Friday, September 29, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
On our way back from a meeting in Ocean, NJ yesterday, my dad and I stopped off at Liberty State Park to take some shots (video and stills) of the NYC skyline. It was a great day for it and the light, though not perfect, was really nice. Here's one of my favorite shots of the day.
Monday, September 25, 2006
The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll is slowly but surely gaining numbers as we welcome our newest members. Each week I will be posting a summary of what our members have been writing about along with links to those posts in the P&P Weekly.
Here’s what’s been happening in The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll:
- Leon at Awesome Photoshop Tips writes about his discovery of Bubbleshare.
- Jason over at Designfruit displays his latest set of custom brushes (Tasty Tatoo) that can be downloaded for free.
- Jon at San Miguel Photo of the Day has been posting images of life in Mexico. Of particular note is his shot of a sunflower that is just opening, my personal favorite.
- I’ve been posting about Scott Kelby’s newest book and about an upcoming visit by a Photoshop Hall of Famer.
Want to be added to The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll? Click here to find out how! Update your blogs often! I will only include links to posts added since the last P&P Weekly.
As always, if you have any suggestions or notice a discrepancy, please email me.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Yesterday I received a free edition of The Valley News, the community newspaper here in Fulton. I was thumbing through the pages and came across an article in the Entertainment & the Arts section that caught my attention:
Diane Fenster will be giving a lecture at the State University of New York at Oswego in  Lanigan Hall from 5:20 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5. Ms. Fenster is an internationally renowned digital photographer, photo illustrator, and the first artist to be inducted into the Photoshop Hall of Fame.She will be working with students during her time at the college, which will conclude with this lecture that will be open to the public. I'm not sure if I'll be going or not depending on what's coming up at work, but if you live in Central New York and are a photo enthusiast I would recommend heading up to catch this lecture.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
A special note of thanks goes out to Scott Kelby for linking to my review of his latest book. I'm honored that my humble blog caught his attention enough to share it with his readers.
Now, for a somewhat shameless plug of my own, for those of you who have linked here via Scott - and anyone with an interest - I have recently setup a new Photoshop & Photography Blogroll. You can learn more by going to my info page and emailing me from there. I'll be posting member profiles and a weekly recap of what's being written by our blogroll as a way to mutually increase traffic and share news, ideas, and tips. Please help spread the word!
Again, thanks Scott!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
If you are at all interested in digital photography a great resource to learn more is Scott Kelby's The Digital Photography Book. It just arrived in the mail yesterday and I'm already halfway through it and have learned a lot.
The premise of the book is not to teach you about theory or to throw tons of technical terms at you - you can get that out of almost any other book on photography - Scott simply treats it as though you and he are out shooting together and you ask, "How do I get the shot to look like this?" Instead of describing how the aperture and shutter speed work, he simply gives you the settings to use and offers tips on how to turn your photos from average snapshots into more professional-looking and more interesting images.
Each page has a different tip or technique that lays out what to do in various shooting situations. There are whole chapters outlining where to start, how to shoot close-ups (of flowers, but really anything), weddings, landscapes, sports, people, what to avoid, taking travel/city life shots, printing, and tons of other tips thrown in - like how to get wrinkles out of your clothes when you don't have an iron.
Throughout you are treated to Scott's tremendous amount of knowledge about digital imaging that he has learned from some of the best photographers shooting today. Sprinkled in are moments of shear wackiness that is signature Kelby humor. From fake page headers to the opening pages to chapters that are totally made up, readers are never left wanting with this, or any of Scott's books. A real page-turner. Funny. Educational. And informative.
Whenever Scott mentions what the pros use to get those tack-sharp photos, he lists quality products that will fit a number of budgets from the budget photographer to the "you don't mind if your kids have to work a part-time job once they get to college to buy books" to "I'll tell you which one I would buy if I was [a] rich bas*%$#d." There are some non-negotiables - like a good tripod - but he almost always has tips and tricks that can get the same results on a budget that the pros spend hundreds or thousands on - and even some of the pros use some of these very simple techniques. For example, instead of getting a "soft box" to diffuse light, buy a frosted white shower curtain and tack it in front of a window.
It's a great book, so far, and I highly recommend it. And it's quite reasonably priced too. While I'm at it, I'll just say that if you're an intermediate Photoshop user, check out Scott's The Photoshop Channels Book (inventive titles, I know). They can be found directly from Scott Kelby Books, Amazon, or any good bookstore.
*Scott Kelby is a co-host of the Photoshop TV weekly video podcast, instructor, editor, publisher, photographer, designer, President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), and "has been awarded the distinction of being the the world's #1 best-selling author of all computer and technology books, across all categories" for two years in a row.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
This Saturday my dad, brother, and I will be leading a workshop on Using Multimedia and the Internet in Your Local Church to help worship leaders, bulletin/newsletter creators, webmasters, and others learn more about how to create audience-friendly presentations, websites, and other materials. I'm going to be focusing on various aspects of design, photography, and Photoshop basics.
