23 posts categorized "Images"

"The Daily Shoot" gives you daily practice in becoming a better photographer...

dailyshoot-1.jpgDid you get a new DSLR camera over the holidays? (I did!) Or do you have one and want to get inspired to do more with it? Or do you not have a DSLR but just enjoy photography? Do you want to push yourself to try out more ways to make images?

If so, grab your DSLR, point-and-shoot camera, iPhone, mobile phone or whatever other camera you have and head over to "The Daily Shoot" at:


You can naturally just browse through the pictures that other photographers have taken, but it's also very easy to get involved yourself:

  1. You start by following @dailyshoot on Twitter.
  2. Each day at 9am US Eastern a new "assignment" comes out.
  3. You take a picture and upload it to Flickr, Twitpic, yfrog, The Best Camera or a couple of other photo sharing sites.
  4. Then... you tweet out the link in a reply to @dailyshoot with the assignment's hashtag, like I did here:
  5. Your picture will then be added to the pages of the Daily Shoot website.

That's it. See the assignment, take a picture, upload it, tweet it.

There's no time pressure... you don't have to have it in by any certain time. You can do it today, tomorrow... or whenever. You can go back and do past assignments and post them. You can just do scattered assignments whenever your schedule permits or when you have the interest. It's all about self-motivation and giving yourself a reason to play with your camera and push yourself to do more with photography.

It's also about learning from other photographers. You can go to the Assignments page and browse through the photos that are contributed for each assignment. The site nicely opens each photo in a new tab so that you can easily keep going back to the assignment page to see the other photos. (In Chrome I'll command+click each photo (I'm on a Mac) to open a bunch up in different tabs to look at them.) Here was the assignment about "yellow"... it's fun to see the different perspectives on the assignment.

You can also view the pictures from each individual photographer, so if you find someone's photo you really like you can then see the other photos by that photographer (hint: click on the name of the photographer underneath a thumbnail on the Daily Shoot site). Here's my page of photos. Here's Duncan's much better page.

It's fun to do... and a way to learn more about and practice the art of making images.

duncandavidson.jpgThe Daily Shoot is the brainchild of photographer Duncan Davidson (pictured on the right) and programmer/consultant Mike Clark. I've been a fan of Duncan's photography back from when I first saw the great photos he shot at eComm 2009. I've enjoyed his writing on his blog about photography. Here are a couple of his posts I liked:

I've also met him at a couple of events now and he's just a really decent and great guy. He recently wrote about how the Daily Shoot site has evolved and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Meanwhile, today's assignment is out... I'll have to see if sometime today I can find something interesting to shoot that is circular...

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USA Today: 750 photos per *second* uploaded to Facebook

usatodayfacebookphotos.jpgIn today's USA Today was a story which was posted online as "Facebook's 'tagging' option is a big hit with photo sharing" ... but I preferred the print headline:
At Facebook... 1 second = 750 photographs

By whatever metric you want to use and whatever headline you like, the number is rather staggering. Consider the larger numbers mentioned in the article:

Some 2 billion photos a month — or nearly 70 million a day — are uploaded to Facebook. By comparison, Yahoo's popular photo site Flickr gets 3 million uploads a day.

Two billion photos a month. Given Facebook's recent news of crossing over 300 million users, that's roughly 7 photos per month from each user. Considering that many of those 300 million users are "casual" users who may only login occasionally - and in some cases very occasionally, it's probably much more likely that a smaller core of people are uploading larger numbers of photos. Again, however you measure, it's an amazing number of photos.

The USA Today article talks about the "tagging" capability within Facebook as driving this growth in photo uploads. That may well be a contributing factor, but for me a large part of why I've uploaded photos to Facebook is:


It's incredibly easy to upload images into Facebook, either through the website or through mobile apps like the iPhone app. Right at the top of your Facebook login screen is this:


Right in my iPhone app is the ability to take a photo and instantly upload it. I've used this on a personal level to upload various photos I've taken directly into my Facebook account. On a business level, I used this a great deal at a recent trade show and uploaded the photos directly to Voxeo's Facebook Page. It's simple and easy. It's also incredibly easy to organize the pictures once they are up in Facebook.

