Seeing and hearing a photographer’s self portraits of his family

I Am My Family: Photographic Memories and Fictions by Rafael Goldchain

I Am My Family: Photographic Memories and Fictions by Rafael Goldchain

It’s funny how timing works sometimes. Yesterday morning I picked up a couple envelopes from Princeton Architectural Press of books for review purposes. While it’s going to be a couple weeks before I can write a DesignNotes review on Artificial Light: A Narrative Inquiry into the Nature of Abstraction, Immediacy, and other Architectural Fictions by Keith Mitnick and I Am My Family: Photographic Memories and Fictions by Rafael Goldchain I thought I would mention a podcast w/ Rafael. I frequently listen to to the daily CBC podcast Q w/ Jian Ghomeshi and while walking to work I listened to Monday’s edition. Keep in mind that I see and hear a ton of things everyday so it’s actually hard for me to keep track of all that stuff. While listening to the conversation going on w/ the podcast, the books I mentioned above were the last thing I was thinking about. The last interview of the show was w/ a photographer that was doing something kind of interesting. He was photographing himself as different family members from his past. It was an interesting process that he was going through. As he kept talking I was like hmmm, this is starting to sound familiar – I just got a book w/ a guy that was doing something pretty similar. Of course it was the same photographer, but for a couple minutes I was wondering if there’s more than one person looking back at their family in the same way. The entire podcast is worth listening to, but if you’re just interested in hearing the interview w/ the photographer Rafael Goldchain click on this link http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?i=37451804&id=256943801 and fast forward to 34:29.

Days with his Father Narrative

Phillip Toledano - Days with My Father1

Phillip Toledano - Days with My Father2

Via im yesterday Jody passed me on the above site from Phillip Toledano – Days with My Father. My first reaction to her was pretty cool nav – simply click below, above or to the left to advance the images. She replied read the story! If you happen to visit the site that would be my advice too. The option of seeing all the images through one nav, and being able to click sequentially once you decide on your entry point make sense to how Phillip documented his father and his struggles of growing old amid memory loss. It is quite a story that will make you appreciate the time that you are living at the moment.

Designed and programmed by www.fashionbuddha.com, if I had one slight nit pick from my side – it was the typography. I’m not a big fan of Futura Avant Garde which is what I think they used for the story. I don’t usually spend that much time reading from sites that are all flash – which I did this time, so the argument could be made that the typography did its job. To really have pushed it, it wold have been interesting to see the whole thing written by Phillip’s hand, maybe an option to hear his voice too. Down another path I just wish the type had been slightly bigger, a bit looser w/ the leading and some other typeface that doesn’t have such a ridiculous letter “a”.

With that said it’s still a really great site that makes you forget the technology behind it – and captures a moment that was worth sharing. www.dayswithmyfather.com/#/

Scrolling Through Photos

PicLens

A couple days ago Luna who is interning at Cooliris emailed me about a free browser add on to view images. It’s called PicLens and it’s pretty cool. After a really simple install I can go view a ton of images quite quickly from flickr. PicLens basically overides the idea of pagination. All I do is scroll from side to side to view more images. In can be from any flickr stream – my own images, sets, contacts or searches. It can do the same scroll for google images, amazon and other compatible sites. As great as it is, it’s not perfect. I’m not a huge fan of it taking over the whole screen – I would rather have it be embedded in a browser. By going full screen it doesn’t allow me to do anything else w/ my laptop. I also can’t close it w/ a simple command-w, I have to move my cursor all the way to the top right and press on the small x. Those aren’t significant issues but they make it less than a perfect app for me.

I do think this is one app that I will keep using to view images, whether it’s for checking out a lot of images from friends quite quickly or doing a visual browse on my own stuff. If you’re curious you can check out their site at www.piclens.com

Link Drop for the Week Ending in Friday the 18th (July 2008)

SR-1154+TH+2008+Maker+Map-4

By the end of the week I’m always curious to see how my Link Drop is going to shape up w/ telling me what I found interesting. This week there was a combo of culture between photography, radio, music, architecture, advertising and some stuff that would fall into the category of misc. A lot of it was forward thinking – like what’s next. It’s kind of obvious that there’s a shake up going on and those that have a pov are trying to shape the next stage.

