Results tagged “photos” from kwc blog

Brooklyn Bridge

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Olafur Eliasson: Take Your Time @ MOMA

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Photo gallery

Olafus Eliasson created one of my favorite installations I've never saw -- The Weather Project at the Tate Modern -- so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon his "Take Your Time" exhibit at the MOMA. I can't think of any American museum that can really rival the Tate's Turbine Hall for immersive art, but Eliasson took over every knook and cranny he could find in the MOMA. A fan propels itself in the atrium, an opening in the wall takes you to a platform that hovers over infinite reflections of yourself, and yellow flourescent lights in the hallway turn everyone into an intense monochrome gray. My favorite part of the exhibit was a multi-faceted kaleidoscope light that sent colors of every stripe onto the surrounding walls.

If only I had been in NYC this weekend instead of last: Eliasson's Brooklyn Bridge Waterfalls are due to open tomorrow. Perhaps another favorite never-seen installation to add to my list.

Photo gallery

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Fire sky

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Why can't the sky be this interesting everyday?

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Ninja @ 6 Months

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Ninja (3)

It's the time again folks, Ninja photo barrage!

Ninja (5)

Ninja

Ninja (2) Ninja (10) Ninja (1) Ninja (7) Ninja (6) Ninja (4)

Online demo of seam-based image resizing

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Some of you may have seen video of the interesting image resizing technique by Shai Avidan and Ariel Shamir. Patrick Swieskowski managed to whip up an online demo of the technique that you can try on your own images -- not perfect, but impressive given that it's only been two days since the video really made its rounds.

There's hope of seeing it in real product -- Shai Avidan has just been hired by Adobe.

Photos of Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart

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2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 031 2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 002

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Krusty O's and Buzz Cola are currently sold out, but the Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart was a fun visit. The whole store -- inside and out -- has been redone, and it should stay up through the end of the month. Maybe by then I'll be able to try some Simpsons merchandise, as the signs implore me to do. More photos if you're interested.

Snorkelling with Sea Turtle

Swimming with a sea turtle ranks as my top moment from our Hawaii trip. There were many moments high on the list -- dolphins, humpback whales, pretty fish -- but its hard to beat having a sea turtle swim right past your face. We were already pretty happy after having seen a dozen or so sea turtles up on the North Shore, but the waters there were too choppy to get in. Having this little guy unexpectedly swim past us completed our sea turtle adventure.

Snorkelling with Sea Turtle Snorkelling with Sea Turtle

Underwater Camera 2 photos (more sea turtle plus unicorn fish and others)

Spinner Dolphins

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We took an fun (and complimentary) dolphin boat cruise off the coast of West Oahu. The dolphins came up right to the hulls of our catamaran and surfed the tiny wake before swimming off with a couple of spin-breach flourishes. Quite fun.

Spinner dolphins photos

Underwater photos 1

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above: Humuhumunukunukuapua apua'a

d and I picked up some cheap disposable underwater cameras at Costco to use at the lagoons around our hotel as well as up at the North Shore. The photo above may not be the best off the reel, but Humuhumunukunukuapua apua'a (aka reef triggerfish) is too cool of a name and too cool looking -- it's also the unofficial state fish -- to not give some love to. I also managed to get some underwater takes to go with my previously Turtle Beach sea turtle photos.

Underwater Camera 1 photos

Turtle Beach, North Shore Turtle Beach, North Shore Turtle Beach, North Shore

Quick post from Hawaii

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IMG_3048Hawaii goes well -- our hotel room feels larger than our apartment and we're overlooking the beach. Today we went up to the North Shore and watched about ten different sea turtles feeding on seaweed. A very nice guy on the beach whose job it is to watch after the turtles told us a lot of interesting facts about them, from describing the satellite transponders on the backs of the turtles picked as most likely to visit the breeding grounds to anecdotes about having to free some of the smaller turtles that get wedged in the rocks. The turtles definitely need their hard shells to protect them against the crashing waves as we saw at least one turtle get flipped over. I'm posting photos of them from my digital camera but I'm hoping for even better from my disposable underwater camera.

On the way back we visited the set of Lost -- you walk down a public beach and there it is, a bunch of huts made out of airplane siding and bamboo. There was some Dharma Initiative food within grabbing distance, but I had no desire to outrun the security guard.

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They're coming. Now that I have about 150 photosets on Flickr, I really need this type of feature -- my April Japan trip has 15 sets and the 2007 Tour of California has 7. Flickr's photostream with a small selection of sets nicely conveys a sense of what you are currently working on, but at some point you need to be able to organize your content better for visitors. Sets of sets will allow me to keep related content more closely group and I also wonder if it will allow me to better segment my content in general. I've considered creating a separate Flickr account for my more 'professional' content so that my, "ooo, that's a funny license plate" content isn't mixed in, but if the sets of sets is implemented in the right way, I wouldn't have to worry as much.

I think this is all a subset of a larger problem I have with online media sites like Flickr and YouTube, which is that very few give you enough control over your visitors' experience. When I post a video from a book talk, I would like to prominently indicate my related blog entry as well as other related videos. When I post Tour of California photos, I would like to easily link to (or even transclude) my stage summaries without having to edit the description for every single photo I upload.

These sites obviously don't have much incentive to build features that enable visitors to leave, but we often generate related content that we would like to be viewed as well. Sets of sets expands the ways in which I can have visitors navigate related photosets, but I would like Flickr and other sites to explore ways in which visitors can explore other types of related media (e.g. blog entries, photos, videos, music, etc..). Blog entries seem to be the only tool/medium that enables me to do this, but I don't see why it should be the only one.

2006: A Fun Year (in photos)

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One of the unintended results of uploading all my photos into Flickr is that I have had a blitz of 2006 photos flash before my eyes. I'm finally approaching 2005 with my uploads, but I've been overwhelmed with 2006. I thought I sat on my butt all year watching TiVo, but it looks like I actually got out and saw (and photographed) stuff. I know its more traditional to get all sentimental about the previous year around New Years, but I would like to say that 2006 was a fun year and thanks to all of you who shared in the many things below.

Trips: * Japan: Hakodate, Aomori and Nikko, Tokyo * Humboldt County, CA * Getty Villa * Rose Parade * DC * San Diego/Comic-Con '06 * Iowa/Puffer and Kelly wedding * Tahoe * Chicago

Book talks: * Neil Gaiman at Keplers * Neil Gaiman at SJSU * Douglas Hofstadter * Lemony Snicket/The End

College Football: * Rose Bowl (USC vs. Michigan) * USC vs. Arizona * USC vs. Stanford * Stanford vs. Navy

Cycling: * Tour of California Stage 3 * Tour of California Stage 2 * Tour of California Prologue * Levi at Lombardi Sports * Sea Otter Classic * Giro di San Francisco * Pescadero Road Race * Burlingame Criterium * Menlo Park Grand Prix

MythBusters: * Awning Fall * Encinal High Benefit * @Maker Faire

Other: * bp and joy wedding * Exploratorium: Reconsidered Materials and Magnitude X * Maker Faire * Great White at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

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I didn't even have to do a single bit of processing to capture how impressive oppressive the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building really is. Its huge size makes it seem as if it were responsible for the grayness around it, though I'm sure its better on a sunny day. Bulky angles dominate its bulky Kenzo Tange design, which until 2006 was the tallest building in Tokyo at 799 ft/48 stories. Building #1 towers over the Shinjuku skyline with its dual Neo-Gothic pillars, which are advantageous for tourists trying to getting a great (and free) view of Tokyo from above. My overall impression was that it was comedy: the Tokyo government headquartered in a building perfect for the set of a fascist movie.

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Creepy?

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Do either of these creep you out?

Updated Ando entry

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With the help and permission of Flickr users, I've been able to updated my old Talk: Tadao Ando entry with new photos. Back when I wrote the original entry, there weren't too many Ando photos on Flickr, so I was mostly left with low-quality scans that I found scattered on the 'Net. I also hadn't seen any Ando buildings in person.

A couple of days ago John Weiss left a comment to mention that he had used some of the text of the talk to document his photo of Ando's Times Building. After seeing his high-quality photo and seeing how many other high-quality Ando photos that are now on Flickr, I decided it was a good time for a revisit. The advantages of the Flickr photos are two-fold: they are of better quality and they usually come in sets. I've also been to four of Ando's sites now, which gave me more material to contribute.

Thanks John Weiss, stella/smine/bakoko/ellen's attic/SkylineGTR/Brandon Shigeta!

Talk: Tadao Ando entry

Ode to Rothko

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Ode to Rothko

Ode to Mondrian

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At my current rate, I'll get to processing my Humboldt photos in the year 2020. In the meantime, some are fun enough to share now.

Collezione, Tadao Ando, Tokyo, 1989

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Tadao Ando - Collezione - Tokyom and I explored Tadao Ando's Collezione building late one night in Tokyo. After one wanders to the far end of Omotesando, past the Prada Building and many other similar bauble-ly buildings, you stumble across the almost non-descript Collezione building -- you might even find yourself turning back before you even reach it.

It was nice to explore the building with no one else but me and m around -- it certainly made the photography easier. It is overpowered by the rest of the high-priced Omotesando shops and in isolation is lacking some of the natural elements that I enjoy in Ando's work. Nevertheless, the combination of a circular core and rectilinear surrounding structures made for some fun exploring.

