Friday, November 30, 2007

Better color for your photos on the web

This is another reason to love Mozilla's web browser, Firefox. Their latest incarnation Firefox 3.0, which is now still in beta and will launch next year, has an exciting color profiling feature as one of their upgrades. The new version will read the color profile saved in your images and then take in to consideration the characteristics and settings of the monitor it is being viewed on to give a more accurate appearance. This is good news for many photographers out there.

Firefox 3 to enable better color online

The look of images differs between managed and unmanaged applications (screenshot of the same image in Safari vs. Firefox 2), so FF getting on board with color management is great news for designers & photographers who value consistency. For more background on why this is an important advance for the Web, see my notes on the color-managed Safari coming to Windows.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

James Cowlin featured in PhotoMedia

If you have never had the opportunity to pick up PhotoMedia magazine, you are missing out on a great photo publication. It comes out four times a year, and consistently prints compelling stories and photography. In their Fall 2007 issue they featured a large spread on James Cowlin and his favorite project, the Historic U.S. Route 89 Society. James wrote and provided the images for the article highlighting the beauty of this unique stretch of highway. If you are up for a road trip, Jim offers 7 different destinations to visit from the Southern border of Arizona and Mexico up through to Southern Utah, along with shooting tips for each location. James has also just launched a new design of his website. Of course, you can also purchase Jim's images through his gallery. Congrats to Jim on all his success!

Border to Border
A photographic journey north on U.S. Route 89, the West’s most ‘Western’ highway.

Here’s are some other facts I discovered about U.S. Route 89:
• The highway traverses all of the geographic provinces of the interior American West, from the Basin and Range to the Colorado Plateau, across the Rocky Mountains and into the Great Plains.
• In addition to the national parks, there are 13 national monuments, one national recreation area, 14 national forests, 22 national wilderness areas, and 20 state parks and historic sites on or near the road.
• Highway 89 passes through three major metropolitan areas: Tucson, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. It also passes through numerous small towns, where travelers can still get a taste of the Old West.

Just driving along this road, you can learn much about the people and cultures that populated the West — from the Ancestral Puebloans and other native peoples on through the Spanish conquistadors, the westward expansion of the United States, the Mormon settlement and the growth of modern cities.

Route 89 provides access to some of the most iconic Western landscapes, but alert travelers can also find some lesser-known gems where landscape and travel photographers can practice their craft. Here are a few starting points for the southern portion of your explorations.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The importance of a portfolio

Tom Miles of Photosmudger has a great post on the importance of always having a good portfolio of your work ready and on hand. Printing some of your images on Kodak Metallic or FujiFlex could make a lasting impression as well. Thanks to Don for the find!

Portfolios - What and Why

Even in this high-tech, information superhighway, digitised, sci-fi, skinny latte, post-modern, post-impressionist, post-everything world there's still a very important place within photography for the distinctly old-school portfolio. There's very little here that will be news to experienced photographers, as without making good use of their portfolio they're unlikely to have lasted long in the commercial world. However for people just starting out, or those whose only real experience of showing their work off is is via flickr and other websites, read on.

Why?

The most important aspect of a physical portfolio lies not so much in the pictures themselves as in the fact that to view it an Art Director will pretty much always have to meet you in person, and this can have as much influence as the work itself. I will go into this aspect in greater depth in a later post, but for now it's sufficient to say that in many areas of commercial photography (advertising/editorial/fashion and so on) your personality can be as important as your work, and you should never miss an opportunity to meet clients face to face and have a good natter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Holiday digital camera buying guide

The holiday shopping season is upon us. A new digital camera is on many people's wish list. If you are thinking of buying a new camera for yourself or a photo fanatic in your family and are not sure where to start Yahoo! has posted a shopping guide by David Elrich of DigitalTrends that can help. The most sensible advise is to be purchase a camera that most fits your needs. If you plan on making big prints make sure you buy a camera that is 8 megapixels or larger.

Digital Cameras: Buying Made Simple

You've decided to buy a digital camera - or upgrade to a newer, more powerful one. You're not alone.

According to industry experts, close to 30 million digital cameras will be bought this year. And these hefty figures don't include the millions of camera-phone owners who take zillions of snapshots every day.

When you're researching different cameras, manufacturers will state the maximum file (or picture) size you can take. In the case of a 6 megapixel camera, it's 2816 horizontal pixels x 2112 vertical pixels, with 7MP it's 3072 x 2304 and so on. Simply multiply the numbers and you get the effective resolution of the imaging device. We suggest you avoid anything less than 6 or 7MP at this point unless you're looking for an inexpensive camera for the kids.

Pros have access to 21-megapixel imagers in very expensive D-SLRs. You don't have to go this route or spend that much money for great everyday photos, but 6MP should be your minimum. If you plan on making very large prints, such as 13x19s, or you think you might experiment with imaging software, consider 8 or more megapixels. There are no hard-and-fast rules, since so much depends on your final end use.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Creating your own gigapixel image

Photopreneur is a blog that offers ideas, inspiration, and opportunities for photographers on how to market themselves and inventive ways to generate revenue from their photography. If you have never visited them before, you should check it out. You will be dizzy with ideas and might have several "Why didn't I think of that?" moments after an hour of reading. It is a great resource for photographers.

