February 27, 2007

Lightroom FAQ for RawShooter customers

A number of photographers have written in this week, asking for details about how customers of Pixmantec’s RawShooter Premium (which Adobe acquired last summer) can get a free copy of Lightroom.  Lightroom Product Mgr. Tom Hogarty posted a brief FAQ a few days ago that address these questions. For convenience I’ve reproduced it here:

Q: When will Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 be available for RawShooter Premium customers?
A: The Photoshop Lightroom offer email for RawShooter Premium customers will be distributed by February 23rd with instructions on how to obtain a free downloadable copy of Lightroom 1.0.

Q: Can RawShooter Premium customers get started with Photoshop Lightroom before receiving the offer email?
A: Yes, please download the 30-day trial version of Lightroom. The offer email will provide instructions on how to obtain the serial number that will license the trial version of Lightroom.

Q: Where can I find documentation for Photoshop Lightroom?
A: Tutorials and documentation for Photoshop Lightroom can be found in the Adobe Design Center.

Q: Who do I contact if I don’t receive an offer email by February 23rd?
A: If you are an owner of RawShooter Premium (RawShooter Essential users do not qualify for this offer) and you do not receive an offer email by February 23rd please contact Adobe Customer Service in your region for further assistance.

Q: How can I convert my RawShooter Premium settings to Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw compatible settings?
A: A free settings conversion tool will be posted on Adobe Labs on March 5th for use by RawShooter Premium customers.

Hope that helps,

11:09 PM | Permalink | Comments [9]

What does Marcellus Wallace look like?

That’s the question on Sam Jackson’s mind in this little (and profane) typographic study.  See also a second, apparently independent take on the same idea. [Via]  On other typographic notes:

6:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

The 66" negative

AutoWeek has the interesting story of how photographer Rick Graves uses a modified, motorized camera back which feeds a continuous roll of film past the shutter while it’s open, creating a very wide negative (like this one; scroll it to the right):

"Each image Graves makes is from one exposure on an entire roll of film, not a composite of several different images.

"’A number of people have tried to build this type of camera,’ Graves said, likening it to the finish-line cameras used at horse races. ‘But the difference with my camera is that I have 66 inches of movement [of the film] in one second. The film is moving relative to the moving subject. I developed this camera as a better way to capture motion.’

"The secret to the system is not the camera itself—a standard 500 Series Hasselblad—but in the film back, which contains a small motor and various electronics adapted from the robotics industry. This setup gives Graves control of how fast the film moves when he opens the shutter. If he gets it right, the film is moving at the same speed as the cars, allowing for a photo with dozens of speeding cars, all razor sharp."

NASCAR sells prints that are 4 inches tall by 8 feet long.  Check out many more examples (not all automotive) in the DistaVision portfolio. One slight bummer is that because of the ubiquity of Photoshop-edited composites in the world, a lot of viewers may think these works are simply digital collages. [Via Joe Ault]

On a related note, I happened across an article on slit-scan photography that features a rather trippy photo produced using related methods. [Via]

2:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

February 26, 2007

Non-destructive JPEG: An oxymoron?

When cameras capable of shooting digital raw files started hitting the mainstream (roughly five years ago, give or take), one of the advantages of shooting raw was that editing had to be non-destructive.  That is, because the pixel data hadn’t yet been converted into traditional RGB channel data, applications like Photoshop couldn’t poke at it directly.  This in turn meant that conversion parameters had to be stored as sets of instructions, rather than as burned-in as pixel edits.

Photographers have now become familiar and comfortable with the idea of moving & storing the captured bits along with the "special sauce" used by their raw processing app of choice.  The XMP files that are (optionally) parked next to images by Adobe Camera Raw & Lightroom make this particularly easy.  The fact that the DNG format supports built-in metadata & rendered previews turns it into a kind of envelope (or "job jacket," to borrow Peter Krogh’s phrase)–a container that stores your negative, your processing instructions, and your rendered print.  As editing tools get richer–for example, with Lightroom’s ability to store multiple settings per file–the benefits of this approach grow.

But what about non-raw files?  Both Lightroom and Camera Raw now offer the ability to edit JPEG and TIFF files, so that no matter what format(s) your camera generates, you can use the same non-destructive tools.  So now a photojournalist or sports shooter, say, could shoot JPEGs, apply edits in the field (soft crops, non-destructive dust busting, tonal corrections, etc.), and upload the original files plus their processing instructions.

