December 31, 2005

How far would you go to get the shot?

I’ve often heard photographers discuss the ethics of altering a photo–debating, say, whether it’s acceptable to use Photoshop to remove a Coke can from a landscape shot. Had they noticed the can before taking the shot, of course, they’d have kicked it out of the frame. These heated discussions of the “purity” of the captured image strike me as a little sterile, especially when great pre-digital masters altered images freely.
So here’s a potentially meatier topic: Would you set up a great shot at the expense of personal injury to others? And to what end?
Photographer Liu Tao has been accused of lying in wait to capture shots of a man wiping out when his bike hit a submerged pothole. He defends himself by noting that his images embarrassed the government into fixing the pothole, and that without the change people would still be getting hurt. Photography can effect social change, but where’s the line between documentarian and participant, and how does one know when to cross it? [Via]

8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments [9]

December 29, 2005

Ephemera: PSNews milestone, SI blog, iPods, etc.

My colleague John Dowdell sometimes features “Remaindered Links,” entries that bring together links that may be of interest. So, in that vein, here’s some ephemera I’ve enjoyed over the break:

  • Bruno Giussani ponders “the iPod of spin”–i.e., how far one can stretch things to be “the iPod of this” and “the iPod of that”–set off by a newspaper christening “the iPod of toilets.” Okay, it’s a lazy phrase, but product designers & marketing hacks could emulate worse. [Via]
  • The Smithsonian Institute has kicked off a new blog called EyeLevel. The blog features thoughtful, detailed posts that mention–among many other things–Malcolm Gladwell, the strangeness of Edward Hopper, and Pennsylvania’s relationship with Cheez Whiz. [Via]
  • OpenType, SchmopenType: Levi Hammett takes text design in a new direction with Dairy, a font (of sorts) that spells out your text in milk crates; try it and see. [Via]
  • The brilliantly random Found Magazine now offers an RSS feed. Oh yeah. (Looking at the traffic log of feels a bit like browsing these inscrutable found bits. Why would someone keep searching for “subtly knife”…? Is it somehow related to armored bear battles?) [Via]
  • The Sundance Channel yesterday featured a fun, 2-minute overview (produced by Athletics) on “China Girl,” a color calibration system used in film. Looking down the row of monitors lining an Airbus on Tuesday, I was reminded of just how much color varies across devices (even those from the same manufacturer, installed at the same time) and how sorely the world needs a solution (the–wait for it–“iPod of color management,” maybe?).
  • And finally, since kicking things off in April 2005, has served more that 1,000,000 unique visitors. Congratulations, guys!
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December 28, 2005

Potential Bacon-Savers

In response to yesterday’s post about losing images in the cold, a number of folks have suggested possible remedies for future data loss:

  • Nick Wilcox-Brown recommends PhotoRescue, saying “It has saved my skin on more occasions than I care to remember.”
  • My fellow Photoshop PM Tom Hogarty mentioned Camera Salvage.
  • Peter Krogh suspects that the problem was due to file system corruption, not cold weather–particularly as I’d been sloppy in handling the memory card (removing it from the Mac while it was sleeping, then inserting it with the new shots before waking the machine up). That seems possible, though having lost images in similar weather with a different camera, card, and computer, I remain a bit suspicious.

Whatever the case, you may want to bookmark these sites for a rainy (or snowy) day in the future, and do read up a bit before going shooting in the cold.

6:49 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

December 27, 2005

Happiness is a Warm Cam

…or rather, a warm Compact Flash card. Score it Illinois winter 1, JNack 0. Short story: take care when shooting digitally in cold weather.
Longer story: On Friday my wife and I hiked around my snowy little hometown, filling a 1GB CF card via my Canon Rebel XT. The weather was brisk (maybe 35 degrees F) but sunny and not uncomfortable, and we captured plenty of images I’d love to have back. I kept the camera inside my jacket much of the time, and reviewing the shots in the field, everything seemed fine. Sadly, when I popped the card into my Mac, the photos were nowhere to be found. Bridge could display a few image fragments, but nothing usable transferred. The next day I reformatted the card in the camera and happily shot indoors for another couple hours; then things hit the wall. I got errors in the camera, and neither it nor the Mac could reformat the card. The card now resides in a trash can, and much of two days’ worth of shooting exists only in my memory.
I should note that I have no special expertise in this area, and I haven’t yet gotten to consult teammates who likely know a good deal more. The card itself claimed to be “unfazed by… arctic cold” (hmmm…); memory is generally supposed to work well in the cold; and it appears that Canon rates their cameras for shooting at freezing and above, so I thought I was in the clear. I might chalk this up to a fluke, but last Christmas I lost another batch of images taken in the same area (different card, different camera), so I suspect the technology is more fragile than we’d like to think.
In any event, it’s not a complete bust: I was able to salvage a few interesting shots of trains, real and imagined.

7:06 AM | Permalink | Comments [6]

December 26, 2005

Photos of the Year

A number of media outlets have collected the best photojournalism of 2005 into Flash galleries:

I wasn’t able to find a similar gallery from the New York Times [Update: The Times has posted its Year in Pictures], but a Google search turned up the NPPA giving the Times the nod for best use of the Web. Scroll to the bottom of the press release for links to numerous galleries, including those for the Newspaper Photographer of the Year.

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December 21, 2005

Math rock in Illustrator, Josh Davis-style features a new profile on Joshua Davis and his work that brings together Illustrator with scripting to create generative art. The work combines known building blocks (sketches scanned & vectorized in Illustrator) with algorithms that introduce chance and chaos. Josh presented a great lecture on this work at the Adobe Ideas Conference earlier this year–a bracing, whirling blur of charisma, tats, code, and f-bombs that lit up an otherwise sedate gathering.
I’ve been thinking for quite a while about ways to make our tools freer, to tap into what my friend Matthew calls the “math rock kids”–the sort who make and use experimental apps like Auto-Illustrator (no relation). People can build beautiful, freeform interactive drawing pieces in Flash, so why can’t we use them in Photoshop or Illustrator? Why not make it easier to create offbeat interfaces that leverage these deep imaging engines in new ways? And could we combine that power with the linear animation chops of After Effects? Let’s be less predictable, more playful, more absurd.
[ link via Branden Hall]
[More from Joshua here and here.
He’s also contributed a chapter to John Maeda’s Creative Code: Aesthetics + Computation.]

