Monthly Archives: July 2007

Great black & white, New York at night, & more

Beware your metadata trail

…at least if you’re planning to commit crimes.  The British Times Online reports that the EXIF metadata embedded in digital camera images could be used to track down whoever photographed each page of the final Harry Potter novel & uploaded it prior to the book’s release:

The information, known as Exchangeable Image File Format (Exif) data, has already revealed that the camera used was a Canon Rebel 350. Because the model is three years old, the device would likely have been serviced at least once since it was purchased, in which case the owner’s name would be known. [Via]

The reality in this case, I think, is that identifying and prosecuting the shooter would be difficult.  The camera owner would have had to have registered the camera and have had it serviced, and even with a name authorities would have to demonstrate that the person then used the camera to photograph the pages and upload the results.

Still, it’s another interesting example of digital devices recording more fingerprints than most people expect.  As devices get smarter, they’ll leave a longer trail of breadcrumbs–for better and for worse.  (How much info must be contained in an image from a GPS-enabled cellphone camera, for example?)

Adobe often ends up in a tug of war: some people really want to make metadata secure, while others want easy ways to strip it away.  Photographers seem most sensitive in this regard, wanting to ensure that their copyright info is preserved, while optionally stripping out revealing details of how, when, and where an image was captured.  On other occasions I’ve heard law enforcement folks wish aloud that Photoshop automatically inserted some trackable info into each file based on serial number.  (Don’t worry: that’s been met with an immediate, “Um yeeeah, noooo…”)

In any case, I think there’s some low-hanging fruit here.  We should offer a simple script that would let Bridge remove metadata from images, trusting that most people would use it for good & not for evil.  If you have other suggestions, please let us know.

Tracking graffiti with help from Flash, Google

The Graffiti Archaelogy project uses a Flash interface to let visitors navigate to different heavily tagged spots (links at left), then see the work at various stages (links at bottom).  Using the M & N keys to cruise back and forth in time, I’m reminded of watching time lapses of plant life exploding on a surface, dying, and being reborn.  Yesterday Adobe hosted a visit from project founder Cassidy Curtis, but I had to bail in order to avoid guys driving by the building at 180mph.  Fortunately has the whole backstory on the crew & project. [Via]

Elsewhere you can find a Google-powered map that tracks Seattle-area graffiti tagging.  The NYT talks about the way that mapping services are enabling people to plot all kinds of info, from hydrofoils around the world to yarn stores in Illinois.  (No progress yet in getting yarn graffiti pioneers Knitta Please to my hometown, I see.)

Grade-A Illustration

Linework in the key of A:


  • Celebrating the family’s big screen premiere, Harper’s Bazaar feautres a great spread of Simpsons Couture.  “Marge lets down her hair for Versace. Lisa gives up her pearls for Alber Elbaz. Homer dresses as Karl Lagerfeld. Selma & Patty in Viktor & Rolf.” [Via]
  • Illustrator Techniques demonstrates how to use the app to imitate A Scanner Darkly.  They also interview lead animator Sterling Allen. [Via Thorsten Wulff]



  • For the Audi A5, UK-based designers GT have created A Rhythm of Lines–a site that lets you create abstract car-related artwork (kinda; I find it a little obscure). [Via]
  • Car Design News is hosting a series of tutorials on car rendering, heavily using Photoshop. [Via]



  • Yukio Miyamoto is a master Illustrator artist, producing insanely detailed, photorealistic artwork.  Fellow artist Kevin Hulsey (himself a total badass) hosts a number of Yukio’s pieces.
  • Elsewhere in Japan, farmers make huge rice paddy renderings of famous artwork.  Arigato! [Via]

New typographical goodness

  • In Words Are Pictures, Craig Ward creates beautiful type treatments.  I especially like his A-Z ligatures and Lucha Libre. [Via]
  • The Photoshop Roadmap blog pulls together tutorials for The Best 80 Photoshop Text Effects on the Web.  "This guide includes 78 Photoshop tutorials and 2 impressive collections of Photoshop Actions, plus 3 books on the subject." [Via]
  • Digital Arts features a tutorial on making 3D type using Photoshop plus a 3D app.  I continue to look forward to a developer packaging simple 3D creation tools (extrusion, lighting, warping, etc.) as a plug-in for Photoshop Extended, so that all this stuff can be done in one place while staying re-editable. [Via]
  • Type purists might squirm a bit, but Macworld offers advice on bulking up your font collection quickly & affordably.

