Archive for February, 2006

Remember Dave, he’s got the Vatican on his side…

February 23, 2006

Who needs soap operas when you can sit down and watch this type of thing unfold…The Young and The RSS 😉

Learning From (and hurting?) Photographers

February 18, 2006

While not having the time to blog about anything in the last month or so, I have had the time to do a little more research in the area of photography podcasts. I’m now subscribed to four: The Secrets of Digital Imaging (with Dennis Hays), The Digital Story (with Derrick Story), Tips From The Top Floor (with Chris Marquardt) and the Martin Bailey Photography Podcast.

All are good, and more importantly, all are different. While I know quite a bit about photography (without managing to be very good at it surpisingly!), and while some of what I listen to is ‘old-hat’ for me, I still find it interesting and I manage to pick up quite a few good ideas along the way.

One such idea that I’m going to try is a self-assignment. Both Derrick Story and Chris Marquardt give photo assignments, and it really seems to force you into thinking more creatively about a subject. My problem is getting myself out to shoot. I think one of these assignments (or one that I come up with myself) might do the trick to finally get me going.

An interesting and somewhat controversial point that Martin Bailey expressed in one of his podcasts (and re-iterated in an interview with Chris Marquardt) is that photographers should not post high-res images online for others to use free of charge. His argument (or at least part of it) being that this hurts professional photographers who are trying to make a living.

This is one of those issues that I’m quite torn on. I can understand his point. If other structural engineers starting offering their services for free, before long I’d be out of a job. In fact, our code of ethics requires us to take fair or reasonable payment for any engineering work we do, that is, we are not supposed to do work for free or for an unreasonably low price. The point being that we are hurting our fellow engineer’s chances for fair and reasonable payment for their services.

I understand this, but with photography I feel differently. I’m not sure if I want to limit my Flickr uploads to a small resolution to discourage their commercial use. Lord knows there are very few (and I mean very few) that anyone would want to use. I’m one for supplying creative fodder for others to use, not limiting it.

Without meaning any disrespect at all, maybe photography is going the way of desktop publishing. There were many people who used to make their living doing things in DTP that can now be done by the average computer user. I would assume that those people were pissed off too. Today someone taking pictures can generate high quality images and manipulate them in all sorts of ways to make them useful to others without spending large amounts of money on equipment. I would think companies who used to only go to stock photo agencies looking for images now scour the net for free alternatives.

I’m not sure how this will pan out. There are a lot of other industries that will undergo the same thing in the coming years and decades. Yet somehow our society shifts and changes to adapt. It will be interesting to watch how this happens with video, audio and photographic media in the near future. I feel it’s inevitable, fighting it at this point is like swimming against the tide.

5 Steps and Some Good Writing

February 3, 2006

It seems to me that Kent Newsome is blogging a lot more frequently lately (or maybe it just seems that way to me). Not only that, a lot more of his posts have drawn my interest lately as well – maybe the two things are related.. I dunno. His 5 Steps to Good Blogging post begs comment and input. Go have a read of it.

First of all, the title is a bit of a misnomer. While he does indeed give 5 steps, it’s not a preachy tutorial from up on high, but rather an insight into the things about a blog that draw him into reading it regularly. And as a result it really made me think about my blog.

“Don’t Act Like a Rock Star, Because You Aren’t”

I’m definitely not from this camp. I’ve said time and time again that while I’d love it if lots of people read my blog, it’s not really the reason I do it. If it was the reason, then Lord knows I’d have given up months ago (I may be persistent but not stupid).

“Give me a link to someone I don’t read every day who has something interesting to say. Be an equal opportunity linker. There are a lot of other smart and funny people out there- help me find them.”

Guilty as charged. I don’t do enough of this. But sometimes it comes down to the feeling that since I was pointed to this post by someone else, pointing to it again and putting some skimpy description of it sometimes feels a little cheap. Do I credit the last link in the chain of references or the first…or do I even know the first? I have no problem doing this for software or products that I find interesting, but for blog posts sometimes it’s unsettling to me. I feel like I’m forced to make some kind of profound judgement on the subject of the link to make it interesting. Maybe I’m just a little afraid of link-blogging…speaking of which…

“Link posts are appreciated, but original thought is what gets a blog on my blogroll.”

I am the same. I don’t mind quick thoughts on a subject with a link attached but sometimes they just seem so quickly thrown together and regurgitated that I tend to move on without paying much attention.

“I like blogs that contain posts on a fairly broad range of topics.”

People reading my blog will be stuck with that broad range like it or not. I’ve thought about focusing on one thing, but I’m all over the place in my interests from one day to the next and most of those things will eventually find their way to the blog. There’s a reason for my blog url and blog title. It’s because I’ve felt like a jack of all trades for most of my adult life. I’m into and out of different things all the time. Perhaps to my detriment but hopefully not, (at least according to Margaret Lobenstine). I have many varied interests and not enough time to engage in them all. So as I find bits of time to pursue them, I’d like to document them. Not necessarily for the masses, sometimes just for me.

“What do you look for in a blog?”

I prefer personal blogs rather than corporate blogs. I like to read something that lets me identify with the writer. I don’t want to read something that sounds like PR copy or something out of a newspaper. I’ve got CNN and CBC for that. I want to know what the writer feels about the subject while they educate me. Yes – I want them to educate me; I want them to make me re-think things; I want them to make me sad or piss me off, and I want them to make me laugh.. ahh yes, that is the best. When you’ve made me chuckle or even smile, you’ve got me.

The skill of writing is something enchanting to me. I don’t have much of it, but I’m trying to grow it. When someone does have it, it mesmerizes me. Read this short post by Tony Woodlief and see what I mean. That one itty-bitty post put a lump in my throat and made me want to grab my daughter out of bed and kiss her. That is talent. Or this one directed at Frito-Lay which had me grinning the whole way through. That is good writing. He sets the bar pretty high in terms of writing quality.

Now I’m not one to negatively criticize someone in public (I’m notoriously good at giving people the easy way out – to my detriment sometimes – maybe a post on that sometime *much* later), but there is one blog I just can’t stand reading lately – it’s still in my aggregator but teetering on deletion now. Of course I won’t name it (would give me a cheap and tawdry feeling I guess). It’s a blog where there is a hard edged pissed off attitude in almost every post, but it seems so contrived, so made up, that it falls flat. It also seems like the posts are so hastily written, complete with spelling mistakes and sometimes entirely missing or mis-used words that it pisses me off. For Pete’s sake people, learn to spell! I’m no grammar whiz but at least I try to post something with general coherence and no obvious blunders (I’m still at a loss to explain where semi-colons go for instance. I use them at random but I’m never sure if they’re in the right place or required at all.). Anyways, I guess you don’t realize the benefit of good writing until you repeatedly read bad writing.

I like to be able to read a few posts on someone’s blog and get a feel for who they are. That is why I regularly read Kent’s blog. I feel like he’s talking to me. That’s partly because he’s writing about something that piques my interest and partly because of the way he writes. Even among the big popular bloggers, I prefer the ones that don’t write like they’re speaking to millions but rather speaking to me.