Me Social Media

Dan Schultz doesn’t like Facebook or Twitter because they are too focussed on individual expression rather than the community.

That may be because he is using them wrong. I liked photography as a kid, but I didn’t know any photographers. Flickr happened to come into my life just after I bought my first digital camera. My participation in photography exploded. Not because I had a way to post my photos but because I had a way to find other local photographers for mutual encouragement. Even better was forming local groups to encourage people to meet. The value of Flickr is developing the community.

Worldwide Photowalk Panorama

Similarly, I got into Twitter because my community, peers at other universities running the same software as myself, were seeking help there. Any place with answers to the problems we face, which is where people with the answers are watching, is where we go. Twitter was the place to get the attention of the right people not a forum like phpBB. (There are already lots of email lists.) My other community, people using the software I run are also on Twitter. I’ve resolved issues for many clients by finding their public complaints and offering solutions. When my focus changed away from using Twitter for the community is when I stopped liking Twitter.

Personally, I have yet to find much sense of community in the phpBB, Google Wave, and Ning. So I find it strange these are the exemplars of community applications. They seem fractured so one finds dozens of groups to covering the same interest. Sometimes this is because some moderator upset a portion of the community with draconian behavior causing people to form an alternative community. Bad blood exists for a while. Other times people set up a new community unaware others exist.

GIMP Raw

When photographers I know talk about processing their digital images, they generally talk about Adobe products like Photoshop or Light Room. Some talk about Apple’s Aperture. Operating system only matters when it manages to make filters finish faster on the equivalent hardware.

Colorful Renee But… I am cheap. Photoshop was in my tool set back when work paid for me to do web design. Aperture and Light Room never entered it.

So I used Picasa as it did what I needed. Occasionally I used GIMP to perform more advanced edits. For example, I desaturated a custom area in the picture on the right to bring the attention back to who is important. Picasa can only do the same for a circle.

Considering GIMP is a image editor, it seemed quite concerning that it would fail to open Raw images. Surely Canon CR2 files from a 4 year old camera are supportable? Well, it turns out, GIMP needs help from a plugin.

  1. A dcraw-gimp plugin based on dcraw has very simple options for profiles used convert Raw to Portable Any Map for opening in GIMP.
  2. A ufraw-gimp plugin based on ufraw has much more cool tools for adjusting the levels prior to converting to Portable Any Map.

This morning I worked with F-Spot as my image manager and GIMP as the editor. This afternoon I switched to digiKam for the image manager and switched only to GIMP for things I could not manage.

I think I can use this workflow.

Integrating With Facebook

At least a couple years ago, I set up the Facebook Notes app to import this blog’s posts as notes. By setting this up, a number of friends have taking to commenting on my posts. I get far more comments on Facebook than I do here.

However, this was a horrible way to get traffic to this blog.

  1. All of the text and images go into Fb Notes. Nevermind the terms of service. People looking at my blog posts think I wrote it in Facebook. Unless they are observant enough to see “View Original Post” links in tiny text, they have no idea about the blog which was originally the point. When I cross post stuff to multiple blogs I make it obvious the other places it exists.
  2. Embedded videos get stripped from Fb Notes. Lately, I have been posting embedded TED Talks videos here. So I have to think about how to change my posts to accommodate Facebook.

So, I discovered some friends who are also photographers on Facebook use an app called NetworkedBlogs. (They are Flip!Photography, Invisible Green Photography, and Stylized Portraiture.) Once configured, this app will post to my and friends’ (on my behalf) Facebook Walls a link to my wall. The format of the posts look similar to when a link is posted, such as a thumbnail.

The setup is also fairly easy. Enter the location, description, category, and email for your blog. Prove it is yours whether by having others verify it belongs to you or placing code on the site. Finally, go to “Feed Settings” link and click “Auto-publish to personal profile”.

I am hopeful this solves my problem. If so, then I have another blog to setup. (Someone asked to buy that domain. I guess I asked too much for it?)

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes Originally uploaded by Ezra F

Yesterday was the second Athens, GA Strobist meeting. Like the first meeting, it was fun and informative. I really ought to invest in my own setup to practice outside these meets.

Maybe it is time to start selling my work so I can afford more gear.

Missing about 4 people. Photographers sites: 1) Erik (Onelight), 2) David, 3) Sherri (Onelight), 4) Wes, 5) Sara, 6) Steven, 7) Tim

I’m excited to see their photos.

Strobist Meetup

Renee Back in July I mentioned Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk. A number of people from the Athens Flickr Meetups group showed for the August walk at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia (my photos). At both of these, the same individuals talked quite a bit about the newest toys Tim Rogan built and strobist techniques.

From what I gather strobist is about shifting camera flash from near the camera lens off to the side. Similar to golden hour sunlight, the light is more dramatic when not coming from near the camera. Also, camera flashes throw harsh light so soften the light by having it reflect off surfaces or go through translucent material.

