Monthly Archives: January 2012

Julieanne Kost's "Passing Time"

Our globetrotting photo evangelist has created a slideshow of images taken during her travels.

I would not expect the images to hold the same significance to you, the viewer, as they did for me. But that is not the point.

I am sharing this slideshow to encourage every image-maker to begin a visual journal for themselves – as a personal project. I am a firm believer that you have to exercise your creativity and you have to practice in order to improve.  So when I found myself in a rut last year, I started capturing images that were meaningful to me –  purely because I wanted to, for my own reasons – not because I think someone else is going to “like” it. And I had a delightful time.


Russell Brown on night photography

Russell speaks highly of Jim Goldstein’s work:

The next next thing is going to be Long Exposure Night Photography! I recently attended one of Jim Goldstein’s night photography workshops and I was influenced to take the path to the DARK SIDE. Night photography is really amazing and Jim’s latest book lays out all the details for the beginner, to the advanced geek, who hangs around large telescope arrays. I’m not a super techno nerd, and I love a book that show you how to do something without a lot of magic incantations that make your brain explode. I highly recommend Jim’s latest digital book.

Design tools: Gesty & UI Toolkit

Of potential interest to Web/screen designers:

  • Gesty is a set of vector gesture icons useful for UI/UX designers, manuals publishers and many other creators.” $4.99 [Via]
  • The $8 UI Toolkit offers “20 Photoshop Styles, 94 Vector Glyphs, 40 Background Patterns, Shadow Creator Action, 130 Custom Shapes, 10 Ring Indicators, 10 High-Res Photo Textures, 34 Common UI Symbols.” [Via Jason Santa Maria]

Glimpses of Guatemala

In brief, stand-out things I saw in my first few hours: A bus with the Virgin Mary on the side and a Confederate flag in the back window; a truck whooshing up on me and displaying a crowd of peeing cows with Stars of David branded on their rumps; another bus whose windshield featured a three-eyed graffiti smiley face above a bunch of unpatched bullet holes; and hopped-up paramilitary pickups laden with soliders and emblazoned with the word “Quiche” (gourmet troopers?).
I snagged photos (of very uneven quality) of some of this and hope to share them soon. I’m finding, though, that photo-editing workflows on iPad remain about as graceful as a toddler–full of both promise & constant painful wipeouts.

Robo-publishing engage in 3, 2,…

Well, the day has come, and I’m off to Guatemala. Thanks for all the kind wishes of support & great camera advice! (I ended up grabbing a Nikon 1 from the Photoshop QE folks, but clearly the market is full of excellent choices.)
I promise I’ll try hard to unplug and fully engage with the experience. I’m really trying to tell myself I can get by with just an iPad, though until I’m in the air my hand will keep flying up, Strangelove-style, to grab my Mac.
Regarding the blog, I’ve queued up daily content to carry through to the end of January. After that, it’s likely to be radio silence for a few days at least (well, unless I have some downtime and write up a–DOWN, hand!!).
Catch you on the flipside,
PS–Sorry if your comments get caught in the moderation queue for excessively long periods. I’ll try to check it when I can.

Astrophotography: Comet Lovejoy

Here’s a “Night Time Lapse of Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) rising above the Andes near Santiago de Chile, 23rd December 2011, just before sunrise. Set of 4 sequences taken with different lenses “zooming in” the scene.” The sequences grow more visually impressive over time, though having just watched “Melancholia,” I found the object’s steady growth a bit unnerving.


A Muybridge homage done with stock photos


The creator writes,

“After Muybridge” is a loop made from 12 stock photographs that are sequenced to re-create the locomotion of a galloping horse. The animation was modeled after one of Eadweard Muybridge’s most famous motion studies called “Daisy”. I sifted through over 5,000 digital images to find 12 that matched his original photos.

The Internet allows me to access the over-abundance of everyday photographs, taken of everyday things, in every possible position. By collecting enough images of any one thing, including a running horse, I can place them in an order to re-invent or re-animate life.

