Gearing up for Photoshop World in Las Vegas next week. It’s always interesting to watch thousands of photographers, graphic artists, designers, and other creative types come together all for the love of (or at least the preoccupation with) a single computer program. In my experience, it’s a fun but frenzied week chock-full of informative classes, industry gossip, and catching up with notable Photoshoporati. I need comfortable shoes, a box of Emergen-C (cranberry flavor), and a battle plan to survive it. Here’s my list of must-sees so far:
At the keynote, Adobe’s John Loiacono (Senior Vice President, Creative Solutions Business Unit) is scheduled to give the Photoshop faithful a sneak peek at what Adobe’s got cooking. (Also at the keynote, new O’Reilly Author (and all-around great guy), Eddie Tapp, will be inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame.)
Thursday afternoon the expo floor opens, and I’ll be hanging out in the O’Reilly booth (#505, I’m told). It will be a great chance to meet readers and listen to what is on the minds of those who’ve come to learn more about digital imaging.
Thursday evening, DAM Guru Peter Krogh will be sharing his thoughts on how photographers can best keep control over their ever-growing digital collections.
O’Reilly author Deke McClelland will be imparting his accessible wisdom throughout the week in such interestingly named classes as “Unsharp Mask is Dead,” “The Alpha Channel Monologes” and um, “Vanishing Point.”
Of course, I’ll be on the lookout for any opportunity to travel in the hyper-reality of imaging-wizard Bert Monroy. Keeping my eyes open for the tell-tale banded ponytail…
More next week from Vegas!
Another one of my long-time colleagues (and active collaborators) is Gerd Leonhard, a well-known visionary in digital music and media, media futurist, and author of the bestseller “The Future of Music” (Berklee Press). Back in the dotcom heyday when I first met him, Gerd was the CEO of LicenseMusic.com — a company focused on making cleared music available to music supervisors and ad agencies. Gerd is currently CEO of Sonific, which builds from the original LicenseMusic model in a sense. Sonific has a mission of making large catalogs of music available for many types of audio-visual uses on the Internet, both for private / non-commercial or promotional purposes, as well as for professional (B2B) users, and licensed products and services.
Sonific has just launched a new B2C service called SongSpots, which enables consumers to discover new music and provides a frictionless mechanism for them to personalize and “sonify” their web sites and multimedia endeavors featuring good music. This then instigates a viral propagation of the music which leads to greater exposure and promotion for the artist, increasing their reach, audience, and revenues.
Everybody wins in this equation — all constituents in the value chain. Below is a sample SongSpot. Visit Sonific to request a beta test account if you’re interested.
If you’ve been following the Adobe Lightroom Adventure to Iceland, you know that we’ve published a dozen galleries from members of the team. Viewing them, you might realize that some of them are using the current template available in Beta 3 for the Mac, and then others are, well, using something different.
The story behind the difference is a good one, and I’m going to share what I can about it. Back in Iceland, it was my job to gather images from the photographers, photo edit them, and post the galleries on the Adventure site. About 1am one morning when I was working on the first gallery, it was clear that the Lightroom Web module was in need of love. Fortunately, George Jardine works long hours too, and he jumped in the fray.
Photo: George Jardine (left), Addy Roff, and Peter Krogh eating a staple of Iceland - their amazing hot dogs that you can find in any remote corner of the country. (I ate quite a few of them myself.)
George had hit the same wall a few weeks earlier and was working with the engineers on some new web templates. He shared one with me for the next gallery, and it was definitely a step in the right direction. Web Gallery 2 is a product of the experimental template. Gallery 1 is the old template that’s available in Beta 3.
We kept the communication lines open with Adobe engineers during the week in Iceland, and continued to work on the Web template. The current incarnation was used for George’s posted gallery, and work on improving the module. continues
When I chatted with George in his podcast after we returned, I remarked that the software development aspect of the trip was as exciting for me as the Icelandic landscape. I can’t wait to see how the final version of the Web module turns out. But I can tell you this… it’s development was field tested under working conditions. I hope this will be another success story from our Adventure.
A while back, I wrote about a song I really liked, Gary Jules’s cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” Unfortunately, the album containing the song was out of stock. So I clicked the link to have CD Baby contact me when it was available. Months passed. Then, suddenly, this provocative e-mail popped up:
When you’re outfitting your podcast recording setup, pay close attention to the cables you use. It’s tempting to treat cables as an afterthought. I mean who spends time online researching cables when there’s so much cool gear out there? That nifty new compressor or microphone will indeed need a cable to work. Make sure you buy the right one.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve been aware of the One Laptop Per Child milestones. Last week, The One Laptop Per Child initiative put a name on their first laptop device. The new name is “Children’s Machine” or CM1, apparently taken from the title of Seymour Papert’s book of the same name (published in the early 90s.) There isn’t a signficant amount of technical update. I should mention, though, that the team has brought up Forth on the laptop recently. I used Forth at Atari Coin-op and I can attest to its ease of debugging hardware.
For those new, the laptop is a “… flexible, ultra low-cost, power-efficient, responsive, and durable machine with which nations of the emerging world can leapfrog decades of development–immediately transforming the content and quality of their children’s learning.”, according to their website.