I included both color and B&W comparisons above. One archetypal style of Ando building photos is high contrast B&W to show off the concrete, but I also wanted to document how the building is actually lit up. I'm no longer sure how accurate the color photos are, though, as the different types of lighting played havoc with my camera and I took these photos over a half a year ago.
Tadao Ando - Collezione - Tokyo

Collezione - Tadao Ando - Photoset (31 photos)

Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-30 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-16 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-17 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-15 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-13 Collezione - Tadao Ando - Tokyo-11

Rose Parade

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New Year's celebration this year was done on East Coast time in a West Coast setting. Knowing we had to be on the road by 5am for the Rose Parade, we did our toasts at 9pm and went to sleep.

My aunt and uncle helped us choose good grandstand seats, just a few blocks down from the start and with the rising sun at our back. We sat half-asleep -- d humming Star Wars themes -- watching the preparations on the road in front and the braying of mules on the highway below.

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I was able to pass much of the time waiting in line for coffee and soon enough the armada of rose-covered police motorcycles and pace cars started the whole thing going. I didn't think much of the fact that one of the pace car passengers was wearing a Darth Vader mask, only really noticing the "Our Good Nature" theme of the parade. Later I saw George Lucas' highly recognizable poof of hair in the Grand Marshal vehicle, and the march of the Stormtroopers made much more sense.

The floats were fantastic -- all naturally decorated in flowers and produce. Some were gigantically tall, one frog stuck its tongue out, and others rocked. The horses were also great fun: horses with My Little Pony manes, miniature dog-sized horses pulling carts, horses with glitter stars on their rumps, shaggy horses, and more. And lets not forget classic cars and marching bands, marching bands, marching bands. Most bands carried their banners in front, but Porterville had a better solution for the 5-mile route.

The Rose Parade is perhaps an event best done twice. From our seats in the back of the grandstand, we had a great view to take in the floats from above and we didn't have to worry about blocking anyone's view. But if you are in the front row, I hear you can smell the floats as they go past and, looking at my photos, I see that there are quite a few details that I missed: the frog was made out of broccoli and apples, the lizard is made out of large leaves, etc... We could have seen these details if we had gone to the float building or the float display afterwards, but we ran out of time. Although it pains me to think about waking up at 4:30am once more in my life, I think it would be worth it for a close-up experience.

Lizard - "Natural Beauties" "Nature Rocks" Frog

Two dalmations, one seems to not notice the parade going on:

"Discovering Underwater Nature"

Getty Villa

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I'm a fan of the Getty Center in LA and have been looking forward to the opportunity to visit the Getty Villa ever since it reopened in the beginning of 2006 after extensive renovations. The villa was constructed as a semi-recreation of the Villa of the Papyri, so named because many rolls of papyrus were discovered inside. Since its restoration, it houses the antiquities collection for the Getty. Architects for the Getty Villa relied on detailed floorplans drawn by Karl Weber, who excavated the Herculaneum villa in the mid-18th century. Volcanic gases forced the original excavation to be halted, and parts of the original villa remain unexplored.

The Getty Villa recreation is fun because it is a fake recreation: the architects were free to take odd liberties that restorations must avoid. Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic columns are intermixed, a Pompeii fountain recreation sits at the end of one of the villa's axes, travertine connects it to Meier's Getty Center, and other historical anachronisms and locational amalgams are present throughout. The architects even went so far as to add a modern "excavation" theme to the renovation. You're forced to walk up flights of stairs so that you enter the villa site from above. You then descend down stairs surrounded by concrete pressed to look like layers of wood. An archeological-styled ramp allows you to cross artificially added levels of the dig.

On the one hand, the architects went to great lengths to use Weber's floor plans of the buried Roman villa -- they even located atrium designs from other villas to determine whether or not the atrium should be one or two levels -- but then they throw accuracy out of the window to represent architectural cross-sections of history, ancient Roman and modern. Perhaps the cross-section is useful, because the Villa is there to house real artifacts of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman past. It is easy to discern simulcra from relic.

I have visited the actual archeological sites at Ercalono/Herculaneum and Pompeii in 2001, seen the old mosaics and paintings, and walked the layers of excavation. More than those sites, though, I was reminded of Forest Lawn Memorial-Park and Cemetary in Glendale, CA, which has a stained-glass recreation of the Last Supper, a full-size David statue, and many other replicas that I briefly talked about here. I had visited Forest Lawn because Umberto Eco mentioned it in his essay on "hyperreal" museums in Travels in Hyperreality and my frequent visits to Glendale made it an easy stop. I dug out my old notes on Travels in Hyperreality for this post to try and find a Forest Lawn quote that would describe the nature of the Villa. Surprisingly, I found this quote instead:

...We try to think how a Roman patrician lived and what he was thinking when he built himself one of the villas that the Getty Museum reconstructs, in its need to reconstruct at home the grandeur of Greek civilization. The Roman yearned for impossible parthenons; from Hellenistic artists he ordered copies of the great statues of the Periclean age. He was a greedy shark who, after having helped bring down Greece, guaranteed its survival in the form of copies. Between the Roman patrician and the Greece of the fifth century there were, we might say, from five to seven hundred years. Between the Getty Museum and the remade Rome there are, roughly speaking, two thousand. The temporal gap is bridged by archeological knowledge; we can rely on the Getty team, their reconstruction is more faithful to Herculaneum than the Herculaneum reproduction was faithful to the Greek tradition. But the fact is that our journey into the Absolute Fake, begun in the spirit of irony and sophisticated repulsion, is now exposing us to some dramatic questions.

I'll have to thank my past self for anticipating the reopening of the Villa and my eventual journey there.

I took a lot of photos and instead of processing them, I went ahead and posted a full set: Getty Villa Photoset (~200 photos). For those that want a briefer tour, I also put together a set of highlights

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Sasebo World

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RooftopsMost links to information about Sasebo turn up military sites, but the Internet can make even small towns big. Glenn/pappaushi stumbled upon my my Sasebo photos, which lead me to stumble upon his Sasebo-related blog. He'll be moving there soon and he has many photos from around town, including this nice one of Albuquerque Bridge at Night. I look forward to being able to listen to a voice from my family's hometown.

A Whole Buncha Comic-Con Photos

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I uploaded a bunch of Comic-Con photos thinking I was going to process them, but a lot of them look close enough for government work. If I haven't touched them up after 5 months, might as well just post them. This is a small sampling of what I posted in the Comic-Con '06 set, but it is probably the better of what's there. A bunch are still marked private awaiting processing that will probably never come.

Battlestar Galactica

A whole buncha Edward James Olmos:

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Lucy Lawless:

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James Callis (most need reprocessing):

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Aaron Douglas (most need more processing):

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One of Ron Moore:

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Others

I also went to the Hood of Horror panel in the hopes of catching Snoop Dogg in person. Snoop Dogg of course showed up too late, but I did catch Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson. There was also a scary-looking Diamond Dallas Page, Pooch Hall, Brande Roderick, Daniella Alonso, and Lin Shaye (thank you, IMDB).

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And I also snuck this awful photo of Jennifer Love Hewitt through a crowd of people (the only photo that I processed, as it was just 1):

Jennifer Love Hewitt at Comic-Con

The more important task for me that lies ahead is finally aligning all the Quick Draw photos with the notes that parakkum sent me long, long, long ago.

The Great Flickr Upload

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FlickrIf you've been watching my Flickr photostream, you may have noticed it slowly marching backwards in time as I take advantage of Flickr's new no limits policy for pro users. I've been uploading all of my photos, set by set. I'm now approaching July, which was a mega month: two weddings and Comic-Con. I'm looking forward to reaching May, which has all my Japan photos.

I have three major reasons/motivations for this massive upload:

1) Peace of mind. When d had her laptop stolen, the only photos from the past six months that were recovered were those that were on Flickr. I keep several backups of my data, but I only make an 'off site' backup every year or so. Now I will have immediate off site backups from now on.

2) Edit/publish anywhere, anytime. I do all my edits on my desktop because it has the most storage as well as the photo organizer software. Now that Flickr provides the storage now, I've been testing new workflows. Some of the new benefits: * access the originals from any Web browser * publishing is as simple as changing a photo's privacy setting * other people can participate in the shot selection process. I did this accidentally last week when I uploaded an unprocessed set as public instead of private. Someone commented on which shot they thought was best, so I immediately processed it on the spot. * you can quickly show people the unprocessed shots if you're running behind on the actual processing

3) Supporting the folks at NetApp by increasing Yahoo's storage requirements :).

Another minor benefit is that the Flickr Uploader tool is much, much more responsive when you don't set it to resize photos to save space. I probably didn't need to have it resizing, but with limits, you're always worried about going over and being cut off.

Sharky

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great white shark - monterey

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From m's post nearly three months ago, it should be a bit obvious that I'm a bit behind posting my processed photos of the Great White Shark at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Back when we saw it, it was just a little tyke. By now I'm sure it's proportions are worthy of a Jaws remake... probably not. Either way, you can see what he looked like several months ago. I didn't really have the right camera equipment, so I decided to get creative with the treatment.