11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments [7]

December 20, 2005

Reader speeder; UX Mag; Antarctica

  • Macworld features some tips on making Adobe Reader launch faster. As Adobe has been saying for some time, launch time is a key area of focus, and overall you should find Reader 7 a good deal quicker to start up than previous versions. Even so, you may want to try these hand-tuning strategies.
  • PhotoshopNews features an article and some great photos from the just-completed trip to Antartica. Note to self: Invent galactically successful, category-defining software that becomes verb; continue pushing limits of digital imaging; enjoy fruits of said labor. Tons of great images are here.
  • The brand new UX Magazine launched yesterday, “created to deliver a central place to discuss the critical disciplines that all enhance user experience.” The content is necessarily sparse at the moment, but I like the CSS-savvy design, and it could grow into a great resource. This blurb let me know they’re guys after my own heart: “Last but not least, we’re not happy. We never are. Never ever. We look at things and go ‘bah!’—out loud, numerous times a day. We just had to stop being so bloody picky and launch the damn thing.” It’s tough, but real artists ship.
11:52 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

How could I make this blog better in ’06?

With four months having passed since I started blogging, I could use your help. Are there things about which you’re hearing too much? Too little? I want to make sure this blog is worth a damn (specifically, worth your time to read), so if you have feedback for sorting the killer from the filler, I’d like to hear it.

9:44 AM | Permalink | Comments [9]

December 19, 2005

New DNG utility: Recover Edges

Thomas Knoll has created a new utility called DNG Recover Edges, designed to reveal pixels at the very edges of raw files that are, for various reasons, not shown when these images are displayed normally. The simple droplet utility can recover somewhere between 4 and 16 pixels around the edge of the image–not a big deal for most files, but potentially quite valuable when something is getting clipped at the edge of the frame. (Thomas decided to write the utility after taking a photo of a bird that had its wingtip just outside at the frame. The extra 10 pixels he recovered in that shot were enough to put the entire bird in the shot.)
Michael Reichmann provides additional details & hosts the utilities for download from his Luminous Landscape photography resource site. Please note that the utility is Thomas’s own work, not an Adobe product, and is unsupported.

8:45 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

December 18, 2005

Flash + AE video tutorial

A few days ago on the Flashcoders list, some people were discussing ways that Flash and After Effects can be used together. Video support in Flash has opened some cool possibilities, but note that AE also exports Flash SWF files. The newly launched Motion Design Center features a video tutorial on using AE to animate text, then import it into Flash. [Update: In case they’re useful, you can find my old tutorials on AE SWF->Flash (demoing parent-child relationships, text animation, etc.) here.]
Now that the product teams can work together, we have opportunities to take integration to a new level. As we build the roadmap, we’d love to get your feedback on what’s most important.

6:21 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

Angel’s World

The NY Times features an article on photographer Angelo Rizzuto and a slideshow of his images. From 1952 to 1966, Rizzuto left his apartment each day at 2pm to document the people and streets of New York, concluding every roll with a grim self-portrait. His work and troubled life are chronicled in the new book Angel’s World by Michael Lesy.

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December 16, 2005

CONEheads & Stealth Cats

Well, this takes the whole photo-sharing thing to the next level, eh?: Berkeley robotics professor and sometime-Eraserhead doppelganger Ken Goldberg has developed CONE, a prototype for a portable, solar-powered robotic observatory that can photograph animal activity, then upload the data via satellite connection. Collaborative algorithms manage requests for control from multiple users.
On a slightly related note, November’s National Geographic magazine featured some great images of ocelots, captured via remotely triggered cameras. Building on the great stuff in the print edition, the online version features a couple cool shots.

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December 15, 2005

New Adobe podcasts from Russell Brown

Adobe’s own inimitable Russell Brown has begun delivering audio and video podcasts. To check them out, search for “Russell Brown” via iTunes. Russell says he plans to post new content over the next few weeks. (See also: links to other Photoshop podcasts.) [Update: Thanks to Jeff Tranberry for supplying the direct link to Russell’s podcasts.]

2:07 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

December 14, 2005

Get America 24/7 free with PSCS2

I just got a heads up on a little promotion from the Adobe Store: if you buy or upgrade Photoshop CS2 and enter coupon number 8m11ja05 just prior to checking out, you’ll get a copy of the beautiful America 24/7 coffee table book for free. From the publisher:

America 24/7 reunites the team that started the popular A Day in the Life series of photography books, Rick Smolan and David Elliot Cohen. More than 25,000 amateur and professional photographers snapped photos accross America during a one-week time period with digital cameras. From the million-plus photos submitted, 25,000 were chosen and compiled in this book. The result is an amazing array of subjects, but all shot with a consistency of tone.

This coupon will expire January 31, 2006, and is only valid in the US and Canada only.

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December 13, 2005

Sacre Rouge

I’m trying to put the Carmen Sandiego in “CS” this week, visiting Adobe offices and customers in Europe. Now, fond as I am of watching the planes land at SJC, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Adobe Paris office has a bit better view, no? (The NY office has it pretty good, too, with the Empire State Building looming off one side and Bryant Park below on the other.) The mood in the office is upbeat, and folks are looking forward to meeting their new, former-Macromedia colleagues (with whom some had already collaborated to show Flash-Premiere-After Effects integration).

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December 12, 2005

Photographers Directory now in French, German, Spanish

The Adobe Photographers Directory is now available in French, German and Spanish, in addition to the English version launched earlier this year. Visitors can search by location (20 countries and growing) and more than 40 photographic specialties. The directory is accessible directly from Bridge in the supported languages, and from

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PhotoStamps now live in Elements

Direct upload to has gone live in Photoshop Elements and the free Photoshop Album Starter Edition, with Bridge integration to follow. I had a great experience with the service this summer, creating a stamp for use on wedding thank-you notes. People were amazed, and several clipped and saved the cancelled stamps. (I finally convinced them that the stamps were legit, though I’m not sure they’ll ever believe that I didn’t fake the rainbow. ;-))

9:14 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

December 11, 2005

Striking images from the UK

An uncredited photographer for Getty Images captured an amazing shot following this morning’s explosion at a fuel depot in southeast England. See also a satellite image of the event. (I happened to be landing at Heathrow via a redeye flight & saw the enormous column of smoke off the right wingtip, luckily at a much greater distance.)

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December 09, 2005

Clutter Reel

I had to smile at this paragraph in a Slate article on Charles Schwab’s new Waking Life-style ads:

These spots aim to stand apart from the muddled crowd. “We actually made a ‘clutter reel,’ ” says Ben Stuart, VP of Brand Strategy and Advertising for Schwab, “to show how the category was filled with all these stock clichés of wealth. Adirondack chairs. Sailing. Burled walnut paneling. Not only are these images tired, they also lack both credibility and relevance with most consumers.”

