concept to publication

Category: photography Page 2 of 3

Travel photo: a street in Verona

Please bear with me while I post a few photos from my recent trip to the Veneto and Upper Adige.

I travel with a little (maybe 12-inch) tripod, but for photos at dusk like this one I usually just set my camera on something steady, like a trash bin or fire hydrant, in order to get a longer exposure. Usually I’m able to hold the camera steady for quite a long time in such situations.

100 meters of humanity

hoegsberg photo

For the 100-meter-long photo of which the detail above is a part Simon Hoegsberg shot one-hundred seventy-eight people, “in the course of twenty days from the same spot on a railroad bridge on Warschauer Strasses in Berlin in the summer of 2007.” Impeccably stitched together into one enormous photo, the images create something like one of the great narrative scrolls of the East Asian tradition. Check out the full image here.


Via Substraction.


Early 20th-century scenes of Paris

Eugène Atget made a number of interesting sets of photos of aspects of Parisian life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France has made a number of them available on the web. This is a detail from a photo of the Cabaret Alexandre, 100 boulevard de Clichy, printed between 1910 and 1912 from a negative taken in 1910. Great stuff! (I love the way the type echoes the form of the doors in this one.) See more here.

Photography’s rule of thirds

There’s nothing new about the rule of thirds — it’s almost a photographic cliche. Still, as a, well, rule of thumb there’s a good deal of sense in it. Let’s have a look.

One of the worst instincts of amateur photographers is to aim the camera directly at the main subject, as if it were game to be bagged. You can see this in society pages, like one in the back of a magazine I’m responsible for (I try to keep the section’s space to a minimum). The photographer’s strategy in these situations is just about always to line the subjects up in a grinning row facing the camera. You can see what I mean in the above image (I’ve replaced the people’s faces with smilies so as not to embarrass anyone, and to highlight the composition).

The rule of thirds says that you’re better off arranging your composition with a main element a third of the way from one of the edges. In effect you imagine your image as composed of nine equal rectangles. Consider this image from the Sentiero degli Dei in the Lattari Mountains above Amalfi.

You can see that the cliff at the left is a third of the way in from the left edge of the photo. (You can also think of each of the nine squares as a section to be balanced in its own right.)

Or look at this photo from the Sentiero della Republica in the same region.

Driving from Furore on the Amalfi Coast to Agerola in the Lattari Mountains

While driving the Via Amalfitano has its motoring excitements as well as its famously spectacular views,

The Path of the Gods

Okay, I guess I’m still a little jetlagged — or maybe just worn out from coming back to an office in crisis mode. Anyway, too tired to do more than post another couple photos (click through for larger versions) from the Sentiero degli Dei — the path of the gods — in the Lattari Mountains overlooking the Amalfi coast.

Gathering storm clouds over Amalfi

This photo was taken from the spectacular trail in the Lattari Mountains overlooking the Amalfi Coast called the Sentiero degli Dei — the path of the gods. A few hours after the photo was taken a fierce storm hit the coast. (Click through for a larger version.)

I’ve just returned from a trip to Rome and the Costa Amalfitano and will return to blogging. I’m processing my photos from the trip and sorting them into smaller and more manageable sets and hope to post them to Flickr over the weekend.

In this blog I try to mostly focus on issues of print and electronic publication, from concept through distribution. But I am likely to be off topic for a bit as I share some Italiana over the next week or so.

Cà d’Zan Mansion, Sarasota, Florida

Just a photo today. This view of the patio of the Ringling mansion in Sarasota — the building is rather ostentatiously called the Cà d’Zan — was taken looking out through its tinted windows.

This is from a couple of years ago. I happened across it when I was cleaning up an old photo card I haven’t used in, well, a couple of years.


A couple more photos here. Maybe more coming to the same set, if time allows.


What’s going on here?


Maybe by the time this post runs the photo will have been widely printed. If not, you can still try your luck at guessing what this picture — which won the 2008 World Press Photo of the Year contest — represents. Answer after the break …

Photography the hard way

John Chiara demonstrates his process.


via photodoug


Big columns at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC

building museum columns

Huge, aren’t they? See them at the National Building Museum.

Kind of a random post, but I’m on the road and don’t have a lot of time for internet. Here’s another view of this remarkable building:

national building museum, washington, dc


Photo Wednesday: woodtype figures

woodtype figures

This image of woodtype figures sorts at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, is from Nick Sherman‘s photostream.


Photo Wednesday: abandoned books

abandoned books

This photo of books simply left behind after a St. Louis Public Library move comes from nathansnider’s photostream.


