Three Dot Lounge for August 31, 2014

Three dot lounge is a mostly-weekly collection of things that deserve more than a retweet. Stay tuned for fascinating opinions and pithy commentary. Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed for more interesting stuff.

Sierra Nevada Fall Color Season – Coming Sooner Than You Think!

Sierra Nevada Fall Color Season – Coming Sooner Than You Think!

And in October, Laurie and I are headed for Lee Vining with our cameras… Can’t wait.

The Personal Blog

The Personal Blog

Also see Elizabeth Spiers. There’s a growing amount of noise about controlling your own destiny and content online, and a move back towards the personal blog. Enough that it’s been given a term (IndieWeb) and there are camps supporting it.

I think this is awesome. I’ve always tried to keep direct control of my content which is why I’ve never given up this blog — it has postings going back to 2001, and it would go back further but I tend to edit the irrelevancy, the crap, the wrong and the 404ed links out of it every so often. I certainly use other sites, but I try to use them to support my content here, not replace it. It’s also why I rarely write for other services, I’m less interested in the money I could make than I am owning my words and using them as I wish (I am open to offers, of course, but not bad ones).

So I think this return to the core of IndieWeb and owning your site is a good one; you don’t have to own/run the server, but a self-hosted wordpress blog can be moved to any hosting services, where a blogger blog can’t without a lot of pain.

So what happens if all your content is on sites you don’t control and that site shuts down, or you do something to piss them off and they ban you? it all goes poof. Not fun. Think it can never happen? I remember the time someone spent the evening arguing that it was stupid wasting time running my own site when I could just move my stuff over to Geocities and let them worry about it.

(That said, I’m all for outsourcing as much of the gut admin stuff as possible. The time saved is more than worth the cost — this weekend I started the process of adding HTTPs to my site, and it took me 15 minutes and pushing three buttons. Doing it myself would have been a couple of evenings, at least… My hosting services is a VPS, so I handle the application layer (i.e. wordpress) and they deal with the OS, servers, and etc. Well worth what I pay them for…)

BRINGING THE LOOP BACK

BRINGING THE LOOP BACK

About freaking time we get another Luma Loop. I’m gonna go get my order in.

NBA Cuts Down Credentialed Photographers by 50% in Order to Make Sidelines Safer

NBA Cuts Down Credentialed Photographers by 50% in Order to Make Sidelines Safer

It’s probably safe to assume that Getty won’t lose any passes when this reduction hits, so whether they intended it or not, the practical effect of this is drastically reducing the competition for sale of images of the NBA, to the benefit of groups lie Getty.

And while I’m sure safety is a factor, I’m cynical enough to think these other factors were in the discussion somewhere. That this will benefit a partner over independent or small-agency photographers cant’ be a coincidence.

Worked things out with The Wirecutter

Worked things out with The Wirecutter

Believe it or not, disagreements happen online, just like in the real world. What’s suprising is that Marco and the Wirecutter sat down and hashed it out, and more power to them. What’s a normal happening in the real world seems to be notable online, and that’s too bad. Happy to see them work it out after everyone calms down a bit.

That said, the way Brian Lam handled his end didn’t make me think fondly of using (or referencing) the wirecutter, and it was someone else at the wirecutter that Marco noted he talked to, not Brian. That disappoints me, so you probably won’t see me referencing or linking to wirecutter for a while. On the other hand, I’d been thinking about changing headphones, so when Marco’s reviews came out, knowing how he does things I put in an order and my AKGs arrived today, and after an afternoon of wearing them, I can say they’re a definite upgrade over my old Seinheiser on-ear set. Thanks, Marco.

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Portfolio: Impressions of Yellowstone (V2 – and lessons learned)

About a month ago I published my first portfolio, Impressions of Yellowstone, asking for feedback. Putting something out there for the first time like this is frankly a bit scary, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never improve and get it right. I want to especially thank QT Luong and David Barto for their comments.

The portfolio clearly needed tweaking, and so now I’ve done that, and here is Version 2 of Impressions of Yellowstone, plus I’ve done it as an online slideshow as well. It is substantially the same, but a number of images got reprocessed and/or re-cropped, a few images got swapped out and replaced and I removed the image commentary.

The commentary was, in retrospect, a clear sign that I didn’t trust the images to stand on their own and I was trying to “help” them. That was a sign of this being my first time out and being way out of my comfort zone, which was the whole point of the exercise, of course.

Do the images really hold up to a portfolio? Most of them, yes. I removed a few where I’d originally chosen them because I was still emotionally attached to the moment of taking them more and not for the true quality of the image. Sometimes I need some time to be able to see images more objectively — which I knew, but I was still surprised how some of the moments of taking the images affected my judgement. Something to watch more closely, and perhaps wait longer before making selections for something like this.