– Michael Surtees

SR-1154+TH+2008+Maker+Map-4Future of Making Map [The Institute For The Future]
EXCERPT: “Two future forces, one mostly social, one mostly technological, are intersecting to transform how goods, services, and experiences—the “stuff” of our world—will be designed, manufactured, and distributed over the next decade. An emerging do-it-yourself culture of “makers” is boldly voiding warranties to tweak, hack, and customize the products they buy. And what they can’t purchase, they build from scratch. Meanwhile, flexible manufacturing technologies on the horizon will change fabrication from massive and centralized to lightweight and ad hoc. These trends sit atop a platform of grassroots economics—new market structures developing online that embody a shift from stores and sales to communities and connections.”

The Coalition for Daring Behaviour_1216343298864The Coalition for Daring Behaviour
EXCERPT: “Launched in January 2008, The Coalition for Daring Behaviour is an on-line artist project that strives to facilitate a global exchange of dares, double dares, and possibly triple dog dares. An ever-expanding network of international artists/daredevils, the CFBD promotes creative collaborations of a spontaneous, non-traditional and, most importantly, daring nature.”

Picture 2Prototype Packaging using Photoshop Smart Objects [creativetechs]
EXCERPT: “Are you working on a product packaging job? Here’s a way to combine digital product photography with Adobe Photoshop Smart Objects in CS2 or CS3 to create quick virtual prototypes. The process is fairly easy once you understand the technique, and can be used for some pretty remarkable results.”

On the death of BPP | Gravity Medium_1216343338131On the death of BPP [gravity medium]
EXCERPT: “Well, the Bryant Park Project has less than a month left. Literally. Was it too beautiful to live, perhaps? Hardly. I mean, can anyone really feign shock that well? Let’s recount the strikes against this endeavor:”

The Facebooker Who Friended Obama - NYTimes.com_1216343352764The Facebooker Who Friended Obama [NYT]
EXCERPT: “Last November, Mark Penn, then the chief strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton, derisively said Barack Obama’s supporters “look like Facebook.” Chris Hughes takes that as a compliment. Mr. Hughes, 24, was one of four founders of Facebook. In early 2007, he left the company to work in Chicago on Senator Obama’s new-media campaign.”

Design Observer_1216343365301I Was A Mad Man Design Observer
EXCERPT: “In the winter of 1976, while still a student, I worked lunches at a Greek restaurant on Madison Avenue in New York City. Three or four days a week, a well-dressed gentleman in his 50s would come to lunch — strangely alone — and sit at the bar and order a martini. (And ultimately two more, but never three.) He managed to read the Wall Street Journal and eat a little lunch. I was his waiter and his bartender.”

 Secrets of book publishing I wish I had known_1216343375722Secrets of book publishing I wish I had known [Good Experience]
EXCERPT: “Following up on these overviews of the book industry, I thought I’d share some lessons I learned from publishing Bit Literacy. I originally tried to go through mainstream publishers but eventually self-published it, because of what I learned in the process. I wish I had known everything below before I wrote my book.”

Orbicule | Undercover_1216343382368Undercover
EXCERPT: “Because laptops are increasingly popular, and desktops are becoming smaller and more portable, computer theft has reached huge proportions worldwide: there were about 600,000 laptops stolen in the USA in the year 2004. According to a recent FBI report, 97% of all stolen computers are never recovered. Many people we know have had their Macs stolen, often in ‘safe’ situations. That’s why we developed Undercover: a unique theft-recovery application designed from the ground up for Mac OS X.”

design mind | business. technology. design._1216343400362design mind | business. technology. design.

 News, Coverage, and Commentary_1216343408466NPR cancel Bryant Park Project – Can a hybrid work? [fast forward blog]
EXCERPT: “It was announced this weekend that NPR will have to cancel their new News program The Bryant Park Project for cost reasons. The NYT story is here. The BPP site with comments on the closing of the show is here. You can see that I was not the only fan nor am I the only one who is upset!”

 Soldering, Guerilla Knitting, & Bomb Shelters - O'Reilly Radar_1216343415111Ignite NYC: Soldering, Guerilla Knitting, & Bomb Shelters [radar oreilly]
EXCERPT: “The first Ignite NYC is going to happen 7/29 at M1-5. We are going to feature 16 speakers. Each speaker will get 20 slides that auto-advance after 15 seconds for a total of five-minutes. Ignite is free and open to the public — you’re on your own for drinks. We’re also going to be joined by Ignite co-creator, Bre Pettis. Bre is going to lead us in a creative soldering contest. RSVP at Upcoming or Facebook to let us know you are coming.”

