Monthly Archives: July 2008

Thursday Illustrations: Human mirrors & more UI hints on CNET

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk ad nauseam about the need to better manage Photoshop’s complexity.  We need to give you the power to make the app “everything you want, nothing you don’t.”  Last week Stephen Shankland from CNET asked what kind of progress we’re making, especially in the context of the more task-based interface of Ligthroom.  I disclosed some details that appear in his article:


Adobe is taking a page from the Lightroom specialization playbook for Photoshop by trying to make it more customizable to specific users and tasks. But in contrast with Lightroom, company is trying to do so without sacrificing the software’s general-purpose nature, said John Nack, [principal] product manager for Photoshop.


“We want to make it possible to be everything you want and nothing you don’t,” Nack said. “One of the tough things has been dealing with the enormous breadth of Photoshop. We end up presenting same interface to architects as we do to Web designers as radiologists as prepress folks.”


To achieve that goal, Photoshop’s interface will become more open-ended and even programmable, he said.


“You’ll see some of the things we’ve learned about Lightroom–making things browsable and less modal–come into Photoshop,” Nack said. In other words, it’ll be easier to shift Photoshop from one task to another.


With a “Configurator” application that should be released by Adobe Labs within a month or two of release the next version of Photoshop, Adobe will let users create and share their own Photoshop control panels written in Adobe’s Flash programming language, Nack added. “Our goal is to make it possible for expert users to reconfigure the environment on a task-by-task basis and share those workspaces with other people. You don’t have to write code. You can knock together an interface and make it sharable.”


As I’ve written previously, using Flash in the Suite isn’t about slathering the UI in a bunch of blinky banner ads; rather, it’s about giving people an easy way to connect, tune, & extend their work environments.  The AIR-based Configurator app is just one way to build these UI elements–one that lets you Lego-together functionality without writing code, then easily share the output.  The tool isn’t ready to take a bow yet, but it’s coming along really nicely & I’m looking forward to showing what it can do.


[Related/previous: Future Photoshop UI changes]

Lightroom, ACR support D700

A number of people have written in to ask when Lightroom and Camera Raw will support the brand-new Nikon D700.  Good news: they already do–unofficially–in Lightroom 2.0/Camera Raw 4.5.  Unofficial support simply means that you can view and edit D700-generated NEF files normally, but because the camera is so new, Adobe QE folks haven’t tested it to the point that they feel comfortable declaring official support.  The DNG Converter can convert D700 NEFs so that they can be used in LR 1.4, Photoshop CS2, and other DNG-enabled tools.


Note: LR2/ACR 4.5 add official support for the Olympus E 420 and E 520.

Great space photography o' the day

  • Happy 50th birthday, NASA! [Via]
  • The Big Picture features some excellent images of man on the Moon–both past and future.  (I’ve gotta get one of those ATHLETE vehicles for a future Death Valley outing.)  They also feature recent volcanic activity.
  • The Hubble recently spotted–er, spied–Jupiter’s Great Red Spot eating the "Baby Red Spot."  More beautiful high-res shots of Jupiter & its moons–including amazing shots of volcanoes in action–are here.
  • VAMP, the Virtual Astronomy Multimedia Project, aims to "vastly multiply the use of, astronomy image resources… by systematically linking resource archives worldwide."  The Astronomy Visualization Metadata (AVM) standard they’ve devised works builds on Adobe’s XMP technology. [Via Robert Hurt]

Lightroom 2 is here!

I’m delighted to report that the 64-bit native Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0 is now shipping for Mac and Windows.  LR2 sells for $299 ($99 upgrade), and the 30-day tryout version is available for immediate download.


Tom Hogarty has posted a wealth of info on the Lightroom Journal blog, so I won’t attempt to duplicate everything here.  Instead let me note some highlights:


  • The Develop module now includes a highly useful gradient tool (screenshot), offering power similar to working with real-world graduated filters.
  • Lightroom News offers a detailed list of all the improvements made since the introduction of the LR2 public beta.
  • LR supports external editor presets, enabling easy jumps to/from apps like Noise Ninja and PTLens.  Thus Lightroom handily matches Aperture 2.1’s ballyhooed plug-in support, while offering far superior Photoshop integration plus non-destructive localized image adjustment.
  • Adobe Labs now hosts the new DNG Profile Editor.  This is a big deal.  In brief:
    • It enables the rendering you get in LR (or in Camera Raw) to match what your camera renders as JPEGs–frequently a pleasing starting point for adjustments.  As photographer Ian Lyons writes, with these profiles you can “approximate the in-camera JPEG rendering as well as the various styles and looks provided either in-camera or via the camera vendor’s own software solution.”
    • It offers demanding photographers a new degree of control for finessing the appearance of colors (e.g. skin tones).
    • In other words, we can put a fork in assertions of “Raw converter X looks like what I see on the back of my camera, so it must be more accurate than what Adobe shows” and “I just can’t get look/tone/value X in LR/ACR.”  Expect to hear more soon.
  • Camera Raw 4.5 for Photoshop CS3 (Mac | Win) has been released & offers full support for rendering edits made with LR2 as well as profiles created with the Profile Editor.


Tons of resources are going live now, so I’ll post links to what I’ve seen so far:



I’ll update this list as more links go live.  In the meantime feel free to suggest resources via the comments.

Killer animations o' the day

  • Despite finding it some time ago, I’ve been avoiding blog The Art of the Title Sequence, knowing that it would likely take over my life.  Sure enough, it’s loaded with good stuff.  Check out the beautiful titles for El Don, whipped up by Santiago artists Smog.  I saw motion graphics pioneer Kyle Cooper (SE7EN, etc.) speak years ago and remember him saying that every frame should hold up on its own as graphic design.  This piece aces that test.  (For unrelated goodness, see Smog’s “monkey-headed dancing guy” (or whatever “un mono bailarín” is).)
  • Motion artist PES creates incredible stop-motion films using found objects.  KaBoom and Western Spaghetti are particularly great (c’mon, Candy Corn as flames?).  Check out his work before People for the Ethical Treatment of Upholstery shut him down. [Via John Peterson & Maria Brenny, “Because (re: KaBoom) I know what you do in the desert”]
  • My Drive Thru is a new stop-motion video for Converse, produced by the team at Psyop.  Behind the scenes, Pharrell Williams talks about rescuing Chuck Taylors from the taint of Punky Brewster, and Glossy interviews the Psyop crew while posting some high-res stills. [Via]
  • Superfad has kicked out a trio of stylish ads for Sprint.  The Hurricane Katrina spot is particularly worth a look.  

Where It's At (turntables, microphone optional)

GPS-related photo bits:


  • Bridge geotagger is a free script that "allows you to inspect, set and/or edit GPS data embedded in photos using a Google Maps interface. It uses the embedded Opera HTML engine in Bridge to display Google Maps."  Very cool, though developer Aldo Hoeben describes it as more technology demo than a full-fledged tool.
  • Firing up the Exposure Flickr-browsing app on my iPhone the other day, I discovered the nearest geotagged image is of "¡Chavelas!," described as "A delicious blend of Modelo, lime juice and a shot of tequila in a
    frozen pimp chalice!"  Thank you, intercontinental technology network, for making my neighborhood seem cool for a minute.
  • Previously: Did you know that Lightroom can call up a Google map to show the coordinates in your images?  So, for that matter, can Photoshop Elements.
  • What about images that lack coordinates?  Can a computer accurately guess where something was shot?  That’s the goal of Carnegie Mellon’s IM2GPS project.  Check out this CNET story for a good summary. [Via Doug Nelson]


Off to look for neighborhood pimp chalices on a Friday eve,


Write Here, Right Now: Font vids o' the day


  • Font Conference Disrupted by Kidnapper: "In a shocking development, Ransom hijacked the conference’s AV system and interrupted the contentious debate with a threat to Courier and his daughter, Curlz MT."  Deeply, deeply nerdy… but funny & well done.  Check out the video. (I’m gonna look at Futura in a whole new light.)
  • Write Here, Right Now: Gemma O’Brien (?) is a true woman of letters.  Now she’s posted the making-of video.  Yeah, that’s gonna leave a mark.

War, suicide, fire… and t-shirts

Mid-week photography:


  • Death & destruction:
    • Photojournalist Warren Zinn reflects on the photo that made Army medic Joseph Dwyer famous, and wonders whether it contributed to the troubled vet’s death last month.
    • Kottke features the disarmingly placid image Robert Wiles captured immediately after Evelyn McHale leapt to her death from the observation deck of the Empire State Building in 1947.  (Warhol later made it into a print.)
    • The Big Picture features some spectacular wildfire imagery from recent California blazes.
  • Find giclée paseé? Try printing on grass instead.  (Just don’t ask us to soft-proof it.)  [Via Doug Nelson]
  • Beware sketchy, sketchy photogs.
  • I never saw them while living in snowy Illinois, Boston, or NY, but CA roads are full of stick-on "Botts dots."  They’re now available as part of a complete breakfast.
  • Make mine intermediated: Photo nation.