This poses some tricky questions, however.  Fundamentally, is it okay that Adobe is putting "special sauce" into the metadata of JPEGs, causing them to appear differently when viewed in the latest Adobe editing tools than in other apps?  Is it okay to extend the JPEG standard?  A few things to consider:

  • Adding this metadata to JPEGs doesn’t damage the files in any way, or degrade other tools’ ability to read the pixels.  The data is simply ignored by tools other than Lightroom/ACR/Photoshop/Bridge.  Adobe tools are leveraging the flexibility that’s already in the format.
  • Generating a copy of the image with the edits burned in (i.e. with the pixels changed) is a one-click task.
  • Putting the metadata into the files makes it more easily portable than requiring a sidecar file. 
  • One alternative would be to bake Lightroom/ACR edits into JPEGs immediately, thereby negating the advantage of non-destructiveness.  Another would be to force the JPEG to be converted to another format, making it clear that something had changed, but rendering those images unreadable by other tools.  Forcing either approach, however, seemed like a bad idea.

So, there are pros and cons to any approach, but the one we’re pursuing makes it possible to enjoy the portability and non-destructiveness of raw editing using non-raw files.  It’s done in a way that lets JPEGs be extended easily & without damage.  If you’re concerned about using this approach, you can convert JPEG & TIFF files to DNG (an option I’ll address separately in a bit)–but that conversion isn’t forced on anyone. 

My take is that the flexibility it opens up is more than worth the cost.  What do you think?

1:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [19]

I got yer Web conference discounts, right here

A couple of interesting Web-centric conferences are coming up this spring, and ways to save money registering each have popped onto my radar.  I’m passing along the info in case it’s of interest:

  • Web Design World San Francisco runs March 26-28th at the Moscone Center.  I’ll be presenting a half-day workshop called Photoshop CS3 Bootcamp.   If you register by the end of day Feb. 28 (i.e., Wednesday), you’ll save $200; use code SPNAC.
  • On the other side of the country, the new DX3 Conference (Design/Deploy/Develop, organized by Lynda.com) is due to hit Boston May 15-18. Register by March 24th to save $200, and use code
    FAL628BS to shave off another $100.

By the way, on a Lynda.com-related note, the folks there have just posted 6.5 hours of training on Lightroom, presented by Chris Orwig.

12:03 PM | Permalink | No Comments

February 25, 2007

Urban grit, bright buildings, and more

BYOTR (Bring Your Own Thematic Relationship) to these photos; I can’t offer one this time. :-)

11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

February 23, 2007

Amazing 3D-rendered woman

I’m no expert on 3D modeling & rendering, and for all I know this kind of imaging may now be common.  In any case I was blown away by the lifelike quality of Max Edwin Wahyudi’s rendering of South Korean actress Song Hye Kyo (make sure to check out the full-res version). [Via Mark Maguire]  For a far less aesthetically pleasing 3D portrait, check out my Britney momentAwful…!

3:16 PM | Permalink | Comments [11]

February 22, 2007

On the personality of apps

Apropos of the "Macromedia will take Adobe clubbing" thing & the Lightroom team’s musings about the personality of applications, I was reminded of a little anecdote from a few years back (before the companies got together) that you might enjoy:

A research team asked a group of young designers to describe their software tools as if each one were at a party.  Photoshop, they said, was kind of like a gray-bearded professor, maybe an older guy in his 40’s (I know, I know)–really smart, really respected, but not someone you felt you could just start chatting up.  Illustrator was a beautiful, glamorous woman standing on the periphery–amazing, mysterious, and not so easy to approach.  And Flash, meanwhile, was the cocky young guy at the party–talking to all the girls, maybe getting a bunch of drinks thrown in his face, but going home with a handful of phone numbers.

–J. (stroking his metaphorical, not-so-gray beard, sitting among the Flash UI designers in the former Macromedia office as he types this, thinking this is the strangest life he’s ever known)

5:42 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

Adobe, minivans, promiscuity (?!)

Heh–if that doesn’t get your parental antennae buzzing, I don’t know what will. ;-)  I got a kick out of seeing these characterizations of Adobe, spied by John Dowdell, in a pair of articles:

  • "In the software world, if Oracle Corp. is the monster truck of corporate acquirers, showily flattening competitors as flash pots explode," writes Olaf de Senerpont Domis, "Adobe Systems Inc. is the humble minivan, patiently trundling from point A to point B."  I think there’s some truth in that.  Headquartered in unassuming San José (the minivan of cities), Adobe doesn’t do a lot of the chest-thumping I see from other companies–a modesty I’ve always appreciated.  And having (grudgingly) swapped a Miata for a minivan during college, I can tell you: respect the van.
  • "Going forward, the Gartner trio predicts, Adobe will promiscuously embed collaboration features across its product lines," reports Stephen Swoyer.  Facilitating collaboration has been a passion of mine for a long time (e.g. getting feedback tools into Photoshop’s Web gallery engine in CS1; embedding Flash in Photoshop CS3), and we’ll keep cranking away, but now it sounds so much more… salacious. ;-)

When the Adobe-Macromedia deal was announced, a designer remarked, "Adobe will make Macromedia grow up, but Macromedia will take Adobe out clubbing."  So, we may be rocking a minivan here, but you know there are hydraulics under there…