[Via Jim Heid]

Ostensible bonus, sort of conceptually similar:


Photojournalism & the power of time

One of the great pleasures of my job is getting to meet kickass artists of all stripes. This past summer I got to visit SWAT-cop-turned-photojournalist Bruce Haley at his home at the bottom of Big Sur’s Bixby Canyon. When I asked his advice about photographing people during my upcoming trip, he pointed me to an interview in which he provides some solid perspective. I’ve bolded a line that distills some of my hopes.

BH:  We spoke earlier about doing projects on my own dime…  what this buys me, in addition to the aforementioned freedom and independence, is time  –  the time I need to make people comfortable with my presence…

I don’t sneak any of my images, I never use a telephoto, I don’t do the “spray and pray” thing…  I spend time with the people I photograph, I hang out with them, get drunk with them, they invite me to their weddings, to funerals, whatever…  in extreme cases, like working in very closed societies like the most marginalized of the Roma, it took even more of that luxury of time…

First of all, I had to locate the camps or settlements that I wanted to shoot…  then I had to approach the camp, as a most unwelcome outsider, and not only try to convince them to allow me to shoot there, but to be relaxed enough with my presence that I could be that proverbial fly-on-the-wall that I aspire to be when I’m working…  and with the Roma especially, all of this was difficult, and I had some failures, but in the end I found some places where it all clicked…

Once I had the initial permission, I would ease into the situation very slowly, hoping to raise the comfort bar as high as possible..  I would show up without a single camera and just hang out…  maybe come back the next day with my camera bag, but never take a camera out…  next time come back and wear a camera around my neck, but not shoot anything… and all the while learning about the people, as individuals, so that my images would hopefully depict them as individuals, and not just as symbols of some sort of marginalized group…  then, finally, after all of this, beginning to shoot…  this easing in, getting extremely wary people accustomed to my presence prior to my making a single image, is a luxury of time, certainly, but better to have this level of trust and comfort as opposed to just walking into a situation, motor drive blazing, then beating a hasty retreat and hoping you got something…

Here Andrei Codrescu & Bruce speak about Bruce’s Sunder project:

So, what camera would you take to Guatemala?

I usually shoot with a Canon 5D plus a 24-70mm lens. Given the size & weight of that setup, I’m looking for an alternative. I also have a Canon S95, but I don’t love its shutter lag, and I wish I could get closer to the quality offered by a large sensor. Considerations:

  • I don’t want to look like an ostentatious jerk.
  • I don’t want to hang a “rob me” sign around my neck.
  • I’d like great low-light performance for shooting people indoors.
  • Zoom is fairly unimportant.

The Photoshop QE team has quite a few cameras to choose from, including a new Nikon 1. A friend seems quite enamored of his Fuji X100, and the local camera store guys like the Lumix DMC-GX1. I’m open to suggestions, especially if there’s something really solid I should consider renting. Thanks in advance for any ideas.

Recharging my spiritual batteries

I am a lucky, lucky man.

I’m blessed with a wonderful wife, amazing kids, and a great job. For the last 12 years I’ve somehow gotten paid to spend time with terrifically bright people (customers & colleagues), helping to build the tools I love.

I’m ashamed, though, that I don’t appreciate these things the way I should. Too often over the last few years, I’ve been fried or worse. How can I change that?

Adobe wisely encourages employees to take a sabbatical* every five years. I’ve decided to take a belated one starting today, and on Friday I’m heading to Guatemala to do a couple weeks of service work** through Cross-Cultural Solutions.  I have no delusions about saving the world myself, much less in two weeks.  If I can improve my perspective, though, making myself more grateful and perceptive, I’ll count this time as a great success.

I’m still figuring out just how active I’ll keep the blog in my absence.  I have this crazy fear of/aversion to the prospect of letting people down, of wasting your time by failing to keep content flowing. (I mean, what sane, balanced person would stoke this damn fire every day? ;-)) Maybe that’s part of the perspective I need to gain: the world won’t end without me or my blog. Still, though, I have a big backlog I can queue up…

I’ll ping you with a few travel photography ideas and questions over the next few days–then hit the trail.

Incidentally, I happened upon this quotation today (via Wordsmith) and found it appropriate:

I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs. -Frederick Douglass, Former slave, abolitionist, editor, and orator (1817-1895)


*Sabbatical length depends on length of service; the longer you’ve worked here, the longer the time off. My current “10 year” one runs for five weeks.