Is it just me, or could one create just such a reel with all the clichés being used for digital photography tools? Yes, the underlying concepts are enormously important, but if I hear or (wince) have to say workflow one more time–much less non-destructive, seamless, integrated, efficient, broad, archival, etc.–I may burst into flames. ;-)
Yours in seamlessnondestructiveintegratedefficientworkflows,

10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

New plug-ins from Alien Skin, GridIron, Akvis

  • Longtime Photoshop developer Alien Skin has announced Exposure. “Foremost a film simulator,” the plug-in can “quickly and easily evoke the vivid colors of Velvia®, the rich blacks of Kodachrome®, or the sensitivity of Ektachrome®,” as well as facilitate cross processing, push processing, and glamour portrait softening. [Via] I remember talking to the brilliant photo-illustrator Sanjay Kothari about how he’d simulate film stocks and processes. He asked for just this sort of tool.
  • After Effects developer GridIron Software has announced Nucleo, applying the company’s expertise in multi-machine rendering to speeding up single machines with multiple CPUs and/or multi-core processors. Rendering and preview tasks are said to be sped up by as much as 300%. [Via]
  • Akvis has updated its Coloriage plug-in for black and white colorization. The tool also looks interesting for trying out color schemes in a photo, colorizing a hand-drawn sketch, and more; see the tutorials on their site. [Via]
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December 06, 2005

Visual Complexity

In the same vein as earlier posts about burrowing through large data sets and visualizing flight data, check out The site describes itself as “a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks.” Examples range from voice network traffic to a 1940’s budget chart to the tendrils of political networks. Edward Tufte, your meal is served. [Via]

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December 05, 2005

Welcome, Macromedia!

They say a watched pot never boils, and I was starting to wonder if this day would ever arrive, but it looks like Adobe and Macromedia are now one, with the Macromedia and Adobe sites being updated accordingly (including the Adobe Store offering new bundles). At this point not a lot of info has been communicated internally, so I’ll be brief until we know more. I think this is an extremely exciting time, and I can’t wait to start collaborating with folks from Flash, Dreamweaver, and all the other great Macromedia teams. Welcome to the Big Red A, guys; it’s going to be a great ride.

7:22 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

December 04, 2005

Photo sharing, early 20th century-style

Today I was flipping through prints of a couple hundred shots I’d uploaded to Kodak via the Adobe Photoshop Services built into Bridge. I didn’t realize, though, that Kodak has been in the custom-photo-thing-you-can-mail business for some 100 years. The Morning News features an article about the “real photo postcards” craze (c.1907) brought about by the introduction of a preprinted card back that allowed postcards to be made directly from negatives. The accompanying gallery features some beautiful, ethereal images, and I like this weirdo’s sense of humor. [More background here and here.]

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December 03, 2005

New book: Secrets of Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge has received some pretty extensive coverage in CS2 books, focusing largely on the photography workflow aspects. Now Adobe’s own Terry White has written Secrets of Adobe Bridge, devoted entirely to this application and its role in the Suite (e.g. browsing multi-page PDFs and InDesign docs, tracking font and color usage through metadata, collaborating via Version Cue, etc.).

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AE + Flash, Maya

I think of After Effects as “Photoshop on wheels,” and like Photoshop, AE is used together with a wide variety of other applications. Two examples caught my eye recently:

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December 02, 2005

Trilobites & Kilobytes

I want to prevent cruelty to dead horses & avoid beating them whenever possible, and I hate scare tactics. But sitting on the floor of my apartment this week, trying to hoover the data off my old beige G3/266 and onto my PowerBook, I was reminded of why we’re bothering with this whole DNG thing. Innovation means change, leading to incompatibility, meaning that without some thought given to preservation, your work is at risk.
It was only 5 years ago that the G3 in question was my desktop workhorse, but in simply trying to recover its data I discovered:

  • AppleTalk transfer between OS 8.6 and 10.4 fails. The machines could see each other, but transfers would immediately stall. I get why Apple wouldn’t test this scenarios heavily, but still, it’s only been 5 years.
  • Connecting a current hard drive was out, given that USB and FireWire weren’t supported on this machine. And good luck finding SCSI components in a store now.
  • You can still track down a Zip drive these days, but the new ones can’t write Zip100 disks. Luckily they can still read them.
  • GoLive 8 (CS2) can’t read a site file produced by GoLive 4.
  • Self-running Director presentations no longer work (my fault, given that I don’t maintain Classic on this machine, but it’s an indicator of the transience of the work).

Sneakernet and Zip disks ended up providing the solution, and as I played three-card monte with the disks, I browsed Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Reading about the development of the fossil record, I had to smile. Picking through a circa-2000 machine felt a little like looking at the Burgess Shale, searching for signs of life.
In the end I was able to keep the bulk of my data, but the process offered some useful perspective. If talking to a machine from 5 years back was this tricky using the same platform, how would it be for one from ten years back? 15? And how will you get at today’s data in 15 years? Seems like a good case for making images & the edits done to them as open and portable as possible.

2:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

You spin me right ’round, DRÖMKÖK, right ’round

Ikea’s “Drömkök åt alla” (“Dreamkitchens for everyone”) site brings a fresh spin (sorry) to the Bullet Time photography aesthetic, letting you rotate through a series of rooms [link via Mike Downey]. sto.pp, the post-production company that did this work, features a behind-the-scenes article here.

9:53 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

December 01, 2005

Magnum now on Slate

Solid: Slate Magazine now offers a daily feature showcasing the photojournalism of Magnum Photos. You can check out this introductory overview on the project, or jump directly to the images.

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New DNG Automator action

Ben Long has expanded his Photoshop Action Pack with a new Automator action for DNG Conversion. To use it you’ll need the free DNG Converter for Mac. [Update: Thanks to Geoff Stearns for pointing out this DNG Workflow resource that ties the converter together with a folder action and a rename function.]

9:22 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

Call for student entries in Design Achievement Awards

The Education team is now accepting entries for the 2006 Adobe Design Achievement Awards. Each winner gets 5g’s, seven Adobe apps, a trip to Toronto, and no trip to San Jose (a reward unto itself ;-)). Here’s the downloadable poster and the press release.

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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 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 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.
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, 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.

  • 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
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 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,

3:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

November 13, 2005


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 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.
[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]

October 31, 2005

UPDIG: Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines

UPDIG describes itself as “A working group of digital imaging professionals and allied trade groups and manufacturers, dedicated to promoting worldwide standards in the commercial application of digital imaging.” The group has released its set of 15 guidelines on shooting and working digitally. If that describes your trade, the site is well worth a look.
The guidelines emphasize the need for conversion settings and metadata that can easily be transferred between individual computers and between computing platforms. Adobe Camera Raw never touches your original data, of course, so it writes its information into lightweight XML (XMP) sidecar files next to images. The DNG format was designed to store this data internally, and it’s great to see UPDIG suggesting the use of DNG in their Best Practices documentation.

8:02 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

October 30, 2005

More DNG Momentum

As I’ve mentioned in past entries, Adobe has been using its leadership in digital imaging to drive development of the Digital Negative specification. DNG addresses the need for a common, openly documented raw format–a solution much requested by customers. So, I wanted to pull together some recent good news on this front:

PS–I’ve always preferred the nice, simple “raw” as the term for this sort of format. Saying “RAW” seems a little aggro (“RAW is WAR!!”), like you need to make the little devil-horns with your hand while saying it. The term is neither an acronym (RAW) nor a proper name (Raw), but rather a generic descriptor for a whole class of formats. Therefore Adobe just says “raw.”

