“The object of a question is to obtain information that matters to us, and no one else.”
- Sean Connery as William Forrester in "Finding Forrester"

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

New Video Podcast Coming

I was just reading Ben Willmore's blog and he's hinting at the creation of a monthly video podcast that could be launched within the next few months.

Ben is a great photographer and Photoshop instructor. I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of his sessions at Photoshop World in Boston last year - and I'll be there again in April, for the whole thing this time.

Trick or Treat

My friend Laura from college offered this nugget of humor that is strikingly appropriate for this day:

My Chinese professor says he gets a lot of college kids, particularly skimpily dressed girls, coming to his door on Halloween. He enjoys answering the doorbell with responses such as this:

Playboy Bunny: “Trick or Treat!”
Professor: “Aren’t you a little old to be giving me that option?”

Monday, October 30, 2006

"The Art of Image Altering"

I just finished reading this article on photo manipulation. It doesn't delve too deeply into the discussion but it raises a few interesting points.

(via Photoshop News)

Pick Two

I just finished reading a post by The Online Photographer about wedding photography that reminded me of something my dad talks about quite often. In his post Mike Johnston says:

So every now and then someone says, can you recommend a good wedding photographer? There have been a few I've recommended over the years, including the late Susan Kennedy, in the Washington, D.C. area, who had a knack for putting brides at ease and adding a nice presence to the ceremony. But most of the time, regardless of who I recommend, and regardless of price they charge, the follow-up is the same: can't you recommend somebody cheaper?

Well, heck. And then a third of the couples in America complain about their wedding photography. (One day I'm going to write a book called "Two Plus Two," about the many ways in which people overlook obvious explanations for things that are right in front of their noses—for instance, in the 1980s there were thousands of spooky, unexplained Elvis sightings. There were also 200 full- or part-time Elvis impersonators in America! Put two and two together, people....) So do you want cheap or do you want good? The two can be different things.

One of the things we notice when quoting projects is that no matter how low we quote the most common response is that it's too much - and our fatal flaw is charging too little already. It is generally clients like these that want a lot of extras or demand a great deal of time and effort to be complete sooner than humanly possible.

We always seem to say that you can get your project done quick, cheap or good, and you can only pick 2. You can get a good project done quickly but it's going to cost you. You can get a good project done inexpensively but it's not necessarily going to get done quickly and we're not going to allow for a lot of on-location time. If you want a cheap project done within a week, it's not going to be great. (You get the idea.)

P&P Weekly: #6

Here’s what’s been happening in The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll:

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, October 29, 2006


Regular readers and those who know me know that travel is a very important part of my life and that I feel the experiences gained and self-knowledge learned while traveling is unlike anything else.

Earlier this year I came across a show on the Travel Channel called 5Takes. In it, 5 young adults (TJs or "travel journalists") come together to explore new places all on a budget of $50/person/day. They each have an interest area that they will be focusing on at different points along the way - be it food or night life or culture or religion, etc. When I first saw the show the group was traveling all over the Pacific Rim and actually visited a few places I have been to, like the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island outside of Hong Kong. It was exciting to see again a place that now seems so far away. After all, it's been over 4 years now since I was there.

It's an interactive show in that they tape, edit, and air each episode all within about a week and a half so you can go to their website to post comments, tips, ideas, and vote on where to go for their final destination.

This time around, the 5 TJs are all from Pacific Rim countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, The Philippians, and Australia) and they are touring around the USA. Their first stop along the way was to spend 5 days in Las Vegas - an interesting first look at the US - and they are off to Alaska for next week's show.

Having traveled a lot myself, I always find it interesting to see how Americans are perceived by the everyday people in other countries. Their view is so filtered by television and other stereotypes that many are only tangentially aware of what the reality is. And the same is true for the general opinions most Americans hold for people of other countries around the world, even moreso in fact.