Photoset: Monterey/Great White Shark, September '06

Woah Flickr, Thanks

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Flickr just handed out an awesome gift to its pro users: unlimited uploads and increasing the limit for free accounts from 20MB to 100MB per month. I never ran into the 2GB limit myself, but it was always part of my internal metering. Now when I go on a 2-week vacation, I really can post all my photos instead of in bunches.

And just think: now you can store all your photos on Flickr. Every. Single. One. No more worrying about losing your photos when your hard drive crashes. This is the type of thing that changes workflows -- you can upload your photos from your camera directly to Flickr and then download them onto whatever computer you want to work on them. This really is incredible.

Thanks Flickr! (For $25/year, you can get yourself or someone else the gift of Flickr)

Credit: Christopher Morris (Hasted Hunt Gallery)

I find White House photography fascinating. With the heavy-handed use of symbolism in American politics, this genre of photography has the ability to dissect the staging, either through an overt presentation of the symbol or positioning itself orthogonal to the television camera.  I came across Christopher Morris's gallery for Hasted Hunt and Time's White House Photo of the Day separately and enjoyed both immediately. As it turns out, the TIme site mainly features Christopher Morris and Brooks Kraft.

 

Credits (clockwise from top left): Brooks Kraft, Christopher Morris, Christopher Morris, Christopher Morris

Shuttles from the Space Station and Hubble

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I never really thought about orbit angles and such, but apparently its really important if you're sending objects up to service objects in space. The Hubble Telescope is at a very different orbit angle from the International Space Station, which means that it would be very difficult for a shuttle to get assistance from the space station in the event of an emergency. I just assumed in a Space Camp sort of way that, once you're in space, you just bang on some thruster buttons until it all works out. The New York Times has more.

Speaking of shuttles and the International Space Station, here's a shot of a space shuttle launch as seen by the ISS (via Mr. Sun/Warren Ellis):

And here's an aurora borealis shot from the ISS as well (via space.com):

New York Times Article on Hubble + ISS

More photos from Warren Ellis

One of everything

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Something I should disclose is that since my last Qoop post, I have become a beta tester for Qoop. Before I only had photo cards and some photo books; now have one of every current Qoop product: photo book, travel mug, two mini books, a poster, two calendars, a t-shirt, and photo cards. Free stuff is nice and all, but I agreed to become a beta tester because I genuinely want Qoop to do well, as Qoop's success contributes to Flickr's success.

But now, of course, how do I maintain an authentic voice on this topic? If I really like something and mention it, am I a shill? If I don't like something, is it fair to mention it, given that my role here is to help improve Qoop's product?

I don't know how I'm going to blog about this in the future, but first, this disclaimer post. Next will be giving my feedback to the Qoop folks. After that, some of you may be receiving some of this boon, as it's fairly difficult to quickly construct one of everything on Qoop's site just for myself, and I wanted to gauge other peoples' reactions to these customized 'gifts'.

Battle of the Photo Cards: Moo vs. Qoop

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I was going to do a detailed rundown of the Moo and Qoop photo card services that recently debuted for Flickr users, but as I started to write this up, I realized that it wasn't really necessary to compare these services feature by feature. It's much simpler to show you visually that Moo is far, far superior.

When I received my Qoop myCards order, I began to get worried when I opened the box and noticed that the top card was 'scuffed.' At first I thought that this was just a shipping issue, but then I decided to do a simple test: I placed the card facedown on paper and moved it around while applying moderate pressure:

Qoop Card Sample

Imagine giving out one of these cards to someone. Imagine all that ink rubbing off in their wallet.

I also tried this with Quiznos and Supercuts cards I had in my wallet. They looked a little more 'polished', but otherwise fine.

A couple of weeks later I received my free Moo sampler of ten MiniCards. Visually, they looked better than I hoped and the card felt great to hold: these met all expectations of a 'photo card'. Moo's printing process revealed some compression artifacts in my Flickr user icon that I need to fix and the midtone details were a touch darker than I expected -- I think they might have boosted contrast -- but they were beautiful. I was sad that I had to subject one of the ten cards to the same damaging test as the Qoop card:

Moo Card Sample

Can you tell which of the ten cards above I subjected to the test? (hint: middle left)

Moo cards are awesome; about their own downside is that they are weird. They are 'mini cards', as you can tell from the scan above, which means that their dimensions probably do not match any photo in your Flickr library. It will take some experimentation to figure out which of your photos still look good at half height and you might even have to tweak them in a photo editor to get it right. I think I understand Moo's motivation for these odd dimensions: they make the cards more distinct and they also help the layout for the back of the cards -- your Flickr user icon and contact details fill up the back nicely, without the significant whitespace of a full height card. So, this downside has an upside, but it is definitely something to consider.

I'm still bothered by Qoop's squandered potential, especially given how proactive their customer service is and how much I enjoy the online experience with their tools. They have many more layout options than Moo: you can place multiple photos on the front side of the card, you can place a photo on the back side, and you have more options for placing text. There are some things they could improve in the online experience: it irked me that once I 'finished' a card I couldn't go back and tweak it, and if you order two different customized cards you can't tell them apart in the shopping cart. But, overall, I was very happy... until I received the cards. I really wanted to give Qoop a good review this time around. I gave them lukewarm approval for their photo books (cheap price, cheap quality, great customer service), and I honestly thought that might have straightened things out by now. Now I have $15-worth of cards that I can't give out, but at least the Moo cards were free and I'll be dreaming up options for ordering more.

My first book cover

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While not as cool as getting a solo exhibit in the Brooklyn Atlantic subway station, I did get my first book cover credit as a result of my Flickr habit. It's easy for your photos to end up in many places... when you give them away for free.

A couple of months ago I gave permission for a publishing company to use one of my photos, and in return a package arrived today with a copy of Cult of the Luxury Brand.

Cult of the Luxury Brand

Here is the original photo of the Prada Building in Tokyo:

Prada Building, Omotesando, Tokyo

The complimentary copy of the book is the entirety of my payment, but heck, at $35 ($23.10 sale), it is $35 more than I have received for any of my other photos -- though the MythBusters did give me a sandwich and a burrito.

New Lightroom and Aperture

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Photokina brings two good software announcements for digital photographers: Lightroom Beta 4 and Aperture 1.5. My Windows workflow means that it will be Lightroom B4 that I'll be giving a go -- my previous experience didn't wow me, but I'm willing to see if this latest rev is gentler on my CPU. Apple claims that Aperture will even run on Intel Mac minis, so my expectations are higher for Lightroom now.

I get to clear some photos from the backlog

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The MythBusters "Mega Movie Myths" episode has now aired so I've uploaded some more photos from "Awning Fall," which is the segment that we got to watch. m lent me the 16-35mm lens that really made a lot of these shots possible. I'm still watching the episode so I'll keep my comments brief, except to say its fun to finally see how they put it all together.

Mythbusters-Awning Fall-Adam

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LightroomI was excited by the announcement that the Adobe Lightroom Beta had been released for Windows. I had been jealous of the Mac platform, which saw the arrival of both Aperture and Adobe Lightroom in fairly quick succession, whereas the Windows platform strangely had no product really targeted at the SLR-amateur-to-pro category. I was also excited because I am currently sitting under a mountain of photos -- 2000+ to be exact -- as I've been one of the 'official' photographers for two weddings this month, and I also have two cycling races and my photos from my Japan trip (in May!) to process.

Aperture and Lightroom are both photo workflow apps and, as far as I know, they are the first of their kind. After watching the positive results of anthropological studies of workflow at PARC, I have been really excited to try out these apps that claim to be the result of workflow studies on digital photographers. Granted, they targetted pros, but I hoped to reap the benefit, and perhaps even learn a thing or two about my process.

There is quite a lot to optimize in a digital photography workflow: if I only spent 1 second processing each of the 730 photos I took at the wedding last weekend, it would still take me over 10 minutes to go through them all. More realistically, it takes 1-5 seconds to decide whether or not to process a photo -- even longer if you have to decide which shot is the best out of several takes -- and another three minutes (my average) to process the selected photos. Anything software can do to either be faster, batch process, or get out of the way can provide huge time savings, which can either be used to enjoy life, or process even more photos.

What follows is a review, but with the caveat that as this really is a beta product, so perhaps a better call this 'feedback'.

Sharpcast Beta review

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sharpcast.gifI've spent several hours checking out Sharpcast Photos and thought I'd post my initial thoughts. Sharpcast has a great syncing technology, which they've chosen to showcase by deploying a photo-sharing solution with both Web and Windows clients. You can install Sharpcast on multiple machines in order to easily share your photos between them, and you can also share albums with specific people.

This isn't quite a review because I believe that utility of Sharpcast will largely depend on business model decisions that haven't been made yet: Sharpcast is more alpha than beta, as you are limited to 2GB of storage and the future pricing and limits are unclear. Case in point, Flickr offers me 2GB/month of photo upload (at a price), which guarantees its long-term usefulness for me; Sharpcast's 2GB total is nothing more than a toy to play with for a couple of months. I understand the need to not have to build up a massive storage farm just yet, but I take over 2GB of photos at a single wedding.

"Sharpcast Photos is optimized for accessing, sharing, and backing up photos." I kept this in mind when checking it out so that my comments would be contexted to the intended product. I also kept in mind my dad and my sister, because if I'm going to share, I should be able to share with my family (Flickr is not so strong in this regard).