Barbarian Group Adds Strategist_1216343424741Barbarian Group Adds Strategist [adweek]
EXCERPT: “The Barbarian Group is beefing up its strategic offering by adding Noah Brier from Naked Communications.”

 Coffee shop chalkboard signs_1216343430820Coffee shop chalkboard signs [cellar door]
EXCERPT: “In the past several months, I have been taking photos of chalkboard signs outside of coffee shops. Very specifically: Sweet Farm and El Beit in Williamsburg. These two shops started out being next to each other, and I wasn’t sure how each one would do, competition-wise.”

_1216343441108redesign:related
EXCERPT: “A visual listing of redesigns, design refreshes/updates, and overhauls.”

Sandra’s Sources | Leffot - The Moment Blog - NYTimes.com_1216343447626Sandra’s Sources | Leffot [NYT]
EXCERPT: “Steven Taffel, a self-proclaimed shoe hound, was tired of having to hoof it all the way uptown for quality footwear, so he decided to open the ultimate boot-ique in the heart of the West Village. The tightly curated selection includes labels like Edward Green, Pierre Corthay, Artioli, Aubercy and Gaziano & Girling, a young English cobbler.”

 Three Glimpses of Photography's Future_1216343452814Three Glimpses of Photography’s Future [pop photo]
EXCERPT: “By now I’m guessing that most people who read blogs (or email) have read Vincent Laforet’s insightful, tough-love opus at Sports Shooter about the state of photography today (and tomorrow), The Cloud is Falling. It’s a long piece, so there’s a chance you might not have gotten to this late paragraph:”

Shake it Like a Metaphorical Picture | Jason Santa Maria_1216343461251Shake it Like a Metaphorical Picture [Jason Santa Maria]
EXCERPT: “Sometime next year, Polaroid will stop producing instant film. There have been lots of people jumping in to help save the format, and others writing some striking eulogies, as the rest of us start mourning the oncoming loss. But one thing I can’t quite shake is what Polaroid represents to me, something that will likely be on its way out the door too: the visual metaphor of a photograph.”

 prince of the gift economy_1216375597296Lil Wayne: prince of the gift economy [This Blog Sits at the: Culture By]
EXCERPT: “Since his last LP, Lil Wayne has been working the gift economy. In the words of Jonah Weiner, [T]he New Orleans MC struck upon a music-distribution model so radical it made Radiohead look like Thomas Edison shipping wax cylinders by Pony Express. Step 1: Rap about whatever pops into your head, over any beat you please–copyright laws be damned. Step 2: Flood the Internet with material, compiled on mix tapes or leaked a la carte. Step 3: Say yes to anyone who invites you to guest star on a track (anyone: meaning Enrique Iglesias and Gym Class Heroes). Step 4: Repeat at an inhuman clip, not merely keeping pace with the relentless blog cycle–in which MP3s ping from studios to iPods to trash cans in a matter of days, but leaving the blog cycle face down on the racetrack, turf in its teeth, gasping for air.”

 NYC Window Display Series continues..._1216375058930NYC Window Display Series continues… [Copyranter]
EXCERPT” “Last time, years ago, I went inside The Apartment at 101 Crosby St., they were an offbeat furniture store. But now, apparently, they offer “fully integrated branding, marketing, architecture, and interior design services.” Here, in their ever-changing window display, they present six people (employees?) artfully faking taking a dump.”

My Field-Tested Poster by Spike Press

Field-Tested Poster by Spike Press

Field-Tested Poster by Spike Press

Field-Tested Poster by Spike Press

Field-Tested Poster by Spike Press

A couple nights ago I came home to a package I’ve been waiting for. It was my Field-Tested Poster by Spike Press that was designed for Coudal Partners 2008 Field-Tested Books. They sent me one as contributer to the guide. Honestly the images on the Coudal site don’t do the poster justice. The poster in person has so many dimensions to it. Tons of depth, thickness and colour. IMHO screen printing should be classified as an art. There’s simply no comparison of something digitally output compared to something printed by hand. My photos don’t do the poster justice either, but I’ve taken a number of them and posted them to flickr.The photos above show what I mean about hand details. 1. The texture created by overlaying the ink on top of each other, 2. the awesome knockouts of colour and blocks, 3. the blotches of ink on the back side, 4. and the full poster unframed…

