New Store Design

This is the most sophisticated design that the storefront has ever had in it’s ten years of existence.  It’s structure is finished; though there are still cosmetic bits to play around with.  I bought the wordpress theme from Graph Paper Press and then set about to modify it.  Most of the modifications are minor, but if you are going to jump into modifying the theme, it helps to have some wordpress programming and CSS knowledge.  It’s something that I couldn’t manage a year ago when I first looked at their themes.

It took me something like three weeks of fiddling before I found a theme and a way of displaying the images that I thought was spiffy and also not overbearing.  Everytime I walk by the fancy flower shop nearby I notice that the window display has changed.  Sometimes in minor ways, sometimes a completely new design.  And when I have the money, I sometimes go to Eli’s which is the most expensive food shop in this area, and sure enough, there’s Eli – one of the Zabars – who must be in his 70’s, walking through the store and moving things around.  It’s a never-ending process and I think it takes as much effort to keep the web design fresh, as it is to move physical stuff around in a window display or food store.

The basic idea is to catch the potential customers attention – and the attention span on the web is less than a millisecond.  Click.  View. Nothing catches your eye.  Click somewhere else.

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Film Crew 2.

The film crew returns on Thursday to shoot me “in action.”  I’m hoping to get them into the Metropolitan Museum since I’ve done so much shooting there and it will probably be unusual as far as the film goes to have indoor shooting.  But if not, I think we’ll go to the Central Park Zoo.  By the time the film is cut, I’m sure I won’t really get that much time in it – maybe a few minutes, but I look forward to seeing it.

Since it’s so rarely seen (literally), I’m thinking I’ll pull out the infrared flash and ir camera for the shoot.  It’s also something that’s worth (in my opinion) documenting and both locations are good for IR.

Cocktail Party

On behalf of Jumeirah Essex House Hotel and, we are very pleased to invite all of our Photo Contest winners and judges to our celebratory cocktail party at the Jumeirah Essex Hotel on xxx-xx-xxxx.

After hundreds of photo entries and over one hundred thousand votes we are proud to honor the amazing efforts by all of our members.  The resultant winners, as chosen by our members and a panel of expert judges provided by Jumeirah Essex House, exhibit a rare creativity and photographic aesthetic in expressing unique visions of Central Park.

The party will take place from 5:30 – 7:30pm in the South Gate Gallery at Jumeirah Essex House Hotel and will feature the winning photographs for the past four season’s contests.  If you (and your guest) are able to attend please RSVP …

—–  Ah.  That’s cool.  That’s a pretty small party, though I guess the prints will stay up for a while.  That would be 12 winners and their guests = 24 people plus the judges.  I wonder if they’ll serve pigs in a blanket.  I haven’t had those for years.  And I’ll have to figure out who my guest will be.  I heard that there’s a new escort service that just started up for aging photographers.

Catching Up Day

Lots of Pigeons
Lots of Pigeons

I don’t know about you – but I usually have one day a week where I seem to be able to catch up with everything – and for me it’s Tuesday.  I have no idea why this is, but just about every Tuesday I seem to be firing on all cylinders.  Today I managed to finish printing all the orders that were left, and even a couple that came in today.  I was able to find most of the negs. for J’s book (though there are still a couple missing).  God – I hated to do it but I had to spot two pretty dirty negatives and that alone took about an hour.  Every time I have to go back and work with a rescan of a negative I could kick myself – both in terms of finding the thing and then having to clean it up.  That’s one thing I don’t think I’ve ever had to do with a digital capture (dust-spotting).  In fact, with all the digital shots I’ve done, I can’t remember ever having dust on the sensor.

Then I got together 20 photos and sent them off to the editor who is working on what I’m calling the Matt film (she liked the Taxi Cab at night) shot the best.  And finally I did a 23 x 30 print from a 40D negative by running it through PhotoZoom Pro giving it a slightly grainy look to make up for what would otherwise have been some artifacts.

In other words – a busy productive day.  The pigeon shot (above) was one of those negs. I had to find for J.’s book.  I actually scanned it on the 4990 flatbed because I had put the SprintScan Neg. Scanner in the closet.  I can’t get as large a scan, but it was good enough for book printing purposes.

Tomorrow will be more packaging / shipping – and then I should be up-to-date and actually be able to go out and shoot.  I’ve been thinking about taking the boat that goes up to what used to be Shea Stadium from 23rd street.  It’s a double decker boat with an open top deck and the ride takes about two hours.  I’ve been waiting for the weather to get non-rainy – as most of the shots I had in mind were pointing up at the underside of the three bridges the boat goes underneath.  Well – I have to check the schedule for that and the weather.