This is going to be the first of, hopefully, a number of sessions that we will be holding around the area. We're already talking with a couple of other pastors who would like to host one on their respective districts.
I remember reading somewhere about the debate between traditional vs. technically enhanced worship. I agree that there are definite advantages and disadvantages to each but I don't think either should be disregarded.
Personally, since I am surrounded by technology the majority of the time with work and my home entertainment system and my iPod hooked into my car, I enjoy those moments when the technology is turned off and I am reminded to just breathe and be. One of the things I didn't like about my college worship experience was the fact that we broadcast our services on the Boston NPR station. Sure it was fun when I would be leading a portion of the service knowing that I was being broadcast over a large market. However, we had everything timed out so it would all fit into the hour-long time slot. Silence doesn't make for good radio, so every time there would be a time of "silent" prayer, either the organ would be playing an underscore or the choir would be singing something equally melodic so the station wouldn't think they lost signal. At times, it felt more choreographed than worshipful. There needs to be enough openness and flexibility to allow for the quiet times and to allow for the movement of the Spirit.
With that said, however, I am a very visual person. Though I can get a lot out of a speech/sermon/presentation that is only spoken, I prefer to have things reinforced visually. Whether it's bullet points, images that illustrate the theme, or the like I find that I am more engaged and have a higher rate of retention when I am visually as well as aurally stimulated. I've been to Christmas Eve services, in particular, where having the words to hymns projected has been quite important. Not only can it act as another means of dressing the sanctuary, but members of the congregation didn't have to juggle a lit candle in one hand, a hymnal or bulletin in the other, and the cranky kid at their side.
It also helps the whole process of singing. Instead of burying their faces in a hymnal, thus muffling the sound and directing it at the floor, the congregation is forced to look up and project the sound outwards, filling the space - and freeing their hands for clapping, etc.
But there needs to be a balance between the two. As with most things, if there is too much of one element or another that element begins to get in the way of everything else. Multimedia projection and presentation is at its best when the effort and transitions and integration is seamless and, in some ways, invisible to your average congregant. If it's jerky or jolting it gets in the way - much like a service that has abrupt segues from one portion to another.
When it's done right, the use of projectors and screens and PowerPoint and all the rest will enhance the experience more than detract. Of course, for some, anything new and different will be threatening and "inappropriate for worship." It's a valid opinion. But those who are closed off to trying new things will probably always have something to complain about anyway. Multimedia is not a fix for everything, and it can't entirely replace solid preaching. It's just another tool in the toolbelt.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Paul Giamatti is excellent - as always - Edward Norton is mysterious and intense, and Jessica Biel is out of place yet a beauty in The Illusionist.
Set in early 20th Century Vienna, The Illusionist tells the story of the love affair between Eisenheim the Illusionist (Norton) and Sophie (Biel), the soon-to-be fiancee of Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). Falling in love as children, Sophie and Eisenheim are forbidden to see each other because they come from different social worlds. When they try to run away together their plot is foiled by Sophie's family and Eisenheim leaves Vienna to escape the pain. Fast forward 15 years and we find Eisenheim performing mind-boggling feats, the secrets to which he learned during his travels across Russia, Asia Minor, and the Orient. When his act catches the attention of the chief inspector (Giamatti) Leopold comes to see the spectacle.
When prompted for a volunteer, Leopold offers up the lovely Sophie to take part, leading down the ill-fated path of their affair leaving accusations of murder, fraud, evil wizardry, and deception in its wake.
Always a fan of Paul Giamatti and Edward Norton, I was pleased with their respective performances. Norton is at times playful, ever the showman, certainly passionate and never reveals too much of what is really going on. He is somewhat overshadowed by the performance of Giamatti who lowers his voice and aptly takes on the air of authority without arrogance that carries the film and drives the plot forward even when it feels like it's beginning to slow down. Jessica Biel plays the defiant intended without much depth and she doesn't add much to the dialogue other than being the driving force behind Eisenheim's actions. In many ways, she's there as eye candy - not that I'm complaining - more than she is there to add much to the discussion. (Though it is turn-of-the-century Europe when women weren't as empowered.)
All in all I'd say The Illusionist is an ok film. I don't regret seeing it, but I didn't leave the theater feeling like it was great either. I can't put my finger on it but there was something lacking in it. There isn't a lot of humor to lighten the mood - though there are a couple of scenes that have whimsical elements - so maybe that's it. In most films there is a good balance of drama, comedy, tragedy, suspense, and romance. Even if the movie is predominantly one over the rest, the others are still present to provide a wholeness to the story. The Illusionist had each of these elements but the balance was off just enough to bring it down a little.
But, again, overall it's not bad.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Inspired by the Methodist Blogroll that a friend of mine is a part of and the success they've had at building an online community of bloggers, I have begun the Photoshop & Photography Blogroll.