*Real* Real-World Photoshop, Vitruvian Wookies, and more

  • In his Tell a Lie project, Henry Hadlow "uses a camera to mimic common Photoshop effects."  Killer! [Via Paul McJones]
  • Vader Crossing the Delaware: On Worth1000, P-shoppers mash up Star Wars with fine art.  Surveying a couple of the pieces, Bryan Hughes remarked, "Man, that is some seriously disturbing stuff. Sort of like Joe Satriani for the eyes …which is to say that, yeah, I know there’s crazy talent there… but what a way to misuse it!" [Via Dave Dobish]
  • Green Patriot Posters bring kick-ass poster art to the fight against climate change.  Nick Snyder writes, "Contributions from other designers will be featured in the coming months. In September, Green Patriot Posters will launch an online competition where participants may submit Green Patriot Poster designs, view other posters and vote on designs."

A pair of video interviews: DNG to Little Shop of Horrors

  • I stepped out onto the Adobe basketball court the other day to record a brief interview with Frederick Johnson from the Lightroom team.  If you can deal with the squinting and excess of "you knows" (I know, I know… y’know?), you might dig out some salient bits.  (And hey, you hadn’t thought of They Live in a while anyway, right?)
  • My pal & fellow Photoshop PM Bryan O’Neil Hughes was in Florida last week and appeared on Photoshop User TV with Scott Kelby and crew.  Bryan focuses particularly on the DNG format.  He notes, "I wish I’d mentioned that the DNG Converter allows people who haven’t upgraded to realize the benefits of raw with their newer camera in older copies of Photoshop." (Also–seemingly apropos of nothing–yes, I am a very angry man. ;-))

Walruses, Wolverine Monkeys, & mo'

  • Animation:
    • In 1969, 14-year-old Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview.  38 years later, I Met The Walrus is the Oscar-nominated short film that resulted–5 minutes of fluid, often surreal images morphing into one another over the recording.  YouTube hosts the full piece in high quality.
    • I’m not sure what to say about the coffee-stirrer-based (?) Endless Not stick animation, but I can dig it. [Via]
  • I love the crazy little characters made by Matthew Porter.  (His Dr. Wagner portrait is staring down at me now.).  Next time you need to commission a Wolverine monkey, you’ll know where to turn. [Via Margot]
  • Coca-Cola’s very cool WE8 site brings together illustrators, musicians, and other artists from West & East in the spirt of friendship (well, that and of selling tasty sugar water).  The site features interactive 3D Flash versions of the packaging they’ve created, downloadable desktop images and more. [Via Terri Stone]
  • Peep the charming skulls of Kristina Collantes desktop wallpapers.
  • Public service:
    • Speed bump: $1500.  Drawing of a speed bump: $80.  Effectiveness: pretty comparable–at least until people catch on. [Via]
    • What do the "Safetymen" on signage do all day?  Signs of Life aims to shed light.

The Ocelot, in ink

Wow–now this you don’t see every day: John Pischke, an Image Capture Manager at Quad/Graphics in Minneapolis, has used the “Ocelot Rampant” image from this blog in a tattoo on his arm. I furnished him with the original Illustrator file last year, and on Tuesday it was turned into ink. “You’ll be happy to know it was completely designed in Photoshop,” writes John P. Nice!
Tangentially related surreality:

Great #$!@!'in Type

  • What the %@^! does one call those "random non-alphabet characters to indicate cursing?"  Answer: Grawlix.  (Bonus cutting aside: "Is that the sound of a designer waiting for Adobe Updater to complete?"  Oh, from the top rope!) [Via]
  • On Flickr, user "el estratografico" collects "retronomatopeya"–classic sound effects in cartoons.
  • Batman may have gone all modern & hardcore, but "Las onomatopeyas o Batsigns" showcases the sound-effect renderings of his classic, corny past. [Via Rob Corell]

Wednesday Illustration: Cash money & Mo'

Photoshop of Horrors

The Daily Show has always put Photoshop to great use*, but now they take things further in response to the Iranian missile manipulation incident. (And who knew that CNN was now demoing the Clone Stamp?) From last night’s episode, in two parts:

See also lots o’ good riffs on Boing Boing. (Shouldn’t it really be a Persian LOLcat, though?) [Update: Engadget readers show off their gags. [Via Adam Jerugim]]
* Personal fave from years back: A photo showed American Special Forces guys teaching Afghan kids baseball while the kids’ somewhat confused dads looked on. TDS modified the image to show a guy in the stands holding a banner that read, “ESPN: Execute Some Pashtuns Now.”