12:31 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

February 21, 2007

Laser graffitti + chrome spheres

File under Enormousness:

  • You’ve gotta love any ingredient list that includes the phrase, "1 60mW Green Laser (super illegal in a lot of places and very dangerous)."  And you’ve really gotta love what the Graffiti Research Lab does with theirs, lighting up a Rotterdam building with all kinds of hand-drawn art.  Big style points for the dripping paint effect!
  • I’ve always really liked mosaics and particle systems, and I used to browbeat a friend in Illustrator engineering to convert their mosaic filter to create symbols (good for turning artwork into particles that could be animated, kind of like these fish).  That hasn’t happened, but in the meantime I can enjoy Danny Rozin’s shiny balls mirror (see video).  Comprised of "921 hexagonal black-anodized aluminum tube extrusions, 921 chrome-plated plastic balls, and 819 motors," the system reflects the viewer twice: once in each ball, and once in the entire piece. [Via].
    See also his earlier wooden mirror (video).  And lastly, his Time Scan Mirror reminds me of the Scanner Photography Project (the site for which is now down, unfortunately).

[Update: Speaking of mosaics, how about a cereal Seinfeld? [Via]]

6:54 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

February 20, 2007

Lightroom Podcast #28: Phil Clevenger, Grace Kim and Mark Hamburg

"I think pretty much any software has a personality," says Mark Hamburg, "but a lot of times it’s something that one sort of stumbles into, and people don’t think about that as part of the design process. When I started the project, I wanted to do something that was more visually interesting, for example, than Photoshop, and tried some directions in that regard. And I did bad KPT imitations."

Mark sat down with Lightroom UI designer Phil Clevenger, user researcher Grace Kim, and photography evangelist George Jardine on Dec. 11th.  George writes,

In this podcast, we take a retrospective look at the entire design process of Shadowland, and how personality played a role in the final look and feel of the software. Phil discusses the efforts that went into designing Shadowland to help keep your photography the focus of attention, and visually more important on the screen than the user interface.

"I think the exercise really brought to light people’s implicit assumptions about what they thought the Shadowland personality was, or should be. Things that were kind of hard to articulate, but people just had them as working assumptions." – Grace Kim

"While people in different parts of the country may have different notions of what sleek or stylish may mean, I think everybody knows what butter is." – Phil "Butter" Clevenger

The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under "1211 Podcast – Phil Clevenger, Grace Kim and Mark Hamburg"). It’ll also be available via the Lightroom podcasts RSS feed, and by searching for "Lightroom" in iTunes.

4:35 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

Automotive visualizations

I’ve come across some crafty ideas from the automotive world, visualized in Photoshop, 3D, and sheetmetal:

  • BMW tweaks nature to demonstrate why they don’t do front wheel drive.
  • Volkswagen drives home their power-to-weight ratio in this series of GTI ads (see larger).
  • Vive le blur: Recent design school grad Ian Hart created some rather excellent Ford Mustang ads as a student project. He writes, “Constructed from GE Lexan EXL semi-transparent resin, the billboard accurately blurs the scene behind it regardless of day, weather or season.” [Via]
  • Peugeot & Microsoft challenged designers to devise cars of the future, and you can see a gallery of the winners here.  Peugeot will build the winning entry as a full-scale concept car, and MSFT will feature a drivable version of the car in one of its Xbox 360 games.
  • No Photoshop necessary: Automotive artist Billy Gibbons (aka one of the bearded dudes from ZZ Top) has created the weirdly wonderful Bus Ball [Via].  It reminds me in some way of Heatherwick Studio’s groovy rolling bridge (video).
4:22 PM | Permalink | Comments [1]

February 18, 2007

Lightroom is here!

I’m delighted to say that after a year’s worth of public testing, discussion, and refinement, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is now shipping (see the newly created Adobe PR blog for the press release, etc.).  Congratulations to the team & to all the photographers who have made this application what it is!  As a reader of this blog, you don’t need me to belabor the details, so let me point out just a few things:

  • You can grab a 30-day tryout version of the shipping product for Mac & Windows.  (The earlier Beta 4 build times out at the end of February, so you might want to grab the shipping version sooner rather than later.)
  • You can order the product for $199 ($299 after April 30).
  • The product page features roughly 2 minutes of great testimonials from pro photographers, as well as profiles of Doug Menuez, Sarah Silver, and Sye Williams.
  • The product pages also include plenty of detail on the application (e.g. its tight integration with Photoshop).

In addition, Adobe Camera Raw 3.7, together with an updated DNG Converter, is available for download (Windows | Mac).  In addition to bringing compatibility with settings created in Lightroom, ACR now supports more than 150 cameras, including the Nikon D40 and the Pentax K10D.  And though the cameras don’t appear on the official compatibility list, Phase One shooters will be happy to know that Lightroom and ACR now (unofficially) support a number of P1 cameras (H20, H25, P20, P21, P25, P30, & P45), and Fuji customers have preliminary support for the S5.