In my travels with work these past few weeks, my dad and I were listening to the audiobook of Nicholas Sparks' memoir Three Weeks with My Brother. In the book Nicholas and his brother Micah recall their lives growing up while they travel around the world over the course of three weeks in late January and early February 2003. There is a scene from their trip where they are talking with a guide about traveling to the US. The guide had been to major cities and felt that Las Vegas was the epitome of what America is: the lights, the energy, the money, extravagance, the food. For me, and I would presume for most Americans, Vegas is certainly not definitive "America."

But that's what I like about this show, it gives us a number of different perspectives on what the world has to offer. And, this season anyway, we are given a glimpse of how we are viewed by those from other countries. Definitely worth a watch. Here, it's on Saturday nights at 10pm (EST) on the Travel Channel. Take a look!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

On a Personal Note

Thus far I have only mentioned in passing that I have been seeing someone. Almost a month and a half ago I met Kim. She is a first-year art education graduate student at Syracuse University. We have similar temperaments, interests, senses of humor, and we spend as much time together as our schedules allow - given that they are very different from each other.

She's intelligent, a talented artist, sweet, caring, beautiful, she makes me smile and laugh, she is just an all-around wonderful person and I am humbled that she would want to be with me.

It's been tough these past few weeks as I've been working out of town and she's been in the midst of papers, presentations and midterms along with the demands of work and life but I feel as though we've forged a strong foundation and I look forward to see where this will lead.

The Radiant Vista

About a year or so ago I was looking on iTunes for Photoshop-related video podcasts to help me learn more about my craft and gain some inspiration for future projects. In my searching I came across The Photoshop Workbench, put together by the folks over at The Radiant Vista.

With my busy work schedule and sometimes not agreeing with the creative choices of the host I allowed it to slip out of my regular circulation of podcasts for a long time. A couple of months ago, though, while working on a large CD duplication project I needed some background noise to help keep me from going too nuts from the tedium of assembling CDs. So, I once again searched to see what The Radiant Vista had to offer.

Now, about a year older and more serious about photography and much farther along in my appreciation of varied creative points of view, I began watching The Photoshop Workbench once again. I didn't stop there, however, since I forgot what it was called, I did a search for "Radiant Vista" and discovered the other podcasts they put out. Now, I watch 3 of them on a regular basis:

  • The Photoshop Workbench - Every couple of weeks Mark Johnson takes a viewer-submitted photo from start to finish in Photoshop. He walks you through tip after tip as he transforms the image from its original form into something that is, often, more vibrant and visually interesting.
  • The Daily Critique - Everyday Craig Tanner looks at a finished viewer-submitted photo and outlines the strengths of the photographer's style including elements of light, line, composition, color, depth of field, subject matter, etc. Craig's goal is to be a supportive teacher and does a great job of affirming what the photographer is doing well before offering suggestions on how to improve.
  • Video Tutorials - Covering a wide-range of topics, the video tutorials are used to discuss style, technical concepts, Photoshop techniques, workflow, and other essentials of the digital darkroom.

In all honesty, there are times when I don't agree with what is suggested and I think the original image presents a stronger message. However, with that said, I have taken a lot away from these podcasts and in the end I've grown quite a bit from them and I would recommend them highly to anyone who wants to perform at a higher level.

*Other podcasts to consider: Photoshop TV, Photoshop Killer Tips with Matt Kloskowski, The Adobe Creative Suite Podcast with Terry White.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


As I said last week, I've been out of town doing sound and video for live events of various kinds and I'm actually heading out again this afternoon for another one. Depending on the availability of internet access this week, I'll try to write more.

P&P Weekly: #5

Here’s what’s been happening in The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll:

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.

Monday, October 16, 2006

P&P Weekly: #4

Here’s what’s been happening in The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll:

  • Michael over at eyes on the road, is a new member of the blogroll, and posts photos and reflections on his travels. One of my favorites among his recent posts is from his work in progress of an oversized chess game in Zurich.
  • Jon at San Miguel Photo of the Day has been posting images of life in Mexico. Of particular note is his shot "Busy as a Bee," my personal favorite from this week.
  • Andy of Visual Realia has been posting shots of fall themes. I have been enjoying his close-ups of multi-colored corn cobs.
  • I’ve been posting about my shot that was selected as an "Editor's Choice" on the NAPP Member Website.

