to say the least. I’ve felt like Old Man (Jon) Stewart shaking his fist at the technology, digging how McSweeny’s has characterized it:

Twitter seems to be, first and foremost, an online haven where teenagers making drugs can telegraph secret code words to arrange gang fights and orgies. It also functions as a vehicle for teasing peers until they commit suicide.

As my friend Hughes says, “It’s like reading someone’s life in fortune cookies–and about as nutritious*.”

Ah, but now, for whatever reason, I’ve taken the plunge and am on Twitter as jnack. It’s a little like a dog catching a car, though: now what does he do with it? People seem happy I’m there, but I’m not quite sure what they’re expecting.

I’m curious what you, as a reader of this blog, would like to see.

  • Should I create separate profiles in order to separate kid-related stuff from Adobe-related stuff? Or do you actually want to hear about our toddler celebrating bacon?
  • Should I post content on Twitter first (offering immediacy without context), then take the time to group things here as I always have? (I’ve structured this blog as one I’d want to read. I’d generally prefer to have fewer, better links than to have more random ones, and I’d prefer to have a sense of what to expect before clicking.)
  • Should I look into pulling my feed onto the blog as some sort of sidebar? (I have no idea what’s possible, just that it’s gotta be doable.)
  • Are there tools that you’d recommend to make Twitter more useful? So far Tweetie seems good, and I’m playing with Birdhouse and Twitterific on my iPhone.

I don’t just want to hear myself talk. It’ll be worth tweeting only if people are actually getting something useful out of the effort, so I welcome any thoughts or advice you’d like to share.



*What a perfect tweet, say I, having immediately become the pusher-man.

Innovation vs. Affirmation

Nothing groundbreaking here, just an anecdote & observation.

Yesterday I bumped into Bill Hensler, Adobe’s VP of engineering for video products, and somehow conversation turned to his time as a Motorola intern back in the ’80s–back before even Gordon Gekko was rockin’ a mobile phone. “We did a lot of focus group research,” said Bill. “You know who wanted a mobile phone back then? Nobody. People would say, ‘Why would I want to be interrupted at a restaurant or a ball game? It’s bad enough when people call during dinner.'”

It’s easy to want customers to gift-wrap directions, and Adobe certainly puts rigor into its data-gathering process. (For example, teams go on the road & present customers with a list of potential features, then ask them to stack-rank the ideas, allocate $100 of engineering effort among them, etc.). That approach helps affirm one’s next couple of steps, but it’s obviously not a recipe for bold leaps. (“If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse,” noted Henry Ford.)

I mention this as someone who’s been advancing a few “crazy” ideas for some time, often to the sound of crickets. Sometimes, though, you’ve gotta say, “They’ll like us when we win.”

Photoshop CS4 color picker updated

A few months back I mentioned that developer Anastasiy Safari had created a panel-based color picker (screenshot) for Photoshop CS4. He’s updated it a few times, adding features like the ability to specify CMYK values.
The latest version (1.4) is available for download from his site & adds the ability to hide/show the numerical readout area & squashes some bugs. After downloading the file, unzip it and drag the folder into your Adobe Photoshop CS4/Plug-Ins/Panels folder, then relaunch Photoshop and look under Window->Extensions.

PICT support in Photoshop: An update

Thanks for the quick and detailed feedback on whether to drop support for PICT files in Photoshop. Going forward our plan (at least for the foreseeable future) is to keep reading these files, but not to keep writing them.
For the sake of completeness, I’ll mention that I don’t think Photoshop will continue to read QuickDraw-based PICT files (as QuickDraw is unsupported in Cocoa/64-bit). I don’t expect that to matter, thought: Photoshop CS4 dropped QuickDraw PICT support on Windows & no one has mentioned it. Additionally, no one who commented in response to my query talked about using this flavor of PICT; rather, people talked about using raster PICTs, and Photoshop will still support opening those.

Tuesday Illustrations: Paper, pantslessness, & more

Weekend photography: Dimmed Earth, glowing frogs, & more

Illustrator 1.0 – The complete video

Last year I uploaded the first ten or so minutes of the instructional video that accompanied Illustrator 1.0, hosted by Adobe co-founder/Illustrator developer John Warnock. I received some requests for the full recording, and now Adobe evangelist Rufus Deuchler has tuned up the audio & posted the entire video, split into five segments.

Seeing the video, and remembering that Dr. Warnock was (as I recall) one of just four names on the Illustrator splash screen, I can’t help but think of videos posted now by the developers/founders/executives/chief bottle-washers of various Twitter-related startups. (Here’s a good one for Birdhouse.) 20 years from now, will we be passing around one of these links, remembering when so-and-so got her start?

Bert Monroy speaking to SF PUG May 14

Master digital painter Bert Monroy will be presenting his work & techniques at the San Francisco Photoshop User Group meeting May 14. In addition to showing his traditional 2D methods,

Bert will also show new exciting 3D workflows for creative designers who want to learn about Photoshop CS4 Extended’s 3D capabilities. There are many simple 3D effects one can use for many different creative outputs that many people aren’t aware of and Bert will wow us with these techniques.

I caught Bert’s presentation on the topic at Photoshop World & can vouch for the strong audience reaction. Check out the SF PUG event page for complete details. [Via Jeff Tranberry]