I just posted the set of daily photos for 2015, wrapping up the 9th year I’ve done a 365photos project.

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I’m trying a new publishing tool – instead of generating static HTML from Aperture, I’m exporting 960px-wide images from Photos, uploading those to my server, and using UberGallery to generate the web pages automatically. I haven’t done much with metadata for the photos, so I’m just showing the photo and a title if available. I saved a snapshot of the generated HTML as the index.html file for that directory, so the server load should be pretty trivial, and it shouldn’t require active PHP scripts to run in the future…

Now, to start year 10 tomorrow…

my photo publishing workflow

Alec asked how people manage and publish photos, which got me thinking about how I do it. I use a mix of old school offline management via Aperture on my home laptop as the central hub (which makes me nervous now that Aperture  is Dead App Walking). I publish photos first to my own website, and then republish to other platforms automatically. If the third party stuff goes away (or I decide they’re evil enough to cut ties with), I lose nothing.


on the death of photography

An article on The Guardian that initially seems like an “OH NO KIDS THESE DAYS!” reaction to everyone having a decent phone in their pocket 24/7. I was prepared to read it through, groan, and then ignore it.

Then, this gem from Nick Knight, a fashion photographer:

But doesn’t incessant picture-taking, as psychologists argue, make us forget? “That’s old rubbish,” says Knight. “Like that old nonsense about how sitting too close to the TV will infuse you with x-rays. My dad went around a lot of the time shooting with a video camera when I was a kid. Now we have lots of great old home videos as a result. So what if someone stands in front of a Matisse and takes a picture to look at on the bus home? I think that’s great if they want to.”

Exactly. Sure, someone with a smartphone in their hand isn’t going to replace a Photographer. But, so what? People are capturing stuff that means something to them. That’s awesome.

As an aside – I went to Mexico last year for my niece’s wedding. I was asked to photograph the event, so used a DSLR with fancy lenses to get Photographs. They were OK. But, my favourite photo from the entire set was one I shot with my phone. There’s only so much you can do, without staging and lighting, managing the entire event to optimize for photography. But that sounds like the kind of invasive un-presentness that photography snobs whine about with kids these days, and their infernal smartphone contraptions…

Smartphones aren’t the death of photography, any more than these were:1

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It’s less elitist – the barrier to entry has never been lower – but it’s still kind of elitist – photography snobs lament that any schmuck can take photos. Neither is a new phenomenon.

  1. Case in point – I just shot both of the photos above – with my phone – using a DIY lightbox in my basement. Is that Photography? Maybe. Maybe not. Who cares? My phone’s camera produces images with the same number of pixels as my DSLR. The lens isn’t as good, but it’s not horrible. And the software automatically geotags the file and uploads it to The Cloud™ over the wi-fis, where I dragged it into MarsEdit on my laptop upstairs, as I wrote this post. []

on advanced software camera lenses

This is cool. Hipstamatic released a bunch of new lenses. I got a notification on my phone last night, and grumbled something about camera apps spamming me with ads. Then forgot about it. This morning, I see a post from Nick, referring to the official Hipstamatic blog post on the lens:

The Tinto 1884 lens uses facial recognition to recreate a very shallow depth of field unique for each photograph. This is similar in some ways to what some apps do with tilt-shift or radial blur effects, but Hipstamatic’s effect is more customized for faces. Notice, for instance, that it will leave eyes and mouth unaffected, while blurring out the nose and forehead. If the app can’t detect a face, it just switches into a radial blur.

A software camera with a software lens that does more than just compositing grunge effects layers and vignettes onto the photo. It’s actually manipulating the transformations in (near) realtime, based on code within the software lens. In this case, facial detection is used to direct the application of blur. How awesome is that? Check out the first sample photo I shot with the new Tinto lens:


The possibilities for software-enabled realtime transformation are interesting, too. What about a lens that uses your geolocation to tint a photo (similar to the Breaking Bad “New Mexico is brown and Mexico is yellow” tinting). Or based on who is in the photograph, and their relationship to you. Or based on time of day. Or how many messages are waiting in your inbox. or how fast or far you’ve traveled recently, etc…

Anyway. This is the first software lens I’ve seen that does something more interesting than just pasting a few layers of gunk onto a photo and calling it vintage. You may not like the aesthetic of the end result, but the process is absolutely fascinating.

on being a year post-flickr

I last posted anything to Flickr over a year ago, and deleted my account this spring. I’d been a pretty heavy Flickr junkie for 7 years prior to that, so was expecting to go into withdrawal and come crawling back after a brief hiatus.