So, going on the three activities that Sharpcast does list -- accessing, sharing, and backing up -- I've recorded my thoughts, followed up with a list of some peeves I had with the UI along the way.

Wedding photography

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Joy and BP-01 Bryan and Joy Wedding-07 Bryan and Joy Wedding-04

Joy and BP-02 Puffer Kelly-06 Puffer Kelly-03 Puffer Kelly-01

I thought I'd share a few of my favorites in this entry because weddings, Comic-Con, and the Tour de France pretty much dominated my July, and I've already blogged plenty about the latter two. (I can't share some of the Iowa ones, as they are still marked private).

Suddenly my Flickr photostream makes it looks like I'm a wedding photographer, which couldn't be further from the case. If you told me last year that I would be credited as a wedding photographer, I would probably have laughed my butt off, in fact, I still do, but somehow that happened twice this month with bp/joy's wedding and another in Iowa. It helps that d and I did this together: I was lost through it all while she seemed to fall into role directing people around -- it probably isn't all that different from managing kindergartners.

I'm used to outdoor sports photography, so it's taken a bit of getting used to shooting in low-light indoor settings, but I think the hardest aspect is the logistics of it all. Admittedly, shooting bp and joy was rather easy, as we just had to sit back and let them be happy and kiss while we photographed it all. Shooting in Iowa with bridesmaids, groomsmen, mothers, fathers, grandmothers -- that was tiring, especially when people keep wandering off or are running late. You spend the whole time searching around to find better lighting or checking out the ceilng to see if you can bounce your flash or scanning back through the photos you've taken to make sure that you have good takes of all the shots you've been requested to take. You're sweating in your suit in the 100 degree humid weather and you're trying to think of something clever so you can get something better than the tired smiles from all the shooting.

Shooting cycling is so much more relaxing in comparison. Even with the additional challenge of shooting fast-moving objects, it's nice to know that you have no control over the situation: I don't have to tell a cyclist to smile or move a little to the left or go find his grandma. I just point my camera, click, and wait for the next lap.

I'm going to a wedding in Chicago on Thursday -- I think I'll leave my camera in the suitcase for that one.

Adobe Lightroom beta, now for Windows

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A Windows version of Adobe Lightroom beta is at last available. Lightroom is a photo-editing and organizing software package aimed at the SLR crowd: this Apple Aperture, but free (at least until January 2007). I look forward to trying it out when I get back from Comic-Con. I've got a lot of photos to process in my backlog.

Adobe Lightroom Beta

A few links

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MareNostrumchurch.s.jpg nielsenstrike.jpg jackpc.jpg

Photo Booth Cliches

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Photo 12 Photo 13 Photo 18

Photo 17 Photo 21 Photo 14 Photo 15

Susanne showed me Photo Booth on her new MacBook Pro at work, which of course immediately resulted in me trying to generate every disturbing face I could using the fun house effects. I'm sure these have been done many times over now by others, but, please, enjoy.

Mankai

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Sakura

Sakura Sakura Sakura Goryukaku Park Sakura

The cherry blossoms in Hakodate are finally full bloom (mankai). I've uploaded this small selection of unprocessed photos to Flickr (top photo is actually from Matsumae).

sorry, littlestar

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Someone told me that your bunny wasn't evil enough, so I put lasers on it:

laser bunny

Bustered

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I just got back from watching the MythBusters in action. They were really nice to us and I took a ton of photos, but I'll have to figure out how to split this up as neither I nor they want to give away any spoilers.

Update: here's an initial sample. There are many, many photos remaining, but they will probably wait until I can do a writeup.

MythBusters-Buster

MythBusters-12 MythBusters-07 MythBusters-06 Kari and Jamie

Dry Ice-3 Dry Ice-6

The Exploratorium is as much fun for my camera as it is for me. The optical effects and cool experiments that are candy for your eyes are just as fun to get on film. They have a table there that small bits of dry ice get dropped on every couple minutes. There is a small amount of liquid on the table, so the pieces of dry ice dance around the table and create little miniature hurricanes. You can checkout some more tiny dry ice swirl and other Exporatorium exhibit photos on Flickr.

Exporatorium-4 Exporatorium-3 Exporatorium-2 Exploratorium-1

I also got some more photos of Liz Hickok's San Francisco in Jello-O. This time around, she had done a model of the Palace of Fine Arts and Marina.

Jello SF 2-2 Jello SF 2-5 Jello SF 2-3

Monterey Aquarium Cliches

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Reconsidered Materials at the Exploratorium

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Reconsidered Materials-Silk waves Reconsidered Materials-01 Reconsidered Materials-Exodus

Reconsidered Materials Styrofoam Hummer Reconsidered Materials-Fossil Fueled Reconsidered Materials - Rubber Horses-1 Reconsidered Materials-Quilt

There's something about an art show at the Exploratorium that just works really well. Perhaps it's the fact that it's hard to tell the difference between the art pieces and the Exploratorium exhibits (hint: the art pieces came wtih pink labels). Perhaps it's the fact that a mostly adult crowd gets unleashed in a children-oriented museum to play. Whatever the reason, I hope that there are more shows at the Exploratorium. At least this year, while I'm a member.

I became a member as a result of the very, very long line out front. I don't know if it was the Jello SF posting on BoingBoing, a summoning of the Burning Man crowd, or what, but there were a lot of people at the Reconsidered Materials exhibit. Far more than the Exploratorium planned for. They were offering memberships as a way to get to the front of the hour long line, but I resisted as there was no way to get all three of us in on one membership. Or at least I didn't think there was until I talked to the possibly inebriated museum staff. It was a good night for the Exploratorium.

Jello SF was the reason I was there and it didn't disappoint, though we were surprised by how small it was. I guess we didn't take time to think that the artist was doing SF piece-by-piece. The piece that she made for the exhibition was in the Twin Peaks neighborhood and was at a slightly smaller scale than the downtown model. The artist's mom was there to hold a container of dry ice fog over the entire model while it was regularly given earthquake simulations.

There were eighteen installations and I particularly enjoyed the full-size styrofoam Humvee (American Detritus), the blanket pigeons (Exodus), the quilted tea bags (The Quilt), and the Rubber Horses, all of which you'll find photos of in the flickr photoset. I also liked Arp Forms and Strobe Flower, which I've posted movies of below (I forgot to take a movie of Jello SF). Arp Forms was a mixture of corn starch inside of a vibrating cup that caused the corn starch to congeal up into a blobular, dancing form. Strobe Flower was a plastic bag hooked up to a variable speed motor and a strobe -- you could put your finger into it to push it into different forms. click on the photos to access the movies, apologies for rotated strobe flower movie:

Reconsidered Materials-Arp Forms Reconsidered Materials-Strobe Flower

See also: horizonline's and m's posts from the exhibition

Link roundup

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My dorky quote for the day

I had two teachers for algorithms class. One spoke as if conversation were a non-returning recursive function

I'm clearing out the Firefox tabs. BoingBoing appears to have beaten me to posting some of these, oh well

Adobe Lightroom

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It's exciting to see Adobe announced their Aperture competitor, Lightroom, though it might be awhile before I can evaluate it seeing as the Windows version is lagging. But with those tasty Intel Macs coming out, who knows?

Glancing at the first looks, my hunch is that Lightroom has the advantage. Although it's clear that both products have had a long germination, Lightroom will be able to learn from the lessons of Aperture before a final product is released. Even with the beta release it's clear that Lightroom will be less of a resource hog than Aperture, allowing it to run on laptops (ln m says it even runs on his old TiBook). Adobe also has far more experience with image processing, especially with RAW conversion. The poor RAW conversion was one of the biggest complaints about Aperture, and certainly an Achilles' Heel for a professional product.

According to postings on their discussion board, it sounds like the Mac version came out first because they were able to leverage some OS X capabilities that won't exist in Windows until Vista, but who knows. Releasing a free Adobe Lightroom beta to compete against a $499 Aperture, which has enough bugs to be a beta product, and it sounds like a great strategy to me. I hope that the final pricing for Lightroom ends up being low. There's really not that much difference in overall functionality from a product like Photoshop Elements or Bridge. A lot of the difference is which audience the UI is being targetted at. UI is worth paying for, but I'd rather buy a new lens for my camera.

Photos: Sasebo Favorites

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I couldn't post all the photos I wanted to from Sasebo, so I'm limiting myself to two sets: one with my favorites and one from around the city center. I would have omitted the latter, but it wouldn't have been fair to the city to do so. When I first showed my mom the photos I was taking, she complained that I was taking "ugly photos." She wondered why I wasn't taking photos of the more beautiful areas of Sasebo, whereas my photos seemed to all contain rust stains and grime. This is a frequent interaction with my mom. Several years ago I was taking her around MIT, she made hardly a comment. Later in the day we visited Harvard and she immediately burst out with a, "This is so much prettier! Why didn't you go to school here!?!?"

It isn't that I find rust attractive. Sasebo is filled with so many textures and has such an overwhelming density of architecture. I can't help taking photos of parking lots on top of homes, rooftops that meet in anything but right angles, buildings that similarly lack right angles, a narrow sidestreet adjacent to bright shopping plaza, homes that rise up and up into the hillside, and stairways, stairways, stairways. Zen photos are fun, but it's just as fun to take a stroll around town.