Redhat is still slated to deliver a “skinny” version of Fedora Core to be shipped on the laptop.
Audio podcasts are the perfect accompaniment to my long, once-a-week commute to O’Reilly HQ. If I can find shows that are relevant to work, even better, because I feel like I’m gearing my brain up for the workday rather than stressing about the traffic that’s keeping me from the things I have to do when I get there. (And did I mention these commutes take place on Mondays?) But since my job is to edit books on decidedly visual subjects (Photoshop, Digital Photography, etc.), finding good audio-only podcasts to jumpstart my work-brain is tricky. There are lots of fabulous shows out there on the topics I want to hear about, but if I’m driving I only want to hear about them. Not surprisingly, most of the shows out there rely on having a video component, which would understandably pose a road hazard were I to enjoy them during commute hours.
I have found a few gems, though, so I present my top 5 Audio-only Podcasts on Visual Topics. But first, a bit about my criteria:
Audio only - Or at least not reliant on being in front of a screen, for obvious reasons.
Long enough - I don’t load all the podcasts I’ve subscribed to onto my iPod because I don’t want to spend a lot of time navigating the menus while I’m driving. I create a “Road Podcast” playlist on my nano and update it on the weekends in anticipation of the drive. It takes the same amount of organizational effort to upload a 2 minute show as it does a 27 minute show, so I like shows that give me value for my efforts. Of course, there’s the attention span factor, so I’d say 20-30 minutes is ideal. You can go longer if you’re really interesting.
Reliable enough - I like shows that come out on a more-or-less regular schedule. First of all, I’m looking forward to it, and second, there are organizational resource issues here too. I want to be able to plan what will fill up my weekly playlist on Sunday night.
Availability on iTunes - One button and the podcast fairy fills my audio cupboard with goodies to choose from. Did I mention that I’m stingy with my organizational efforts. (Oh sure, some might call it lazy, but I like to think of it as ergonomically efficient. Ask any bartender or line cook or Rachael Ray.)
Catchy theme music - Virtually a requirement.
So here is a list of five great podcasts that manage to effectively cover visual subject matter in an audio-only* format:
The Digital Story - Photographer, author, speaker-on-things-digitally-photographic-extraordinaire Derrick Story offers up a once-a-week (Tuesdays) show for the members of his virtual camera club. In his trademarked authoritative but enthusiastic and compassionate style, Derrick covers the whole gamut of the digital photography experience. Each show has a specific topic which can be anything from “Life Beyond Program Mode” to “Street Shooting Etiquette” to “What About Film?” Love the episodes where Derrick chats with other photographers. Comprehensive show notes available on the Digital Story website mean that you can listen for fun, then go back and look up the specifics later.
InDesign Secrets - David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepcion of the InDesign Secrets website have a terrific, humorous upbeat podcast by the same name. Their content is generated from questions they encounter from readers, listeners, and attendees of their seminars, so it’s all about solving people’s pain. They both clearly know InDesign inside and out, so the answers seem spontaneous and spot-on and they even occasionally seem to be learning from each other as they go. Love the recurring segment “Obscure InDesign Feature of the Week.” Sure, I may have to wait until I’m in front of a computer screen to try out some of their tips. But while I’m “hands free” David and Anne-Marie’s infinite variety of tips help me discover what I didn’t know I didn’t know.
Adobe Lightroom Beta* - Adobe Pro Photo Evangelist George Jardine talks with engineers, authors, and photographers about Adobe’s new (and still under-construction) app for photographers. George (dubbed “Mr. Lightroom” by one of his fans - see Podcast #12) has such terrific organic interview style that lets his guests go comfortably wherever they naturally go. So you might end up hearing a group of Adobe engineers talk about their latest obstacles and achievements or you might listen to a photographer talk about Lightroom and how it works with their particular needs. The most recent episodes feature lots of interviews from members of the Adobe Lightroom Adventure, including three of my favorite authors Derrick Story, Mikkel Aaland, and Peter Krogh. George earns the asterisk on the audio-only rule because his recent offerings are enhanced with the still images adventurers shot in Iceland. But with images that beautiful, I’m not going to complain.
Rookie Designer - Graphic designer Adam Hay creates his podcast for the “not-so-accomplished designer.” In it, he shares his discoveries, both personal and technological, made during his first 5 years as a designer. (I’m not a designer myself, but I make an unintentional habit of pestering them regularly.) Adam is honest, self-effacing, and discusses everything from creative inspiration to professional networking to software applications. I’m a sucker for a well-implemented theme (baseball), and every installment of Rookie Designer includes “Keys to the Game” (tips), “Rookie Mistake” (self-explanatory), and “From the Bullpen” (places to go for more info). Notes for these items are listed in the blog post for each show on the Rookie Designer website.
Project Runway: Tim Gunn - Hey, fashion is visual, I never said it was all about work. What better way to stay abreast of trends in popular culture (as all editors should) than watching Project Runway, Bravo’s reality show that has fashion designers competing to make runway creations in an attempt to make it to New York’s fashion week. The best thing about this show for me is Tim Gunn, the “coach” that helps the designers assess their creations before they are subject to runway scrutiny by Heidi Klum and the other judges. Tim’s podcast comes out Thursdays (the TV episode airs Wednesday night), so as he goes through his candid take on each designer’s creation (and personal issues, of course, this is reality TV), the images of the fashionable creations are still in my mind. His podcast is full of snarky fun, interesting fashion insights, and Tim’s impeccably delivered product placements and catch-phrases. Carry on, Tim.