There are many graphics-related message boards and forums out there but I have not seen anything specifically for blogs by creative professionals. And so, we have begun. We're still small but I've posted a few threads on message boards that I frequent and have emailed a couple of prominent Photoshop personalities with blogs to try to get things moving and build a healthy list.
If you or anyone you know has a blog, online photo gallery, or website that deals with their love of photography, design or the like, please join us by emailing me or finding out more information from my website.
From an idea I got from John over at Locusts & Honey, amidst my other postings, I will periodically feature profiles of members of the Photoshop & Photography Blogroll and post a weekly summary of what the members are writing about on Mondays (after the list grows a bit more).
So to start it off I will post my profile below.
Why do you blog?
I’ve kept a journal for about 8 years and when I studied abroad in college I sent home reflections from my journey. When I returned, I kept the website going and added an online version of my journal which then turned into a blog. I guess I just wanted a way to share my thoughts and feelings. I needed a way to express myself and have found blogging to be a bit therapeutic as well.
If you only had time to read three blogs a day, which ones would they be?
For Photoshop-related blogs, I’d have to say:
Where is Ben?
Dave Cross and
Scott Kelby’s blog – which is only available to NAPP members and Scott’s friends
As for other blogs:
How long have you been using Photoshop/been a photographer?
I’ve been using Photoshop for about 4 years. I started out with 7 and made the jump straight to CS2 last year. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures but didn’t get serious about it until I traveled around the world in college in 2002.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with?
Mac or PC?
PC but I hope to move to Mac
What is your favorite piece of photo or computer equipment (other than your camera)?
I really like my Wacom Intuos3 6”x8” graphics tablet.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have?
I’m still building my bag of tricks so I’d have to say I’d really like to get a solid tripod and a great ball-head for my camera. That, and upgrade to an even better camera (a D200 and/or D2xs). That, and a 17" Core 2 Duo MacBookPro.
What advice do you have for a novice creative professional/photographer?
Observe the world around you. Really look at graphical elements in ads, commercials, websites, you name it. Pay attention to details. Be intentional about how you visually interact with the world. Don’t be discouraged by what others think as you develop your own style, but be open to constructive criticism. Learn as much as you can.
What inspires you to create?
Sometimes it can be something as simple as a texture or shape. I really like contrasts in color, texture and light and when I see it I want to figure out how I can bring out the beauty in it.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Try not to take things so seriously. I often let things get to me when they aren’t that important anyway and I need to just let go. Travel. Find out what brings you joy and pursue it with all you’ve got. Never stop being true to who you are.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you live now)?
I’d love to have a house of my own surrounded by nature and not too far from some sort of water. But I’d like to also try to live in another country for awhile, not sure which one but I think it would be great to immerse myself in a different culture for an extended period of time. Or, I’d love to be able to do what Ben Willmore is doing, even for a limited amount of time.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love movies – I’m excellent at “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” and am, myself, within 4. I like to go hiking, watch TV, travel, and spend time with my friends.
What talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be able to play an instrument well – piano, harp or hammer dulcimer. (But I don’t have the discipline to practice.)
From Inside the Actors Studio:
What is your favorite word? Moment – we spend so much time living in minutes when what we really need are moments filled with meaning and peace.
What is your least favorite word? Anything said in hate or anger.
What turns you on? Friends who make me feel like I truly matter to them.
What turns you off? Single-mindedness.
What sound or noise do you love? The rain, a soft breeze through leaves, and flowing water.
What sound or noise do you hate? Music that is off-key.
What is your favorite curse word? Shit
What occupation other than your own would you like to attempt? Travel writer or in film.
What occupation would you not want to participate in? Waste management or any sort of dangerous/violent profession
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? I love you just the way you are, and I’m proud of you.
I know I haven't really written anything substantive in a couple of weeks but things have been pretty hectic at work lately and I've been left feeling quite spent.
We just finished putting together an electronic version of a client's annual journal/yearbook. The way we planned to create it led to a number of issues when combined with the client's desires and the limitations of using two particular programs together. Every day we would work through one issue and be faced with another hiding right behind it as we tried to reconcile the project based on the solution to the previous problem.
Then, on Wednesday we had a "Eureka" moment and figured out how to basically start building the journal over again in a slightly different way that made all the issues disappear. Then, at the end of the day on Friday - just before we were to drop the sample into FedEx to the client - we go to print the face of the CD and the alignment is off and we spend a couple of hours banging our heads against the wall trying to make the new printer do what we want, perfectly. (And my level of frustration that had been building for the past couple of weeks and my total burn out left me feeling so wasted that I almost had nothing left.)
Long story short, I calmed down, we worked through it, and the final product is on its way. Assuming everything checks out - and it should, we tested it enough - over the next few weeks we'll be in the process of duplicating, printing, and packing 3,000 copies of this thing. We timed how long it takes to copy and print and we figure it will take us about 100 hours to do it with the two of us working pretty steadily.
All I can say is thank God for the long weekend to try and regain some semblance of sanity after such a stressful week.