Hearing voices in Lightroom

James Duncan Davidson at Inside Lightroom has happened across a hidden little gem in the app–namely, the ability to play audio files attached to photos.  Some high-end cameras, especially those geared towards photojournalists (e.g. the Canon 1D Mk III), allow a shooter to record voice notes that get attached to images, becoming essentially part of the images’ metadata.  Lightroom 1.1 quietly introduced the ability to recognize & play these annotations. It’s a cool way to take notes in the field, then access them while reviewing photos.

In a related vein, Lightroom also recognizes embedded GPS metadata & offers the ability to display the location via Google Maps.  Ian Lyons has the details.

KYPSKBSC: Know Your Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts

Let your fingers do the rocking:

Stop motion, painting with light, & more

*Tangentially related: Last week we had a great visit with the Pixar folks, discussing how they use Photoshop today & how they’d like to see it evolve.  In talking about creating the lifelike rat movements in Ratatouille, they said, "Yeah, it was really tough gluing tiny ping pong balls onto those guys for the motion capture!  We tried marshmallows, but they kept eating ’em…"

Cool new infographics

  • The Internets, it’s well known, are a series of tubes. That reality is now depicted in this info graphic from Information Architects Japan, mashing up online players with a map of the Tokyo subway system.  Nice to see Adobe occupying what seems to be some sunny downtown space (“They continue to move towards the center of gravity without being too loud about it”).  More info on the project is here. [Via]
  • Edward Tufte celebrates the NYT infographics of Megan Jagerman in a detailed profile on his site. [Via]  Speaking of work done in the paper, this week they posted a cool Flash-based map of The Wealthiest Americans Ever, efficiently plotting net worth, rank, and life span.
  • CraigStatsSF combines data from Craigslist with Google Maps in order to produce heat maps that depict housing cost and density by region.  (Disclaimer: “We only identify with hotpockets which are tasty and lethal.”) [Via]
  • I don’t know whether it’s an infographic per se, and it’s hardly new, but Henrich Bunting’s 16th-century depiction of the world as a cloverleaf (joined at Jerusalem) is interesting enough to deserve mention. [Via]
  • Free Press features a visual representation of how AT&T has been reconstituted, T2-style, after being broken up in 1984. Somehow I keep hearing Johnny Rotten saying, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” [Via]
  • Update: Greg Dizzia has posted a chart that graphically depicts the details of every relationship he’s ever had. (Note: The chart is work-safe, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.) [Via]

GoLive->DW, 3D Flash buttons, more in Desn. Center

The Adobe Design Center returns with fresh updates:

New Dialog Box:

New Think Tank:

New Gallery:

New Tutorials:

Also, check out some of the 929 Adobe links on  Info on how to contribute links is here.  [Via]

Airplane bones in HDR; more

Super fly:

Photography from the Four Corners

Pagans, Spinners, and Mentos, oh my

  • "HWJR": How Would Jesus Roll? One man’s sacrilege is another’s act of devotion, as displayed through these illustrated Jesus rims. [Via]
  • File under "How [Not] to Win Friends and Influence Pagans": folks in England are displeased by the giant chalk Homer illustration. [Via]
  • The I Am Bored blog has amassed a great collection of CD hole art.  (I wonder whether CD art will someday be a collector’s item, as album art has become.) [Via] On a related note, a certain pharmaceutical has gotten a similar notion. (I suppose the pagans would approve.)
  • Mentos pioneers gumvertising, creating images out of the iconic little freshmakers. They have a site for creating your own images by drawing with gum, but it seems to be down at the moment.
  • The "Zebra memorial crossing" is meant to memorialize pedestrians who’ve been struck by cars, thereby making the streets safer.  Seemingly obvious irony: it appears to distract pedestrians at exactly the moment they’re in harm’s way.
  • I enjoy the work of Russian illustrator Gordei.  Not speaking Russian makes things that much more mysterious & intriguing. [Via]
  • Washroom iconography: Useful. Washroom iconography + wiseass labels: way better. [Via]

Great Star Wars-related art

Something about the Star Wars franchise continues to inspire all kinds of creativity:

Photoshop: Show us where it hurts

Faster performance is the best possible "feature": you don’t have to learn a thing in order to get the benefits.  Consequently, the Photoshop team is in a never-ending quest to make the application run as fast as possible.  What’s important to one person, however, may be irrelevant to another, and we need to do periodic reality checks to make sure we’re focusing on the right areas.