So, with that, thanks again for helping to guide & craft Lightroom over this past year, and happy shooting!

11:04 PM | Permalink | Comments [14]

Can photographers be plagiarists?

That’s the subject of an interesting illustrated essay on Slate this week.  A father/son team of photographers has been accused of ripping off the work of another shooter–apparently after first calling him for advice on vantage points, film, etc.  The essay talks about ways photographers have played off & riffed on one another’s work over the years, even to the point of reproducing it wholesale (e.g. Sherrie Levine photographing Walker Evans’ famous Depression-era prints–making her an "appropriation artist").  At what point does homage cross the line?  It’s interesting food for thought.

Side note: I do have to ask what, exactly, makes this photo so special?  Maybe if I weren’t totally insecure about what I shoot, I could let this go, but…  I’d like to be enlightened about why a photo like this one is considered gallery-worthy.  It makes me think of that empty plinth getting mistaken for the actual artwork.

9:07 AM | Permalink | Comments [11]

February 17, 2007

How the Healing Brush came to be

The new issue of Computer Graphics World features an article from Adobe VP of engineering Dave Story, discussing the origins of the Healing Brush*.  He writes,

The inspiration for the Healing Brush came from something you might hear in a Physics 101 lecture: When you place a piece of metal on a heated surface, heat diffuses through the metal until it reaches a steady state. But what does heat diffusion have to do with pixel restoration? More than you might think.

Dave mentions Poisson image editing and the Laplace equation, but overall he keeps the discussion out of the techier weeds.  If you eat that stuff for breakfast & want something more bracing, you could try this math-heavy 1-pager on covariant image reconstruction from Todor Georgiev, who is featured in Dave’s write-up.

*On the off chance you’re unfamiliar with this technology, here’s a PDF for background on the Healing Brush.

2:25 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

Panopalooza: From Barcelona to the Moon

It’s rough–rough!–when a humble photog like me finds himself pursued from city to city by someone much more capable behind the lens.  But that’s the situation in which I found myself last week, when Dzone Magazine editor Hans Frederiks* (brother of Adobe’s own Ton Frederiks) joined us in Amsterdam, then in Barcelona.  I found time to squeeze in a few panoramic shots, but every time I’d turn around, Hans was shooting & had already uploaded images to his blog.  It’s all good, though, and I wanted to pass along a few of his images (stitched together with Photoshop CS3):

Since folks seemed to enjoy my Paris panorama, here are a few more from the journey**:

Figuring that if you’ve read this far, you must like panoramic flavor, so I’ll pass along a few more:

*I also can’t offer up phrases like "Eindelijk sneeuw! De lichtmeester ‘at it again’!"  But I can enjoy the sound. ;-)

**Note: We’re still fine tuning the Zoomify implementation in Photoshop.  The output here is generally nicer than what you can produce with the CS3 public beta, but we still have some work to do (e.g. the panos are a bit soft when they first load).  Also, I’m trying not to Zoomify things just for the sake of doing so, and instead I want to use the feature only when it adds value (and when it doesn’t let you see just how noisy some of my captures are!).

Oh, and one more thing: This is post #500 on the ol’ blog-blog-revolution.  I hope you enjoy the reading as much as I enjoy the writing.

11:24 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

February 16, 2007

How Lightroom & Warcraft are related, more

The blog since1968.com has posted the second part of its interview with Mark Hamburg, Adobe software architect & prime mover behind Adobe Lightroom.  The interview discusses challenges behind building a cross-platform application; why the team elected to build first on the Mac; Lightroom’s distant connection to Warcraft (the Lua scripting language); and more.  [In case you missed it, see also part 1.]

2:25 PM | Permalink | No Comments

February 15, 2007

Adobe Magazine returns

Adobe Proxy, the quarterly design magazine from available in PDF format, has been rethought and relaunched as–dramatic flourish Adobe Magazine.  The new (historic) name should make the publication easier to find, and the format & content have been revised for easier browsing.  From the mag:

Many of you told
us you don’t have time to read the
magazine cover to cover. That’s
why we’ve designed all articles in
the new Adobe Magazine to give
a quick shot of inspiration and
instruction. You’ll see innovation
in the fields of photography,
publishing, interactive, and video,
and you’ll get specific details on the
techniques and software features
used to create it.

You can download the current issue (cut & curled by guest designer Josh Berger of Plazm), as well as sign up for notification of upcoming issues. The mag is also available in French and German. [Update: I’ve added links to French and German. The UK sign-up page, which lists other countries in the popup, is here. I believe the main page will be updated with these links.]