Full photoset

Photos: Sasebo City Center

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IMG_1367_edited-1 IMG_1387_edited-1 Toy store in Sasebo

I've already posted some photos from the area around Sasebo, Japan, including spiders (kumo), 99 islands, and Braille-encoded city, but it's taken me quite awhile to start putting up photos of the city itself. I took hundreds of photos and I just want to post all of them with detailed explanations so that I could try to convey all the interesting aspects that I strangely find fascinating, like a shopping mall that could be Anywhere, US, a train tunnel through a shopping mall, four-way overpasses, and more. Neither you nor I really have time for that.

Full photoset

Great Mountain View Blackout of 2006

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IMG_1796_edited-1

Power went out on the north half of Castro Street in Mountain View last night. After taking an initial trip around the block to search for techies rioting and throwing chairs through windows -- all we found were people BookBuyers attempting to browse using flashlights -- parakkum and I returned back to Hope to retrieve my camera and warmer clothes. Witness the horror, the devastation, of absolutely nothing happening... in my flickr photoset:

Blackout Pouring light on the Blackout Blackout

Full photoset

Retrievr is awesome

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(and not just because one of my photos shows up as the default 'nothing' search)

Retrievr lets you search for photos by drawing a sketch. I've seen photo similarity searchs before, but this one's fast and it's tied to Flickr, which means that you might actually be able to use it as more than a toy. I've been debating whether or not to do another 100 photos collage this year. I skipped last year I skipped due to lack of photos. This year I perhaps have too many photos, unless I could have cool search technology like Retrievr built in to my photo management software.

Review: Picasa - good stuff

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picasaI installed Picasa on my dad's computer to help him manage all the digital photos that he's been taking and I am impressed. I'm not impressed because Picasa has better features that Adobe Photoshop Elements, Aperture, or any other photo management software out there. In fact, the features of Picasa are fairly streamlined to include only the most basic photo retouching capabilities.

The reason I am impressed is that it's one of the few pieces of software that my dad was comfortable and competent with almost immediately. My dad is a complete computer novice who doesn't use his computer for much more than writing letters, surfing the Internet, and balancing his checkbook. To see him immediately latch onto the red eye tool, retouch several photos, and then print them with only minimal assistance is a great accomplishment in user interface design. Importing photos from the camera was also a snap because Picasa doesn't really care how you import the photos -- it finds them automatically -- so it doesn't really matter which of the numerous import options Windows pops up he chooses, it will probably work, i.e. Picasa gets around Windows' lack of usability.

There are still some features that my dad had trouble with. The selection tools for cropping and red-eye correction gave him some fuss, it's hard to tell which options you have selected on some menus (the highlight around a selected button is too faint), and the button layout is a bit inconsistent, including the placement of the OK/Cancel options. However, Picasa doesn't edit the photos directly, so it's hard to do permanent damage.

Picasa most directly compares to iPhoto. Photoshop Elements 4.0 and Aperture have more features but require more computer-savvy users. Picasa is much faster than iPhoto and I believe it's UI is a better design for photo-editing and browsing, but you'd never really have to choose because Picasa is only for PCs. So, if your parents have a PC and you want to get them good, free, photo-management software, or you love iPhoto and are stuck on a PC, you may want to give it a shot. It will be better than the crap that comes with your digital camera.

Review: Qoop Printing for Flickr

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qoopI previously reviewed Qoop's printing service for Flickr then took down the review because a Qoop representative offered to let us reprint the books for free to see if their newer printers would solve the issues I cited in the review. My main complaint then was that the print quality looked more like something printed off on an office printer than what I had seen with Apple's iPhoto books. The inks didn't have the right reflectivity (the blacks stood out) and the paper wasn't thick enough.

The verdict on the new books: We both felt that they were much improved, both in the inks that were used as well as the paper. With the new books I felt that I was holding a book, not something I printed off at work and stapled together. The printing quality does fall short of providing you with vivid, accurate color reproduction of your photos -- the color dynamics are a bit dull and the levels don't match what you see on the screen. There was also one other problem: two of the books had bent corners that was fixable with a bit of massaging. I would suggest to QOOP that they upgrading their packaging.

d and I don't quite agree on the overall assessment. I was expecting something more akin to a catalog of photos, d was expecting something more to vivid, photo-paper quality. Based on my expectations, I give the Qoop books a passing grade. It's not a book of photos you might buy in the store, but it's an easy way to get your photos into book format and save time in the process. d has a more mixed review, feeling that they aren't up to the printing quality of what you would get with the iPhoto books from Apple. We both agree that you get what you pay for and what you pay is cheap.

  • Do use if for: a hardcopy of your photos that you can carry around with you and scribble on
  • Don't use if for: giving as a gift to your friend (e.g. a book of wedding photos)

I've updated parts of my previous review. Read on for a full review.

Do not let me near your gingerbread

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gingerbread gingerbread gingerbread gingerbread

y helped me design a gingerbread house, but this is a case where she probably wishes that I minimize any credit. She designed what was the pretty side, made of hearts and sweetness. With some left over gumdrops and the remaining piece of Gretel's body I turned it into a grotesque caterpillar. She knows better now than to work with me.

PXN8, free online photo editing

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I've had this problem a lot -- I want to make a quick tweak to an image I've uploaded to Flickr, but I don't have Photoshop on the computer I'm using and I have to wait until I'm home to make my quick tweak. I've always wished that Flickr would add in some simple photo tools like crop, but until that day you can try out PXN8. You can crop, rotate, sepia tone, lomo, blur, resize, correct red eye, whiten, modify hue/saturation/brightness/contrast, or add round corners to your images. It's designed to work with Flickr, which should also help you save a bit of time. The Flickr integration could be a little better, but I'm sure there is (or will be) a Greasemonkey script -- there's already a bookmarklet.

Review: Qoop printing for Flickr

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update 2: here is the updated review

update: I'm temporarily taking down my review for Qoop because a representative from Qoop was kind enough (within 24 hours of me writing my post!) to offer reprints on the books. My original review came with the caveat that the books were ordered awhile ago when the service was still new, so it seems fair to give the service another shot.

Photos: Nagasaki Peace Memorial

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Nagasaki Peace Memorial-21Nagasaki Peace Memorial-10The Nagasaki Peace Memorial in Japan is a newly built memorial to the atomic bomb victims and survivors in Japan. Much of the complex is underground, with the above-ground portion serving as a public space to walk around and explore. The actual memorial is at the heart of the underground complex. An antechamber with video screens lets you learn more about each of the individual victims before entering the main memorial hall, which has lighted pillars that lead to a skylight above. In a roped-off portion of the hall is a lone dark pillar that contains the registry of all the victims.

Nagasaki Peace Memorial-13I left with mixed impressions of the building. From an architectural point of view, it was disorienting for me. It looked much like a Tadao Ando building, including a staircase that emerges out of the center of an elliptical pool, yet enough elements were slightly different from Ando's style that I could tell that it probably wasn't. The exterior layout was somewhat haphazard with very little to draw the eye, the dome was oddly placed, and the grounds weren't very well kept. I was happy to learn it wasn't an Ando building because I have higher expectations. The one element of the building design I did like was the finish on the interior concrete: it was very porous, almost wood-like in feel.

Nagasaki Peace Memorial-14The memorial itself was pretty, but it felt lacking in humanity. The use of pillars was familiar from the Holocaust Memorial in Boston, but unlike the Boston memorial that allows you to read the names inscribed, the main pillar with the names is roped off from exploration. Rather than express the human loss, it conveyed the sense of a vault. The antechamber's tech-y video screens combined with the sterility of the hall made me think of scenes from tech thrillers where the hero must break into the vault to steal the McGuffin.

Flickr Photoset of Nagasaki Peace Memorial

Photos: Kumo (Spiders)

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Kumo-1-1

Mt. Yumihari, which overlooks the town of Sasebo, is covered in spiders. Between a pair of trees you might see up to a dozen spiders hanging in mid-air. The top of the mountain was formerly a World War II outpost, but now all that is keeping watch are thousands of spiders and some feral cats. The spiders have some great designs on their bodies, with underbellies often resembling a demon mask.

Flickr Photoset of Spiders

Upgraded to Photoshop Elements 4.0

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photoshop.elements.jpgI've been a devout user of Photoshop Album for organizing my photos, but my copy was getting a bit old and I've been looking to ditch it for something faster and with improved organizational features. I took advantage of the Black Friday discounts to get a copy of Photoshop Elements 4.0 packaged with Premiere Elements 2.0 for $50. I skipped Photoshop Elements 3.0 because, even with the 'stacks' feature, it wasn't worth $100 to upgrade from Album.