7:23 AM | Permalink | Comments [12]

October 26, 2005

After sneak

At the MAX show last week, Steve Kilisky from the After Effects team demonstrated some new features of an upcoming version of After Effects & how AE video can integrate with content in the new Flash 8 Player. Check out this video to see “a cure for ‘palletosis'” and more. Steve is fourth from the left in the Day Two nav bar [link via Pixelfumes]. For more examples of Flash and After Effects working together, see my earlier post.

12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

October 23, 2005

Welcome, Apple.

What a week it’s been. Sunday through Tuesday I was experiencing the energy and excitement of the Macromedia developer community at MAX, soon (we hope) to be part of the Adobe world (come on, EU commissioners! :-)). Then on Tuesday I got the call that Apple wanted to give us a demo of their new photo-centric application. We’d been hearing about this thing for three and a half years, so I headed to NY a day early.
And, well…?
Aperture is a cool product, no question. Apple’s designers have a great aesthetic, and their marketing is second-to-none. (This is the company, after all, that can sell the iPod Shuffle’s lack of screen as a lifestyle choice.) Aperture zips around on quad G5’s with four GPUs, and I’m looking forward to getting it onto my PowerBook 17″ to see how it might run in the field.
As Apple is the first to say, Aperture is not designed to be a Photoshop competitor. It has a number of very slick features (I dig the Web gallery creator in particular), but if you’re looking to do something as simple as make a selection and sharpen someone’s eyes, you’re out of luck. That’s not a knock–just a reflection of what Aperture is and is not. Fortunately Apple has a one-click method of sending a PSD to Photoshop for further editing.
I’m obviously downplaying competition between these apps because, as I’ve written previously, inventing deathmatches where none exist does us all a disservice. Having said that, however, I’d be blowing smoke not to acknowledge that Aperture does compete with Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw. The capabilities of Photoshop (of which Bridge and ACR are a part) are vast, so there’s bound to be some overlap, and Aperture joins a long list of products (Capture One, RawShooter Essentials, Nikon Capture, Canon Digital Photo Pro, etc.) that also offer raw browsing and editing. Bridge and ACR aim to provide the best possible workflow in conjunction with Photoshop, but you’re free to mix and match.
And you know, to the degree that Aperture stirs things up, I’m excited. CS2 wouldn’t be all it is today without the apps I mentioned keeping us on our toes, and the more tools offer solutions for photographers, the better off customers will be. So in the spirit of the Apple of yore, I say Welcome Apple. Seriously.

7:53 PM | Permalink | Comments [15]

October 17, 2005

Excitement at MAX

The first day of the Macromedia MAX show is nearly in the bag, and man, it’s pretty exciting. Just sitting amidst 3,000 enthusiastic, animated designers and developers in the keynote presentation opens your eyes to the passion of this user community. As Macromedia folks and partners from SAP and elsewhere unveiled a range of new solutions and concepts (tons of coverage tracked here), the people around me were audibly buzzing with ideas. I’m eagerly looking forward to the deal being finalized so that we can start working together more closely.

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Pimp My Bridge

As you probably know, Photoshop CS2 and the other Creative Suite apps ship with Adobe Bridge, the browsing and workflow management hub of the Suite. What you may not know is that Bridge has been designed with extensibility in mind. The app’s JavaScript extensibility layer enables everything from tiny widgets to services like Adobe Stock Photos. So, I thought it would be useful to link to some resources and examples:

  • The
    Bridge scripting guide
    documents the app’s JavaScript extensibility layer. You can write and debug these scripts using the ExtendScript toolkit that ships with all the CS2 apps, and you can discuss script development with others on the Bridge scripting forum.

  • Adobe Studio Exchange features a set of Bridge scripts, including Import from Camera. You can of course upload your own scripts to share with community.
  • The Adobe Solutions Network (ASN) offers a variety of Bridge extensions. For various accounting reasons, we can’t just give these away (believe me, we’ve looked into it), but paying ASN developers can incorporate this code into their own scripts, then redistribute them.
  • Peter Krogh’s (from which I stole the title of this entry) features the Pimp My Bridge page, as well as Peter’s Rank and File script for facilitating interoperability with iView Media Pro and other apps.
  • BarredRock Software offers a variety of scripts, including one that offers much-requested extraction of metadata to a spreadsheet.
  • offers a favorite to display PhotoshopNews in Bridge using the on-board Opera browser engine. Other developers have used this capability to tie Bridge into asset management systems.
  • Jakub Kozniewski offers the Flash-based CS UI builder, a visual way to assemble JavaScript interfaces for Bridge and the other CS2 apps. [via Jeff Tranberry]

I plan to update the list as more examples and resources become available. In the meantime, if you have others to share, please send ’em our way.

5:14 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

October 15, 2005

Photoshop brushes are cool and all…

…but how about this thing*? Rogue genius-types at MIT Media Lab have developed the I/O Brush, “a new drawing tool to explore colors, textures, and movements found in everyday materials by ‘picking up’ and drawing with them.” The ability to sample and apply a short video sequence is particularly brilliant. [link via]
If you like that, check out the Pixel Roller, a “paint roller that paints pixels, designed… to print digital information such as imagery or text onto a great range of surfaces.”
On a personal note, it was the chance to work with alpha geeks like this that drew me to Adobe. When I first encountered the LiveMotion team, I heard that engineer Chris Prosser had built himself a car MP3 player (this was a couple of years before the iPod). Evidently he’d disassembled an old Pentium 90, stuck it in his trunk, connected it to the glovebox with some Ethernet cable, added a little LCD track readout, and written a Java Telnet app for synching the machine with his laptop. Okay, I thought, I don’t want to do that, but I’d like to hijack the brains of someone who could. Chris has now moved on to After Effects, and I get to pester the likes of Thomas Knoll, Chris Cox, Arno Gourdol, and the rest of the team, trying to get some pet idea or other implemented.
* Caution: Features the most grating soundtrack since that Canon 20D video.

9:25 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

October 13, 2005

Behind the scenes on “24”

A few weeks ago we got to spend time with the team behind the scenes at Fox’s 24, as well as the folks at CSI, Without a Trace, Scrubs, and other shows. Art departments have to be endlessly resourceful, and we got a kick out of hearing about some of the creative ways they put Photoshop to use. I don’t want to risk giving anything away, but I did get clearance to mention something from a past episode of 24.
A scene called for the crew to put a burned-out car down in a ravine, but they couldn’t get the necessary permits from the city. So, production designer Joseph Hodges took a picture of the car, brought it into Photoshop, gave it a good beating (burning the paint, removing a door), and then printed it on a large piece of cardboard. The next day he stuck it down in the ravine where the actual car was to go. When the rest of the crew arrived they started to flip out, saying, “Hey, they told us not to put the car down there!” The illusion was clearly good enough to fool people standing on the site, and it worked perfectly for the scene.
Thanks to Rodney Charters, Director of Photography, Joseph Hodges, and the rest of the crew who let us be flies on the wall as they rehearsed, shot, and designed components of the upcoming season.