It's also easy to upload pictures and organize them in Flickr, too, but I do admit that I've found myself doing that less and uploading to Facebook more. A large part of that is the new Facebook app on the iPhone which is a great all around app. (And no, I haven't tried out the new Flickr app yet.) I do admit, though, that there is an element of truth to the USA Today piece... part of the allure of uploading to Facebook is the social element and how others can easily see and comment on your photos.

Again, though, amazing stats in terms of numbers of uploads...

I will miss Kodachrome (though I haven't used it in years...)

kodak.jpgI was sad to learn recently that Kodak has ended the 74-year-run of its Kodachrome film. The Wikipedia page on Kodachrome has some good info and links - and Kodak themselves put onlne a tribute site to KODACHROME.

In my younger years, I was seriously into photography and shot tons of rolls of slide film. When I was the University of New Hampshire in the mid-1980's, I used to put together slide shows for public events for the NH Outing Club (an outdoor activity group, i.e. hiking, canoeing, skiing, etc.). Admittedly, working on the typical student budget, I shot mostly Ektachrome in those days due to the cheaper cost of processing, but in later years I did use Kodachrome quite a good bit. I used it on various trips out west... on a trip to Greenland... in many different places. There was just something about the colors in the film. Great to shoot with.

The reality, though, is that I haven't bought a roll of Kodachrome, Ektachrome or really any film in probably...

fifteen years.

Maybe even more. Now, between jobs, family and other activities, my photography activities dropped off and the 35mm cameras and lens all sit in the basement... as do the many, many trays of slides... waiting for the mythical time when I'll have the cycles to scan them all in to my digital photo library.

I'm obviously not alone in that. Here's question #1 in Kodak's FAQ:

Why has Kodak decided to stop offering KODACHROME?
Due to declining customer demand for KODACHROME, continued production of this film in no longer viable. Over the years people have moved from KODACHROME to other methods of capture, be it new films or digital. Simply put, not enough people are shooting KODACHROME for us to continue offering it.

And that's the thing, isn't it? We've all gone digital with our photography. When was the last time any of you actually bought film?

Let's be honest, too... how many of us really want to go back to using film? The convenience of digital photography is just far too great to even remotely think about going back. Even now, I'm watching the prices of DSLRs continue to drop and keep waiting to jump back into doing more photography with higher-end gear...

Still, it's sad to hear of the passing of such a great institution within the world of photography.

I may just have to find a roll of Kodachrome before it all is gone, dust off the camera and lenses and go off for a picture-taking spree... just for old times sake...

R.I.P., Kodachrome...

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Of choosing a new image/avatar - and wondering why we choose the images we do?

So I'm thinking of changing the "avatar" image I use across all my blogs and social networks.

In truth, I quite like the current image I have been using (pictured on right), because I'm not really a big fan of most of the pictures of me that are out there. But with this particular one I like the profile... I'm almost smiling... and the purple and pink background is distinctive. My image can easily be found in a batch of other images. I'm also looking to the right, which is again just different from so many of the other images out there.

This image has worked well for me as I've used it across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, all my various blogs, my Gravatar, and basically every other social network I'm in (and I'm in a lot as part of my job). Given that "Dan York" is a rather generic name in English, and that there are a good number of other "Dan Yorks" out there, I've tried to use one image everywhere so that when people see my account on some service, they have a very easy visual clue that it is, in fact, the Dan York they know. It's part of my online identity... a bit of personal branding, etc.

However, there's a fundamental problem with the image - I only have it in low resolution.