I’ve had an ongoing argument with whoever will listen that computer software controls and widgits are lame, and that the infinite potential in the graphic desktop has gone virtually untapped. We see the same old boring icons, files, folders, knobs and sliders year after year. Sure these widgits and metaphors are easy to learn, but so is the use of a hammer. I get excited when I see cool new control paradigms, because of the new ways they will allow me to interact with digital media. I want a music software laser cannon with 3D turbo everything, not an emulated digital hammer.
The BumpTop Pysical Desktop Interface prototype is a really cool development that sprung from a University of Toronto masters thesis. It shows promise and innovation by demonstrating a natural, yet innovative approach to the management of discrete chunks of information on the desktop. Using physics modelling, and creative extensions to a simple paradigm, BumpTop opens all kinds of imaginative doors.
BumpTop explores two things - the concept of the pile as the basic organizational unit, and the use of a pen interface to interact with objects the desktop. It’s a lot easier to understand what Anand Agarawala and Ravin Balakrishnan have come up with by watching a video of the prototype.
Objects can be piled, or separated, combined and dragged. They can be de-emphasised by ‘tossing’ them to a distant part of the desktop. Commands, accessible through pen gestures, allow the easy previewing of the contents of a pile - here I envision the playback of audio snippets while sorting through a pile of digital samples. Because of the use of physics modelling, things move loosely on the BumpTop - when you shove an object, other objects it come into contact with are shuffled realistically. It’s clear that working with BumpTop would be fluid, intuitive, and dynamic, and the richness of the command set, which is revealed in the video, shows that there is a lot more potential here than just the sorting of some drum loops with a pen.
Imagine BumpTop used as a way of organizing tracks for a sequencer, or of storing and retrieving video clips. We would have entirely new ways of working with this kind of data. I invite you to apply your imaginations to this now, because there is serious interest in developing BumpTop as a real product.
I can hardly wait.
During the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to record two titles for the folks at Lynda.com. It was a great experience for me, and it opened my eyes to a world I had known little about. I knew Lynda, of course, from the heyday of web graphics. She was, and still is, the expert when it comes to publishing rich media on the web. But I had no idea about the depth and breath of her online training business.
The upshot is, I’ve become a fan of learning software via this medium. I’ve since interviewed Lynda and thought you might be interested in some of the behind the scenes workings of Lynda.com. Here’s what I’ve put together…
I’ve decided that given my stock in trade is my rolodex, periodically I’m going to do blogs on some of my esteemed colleagues. We’ll start here with Dave Ulmer, who is most definitely a member of the “10-year+ Club” I alluded to in an earlier blog (fellow pioneers in Digital Music). About 10 years ago, Dave was at Adaptec forming the group that went on to become the world’s leading CD recording company, which morphed into Roxio, which became today’s Napster. He’s now in charge of Motorola’s music strategy & initiatives like iRadio http://broadband.motorola.com/iradio/ which I encourage you to check out. I’ll tease you to do so with one of their taglines which is “We got tired of changing stations. So we changed radio”. Basically allows you to program your own radio experience while you’re charging your phone overnight so you take off the next day with a fresh batch of tunes.
Dave is a master of wit, and we both attend virtually all the same industry conferences on digital music and digital media convergence. Last week we were at one such conference and Dave was on a panel where they were talking about the music industry (past and present). Someone started on the path that there were thousands of musicians performing 100 years ago, to which Dave replied “yeah, that’s when we had spear-to-spear file sharing”. Classic example — Dave’s brilliant at these comebacks in the context of events like this. If you get a chance to experience him on a panel session or at a conference don’t miss it! And do check out his baby, Motorola’s iRadio service; when Dave’s at the wheel you want to be in the car.
I received an email letter today from Bob Moog’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa. The Moog family has established the Bob Moog Memorial Foundation for Electronic Music.
The letter states that they have “…carefully chosen objectives, each tied to his life and work”
* Endowed Scholarships
* The Bob Moog Memorial Museum
* Outreach Programs for Disadvantaged Students
* Special Events for Electronic Music
If the foundation will be as giving and thoughtful as Mr. Moog, it will have a glorious future.
Good Luck to Michelle and the staff!
We all remember the Mellotron from the Strawberry Fields flute line.
“…always know sometimes think it’s me…”
I had no idea it was such an ambitious, fancy, and musical machine, on top of being dang clever and cool.
See it demonstrated here by immensely stereotypical Brits.
But what does this tell us about Digital Media?
I guess we’ve had awesome samplers since 1948, but being analog, they didn’t count.
And I guess the ones _we_ make are, um, lighter?
(thanks for the photo, Dave Battino)
You’ll see that the topic of “PC versus Appliance,” especially as relates to audio, was brought up elegantly in 1997 by Van Webster in a talk he gave at our conference, Project BBQ. Since then, the “church of appliantology” has created quite a stir among some very interesting people.