To that end we’ve created a survey to identify your priorities for improving the speed of Photoshop & Bridge.  Performance expert Adam Jerugim writes, "The survey is an opportunity
for users to give us – the Photoshop engineering team – specific feedback that we
can then use to make PS a better and more productive tool for everyone."  If you’ve got a couple of spare minutes (shouldn’t be more than 5), please let us know your priorities for making things faster.

Thanks in advance,

iPhone: Not just a cat toy anymore

I know, I know: the world needs more iPhone commentary like it needs another folk singer.  Having said that, I’m happy to have won a multi-week battle of wills with AT&T* and to have finally activated my iPhone.  Now instead of just using its shiny screen to create little reflection-pals for my cat to chase (which works great, by the way), I can get down to business.

I have to say, the iPhone is a tour de force.   Inevitable quibbles aside (too minor to detail here), both the interface and the industrial design are magnificent.  I’m not talking just about the well known UI innovations, such as green/yellow/red traffic conditions overlaid on a Google Map; I’m talking about things like a ringer on/off switch on the side.  It’s finding these little details done right that makes me beam.  Like an appreciative designer once said when pulling the handles in my VW: "Dampened… They didn’t have to do that… but they did."

So, hats off to everyone involved in designing and building the iPhone.  Thank you for giving a damn.  It’s an inspiration and a reminder of why we do what we do (we being anyone who aspires to go that extra mile for good design).


*One remaining fly in the ointment: Even though I’ve been auto-paying a ~$85 cell bill with AT&T for more than seven years–meaning that they’ve squeezed some $7,000 out of my pocket, without a single late payment–they required me to put down an $800 security deposit when switching my phone plan to accommodate the iPhone.  What exactly are they securing–my lasting animosity?  I will be sorting this out, but after 35 minutes on the phone with them just to make the switch, I had to get back to work.

Interactive Adobe video wall comes to NYC

According to an article in today’s NYT,

Adobe will unveil an interactive wall of projected animation [see video] this morning in Union Square, along the 14th Street side of the Virgin Megastore. As pedestrians walk past the wall, infrared sensors will lock on to the person closest to the wall, who will then be able to control a projected slider button at the bottom of the wall. As the selected pedestrian continues walking and moves the slider along, the wall will start displaying colorful animation and playing music, effects that will grow or recede at the pace that the person advances or retreats.

Measuring 95 square feet, and created by Goodby Silverstein working with animators at Brand New School and video peeps Obscura Digital,
the wall is meant to offer “a single and multiuser experience simultaneously.”  Gizmodo wants to see multitouch interactivity added to the project, saying “Sure, you’d probably wind up with more than a few obscene renderings, but it’s New York, people can handle it.”  (Yes, but could Adobe Corporate*? ;-))

I hope to get photos and videos from the unveiling to share.  If you know of any, please pass ’em along. [Update: Gothamist has posted a bit more info.]

*Then again, Bruce is from Brooklyn, so I imagine him remaining unfazed.

Time & space in photography

  • In honor of George Eastman‘s 153rd birthday (today), Slate features an interesting Magnum photo essay on the history of consumer picture-taking.
  • If Eastman were still with us, he’d make a great model for Mark Story’s Living in Three Centuries: The Face of Age. [Via]
  • Spanning 35 years to the day, Nick Ut brought the world a girl burned by napalm & a girl burned by herself.
  • Peter Kaplan shoots from great heights, including some eye-watering shots from atop World Trade Center. [Via]
  • Elsewhere in the air, in Me and My Human Vincent Laforet has captured a striking image from above the ice rink in Central Park.
  • Wired hosts selections from Edward Burtynsky‘s documentary about China’s superhuman rise & the human consequences thereof.  [Via David Harradine]

Free 177-page Lightroom 1.1 overview available

Martin Evening, photographer/author/apparent insomniac, has just released a 177-page supplement to The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book.  The supplement, in which Martin describes in detail all the new features found in Lightroom 1.1, is free not only to book owners, but to everyone. He writes,

I wanted to provide a free update for Lightroom 1.1 that would satisfy readers who had already bought the book as well as all those who hadn’t bought it yet but wanted to make sure they were up to speed on all the new program features.

