November 30, 2005

The DAM Book now shipping

Photographer Peter Krogh has just published The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers. I haven’t seen a finished copy yet, but I’ve attended Peter’s lectures & can vouch for his insight into how new technologies like DNG facilitate open workflows (e.g. batch-adjusting color in Camera Raw, then passing DNGs with embedded previews and metadata to iView Media Pro).
[See also: Peter's related DAMUseful.com and the publisher's site for the book.]

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Non-destructive raw editing with Smart Objects

Sometimes in the course of development, you find that a feature design can flex to accomodate things you didn’t plan at the start. We devised Smart Objects to enable a new level of Suite integration (letting Illustrator data stay live and editable inside Photoshop (see demo)), to allow non-destructive scaling/rotation/warping of layers, and to enable parent-child relationships (edit one, update many). We knew the design had legs, but we didn’t know if we’d have time to extend it to raw camera data in CS2.

Fortunately Chris Cox and Thomas Knoll were able to make it possible to place a raw file into Photoshop, and the technique is becoming a sleeper hit. When placed as a Smart Object, the raw file is embedded behind the scenes. The upshot is that you retain access to the full complement of raw data (and the Adobe Camera Raw feature set) even while applying adjustment layers, dodging and burning, adding masks, healing dust spots, etc.

Ben Long’s latest article on CreativePro.com covers the technique (“It’s a non-destructive dream!”–nice!). You can also see Russell Brown demonstrate it in this video, and you can download Russell’s scripts that facilitate integration here.

So, the next time you hear someone crowing about non-destructive editing, remember that not only have we been doing this for the last three years with Camera Raw; we’re now taking it to a new level, letting you keep data intact while leveraging the unique power of the Photoshop tool set.

11:44 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Feature: Menu Customization

Maybe I’m addled from downing too much of the turkey fixings (and it’s barely even noon), but I’ve been thinking about restaurants’ penchant for adding absurd descriptors to otherwise ordinary food. On a roadtrip out east last week, I noted menus offering:

  • Pan-Seared Chilean Sea Bass
  • Lamb Lettuce with Toasted Goat Cheese
  • Iowa Caramel Custard

Okay, the fish may be neither Chilean nor bass (discuss!); I have no idea what lambs have to do with lettuce; and having gone to high school in Iowa, I can tell you it’s not synonymous with gourmet desserts. But now that Photoshop CS2 supports menu customization, I’m thinking we should take a cue from restaurateurs. How about:

  • Puréed Liquify filter
  • Vector Confit on a Bed of Merged Layers
  • Braised Shank of Smart Object
  • Dodged & Burned Creme Brulée
  • CCD-Fresh Megapixels in a Chromatic Noise Reduction

Or perhaps not. ;-) Really I just wanted to say thanks for reading, and to wish you and yours an extraordinarily happy Thanksgiving.
Fondly,
El Tryptophan (master of the Sleeper Hold)

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November 23, 2005

LayerMatch 2005

The LayerMatch 2005 site takes a novel approach to depicting the evolution of Photoshop Tennis matches. A Flash interface makes it possible to shuttle back and forth through the evolution of a PSD (sort of like clicking among states in the History palette, or switching among Layer Comps).
And if this kind of collaborative design exercise is up your alley, see also Designologue.com, a site that combines written & visual dialog.

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Bottle VR

Photographer Thomas Mottl deploys the underused QuickTime VR to show the world from inside a 2-litre water bottle. [via] For plenty more VR science, see VRMAG.

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November 22, 2005

Plenoptic Cameras: [whistle type=low & appreciative]

I’d heard Todor and Jeff talk about plenoptic camera research, but it wasn’t until reader Joe Lencioni mentioned this Stanford work that I followed up. Wow. If nothing else, check out this video demonstrating how images can be refocused after the fact. (For background, Todor notes the word “plenoptic” was coined by Ted Adelson in this 1992 paper.) Wired News coverage is here.
Being more an Arts & Letters guy (read: math Cro-Mag), I tend to dwell on the social aspects of technology, and I wonder how photographers might react to these developments. There’s already a vocal minority of strident anti-raw shooters who say, “Raw is for when you plan to get the shot wrong.” That is, the post-processing flexibility that raw enables lets bad photographers sweep ever more mistakes under the carpet. What would they say about something that forgave flaws in focusing? It’s also funny to note that as technology like this makes it possible to keep more items in focus, technology like Photoshop’s Lens Blur works in the opposite direction, letting you add a “Bokeh” effect to otherwise crisp shots.
Personally, I’d love to see the concept of taking multiple captures in single pass used to enable greater dynamic range. Wouldn’t it be great to effectively auto-bracket shots simultaneously, instead of in quick succession?