I will even go out on a limb here–_it can be argued_ that Van’s talk in 1997 inspired the creation of iTunes and the iPod. Probably not entirely true, and takes credit from some who deserve it. But just for fun, here’s how my warped mind remembers it:
-Van gives talk at BBQ
-Jim Reekes, then at Apple, is very inspired. He responds by “founding church of appliantology”
-Jim tries to talk his bosses into creating an appliance for music based on the internet. He writes some code to support the idea.
-The response is “what, are you crazy? Music on the Internet???” or something like that
-Jim creates Kerbango, a company based on an internet audio appliance
-That company ends, I don’t know why.
-iPod/iTunes comes out
-it contains some of Jim’s code.
I don’t know if it’s true, I’m just saying that if we were sitting around the campfire, that’s the story I’d tell.
I’ve been forced to think about my job in a new way since the Reuters image manipulation hullaballo broke. (I work for O’Reilly Media as a book editor in the Digital Media space.) The bulk of my work day is spent helping authors create books on how to use Photoshop and other digital imaging technology to express their creative vision (and do it with much more finesse than clumsy, blatant over-use of the Clone Stamp tool.) Helping readers “unleash their creativity” is fun, and I admit that I rarely think about the intent to which people might be using or misusing the tools and techniques our books teach.
One of my authors would definitely call me on that. Digital imaging pioneer Stephen Johnson has always been very clear about his own rules for the use of image manipulation in post production: unless the piece is understood to be “constructed imaginings,” nothing should be added or taken from the image that wasn’t in the original scene. And for Steve, this applies not only to photojournalists (whom some would hold to a higher standard of “truth”) but to his own fine art nature photography as well. Steve devotes an entire chapter to these considerations of “Photography and Truth” in his new book, Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography.
In the book, Steve considers the history of photo-manipulation, which is of course as old as photography itself. He even recounts his own personal story of finding a paper cup in the foreground of this beautiful image he used for the cover of his book about California’s Great Central Valley. (The cup is in the lower right-hand corner; you can see it on the actual book if you know what you’re looking for.) As it was coming off the press, his publisher remarked about how easy it would have been for him to have “gotten rid of” the cup. But where is the line? Steve notes that the cows, fences, and even the grasses in the shot weren’t “native” to that particular landscape either. Should they have been Photoshopped out as well?
Which makes it obvious, in some way all photography is a form of image editing. Photographers choose when, what, and how to shoot their subjects. Even Steve Johnson points out that he might have climbed the fence and taken that cup out of his shot if he’d actually seen it at the time. But once it was there, it was there. Framing, cropping, making exposure decisions, and every other step in the photographic workflow involves editorial choice, and always has.
The digital era just brings new questions of where the boundaries are. Reuters has now posted specific information on which Photoshop tools are appropriate for general use by photojournalists. Adobe has been working to develop retouching-detection tools, so that photo editors will be able to spot photo-manipulation before it causes a ruckus. Ultimately though, photographers are people, and people will always have the choice to use their powers (and software) for good or evil. We’ll all need to be aware of the use and misuse of digital technology in our everyday experiences. It’s nothing new.
To read more on “Photography and Ethics - Imaging Ethics in the Digital Age” and a host of other topics on the creation of digital art, check out Steve’s book Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography from O’Reilly Media (2006).
On the first Saturday in Iceland I joined the group as they migrated north to Reykholt. This wasn’t the easiest of decisions because I had a wedding waiting for me in the other direction, south of Reykjavik. But getting me back and forth would have proven difficult. I was disappointed, but figured something else would materialize.
On Sunday, a group of us set off to explore the Reykholt countryside — our clan included Mikkel, Peter, Addy, Angela, Sonja, and Johann. We found a charming chapel next to a farm, and Johann decided to check in with the farmer to see if it was OK for us to explore. The sky was beautiful and the light was perfect for shooting.
The farmer gave us the green light, then mentioned, almost as an afterthought, “Oh, there’s going to be a wedding today at 4 o’clock I believe. I don’t know the couple, but you might want to come back and see if you can get some photographs.” Johann knew about my missed wedding the previous day, and shared this information with me. I was excited.
In a gesture of generosity, the entire group said that I should be the one to come back and shoot the wedding. I thought that was really sweet of everyone to give this opportunity to me. Sonja said that she’d come with me to help with the communication. I was thrilled.
As it turns out, the couple getting married was visiting from Sweden. They had a family member who was going to take some pictures, but didn’t have a professional photographer. I told them I would shoot their wedding and share the photos with them if they would give me a model release. Once they processed this odd turn of events, they agreed. Their names were Linus and Emelie.
From that point forward, everything began to float. The chapel was romantic beyond description, the ceremony was touching, and the couple was very much in love. All of this was unfolding in the beautiful Icelandic countryside.
I shot everything existing light — never even pulled out my flash. Sonja, an accomplished photographer herself, asked me if I always shot weddings existing light. I said I never do. But today was different. After the ceremony and receiving line, we all wanted to keep it going. We departed for not one, but two locations with waterfalls… and continued to shoot photos. It became a free for all with everyone taking pictures of everyone else.