And in fact, very low resolution. For all the many positive comments I've received about that particular image, the truth is that it is simply a screen capture of a random frame in a video interview that Jeff Pulver did with me back at Fall VON in October 2007. That's it. A screen capture of a web video. No pro photographers. Nothing like that.

The problem is that when conferences ask me for a "headshot", in my ideal world I'd like to give them the same shot that I have on my website and social networks... but I can't give them this one. So I need a new image for which I also have a higher resolution image.

I've thought of going to a local photographer for a shoot... and I may still do that, but as I wrote about over on a Voxeo blog, I was fortunate to have some great shots taken of me out at eComm by photographer Duncan Davidson (click any of the images to jump to his site - you can then click between the images on his site):


(And do check out the rest of the eComm 2009 image gallery - I'm quite impressed by Duncan Davidson's work.)

As Duncan has very kindly given speakers permission to use them for headshots, blogs, etc., I'm now toying with using a cropped version of one of those shots. Something like maybe one of these:

danyork1-1.png danyork3.png danyork2.png danyork8-1.png

I'm thinking maybe the last one... mostly because it's off-center a bit. What do you think?

All of this got me thinking and wondering these thoughts:

  • What do you like in an avatar shot?
  • What made you choose the one that you are using now?
  • Do you like close-up images or farther away?
  • Do you like just the person in them or with other people/kids/significant-others/animals?
  • Serious? Funny? Muted backgrounds? Distinct backgrounds? Posed? Casual?
(Or are you perhaps not the over-analyzing, over-thinking type that I am and just put up random shots and change them around all the time?)

There's no right answer, of course... in this world of social media we all get to choose this part of our online identity... and that persona can of course change and morph over time as we ourselves do. Still, I find it interesting to think about - why do we choose the images we do?

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Noupe: "50 Most Beautiful Icon Sets Created in 2008"

50mostbeautifuliconsets.jpgAre you fan of well-designed icons? Would you like some new icons to use on our blog or web site?

As a long-time fan of design in general, I was pleased to learn from my Twitterfeed (I'm sorry, I don't remember from who!) of the "50 Most Beautiful Icon Sets Created in 2008" on the Noupe blog. Some very cool icon sets in there... many/most free and others commercial.

I love to see the range of creative ideas people come up with...

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Skitch is my new friend! (Especially when used with MarsEdit!)

skitch.jpgOkay, tonight I am one VERY happy blogger!

I <3 Skitch!

You see, ever since leaving Windows back in October and moving onto the Mac platform, the one single biggest application I have missed - and really the only app I have missed! - has been Microsoft's Windows Live Writer. It truly rocks as an offline blog editor and I've been trying to find the same level of functionality ever since I moved to the Mac. I tried ecto but found it had some quirks that didn't work for me (however, I did buy both ecto and MarsEdit). I've mostly been using MarsEdit, but it has had one big glaring hole for me:

I can't easily paste in screen captures!
In fact, there's a good bit of irony to me that my last post, about using MarsEdit, was actually posted using ecto simply because it was the easiest way to incorporate screenshots!

However, I have seen the light! In the form of this little app called Skitch!

A number of people, including Daniel Jalkut who develops MarsEdit, had encouraged me to try it out, but for a whole variety of reasons I didn't get around to it. Until tonight.
skitchdrag.jpgPerhaps the single greatest feature of the app for me is this little tab on the bottom of the app that says "drag me". Media Manager.jpgYou see, MarsEdit has this great "Media Manager" to which you can simply "drag and drop" files, but you can't easily drag-and-drop a screen capture on a Mac. Oh, you can easily take a screenshot of a region - using either the magic keystroke of Cmd+Shift+Ctrl+4 or through using the "Grab" application, but in neither case could you easily drop it into MarsEdit's Media Manager. Instead what I would do would be to paste it into ecto's WYSWIG editor.

So I wound up in this bizarre blog editing world where I would use MarsEdit for all my blogging... unless I wanted to incorporate screen captures, in which case I'd switch to ecto! A real pain-in-the-neck.

