Getting better at seeing

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Published on: September 30, 2010

Seth’s Blog

via Getting better at seeing.

A giant pitfall in the way small companies and individuals market themselves, particularly online or in presentations, is that they’re often cheesy, ugly or unreadable.

I don’t think people deliberately set out to be ugly, but they end up that way. And a quick look at your own buying behavior should tell you that you don’t often buy from the sketchy-looking sites, ads and media that are often pitched at you.

No, I think the problem is that people don’t realize that their work is ugly. They don’t see it. Just like the close-talker down the hall from your cube doesn’t realize that he’s a close-talker. I’m not talking about skill or talent or even guts. I’m talking about learning to see what others see.

John McWade taught me how to see. I’m not great at it, I’m certainly guilty of designing my own not-so-ideal materials. But the gap between the one-eyed man and the blind is pretty big.

It might take a few weeks of hard work to start to notice what looks right in the world (and why). I think it’s worth it.

(Easy to recommend books from Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds too)

-Seth Godin

Arts & Letters Daily 29 Sep 2010

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Published on: September 29, 2010

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate

via Arts & Letters Daily 29 Sep 2010.

What are books good for? Every book by a single author is a particular performance, a story told as only one storyteller could recount it… more

Intellectuals tend to see what they want in the world, which is that their biases are confirmed. How does that make them so different from other mortals?… more

Taking Photos in Busy Tourist Destinations with no People in the Shot

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Published on: September 23, 2010

Digital Photography Tips: Digital Photography School

via Taking Photos in Busy Tourist Destinations with no People in the Shot.

As an architectural photographer and frequent traveler, I often come across scenes where I’d like the architecture or view to be the main focus of the image, free of people or cars in the shot. In busy tourist destinations or anywhere particularly interesting, this can be very difficult. There are some locations that are simply so popular that there is almost never a time where the scene has no people or distractions in it. Thankfully there is a relatively simple technique that will allow you to capture these scenes people-free. It only requires a tripod and your image editing software.

I’ll describe the basic shooting technique and principles of how to edit here, rather than getting into the technical details of any one specific image editing package, so that everyone can apply this to whichever software you use.

The basic method of shooting scenes with no people in the shot is based on the fact that people generally move throughout the scene over time. Because of this, you can capture a few photos of the scene as the people move about, and then easily combine them in software to remove the people. All you have to do is capture a few photos so that the view of any given part of the scene is unobstructed in at least one photo. Here is an illustration:

The photo below is from the viewing area on top of a skyscraper in New York City. I wanted to get a clean shot of the NYC skyline without any people in the foreground, but it is difficult as the area is often busy with groups enjoying the view. In this photo there is a person in the shot on the left of the frame, blocking the view:

_cleanphoto_skyline_1.jpg

A minute later the person was joined by his partner, but now they’re standing further to the right, so I took another shot. See below:

_cleanphoto_skyline_2.jpg

What if I could combine the two shots to take the clean right side of photo #1 and combine it with the clean left side of photo #2? That’s all you have to do to get a clean shot.

There are quite a few ways to do this. I’ll overview a few below and you can choose which works best for you with the editing software you use.

I use Corel Paint Shop Pro, so I just “copied and pasted” photo #1 on top of photo #2 which layered them on top of each other. Using the eraser brush, I simply erased over photo #1 where the person was standing, which revealed the clean “people-free” area in the layer below it. Here you can see how it looks after the first swipe with the eraser brush:

_cleanphoto_skyline_3.jpg

The final resulting photo is this:

_cleanphoto_skyline_4.jpg

If your editing software supports layers, you can use a mask layer. Just layer one photo on top of another and create a mask layer. Paint with a black brush over the people to reveal the clean layer below.

Another method that works, although a bit less precisely, is to use the clone brush. Clone the clean area of one photo onto the same area in the other photo where the people are located.

Photoshop Elements even includes a function called “Photomerge Scene Cleaner” to assist with the process.

During shooting, you may need to shoot more than just two photos to get clean areas, but the process is still the same. Repeat the editing process until you’ve cleaned all the areas of distractions.

Here is another example. The photo below is of Literary Walk in Central Park, NYC. I wanted to get a clean shot of the walkway without any people in the foreground, but it is difficult as the path is often busy with groups enjoying the park. In this photo there are a couple of people walking through the shot on the left.

_cleanphoto_Timpa_1.jpg

A minute later the people on the left had moved on, so I took another shot. The area was still busy and someone walked through the shot, but this time on the right side of the frame. See below:

_cleanphoto_Timpa_2.JPG

Here’s the shot after the first swipe with the eraser brush:

_cleanphoto_Timpa_3.jpg

The final resulting photo is this:

_cleanphoto_Timpa_4.jpg

Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll be able to quickly create distraction-free photos that really show off the beauty of the locations you’re photographing. Both the examples above took me less than a minute!