Tilt-shifting the Pioneer Monument

Let’s have a little fun tilt-shifting San Francisco‘s Pioneer Monument. I choose the Pioneer Monument for a couple of reasons: I look down on it out my window at work, and I find it offensive with its glorification of Frisco fat cat robber barons and its demeaning portrayal of Native Americans. Ready? We’ll want to keep the pigeonshit on main figure’s head in focus. Here goes. Wheee!

tilt-shifting san francisco's pioneer monument

Wasn’t that fun? Many people see this effect as creating the illusion of a miniaturized landscape. You can do it, or something very like it, with an extremely expensive camera called a “tilt-shift” (whence the name of the effect). Or you approximate the effect in five or ten minutes of Photoshop.

The technique is described, with a few variations, in many places around the web. You can check it out on your search engine. Or, you can just read on.

Difficult photo subject

dusk on longoat key

I was struck by a subtle quality of light at dusk on Longboat Key. It’s the kind of effect that is very difficult to get in photos. It was very dark by then, and my Canon A620 isn’t as good at low-light situations as an SLR would be. I shot this at ISO 400, 1/30, 3.5. In Photoshop I lightened it a bit just by moving the center and right levels sliders — I didn’t want to use my regular technique for lightening dark photos, because I wanted to keep the sense of gathering darkness. I also increased the saturation just a little. I think the result is the sort of picture that some people might like while others will just shrug.

My Photoshop default workflow

I process most images that I post to the web in Photoshop, and I have a simple workflow that does what I want with a minimum of fuss. The whole process only takes a minute or two. Allow me to demonstrate.

photoshop default actions

I’ve chosen an image more or less at random (except that it is one that I like, from this photoset). My vantage point was looking down at a river from overhead, with colorful leaves on the right. For the purpose of this demonstration the image has been resized to fit this space (435 pixels wide).

The first thing I do is to open an action I’ve saved under the name “open adjustments.” This opens three adjustment layers: levels, curves, and hue/saturation in that order, which is the order I make the adjustments.

First I look at levels. If they look well balanced I might leave them alone. Often they are weighted to either darks or lights, and I slide the midtone triangle to get a better balance. That often makes the image look worse but it puts it in position for the next adjustment, curves. Usually I find a midpoint that looks good and then generally make an ess-shaped curve in order to get a good range of darks and lights. Finally, I adjust hue/saturation. With my current camera this usually means just increasing the saturation a little bit.

photoshop default actions

Next I open an action I’ve saved under the name “hi-pass sharpen.” This sharpens the image using the duplicate layer – invert – blur – overlay – adjust transparency workflow that I have described previously. I don’t like oversharpening, so my default transparency is a modest 40 percent. It’s important to remember to select the background layer first or you will just be sharpening your hue/saturation adjustment. One nice thing about this way of sharpening is that it is size independent, so I can resize my image and do a save for web to reduce the file size without having to resharpen.

The entire process is done with adjustment layers and is completely nondestructive — no changes are made to the original image. Below the image as it came from the camera is on the left and the adjusted image on the right.

photshop default actions

More fall color

fall color on taughannock falls walk

This photo was taken on the walk to Taughannock Falls near Ulysses, New York, in the Finger Lakes region. For more fall color, see the clickable thumbnails below.

The thumbnails are courtesy of Duane Storey’s Crossroads plug-in. I’m soliciting feedback — does this feature make the page too slow too load?

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about book design.

Cornell color

I’ve been on the road in PA and NY. Will return tomorrow. We’ll file this post under “photography.” It’s an image of a lake on the Cornell campus in Ithaca. The composition uses the principal of thirds, and the exposure is balanced for the trees.

The fall color seemed weird since the temperature was over 80. To local connoisseurs of fall color this is hardly a spectacular season, but coming from the San Francisco Bay Area I find it pretty extraordinary just the same.

Portuguese libraries, photographed by Candida Höfer

library in coimbra, purtugal

Candida Höfer‘s photographs of Portuguese libraries, now on display at the Sonnabend Gallery, 536 West 22nd Street in NYC, presents libraries as places of opulence. In these settings the books, clearly precious objects, convey an almost religious authority.

Shown is Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra VI 2006.

Via If:Book.

Eugene de Salignac, photographer of NYC

photography by eugene de salignac

David Pescovitz of Boing Boing calls our attention to an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit consists of early twentieth century photos by Eugene de Salignac documenting the rise of the modern city. Salignac had been forgotten until New York City Municipal Archives senior photographer Michael Lorenzini recognized the artistry of the photos and catalogued his work. The image above shows painters on the Brooklyn Bridge, 1914. The exhibit will be on view from May 4 through Oct 28.

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