You can check out more posters by Spike Press at www.spikepress.com

One More City Colour Study

061808 6:40 am Minneapolis

I’ve been dreading this day for a while, almost as much for the day when I’ll realize that the next day I forgot to look up and take a picture of the New York sky. Today I woke up and it wasn’t in New York. Not such a big deal except for the fact that I’ve been taking a picture from my apartment for over 150 days. I knew the day would come sooner or later when I wouldn’t be there to shoot from my home. This morning was the day. I’ve decided to do two things – one, I’ll keep looking up where ever I wake up, and secondly I’ll have someone keep up the tradition in my apartment. I’ll have the new New York pics up in a couple days, but until then I’ll introduce the World City Colour Study at www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsurtees/sets/72157605682759055/ Minneapolis gets the honour of being my first.

Speaking of sky images, I was talking with Moria McLaughlin of Dog Art Today (great site btw) who suggested a great addition to the website that I want to start with images from around the world contributed by others. It’s going to take a while to get off the ground – but stay tuned.

Things coming down

people

A couple of days ago Eating Sandwiches mentioned a fun and messy photo series called Dumped from the photographer www.megwachterphoto.com. It’s well worth checking out. I thought the photo series was kind of interesting so I decided to mention it on twitter. Mark Larson came back to me with a pretty cool video series that is similar though it has a twist. I’m not going to mention what exactly happens in the video b/c it’s quite a jolt to see the first time. Usually I prefer photos to videos but after seeing the video I kind of wish the first photo series had a complimentary video.

One Pic Every 100 Steps on the Island

One Pic Every 100 steps (Hudson River to East River via 34th Street-42nd Street)

L1040074.png

one pic every 100 steps map

It’s been a long time since I’ve had more than a couple days off so I was really excited to take advantage of the great NYC weather this weekend. For a while now I been inspired by a photo idea that my friend Jody tried a couple months ago. After having some free time b/c her car broke down she decided to explore the area taking a photo every 60 steps. You can see her results at http://tinyurl.com/66h57f. Using that idea as a launching point, I wondered how I could capture a bit of the island I live on in an unexpected way. Thinking back to my New York City Colour Study and the constraints that I put on that, I thought it might be interesting to do the opposite of looking up. The sidewalks in Manhattan are incredibly unique every couple of feet. The wear and tear that goes on creates a fascinating pattern in the concrete. If I were to only take images of the ground I was curious to see the flowing patterns afterwards when all the images were put together.

Once I had the idea of just shooting the ground I had to figure out where I would go, and what the exact number of steps it would be. Another concept I’ve been thinking about are peoples travel roots. Whether it’s someone walking their dog or how someone gets to work these patterns when documented create interesting paths. As for a land mass I wanted to document a route that would be kind of interesting to see from above. What better plot then to go from one side of Manhattan to the other – west to east, Hudson River to the East River. I also choose a couple pretty well know streets, I wanted to see from a ground level some of the intertwining politics of the city. What buildings made it on to 34th street – where did 42nd st lead to? So on a sunny Sunday morning I found out. All that was left to decide was the number of steps. I didn’t want to do sixty b/c it had already been done, and on the map the distance looked a bit too long for a shot every sixty steps. I ended up on an easy number of 100, fifty steps per foot. Seemed to make sense.

I’ve read how people get caught up in the anonymity of walking on the sidewalks here, basically there’s so many people that you just get sucked into the mass. That wasn’t necessarily the case when I started walking and stop, shoot and move on. There were a lot of people wondering what the hell I was doing. Over the journey there were girls that followed me, tourists shaking their head, police officers keeping a close eye and of course others that looked right through me. After a while I was able to ignore some of the distractions but it wasn’t something that I was expecting. I also had to learn how to walk in a manner where I would get behind some slow people. Otherwise I would be going in front/behind them for a couple blocks as I would take a picture move a head and then stop again through an endless cycle.