8:20 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

October 12, 2005

Burrowing through large sets of images

The Mini USA site features a clever, immersive Roof Studio that enables you to browse various roof designs and upload your own [link via Kaliber10000]. The zooming interface and ability to see items with matching metadata remind me of Airtight Interactive’s related tag browser for Flickr. Working on Adobe Bridge, I find these interfaces motivating. As image collections grow larger, we need to find more powerful ways to cruise through them (ways to form queries & visualize the results). As always, we’d like to hear your thoughts.

10:07 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

October 11, 2005

Monitor, or Ultra-Monitor?

Continuing my recent megapixel fixation, check out this insane, 19200 x 2400 monitor [link via Airtight Interactive]. Aside from the obvious expense and physical demands of this kind of configuration, such a wide layout would impose some new UI challenges (e.g. look at the control elements spread all the way to the right and left). Of course, with higher DPI displays coming and resolution-independent UI support coming from Microsoft and Apple, there’s plenty of work ahead (if nothing else, so that your Photoshop toolbar doesn’t end up being 8mm wide on screen).

1:11 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

See you at Macromedia MAX, PhotoPlus Expo?

On Sunday a number of us are headed to LA for the Macromedia MAX show, and on Wednesday I’ll be flying to NY to meet up with a large Adobe contingent at PhotoPlus Expo. If you’ll be attending either show and feel like saying hello, please do. At MAX I’ll be just a fly on the wall, soaking up info in various sessions. At PPE I’m slated to be at the Adobe booth each day roughly 10-1:30. Hope to see you there. (For reference, I look like this. And yes, this is what happens if you let a bunch of product managers screw around with nice camera equipment. It willget cheesy.)

10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

October 09, 2005

Psst–wanna see Photoshop 15?

Yeah, well, so do I. It doesn’t exist yet, of course (we just recently introduced version 9.0, a.k.a. CS2), and it won’t exist for many years. But what form will it take?

Software developers know how to do one thing really well: develop more software. We build features, and when we’re done, we build more. This isn’t inherently a bad thing. Customers have far more good ideas than we have time or resources to support, and having to choose just a fraction to implement each cycle keeps us focused on those we think really matter.

But what’s the net result of a million good features? Yep–a million little pieces, all multiplying off one another. An app like Photoshop becomes a warren of commands that are available sometimes but not others, in ways that aren’t self-explanatory (e.g. you can’t start painting on a vector text layer, or create layers in 32-bit mode). And the sheer volume of options can be overwhelming. At one point I counted 494 top-level menu items in Photoshop CS. In CS2 we’ve added roughly 60 more, and that’s not counting the new Adobe Bridge application.

So, back to the hypothetical Photoshop 15: at our present course and speed, we’d add at least 350 more menu commands. We’ll need to raise the minimum screen spec just to hold the menus! And then, you know, it’s wafer-thin mint time.

Incidentally, we’re all complicit in this–we (Adobe, or [insert other software vendor here]) and you. (If you’ve read this far, you’re interested in this stuff and have almost definitely requested new features.) We can add things, but we can never take them away. When we decided to stop maintaining the archaic, seldom-used 3D Transform filter, we made it optional content (not disabled, just moved). The tech support boards lit up with all kinds of complaints. And at MacWorld, a guy browbeat me for–no kidding–25 minutes about the shortcut for Brightness/Contrast changing–in version 4! Can you imagine if we tried to remove something significant?

What to do? What about making Photoshop customizable–“everything you need, nothing you don’t,” to borrow from the Nissan ad? In CS2 you can now turn menu items on and off, assign them colors, and switch among sets rapidly. It’s a step towards reducing complexity, but will anyone care? Do you? Does this capability help new users, or does it hide tools they’d otherwise stumble across?

We can also package functionality in task-oriented sets. Camera Raw is popular as much for the way it pulls together color-correction functions as for its underlying math. Of course, with popularity come feature requests, and we have to be wary of building Russian dolls (Photoshop gets huge, so we build CR, which then gets huge, so we nest something inside of it…).

What do you think? Do we just keep putting one foot ahead of the other, or is something more radical required? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

6:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [25]

Comic Life

Mac developer plasq has released an updated version of their slick, fun, and super easy Comic Life application. The tool makes it a cinch to create layouts, add text and photos, and publish results to the Web.
If Adobe apps tend to be grand organs, Comic Life is a flute. Now, I would never want to give up any of the range and flexibility of our tools, but it’s refreshing to see a light, elegant solution for a very specific task. This question keeps gnawing at me: As our tools grow ever more capable, do they have to keep getting more complex? If each app’s main environment needs to strive for letting you do anything at any time, are there areas where we could focus on specific tasks? Hmm–this deserves an entry of its own. In the meantime, if you have ideas, please let us know.

10:03 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

October 07, 2005

The sound of one pixel blinking

Counterpoint to the megapixel wars: what if you could alter only one pixel per day? Cameron Adams has developed Pixelfest, a collaborative effort to create “art/design/garbage” through numerous people making tiny contributions. Give it a whirl, or check out a time lapse movie of the project’s development.
(link via Guerrilla Innovation)

3:22 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

October 06, 2005

I got your megapixels, right here

Wow. Leaf has announced new digital camera backs, the larger of which generates images of 6726 by 5040 pixels (that’s 33,899,040 total pixels for those playing at home). Each frame from this beast tips the scales at around 200MB.
Having come from the world of Web design, I was amazed at the size of files that get tossed around in Photoshop. Web designers are still debating whether requiring a 1024×768 monitor is okay, and in the mobile space that resolution must sound incredibly luxurious. Meanwhile, Photoshop CS raised max document dimensions to 300,000 x 300,000 pixels and the max document size to somewhere between 4 and 8 exabytes (!).
It’s a pleasure and a challenge to develop an application that can work smoothly across a huge range of image sizes. This diversity makes it hard to choose defaults that address all uses, so you may want to tune Photoshop (Mac/Win) to your needs.

2:22 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

October 05, 2005

Genericide: Xeroxing “Photoshop”

Photoshop was big in pop culture last weekend: on both The West Wing and Desperate Housewives, I’m told, characters mentioned Photoshop by name. Right on. The only catch: the West Wing character asked someone to “Photoshop” something out of picture.