Linus and Emelie after their wedding in Iceland. You can see the whole gallery too.
I received a note from Linus yesterday. It very much sums up the situation for me:
How are you?
We have returned to Sweden.. and starting to work again.. we are missing the beautiful Iceland very much!! We saw your pictures on the internet… they were fantastic… I have show’n the pictures for my friends and they love them!! =) We are very happy that you are sending us your pictures!!!! )
Best regards - Linus and Emelie
I’ve posted a Lightroom gallery for Linus and Emelie so they can see more of the images. You can view them for yourself if you’d like to see a little of what Iceland magic looks like. I’ve also sent them hires versions of these shots so they can make prints.
According to CNET, RealNetworks will release open-source software at the end of this year to allow non-Windows software to play Windows Media files (WMV and WMA.) All made possible by
For decades the entire royalty system has become increasingly complex, tedious, and difficult for artists and labels to decipher or audit. A long-time colleague of mine, Bob Kohn ( a very successful serial entrepreneur, attorney, & author of the BIBLE of legal issues in the music world — “Music Licensing”), has launched a new venture called Royalty Share to address this dilemma — and hopefully take the pain out fo the process through effective sales data consolidation and simplified royalty reporting.
The royalty ‘dilemma’ plagues not only the music industry, but motion picture studios and book publishers as well. Royalty Share has come up with a customizable web-based service that will enable labels, studios, and publishers to outsource this critical function in order to replace legacy software and homegrown royalty tracking systems that can’t communicate with other systems effectively. A solution whose time has come (in fact is long overdue!). If anyone can crack the code on this, it’s Bob Kohn!
Among my many eye-opening experiences in Iceland, I had a revelation about printing while participating in the reception at the Reykjavik Apple Store that final Friday. Instead of mounting our stacks of 13″ x 19″ prints and properly hanging them on the wall, we used removable Scotch tape and placed them haphazardly on the giant glass windows that illuminated the room. We also left some in stacks on counters where visitors could shuffle through them at their own pace.
These choices helped transformed what could have been a somewhat staid event into one of artistic immersion. People would pull the prints off the glass, hold them, show them to others, take them to the photographers for signing, and ultimately cart one or two home. We weren’t just looking at photography, we were touching it. You could hold the image at any angle you wanted, look as closely as you dared, and feel the texture of the paper while doing so.
We had worked hard to output these snapshots of Iceland on Epson R2400s supplied by Epson as part of their generous sponsorship. But I don’t think any us imagined the reaction to the images as they disappeared off the windows, through the doors, and into the Reykjavik night.
I’ve brought this experience home to my own studio. Now, instead of putting barriers between my images and those who view them, I’m going to leave them laying around for anyone to touch. They only cost a few dollars each to make, and I can always output more if necessary.
I learned many things in Iceland. But this one was a surprise. It seems so logical now — letting people touch your prints brings them closer to your artwork.
Several articles have appeared lately speculating that podcasting is a threat to the survival of satellite radio.
It’s easy to pick on satellite radio. The two big satellite radio providers are showing major losses this year. But that can hardly be blamed on podcasting. There’s not a shred of evidence to support that position.
John Buckman says he created Magnatune out of personal frustration with record labels and to give artists a fair deal. Does their tagline “We Are Not Evil” ring true for artists?
San Francisco: Most of the team has packed up their gear and flown home safely from Iceland and the adventure. Many have already boarded planes and left for other destinations. John McDermott is off to Texas for a shoot. Richard Morgenstein –home for a day–then on a plane to shoot in LA. As I write John Isaac is enroute to Brazil. George Jardine is off to China. Addy Roff remains in Iceland, taking some well-deserved R & R with her family.
The Adobe Iceland adventure already seems like a dream.
But it’s far from over and none of us want to let it go. We need to properly document the experience so we can share it in its full glory with others. Like the ripples that emerge after a rock splashes in the water, we will try and spread around the stories and lessons from our adventure. If we do this part right, the adventure will have a life that lives a long time and becomes an inspiration to others.
From my end, I’ll start by putting together a dynamite slide show/presentation to take on the road, hopefully in time for Photokina in October. Not only will the show highlight the adventure but it will showcase the work of the individual photographers who deserve so much recognition. Derrick and I have already started on a “Hot Tips from the Adventure” PDF, which we should have ready in a month or so. And then, of course, there is the book. I envision it as a hybrid between a coffee table tome and instructional manual. It will be beautifully produced by O’Reilly and contain practical advise on using Adobe Lightroom as well.
In the meantime, we are encouraging all the photographers that came on the adventure to edit and present their work on their own web sites, and we will provide links to everyone. Martin Sundberg and Johann Gudbjargarson have already given us their links. You can go to Martin’s photos here and Johann’s here. And here are some of my photos as well. George Jardine’s photos are here.
As this adventure continues, and the stories emerge, I’ll keep you up to date. Til then…happy shooting!
This is a bright group–I thought you might be interested in knowing about the 50-person Game Design Think-Tank that my partners and I are putting on. This will be the first one on the topic of Game Design, but we’ve had 10 very successful conferences on Music on Comptuers (Project BarBQ).