The sidewalk never failed to give me something unique to capture. It wasn’t the cleanest canvas but with some cropping and choice compositions it wasn’t hard to find a great mark in concrete. If there was one minor surprise, it was that I didn’t end up shooting too many images of the street. Once I got back in front of my computer I measured the distance which ended up being five miles. It seemed like a quick five miles to be honest. The other interesting stat worth noting was I ended up taking 102 images. That’s interesting when I consider I took an image every 100 steps over a five mile distance. As I mentioned before I was curious to see how all the images would look together as I stitched them above. To me it looks like an abstract image of the ground that you would see from inside an airplane. Looking at the images via a monitor I don’t think is the best way to experience this set. If I were to blow up the scale to three or four times the size of a billboard the effect would be quite intense. You can see the entire set of images at http://tinyurl.com/5uzcad Walking home I was really happy not to need to count to a hundred in my head. I liked the results and I may try it again with a different routes. As a general discovery of different narratives via constrained rules I’m enjoy the discovery so far.

New York City Colour Study – Time when photo was taken graph

New York City Colour Study – Time when photo was taken graph

As I continue to shoot my New York City Colour Study outside my window I try to think of ways that I can compare the days. This graph relates to what time I took the photo and the actual image itself. I’m continuing on the weekly view as some days show a pattern as to the time that I take a photo – i.e. the weekends tend to be later than the other week days. The above image is pretty small – the large (1024 x 202) view is much better and the original (4436 x 873) view is bigger yet.

As this experiment grows and evolves I thought I would mention a comment/idea that while I’ve never explicitly talked about do find quite worth while in how I’d like to see many cities and countries participate in the Same Skies, Different Places project. The comment came from Magicelle and they wrote a comment in my post “Har koja keh beravi aseman haman rang ast” which is farsi for “anywhere you go the sky is the same color”. There’s a lot of things that can be expanded from that philosophy…

Same Sky, Different Places

New York City Colour Study now Same Sky, Different Places

After a couple months of taking pictures out my window of the the sky in New York and encouragement from friends about how to extend my New York City Colour Study I thought it might be interesting to open it up. I’ve started a flickr group called Same Sky, Different Places at www.flickr.com/groups/sameskydifferentplaces/ where anyone can place a photo of the sky where they are. There aren’t many rules except that the image shouldn’t have any buildings or other objects in view, and that you should only place one image per day. In the description field it should mention the day, time, city and country. Aside from that you just need to be a member of flickr. At some point I want to take those images and turn it into a separate site, but for now I thought it would be good just to get some images into a group without a lot of effort from anyone involved. If you happen to have any suggestions on how to make this idea better, please let me know.

Art as ritual, ten15am for forty two days

10:15 am after 42 days

sleeping at 10:15 am this morning

Each day for forty one days I’ve been taking one photo at exactly 10:15 am. It would have been forty two days straight if not for a sleeping incident that I will briefly mention later on. There’s both differences and similarities between ten15am and my New York City Colour Study. One project isn’t collaborative while the other is, one can be taken at anytime in the morning while the other has a precise time, one has a particular subject and the other is open ended as I want it to be. Though with all those things listed the one thing that they share more then anything else is that I look forward to doing those shoots everyday.

I was mentioning the simple concept of ten15am to a colleague a couple days ago. At the end of me talking about some of the things I’ve shot he said something that I never really considered. He likened it as a ritual via the process of art. What I really liked about that idea is that it takes a lot of pressure from getting that one perfect shot. It becomes an insight of what’s happening at exactly one point in the day. When my friend Jody mentioned the idea before it had begun I wasn’t so sure about it. What about those people that work? Are they going to shoot the same desk everyday? Well most of those days I am at work and I haven’t really shot the exact same thing yet. I’ll do plays on things that mean something to me. Most days I’m not scouting out locations though every once in a while that comes into play. I use two different cameras – on the weekdays when I have a computer near by I use my Leica D-Lux 3 while usually on the weekends I’m out and about so I’ll use my iPhone camera.

I also find it incredibly interesting to see what everyone else is seeing in their world at 10:15 – even though I only know a couple people. Whether the person is a professional photographer or not is really not that relevant. Those moments capture an intimate point in their day. As something I look forward to doing everyday it allows me to play without any consequence and in return I get something cool to look at. I haven’t considered when I’ll stop doing it though last Sunday when I slept in for the first time I was quite pissed at myself. I had been up at 6.30 that morning to take out the dog and when I got back I fell asleep without an alarm near by. So even though I didn’t submit anything that day I did create an image for myself to remind me of that day (see above black image). Nothing lasts forever as is so I’ll be curious to see how this ritual grows. Check out the series for yourself at www.ten15am.com

Why I don’t always tag in Flickr and other miscellaneous things

Tags

I’ve been thinking about portfolios a lot these days and how I really need to update my one page home screen of www.michaelsurtees.com. Perhaps my portfolio page on my blog isn’t cutting it at the moment (yes, I do need to update it too). While I’m not a photographer, a friend of mine passed on a blog of a photo editor in which he talks about how he wouldn’t take a photographer seriously if their portfolio was just a flickr site. If I place that into the context of a designers site maybe things on my end need to change too.