You might think Adobe would be all for the verbing of “Photoshop,” but that’s not the case. It turns out that if a company doesn’t actively protect a trademarked name, it can lose the rights to it. That’s why you see TiVo and many others having to advocate mouth-twisting usages like, “Honey, would you record ‘Extreme Deathmatch 9000’ on the TiVo® DVR?” (You’re not even supposed to call the beloved plastic things “Legos.”)

I’ve been asked several times for the technical term for the process of a product name getting, er, generified, and it seems there isn’t a proper one. That said, “Genericide” seems reasonable.

On a related note, see if you can guess what’s indicated by this infographic. (Where I grew up in Illinois, it was pronounced “paahp.”)

Oh, and one last thing: Friends don’t let friends put a capital “S” in the middle of “Photoshop.” That usage really waves the nitwit flag, you know? :-).

12:13 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

October 01, 2005

Droppin’ some science

Psst–hey buddy, seen any good kite-borne photos of Estonian peat bogs lately? You would if you checked out the winners in Science Magazine and the National Science Foundation’s Visualization Challenge [link via PhotoshopNews]. But if your tastes run more towards the secret life of the pea weevil (really!), check out the Visions of Science Photographic Awards. Winners include revealing images that were colored in Photoshop.
Photoshop wasn’t designed for scientific imaging per se, but we’re learning quite a bit about how it gets used in a broad range of applications. Last year I got to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The team preparing the next shuttle flight requested better measurement tools that could aid in the analysis of the shuttle’s heat-resistant tiles. (They also mentioned a rumor that a copy of Photoshop has even found its way onto the International Space Station–evidently several astronauts are avid photographers–but I’ve never been quite able to confirm that.)
We’re working to build up info and resources on Photoshop in the sciences, as well as its uses in engineering and other disciplines. If you’re using Photoshop in these fields, and/or if you have ideas on how we should develop the app to suit your needs, please let us know. Post a comment, or drop us a line.
PS–Apple’s scientific computing pages mention numerous uses of Photoshop, including the Visible Human Project.
PPS–Good luck to this group of 7th & 8th graders, who want to send film into orbit and then analyze the results in Photoshop.

12:38 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

September 27, 2005

New Photoshop Elements 4 announced; what about Mac?

We’ve just announced the new Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0. As you’d expect, it offers numerous crafty new features, and in early reviews people seem impressed.
So, what about the Mac version? In short, we’ve said that it’s in development (e.g. see the last line in the first paragraph here). We haven’t been any more specific than that, largely because as a public company Adobe has to be very careful about forward-looking statements. (Technically speaking, if you asked me whether we were going to start selling garden gnomes tomorrow, I don’t think I could say yes or no.)
And so, fellow Mac users, please don’t jump to any conclusions. We don’t have a new Mac version to announce, nor can we provide details on when we might have one or what it would contain. That said, Elements Mac development continues, and in the meantime the great Photoshop Elements 3.0 for Mac is available now.

3:08 PM | Permalink | Comments [20]

Frogoshopping, Tennis, and Smackdowns (oh my)

The always-entertaining features a great frog-modification contest. I’m humbled by these folks’ skills.
These contests remind me of the Photoshop tennis matches that people started playing a few years ago (tossing a PSD back and forth, adding layers to riff on your partner’s work). The original site is taking a break, but many fun matches are documented in the rather generically named Photoshop: Secrets of the Pros.
Along similar lines, Adobe and Aquent are sponsoring Studio Smackdown 2, which puts designers head to head using Flash and the Creative Suite. Should be good.

9:47 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

September 26, 2005

Your type can look better

As things get easier and faster, do they have to get crummier? No, but if we’re not careful, it’s easy to sacrifice depth and craft for breadth.
Ten years ago, print designers couldn’t understand why I couldn’t replicate their leading and kerning in HTML. Ten years later, I wonder how many designers bother to kern at all.
But beyond resurrecting these fundamentals, new technology lets us do better. OpenType technology allows for much richer character sets, and numerous faces in the Adobe Type Library support this new functionality. Access to alternate characters can help put an end to the kind of blunder I saw in a national magazine several weeks back, where supposedly handwritten parchment featured three identical “g”‘s in a single word.
To see the benefits in action, check out this tutorial from Russell Brown, and this one from Deke McClelland.
(On related fronts, the new Flash Player features much improved text display. Also, Typetester is a little online utility for comparing screen fonts [link via Newsight]. And Linotype has released FontExplorer X, with an iTunes-like ability to organize, preview, and purchase fonts.)

12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

Two in the hand

Wow–now this you don’t see every day. A small company called Tactiva has unveiled a rather eye-popping demo of a device that lets you use both hands while working in design software.
The appeal of using two hands at once (instead of essentially pointing with a stick and grunting, as is done with a mouse) isn’t new; the latest Wacom tablets feature touch strips for non-dominant hand work, and Logitech and others sell a variety of pucks and other devices for the same purpose. But the Tactiva device takes things to a new level by displaying a ghosted image of your actual hands overlaid on the UI, as well as providing force feedback when you interact with on-screen objects.
The device faces plenty of obstacles to adoption (no manufacturers yet, potential $1000 price point, need for support in applications that assume a single input control). Yet I keep thinking about it.
What do you think? Just a neat parlor trick, or the future of computing, or something in between?

12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

September 21, 2005

The Illuminated Continent

Think you’ve got a lot of digital photos to manage? National Geographic photographer Mike Fay & crew flew some 60,000 miles at low levels over Africa, snapping a high-res digital photo every 20 seconds. The tiny Cessna contained more than 2 terabytes of storage for capturing the GPS-stamped data. You can read more here and check out the interactive features, including Flash videos and a high-res PDF map. And if you happen to be on Windows, you can check out the way this content has been
integrated into Google Earth.

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Photography events this week and next

Speaking of National Geographic, if you happen to be in the Bay Area next week, the Aurora Forum is presenting what looks to be an interesting panel discussion on documentary photography and democratic ideals. The panel includes photojournalist Chris Rainier, whom I was privileged to have assisted (a very small bit) in the launch of Cultures on the Edge.
And if you happen to be in LA this week or DC next, check out the film festival for All Roads, “a National Geographic initiative supporting films by and about indigenous groups and under-represented minority culture filmmakers.”

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September 20, 2005

The elevator supports Undo!

Okay, you know you’re spending too much time at work, or on computers, or both when you get excited about something like this. I discovered this morning that the elevators in the new Adobe tower support undo. That is, if you’ve pressed a floor button by mistake, you can press it again to deselect the floor. Who knew? This reminds me of Photoshop quality engineer Pete du Fosse realizing that he was working too much when he found himself holding a hand over his microwave’s keypad, getting frustrated when no tool tip appeared.
[This is probably also the time when my bosses question the value of letting me blog on work hours. ;-)]

2:41 PM | Permalink | Comments [8]

September 19, 2005

Adobe Photographers Directory wins WebAward

Just a little patting of our own backs: the Adobe Photographers Directory has won a WebAward. Congrats to the folks at Euro RSCG 4D and Adobe who’ve made it happen. Now that the directory is linked from Adobe Bridge, we hope that more photographers and designers, ad agencies, and other clients will find each other through it.