6:21 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

November 19, 2005

Jack Naylor; Jan von Hollenben; Pigeoncams

  • Photographer Jan von Holleben brings a lush take to the shot-from-overhead perspective (also used by Robin Rhode) in his Dreams of Flying series.
    [via]
  • NPR featured a story about collector Jack Naylor, who at age 87 is selling his more than 30,000 cameras, images, and other photography ephemera–and asking a cool $20 million. I haven’t found a good online resource about Naylor, but the NPR site features a small gallery of spy cameras and more.
  • Seeing this, I wonder who’s going to bring the pigeon-with-camera idea into the digital age. Pigeon’s-eye-view is one thing, but I want to see it go airborne. Hmm, maybe someone at Make will take the challenge. (And if it really takes off, you know someone will create StuffOnMyPigeon.com).
6:03 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 18, 2005

Bridge 1.0.3 now available

Among other fixes and improvements, this update adds a check to confirm that Camera Raw is correctly installed (something that had been a source of confusion). Go to Adobe.com to grab the installer for Mac and Windows. Let us know via the Bridge forum how it goes.

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November 17, 2005

Pringles can -> Macro lens??

If you ever find yourself living in a post-apocalypic, Mad Max-style hellscape *and* needing a new macro lens–or if you just like to tinker–know that evidently a Dremel, a can of Pringles, and some elbow grease are all that stand between you and that sweet new glass. No word, however, on the efficacy of Jalapeño vs. Spicy Cajun flavor… (Going to these lengths somehow reminds me of Jack Handey’s observation, “Most people don’t realize that large pieces of coral, which have been painted brown and attached to the skull by common wood screws, can make a child look like a deer.”) [via Tobias Hoellrich]

3:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

Seen any good $495 Photoshop books lately?

I’d heard long-time author David Biedny, creator of the Attention Photoshoppers podcast, mention that his out-of-print work was commanding a premium, but it wasn’t until today that I saw what he meant. A photographer on the ProDig list noted that Photoshop Channel Chops is selling for $495 at a used book store. Some quick Googling reveals that the title commands $199 and up on Amazon. Dang; I haven’t read the book myself, but it must be quite the resource.
Of course, this sets my mind in motion. I tend to accumulate samples from lots of publishers, so I wonder what gems linger on my bookshelf. Psst, buddy, how much’ll you give me for this sweet Illustrator 6 Visual QuickStart Guide? Flash 4 Magic, maybe? Or how about a vintage LiveMotion Classroom in a Book? (Anyone, anyone? Bueller…?)
Not quitting my day job,
J.

3:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 13, 2005

C(omedy)MYK

Print designer humor by the numbers :-). (Me, I need my jokes in multiples of 51–as in, I’m so pale & pasty I’m 255/255/255, with a little checkerboard in the background.)

9:19 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 12, 2005

Todor & Jeff’s Image Science Hut: Coming Thursday

No, they don’t wear fezzes and matching shirts, but resident brainiacs Todor Georgiev and Jeff Chien have been behind some of the more eye-popping features in the last few releases of Photoshop, including the Healing Brush, Patch Tool, Match Color, Smart Sharpen, Reduce Noise, Perspective Crop, and Spot Healing Brush.
I mention this because Todor will be speaking at the next Silicon Valley ACM SIGGRAPH event, taking place on Thursday the 17th in Cupertino. For background, here’s a PDF on the kind of thing Todor will be discussing. My fellow product manager Ashley Manning will kick things off with a demo, and Jeff should be on hand as well. (Oh, and there will be schwag.)