I only care about the organizational features of Elements -- I do all my edits in Photoshop -- and so far the upgrade has been worthwhile. Several things stood out immediately (NOTE: the Mac version is very different from the Windows version): * Most important 'feature': faster browsing performance. It's hard to organize your photos if you can't quickly scan through them. * Stacks and version sets let you group similar shots and different edits, respectively. Very nice. * Tags are now stored within the image so that it is easier to share that metadata with others. * The biggest timesaver will probably be "Find Faces for Tagging." The name says it all -- it scans your selected photos, finds faces, and then lets you tag them. The tagging interface for faces is much improved over the generic tagging interface. It keeps tracks of your most recently used tags so that you don't have to keep scanning over all your tags to find the ones you need. I used it on some wedding photos and it almost did too good of a job picking out everyone in the dance photos. * The documentation notes that there is a Photomerge utility, which has to be better than the one that Canon gives you, but I have not tried it out yet.

The only disappointment so far is that it is less well-integrated with Photoshop than Album is. Album doesn't have a builtin editor so they made it very easy to do your advanced processing with other applications. Although Elements allows you to do external editing as well, it appears to be much less smart than before. It doesn't notice when you've finished external edits and it tries to import the edits as new photos instead of new versions of the original.

Elements is not a bad photo-editing tool, so I don't know how much I'll hate upon it. I'm planning to move to Photoshop CS2, which includes it's own photo workflow features, so it may not matter too much in the long run. I may just end up using Elements to organize and CS2 to edit, but this will take some time and money (to buy CS2) to sort out.

I'll end this quick impressions review noting that the Amazon reviewers don't seem happy with the new version, with several complaining that they prefer Photoshop Elements 3.0. I've never really used the previous versions of Elements, so my ignorance in this case appears to be bliss.

CS2: Smart Object and Layer Comps

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I just got a copy of Photoshop CS2 at work so that I could do some software UI mockups. I've already discovered two features they've added since Photoshop 7 that are huge timesavers for this type of work.

Layer Comps: With mockups I often have to toggle different layers on and off to show different steps or variations. "Here is a mockup with the button to the left and here is one with the button below," or "Here is the first step where the user types in, 'I want a pony,' and here is the next step where the results for ponies are returned." Layer comps let you save the current state of your layers so you can easily switch between the different variations all within one Photoshop file. These presets let you save the visibility, position, and styles of each layer.

You can access Layer Comps by going to Window -> Layer Comps. Here is a tutorial on using Layer Comps.

Smart Objects: In UI mockups you often have a lot of repeating elements. You may have the same set of buttons appear four times on a screen and if you want to change the appearance of one of the buttons you used to have to edit all four copies. With Smart Objects you can edit the original and have all the copies update. Smart Objects also keep all the original data, so you could paste in a photo, shrink it down to 10x10 and then later decide to resize it to 100x100. I'm told that this is the same as the 'Place' feature that other Adobe products have had for some time now, which makes me wonder what took them so long to put such a useful feature into Photoshop.

There are a lot of different ways to create Smart Objects. You can use File->Place to create a Smart Object from another file. You can also select a bunch of layers and group them together into a Smart Object.

Braille-Encoded City

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Braille Encoded City-1 Braille Encoded City-5

Braille Encoded City-2 Braille Encoded City-4 Braille Encoded City-3 Braille Encoded City-1-1

I noticed special tiles running along the sidewalks while I was wandering around the cities of Sasebo and Fukuoka in Japan. My mom explained that they help blind people navigate the city. With my mind now aware of these tiles and their purpose, they became a secret code for me to try and decode. Straight-lined tiles indicated a path to follow; dotted tiles could be arranged to flag a split in the path or a waiting point (e.g. crosswalk or bus stop). At the Fukuoka airport, the trail leads you through the automatic doors to a split: the side-branch takes you to a map of the airport. The secret codes also had their secret hiding places: tiny balled-headed pins were embedded in a railing, nearly invisible to the naked eye, which they are not meant for, but easily detected by anyone using the railing for assistance up the stairs. I wonder what the message is, something informative, "Ten paces to next set of stairs," or something cloak-and-dagger, "Secret meeting when the thunder whispers, follow the trail."

In the US, I've seen similar sorts of tiles to guide you from a Mountain View bus stop to the Caltrain station, but there is less code and the implementation is incomplete. I was able to wander most of downtown Sasebo by following the trail at my feet, though there are gaps and it will not get you far into the residential areas. At Fukuoka airport they lead you to a map, but inside the airport there is no guide on the floor to lead you; perhaps the map provided an answer I could not read.

Photos: 99 Islands

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99 Islands-4 99 Islands-2

My cousins and aunt braved the cold for me so that I could snap some sunset photos of the 99 Islands from the top of Yumihari Mountain in Sasebo. The city of Sasebo is busily spread out around the harbor along one side of the mountain, while, on the other side, things are mostly green and blue with ony the occassional settlement dotting the view. I'm not sure how one counts the 99 Islands, as there are many formations barely larger than a boulder, but by the official metric it is actually closer to 218 or so. At night you can see a string of lights snaking across the water between the islands as the squid hunters go out and try to lure their prey.

99 Islands Photos (9 photos)

Dazaifu Station-17 Dazaifu Station-21 Dazaifu Station-06

On my first full day in Japan my aunts took me to Dazaifu Station in Fukuoka. Dazaifu Station is home to Dazaifu Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine for Tenjin, as well as Komyozenji, a Buddhist temple with a Zen garden in back. Both are tourist attractions, i.e. they are not places for quiet contemplation, but they are very beautiful tourist attractions. In between our visit to the shrine and the temple we had lunch at Ume no Hana, a restaurant that specializes in tofu. Our lunch consisted of about fifteen courses, most of which I have photos of. Part of your meal price is the plates you choose to eat on, so thanks goes to my aunt for the nice plates you see pictured. I can't read our menu so I don't have proper names for most of the courses.

It was a little paranoia-inducing to see a photo of a bridge you just crossed at Dazaifu Tenmangu in a national newspaper the next day, but as it turns out the crown prince was in town.

All thirty photos from Dazazifu Station

Dazaifu Station-10 Dazaifu Station-05Dazaifu Station-08 Dazaifu Station-02 Dazaifu Station-16 Dazaifu Station-18 Dazaifu Station-13 Dazaifu Station-22 Dazaifu Station-28 Dazaifu Station-29 Dazaifu Station-27 Dazaifu Station-24

Four views of Mt Fuji

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Four Views of Mt Fuji-4

Four Views of Mt Fuji-1 Four Views of Mt Fuji-3 Four Views of Mt Fuji-2

Our pilot was nice enough to fly us past Mt Fuji on our route back. I love how Mt Fuji completely stands out from the surrounding landscape, leaving no doubt about its iconic popularity.

Congrats Cyndi and Kenji

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Kenji-Cyndi-26

Kenji and Cyndi got married on Friday and should now be off in Argentina somewhere unable to read this message, but I wanted to wish them congratulations anyways. Three straight nights of partying with them wore out my liver a bit, but I appreciate the exercise regimen. We (Kenji, Cyndi, myself, and the rest of you) should do it again come X-mas time when I'm in DC again.

I posted some photos on Flickr -- I can also post them elsewhere by request. I tried to push the limits of my new camera a bit and as you can tell from the photos I pushed the limits a bit too far. I believe 'cameraphone' comes to mind.

It was fun matching blogs and Flickr photos to real people. It gives hope that most of the Internet is not made up by some fifty-year-old bald dude sitting naked in his parents' basement, which I believe is the plot of the next Matrix movie.

I'm back

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I'm back from the East Coast, land of much rain but happy weddings. Also, land of slow dialup modem at parent's house, an experience that increases in pain as technology progresses. My time back in the West will be short -- I leave for the Far East this Friday, hopefully rid of this airplane-inflamed cold.

Trip Back-1-1 Trip back-2 Trip back-3 Trip back-4 Trip back-5 Trip back-6 Trip back-7 Trip back-8

Breaking news on DVDs

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bp has sent me a bit of good news. One of our side projects while we both worked at PARC was researching stress deformations and fractures of DVD substrates. We demonstrated that DVDs with Microsoft logos had a higher incidence of fracturing than other DVDs, though we were unable to conclude a causal relationship. It appears that Gizmodo has used our initial findings to build towards this important announcement: Gizmodo Announces Support for Some Form of Higher Definition DVD. We wish them the best of luck in their research.

Talk: Salman Rushie, Shalimar the Clown

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Salman Rushdie-2 Salman Rushdie-1

Salman Rushie spoke at Books Inc in Mountain View. These are my notes (more in the extended entry). As always with my notes, although I attempt to use quotes as much as possible, I don't stand by the accuracy of my quotes and they should be considered paraphrasings at best.

For In the Name of the Rose Umberto Eco said, "'I had a great desire to murder a monk'... in my case it was an American ambassador." Shalimar the Clown starts off with Shalimar, a muslim Kashmiri, killing the American ambassador that his childhood sweetheart ran off with. Shalimar is a character transforms from tight-rope walker into terrorist.

In the book you root for Shalimar even though he does horrible things. It "would have been much easier to make him not likable," but then he would be a cartoon and cartoons can't make moral choices. Shalimar "retains the capacity for moral choice" and thus retains moral responsibility. Rushdie had watched a documentary about the downfall of Hitler that humanized the Nazis and he felt that the humanizing "does the opposite of exonerating them." It is one of the roles of writers to make you care about the people because "you have to care about people to care about what happens to them."

Much of the novel takes place in Kashmir and he said, "'[I] always wanted to write more about it than I have." Midnight's Children and Haroun and the Sea of Stories have parts in Kashmir, but not very much.