The supplement is illustrated with 20MB of images and contains page cross references to the main book.  Lightroom News has the details on how to download the file from Peachpit.

Security update for Photoshop available

Adobe has posted a security update for Photoshop CS2 and CS3 that addresses a potential vulnerability reported earlier this year.  We’re not aware of anyone having been affected by the vulnerability, but obviously we don’t want to leave it unpatched, so it’s a good idea to take a minute to run this update.  It consists of revised versions of the plug-ins that read BMP, PNG, RLE, DIB, and Targa files.

This font goes to 10,116pt.

  • The designers at Pentagram talk about how they created a giant NY Times logo (10,116-point Fraktur) for the publisher’s new headquarters.  Interestingly, each letter is comprised of numerous small, three-dimensional “beaks” that enhance the sign’s visibility from the street.  [Via]
  • How about lettering via “military-like technology for criminal mischief”?  We Make Money Not Art hosts an interview with the Institute for Applied Autonomy.  Their Streetwriter is a giant printer disguised as a cargo van, while GraffitiWriter offers radio-controlled pranking:

    “Studies have shown that in nearly 100% of the cases, a given agent of the public will willing participate in high profile acts of vandalism, given the opportunity to do so via mediated tele-robotic technology.”

  • From the Ministry of Silly Type Tricks: Flip text using Unicode. [Via]
  • Graffiti artist “Eine” has painted a set of very cool East End Shopfront Letters. They can be assembled into words via this little app. [Via]

[Update: In response to Ramón Castañeda’s comment below, Thomas Phinney replies, "Ramón is right. Fraktur typefaces usually have a forked top to the ascenders (h, k, etc.), more curves in the lowercase (less rigidly hexagonal shapes than Textura), and all (not just some) of the caps will have curvy or squiggly shapes replacing vertical lines.  This page even shows the NYT logo among the Textura samples, an unexpected bonus).  Not that I think this is a big deal, by the way. If the worst typographic errors we have to worry about were people confusing different styles of blackletter, we’d be in pretty good shape. :)"]


Lightroom Podcasts #34, 35

Adobe Pro Photography Evangelist George Jardine is back in the podcast saddle, offering up image- and video-enhanced insights into the personalities behind Lightroom, as well as tips on using the tools themselves.

In podcast #34 (a 7-minute video tutorial), Geroge demonstrates Lightroom’s handy "Refine Photos" command.  Here’s a brief overview of the feature (not a prerequisite for watching, but maybe handy for reference):

Refine photos is a tool used during "editing" with pick and reject flags. Once you have gone through all your photos and marked some as picks and others as rejects, choosing the Refine Photos menu item does these three things:

  • Sets all unflagged photos to Rejects
  • Sets all Picks to unflagged
  • Turns on unflagged and pick filters, so that rejects disappear
    from view

The idea is to help you narrow down an edit. Let’s say you’re looking for one good photo. Or 10. First go through your photos and mark the best shots (assuming there are more than 10). Then choose Refine Photos. This sets all the unflagged photos to reject status, and hides them using the filter. It also sets the photos flagged with the Pick flag back to unflagged…. so that you can repeat the process. Now go back through them again… and pick your best ones out of this "refined" group. Then choose Refine Photos again. Until you’re down to 10. Or whatever your target is.  This feature can work in conjunction with the "Delete Rejected Photos" command (Command-Delete)…. if you wish to actually remove the rejected photos from disk. 