Interest built about having a strobist meetup to shoot together and help each other. Steven Skelton, Tim, and Megan arranged a meetup last Saturday (group photo set). I was the only photographer walking into this totally cold without having at least read or watched any tutorials. So the quality of these pictures could better be a testament to the efficient teaching by Steven and Megan. At least it didn’t seem nearly as difficult as I expected.

LeannThis would also be the first photoshoot where I consistently used Manual rather than Shutter Priority.

This was also the first time I worked with models. (top right: Renee, right: Leann) The one wedding I shot taught me I really do have to direct people to get what I want while listening to get a feel for what they want. Megan sensed my hesitancy and worked through some ideas with the first few pictures then let me to go work on my own ideas. Models are people too. As a card carrying introvert, dealing with people normally exhausts me. This not so much.
🙂

This was a fun experience. I know I have things on which to work:

  • Putting together my own strobist setup.
  • Compose more carefully.
  • Find dramatic locations.
  • Become more social to approach people to photograph.

Perils of a Photoshoot The mechanics of photography are also entertaining. Call me a geek, but that there are so many values to track in photography fascinates me. Plus there are tons of toys. I’m not really a builder, so I probably will not be crafting custom flash grids or softboxes.

I knew I enjoyed watching the antics photographers go through to get the right shot. The antics a good model will go through to be in the right shot adds a whole new dimensions for me. For example, pictured right is Clinton easily a dozen feet off the ground so Megan can take a dramatic shot.

For about a year I’ve really slacked off using my camera. The wedding, photowalk meetups, and now strobist meetups put me back in the mode of thinking about what I should do next. That is a great thing.

P.S. Normal is about 100 views of my photos a day. Since I posted the photos Sunday, traffic has been 250+ views a day.

Flickr Uploadr Ordering Broke?

Dwarf Cornflower When sending more than five pictures to Flickr, many photographers want the last one or five sent to be their best one. The Contacts page can be set to show the last one or last five photos for each contact. Meaning, the last one should be the best one.

I thought I was crazy at first.

An explicit feature added in Flickr Uploader 3.0 was the ability to upload the pictures in any order. This helps ensure which photo is in that last spot. Despite putting my cornflower picture last, the photos were uploaded in reverse chronological order anyway. Did some testing. Sure enough, Flickr Uploadr 3.1.4, the most recent version was doing it wrong. So I uninstalled 3.1.4 and installed 3.0.5 and did some more testing. That version ordeded the upload correctly. Finally, I upgraded to 3.1.4 and testing showed 3.1.4 worked again.

Probably it was just my install was botched at some point…

Glad I don’t have to be crazy any longer.

Details Matter

During the UGA vs. Arizona State game, a number of us who post on pictures of Athens, GA on Flickr met to hang out and shoot. With just seven of us there, we were able to stay as one group and get shots of stuff and each other. I enjoyed meeting new peoole with similar interests.

The photographers who showed:

Still need to go through what I took. I certainly wasn’t prepared. First, I forgot the release plate for my tripod so it was useless. Next, I forgot the CF card for the Rebel. So I ended up using the Elph the whole night. I think I got some good ones anyway. I’d have been happier to take a crack at them with the Rebel.

Nature Photography Day

June 15th is Nature Photography Day (and Father’s Day).

  • Purple ConeflowerTake your kids and grandkids on a nature trek and give them a single-use camera to use. Then print some of their photos and present them, in a mat or frame, to those young photographers.
  • Pick something in nature that you’ve never photographed before, and then make plans to photograph that subject on June 15.
  • Select a subject in nature that is small or common and thus easily overlooked. Then photograph it in a way to make the ordinary seem extraordinary.
  • Look for and photograph something that detracts from the beauty in nature – images that show how human beings sometimes adversely affect our environment.

Too bad June 14th is Free Day in the Parks for Georgia State Parks.

My photos will be tagged “Nature Photography Day” on Flickr.

(Photo is my Purple Coneflower picture hosted on Flickr.)

FBI Investigates Legal Activity Also

One of the reasons my photos sets are more full of flowers than buildings is people don’t call the FBI over pictures of flowers. While it is perfectly legal to take pictures of buildings from public spaces, it makes “victims” nervous. No one cares about flowers. I can take all the pictures I want without uncomfortable encounters.

Of course, unless my airline ticket is purchased by a government, I consistently get extra screening. It is a fact of life of neither looking African American, Native American, Caucasian, Asian, or Hispanic. Because look like an other, people put me in the extra screening list just in case.

A local student had to sit down with an FBI agent to “prove” he did not look Middle Eastern after photographing chicken rendering plants. Security of the plants called the local police who called the FBI. What would have happened to Jim if he had looked Middle Eastern? Would he have been arrested for doing something perfectly legal?

This is choice from the article:

Filson told Diffly that this is America and he should do what he wants, but when someone looks different in a post-Sept. 11, 2001 world, police may be called.

By the way, police officers arrest photographers who take pictures of them in the middle of an arrest.

Abuse?

EDIT: I almost forgot. A Georgia Tech student from Pakistan was detained for taking video of a building. This student also visited Pakistan and made statements which could easily sound threatening.