The high concept, basically, is to “Solve Game Design’s Toughest Problems.”
I’m curious to know if any readers or bloggers here can suggest names of good people we can run past the Advisors to see if we might invite them to participate.
The old saying, “You got peanut butter on my chocolate!” expresses a deep truth about creativity: two things that differ in characteristics but share a common domain may yield fruitful results when combined.
The people at Frontier Design have taken that lesson to heart. They’ve taken the wireless network and the audio control surface, spread one all over the other, and thereby given us a whole new experience of using audio gear. They call it the TranzPort, a name that works on multiple levels: the TranzPort allows you to control the transports of your audio software, is designed to be transported from one place to another, works by providing a transport across wireless and USB protocols, and, when you add all that up, you’ll likely be TranzPorted by the experience of using it, as I was.
Reykjavik: Friday night’s wrap-up party at the Apple store was a smashing success, just like the rest of the adventure. For me, the story of Iceland’s Petar Jonasson, one of the 150 or so attendee’s, highlights the evening, and epitomizes the entire week.
The story goes like this: Earlier in the day, George Jardine, Adobe Lightroom’s evangelist and midwife, and I walked into the Apple store to make sure everything was set for the evening event. As we checked out the stunningly beautiful facilities an older, heavy-set man walked into the store. He saw George and a smile as big as the midnight sun spread across his face. He walked up to us and grabbed George’s hand and said in a very heavily accented English, “Mr Lightroom! ” He’d recognized George’s face from various digital photography forums on the internet.
It turns out Mr. Jonasson had an adventure of his own to relate. He had received an email invitation from Steingrimur Arnason, the store’s manager and our gracious host, and immediately set out alone from his home in the Husavik, a small fishing village seven hours away by car from Reykjavik, famous for whale watching. Driving with the determination of a pilgrim, Jonasson scaled the Kinnarfjoll mountains and crossed the entire breath of Iceland, along the way battling rain and bad roads and exploding volcanoes and suicidal sheep bent on destroying his car. Ok, I’m embellishing a little…but if you’ve ever driven Iceland roads you know how treacherous they can be.
After hearing Jonasson’s impressive story and also learning he was a serious photographer in his own right, I watched as Jonasson leaned toward George, and said solemnly, “You know, I like the thinking behind Adobe Lightroom”. George, who has worked tirelessly for years on the Lightroom project (back to when it was known to only a few as Shadowland), turned misty eyed. As Jonasson walked away, vowing to see us later in the evening, George told me he wished Mark Hamburg, the visionary leader and inspiration behind the Lightroom project, had been there to hear the sincere remark.
Later that evening, as the Jonasson’s story spread among the crowd, everyone from the Lightroom team handed a grateful Jonasson signed prints we’d made during the week on the Epson 2400 printers. He clutched them as if they were gold and seemed like a man who’d died and went to heaven. He extended us all an invitation to visit him in Husavik, and we all agreed that next summer would be a good time to see him again.( Husavik has a Fosshotel, one of this years sponsors, so it’s a very real possibility.)
On Saturday, the team flies home. I’ll post a wrap up blog shortly and Derrick will post more web gallery photos as well.
PS. The adventure opened with the drama of Michael Reichmann and Chris Sanderson’s circuitous flight to Iceland. Well, it ends on more drama. Reichmann collapsed just before the Friday night party. He spent all day Saturday in a Reykjavik hospital where extensive testing determined he was ok, just exhausted and battered from a grueling week of 14 hour drives and sleepless nights. We were all relieved and wish him a speedy recovery. Personally, I’m very grateful for everything Reichmann did to make this adventure happen, and his tireless efforts while he was here.
By now, those of you who regularly read my blog have come to know that a big part of my work (and life) involves frequent interactions with established rock artists — one way or another. I confess I run the risk of getting jaded about these encounters. I attended the Foreigner concert in Saratoga a couple of nights ago (comps with backstage passes). I hadn’t really done my homework regarding the current line-up, though I knew that lead singer Lou Gramm would not be the front man owing to health problems that have sidelined him. Turns out I was in for a real treat.
In addition to Mick Jones, founder & guitarist (the sole original band member), the band line-up included Kelly Hansen (former front man of the 80s band Hurricane & a dead ringer for Steven Tyler, who more than carried his own & impressed on lead vocals), and none other than Jason Bonham on drums (son of Led Zeppelin’s late drummer John Bonham, who recently achieved a certain notoriety by participating on a VH-1 Supergroup mini-series along with the likes of rockers Sebastian Bach & Ted Nugent).
I had the unfortunate luck of sitting squarely in front of Jason Bonham’s biggest fan, a woman who proceeded to demonstrate the power of her lungs throughout most of the show (I kid you not, she rarely let up — screaming “we love you Jason” for the duration). Once I finally moved a couple of seats over in my row, I enjoyed the rest of the show a whole lot more. Frankly, it was a wonderful high energy show with the audience singing along on many songs; really engaged the audience and we all had a blast.