When I get back from my little trip to N.H. I’ll start thinking more seriously about how to organize the workshop walkabout.  (Ever see that movie — Walkabout? very good).

I also got most of the new parts of the store working properly. The most viewed images is interesting because in some ways it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Which is to say that when an image is at the top of the list because it’s popular, it will also get more clicks because it is popular.

Another WordPress Widget – Similar Posts

Audience for this article: anyone who is interested in well-executed WordPress Plugins.

After a lot of experimenting with various WordPress photo gallery plugins, I came across a plugin called Similar Posts (there are actually several related plugins on this site) that really did the trick for me.  What I wanted was to do as little work as possible when adding an image to the store, and not to have to maintain two separate sets of images or do anything extra other than adding a new post.

In other words, I wanted a plugin that would simply pull back the thumbnails which are already attached to existing WordPress posts, and allow me to order them, and format them with css.  Period.

I didn’t want any fancy Ajax effects (though I could add them if I want) and I wanted to have the thumbs automatically added to my own theme as I add new image posts.  The popular photo galleries that I mentioned  are prone to breaking as new releases of WP or PHP are introduced which makes your gallery (in my case the store) unusable.  Whereas if  Similar Posts  were to break, the thumbs would break, but the images and structure of the site would still be usable.

If you look at the source code for one of the gallery pages, you won’t see any javascript includes, and the thumbs are just pure html.  (I should still put the alt tag on them for SEO purposes) but the point is that the html code can be pretty much however I want it with very little overhead.

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NextGen Photo Plugin

I’ve been experimenting with a plugin called NextGen for WordPress.  This is a powerful and well-thought out plugin for doing galleries and a lot more.  You can see the beginning of how I’m using it if you visit the sidebar of the store and look at the New Prints section.

What I was particularly interested in was whether I could create gallery pictures that would easily link to the appropriate posts.  Answer to that is yes.  And of course you get all the new-fangled fancy thinbox, fatbox, lightbox effects…. and there’s a download for a slideshow based on your gallery that I haven’t had a chance to play with yet.

If you’re interested, you can check it out here: WordPress Plugins.

I’ve really only touched the surface of it at this point; so no reviews or anything like that.  But my first impressions are that this will give me some of the functionality I’ve been looking for in the store section.

lesson 1

Gave my first one-on-one photography lesson today.  Began with E. around 9:30 and it went about four hours.  I lost sense of the time. Not surprising since I don’t wear a watch.  It was about 1/3 Lightroom in the beginning, 1/3rd shooting.   And then 1/3rd going over Lightroom techniques again with images we’d shot.

I think it went well, and that E. picked up a lot, both about Lightroom and how I use it, and maybe even more about how I’m set up to shoot, and how I shoot.  We both ended up with a few good pictures to boot.  I think the hardest thing to explain, is what makes a good picture, in terms of the editing process.  Also how you can take a so-so shot, and turn it into an interesting picture, sometimes.  He was surprised to see the raw versions of several recent shots he had seen in the blog.  They were underwhelming in raw unretouched form.

This is the sort of stuff that Ansel goes through pretty thoroughly in his book The Making of 40 photographs.

You can look at the prints that Ansel starts with, usually printed flat, and then see how various parts of the prints are accentuated and cropped.  But how to know what you want to do with a picture,  that’s the artistic part.  And that’s the part that I don’t know if it can be taught; or whether it is the result of years of working at the craft.

It’s one thing to teach technique, but coming up with why an image that’s worth working on, and what are the parts to bring out, that is tougher.  It may be even tougher now, since the tendency with digital is to overshoot.

But I do think that there is something to be learned by how my camera is set up, how I shoot, how I approach people (or don’t) doing the shooting, and then going back to study and review the images.

Here you’ll see many of the same subjects covered: the basketball game, the Sicilian Man… I have to admit, looking back on the images, the choice of subjects was usually mine. Which is to say, I would see something and say, let’s go over there. Which is I suppose the way it is in the beginning. It was an easy-going lesson, in the sense that Eric could see how I made contact with people: the Sicilian guy, the basketball player, and others. Whereas, sometimes I would shoot first and ask questions later. This is the street sense that you pick up after a while.

It’s not all dangerous stick the camera in someone’s face, at least not for me. And it was an easy way to get started. I don’t think my shooting style would have been the same had we been in Times Square.