In 1987 he was participating in a British documentary about India at the age of 40. He met a group of travelling players in Kashmir and thought that they lived an "extraordinary lifestyle... on the one hand paradise-like... [but] incredibly poor." He observed their way of life and it "felt like the end of a very long line." This was before the eruption of violence and the insurgency, so he does not imagine that life has gotten better for them.

He wanted to put them in the documentary, but they were "too scared to tell the truth on camera." They would complain about the Indian troops off camera, but when you turned the camera on they would say, "We are very happy," and praise the Indian troops.

Talk: Neil Gaiman *Anansi Boys*

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Neil Gaiman-1"Dearly Beloved..."

Neil Gaiman addressed us from atop the pulpit in the First Congregation Church in Berkeley on National Geek Day, the day that both Mirromask and Serenity were released in theaters. He read from Anansi Boys, a book that has the tagline "God is dead. Meet the kids." As Gaiman noted, you write a "book with strange gods, and they send you to talk in churches."

Gaiman described Anansi Boys as American Gods' second cousiin, once removed. He had the idea for Anansi Boys before American Gods, so one way he thinks of Mr. Nancy and American Gods is that it had a special guest star... for a book that hadn't been written yet.

For Anansi Boys I've decided to do something I've never done before: buy the audiobook. My reason for this was is very simple: there's an mp3 version. I never saw much reason before in buying audiobooks. They're as expensive as the book and there's this giant stack of CDs that you either have to cart around or you have to spend an hour ripping to your computer. With an mp3 CD I can immediately place it on my iPod or PSP -- it's ready to consume.

The battle over DRM rarely gets very far as it is an ideological battle with strongly divided opinions, full of speculation but few actual examples proving either sides' case. It's great to see an author that's #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List take what the industry would consider a risk and move the debate over DRM forward. Gaiman had to fight with Harper Collins to have mp3 CDs made, so he encouraged me to encourage my friends to purchase the mp3 version. I wish more authors were iPod users like Gaiman so that they too would act as intelligently about technology.

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WARNING: Notes in the extended. I did a really, really bad job with my notes. Much more here is paraphrased from memory than actual quotes. For whatever reason my note-taking skills were terrible tonight and much that was funny I cannot remember well enough to transcribe.

SF bike ride

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On Sunday, bp, d, joy, ota and I went on a ride from the 4th and King Caltrain station in San Francisco to Sausalito. Along the way we passed by the Folsom Street Fair (heralded by naked man on bike), the new de Young museum building, and the Golden Gate Bridge. We ate lunch in Sausalito, drank wine, got ice cream, and then took the ferry past Alcatraz back to the Market St terminal. The weather was oddly terrific -- it was the weather I had been waiting for all summer.

I highly recommend the ride -- the more adventurous can do an additional leg from Sausalito to Tiburon and catch the ferry there. Make sure you know the bike lanes in SF: I failed to print out a map and we had some additional adventurous path finding as a result.

The photos from the trip were a bit of sadness to go through -- I had my camera set on ISO 800 by accident, so they are all pretty noisy. I can always take similar photos on later trips, but having to wait for such great weather again might take awhile.

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Photos: Oakland Zoo

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My, what big teeth you have

As you can tell from my previous entries, we went to the Oakland Zoo today. It's not the biggest zoo, nor does it have the most exotic animals, but it's fun, accessible, and easy to get around. I took photos of camels, bears, bats, tigers, meerkats, tamarins, gibbons, siamangs, elephants, giraffes, and more. As always there is a photoset on Flickr, with some highlights are below. The bat photo has a neat shadow of the bat's claw, and a two-headed camel must be a rarity.

Oakland Zoo photoset

Oakland Zoo-01 Two-headed Camel Siamang Gibbon Tiger Camel Shadow of the claw Meerkat

Photos: Trunky the Elephant

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We spent a lot of time by the elephants because the art students were busy drawing them for one of their assignments. Trunky the Elephant was the most cooperative of the bunch. He wasn't as entertaining as Spitty the Giraffe, but he's goofy in his own way. Actually, there's two elephants pictured here, but all look same to me.

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Wedding photos processed

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I've finally posted some much-belated wedding photos for those of you on my Flickr friends list. Months old pqbon wedding photos have now been posted as a set. I decided to only post one photo from the Strange wedding, which I've called "Do the Tooch". It is a charming montage in which a father tries to impart the lessons of Boogie onto his child, only to discover that his child rocks to a different beat. Perhaps I should have posted the pqbon wedding photos earlier so that Tooch could have stolen his son's moves.

Squaw Hike photos

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Photos from the Squaw/Tahoe hike. Photoset with more photos available for Flickr friends and family.

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Battle of the Stars

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I posted a bunch of photos from Comic-Con last Saturday and the resulting Flickr data looks like a popularity contest. The Stargate cast was a bit disadvantaged in that I didn't bring my zoom lens to their panel, so the photos aren't as good, but I'm willing to overlook this lack of fairness and state that Battlestar Galactica easily beats Stargate SG-1 and that, for reasons still unclear, photos of women get more views then photos of men.

Battlestar Galactica-14 Battlestar Galactica-09 Battlestar Galactica-05 Battlestar Galactica-02 Bruce Campbell-2 Stargate-11
Katee Sackhoff/BSG cast
150 views
Grace Park (BSG)
102 views
Jamie Bamber (BSG)
59 views
James Callis (BSG)
52 views
Bruce Campbell
16 views
Stargate SG-1 Cast
7 views

Photos: 3 Takes on a Fountain

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Couldn't figure out which of these color-corrections I liked the best (though the first could use a bit more gloom), so here are all three:

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More Comic-Con Photos

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I've uploaded more of my photos from Comic-Con 2005 to my Flickr account. These are probably the last of the photos I'm going to upload from CC2005 unless you want to see some bad shots of Natalie Portman with a bald head.

Battlestar Galatica Cast Panel

Grace Park

Stargate Cast Panel

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Bruce Campbell

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More Comic-Con Costumes

Costumes

'interesting' photos

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It's even better than what they promised: Flickr: Explore interesting photos from the last 24 hours

You can even go back in time and view 'interesting' photos of the past: December 25, 2004

The fog of Muir Woods

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Muir Woods-01

My desktop still isn't at 100%, but most of my photo workflow is back online, which gives me a chance to post these photos from a Muir Woods hike we did over the 4th of July weekend. The parking lot was packed -- we ended up parking half a mile down the road, but once we got high enough up the trail is became fairly quiet once more, until we reached the Tourist Club with its beer garden and board games. The fog rolled in while we played Trivial Pursuit (rather difficult to answer questions from 1981), so I broke out my camera and snapped some shots.

Foggy Muir Woods photoset

India-mex wedding

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I attended my first Indian wedding in New Jersey last week, though it was more of an Indian wedding with Mexican influences. I missed the mariachi band playing during the reception as I had to head back west, but I did get to see my friend enter in on horseback while a van blasted dance music (this should be part of every wedding).

I'm planning on submitting one (and only one) of the photos I took at the wedding to the C.A.F.E. group on Flickr for constructive criticism. If you could help out by indicating which one of the photos below you think is best, I would appreciate it. There were various alterations I was experimenting with, including B&W conversion, dodge/burning, lomo-izing, etc...

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Portola Redwoods and Russian Ridge

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I kept driving up Page Mill Road yesterday. I was intending to go to Russian Ridge, but the road was so much fun that I kept on driving and driving until we came across Portola Redwoods Forest. The park is only 15-20 minutes outside of Palo Alto and costs $6 to get in. We were extremely slow due to our picture-taking addiction and inability to find the trailhead, but there are some good 7 mile and 11 mile loops you can do there. It was also eery to listen to how much the super-tall redwood trees creak in the wind -- it's like hearing a door open.

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On the way back we quickly stopped at Russian Ridge so I could get some shots of the foothills before they turn brown -- Palo Alto Foothills Park is already fully brown. The wildflowers were also in full force.

Russian Ridge-1 Russian Ridge-2 Russian Ridge-11 Portola Redwoods-03

Bunnies on Stairs

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Stormy tends to get more of the photo-love because of her Evil (Dead) Tendencies, but just to show you that the rest of the bunny troupe are all equally cute (even when they're not being evil cute):

Bunny stairs Bunny stairs

more bunnies in the extended

de Young

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Neil and I went to go see the under-construction de Young, which was designed by Pritzker-prize-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron. It's right in the heart of Golden Gate Park and sits on an odd juxtaposition of architectural styles (all three photos taken from the same spot):

photo photo photo

tea garden, de Young, Music Concourse

The surrounding area is being redesigned by Walter Hood and has a lot of potential to become an interesting public space with all the open space that the Music Concourse provides -- it may end up being a nice, relaxing place to spend your day in the park. (more about the museum and landscape design).

As for the de Young itself, I'm of mixed opinion. I like the fact that the color of the building tries its best to blend with the surrounding landscape, but it seems that Herzog and de Meuron designed the building with bright blue skies in mind, rather than the grey overcast that dominates that part of San Francisco. From the artist renderings it also appears that they intended for it to have more of a red-coppery presence at the start than it actually does -- I'm sure the sun would bring out a little more of the color, but the sketches were far more bright than the building could ever be. After 15 years, though, they do expect the building finish to be much duller. I posted some of my photos from the site on Flickr:

de Young-34

Pinnacles photos

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My Pinnacles photo album is up, as is horizonline's (we have very different photography styles).