Paul Timpa is creator of the iPhone / Android app “Photography Trainer” which teaches users photography and he answers photography questions daily on his Facebook Page.

Post from: Digital Photography School

Where good ideas come from: Steven Johnson on TED.com

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Published on: September 21, 2010

TED

via Where good ideas come from: Steven Johnson on TED.com.

The forever recession (Seth Godin)

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Published on: September 21, 2010

Seth’s Blog

via The forever recession.

There are two recessions going on.

One is gradually ending. This is the cyclical recession, we have them all the time, they come and they go. Not fun, but not permanent.

The other one, I fear, is here forever. This is the recession of the industrial age, the receding wave of bounty that workers and businesses got as a result of rising productivity but imperfect market communication.

In short: if you’re local, we need to buy from you. If you work in town, we need to hire you. If you can do a craft, we can’t replace you with a machine.

No longer.

The lowest price for any good worth pricing is now available to anyone, anywhere. Which makes the market for boring stuff a lot more perfect than it used to be.

Since the ‘factory’ work we did is now being mechanized, outsourced or eliminated, it’s hard to pay extra for it. And since buyers have so many choices (and much more perfect information about pricing and availability) it’s hard to charge extra.

Thus, middle class jobs that existed because companies had no choice are now gone.

Protectionism isn’t going to fix this problem. Neither is stimulus of old factories or yelling in frustration and anger. No, the only useful response is to view this as an opportunity. To poorly paraphrase Clay Shirky, every revolution destroys the last thing before it turns a profit on a new thing.

The networked revolution is creating huge profits, significant opportunities and a lot of change. What it’s not doing is providing millions of brain-dead, corner office, follow-the-manual middle class jobs. And it’s not going to.

Fast, smart and flexible are embraced by the network. Linchpin behavior. People and companies we can’t live without (because if I can live without you, I’m sure going to try if the alternative is to save money).

The sad irony is that everything we do to prop up the last economy (more obedience, more compliance, cheaper yet average) gets in the way of profiting from this one.

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!

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Published on: September 21, 2010

An inspiring talk from TED about learning and education…

The Medium – Is Learning by Rote Memorization So Bad? – NYTimes.com

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Published on: September 20, 2010

The Medium – Is Learning by Rote Memorization So Bad? – NYTimes.com.

The word “drill” has come to define bad teaching. The piercing violence that “drilling” evokes just seems not to belong in sensitive pedagogy. Good teachers don’t fire off quiz questions and catechize kids about facts. They don’t plop students at computers to drill themselves on spelling or arithmetic. Drilling seems unimaginative and antisocial. It might even be harmful.

But while drilling might not look pretty — students doing drills don’t tend terrariums or don wigs to re-enact the Constitutional Convention — might it nonetheless be a useful way for some students to learn some things? By e-mail, E. D. Hirsch Jr., the distinguished literary critic and education reformer, told me that far from rejecting drilling, he considers “distributed practice,” the official term for drilling, essential. A distributed practice system, Hirsch explained, “is helpful in making the procedures second nature, which allows you to focus on the structural elements of the problem.”

… for more check the article.

Arts & Letters Daily 18 Sep 2010

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Published on: September 18, 2010

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate

via Arts & Letters Daily 18 Sep 2010.

In online debates, we not only fail to cultivate charity and humility, we even think of them as vices: forms of weakness that compromise our advocacy… more

Numbers don’t lie, but are the best kind of facts we have. Oh, yeah? Charles Seife shows how numbers are being twisted to erode our democracy… more

Painting in water

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Published on: September 16, 2010

MAKE Magazine

via Painting in water.

  • http://koikoikoi.com/2010/09/painting-in-water-by-mark-mawson/
  • http://www.markmawson.com/
    • portfolio > Aqueous & Aqueous II

Sydney photographer Mark Mawson captures beautiful images by dropping dye into water and shooting the result.

Some samples here:

Canon EOS 60D hands-on (video)

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Published on: September 16, 2010

Engadget

via Canon EOS 60D hands-on (video).

The 2010 Canon Expo is filled to the brim with drool-worthy image-capturing hardware (more on that later in the day), but the first thing we did when arriving was run straight to the EOS 60D. While we can’t really get into the gritty details in terms of image and video quality based on show floor impressions alone, we will say the comfort and ease of use are superb — not to mention an articulating display that’ll come in handy for crazier shot composition. The company’s definitely got a knack for iterative upgrades, but a prosumer-focused model like this is just a knockout for the price, and leaves us wondering what the future holds for the Rebel T2i when only $200 separates the two cameras. Pictures below, and check out a video walkthrough done by our Engadget Show Producer / Canon enthusiast Chad Mumm after the break.

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