Monthly Archives: April 2014

Enhancing your photos’ popularity… with *science*

Good news for the deeply needy: MIT researcher Aditya Khosla has a tool for optimizing response to your images. According to The Verge,

Khosla says his algorithm allows him to predict how many views your photo will get before you even upload it. The algorithm considers social factors such as how many followers a user has, the number of tags on the photo, and the length of the title. It also measures content factors such as texture, color, gradient, and objects present in the photo. (Miniskirts, bright colors, people instead of scenery = good. Plungers = bad. Pink and yellow miniskirts, even better. Green plungers, horrible.) […]

Right now the algorithm is much better when social factors are included, but Khosla hopes to improve it. He also plans to create a tool that can automatically edit your photo to make it more popular.

Interesting, though the idea of robots editing our art makes me think of Dead Poets Society:

Excrement! That’s what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard! We’re not laying pipe! We’re talking about poetry. How can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? “I like Byron, I give him a 42 but I can’t dance to it!”

[Via Margot Neebe]

Adobe’s Project Parfait: Convert PSDs to Web via the Web

Ah—I’ve been looking forward to talking about this one for a while, and now that it’s public, I can.

I loathe making users do shit work, and laboriously converting among file formats is most definitely shit work. Back in the day it took (by my count) 168 individual steps to import a 20-layer PSD into Flash. With LiveMotion we took that down to 2. It’s maybe not that dramatic, but Adobe’s new Project Parfait is pretty slick:

Adobe’s Raymond Camden writes,

This is exactly the kind of tool that is useful for me as a web developer. I have a lot of respect for Photoshop, but I find it hard to use at times as I don’t use it very often. Something like Parfait is a heck of a lot simpler for me and I’m willing to bet a lot of developers would think the same. If you try it out, make note of the Chat option in the lower right corner. I found a small bug and reported it via that pod. You can also get support via the forums just launched for the project. 


Tutorial: Getting great B&W through Lightroom + Silver Efex Pro

Google + Adobe = photographic coolness; seems rather up my alley, eh? Via PetaPixel:

The tutorial will show you how to take a RAW file, prep it in Lightroom, convert it to black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2, and then finish it up back in Lightroom. And although it’s meant specifically for images shot with the Fuji X-T1, it’ll give anybody who wants that grainy, filmic black and white look — which is particularly well suited for street photography — a great place to start.

If this is up your alley, check out more tutorials on the Google Help Center.



Lytro makes life more interesting—again

If you care about the future of photography—how it’s captured, processed, experienced—check out David Pierce’s thoughtful piece on Lytro’s new Illum camera.

What Lytro plans to do is not just change how we take pictures, but to make the very pictures themselves mirror the way we see them in the first place. We interact with the world in three dimensions, touching and moving and constantly changing our perspectives, and light-field photos fit perfectly.

Photographer Kyle Thompson (who at 22 is kind of a badass) notes, “You don’t have to focus exactly on one certain point in the photo, but you also have to remember to try and keep all points of the photo interesting.”

This is the future… [L]ight-field photography — the notion that the future is about turning the complex physical parts of a camera into software and algorithms… — seems almost obvious. Why capture one photo, from one angle, with one perspective, when we could capture everything? When I can explore a photo, zooming and panning and focusing and shifting, why would I ever want to just look at it?

What do you think? Gimmick or game changer?

Practice your typography skills with Typekit Practice

A neat idea from Adobe’s type-serving arm:

Fonts are great, but using them well can be hard. Volumes have been written about typography, yet every good designer will say there are no rules; there is no magic formula for success. Typography simply takes practice. Typography is a practice.

So today, we’re launching a new website: Typekit Practice, a place where novices and experts alike can hone their typographic skills. We hope it will help students learn, help teachers teach, and help professionals stay sharp.


Inspiration/How-to: Parallax snacks

As a brand new Photoshop PM, one of my first trips was back to NYC to visit motion graphics artists. Touring one shop I was amazed to glimpse a technique I’d never seen, using Photoshop to break 2D photos into layers, fill in gaps, and then animate the results in After Effects. Later that year the work came to the big screen in The Kid Stays in the Picture, the documentary that now lends its name to this ubiquitous parallax effect.

Here Yorgo Alexopoulos talks about how he developed the technique & how he’s leveraged it in later works:

Below, artist Joe Fellows gives a brief, highly watchable demo of how it’s done (although it physically pains me to see him using the Pen tool to make selections & no Content-Aware Fill to at least block in the gaps):

[YouTube 1 & 2]

Get refocusing & more in the new Google Camera app

Lytro-like refocusing, Photo Sphere creation, and more are available in the new Google Camera app:

Lens Blur lets you change the point or level of focus after the photo is taken. You can choose to make any object come into focus simply by tapping on it in the image. By changing the depth-of-field slider, you can simulate different aperture sizes, to achieve bokeh effects ranging from subtle to surreal (e.g., tilt-shift). The new image is rendered instantly, allowing you to see your changes in real time.

You can go nerd out on the Google Research blog. [Via]

“Gofor”: Personal drones on demand

This “Uber for drones” parody (it is fake… right?) is utterly pitch perfect. You know it’s coming, and I can’t wait for all the breathless 23-year-old moron tech “journalists” to breathlessly cheerlead the startup-weasel brawl that’ll bring it to you. #CentrifugalBumblepuppy

“Strange,” mused the Director, as they turned away, “strange to think that even in Our Ford’s day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting. Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It’s madness. Nowadays the Controllers won’t approve of any new game unless it can be shown that it requires at least as much apparatus as the most complicated of existing games.” [Brave New World]

[YouTube] [Via]

Get your beautiful images of Earth featured on


To honor Earth Day 2014, Google+ and Time want to see your best picture of your beautiful Earth, which you can share with the hashtag #MyBeautifulEarth. Google+ will feature your images on a page of all of that local loveliness from now through April 22, which can be seen and savored in real time, as the page grows. Time’s photo editors will cull through the submissions, and the best of them will appear here on on Earth Day. 

