Photo and Design

Every now and then a topic comes up that I feel like writing about which isn’t obviously visual art or design oriented. While the original desire to explore the realm of art and design with this blog encompasses many things, music perhaps pushes the boundaries a bit… or not.

Music is such a huge part of life both creative and other wise. Without getting too personal I’ll just assume it’s as important for everyone as it is for me.

For sure art isn’t just tactile. Music is such an important part of everything that wondering about it’s intrinsic value is something that entertains my curiosity. This would be measured against it’s market value and education value which both seem to be dwindling in the public arena however important they are. It’s safe to say that music creates immeasurable amounts of inspiration for all. The problem is that there’s so much of it and such easy access to it that it feels free. My expansive wide taste in music over the years has now settled on soul. “They will bury me a Mod” anyways. That’s of course a Paul Weller quote.

Our culture loves music. Too bad our economy doesn’t value it.

Who killed the music industry?

I can’t remember the first time I saw a hamburger. Perhaps that’s an inside term but if you don’t know that hamburger is the word used for the three line navigation icon on web sites and apps then you probably aren’t reading my blog and for sure don’t care about my meat eating habits. I don’t eat meat by the way. It’s worse then fossil fuels for the environment in case you didn’t know but that’s besides the point. The blue burger at Riordan’s Saloon was good but then they closed, which is further off the point. That point being that it’s hard to believe that some people don’t know that the 3 lines is the navigation but that’s the difficulty of unknowing something. And there was of course a time when less knew and it was riskier to use. You won’t see it on one of my sites unless your device is less then 768 pixels across. That said it’s nice to know some history behind it.

A Brief History of the Hamburger Icon

How to solve The hamburger icon problem

So this is the time of year that business picks up and I regularly reflect on the summer and what should have gotten done with any free time. Partially because of the break involved with working for schools and perhaps partially because summer school was etched into my routine from an early age, learning discipline has been synonymous with the warmer months of the year. Because of the ever changing tools and technology involved with web design reviewing online classes has been part of looking back to see what worked and what didn’t. Luckily there has been major advances in online learning including real time syntax checkers and interactive quizzes resulting in immensely improved lessons in recent years. For someone that spent a decade in art school and who freelances for a living it takes a good online course to keep the motivation up enough to see it to the end and one school I keep going back to is Udemy. The number of classes as well as free classes and 15 dollar class specials were what attracted me but the quality is for sure there. They have now taken “free” one step further and have been putting introductory lessons into their blog so no login is needed to get started with them. I found the Bootstrap blog useful but now to retake those js and php classes so they stick better.

Bootstrap Tutorial: A Guide for Beginners

WordPress Theme Development with Bootstrap (not free)

Other good schools

I haven’t blogged about inspiring images in a good while…

Recently I came across Beth Moon who I’ve found to have a great combination of concept and down right stunning imagery. Where a photograph is rarely completely non-conceptual, I grew weary and skeptical over the years of art that people seem to like once they knew the meaning behind it. Moons drive to document ancient trees, that are still alive possibly only because they’re so far from civilization, coupled with the archival platinum printing process blows my mind. The prints, at first looking a little on the gray side to me, expand the longer you look at them and notice how many tones of grey there are. Both her tree series, the color “Diamond Nights” with starry skies as a backdrop and “Portrait of Time” with roots growing over monuments and alien shaped trunks are hugely impressive. I also like her animal shots and painterly “Thy Kingdom Come” portraits. I take it no animals were harmed in the making of those.

Beth Moon’s Site

See some real big versions

Her interview with Joan Sullivan on

With responsive web design becoming more common and being a needed designer skill for a couple years now, there’s a last straw for people who haven’t gone mobile. That is the Google Search algorithm update that favors mobile friendly websites. Another good reason and one that has proceeded the update for a good while is the ease of switching over because of all the free responsive grid frameworks available with Twitters Bootstrap leading the pack. Of course these reasons are on top of the obvious mobile usage trends with user experience the top priority. The excuse that Searches doesn’t dictate or produce enough business to worry someone with a brochure site or a business that leans local/word of mouth, just isn’t good enough. That said I’m still in the process of switching over sites… including this one.

Remaking the Web in Its Own Image

What you need to know

Google Mobile Friendly Test

There’s so many opinions concerning the ethics of photoshopping these days. From politics with Iran cloning to make their weapons seem more ominous, to race relations with peoples skin being lightened, editing to the extreme seems to be in fashion. For sure the news media shouldn’t be using it much and actors and models show dissatisfaction when caught for PR reasons mostly perhaps. Movie posters get away with just about anything because of the fantastical medium… except when giving Kiera Knightly larger breasts. I do like Kiera’s concepts about people who started with film photography seeing a subject and not just a screen. I guess my point is that the editing calls aren’t being made by the digital artist as much as the boss. One would say the decision is above our pay grade. That begs the question of what trends or egos philosophically lead to the attempt to alter reality or at least perception. Maybe more interesting is the beauty standards by country.

The Requests That A Magazine Retoucher Gets Will Shock You

Keira Knightley Quote

Global Beauty Standards

It’s sad to follow the recent events concerning The New Republic magazine. I can relate because I left my webmaster position there in part because of changes being made by short lived owners Canwest, a Canadian media conglomerate. During my time there we enjoyed expanded the blogs, the art section, and the multi-media which to this day aren’t what they were. The Plank looks like the only blog left minus the word blog due to the words growing negative associations. I was there when the weekly turned into a biweekly which is now going to 10 issues a year, which is part of the reason for the mass resignations. My feelings seem to mirror that of the leaving editors. That is: embrace and expand new media but not at the expense of the magazine and it’s reputation. Franklin Foer was a great editor and boss. Not needing my editorial advice much the conversations I recall best were about Barcelona. Perhaps a bit out of line for a blog about photography and design I have to suggest Franks book “How Soccer Explains the World”. It’s a great read, even if your not a soccer fan, due to it’s topics of politics, economy and globalism. In conclusion… wish the co-creator of facebook didn’t feel the need to kill TNR just to make another Buzzfeed. RIP TNR

“So for Chris Hughes, 100 years of The New Republic was apparently enough”
                                               Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic

Facebook Prince Purges The New Republic: Inside the Destruction of a 100-Year-Old Magazine

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization

There’s been a lot of talk about Facebooks continuous Terms and Conditions changes and how much they’re asking people to give up. FB wanting to track peoples location is pretty disturbing but being a photographer I thought I’d address image rights. I’ve always posted pictures small enough that they basically can’t be used for anything but if facebook is using them in web ads then there’s no size small enough while still worth posting. Some are using watermarks but I figure that if it’s large enough to work then it makes the image look bad and defeats the point of posting. While I don’t like the idea of facebook using me or my images for ads they are providing a service that helps get music and art out there. The problem I think I have is when someone wants to buy exclusive rights to an image. It sounds like the terms would conflict and I could loose the sale. The water is a bit murcky as to how well deleting an image from FB settles this and whether FB updates their ad servers to reflect it. The one thing I do know is that the legal blurb people have been posting in attempt to retain rights doesn’t changes a thing. That said I have come close to posting it more then once.

Facebook Changes Terms of Service — Photographers Be Wary!

Beware Facebook’s New Terms of Service – American Society of Media Photographers

That Facebook Copyright Thing Is Meaningless and You Should Stop Sharing It

BYT has a good FotoWeek Preview.

See you there.

It’s a murder “who done it?” using a PSD file. Hope this is fun.

Test Your Photoshop Skills