Speaking of flickr and how much I enjoy putting photos up there; I read an interesting post from Organic about how wonderful it is to search via tags for large photos w/out watermarks for comp purposes. In the post Comp Fight there’s an app for going through images faster “basically everything you love about Flickr for making comps only faster, easier and an even more stripped down interface and no-nonsense functionality”. Honestly that freaks me out a bit for a number of reasons. However I’ve started to do something so people aren’t finding my stuff as easily. For common words that people might be searching for, those are tags that aren’t going up beside a photo. For those photos I want people to find I tag the hell out of them. It’s not a lot of control but at least it makes it a more human search as opposed to letting the bots win.

Manhattan fog this morning

Manhattan fog this morning

I woke up this morning to a thick blanket of fog for my daily New York City Colour photo. Most days the sky is quite active in the morning but today it was especially so. Between the the opacity and sunlight it made for a lot of interesting images. So every once in a while I would go back and shoot. There wasn’t any specific time intervals but I did end up making a chart afterwards to see all the times that I looked outside again. So above is those images from blue fog to blue sky.

New York City Colour Updates

36 Days – Uncropped View of New York City Colour Study: Photos are from between 20 Feb 2008 & 28 Mar 2008.

72 Days – New York City Colour Study: Photos are from between 15 Jan 2008 & 28 Mar 2008.

I made a couple milestones this morning visually w/ my New York City Colour Study. It’s now been 36 days collecting the uncropped view and 72 days w/ the simplified view. While the number of days isn’t significant they do make a nice number to show as a pattern. At the point there’s a decent routine though as the sun rises earlier the photos have started to follow that. I’ve also been working out in the morning again so the photos tend to come after I get back. Once the sun is up by five am you’ll notice a spike around that time. I’m really enjoying how each day collected together is making a pattern that I would never had seen otherwise. I’ve always been drawn to the simplified version which is what I originally started but the uncropped view is definitely capturing my attention as well. Between now and my last post about this project I haven’t come up w/ any new graphic devices to show information which is ok. In part I blame the photo project ten15am for taking up my attention, but also b/c I haven’t seen any other informative ways to present it. Ok, that’s not entirely true – I am planning a site for the project but that’s a couple months down the road…

Graphic Me

all me

After being reminded of NYT’s article Putting Your Best Cyberface Forward, reading Ad Age’s My Own Personal Branding Problem and realizing that I haven’t changed my digital avatar in a long, long time I thought it might be an appropriate time. It was also mentioned to me that I have my image everywhere which I had never really considered in terms of different social networks out there. Last night a fluke event happened where a co-worker was playing w/ my camera so I got out of character and asked him to shoot – it was going to be all or nothing. I wasn’t going to ask him to take five, ten or twenty shots to find the “one”. In the end it was ok enough to start as a replacement avatar. After opening a lot of different applications it became slightly daunting when I looked at all the different sizes and formats. Interested for comparisons sake I started collecting all the sizes this morning. I’m not sure what the above image is supposed to suggest, but from a branding perspective it takes more time then I thought to rebrand just one image.

New York City Colour Study Before the Crop

View before 4:3 aspect ratio crop

022108 7:07 am

I was pleasantly surprised with the feedback that I received with my last post about 36 days of New York Sky here on DesignNotes, Flickr, email and other people who reblogged the image. It was great timing but purely coincidental as I didn’t think much about posting it. After 36 days I had a fairly interesting geometric square of sky inside my flickr set. I’ll probably revisit the image on day 72 to see how things have progressed. But with that said I thought it might be interesting to pull back the crop and show what the original image is and what the photo looks like afterwards. I typically try to get a focus on the building to the left and then center the camera between that building and the New York Times Building (which ironically doesn’t look finished from the top). From there I just capture the sky how it is.