5:09 PM | Permalink | Comments [9]

Master & Photoshop Commander

The long-standing Photoshop actions system (which debuted in PS4) makes it pretty easy to record a series of commands, then play them back.  Photoshop scripting (intro’d in PS7) lets developers do much more sophisticated automation, but it needs to be written by hand and is consequently much harder to create.  Thus there’s been a demand for a system that would let users use conditional logic in Photoshop (e.g. processing an image one way if it’s taller than it is wide, and another if it’s wider than it is tall), but without having to learn/write scripting.

To fill this gap, scripter Andrew Hall has created Photoshop Commander, a free add-on designed to put fairly sophisticated automation tools into the hands of non-programmers.  He explains,

Photoshop Commander is a Photoshop Script for CS2 and CS3 that creates powerful programming capability in Photoshop, using simple dialogs that anyone can work with and understand. Photoshop Commander provides a comprehensive easy-to-use menu system that allows non-programmers to create sophisticated workflow automations all without the need to understand a single line of programming code.

The script (which is free and is being released under the Creative Commons license), and a heap of accompanying Flash tutorials can be downloaded at

If you check out the first 10 minutes of the tutorials you will get some idea of what it can do and how it works.

Check it out, and let Andrew know what you think (via the comments section of the download page).

4:52 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

Photoshop: Dolla dolla bill, y’all

It’s all about the ducats: Today’s NY Times features a photo of artist (er, medallic sculptor) Joseph Menna using Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq pressure-sensitive monitor to create a portrait of George Washington, along with a story about how the Mint is planning to issue $1 coins that feature images of dead presidents.  Nice to see Photoshop being used to design currency outside of a dorm room (oh!).

2:00 PM | Permalink | Comments [5]

February 14, 2007

Frosty photography

From chilly Kansas City (via my friend Maria at Hallmark, specifically) comes a link to amazing photos from Lake Geneva in Switzerland, showing cars, boats, and more buried in beautiful, brutal ice.  Background info on the pix is at Snopes.com.

Man, this stuff makes me not miss living in Boston.  I returned to Logan airport once to find my old Volvo with six inches of snow coating its side, needing to be clawed off with a speaker cover that had conveniently fallen off the door.  San José, CA, may have all the culture of a beer nut, but the weather sure doesn’t suck.

[Tangentially related Boston/cold thing: On this Europe trip, InDesign PM Chad Siegel entertained us to no end with his rendition of a beer vendor from Fenway Park: "ICE cold beeah heeah! FREEZE ya teeth, take ya TONGUE on a sleigh ride! You’ll wish ya throat was a miiiiiiile loong!"  Of course I had to morph this into a topical cry: "RED hot apps heeah! WORK ya flow, take ya MOUSE on a joy ride!  You’ll wish ya screen was a miiiiiile wide!"]

8:11 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

More great Lightroom resources

As we get close to really, truly shipping Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (cue X-Wing voice: "Stay on tar-get, stay on tar-get…"), lots of good resources are emerging.  Three have popped up in recent days:

  • Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer rounds up new Lightroom titles from Martin Evening, Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Tim Grey, Mikkel Aaland, and John Beardsworth, with links to buy each online.
  • Matt K. has also created LightroomKillerTips.com, which he updates frequently with video clips, customer spotlights, and more. (Here’s the RSS feed.)
  • Michael Tapes of RawWorkflow.com has posted a series of free videos.  He writes, "We also offer a higher res DVD-ROM for $10.95 (inc US shipping) with the identical content, but a larger window size and higher quality video, although our streaming video is quite spectacular, if I say so myself!"

I’m sure I’m misssing/forgetting some great resources, so please feel free to add them via the comments (and see previous for more).

6:07 PM | Permalink | Comments [4]

Lightroom Podcast #27: Maki Kawakita

Kabuki-influenced fashion photography is on hand in the latest Lightroom podcast. Adobe evangelist George Jardine recently spoke with Maki Kawakita in NYC about her life and work. He writes,

In this podcast, Maki talks about how her background in Japanese dance and theater has inspired the dramatic look of her colorful fashion photography. Maki currently works and lives in New York City. She also shoots assignments and has exhibitions of her artwork in both Europe and Japan.

This “video” podcast includes photographs created by Maki. It can be viewed by downloading it directly into iTunes (if you are accessing it by subscribing via the Music Store), or by copying it into iTunes on either a Mac or a PC (if you’ve downloaded it from my iDisk). Once copied into iTunes, it can be transferred to a Video iPod, and viewed that way as well. When viewing it on an iPod, be sure to access the video from the top-level Video menu (then “Movies” or “Video Podcasts”…. depending upon how you downloaded it), and NOT from the top-level Music menu. If you access it from the Music menu, you will not see all of the photographs.
Finally, it’s possible that only the audio track will be heard on devices other than Apple Video iPods, and the photographs will not be seen.