Monday Type: Vintage bits, hand jives, & more

Charging bulls, lasered Radiohead, and more

iPhone photo apps: Floodgates open

I’m having fun slacking er, conducting important digital imaging research, starting to explore photography-oriented iPhone apps:


  • The free PangeaVR offers amazingly smooth panorama display and navigation.
  • Exposure (paid or ad-supported) promises to let you put "2 billion photos in your pocket," letting you browse Flickr from your handheld.  Groovy bonus point: it’ll show you images geotagged to locations near you.
  • Clowdy promises easy & free photoblogging.


Unfortunately for the capture-and-upload scenario, the camera in the iPhone is pretty rudimentary.  Doesn’t it seem like someone should build a wireless hookup between the phone & dedicated cameras?  That way you could, for example, put an Eye-Fi memory card into your camera of choice, then upload shots via the phone in your pocket?  Maybe that’s a solution in search of a problem, though, or maybe it would just kill your battery.


If you come across any particularly good or noteworthy apps, feel free to post your experiences here.

Skyrockets in flight, Photoshop delight

Gonna grab my missiles/Gonna hold them tight…


Iran’s state media is under fire for apparently digitally adding another missile to a photo of an artillery test.  I like the first comment on the NYT story:  “Clearly someone thought 4 missiles would be 33% more scary than three… or they thought it really tied the composition together, which, I have to say, it actually does.” [Via everyone ever]


Now, excuse me while we get back to work making it even easier for various Great Satans to fake you out.  (Actually, a number of Adobe folks have been collaborating with news agencies on ways to offer greater image authentication, and PBS hosts a 13-minute Nova segment focusing on Dr. Hany Farid & discussing his work with Adobe.)




  • Wonkette refers to "the Iranian Revolutionary WoW Photoshoppers Guild." Nice. [Via Russell Brady]
  • I think the Iranian peeps were inspired by the Chinese news agency.
  • Gizmodo challenges readers “to use Photoshop to create some sweet Iranian propaganda, showing their technological advancements that are heretofore unseen.” [Via Fergus Hammond]


PS–To everyone who now has that awful song in their heads, you’re welcome.

A quick housekeeping note

Just a thought: If you’re not into the links I share here, that’s fine.  Please don’t feel compelled to take time out of your day (and mine) to write in and say so.  Just ignore the stuff, as plenty of others seem to find it interesting.  (I don’t know why this gets under my skin so much, but I’m amazed that people devote energy to writing "You suck."  It’s like the "F You" bits in Catcher in the Rye.  They’re gonna write it on my tombstone.)

Incidentally, in the last seven days I’ve posted a very long post about the future of Photoshop; news about Apple fixes that affect CS apps and Flash Player speed-ups, insight into the Lightroom UI, and more. It’s not *all* just stuff I steal from Kottke et al. >;-P

[Update: Thanks for all the kind comments. The flow of ephemera will continue, though I’ll look into whether our blog server can support multiple RSS feeds per blog. That way I could separate the links from the more strictly Photoshop-/Adobe-related content, and you could subscribe to one, both, or neither. –J.]

Wednesday Illustrations: Smoke, fire, and floods

Sawed cameras, free falls, and more


  • Wired hosts an interesting Gallery of Sawn-In-Half Cameras.
  • Rapid decents:
    • The Big Picture offers a collection of diving photos (taken at a recent US Olympic qualifying event) unlike any I’ve seen before.
    • In Kabul in Transition, photojournalist Tyler Hicks shows diving platforms used for a far darker purpose.
  • Mitchell Feinberg makes unique art using food.  Many more examples are on his site.
  • 22-year-old photographer Kevin Connolly was born legless and chronicles the world from his unique perspective.  CNET has his story.
  • In Land of the Free, Steve Schofield portrays sci-fi costumers, exploring how people establish a fictional existence to escape the everyday. [Via]
  • Slices in time:
    • "Barbara Probst’s diptych and triptych photos," says the Morning News, "taken at the same time from different cameras and points of view, offer multiple versions of a split second."  It’s a cool project, well worth a look. [Via]
    • The Immodesty multicam system aims to "create an affordable platform which enable all kinds of temporal-spatial experimentation."  In some ways it’s a poor-man’s tool for getting the Matrix "bullet time" effect, as videos on their site show, but the output can be deployed in more interactive ways, too.
  • Reuters hosts some striking images of a Chilean volcanic eruption.