36 days of New York Sky: January 16th 2008 – February 20th 2008

36 days of New York Sky: January 16th 2008 - February 20th 2008

For thirty six days now I’ve been taking an image of the sky from my apartment in Manhattan. It wasn’t until I started noticing that most mornings have a really unique colour to the sky that I thought there might be something to comparing the colour day to day. There isn’t any specific time for me to point my camera in the same direction though for the most part I’ve been taking the photograph somewhere between 7 and 9 am. As the sun starts rising earlier my time will probably adjust accordingly.

It’s a fairly uncomplicated process with the photos. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy doesn’t really matter because each day is unique. I always make sure that the crop of the sky is in a 4:3 aspect ratio with my Leica D-Lux 3. One of the cool yet unexpected things that happens when I upload the photos to flickr and place them in their set is that they create a square which is what the image above is. I always mark the date and time on the photo as extra information that I might want to use at a latter date.

I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon with this New York Sky Colour Study but over periods of time like this I might do some visual experiments with it. Between the colours and data there’s some really fascinating things I can do both online and with print. Stay tuned and here’s a link to all the images so far www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsurtees/sets/72157603736976953/

All my related posts for this can be found at http://designnotes.info/?cat=68

The Many Moods of John McCain

The Many Moods of John McCain - Daylife

Over the next couple of weeks there’s going to be some pretty cool (imho) changes going on at Daylife’s website at www.daylife.com At this point that’s about all I can say in regards to the site… Yes I’m shamelessly promoting the startup that I’m the Design Director of, but there really is a point to this post. The editor of Daylife put together the above moods of John McCain. My first thought after seeing all the photos was that he has a lot of facial expressions for an older person half jokingly. But what makes the photos are the capture that the editor puts to to images. Between expressions like ingratiating, befuddled, demure, ecumenical, robot-y and many more, how can you not think that the editor might be on to something. If you’re at all curious to see those photos in a larger size visit www.daylife.com/page/gallery-mccain

Of course I’m from Canada living in New York so I’ll be watching the election from the sidelines. That means I’m as neutral as it comes but since this post was political in nature I thought I’d also mention that I was really happy to get the hope poster in the mail today…

How it was done – describing creative process

thomas herbrich

thomas herbrich

Hopefully I’m not dating myself too much with me saying that I remember when Step Magazine was Step by Step and that when I was still in school I found it as an invaluable resource. A lot of the articles were process driven. A design was shown through all the stages to get to the final piece. It was a great to learn from “famous” designers. I don’t think Step magazine does that anymore – I haven’t picked up that mag or any other design mag for a while so I could be mistaken when I suggest that they don’t present that kind of quality anymore. Maybe they do – probably they don’t. But this post wasn’t meant to be a nostalgic look at the yesteryear of design magazine editorial.

I came across a nice photographer’s site that reminded me of the Step by Step magazine methodology. Each photo that Thomas Herbrich has in his portfolio has a simple text button with the caption “how it was done”. It doesn’t go into great detail, but what it does do is give a sense of how his images came together. A lot of design portfolios have practical information and if they’re really with it a description of how the design made the business better, but almost never mentioning how the design came to be. With a couple simple lines of text you really get a sense of how Thomas approaches photography. Visit his site at www.herbrich.com If there was anything I would switch on his site, it would be to get rid of the flash because the pages can’t be forwarded on with a link – only the home page…

A quick rant about design blogs and one good photo blog link

Bag News Notes

I think this post is going to start off as a bit of a rant towards design blogs in general. I’m tired of seeing blog posts with the same “stuff” that a million other design blogs have already covered, I’m tired of going to some blogs that seem to be happy to promote one or two studios every time they sneeze, I’m tired of people publishing interviews with the same “personalities” over and over again. If people want to promote their friends (I do it myself) treat it that way and don’t pretend to be speaking for the entire design community. Sadly I can not think of one single design blog that has a critical eye that I’m not somewhat skeptical about with their intentions when writing. If you know of a blog that isn’t like that please send it my way.

The reason why I wanted to mention that was A. I’ve been thinking about that for a long time, and B. b/c it seems like the only place where I’m actually learning anything new in terms of thought is from photo blogs. Perhaps b/c I’m not really in that industry I don’t see the political BS that I can smell a mile away from other design blogs. One such photo blog that I came across recently is BAGnewsNotes at www.bagnewsnotes.com After reading a couple posts you’ll look at photographs differently – I know I did. When was the last time you could say that about a design blog?