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.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Editor's Choice #3

I've been delinquent these past few days because I've had to focus on work. I'm actually in Valley Forge, PA this weekend doing sound for an event with people from across the northeast and will be out of town for the bulk of this coming week and the next for two other events we have on the calendar. I'll blog more later on once I'm back in town and recover from the craziness. And I'll cover the next edition of the P&P Weekly as usual either tomorrow or Monday morning.

I was checking the NAPP member website yesterday and looked in the Member Portfolio Section to see what was chosen as the "Image of the Week" and "Editor's Choices" for this week. Low and behold, my shot of a bench that I took a few weeks ago was selected as one of the "Editor's Choices." This is my 3rd image to be selected over the past year or so and I'm quite excited! Even though I'm not egotistical - at least, no more than the next person - and I take photos for myself more than anything, it's nice to be recognized every now and again for your work.

So stop over and take a look at my, and the other, shots that have been chosen this week!

**UPDATE:** In the comments for this photo I received some very nice feedback from the judges and the NAPP Executive Director, Larry Becker.

Monday, October 09, 2006

P&P Weekly: #3

Here’s what’s been happening in The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll:

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.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

P&P Blogger Profile: Andy Smith

Andy Smith of Visual Realia

Photography is “selfish” time I get to spend on something that interests me. If someone else likes a photo of mine, that’s a bonus. The “unselfish” time is spent in front of middle school kids, where I teach instrumental music and classroom music. At home, I’m surrounded by women, including my wife, two daughters and the dog.

Why do you blog?
Self-motivation! Life is hectic… there are many reasons to not go out and photograph. Obviously, if you’re not taking pictures, you miss the opportunities out there for a good shot. By blogging, you create the necessity to go out and try to find those meaningful moments.

If you only had time to read three blogs a day, which ones would they be?
The Online Photographer: http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com/
Chromasia: http://www.chromasia.com/

How long have you been using Photoshop/been a photographer?
To a small extent, I’ve photographed since I was a kid, but the first quality camera came only a few years ago with the advent of digital cameras.

What type of camera(s) do you shoot with?
Olympus Evolt 500, and before that an Olympus C-4000.

Mac or PC?

What is your favorite piece of photo or computer equipment (other than your camera)?
Apple display.

What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have?
A top-notch telephoto lens.

What advice do you have for a novice creative professional/photographer?
Keep your camera with you at all times, and more importantly, go out and just do it (photograph) every chance you get.

What inspires you to create?
Desire to keep some sanity!

What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Don’t get so hung up in “goals” that you miss the moment you’re in.

Where would you most like to live (other than where you live now)?
On a small hill overlooking a pristine lake.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Getting together with friends, or relaxing with a good cup of coffee and a newspaper or magazine, preferably outside under a tree.

What talent would you most like to have?
The ability to complete surveys a little more easily!

From Inside the Actors Studio:
What is your favorite word? Friend
What is your least favorite word? Stagnant
What turns you on? A pleasant smile.
What turns you off? Acceptance of mediocrity.
What sound or noise do you love? A child’s giggle.
What sound or noise do you hate? A person whining.
What is your favorite curse word? Weenie
What occupation other than your own would you like to attempt? Chef
What occupation would you not want to participate in? Assembly-line operator
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Nothing; just a welcoming hug.

*Note: If you would like to participate in the P&P Blogger Profile series, please email Jason with your blog's URL and he will send you a profile to fill out. Also, be sure to check out the P&P Weekly every Monday for news about this site and a roundup of what other Photoshop & Photography Blogroll members are posting.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Nikon D50
18-50mm lens
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
1.3sec at f/5.6
Natural light

A Little Off

This has felt like an odd week for me. I've been at least a day off everyday. Because I had Monday off, Tuesday felt like Monday, Wednesday felt like Thursday, yesterday felt like Friday, today sort of feels like Friday but I'm working tomorrow too which makes it feel like Thursday again. There's just something wrong with that!