The podcast is available as an MP3 file via George’s iDisk (under "1215 Podcast – Maki Kawakita"). It’ll also be available via the Lightroom podcasts RSS feed, and by searching for "Lightroom" in iTunes.  You can find an additional overview of Maki’s work on PDN Online. (Something tells me that unlike Hillary Duff & Missy Eliott, we won’t see Gwyneth Paltrow sit for a head-in-a-box portrait.)

5:59 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

February 13, 2007

Mainly in the Plane

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies*.
Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain…

You know what’s wonderful about Spain?  This is the kind of thing you see out your bedroom window.  Know what’s less great?  One look is all you get–the rest of the time being booked solid. (If you think I talk a lot here, try 7 hours’ worth yesterday.) You can take the Hyatt out of the boy, but you can’t take the boy out of the Hyatt–literally.

Still & all, it was great to spend a day chatting with & teaching a boatload of authors & trainers from around Europe.  A bit selfishly, I love the fact that Spanish seems to be less widely studied here than English, German, or French.  For once, my poquito of high school Spanish let me avoid feeling like the monolingual ugly American in the room.  In fact, in a jewelry store in Barcelona I observed a German guy awkwardly telling the shopkeeper that he, uh, didn’t speak Spanish.  "Hah hah, my Teutonic amigo," I thought, "We’re in the same barco now, eh?  Más o menos?" And now I’m flying home at last, so you can be done with my little travel anecdotes (well, almost; a few photos are yet to come).

[Apropos of nothing: the flight attendants on Spanair are decked out in rather deviant-looking black leather gloves.  (Spanish gloves of Spanish leather?)   You could be forgiven for thinking you’d wandered into a Eurythmics video.]

*Note: Management reserves the right to substitute a gaggle of pasty software-folk in lieu of said fair ladies.  No warranties expressed or implied.  Vaya con Dios.

7:31 PM | Permalink | Comments [2]

February 12, 2007

Killing ’em softly with Bridge, Lightroom

I take a ton of photos, most of which turn out to be quite mediocre. Until now I’ve been using the Delete key in Bridge to blow away the rejects & move on to the next photo in line. That works well enough, but the move is kind of severe, throwing your photo into the trash. It would be nice if there were a way to "soft delete" images–flagging them for the dead wagon, but not yet moving them to the trash. So, I’m glad to say that both the new version of Bridge (available on Labs) and Lightroom (shipping very shortly) offer methods for doing this:

  • When you hit the Delete key in Bridge CS3, you’ll get the option to mark an image as a reject. If you choose this option, hitting Delete will mark your image with a red "Reject" label. You can then choose to hide (or show only) the rejects via the new Filter panel. Here’s a screenshot of both. You can remove the rejectedness of an image by marking it No Rating (via the Label menu, or via Cmd-0/Ctrl-0).
  • Lightroom lets you reject an image by hitting X while in the Library module.  To reject it and move to the next in line, hit Shift-X.  (The same convention works for setting a Pick–hit P and Shift-P.)  And from the bottom of the Library window you can click the flag icons to hide the rejects, so that they disappear when you flag them as such.  Hitting Cmd-Delete/Ctrl-Delete will then offer to remove the files from the Lightoom database, or to move them to the trash.  Note: I don’t know how much of this stuff is wired up in Beta 4 of Lightroom, but it’ll be working as described in v1.0.
10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments [8]

Help improve Dreamweaver, Flash -> Win fame, glory

Okay, maybe not fame, but how about $1000 or a copy of Creative Suite 3?  Those are the prizes (5 of ’em) being raffled to folks who help Adobe improve our Web tools by the Adobe user research team.  They’re using a technology called ClickStream (more about them & their privacy policy) that records how often menu items, tools, etc. are used in each application, from which we can gain insights into what’s important & should be improved.  If you’re interested, please see the note below from researcher Sharma Hendel.  Cash and software aside, I think it’s a great (and pretty painless) way to help improve the tools that thousands of people use every day. [UPDATE: Sorry, I didn’t notice that participation is limited to US residents. Lame, but I guess doing business across borders is harder than it should be. –J.]

I’m a user experience researcher with the Flash & Dreamweaver teams and I’m looking for Flash and Dreamweaver users to help us out with a massive project.  If you’re a regular Flash or Dreamweaver user and would like to help out, please check out the information below. 

This is a product improvement study with folks who use Flash or Dreamweaver several times per week. The project entails downloading and installing a small program that anonymously collects information about the features you use in Adobe products and other applications. All eligible participants will be entered in a prize drawing either $1000 or one of 5 copies of Creative Suite 3 (to be released later this year).
If you are interested, please take this survey to determine eligibility.  Then download the ClickSight™ software – a program developed for Adobe by Clickstream Technologies. (Mac Users: Currently, ClickSight runs only on Windows PCs.  We will be conducting a Mac-based study later this year.  If you are a Mac user and would like to be involved, please email info@clickstreamtech.com).

Thanks!  You are helping make our Web applications even better!