Highlights: * The moon was showing its face during the afternoon, and I managed to capture a nice image of a plane contrail crossing the moon. The moon also makes appearance in several other photos (good size reference for how big the rocks are). * We also ran across a bunch of different lizards. You can decide whether you like vertical lizard or horizontal lizard better. * The small-but-adventuresome Balconies Cave makes a brief appearance in some of the photos * Things shaped like things: Bird-shaped rock 1, Bird-shaped rock 2, Wizard-shaped tree

Pinnacles-21 Pinnacles-25 Pinnacles-04 Pinnacles-22 Pinnacles-13 Pinnacles-44 Pinnacles-41 Pinnacles-40

Getty sun comparison

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The advantage of going to the Getty twice, as well as having a partner the second time around armed with another camera, is that you have plenty of photos with which to make comparisons. Our most recent trip was much later in the day that my first trip, and the sky was slightly more overcast, which meant that the dramatic shadows of my previous photos were missing. However, we were also there fairly close to sunset, so we got to watch as the building transitioned from bright white to orange hues. The reflections off of the curved structures were also much more intense, and in some cases were reminescent of Gehry buildings.

Getty Sun-01 Getty Sun-15

Getty Sun-03 Getty Sun-04

More photo comparisons are in the extended entry. You may want to check out horizonline's Getty photos -- I stuck with a telephoto lens while horizonline used the stock EF-S rebel lens (save time and weight). She ended up taking many of the photos I wish I could have taken (including some of the ones seen here), given that I often had to stand halfway across the plaza to even be able to get enough of what I wanted into a shot.

Photos: Getty Skyline

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I took far too many photos at the Getty. To reparaphrase a familar quote: "I have deleted more photos of the Getty than you have ever taken." To deal with this overwhelming glut of photos, I've have winnowed the photos down to two sets: 'skyline' photos and 'sun' photos. The 'skyline' photos are better described as photos taken with the camera pointing upwards, as I focused on the various corners and edges that Richard Meier used in his design. The 'sun' photos take advantage of the fact that I've been to the Getty twice at different times of day, so I have some comparisons of how the building captures and displays light.

The 'sun' photo series is still being put together, but here is a sampling of the 'skylines' series (~70 photos total). I would have whittled my photos down more, but this is also a test of my new Flickr Pro account and how easily Flickr handles large numbers of photos.

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Getty Skylines Photoset

Gehry's House

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Over the weekend we swung by Frank Gehry's house in Santa Monica. The location suprised me, as I expected someone like Gehry to live in an ultra-exclusive, gated community with huge walls and attack dogs keeping people away. Instead, his house is relatively modest on an open public street in Santa Monica.

His house isn't in his blobular, twisted metal style. Rather, it has more in common with his earlier works like Edgemar that emphasize simple rectilinear forms. The materials are also fairly modest, making use of both wood and corrugated steel, as well as copious amounts of plants to provide some sense of privacy. Although you can see a large portion of the house in this photo, the actual front of the house is well-protected by dense foliage. Driving down the street it is a home that you notice, but it does not overwhelm the neighborhood that it is in.

I felt rather bad when I noticed his dogs come out onto the patio, as architectural appreciation shifted into the realization that I was point a camera at someone's private home, and it's understandable that he's building a new house (so I hear). Even with his windows set relatively high, it must be disconcerting to regularly have cameras pointed at your home.

Gehry House Photo Album

Photos: People on the beach

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From my photo captioning entry, you might have inferred (correctly) that my metamanda/sunset/beach/maui photo is one of the more popular photos on this site. I decided to experiment more with the technique (i.e. overexposure) that I used in that photo while I was at the beach in Santa Monica. On a beach, at least, the end result is rather fun as it subtracts out most of the background (water and sand) and leaves just the people and more colorful items to be found on a beach. I also enjoy the technique because it anonymizes your photo subjects, which removes some of the voyeurism when shooting on a public beach -- or at least the feeling of voyeurism, which I find to be an impediment to taking photos.

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If you like this photo there's more to be found in my People on the Beach Photoset.

Talk: Tadao Ando

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Tadao Ando, Aomori Contemporary Art Centerd and I managed to sneak into an Ando talk at Berkeley, tiptoeing in through the sidedoor and sitting on the floor when the lights went out because all seats were gone over an hour before the talk started. I am thankful for the location of the Men's Room at Dwinelle Hall; I might not have noticed the unguarded entrance otherwise (easy to spot, given that ten-or-so people were already waiting there to sneak in).

photo: Ando's Aomori Contemporary Art Center. Photo by kwc

I really enjoy Tadao Ando's work. I'm not a fan of his most noted signature element -- concrete -- but I love the simplicity of his forms and the ways in which his buildings play with light. This talk gave a fuller survey of some of his works over the past decades, and also gave a lot of insight into his amusingly persistent mentality that guides his projects.

My notes are in the extended entry. There are a lot of large photos of his works that I've culled of the Internet to go with some of the talk notes, so the notes may load very slowly. It took a little longer than normal to put these notes together, but it was worth it, as I now have my own mini-Ando book to browse through and reflect upon.

Evil Dead Bunnies

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In a followup to my Evil Bunnies photo posting, I now present my dead-as-in-possum bunny photos, featuring histrionic Stormy. Rabbits don't appear to be capable of "slackness," so, when you turn them upside-down, their bodies have a rather rigor-mortis-like rigidity.

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Red-orange house

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These photos are part of the Los Altos Hills Photoset I just posted, but I'm posting them separately because they are of my favorite house in Los Altos (Hills). I had to bike up a steep hill on weak legs to take these, so they deserve their own entry. Sadly, I did not chose my time-of-day well, but I don't think I'm going to redo these anytime soon.

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Part of the reason I like this house is that it doesn't try to stick out. Most of the house is not visible from the road:

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More photos in the photoset.

Ridin'

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I'm slowly getting back into the riding-swing of things. In order to give me an excuse to stop and rest, I took along my Rebel and took some shots along the way.

Los Altos Bike Ride Photoset

Rest break Decapitated trees

Foothills Park

News photos

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I've been collecting some news photos from the past week, thought I'd post them here.

Houses made of snow:

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Little boom:

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Remembrance:

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Bunnicula

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honeyfields bunnies are evil! EVIL!

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more evil bunnies in the extended entry

Castro Halloween pics

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fireI posted some of my Castro Street Halloween pics to my Flickr. You can witness the massive crowds, ln m's Incredible teammates, and tranquility. However, I think the best costume prize has to go to Team America -- they had the whole squad, even Kim Jong Il.

I have to say, given all the stories involving stabbings and puke and other bodily functions associated with Castro Halloween, things were pretty tame, though really crowded. I hear that the city took over control, and if so I guess I'll never get to witness the true splendor :).

Robonexus

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Posted some photos from Robonexus onto my flickr page. Some samples are below, but there are more. Robonexus was interesting, though I think that for staring at cool robots doing stuff Roboolympics was a bit better, even if it was a bit smaller. Robonexus had better robots, but for the most part they were sitting there doing absolutely nothing (there were scheduled demos, but they were often packed). What Robonexus was good for was finding out where to buy robot parts and other toys from. I really want to get one of the RF-controlled flying saucers that Robot Store was showing off, but it's not listed on their site yet.

Centibots
SRI's own Centibots looking for the pink box.

view profile

Swarm
Swarm robots from iRobot

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Flying saucer
Definitely gonna get one of these. I wonder if it's possible to get a very light camera attached?

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AAAI Photos: Maze of Carnage

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I forgot who set this booth up. I assume it was an obstacle course for search and rescue robots, but as I gazed across the scene and witnessed the disembodied limbs sticking up in the air, waving back and forth, and the mannequins ripped in half in various trapped positions, I couldn't help but think that with a little more red paint they might have a good haunted house for Halloween.

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AAAI Photos: Personal Rover

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Although the conference floor was rather sparse with booths, there were two booths that caught my attention: NASA and a Maze of Carnage. The NASA booth had a small playpen with one of their personal rovers that I thought was pretty neat. Its head has a tilting camera that can be programmed to take panoramic photos. Granted, the resulting photo is stitched together horribly, but you forgive the robot for its cuteness.

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Beautiful photo essay

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A photo essay like this brings tears to my eyes, tears of laughter that is. Don't click on the link if images of wounded cars offends you:
- Pacific Beach, June 14, 2004

(via kottke)

Stata Center

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05-17-04.stata-1.jpg One of the highlights of my visit to Boston was visiting the nearly complete Stata Center at MIT. Ever since seeing photos of the Guggenheim in Bilbao, I have been a fan of Gehry's work, and this was my second opportunity to see one of his buildings in person (the first being the Disney Center). I've already expressed some opinions on the Stata Center prior to visiting it, so you can compare and contrast my pre- and post-impressions if you wish.

I've broken my impressions and photos of the Stata Center into five parts, partly to separate distinct parts of the building, and mostly because I took over 200 photos and need to make the image galleries consumable.

Exterior
Modifying the building
Interior
Roof