After the show, I proceeded backstage to meet the band members — had good, reasonably brief encounters with both Mick and Kelly, and then had the good fortune of spending ten minutes or so chatting with Jason. Turns out he’s a really down-to-earth guy with an open demeanor. We talked about his recent experiences on the VH-1 series (and he shared how his mother was riveted to it as it’s now being shown in the UK). We touched on my recent encounter with Robert Plant, and his experience of Robert’s kudos after attending a recent Foreigner show. I told him about my desire to work on a book of interviews featuring offspring of famous musicians who themselves are artists, and of course he was on the list of those I would approach — along with some of his pals including Julian Lennon and Zak Starkey among many others.
I don’t know how trusting Jason is in general, but he must have sensed a good connection between us because from that point he was quite open in sharing some treasured “snapshots” of his upbringing with me. Things like how his dad wanted him to have a normal upbringing so did not take the kids on the road with him. And that his dad spent good quality time with them, in a more normal family context than most would imagine could be their reality. He also demonstrated real humanity in sharing how much he missed his dad. All this & more in our brief initial chat backstage. I’ve no doubt Jason will turn out to be one of the best interviews for this project.
Ever wonder what the world of computing would be like if the IBM PC was originally created in an atmosphere of open-source?
I recently set up a ProTools studio. The Digidesign documentation is very clear that ProTools sessions should not be saved to the same disk that hosts the ProTools application. So I used this opportunity to go out and buy some new external Firewire 400/800 hard disk drives. I tested the One Touch Maxtor One Touch III Turbo Edition 1TB drives, the standard LaCie Big Disk Extreme 500 GB drives and the G-Technology 250 GB G-Drive.
I ended up selecting the G-Drive; eight 250 Megabyte G-Drives to be exact. The LaCie’s fan was simply too loud for use in the small space I had dedicated to the ProTools studio. Likewise, the Maxtor fan noise was very loud. Additionally, the Maxtor didn’t seem to plug and play well with the MacBookPro.
So this review is all about the G-Drive.
Fosshotel Nesbud: Sometimes pushing the journey beyond the next bend in the road is what makes all the difference. At least that is what happened today. It’s Thursday in Iceland and the morning threatened rain. Much of the team opted to stay indoors, working on their prints and images for Friday night’s slide show. Before the storm hit, Bill Atkinson and I started out for an unnamed but highly recommended hot spring hidden deep in a nearby mountain. We were given simple directions by the hotel cook, “Turn right, then right, then right, you’ll come to a parking lot. Then walk 1 hour into the mountain.” Uh, ok…
Unbelievably, 45 minutes later, we made it to the parking lot and started walking. Bill wisely left his Hasselblad with a Phase One P 45 back behind and brought his Canon Powershot SD400 instead. I carried my Nikon D200 but seeing the mountain in front of us I opted for only one lens, my Nikkor 18-200 VR.
There was plenty to talk about and our hike quickly took us deep into the mountains. It was cloudy and windy but otherwise the weather was fine. I was thrilled listening to Bill talk about his early years with Apple. He was employee # 51, but came to Apple when there were only 30 people. He’s the genius behind MacPaint and HyperCard and part of the Macintosh development team. Now he lives and breathes photography and he’s providing invaluable help and advice to our team.
An hour into our hike we came to bubbling hot springs, and assumed we had reached our destination. Bill stuck his hand into one and quickly realized that we’d die a horrible death if we bathed here. Seeing nothing else but cooking cauldrons all around us we almost gave in and headed back. Maybe the cook at the hotel thought we asked for someplace to “cook”, not “bathe”. Anyway, up ahead we could see a bend in the path and even though we couldn’t see what was on the other side, we decided to push on.
To say we stumbled on paradise is not much of an overstatement. Just past the bend a small stream flowed through the ravine. And in this stream, in a small pond created by a small man-made rock dam, languished a group of bathers. They were enjoying a mix of ice-cold mountain water blended with scorching hot water which entering the stream from a nearby fissure.
We hung out for a long time and then headed back down the mountain. We learned, or maybe we were just reminded, that pushing beyond the obvious is often what makes all the difference.
Web Gallery 3 represents a deeper exploration of Iceland, and of Lightroom. These 14 photographers scoured the countryside for compelling images, then processed the pictures using the Develop module in Lightroom. General discussion around the editing table is the the Develop and Print modules are the stars of the application at this point. Most of the photographers were able to handle their processing in Lightroom, with the exception of removing sensor dust, which required a quick trip to Photoshop for the cloning tool.
We’ve been making 13″ x 19″ prints with the two Epson R2400s provided by Epson for this project. The workflow involved editing the images in the Develop module, then exporting them into the DNG format. They were transferred to our printing workstation (also running Lightroom) and printed on the R2400s. We used the DNG format for transfer because it contains all of the editing information, thereby retaining the corrections made by the original photographer. The prints look spectacular. They will be on display Friday night at a special reception in Reykjavik.
We also employed the Slideshow module for a looping presentation of 150 images. First task was to create an Iceland Adventure template, then use it to present 10 images by each of the photographers. So far, the slideshow is shaping up well, although we still have some work to do on it.
On Saturday, we fly out of Iceland and head for home. I still have more to post, and I’ll do my best to get stuff online as my schedule allows.
Photo of the Blue Lagoon by Maggie Hallahan. See more images from Web Gallery 3.