Sharma Hendel (shendel at adobe dot com)
User Experience Team

3:47 AM | Permalink | Comments [9]

Why Adobe doesn’t touch proprietary raw files

Touching the bits of raw image formats that aren’t publicly documented well (or at all) seems like a bad idea, bound to end in tears. Microsoft is advising customers not to edit metadata using Vista, saying,

Microsoft has received reports of compatibility issues with Nikon NEF files after installing version 1.0 of Nikon’s raw codec posted in January. Tagging the raw files through Windows Vista or the Microsoft Photo Info tool after the codec is installed appears to cause these files to become unreadable in other applications, such as Adobe Photoshop. [Via]

I’m sure the problem will get sorted out soon enough, but it does illustrate why Camera Raw and Lightroom insist on using sidecar data files for raw formats other than DNG. It’s less convenient, but we’ve seen far too many conflicts arise from touching metadata in these other formats. DNG was designed with flexible internal storage of metadata in mind, and now Lightroom and Bridge offer conversion to DNG as part of their photo-import processes. (For what it’s worth, on my MacBook Pro, converting an 8MP CR2 file to DNG takes roughly 1-1.5 seconds–not a bad price for portability & reduced file size.)

1:47 AM | Permalink | Comments [8]

February 09, 2007

Printing on water & more

  • The Jeep Waterfall is a totally fantastic, “3,000 valve, 20-pump contraption” that essentially prints images onto falling water–much as an inkjet would onto moving paper. The eye-popping video is well worth a watch.
  • Taking a similar concept in a horizontal direction, the AMOEBA device uses wave generators to print letter & pictures on water. Each one is visible for just a moment, and a new one can be shown every 3 seconds. There’s a brief video of the device in action, but I find the still image is more impressive. [Aside: I think my life would be greatly enriched by a background audio track of breathless Japanese narration.]
  • If that $10k/gallon inkjet business has gotten you down, you might like hearing about the ZINK inkless printing system. It promises a zero-ink printing process by embedding dye crystals in the paper itself. [Via the Elements team]
  • ToughPrint promises waterproof inkjet paper, suitable for making, say, a map, then taking it hiking in the rainforest (as one does). [Via]

For more printing goodness, see previous entries.

2:05 AM | Permalink | Comments [4]

February 08, 2007

GigaPans & big zooms

A couple of interesting optical bits of note:

  • Roland Piquepaille talks about a new device called GigaPan, a $200 automated device which promises to facilitate the creation of very large panoramas. More info is here. [Via]
  • David Pogue waxes rhapsodic about the hard-to-find Nikon 18-200mm stabilized lens. Newly minted Flash PM (formerly long-time Flash evangelist) Richard Galvan has been shooting up a storm with what I believe is this same lens & loves it. He took some beautiful sunrise shots of Barcelona today, to which I’ll link as soon as he posts ’em.
  • New Canon developments are rumored, including the possibility of some new “long glass.” I’ve been wondering when we might see a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens featuring the new image stabilization technology. Having just shelled out for a house, however, my enthusiasm for a purchase like that has appropriately waned… [Via Keith Cooper]
4:21 PM | Permalink | Comments [6]

February 07, 2007

Like the Photoshop beta, but miss your cursors?

Photoshop customers seem pretty happy with the CS3 beta (88% satisfied, according to one independent survey), but being a beta, it contains some bugs. One that’s been especially annoying to Intel-based Mac users is the lack of cursors that match the size and shape of your painting tool.
The good news is that we have a fix for this problem, but timing is such that we won’t be able to post another public beta build. That said, we really want to make sure we get this right, so if you’d like to help us test it, we’d really welcome your assistance. More details on how to sign up to test a private build are here. Thanks in advance!

4:30 AM | Permalink | Comments [11]

Paris from the top

I’m having a ball shooting panoramic images in Europe, so I thought I’d share one sample (more to come). I created this 27MP Parisian pano by taking a series of shots from atop the Tour Montparnasse, home to the local Adobe office. I stitched the images together by loading them via the files-to-layers script, then choosing Edit->Auto-Align Layers, followed by Edit->Auto Blend Layers, and finally Export->Zoomify.
Adobe must have a thing for towers, and I write this from the Barcelona office, which tops a 20-story building overlooking the beach. The city is as beautiful as I’d been told, so I look forward to shooting more tourist bits–er, valuable test files–in a bit.
[Update: Fixed link.]

4:18 AM | Permalink | Comments [5]

February 06, 2007

The Dutch curse Dreamweaver (?!)