It's been tough to find balance in my life lately, too. I've recently started seeing someone and though things are going great between us, our schedules don't line up as neatly as we would like. As I wrote in my last post, I've been doing a lot of tasks at work that require little, if any creativity. Over the next 3 weeks I'll be out of town three different times so it will be tough to find much rest - though the time off to compensate for it will definitely help - and, again, it won't be on the really creative side of things.

It's funny how it all works out. As things begin to go well in one area, something else comes along to take some of the wind out of your sails. At the same time, when you're really feeling the stress of life, something - or someone - enters in to help turn things around.

Tomorrow we will be finishing up interviews for a stewardship video for a local church. This church has gone through a series of changes in its 40 year lifespan, always faithfully risking to move forward, whether it's something big or only a little at a time. People who were youth and young adults when the church started are now the parents and grandparents of the current youth - the focus of their current stewardship drive. It's cyclical. Life, in all its incarnations, finds balance. And I'm trying to reach that balance in my own life too.

One of my favorite aspects of Eastern religions is the desire to live in harmony with nature and to walk a line of moderation between any extremes. Whether it's the Middle Way between self-indulgence and self-denial or trying to leave a place better than you found it. It's about doing the best you can; it's about trying to contribute to the greater good without getting in the way or bringing it down around you.

It's been a little tedious and tiresome in certain areas of my life - though never dull - and I have longed, for so long, to find rest and the fullness of life, to find balance. Out of nowhere, in amazing ways things are starting to change and grow and move closer to that sense of equilibrium for me. The adjustments may keep me a little off for awhile but I can feel things start falling into place. And for that I'm thankful.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Creative Thinking

Coming off of an unusual weekend where I had Saturday off, worked Sunday, had Monday off, and am back to work again today, I haven't gotten back up to full speed quite yet. With three events over the next three weeks and another day of shooting interviews this Saturday, I feel like I'm already getting a bit drained.

I am what is considered a "creative professional" which encompasses design-oriented fields and basically all things visual. After completing a pretty detail intensive project last month we switched gears into duplicating 3,000 copies of it for our client. It was a nice change of pace, a way to unwind from focusing on all of the ins and outs of such a technical product. However, that too, began to bog me down with the repetition of loading the disk printer and stuffing the mailers and packing the mailers into boxes and on and on. We then had a job for 500 copies of another project - just the duplication - and we're expecting the arrival of the master for yet another 200 disks this week. We've been archiving a local history video series - for which we've been producing new editions - and I've been typing in the content for the wraps and inserting the thumbnails of the subjects.

That coupled with the event work we have coming up for most of this month hasn't been getting me all that excited, to be honest. I need to be creative or at least have the creative areas of my brain stimulated for me to feel motivated and productive. The past couple of weeks haven't really gone towards helping in that area - aside from the afternoon of shooting outside of NYC and redesigning the website for a youth group I work with.

I assume that other creative people find themselves in this situation as well; it's probably true in one form or another in any profession/interest area/what-have-you. Things are great when you are doing what you enjoy, what you were meant to do and when you do the things you have to do that aren't necessarily what you enjoy, you are left feeling drained rather than rejuvenated.

At least, that's where I'm at right now.

Interview with Scott Kelby

I know I've departed a bit from my more traditional posts lately where I write about what's been on my mind but I've been really focusing on work and photography over the last month or so. I'll get back to some of that later on.

In the meantime, I came across this interview with Scott Kelby over at PC Book Review that is pretty interesting.

Have a read!

Monday, October 02, 2006

P&P Weekly: #2

Here’s what’s been happening in The Photoshop & Photography Blogroll:

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.