Here’s more info on BAGnewsNotes: “a progressive blog dedicated to the political, psychological and media analysis of news images, and the support of “concerned” photojournalism.”

Leica & iPhone Aspect Ratio’s

One of the unexpected benefits of getting a Leica D Lux 3 was the aspect ratio feature. One the lens I can go with a 4:3, 3:2 or the long and sleek 16:9 to crop. Before that I would crop with reckless abandonment. Now I try to rarely crop unless I absolutely have to with my little Leica. Then I got an iPhone and was impressed with the decent quality of image. It might be a while before you see an iPhone taken image for a cover of a magazine, but it does lend itself to it’s own unique aesthetic. Since I had aspect ratio’s on my mind I thought it might be interesting to see the iPhone ratio in comparison to the Leica ratio’s. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see that the iPhone uses a 4:3 ratio. I was hoping to find that they had created their own unique ratio. It would have been subtle, but if they had chosen something slightly different they could have created their own branded framed image.

My original four images can be seen at flickr.

Back in the day when black & white just wasn’t a conversion

Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair

Sure, it would seem that digital pictures are an easy and fast way of creating images. But when you shoot a couple hundred photos and do some slight tweaks to the ones you like the time adds up. But I was reminded of how tedious the process of developing black and white photography can be with the step by step guide at Fecal Face. How To Process B+W Film goes through a photographic guide of what it takes to do it. Yes I did the same thing in high school and design school, but you tend to forget what is out of sight is out of mind. Now I’m just happy to use a psd action like this to do the same thing digitally : )

Commodity Fetishism: Leica

leica

I think there’s very few products or brands that could be written with the virtuosity that Leica got from the New Yorker titled Candid Camera – The cult of Leica. I can attest to a lot of the blind passion for Leica as I’m looking to get one pretty soon. Probably not the M8 (though it’s very tempting), but a Leica D-LUX-3 in the not so distant future. The overall article is quite enjoyable to read if you’re a photo enthusiast. Everything I shoot is digital these days, but I was maybe a little surprised to hear that not everyone that is doing it for a living is pure digital. My wife and I were recently having dinner with a former co-worker and her husband who’s an amazing photographer. When I asked him what he shoots, most of it is on film still – if you check out his portfolio at www.justinsteele.com you’ll see what digital is really hard at capturing. I don’t think I’ll be reverting back anytime soon myself, but to see what is still capable with film would suggest that the art isn’t going to die off so soon.

A couple art sightings to check out in Chelsea

Image by Andy Freeberg

I spent some time walking around Chelsea Saturday afternoon checking out a couple art exhibits. I only made it through a couple blocks (29th Street – 26th Street) before I had to call it a day. While not even going through probably half the openings I didn’t really come across a ton of art that was memorable. There was one exhibit that I did find sort of amusing in a self referential way. Andy Freeberg had a series titled Sentry. He’s taken photos of a number of gallery spaces where people work. Between the tops of people’s heads to the flowers on the tops of desks, seeing a series of these types of images shows the similarities and differences of a space most people ignore. You can view them yourself at Danziger Projects 521 West 26th Street (NY).

Daniel Rozin Opening

Daniel Rozin Opening

That night I went to the opening from Daniel Rozin’s Fabrication at bitforms. Combining a mirror like technology with metal and wood there’s a lot to admire – the experience of seeing yourself reflected in a non traditional material, looking behind to see all the wires connecting to circuit boards and listening to the gears make movement is quite compelling. Bitforms in NY is located at 529 west 20th street.

Spine Language

Photos by Mickey Smith

I came across a fascinating series of photographs from the artist Mickey Smith via the blog userslib. She has photographed bound periodicals and professional journals from public libraries. Plain covers and spines of these type of books are typically void of any expression yet when singled out by her, the colour and type become quite expressive. Will these forms of bound periodicals be around five or ten years from now? As with information being digitized and space becoming a premium, it would be hard to imagine these bound periodicals lasting as is. You can read more about her project VOLUME at www.mickeysmithart.com/volume.htm

Information Designed Photography

hurdles finish

Information design and photography are two things that pique my interest. If I can see both together even better. It’s a great challenge to make information understandable and the more examples I can find helps me learn. I found the above image above form the post titled Photo Finishes: Information Rich. There’s no photoshop tricks with the runners though there’s something slightly unique about the time lapsed photo finish above. It’s a sterile image yet is packed with raw emotion that I find fitting.

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