We are at Fosshotel Nesbud, and the weather has gone from good to fantastic. (As you can see by the photo I took this morning shown here.) All the Icelanders want us to stay a few weeks longer: they believe we’ve pleased the Viking gods with our visit and that explains the first good weather of the summer. I’m exaggerating a little…but we’ve had amazingly good luck. I’m actually hoping for a little rain tomorrow so the team will be inspired to hang out in the conference room and print with the Epson printers and prepare images for the our big Friday night bash at the Apple store in Reykjavik.
Everyone continues to get proficient with Adobe Lightroom and impressed with its capabilities as well. Most of us come from a Photoshop/Bridge background and we are tough customers. But Lightroom is satisfying us nicely and I can see most if not all of the photographers realizing the potential of this ground breaking software.
Best of all is the speed we are learning to tag and edit and print our photos. None of us want to sit around all day in front of a computer, especially here in this scenic rich country. (If I sound full of hyperbole, it’s because it’s midnight and I’m surrounded by a lot of photographers satiated from a superb day of shooting. Their energy is infectious.)
Not only are we freed to shoot, but the application makes sharing images so easy we are actually spending a lot time discussing and appreciating the content itself. As you can see by the posted web galleries, we are shooting a huge variety of subjects and everyone’s style is distinct.
Derrick and I are gathering tips and techniques from everyone and soon we’ll compile them in a PDF titled, “Hot Tips From the Adobe Iceland Adventure”, or something like that. After that I’ll put together all the lessons we’ve learned along with the stunning images into a book.
If it rains tomorrow we’ll have time to post more images. Don’t change the channel!
Izotope has released a new version of its Vinyl plug-in, bringing crackly phonographic ambience to otherwise boring audio files near you. The new version features support for Intel-based Macs, 64-bit Windows apps, and Pro Tools 7. And it’s free.
So if you’ve ever wanted to “automate wear, dust, scratches, warp, mechanical noise, electrical noise, and the year of [your] record player,” now’s your chance. I’ve been using Izotope’s Ozone mastering plug-in and getting good results, particularly when I resist the urge to crank the sliders too high.
This gallery features the work of Michael Reichmann, John Isaac, Martin Sundberg, Bill Atkinson, Maggie Hallahan and more. Some of these shots just came down from the mountain, literally. Michael and Bill have traveled all across the western countryside looking for their compositions. I finally caught up with them this morning and managed to get a nice collection of images from them.
I’ve been shooting some with Martin, and I think you’ll like what he’s showing here. He’s done a terrific job of getting the most out of every area he visits. It’s been great to watch him work. Martin and I have also been using the ExpoDisc, which has proved very helpful for getting accurate white balance in the field. As for people shots, Maggie Hallahan has added some strong portraits to the collection. She’s been on the road too, and has returned with many wonderful images. As you’re probably figuring out by now, we have lots of variety to show off the different facets of Iceland.
So, take a few minutes and browse through the images in the Adventure Web Gallery 2. I think you’ll enjoy what you see… and stay tuned for the next gallery post.
Photo by Michael Reichmann
Fosshotel Reykholt : The adventure is going very smoothly. Everyone on the team is filling their Sandisk cards with great photos and we are quickly getting up to speed using Adobe Lightroom to edit and process and print our images. However, there is one problem: lack of sleep in catching up with me and I’m starting to make stupid mistakes and see the glass as half empty. Derrick, legs shown here, is also suffering.
Right now, Monday night at 11 pm, most of the team is in the conference room provided by Fosshotel Reykohlt. We’ve set up 2 Epson 2400 printers and a Epson digital projector. (Thank you Epson!) Adobe’s George Jardin and Melissa Gaul are giving instructions on how to use the output module of Lightroom and I desperately want to hear what they have to say.
Last night we ran into some snags trying to print images to share at our Friday night wrap/closing party at the Apple store in Reykjavik. We couldn’t figure out how to add additional lines of descriptive text with Lightroom’s Print Identity plate. George and Melissa promised to provide answers. But I’m so fried, I just want to just lay on the bed and relax and think about the day.
My group started shooting at 8 am. Derrick and I had been up most of the night trying to upload images to the site and post our blogs. Besides Derrick and me, it was Richard Morgenstein and Martin Sundberg in the van. We headed toward the fishing town of Stykkisholmur, thinking we’d grab the ferry to Flatey, an island about an hour trip away. Again, it took us forever to go a short distance and we quickly realized we wouldn’t make any of the scheduled ferry trips. We stopped at every river, horse, waterfall and sheep, piling out of the van like an army on a mission.
Fatigue, however, made me clumsy and forgetful and my picture taking went badly.
Worse of all I wasn’t happy at all with the photos even the ones that are ok from a technical point of view. The only shots I liked today were the ones I took of my fellow photographers. But I know this “half empty” attitude comes largely from lack of sleep, and I’m telling myself not to be so critical and get some sleep Everything will look different in the morning. I’ll learn how to use the print module and my photos will look great, even the grainy, out of focus ones! Good night!
PS. Tomorrow we are packing up, leaving Reykholt, and heading to Fosshotel Nesbud where we’ll stay until Friday.