No no, they don’t, really! Actually, the folks I’ve met seem quite fond of it, especially when given a taste of what’s planned for the upcoming release. That said, my heart skipped a beat when I opened a design mag in Amsterdam yesterday and read the headline, “Cursus: Adobe Dreamweaver.” “Oh man, these guys must think the Adobe-MM integration is going sour,” I thought–then quickly pulled it together. “Cursus,” I learned, are “courses.” So, may the Netherlands be full of cursus for Dreamweaver for years to come!
Here in Milan (yet another place I’ll see exclusively from the window of a cab; 20 hours from wheels down to wheels up), I’m talking up multimedialità (such a nice sound); learning that Nack, Germany really does exist (nestled in Rheinland-Pfalz, says Thorsten Wulff); and finding out that my surname is a common first name in Cambodia (hello, Nack Ath). Sorry; so much for not making this As the Nack Turns…

6:17 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

February 04, 2007

Lightroom News launches, plus video training

The creative guys behind Photoshop News have now launched a new site, Lightroom-News.com. Martin Evening will be sharing duties as Editor in Chief with Jeff Schewe. Contributing Editors are photographers Ian Lyons, Sean McCormack, Seth Resnick & Andrew Rodney.

In related news, Jeff & Michael Reichmann have announced the availability of a 4.5-hour video training series for Lightroom.  For 12 bucks now (15 after Feb. 25), you can start watching the first installment today; the rest will be made available over the next few weeks.  It promises to be a great intro to the app.

[In unrelated news, go Bears!  (Okay, it’s related insofar as Jeff is from Chicago.)  Though I hail from Illinois, I find myself in Amsterdam, watching the show in German–hosted, rather inexplicably, by Boris Becker (I’m listening for “ääh, ääh“) & featuring Vitali Klitschko.  But I’m not complaining. :-)]

3:10 PM | Permalink | Comments [3]

February 03, 2007

Next-gen "Origami Lens"

John Dowdell tipped me to an interesting development in the world of tiny optics:

"Your next camera phone might get a new kind of lens if researchers at
the University of California at San Diego convince the cell phones
makers. They have designed an ‘origami lens’ which will slim high
resolution cameras. Today, their 5-millimeter thick, 8-fold imager
delivers images comparable in quality with photos taken with a compact
camera lens with a 38 millimeter focal length. In a few years, these
bendable lenses could be used in high resolution miniature cameras for
unmanned surveillance aircraft, cell phones and infrared night vision

I, meanwhile, prepare to head out the door with a comparatively luggable 17-85mm lens in hand.  Having seen a colleague shooting this week with an approximately 35-200mm lens that appeared to offer a much wider aperture than mine & no appreciable increase in bulk, I keep wondering about my photo friends’ advice.  "Oh, those things are blurry crap," they say–but boy, the flexibility & speed they appear to offer sure is appealing.  It makes me think of audiophiles who drop thousands of dollars on equipment that (to me, anyway) just reveals the flaws in the source audio or other components.  I don’t want to use garbage, but I’m starting to stroke my chin about the info I’ve been getting…

2:22 AM | Permalink | Comments [3]

Photographing Saturn; Rocking Jupiter

NASA’s JPL has surveyed the public & posted the favorite photos of Saturn taken by the Cassini-Huygens mission. You can see more from their collection here. [Via]  And if you’d like to try your own hand at photographing the planet, see Space.com’s advice on how to Capture the Lord of the Rings (with a little help from Photoshop).

The space connection keeps reminding me of a drive-by beat-down administered to the band Train (the guys who brought you "Drops of Jupiter," and who have apparently sold four million albums–to whom, no one knows): "Watching her cry, I knew Benchley had hit bottom. I had reached the mythical state of total anti-rock, which I call ‘Train,’ after the band. When the head of every drum is torn, and all guitars out of tune, when the microphone melts in your hand, that’s Train, and I was in Train all the way up to my drops of Jupiter."

12:53 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

February 02, 2007

Killer titles, man-headed monkeys, & more

Some good bits from the world of motion graphics:

1:02 AM | Permalink | Comments [2]

NYT Lightroom quote o’ the day

"The new Photoshop Lightroom is a study in
simplicity and elegance." — Ian Austen, New York Times

As Phil Clevenger, Lightroom UI designer, says, "Yeah, we’ll take that from the New York Times any day!"

12:43 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]

February 01, 2007

"We’re huge in Christmas Island…"

Heh–I got a kick out of checking out the latest download stats for the Photoshop public beta.  In the first month and a half of the beta’s availability, Adobe Labs has served up
364,491 unique downloads, including 22 to tiny Chrismas Island–not bad for a place with a population of 1,600!

Being (still) somewhat jetlagged, these little bits keep me laughing.  File it alongside seeing Harvey Keitel scream "Donnez-moi un croûton!!" (Tuesday, Paris), watching South Park dubbed into German (last night), and hearing Adobe Web tools evangelist Greg Rewis declare today, during a demo in Munich, that although customers thought that "Fireworks ist tot.  Nein! Fireworks lebt!!"  (Any grammatical/transcription errors are mine, not his. :-))

8:30 AM | Permalink | Comments [1]
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