I also think a good general lesson is that your first impressions of an image might not be always correct, and that it really makes sense to go back into your work and re-evaluate them. I know when I went back in to do cleanup and validate the star ratings I ended up making a number of changes, mostly downgrading images that I’d ranked too high, but also promoting a few images that I hadn’t seen to be as good on the first edit.

Overall, I think the portfolio is good, the images solid, although not close to the kind of stunning stuff you’ll see by photographers like Ian Plant. that’s okay because I know I have to keep pushing the craft.

There are some cases where I’m disappointed in the quality of my shooting, especially with the Pronghorn Antelopes where most of the images seemed a bit off and soft, and I’m not sure why, but they just weren’t as good as a group as some of the other species. I think I learned a lot about how to build this kind of display and what kind of images work in it (and what doesn’t), which will help me understand how to build better portfolios down the road, and take better pictures overall.

Next big opportunity to challenge myself is October when we had out to the Eastern Sierra for fall with Michael Frye. I was in a discussion this week where my refuge project came up, and I realized that I needed to start thinking about where (or whether, given the drought) I wanted to go for that this winter. It’s still unclear how badly hit the refuges will be by the drought, although it’s going to be bad. And I’m behind my goal for a portfolio a quarter this year, so I think trying to build one out with the refuge material is next…

 

 

 

Posted in Photography Portfolios

Three Dot Lounge for August 17, 2014

Three dot lounge is a mostly-weekly collection of things that deserve more than a retweet. Stay tuned for fascinating opinions and pithy commentary. Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed for more interesting stuff.

What Happens When a Supermodel Violates Your Copyright

What Happens When a Supermodel Violates Your Copyright

This is one of a couple of recent cases where a photographer takes an image, and that image goes viral and the they lose effective control of it (the other is the Monkey Selfie image).

The reality is that an image like this may well spin out of your control. In the article on the supermodel image, the photographer even notes they considered giving up photography for a while.

My reaction to that is — it’s a photo. Sometimes it’s worth writing it off and moving on, folks, especially when the fight is a losing one and the stress is affecting your health or impacting your ability to be a photographer. Is an image really worth that?

There’s your legal right under copyright. There’s the practical reality of a viral image and putting that genie back in the bottle (you can’t). And there’s keeping a sense of perspective that should tell you that at some point, you should focus on taking more pictures, and not on the lost fight of trying to regain control of an image where you won’t win and the payback is not going to be worth what it costs you.

I’m not suggesting you don’t try to protect and control your images. I’m saying that at some point, you need to realize it’s time to move on — especially when it’s impacting your interest in actually being a photographer. No image is worth that.

I’ll Never Fly Amazon Again

I’ll Never Fly Amazon Again

Given the fight between Hatchette and Amazon, with the authors once again cannon fodder in the middle, and Amazon trying similar tactics against Disney, I have similar thoughts to Marco. I’ve been revamping some of my affiliate stuff (to good results so far) — small potatoes given that a good month barely pays my hosting bill — but I think ultimately this is two companies strongarming each other and they’ll work it out, and I just hope the little people stuck in the middle don’t get hurt too badly as the giants wrestle. I definitely know that my choosing to not buy or sell through Amazon wouldn’t impact the decision one teeny bit — and bluntly, there’s no affiliate program that would be remotely as useful to me as Amazon. I’ve experimented with them, and only Amazon has the general access to the population and diversity of product to make it worth the hassle.

So for now, I’m moving forward as is, but not without some ambiguous feelings about it.

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Why I threw out my bucket list. Should you?

Like many people I’ve kept a so-called bucket list of things I want to do someday. Unlike most of you, I decided to throw mine out about a year ago. I happened to run into an old copy of it in my archives this week, and it made me think about explaining why I got rid of it.

I realized the bucket list was an excuse to not do anything. It’s a fake accomplishment. It makes you think you’ve done something, by deciding that you’ll do something “someday”, so you don’t actually have to try to make it happen.

I’m at that age where far too often I get that reminder that “someday” may not come.

I decided that  matters to me is not what I might do someday, but what I should do next — and then I should work to do that.

For your amusement, here’s my bucket list from about a year ago, minus two items that I removed from it. The first was to get back to Yellowstone, which I did for a week in June, and the second was to shoot fall foliage in the Eastern Sierra, which Laurie and I are doing in October in a workshop with Michael Frye.

Will I forget something on my bucket list? probably, but if I do, then it probably wasn’t that important. I certainly won’t run out of things to do in the next decade or three, with or without the list.