But now, with Skitch and this little "drag me" tab, I simply take the screen shot, resize it if I want, and then drag it over to MarsEdit's Media Manager.

In fact, it even solves one of my frustrations with MarsEdit's drag-and-drop. I always found it annoying that when you dragged an image from a web page, for instance, into MarsEdit, the image would get named some really long ugly temporary filename. Now, if you only use MarsEdit's Media Manager, that's not too big of a deal, but sometimes I do go into TypePad's File Manager and right now there are a ton of image files with really ugly names that are meaningless to me. Anyway, with Skitch I just enter a name into the field right above "drag me", hit Enter, and then when I do drag the file to MarsEdit, it comes across with this nice new name. VERY cool!

NASDAQ1998-2008.jpgSkitch also comes comes with a whole range of annotation tools, so you can do stuff like what I just did to a NASDAQ 10-year chart I pulled off of CNN.com a few minutes ago. Skitch did the screen shot and then let me annotate away. The nice thing is that I can go back and edit my annotations, change them around, delete them, change colors, etc.

When I'm done, I just drag it over to MarsEdit and... ta da.. there it is!

Now, Skitch also has a "Skitch.com" service where you can host your images, and there's a handy little "webpost" button at the bottom of the user interface that will post your image. The cool part, though, is that you don't have to use Skitch.com. You can use the "webpost" button to post to flickr, .Mac or other sites via FTP, SFTP or WebDAV. Again, VERY nice!

Now I see why people were telling me I should check it out. It's the solution to my screen capture problem on the Mac... and it's free!

In fact, I'm not really sure what the business model is for the Plasq crew that made it, except perhaps that it gets them publicity and may draw people to their other products. Perhaps it's only free in the beta period and then they'll be asking people to buy it. (I probably would.) Regardless, all I can say is that I'm grateful to them for making such a cool app available!

If you are a Mac user and have not yet tried it out, do head on over to Skitch.com and check it out... it will probably change the way you work with images very quickly.

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My Canon SD1000 camera dies... "Lens error, restart camera"

UPDATE: My camera did return to life. Based on something I saw on some web forum, I popped the battery in and out several times, after which it mystically returned to normal operations. It still makes me rather concerned... but I'm just glad to have it back!

UPDATE #2 - April 5, 2010 - I wrote this post back in 2007 and have actually switched this year over to using a Nikon D90 as my main camera. However, judging by the comments this post continues to receive, the Canon SD1000 still has this issue, and... many people seem to solve the problem by simply giving the camera a good solid whack on a hard surface or blowing compressed air on it.  I didn't have to do that, but others did.  Read through the comments for various suggestions and links... and obviously use your own discretion with regard to the risk you want to take (or not take) with your equipment. (i.e. the responsibility and choice is entirely yours if you whack your camera too hard and break it...)

200710300803Woke up this morning to find that my Canon SD1000 point-and-shoot camera that I carry with me all the time at conferences seems to have died. When I start it up, I hear 6 beeps and then get this error "Lens error, restart camera". Yikes! Switched out the battery. Switched out the memory card. Tried various incantations. Still dead.

Judging from comments I see in online forums here and here, this is indeed a bad thing. I'm not getting the "E18" error that people mention, but I'm getting the "Lens error, restart camera" error.

Suggestions are welcome if anyone reading this has had the issue and figured out how to fix it (outside of bringing it back to the store... which isn't an option for me until next week when I'm back in VT).

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This conference will be photographed and uploaded! (aka life in the always-on(line) world)

200709291047Being at a conference full of bloggers, podcasters, etc., one of the more subtle elements to be aware of is this:

There are a ton of people taking pictures - and uploading them all to Flickr!