**These things aren’t cheap, and I thought about soliciting donations to support my trip. Truth is, though, many people and causes need help much more urgently. If the spirit moves you, please consider supporting CCS so that another person can volunteer, or support another worthwhile NGO (Doctors Without Borders being my favorite). Thanks!

Lightroom 4 demo/Q&A and more this Tuesday

The San Jose user group meets Tuesday (pizza starting at 6:30) at Adobe HQ. [Update: A similar event is happening Tuesday in Seattle.]

First, exciting news! Lightroom 4 public beta is now available as a free download! Join Lightroom Product Manager Sharad Mangalick as he walks us through the new features in Lightroom 4 beta.

Lightroom 4 has something for those starting out, as well as more advanced users. The team has been working on new features like the geo-tagging map module, DSLR video support, photo book creation and much more.

Next, we will hear from professional photographer John Lund. John has been using Photoshop for over twenty years. He will share his work, how it has changed over the years, and, just as importantly, how it has remained the same. He will show his favorite work, share some before and after images and discuss how he gets his ideas as well as explaining his approach to creating new photographic realities.


Please see the invite for details & to RSVP.


VSCO Film for Lightroom & Camera Raw

VSCO Film promises to emulate classic film looks with minimal effort. The product “utilizes camera specific film profiles to alter the way Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw sees your RAW file.” Check it out:

Photographer Jeremy Cowart writes, “I consider myself to be a Photoshop purist. I hate all things actions/filters/presets, etc. But because I liked these guys so much, I decided to look into it more. Then I was blown away…” His post features numerous sample images produced with these tools.

Free Russell Brown photo workshops in LA

Russell Brown & artist Bonny Pierce Lhotka are presenting a couple of free half-day workshops next weekend (Jan. 21-22nd) in Los Angeles. [Update: I’m told that the classes are now sold out.]

Russell will lead the class in an introduction to using mobile software Apps with lots of opportunity for creative expression!  Props, costumes, tin-type backgrounds, printed backgrounds and a professional lighting kit by Westcott will be made available to help students take fantastic mobile photos. […]

Bonny will teach the “cooking” of aluminum plates to create antiques surfaces that look decades old.  After distressing, washing and cooking the plates, participates will compose and alter both the plate and the image that has been printed on a transfer film.

New upgrade options for CS3 and CS4 customers

In November Adobe announced Creative Cloud subscriptions, a new combination of CS desktop apps, cloud services, and touch tools. Unfortunately, on the whole we’ve done a poor job of explaining the real benefits to customers, leading to considerable confusion & concern. I’m sorry for the pain that’s resulted.

First, let’s be clear: Adobe does well when you do well.  Subscriptions have to be good for customers, or they’re not going to be good for Adobe–period.

What sucks is that the very real advantages of subscriptions (most notably, faster access to feature improvements) have gotten drowned out by the perceived disadvantages.  The whole story is clumsy because Adobe hasn’t announced a CS6 version, or any real details about pricing, etc.  Now’s not the time for that (sorry–I wish we could share more right now), so I can only ask for your patience.  Subscriptions will be more interesting & attractive than you might think, so please stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I’m pleased to say that Adobe has announced a new introductory upgrade offer for customers using CS3/CS4:

  • The old deal: If you were on CS4 or earlier at the time CS6 shipped, getting a subscription would be the only way to upgrade to CS6.
  • The new deal: If you’re on CS3 or CS4 when CS6 ships, you’ll have until the end of 2012 to upgrade to CS6.  You can of course choose a subscription option, and we think you’ll want to.
  • Bottom line: During 2012, you don’t have to buy CS5 just to buy CS6.

As I say, please do stay tuned, and please let us know what you think.


[Update in response to comments below: If you recently purchased CS 5.5 and have questions/concerns about that order in relation to this upgrade announcement, please contact customer service so that they can assist you.]


The Icon Handbook

Designer Jon Hicks (famous for things like creating the Firefox icon via Fireworks) has written The Icon Handbook:

I’ve set out to create the manual, reference guide and coffee table book that I always desired… Along the way, I talk to icon designers such as Susan Kare, David Lanham and Gedeon Maheux of the Iconfactory and many more about their process behind well known icons.