Phil Clevenger on the Lightroom UI

Lightroom marketing manager/former Combat Photojournalist Frederick Johnson has posted an informative 12-minute interview with Phil Clevenger, Lightroom interface designer/KPT veteran.  Phil talks about the challenges of starting with a blank slate & establishing an interaction language; the pros and cons of modality; Lightroom’s unique model for applying parametric local corrections; and much more.  I fount it well worth a look.


(Tangentially: Both Frederick and Phil show up among Kelly Castro’s portraits (aka Project Make Mild-Mannered Software Peeps Look Hardass), now featured on the Adobe Design Center.)

Weekend Photography: HDR to RFK

  • Is Full-Frame the Coming Thing, or is it just a way for uninformed gearheads to show off?  Longtime photography observer Mike Johnston posts some interesting thoughts on the subject.
  • High dynamic range:
    • Our friend Ben Willmore has been traveling the country in his bus, and he’s collected the best of his work at The Best of Ben.
    • Reaktor 1 is a cool, interactive, HDR panorama from Jann Lipka.
    • Norwegian photog Klaus Nordby captured a beautiful fjord sunrise, then posted the high-res image via Photoshop CS3’s Zoomify export feature.
  • History:
    • On June 8, 1968, Look photographer Paul Fusco rode inside the funeral train that carried Robert Kennedy’s body from New York to Washington to be buried beside his brother at Arlington.  On the NY Times site he narrates a slideshow of the work, capturing the Americans who lined the route.  The NYT carries remembrances from that time, and more shots (albeit smaller) are here.  [Via]
    • The Commons, Flickr’s project to host public-domain images, is getting beefed up with the help of The Smithsonian.  The institution added 800 photographs from its collection of 13 million images, and 1,200 more will be added in coming months, according to CNET.  Images shared on the Commons can be tagged by anyone.
    • The Smithsonian posts a small set of turn-of-the-20th-century color autochromes.  Kottke has more info & links to more early color photography.
  • Moving in Stereo:
  • DIY:

JNack: Public Enemy

This is your PM…

This is your PM after being busted following an all-night meth bender…


Lightroom team member Kelly Castro has been continuing his "Exteriors" project (see the whole collection), photographing people at Adobe & elsewhere.  On Monday he got me into the team’s on-site photo studio for a shoot*.  If you’re into this style, check out the info that Kelly & Bryan O’Neil Hughes put together on generating killer B&W using Photoshop + Lightroom.  (Kelly also created a color version of my portrait, in which I have the healthy glow of a Barbecue Pringle.)


In other photo news:



*These little photo projects tend to turn funky, ranging from foolish to beatific to vainglorious. (Take that, Eddie Murphy.)

New Flash Player beta speeds Mac performance

Adobe has posted Beta 2 of the upcoming Flash Player 10 to Adobe Labs.  Player engineer Tinic Uro shares some notes, pointing out that on Mac OS X this new build runs the GUIMark test suite some 3x faster than previous versions.  He posted more details in this comment.  Given that I heard a lot of criticism of the performance of Flash on Mac when I blogged about possibly using Flash inside the Photoshop UI, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing the good news.

On Democracy & Hockey Pucks

Our friend Scott Kelby has been posting some interesting surveys to determine what his readers would like to see in future versions of Photoshop.  Now I’ve replied to some of those thoughts in a guest blog post on his site.


Also, on the extremely off chance you aren’t already hearing enough from me, Harris Fogel of Mac Edition Radio has posted the interview we recorded back at Photoshop World.  (The secret to my maintaining this blog?  Gross dereliction of other work duties.)

Mac 10.5.4 update improves CS3 support

Good news: Apple has just released the 10.5.4 update to OS X Leopard, fixing some incompatibilities with Creative Suite applications:


  • A problem introduced in the 10.5.3 update that could cause file corruption with files saved from Photoshop and other applications, has been fixed.
  • Navigation Services issues that could cause InDesign to crash have been addressed.  InDesign evangelist Tim Cole has provided more details, and the InDesign team has released their own ID 5.0.3 update today (Mac|Win; InCopy Mac|Win).