In episode #35, George chats with Lightroom engineer Eric Scouten:

This podcast was recorded on Thursday, April 26th, 2007 at Adobe offices in Seattle, WA. Eric sits down with George to have a conversation about Lightroom 1.0, improvements in 1.1, about Eric’s photography, and how his personal methods of photo organization have played a role in the development of Lightroom’s database strategy.

Both podcasts, as well as previous editions, are available via George’s iDisk.

Let there be light (emitting diodes)

  • The latest Diesel runway show features holographic fashion critters cavorting with self-serious models. [Via]  Seems like it would go well with this video dress. [Via]
  • The LEDs of the Nocturne installation use less energy than a domestic dishwasher, yet they light the length of the Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge with 16.5 million colours; makes me think the Adobe HQ-mounted San José Semaphore could stand a splash of chroma.
  • United Visual Artists use LEDs to create some really impressive displays at concerts and elsewhere.
  • Lichtfaktor paints with light, in the spirit of Picasso.  Click through for some witty, beautiful stuff. [Via]  It inspires me to fool around with Photoshop’s new paint-on-video features, combined with the various Lighten/Dodge/Add blend modes.  On a related note, see previous: Pikapika lightning doodle project; Graffiti Research Labs’ giant laser.
  • Tripping the light envelope: Japanese artist Kohei Nawa’s PixCell deer is festooned with glass beads, giving it a second skin.  More objects in the series are here.
  • Frank Buchwald has designed a pretty foxy lamp (with kind of a wormy-Matrix-sentinel-thing happening). [Via]
  • rAndom international’s light printing machine crawls the wall, leaving an impermanent trace.
  • CNET says that paper-thin LEDs are coming soon, opening all kinds of new possibilities.

New Dr. Brown scripts for Photoshop

Adobe’s resident character-in-chief Russell Brown has unveiled a new revision to his popular set of image-processing scripts for Photoshop.  Downloadable from his site (installers for Mac, Win), these latest scripts buff up an already robust set of tools.  Numerous enhancements to the Image Processor that ships with CS3 are visible in the 1-2-3 Process tutorial movie.  In the Stack-A-Matic movie you can see an automated way to blend images using stack modes, as well as useful keyboard shortcuts installed by the script.  The core functions run in both Photoshop and Photoshop Extended, while the stack- and time-based functions work only with Extended.  The scripts are free for download.

Sunday Photography: Keep your chimp-hand strong

I’ve recently come across some round-ups of great photos:

Recent Flash goodness

  • Glacéau Vitamin Water features an interesting way to cruise through a set of products.  The visual simplicity belies nice attention to detail (e.g. blurring as objects recede in space).  I could live without the browbeating Brit, though. [Via]
  • Mötto Agency: Umlauts & yodeling, oh my. They even make "mystery meat" navigation work. [Via]
  • Not speaking French won’t keep you from appreciating The Birth of Cornelius. [Via]
  • On Little Deviant, you swat and swipe the gray "Sheeple" to power your Scion ride.  It’s a groovy blend of 3D, video, and interactive elements. [Via]
  • Adobe engineer Rob Corell points out this cool recursive blur technique.  I could swear I did something like this way back in the day using Director.  In any case, I really like seeing Flash continue to evolve beyond the traditional "Flash aesthetic."

Slimbox & more Flash galleries for Lightroom

Matthew Campagna, a kindergarten teacher in South Korea, has modified the slick, lightweight (7kb), JavaScript-powered Slimbox Web gallery for Lightroom, offering it as a free download from his site.  Here’s a sample gallery generated using the template.  The site features installation instructions (straightforward once you know the file path, but something I’d like to make one-click easy in the future), as well as details on hacking the template for more options. [Via Richard Earney of]

Elsewhere, is devoted to just what you’d imagine.  I’m enjoying the LRG FlashFlex gallery.  It has some wonky qualities, and I’m not sure what purpose the draggability of images is supposed to serve, but fortunately it’s possible to tweak these parameters inside Lightroom (e.g. disabling dragging).  Use the installation instructions mentioned above to find the path to your templates folder. [Via]

If you know of other good Lightroom templates, please let me know.