Over a year later, and I haven’t missed it. Haven’t even considered having or wanting to post anything there. If I post photos, I typically do it through the ephemera section of this here blog, or if it’s a bunch of photos, I’ll create a gallery and post that.

The one thing I’ve missed, and the thing that caused me to recreate my Flickr account, is the “My Friends” page on Flickr. I’d debated just subscribing to the RSS feeds for each of the people I want to follow, but the single page for seeing all recent photos is just too simple and compelling. For now…

So. Anyway. Over a year since I’ve posted anything to Flickr. Almost 6 months since I deleted my account. No regrets. It’s totally possible to host your own photos, easily. But the social glue side of things is harder to directly replace.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t get the constant ego-buzz of people using my photos. It used to be, I’d get a few emails each week, saying my stuff was in books/videos/websites/magazines/etc… It’s happened post-Flickr as well, but much less often. And that’s OK with me. I’ll just have to artificially prop up my sense of self worth some other way…

update: I wondered what the self-hosting thing looks like from a files-uploaded-to-server perspective.


The /gallery photo sets are separate, but only add up to 677MB total, for sets going back to 2003. Not a big deal…

CBC News and photo credits?

I was just checking my RSS feeds, and saw an article from CBC News.

I thought to myself, “hey! I’ve seen that photo somewhere. wait a minute… I think I took that photo…”

Some quick poking around on my gallery site1, and hey presto. Yup. I shot it back in June, 2009, not far from my house.

Looking at the article on CBC’s site, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of that fact.

I’m guessing someone at CBC did a search on Flickr for “lightning in calgary” or something (back when I had a Flickr account), and found the photo. I’d also guess that it’s used whenever there’s a “lightning” story on the site.

I’m actually fine with CBC using the photo. I don’t even care about getting credit for the photo – please go ahead and continue using the photo if it suits your needs.

This whole credit thing is messy. They (likely) found a photo that was shared under a Creative Commons license, and decided to use it. They goofed on the credit (but, so what), but they were trying to do the right thing. If a news organization struggles with providing credit for a photo, how do we expect everyone else (teachers, students, etc…) to be able to do it? And, does it really matter?

  1. holy crap do I need to do a better job with my photo metadata []

photos from danielle & dallas’ wedding

I didn’t get copies of the photos from the borrowed camera until just recently, and just finished going through and editing. This is the first wedding I’ve ever shot, with any sense of responsibility for capturing the whole thing. Lots of rookie amateur mistakes in there. It’s amazing how fast things happen in a wedding, when you’re trying to capture it all. And how quickly the lighting goes south – the wedding took place on a beach, just before sunset, so we had amazing light for most of it, and then harsh oblique shadows at the end. I didn’t have any lights aside from the on-camera flash, so things got messy in a hurry. Thankfully, I pumped off about a thousand frames – whittled down to 80-something.

It was an absolutely beautiful ceremony – both in the setting (on the beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico), and in the casual relaxed fun feeling throughout – the bride and groom were both laughing through much of the ceremony. So much fun.

If I were to shoot a wedding again, I would do things a bit differently. For starters, I’d use my own camera (mine was out of action that week – sensor far to messed up to risk shooting a wedding with it). I’d shoot RAW (the borrowed camera didn’t have room on the card to handle more than JPEG if I was going to shoot around 1000 frames. I’d have proper lights. I’d maybe have 2 cameras ready – one with a long lens for closeups, one with a wide lens for catching the scene.

We actually had 3 shooters for the wedding – myself, my nephew Jordan (brother of the bride) and his wife Kelsey (who was a bridesmaid, and has a fantastic sense of artistic direction) – photos on their faceplace, and my son (9, with his own camera). With them all combined, I think we actually did a surprisingly good job at shooting the wedding.