They had a feature on photographer Max Lyons. He specializes in gigapixel photography. He shot his first gigapixel image in 2003 of Bryce Canyon. Technology has helped speed up the once daunting task of merging the many shots taken to comprise the gigapixel image, he developed a software program called PTAssembler. The post has several tips if you are considering trying to create a gigapixel image of your own.

"The software I’ve created to produce these images (originally written in 2003) has no size constraint. From a purely technical standpoint, it would be a trivial matter to produce images of two, 20 or 200 gigapixels."
Of course, it’s not quite that easy. Max points out that while his program has now cut the time to assemble a one gigapixel mosaic from several weeks to just two hours, most of which is automated, capturing each photo “tile” with a long focal-length lens can take “a considerable amount of time.” It took Max seventeen minutes with a six megapixel Canon D60 to shoot the 196 separate images that went into the Bryce Canyon panorama. That in turn creates problems with movement, changing light and depth of field, and can limit the range of subjects that can be shot using this method:
"In fact, if you look at the works of other high resolution photographers, you’ll see that most really large images (gigapixel and beyond) tend to be either (a) of interior, flat surfaces where depth of field, motion and lighting changes are not such problems, (b) scenes that look OK when viewed at tiny size, but have such a narrow depth of field that most of the image is hopelessly blurry when viewed at full size and/or (c) suffer from obvious misalignments and obvious lighting changes…"

What also impressed me about Max's work is his choice for printing his gigapixel files. He uses a LightJet to print his highly detailed images. It is a perfect illustration of the power of the machine. You can read the title off of the books in this shot of the Library of Congress Reading Room. You can't do that with an inkjet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Turn your image in to vector art for free


VectorMagic, developed by Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, is a free online service that will allow you to take any image and turn it in to vector art. If you have ever had to work with placing a logo that was way too small for your layout, this could be a lifesaver. Once you have your new vector image you can download it as an EPS and manipulate it as needed. Since it is now vector art, you can make it as big as you need to for your design or big enough to cover an entire wall. It can be used for photo, but you will loose detail. It takes on an animated kind of pop art type look. We have printed files prepared in a similar style on Metallic paper that looked incredible.

What is vectorization?

Vectorization (aka tracing) is the process of converting a raster image to a vector image.

Raster images are pixel-based, whereas vector image are represented by geometric shapes such as lines, circles and curves.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Deck the halls

Now that Halloween has past, the holiday retail push is on. Any store you walk past or frequent has their own display to promote their holiday merchandise. Trio Display has some great ideas on how to keep your seasonal display creative, fresh, and (most importantly) drive sales. Large graphics of winter scenes or abstracts of holiday themes (like this close up image of a Christmas ornament) can add some visual interest to the shopping experience. It is also another chance for you to promote your company's brand.

The Retailer's Guide to Holiday Themes:

How can you carve a niche for yourself this holiday season? You don’t have to spend big bucks to draw people into your store. But don’t be a Scrooge, either. You should be on the lookout year-round for holiday-season design elements.

Changing out your windows displays regularly conveys to shoppers that yours is a store that keeps up with the times.

If you don’t feel artistic enough to tackle such projects, consider students or recent grads of local design schools. They’re usually eager to add to their portfolio, so have them come up with a holiday concept for your store. If you like it, reward them with merchandise, cash or an internship.

Remember to check out the windows and interiors of stores that are know for great holiday themes. Eddie Bauer, Target and Restoration Hardware are chains that come to mind. But each city and town has its own cadre of retail stores that are known for their imaginative themes. Pay them a visit to get some free lessons.

Monday, November 05, 2007

No more naked walls!

Naked? Bueno! Naked walls? No bueno!

As you know we here at Mighty Imaging love BIG PRINTS. We love making photographs in to really large (huge) prints of astounding sharpness and clarity. With that in mind, we set about the mission of dressing up one of our favorite customers.

Global Spectrum; a leader in sports, entertainment, and facility management, is in charge of operations for the award winning state of the art University of Phoenix stadium. Like many things in the Vally of the Sun, the stadium is brand spanking new. That means that Global's offices were nothing but naked walls. The first thing that we thought of was what a great place for large images. Just imagine how cool a bunch of big prints custom framed would look. Since everybody from the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL to the Rolling Stones have played there, how about tying it in to a theme of the company and the events that take place? Talk about inspiring interest!

Making a great first impression is always a good idea, and these exciting and vibrant event images make the office look fun and creative. Not only do our prints tell the Global Spectrum story to their customers, but it also creates a strong statement and fun work environment for their own people as well.

If your company's walls need to get dressed up here are a few ideas. First pick a theme, whatever you think will make the statement that you want. Not only will this unify the look of the images on the walls, but it will also unify the workplace. You could hire a photographer and have them find quirky abstract shots around the company plant or office. Then make huge prints that would attract attention by being familiar, yet not so easily recognized. Another idea is to collect a group of snapshots from the company picnic or holiday party and make a collage out of them. Your 30x40 lobby print can show that your company is proud of its employees and that you are a close team of workers.

Either way, the walls of your business should never be bare, so let's dare to dress them up!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A good time was had by all

Dennis Scully put together these time lapse videos of the two opening nights of the Through Each Other's Eyes Mexican Exchange Exhibition at the Historic Southwest Cotton Company last month. What a terrific venue for the artwork. There was great art, music, and food. Truly a good time was had by all. Our thanks to Dennis for the fun recap of the event.

To read more about Mighty's involvement with TEOE see our earlier post.

First Friday
video

Saturday Artist's Reception
video