3D cars, in Flash & otherwise

Going Lightroom -> iPhone

James Duncan Davidson has figured out an easy way to carry one’s photo selects around on an iPhone: By setting up a synched folder in iTunes (which manages what goes onto the phone), you can export JPEGs from Lightroom and have them automatically appear on the phone.  By saving an export preset, you can make this a one-click operation.  More info is in James’s post. [Via]

As I remain stuck on my phone’s activation screen (I’m starting to think that the AT&T logo is some kind of ball gag), I can’t confirm the steps myself, but they sound straightforward.  Also, if you’re a Photoshop Elements on Windows, you can synch easily; Apple shares the details here.

Blowin' up real good

While getting frozen yogurt the other night, I observed a posse* of little boys–maybe 5 or 6 years old–swarming around a small pink "Little Mermaid"-themed chair.  They were goading one of their little buddies to body slam himself into the chair, chanting "Dooo it, dooo it… Destroy IT, destroy IT!!"  Ah, the complete purity of that human impulse to see some stuff smashed all to hell.

In honor of today’s American holiday devoted, in some part, to that impulse:

  • Gene Gable features some cool vintage Fourth of July artwork on
  • Similar goodness comes from American U.  Go heavy or go home, right?
  • The NYT hosts a slideshow from explosives summer camp in Missouri. Adios, watermelon. (Here’s the accompanying article).
  • In the spirit of fire-breathing, wheel-popping patriotism, check out these shots from a Wisconsin tractor pull (recalling a little slice of my youth).  Not pictured: Sierra Club reps.
  • Not tied to the Fourth, but in the vein of vintage artwork, check out these fruit crate designs. [Via]  (See also previous.)
  • Update: For more bombs bursting in air, see Man, all this really makes me miss summer car trips as a kid, where we could buy legally questionable goodies from web-footed Southerners by the roadside. [Via]

Happy (and grudgingly safe) Fourth,

*What would the correct term (a la "pride of lions") be? Gaggle of boys? Hootenany? Fisticuff?

Multitouch, real & imagined

  • MIT’s Technology Review features multi-touch UI pioneer Jeff Han in a new video.  He talks about ways these screens can get around the "thin straw" of keyboard mouse input; the potential for better storyboarding applications; and more.
  • Mark Coleran has carved out what seems to be a pretty cool gig, designing computer interfaces shown in movies.  His design for a table in The Island resembles the Microsoft Surface concept. [Via]  Mark’s work reminds me of the time we visited the set of one of the CSI shows and met the folks responsible for those Director-powered graphics–you know, the ones that convince average viewers that computers can read The Iliad reflected off the head of a pin.  Thanks a lot for that, guys. 😉
  • Meanwhile the interface of the iPhone I picked up on Saturday remains a completely imaginary one: thanks to AT&T, I can’t activate the damn thing with my corporate cell number, which means I can’t get past the welcome screen.  Note to self: the whole sequence of
    1. Get all excited, buy lovely, seductive gizmo
    2. Figure out whether said gizmo can actually be used with phone number, work email, etc.

    should actually be reversed.  Gah. This would be that bleeding edge I’ve heard so much about. (It does feel great in one’s hand, however. ;-P)

Sunday typography

Of Dilbert, Hipsters, & Samurai Hamsters

  • Dilbert creator Scott Adams has posted descriptions & photos of how he draws Dilbert in Photoshop via a Cintiq monitor. [Via]
  • Oogmerk Opticians show how overconceptualized eye furniture can make anyone look like a hipster.  (Too bad one of the "after" images isn’t labeled "Adobe UI Designer." ;-))
  • Through Christopher Koelle’s blog I found Justin Gerard, who has created a heck of a portfolio featuring Samurai Hamsters and more.
  • In Holland a coke-addled driver created some impromptu land art (illustration of a sort) while trying to evade police. [Via Reen Bodo]  Elsewhere fruit flies make their own weird illustrations when exposed to cocaine. [Via]
  • I love the illustrations on these White Stripes limited-edition USB thumb drives, featuring Jack, Meg, or both. [Via]
  • The Strange Maps blog features and interesting map of the US, with states labeled according to countries with similar gross domestic products. [Via]  And on a related note–and back on the Lego tip–kids are creating a massive Lego map of the US.
  • Iconfactory offers a beautiful set of Dia de lost Muertos icons. [Via]