9:53 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

September 17, 2005

Stop motion & SLRs

Editors Guild Magazine features an interesting article about the new movie “Corpse Bride” being shot with a digital SLR, the Canon EOS-1D Mark II. “[P]erhaps most significantly, it’s the first movie to choose digital cameras over film cameras based on the criterion of image quality.” [link via Rob Galbraith DPI]
This reminds me of the much lower budget but also clever “Between You and Me”, shot entirely with a Canon 20D. Dig the creative misuse of shiny technology.
[Update: On a related note, check out the stop motion used in the video for Sia’s haunting “Breathe.” A similar technique was used for Sam Bisbee’s “You Are Here.” [links via]]

5:28 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

New Ricoh 8MP camera supports DNG

Just a brief entry to note that Ricoh has adopted the Digital Negative specification for raw capture in the just-announced 8 Megapixel compact GR Digital camera. This announcement follows Hasselblad’s announcement last month, plus Leica’s announcement earlier this year.
Adding in-camera support for a new file format takes time and careful consideration, but the advantages of supporting a standard format (immediate compatibility with a wide range of DNG-aware software, for starters) are pretty apparent to customers. It’s great to see manufacturers responding to this demand, and we look forward to this momentum continuing.

10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

September 09, 2005

Photoshop weblogs, podcasts, and more

Last week, Photoshop engineer Scott Byer mentioned some great resources for Photoshop-related info, including Photoshop News and Rob Galbraith’s site. I subscribe to those sites and wanted to highlight some others:

  • Photoshop author and trainer Jan Kabili frequently highlights techniques, new books, and articles at The Unofficial Photoshop Weblog.
  • Long-time author David Biedny has started the first (to my knowledge) Photoshop-centric podcast. (For those new to subscribing to downloadable audio programs, David points that in iTunes you can choose Advanced->Subscribe to Podcast, then paste the URL “”.) [Update: I’ve learned that Photoshop User magazine is also podcasting, as is Inside Mac Radio. I’ve recorded segments for both this week.]
  • We haven’t yet gotten her blogging, but Julieanne Kost, along with Daniel Brown and Tim Cole, maintains a wealth of info at

The links below aren’t Photoshop-specific, but I enjoy them as well:

  • Digital Photography Review is frequently updated with news of digital cameras, in-depth reviews, and more
  • Macromedia’s indefatigable John Dowdell covers wide-ranging developments related to Flash and Web technologies.
  • Dynamite designer Jon Hicks (known for the Firefox logo, among other things) makes me wish I knew CSS. He also blogs periodically about design and Web technologies. (And if you’re on a Mac, check out his beautiful and useful
    10:55 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

September 03, 2005

Katrina: Help a displaced designer

The good folks at The Chopping Block are doing their part to help victims of the hurricane by starting

“… Many of the displaced–-creative people like us–-will have to start from scratch. We wish to help by offering these people a space from which to earn a living, to re-establish self-sufficience… to get back on their feet. With this in mind, we have started this resource–a place where displaced individuals can be matched with those of us with some extra studio/office space, a desk (or table), a computer/phone/internet connection, or a handful of square feet from which they can start to work and continue to earn a living…”

Please do what you can to help & to spread the word.

9:52 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

September 02, 2005

Speaking Plainly, Part II

Okay, my turn: for some reason we haven’t been able to explain the deal when people are considering upgrading to the Creative Suite. I’ve seen lots of confusion in forums, emails, etc. lately, so, here goes:
Q. Can I upgrade from Photoshop to the Creative Suite?
A. Yes.
Q. Which versions?
A. All versions.
Q. If I upgrade Photoshop to the Suite, and later I decide I want to upgrade just Photoshop, can I do that?
A. Yes. As long as you still own that earlier copy (say, PS7) and have the serial number, you’re golden.
Q. What if I get an application (say, InDesign) for the first time as part of the Suite, and later I want to upgrade just that application (not the whole Suite). Can I do that?
A. No. For various legal reasons, a Suite isn’t a collection. So, you can’t upgrade just one piece of it.
To recap, if you owned Photoshop previously and want to upgrade to the Suite, you will have a choice of upgrades in the future. And if you owned InDesign, Illustrator, etc. on their own, you could upgrade them on their own in the future, even after upgrading the Suite. It’s only apps that you didn’t own outside of the Suite that need a Suite upgrade to move forward. Make sense?
If you have further questions or hear conflicting info, please let me know: jnack [at] adobe [dot] com.

4:04 PM | Permalink | Comments [23]

Speaking Plainly: Thanks, Google

Someone smarter than I should devise a “Law” (call it “Carlito’s Last Theorem” or something) that says that as you throw more marketing weenies (like me) at the task of communicating, the message becomes logarithmically more bloated and impenetrable. We can’t just spit it out.
So, I had to smile when I read this warning dialog that accompanies Google Desktop 2.0:

Please read this carefully. It’s not the usual yada yada.
When you use Advanced Features, you may be sending non-personal usage information and information about websites you visit to Google.
For example, Google Desktop sends Google information about the news pages you visit in order to personalize the news you see in Sidebar. We use other non-personal usage data, including crash reports, to help improve Desktop’s performance. Please note that none of this data actually tells us who you are; we use it merely to improve Desktop’s ability to give you the information that’s most relevant to you.

Ah, nice. So even while they’re busy taking over the world, Google manages to keep it real & respect its users’ intelligence. I can dig it.

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Flash + After Effects

I’ve been dying to see After Effects and Flash get together for a long time, having written a bunch of tutorials on the subject back in the day. Until now, however, the process has been powerful but a bit laborious.
With the advent of support for alpha channels in Flash video, however, you can create some slick combos. See The Flash Blog’s examples of AE-made video composited with interactive Flash elements. Groovy.

10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

August 25, 2005

Network Publishing, Flickr-style

John Watson has crafted a very cool magazine cover generator that combines photos from Flickr with text you enter. Give it a spin, or check out some examples. [Link via MAKE Magazine]
I have a special affinitiy for this kind of thing. I managed to talk my way into AGENCY.COM as a designer, but having no formal training, I often found myself slinging GIFs in menial graphics production. Having determined that creating the same graphical text 200 times in a row does, indeed, kind of suck, I built a graphics engine using Macromedia Generator. It let teammates or even clients themselves enter text into an HTML form, then get back a GIF. Upshot: Let the creative folks spend their time creating, instead of being a bottleneck for production. That’s the idea behind the new Variables feature in Photoshop CS2, as well as Adobe Graphics Server and Adobe InDesign Server.