Translation... just remember that whatever shirt you are wearing or however you style your hair - it will be up on the Internet for all to see. Forever. (Or at least as long as sites like Flickr are around.) Or if you are doing something funny with all those bottles of beer.... or dancing on the table... or whatever.

You will be photographed (especially if it's funny). It will be uploaded. There you are. If you don't like that... if you want to keep pictures like that off the Internet... well, you're only real choice is to not attend a conference like this!

This conference will be photographed. Recorded. On audio. On video. And uploaded.

So it goes. You have been warned. Dress appropriately. Assume that anything you do could be online.

Welcome to life in the transparent always-online world.

By the way, if you want to see pictures from this show, the Podcast and New Media Expo, you can look at these links below. The tag the conference has been encouraging people to use is "newmediaexpo2007" but not everyone is using that. Here they are:

The last link is from C.C. Chapman, who is a great photographer among his many other talents. He took the picture I included above, which is of me and Terry Fallis of InsidePR fame.

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"Hi, my name is Dan. I am a screen shot addict."

200709232007I had to laugh when I saw in my Facebook News Feed that several of my friends had joined a new Facebook group "I am a screen shot addict" (You must be a Facebook member to see the group). I laughed a bit more when I saw Betsy Weber's blog post which in turn pointed me to the creator of the Facebook group, Bryan Eisenberg, and his post "Confessions of a Screen Shot Addict".

You see, I am a screen shot addict. Always have been. Probably largely because I used to write a lot of courseware related to computer programs and so naturally I needed to illustrate those documents with screenshots. Now, I take screenshots galore for these blogs. I just like illustrating my articles with graphics... and screen shots are one of the best ways to do that.

On my Windows laptop, I was using TechSmith's SnagIt and loving it. I was also using TechSmith's Jing Project for quick screen shots that I wanted to reference in, typically, an IM conversation. Now that I'm on the Mac, I've got a wonderful built in utility (I love Shift+Ctrl+Cmd+4) and I'm also checking out Jing for the Mac.

So yes, I love screenshots... if you do, too, and are a Facebook user, feel free to "join the group".

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Why does the MacBook Pro camera give you a mirror image picture? (and a solution)

I have to blame Chris Brogan. Some time back he had a picture in his left sidebar of him with some other people, and in that picture, his hair was parted on his right. However, above that, he had a picture in his banner with his hair parted on his left (as you can see in his banner now). Other pictures he put in his header were also different from his left sidebar picture. Now, realizing that people do change their hair parts, I asked him this when we were in the middle of some other other conversation. His answer was something like this:

No, the issue is that the MacBook camera reverses the image.

So naturally when I bought a MacBook Pro, one of the things I did check out was the camera and it's image. Sure enough, it gives you a mirror image. For instance, here's the picture I just recorded in a Facebook video:


Note that my hair is parted on my right. Now, if you were to see me, or take a digital picture of me, you would see that my hair is normally parted on my left:

So this latter one is a more accurate representation of how I look.

Now, the issue with hair parts is not really a huge deal (at least to me), but where this gets more of an issue is with words. For instance, here's some piece of advertising in my hotel room, shot through the normal MacBook Pro camera:
Do we see a problem here? In fact, the image should really be:
How did I correct the image? Well, it turns out that there's a great little piece of software from ecamm network called (of course) iGlasses. For $9.95 you can download this little piece of software that will work with iChat, Photo Booth, Skype and pretty much any other Mac apps that work with the embedded camera. (Except, I discovered, for Facebook video, which seems to use some Flash applet that doesn't appear to make use of iGlasses.) Here's the control panel:
Note the nice little check box at the bottom for "Mirror". Ta da... words read correctly (and hair is parted correctly :-).

Now the question for me is why this isn't something that Apple can just do automagically inside their software? Who at Apple decided that we ought to see mirror images through the camera? Very bizarre to me that they would make that choice. Hopefully sometime they'll fix it.

In the meantime, I've paid my $10 and can show my image correctly (outside of Facebook video).

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