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November 11, 2005

New Automator actions for Photoshop

Author Ben Long has posted a major update to his Photoshop Action Pack, a set of 56 actions for Photoshop CS and CS2. Leveraging Mac OS X 10.4’s Automator technology, these actions build upon Photoshop’s built-in batching & can integrate with other applications (FTP upload, CD/DVD burning, etc.). Newly added actions include Add Watermark & Bleach Bypass, as well as a variety of bug fixes.

2:02 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

November 10, 2005

Adobe Camera Raw 3.3b released

We’ve posted version 3.3 (beta) of Adobe Camera Raw for Mac and Windows. Why beta? We didn’t want to keep people waiting for support of new cameras like the Canon 5D, and at this point we felt comfortable letting a build into the wild. There’s also a dedicated forum for discussing 3.3 beta-specific issues. (Just make sure to install into the correct location.)
This release raises the number of supported cameras to 102, and as always, we’ve also updated the free DNG Converter. That means that applications with less extensive camera support are now automatically compatible with all cameras that Camera Raw supports, provided those applications read DNG. Adobe’s work therefore provides a leg up to competing applications, but it’s worth it to get to the point where photographers no longer have to wait for every application to be revised as new cameras are released.

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Photoshop, AE in TV production

Photoshop & After Effects get a nice little nod in this Wall Street Journal article on how desktop software is putting special effects within reach of TV shows: “Updated versions of image-editing software such as After Effects and Photoshop, both products of Adobe Systems Inc., have expanded the arsenal of visual effects available to TV show creators.”
We recently toured the sets of a number of shows learning about the big and small ways these apps touch show production (sticking a young Martin Landau’s head into an old wedding photo; shattering some ribs in an X-ray; designing a logo for a character’s cup of coffee; etc.). Too bad Adobe retired the tag line “Everywhere You Look;” I thought it conveyed something interesting (and true).

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November 09, 2005

Best GIF Ever; New Gondry Vid; etc.

Random interesting design bits I’ve encountered while shirking my actual job duties:

  • Best. Animated GIF. Ever. With a perfect soundtrack to boot. (I knew there was a reason we brought animated GIF creation into Photoshop CS2.) [via]

  • Director Michel Gondry and the White Stripes team up again to make your head hurt & make you like it. (This is timely if you were losing sleep wondering what a mash-up of Conan, Terry Gilliam, and those weird WEFAIL puppets would look like.) [via] (Previous Gondry/Stripes brilliance here and here.)
  • Coudal Partners, original proponents of Photoshop Tennis, have produced the clever short film Copy Goes Here. The mellow pace means you can’t jam in a screening while waiting for, say, your online banking to refresh, but it’s good for a laugh when you have 10 minutes or so. [via]
  • Here’s a zoom interface you don’t see every day: Justin Everett-Church has skinned the new Yahoo Maps in a pirate theme, complete with extending spyglass. (He’s also done a radar theme). [via]
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Chris Ware in Berkeley on Saturday

If you happen to be in the Bay Area on Saturday and like comics and/or retro design (or if you’re just a giant NPR dork like me), you may want to check out Chris Ware and Ira Glass speaking at Berkeley this Saturday. I’m looking forward to it. [More links to Chris's work are here and here.]

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November 07, 2005

Let’s make something terrible together

I was chatting this morning with some guys from the Illustrator team, batting around ideas for a fairly sexy feature they’ve been considering. They were thinking, naturally and appropriately as software designers do, about how to make the feature accurate, fast, and intuitive. The product manager in me said “right on”; the designer in me said “ugh.”
The point has been made many times, but computers’ tendency towards the predicable, the literal, and the repeatable often isn’t a recipe for good design, much less good art. Yes, being able to execute each step more and more quickly lets you try more things & potentially take more risks. But doesn’t it seem that it tends strongly towards a “right” answer, producing designs that look tastefully bland? Happy accidents grow rare.
I thought of this several weeks ago during a typography session at Photoshop World Boston. The speaker listed, and hundreds of attendees dutifully scribbled down, which fonts were considered hot and which were not. I can dig that people don’t want to look foolish, but I found the whole exercise kind of repellent. I left the session wanting to make some killer design using that beaten-down, forlorn face my wife calls “the yacht club font,” which suffered death by misuse on 6,000,000 soft-focus ’70s paperback covers. Well dammit, I thought, all you trendies can go off and rock out with Eurostile (condemning it to be the Bookman Swash of the future) or whatever; I’m gonna make the yacht club fresh. I’ll do something so terrible it’s great.
So back to the point at hand: this Illustrator feature had a sort of “give me tasteful” button. Yeah, but how about “gimme awful,” I wondered. And gimme random. I mean, we’re the company that registered SmashStausQuo.com. How about we actually do it? We need more offbeat, playful, bizarre functionality–only when you want it, to be sure, but there to introduce some chance, some chaos, some creative destruction.
And I’ll bet that by willing to embrace the terrible, we all just might make something great.
J.
[Thanks to Thomas Phinney for immediately knowing the name of "that swoopy '70s paperback font," as I described it.]