4:05 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

August 24, 2005

DNG Update, Part II

Thomas Knoll, co-creator of Photoshop and author of Camera Raw, arrived in Japan today with a small team from Adobe. They’ll be talking more with camera manufacturers about how we can work together to improve digital workflow. So, there’s no additional news to report yet, but talks are ongoing.
The DNG standard is a relative newborn, having been announced less than a year ago, but we’ve already made more progress than we expected. Support has been widely and quickly implemented on the software side (Capture One, iView MediaPro, Extensis Portfolio, Mac OS X 10.4, etc.). Adding support in hardware takes more time, given that manufacturers were already on established paths with proprietary formats. It’s exciting to see the Hasselblad announcement today. We’ll post more news as it becomes available.
[See also: Jeff Schewe is keeping a list of good articles on DNG, including his own guides to building a DNG workflow.]

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Hasselblad adds new cameras, DNG support

Hasselblad has announced new cameras, the H2 and H2D, as well as new camera backs. The press release included the following info of interest to those eager to see a common standard adopted for digital raw capture:

Open standards – redefining the way professional photographers work

Hasselblad has partnered closely with Adobe to make its new products fully compatible with Adobe’s raw image format DNG (‘Digital Negative’), bringing this new technology standard to the professional photographer for the first time. The DNG file format enables raw, compressed image files to be opened directly in Adobe Photoshop CS. This allows photographers to operate quickly and efficiently, reducing the “downtime” taken to process image data and enabling final images to reach the customer more quickly. Hasselblad image files now carry a full set of metadata, including capture conditions, keywords and copyright, facilitating work with image asset management solutions. For specialist commercial photographers the full productivity and creative freedom offered by Hasselblad’s FlexColor workflow software is also available via importing the DNG file. The new FlexColor now allows the photographer to manipulate color temperature and compare image details across multiple images for precise image selection.

11:47 AM | Permalink | No Comments

The Killing’s Gotta Stop

Has anyone else had enough of these “Microsoft Acrylic is the [Photoshop/Flash/Illustrator/FreeHand/Fireworks/etc.] Killer!” articles? Is the technology press so bored that they have to invent conflicts?

If I were Microsoft, I’d be deflecting these assertions like crazy. Why? Because they set unrealistic, misleading expectations that end up reflecting poorly on new products.

Background: When InDesign 1.0 was in development, it got dubbed by some Adobe’s “Quark Killer.” (This was before my time here, so I don’t know the origin of the phrase, but I do know that I’ve never heard anyone here use it.) When the 1.0 product shipped and didn’t “kill” an app that had been established for more than a decade, it was assumed to be a failure. Well, 5+ years later, InDesign is doing just fine, thanks.

It’s also false to assume that new apps need or want to kill others. I was a Flash developer in the late ’90s, so when Adobe offered me the chance to work on LiveMotion, I jumped at the chance. Did I want to “kill” Flash? Of course not! I enjoyed working with the format enough that I wanted to make the ecosystem of authoring tools bigger and better. But hey, sure enough, LiveMotion got dubbed the “Flash Killer,” setting up conflict and disappointment. (And now, that unfortunate moniker has now passed to another unreleased product.)

So, back to the subject at hand. I think Macromedia’s John Dowdell said it well: of course Microsoft will create tools to target its next-gen OS; it’s not a zero-sum game; and different strokes serve different folks.

As Max Fischer would say, “The killin’s gotta stop, ese.”

9:41 AM | Permalink | Comments [11]

August 19, 2005

Up From Obscurity: Adobe Proxy

Big company, big products–something’s bound to get lost in the shuffle. With that in mind, I’m going to try creating an “Up From Obscurity” category to shed light on features, resources, and techniques that deserve more prominence.
First up: Adobe Proxy. Anybody remember the late Adobe Magazine? Well, it’s born again (sort of) in Adobe Proxy, a glossy quarterly focused on All Things Design (profiles of design shops, links to actions on Adobe Exchange–another great/totally obscure resource–etc.). Check it out at
[Edited 3:15pm per comments below]

1:30 PM | Permalink | Comments [8]

August 18, 2005

Better bitmaps in Flash

Great news for anyone wanting to integrate Photoshop and other imagery into Flash (and judging from the crowds drawn by my old boss, Myke Ninness, when he lectures on this at conferences, that’s a lot of people): Macromedia engineer Tinic Uro reports that they’ve made some solid improvements in how bitmaps are drawn in the recently announced Flash 8. This should provide smoother, faster drawing of images, such as those displayed in Photoshop CS2’s new Flash Web Photo Gallery templates (example | download).
This reminds me a bit of when we launched Photoshop 7. The eye-popping Healing Brush got the big wows, but the feature battling it for applause was the simplest thing in the world: when you’d rename a layer, you could now type right into the layers palette, rather than into a dialog box. Sure, it would save you just a couple of seconds, but multiply that by number of layers, across days, weeks, months… It’s a simple lesson but one that’s easy to forget: to really make the experience better, spare some cycles for the spit and polish. It’s cool to see the Flash team doing the little things that make a big difference.
[Disclaimer: Adobe and Macromedia have announced their intention to join forces, but until that’s a done deal, we’re required to operate as separate entities. So, just to be clear, I’ll point out that I’m simply relaying publicly available information.]

5:34 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

Adobe Photographers Directory now in Bridge

With all the action surrounding the launch of Creative Suite 2, it was easy to overlook what I think is a very cool new service: the Adobe Photographers Directory. The Directory is designed to put clients in touch with the right photographer for a task (say, fine art in Chicago).
I mention it now because the new Adobe Stock Photos 1.0.3 update has just been released (check “Updates” from the Help menu in Photoshop or Bridge), and it adds a link to the Directory to the Bridge Favorites panel. For now the link launches an external browser, though in the future we plan to display the directory directly inside Bridge, as shown here. (Speaking of which, Photoshop News has created its own little installer for ading a PS News link to the same area; see story.)

2:47 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

August 15, 2005

Good Evening, Mr. and Mrs. America & All the Ships at Sea…

So, it’s time I stepped up and got this blog of mine rolling. First, a basic intro: I’m John Nack & am insanely lucky to work as a product manager for Adobe Photoshop. (If I wake up to find I’m actually still slinging breadsticks at the Olive Garden in South Bend, Indiana, well, it was fun while it lasted.) Prior to joining the ‘Dobe five years ago to work on LiveMotion 2, I was a Flash and graphic designer at AGENCY.COM New York.

What’s my plan? I’ll blog as often as seems useful on things relating to Photoshop, imaging, and the Suite. I aim to be brief and keep things interesting (All Killer, No Filler). Updates are likely to be erratic for a while at least, so subscribing to the RSS feed seems like a good idea.

Being new to all this, I’d be grateful for your input on what you’d like to see in this space. Comments should be up and running, or you can drop me a note: jnack {at}

Now, let’s begin.

11:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [21]
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