The book promises to get into technical details, too, as in this excerpt about using fonts in lieu of bitmaps to present icons. I can’t wait to get a copy.

Adobe Carousel renamed "Adobe Revel"

From the Carousel Revel team:

We originally chose the name Adobe Carousel because it was descriptive of core functionality in the product – access to all your photos on any device (i.e., viewing photographs in a circular manner, like a carousel).

Revel means to take great pleasure or delight…and that’s what we hope to do in the future as we continue to add more functionality and fun to the app. In the future, you can expect we will also be able to offer additional photography solutions on the newly named Adobe Revel platform.

The app has also been updated to v1.1, enabling automatic photo import, adding Flickr sharing, and polishing a few other details.

Download the Lightroom 4 beta

I’m delighted to say that exactly six years after the first Lightroom public beta debuted,a preview of Lightroom 4.0 is available for download from Adobe Labs. Anyone can download and work with the beta (i.e. there’s no serial number requirement).

Feature highlights:

  • Robust video support
  • Manage images by location with the Map Module
  • Simplified basic adjustments
  • Powerful new Shadow & Highlight controls
  • Additional local adjustments including Noise Reduction and White Balance
  • Soft proofing reinvented
  • Elegant photo book creation
  • Email from directly within Lightroom
  • Publish videos directly to Facebook or Flickr
  • Enhanced DNG workflows
  • Adobe Revel (Carousel) export workflow


Check out Tom Hogarty’s Lightroom Journal post for many more details, and browse Julieanne Kost’s video overviews for in-depth demos.  The NAPP folks have put together a Lightroom 4 launch center, highlighting Scott Kelby’s favorite features & more, and Tom has pulled together a list of more great resources covering LR4.


InfoWorld names PhoneGap 2012 Technology of the Year

Today Adobe’s open-source HTML5 app platform, PhoneGap, was named a 2012 Technology of the Year Award recipient by IDG’s InfoWorld Test Center:

Selected by editors and reviewers from the InfoWorld Test Center, the annual awards identify the best and most innovative products on the IT landscape that were tested in the past year and PhoneGap was selected for being the leading open source mobile framework for cross-platform app development.


Mind-blowing 3D projection

What the… what??

It was all shot in single takes, recorded in real time:

In the past, projection mapping worked only from a single, static view point, and thus was very limited. By attaching the PlayStation Move to the camera, we can track projections to screens in real time, enhancing the effect of spatial deformation and false perspective on the projections and allowing viewers to look round (virtual) corners, bend walls, create a hole in the wall, or remove the walls altogether to reveal vast expanses of virtual worlds.

Check out the fascinating making-of piece:

[Via Felix Baum]

Instagram improves Facebook integration

Ah, this sounds nice:

Starting today, when you choose to share Instagram photos to Facebook, your images will automatically be added to an “Instagram Photos” Facebook album visible to your Facebook friends!

The photos will appear full-sized in the News Feed along with the caption that you’ve added to the Instagram photo, and a link to the image’s public URL. This change will also display your Instagram photos beautifully in your timeline.

I’d been pestering my former Lightroom colleague Troy Gaul (whose Instagallery for iPad you should download) to try to hack together some mechanism for making this work. Instead he tipped me off to this enhancement.

Now, if only I could find a solution to keep my Instagram-originated tweets from appearing alongside Instagram-originated FB postings… (My tweets are replicated on FB, but that method doesn’t provide inline photos, so I choose to share via both and thus get duplicates.) It’s hardly a big deal, though.

New Photoshop GuideGuide panel eases grid-work

Check it out:

Dealing with grids in Photoshop is a pain.

With GuideGuide, it doesn’t have to be. Pixel accurate columns, rows, midpoints, and baselines can be created based on your document or marquee with the click of a button. Frequently used guide sets can be saved for repeat use. Grids can use multiple types of measurements. Best of all it’s free. Honestly, if you haven’t started downloading it by now, you’re probably a masochist. Weirdo…

[Via Gary Greenwald]