9:53 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

November 06, 2005

Digital Canvas Awards; Photoshop TV; PSWorld Japan

Our friends over at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals are keeping plenty busy these days:

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November 02, 2005

Yugo // Jello

I should no doubt preface this bit with the “[OT]” disclaimer, but as there’s a design/photography angle, let’s pretend it’s all germane to this blog.

  • The absurdly talented Yugo Nakamura has produced Honda Sweet Mission, “a kind of enhanced podcasting site.” Yugo writes, “We made an experimental interface system for a program broadcast by
    TokyoFM. Posted MP3 data is analyzed in the server and its volume history is visualized to Avatar motion. I’m sorry that all language is Japanese, you will not able to know what they
    are speaking.” No, but it sure looks cool, and the groovy pixel-globe is another idea on burrowing through a large set of images.

  • Liz Hickock sculpts San Francisco out of Jello. Yes. (Take that, Richard Dreyfuss ;-)) Stunning.
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November 01, 2005

New wide-format Wacom; tablet tweaks in CS2

Our friends at Wacom have announced a new, wide-format member of their professional tablet line. The new 6×11″ Intuos3 looks like a great match for the aspect ratios of modern monitors.
We’ve been adding features to Photoshop to improve the experience for tablet users. The Intuos 3 offers touch strips for two-handed input, so in Photoshop CS2 we changed zooming to center on the mouse cursor. Now you can be painting with one hand, and zoom in on those pixels using your other hand. (Tip: You can also zoom using a mouse wheel, or the two-finger input on a PowerBook trackpad; hold Opt/Alt while using the wheel to zoom. To make this behavior the default (instead of panning), enable the new preference “Zoom with Scroll Wheel.”)
The painting engines in Photoshop CS2 and Illustrator CS2 also support the barrel rotation properties of the new 6D Art Pen. And to make things better for those using a Cintiq or TabletPC, we made it possible on Windows to move the menu bar to the bottom of the screen. That way menus pop up, rather than down, meaning your hand is less likely to get in the way.
If you’re using a tablet and have ideas on where we should take things from here, please let us know.

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Musings at MoMA

The New York Museum of Modern Art’s New Photography ’05 features some dynamite recent work. My wife and I checked it out last Sunday following PhotoPlus East.
Robin Rhode brings a new spin to stop motion animations–literally. He sometimes works on vertical surfaces but other times rotates the scene 90 degrees, as in He Got Game (here’s a closer view of one frame) and Brick Flag.
We also enjoyed the work of Carlos Garaicoa, who explores structure, progress, and the lack thereof in his native Cuba. He combines 2D photography with extremely delicate 3D pin-and-thread overlays that outline the architectural vision, contrasted with what remains of it. For example, the uncompleted half of an abruptly halted circular apartment block hangs in space, carefully laid out in silver thread. I can’t find examples online (not that they’d do it justice, actually), so it’s well worth seeing in person.
Obligatory computer dork remark: These ethereal overlays struck me as uncannily similar to the grids one can create in Vanishing Point. And the process of drawing by combining pins and threads seemed like a literal interpretation of what people said about early vector-editing software.
One other bit: The Morning News has posted New York Changing, a gallery and interview with photographer Douglas Levere, who rephotographed Berenice Abbott’s pictures of 1930s New York. If you’re interested in the city, the site is well worth a look.

10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]
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