Upload a photo via, add a description including the hashtag #mybeautifulearth, and make sure visibility is set to “Public.” [Via Brian Matiash]

BeetleCopter in the Serengeti

Will Burrard-Lucas shows what one man with a GoPro & a tiny RC chopper can do:

He writes,

To get this footage I was sometimes a kilometre away from the copter, operating it via a live video feed. These devices have incredible potential in wildlife filmmaking and photography; they are quieter and more manoeuvrable than a normal helicopter so they can get closer to animals with minimal disturbance.

It would be cool to see him run this footage through the new GoPro lens correction support in Camera Raw.


“It’s like cat videos directed by Martin Scorsese.”

Dios mío, it’s the Nicolas Cage Art Party.

We will be featuring many wonderful* works of art by a local and international lineup of artists depicting the various incarnations of one of history’s most magical actors and public figures.

Always good when “wonderful” requires an asterisk.

Croft promises a range of musical acts, including one that comes with an interpretive dancer named “Beany.” Beany, it should be added, is a bearded man who weighs 300 pounds.

Check out more images if you dare/hate your eyeballs.





New tech: Illumination-Aware Age Progression

The Photoshop team, especially engineer John Penn, do a lot of work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I visited there once & was fascinated by their process. Artists use various tools (especially Liquify) to combine photos of a missing child with images of a similar kid who was the appropriate number of years older, drawn from a huge collection of donated school photos.

Now new technology from a team at the University of Washington for Illumination-Aware Age Progression seems like it could be a great aid to that kind of work:

[Via Eunyoung Kim]

“Go F Your #Selfie”

Hearing this song on the radio the other day, I thought I might having an aneurysm (“Did they just name-check specific Instagram filters?”). Now I kinda want to jump out a window—and yet somehow I cannot look away.

On a theoretically related note, “An artist known as Billy Butcher imagined what would happen if various Marvel comic book heroes were all as selfie-absorbed as everyone else.” Check it out:



Check out Red Giant Universe

Looks like a neat community/subscription system for visual effects mavens from Stu Maschwitz & the crew at Red Giant:

They write,

Red Giant Universe is a community that gives members access to fast and powerful free tools for editing, filmmaking, visual effects and motion design.

Every tool in the Universe library of effects and transitions is GPU-accelerated, both Mac and Windows compatible, and works across multiple host applications including: After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X and Motion.

Stu notes,

A free subscription gets you access to tons of effects. A paid subscription ($10 per month, or $99 per year) gets you more. Don’t like subscriptions? Buy a perpetual license for $399.

[Vimeo 1 & 2]

Shattering photography at 10,000,000 fps

Fascinating footage of a ball breaking glass:

And no, I swear this blog isn’t devolving into just a re-share of PetaPixel, but they’ve been on a roll with good stuff lately. In this case they explain

Filmed with a HyperVision HPV-X camera made by Japanese manufacturer Shimadzu, the footage is slowed down so much that the ball, once it hits, appears fixed in space while the cracks in the glass slowly expand outward like an intricate spiderweb from the point of contact.



“It could be,” as one of my favorite posters says, “that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.” On a brighter note (what isn’t?), perhaps a difficult person (colleague, relative, whatever) is here to make you a better person (“I’m getting you into heaven,” as my mom says). Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön explains in this entertaining little anecdote:


Spring cleaning: Fresh icons for Google’s Web editor

NewEditorIconsThis is a minor point, but I’m happy that the Nik guys have done a nice job freshening up the Web photo editor (essentially Snapseed in your browser). You can check out, then click any one of your images & hit Edit up top (requires Chrome right now). This workflow is great if you’re using Auto Backup on your Mac or Windows machine. You can back up 15GB of full-res JPEG & raw images for free (or 100GB for $2/mo or 1TB for $10/mo), then edit the images non-destructively through your browser via the familiar Snapseed tool set.

I’m really, really excited about what we can do in this area. Stay tuned.

Kickstarter: “Beware of Images”

Graphic designer Sergio Toporek is Kickstarting Beware of Images, a “fully animated, feature-length film about the history, technology, regulation and social effects of media.” I found his story & that of the project interesting:

The control over symbols and their dissemination channels represent power. Religious institutions, governments and corporations understand this power and have exploited it to advance their interests. Unfortunately, these practices are at the root of many of our social, ecological and financial concerns. […]

No medium is inherently good or evil, and all have the potential to be beneficial and constructive cultural agents. Whether such potential is fulfilled or not, depends greatly on our understanding of the markets, industries and regulations under which they operate. Education is the only way we will be able to shift the present power balance, from corporate interests towards the public good.

“Not the guy from Duck Dynasty”—heh.

Parallax & poetry: “The World Beyond The World”

Lovely in fullscreen:

Using text adapted from Robert Marshalls “Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Brooks Range” (1929) and images from Expedition Arguk (2013), “The World Beyond the World” aims to celebrate that most ancient and sublime of human pleasures: moving through a mysterious, beautiful, and unknown landscape.

I’d love to know more about how the parallax effects were created.


Street typography

Who actually writes giant letters on your road? Tom Williams caught a couple of craftsmen in the the act early one morning:

[Spoiler alert: I was hoping throughout that these guys were very cleverly disguised graffiti artists out to insert some drolly subversive message into the world, but no such luck.]

[Vimeo] [Via Lex van den Berghe]