  • grand canyon
  • fall in Utah
  • haida gwaii
  • polar bears in churchill
  • drive to alaska
  • ferry from port hardy -> prince rupert -> skidegate (and back)
  • yellowstone in january/february
  • banff
  • glacier
  • white sands
  • yellowstone for a month in september/october
  • File an ebird report in every county in California (and take picture of birds in every county)

Yes, Yellowstone is on that list two more times. Not a mistake, but the winter trip isn’t happening until I get down under 250, because getting outfitted would be insane.

So what’s next after the October trip? Not sure yet. I am seriously thinking of a winter trip up into the Klamath refuges, perhaps with a side trip to Crater Lake. I’m pondering whether it’s time to get to the Grand Canyon and if so, do I want to go north rim after it opens? Whatever it is, I’m going to put more energy into getting there than worrying about someday.

How about you? Is your bucket list an excuse to not do it?

What’s next for you? And when will it happen?

 

 

Posted in About Chuq

Three-dot Lounge for August 3, 2014

Three dot lounge is a mostly-weekly collection of things that deserve more than a retweet. Stay tuned for fascinating opinions and pithy commentary. Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed for more interesting stuff.

Florida mom arrested after letting 7-year-old walk to the park alone

Florida mom arrested after letting 7-year-old walk to the park alone

So a mother may go to jail for allowing her kid to walk to the park alone. On a path he rides every school day to school. With his cell phone to contact her in case something happens. Because, well, terrorists, I guess. In other news, childhood obesity is an epidemic that continues to grow and more and more research is pointing to lack of exercise as a key, perhaps the key cause.

When I was growing up, I got kicked outside and told to go run around and do things. Today’s kids are kept in strollers longer because they aren’t at risk of wandering away that way. They can’t go outside and play, they have to be in organized sporting leagues and structured situations where they’re always supervised and told what to do. Parents are paranoid about letting kids out of their site because the press way overplays the frequency of child abductions — and by the way, the vast majority of these the do occur are by people known by the (or part of) the family, not strangers.

So kids are being told to get exercise, but aren’t allowed to go and get exercise, except for the one or two days a week they get driven to the soccer field by the parent for an hour or so of mostly not moving around waiting for someone to coach them on something. And now we wonder why they’re getting fat…

It always amazes me, but never surprises me, that people get so sideways about really rare occurances and re-arrange their lives to avoid them, and then ignore the common things most likely to kill them, like smoking, driving stupid and not wearing their seat belts. And then they blame someone else when bad things happen, like diabetes in their kids…

CROP OR CRAP :: MATH OR MOMENT

CROP OR CRAP :: MATH OR MOMENT

Zack Arias takes on the “if it’s not a full-frame sensor it’s crap” myth. To which I can say “Amen”.

I’ve got two big problems with the people who play this game. One is that they’re generally using facts that were true, if we’re talking about sensors three or four years ago. Technology marches on, and so do the facts. Except when you latch onto an idea with religious fervor, evidently.

And second, most of the differences that do exist today are noticable only with larger prints. So all of you running around putting stuff online and telling us that it’s better because it’s full frame? Please cut it out. Unless you’re doing a fair bit of printing at larger than 11×14, or you really think it’s more important what the pixels at 100% look like than what the image looks like to a normal person, there’s not much to talk about.

There are some differences in how full-frame handles depth of field and bokeh, but honestly, the days where small sensors weren’t more than good enough are long gone, folks.

10 Things Google Should Consider in Launching a Standalone Photo Sharing Service

10 Things Google Should Consider in Launching a Standalone Photo Sharing Service

The number one thing I want to see out of Google about G+ is a roadmap. When Vic Gundotra left, there were all sorts of rumors about it being changed, blown up, shut down — name your favorite disaster movie. I had some projects I was planning to use G+ for; to be honest, they’re all on hold until I have some sense about whether that platform is going to be worth the time investment, and I won’t know that until I have some idea what Google’s future plans are.

I’m seeing some good things happening here: hiring John Nack, for one, gives me some comfort that they have some interesting ideas to work on. The death of the idiotic “real names” policy means someone finally got a clue about that, since it never worked and never could.

But there are still big holes in the platform. You can build a really good community there, but you can’t build a great one. There’s an amazing number of ghost towns there as well, even more than normal for an open community site, and it’s really hard to build real engagement the way the community systems are designed. Still, for photographers, you can build up a really nice community and set of relationships — with other photographers. But not, as far as I can tell, with potential customers or the general public.

I long stopped believing any of the numbers Google issued about the service. I’m hoping whatever changes that are coming stop the idea of integrating G+ into everything and trying to force people to use it, and put more energy into improving the platform so people want to.

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