Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Why all this mucking about with irrevocable licenses?

The Google+ Terms of Service include various provisions to give them license to display your content, and this has freaked out a bunch of professional photographers:

‘By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any Content which you submit, post or display on or through, the Services.’

I don’t even understand why this is necessary. Why can’t this just be ‘you give us a license to display your content on the service until you delete it’?


Cool photo roundup


Museum of Natural History:

400+ forms used by the NSA:

London Bananas:

How to make an inkjet print that will last 10000 years:


My photos featured briefly in Tom Mylan interview

Filed under: — adam @ 5:26 pm

Grace Piper interviewed local butcher Tom Mylan at the Unfancy Food Show, and used some of my pictures to illustrate:


The value of RAID0 for caching, paging, and temp

Filed under: — adam @ 9:50 am

I recently realized that I had a few extra drive bays in my desktop (with corresponding open SATA ports) and a few extra SATA drives lying around. So last night, I put them in and set them up as a RAID0 striped array.

I’d always avoided striping because of the instability concerns – if either drive goes bad, you lose the data on both of them. However, I’ve recently begun to feel the pinch in speed as my desktop has aged and I installed CS3. I maxed out the RAM a long time ago, and I’m not quite ready to replace it, although I certainly will in the next 6 months. So any little extra bit of speed I can get is welcome. A striped array has a significant speed advantage because the controller can read and write both disks simultaneously, roughly doubling your disk throughput. Also, you end up with one big disk that’s the size of the two put together.

While it is fragile if one of the drives goes, it performs much better. That makes it incredibly useful as a cache drive. I put the Windows paging file, all of my temp directories, and the CS3 cache and scratch files on it, as well as my browser caches. After not much testing, not surprisingly, I noticed an immediate speed boost across the board, and particularly in browsing directories with lots of photos in Bridge.

The setup was not very difficult, although there were some hiccups. I had to configure the bios to have the second sata controller (integrated into the motherboard) work in RAID mode, which took some fiddling. Then I had to switch the boot rom to it to boot into its firmware to actually configure the array, then switch the boot rom back to the other controller so I could boot my pre-existing Windows install (which is on a RAID1 mirrored array). After that, it was just a matter of installing the Windows driver for the RAID controller, formatting the new drive, and moving everything appropriate over to it.

Disks are pretty cheap. I highly recommend this configuration.

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The Canon Pixma Pro 9000 is a great inkjet photo printer

Filed under: — adam @ 3:15 pm

I got a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 to replace my dead Epson Stylus 1280. Having not bought a new inkjet printer in about 7 years, I’m totally stunned by how far the technology has improved, even over the previous round which was pretty impressive.

First, it’s REALLY fast. While a letter size photo on the 1280 would take a good 5 minutes to print, the Pixma spit my first test print out in, oh, about 25 seconds. When it started to go, I did an actual doubletake – I was not really expecting that.

Second, the color is outstanding. With no adjustment at all, it got very close to my calibrated screen. Not exact, but close enough that you probably wouldn’t notice unless you held it up to the screen and looked at them side by side. On regular old Costco photo paper.

Third, the ink usage seems better designed. It has 8 separate ink carts, which are individually replaceable, instead of one.

Fourth, when you’re not using it, the paper path trays fold up and click into the case, which I expect will significantly reduce the amount of dust and stray hair that always seemed to get into the paper path on the old printer.

Fifth, it has more cleaning modes, to clean the print heads, deep clean the print heads, and also clean the bottom tray to prevent smudges. Also, the entire print head is replaceable if needed.

The only drawback I can see so far is that it’s gigantic. That’s kind of a side effect to being able to print on big paper, but even though it’s physically slightly bigger than the 1280 was, it seems more intelligently designed to take up as little space as it can and still do what it does.

I got it for $439 at Amazon, which is about $100 less than I paid for the 1280 originally:

Highly recommended.

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New in Photoshop CS3 – “Quick Selection Tool”

Filed under: — adam @ 11:07 am

They took the best of the magic wand, color range selection, magnetic lasso, and channel selection, and rolled it all up into a new kind of brush – the quick selection tool.

You paint with the brush for broad strokes to define your selection, then you have a dialog box to refine the edge with radius, contrast, smoothing, feathering, and contrast selectors, with 5 kinds of masked preview. (Also, it appears that the Refine Edges dialog is also available on all of the other selection tools.)

This alone is worth the price of the upgrade.

Documentation is non-existent in the beta, but I found this tutorial:

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Gorillapod – yes!

Filed under: — adam @ 9:11 am

I’ve been continually unhappy with all of the ultraportable tripods I’ve bought. They’re too heavy, not flexible enough, take too long to set up, and the smaller ones won’t support my big camera. The gorillapod fixes all of that. It’s incredibly light, totally portable, and even sufficiently adjustable to wrap around small objects (benches, railings, bike frame, etc…). It is, in short, the best portable tripod I’ve ever seen.

It comes in three sizes:

I got the DSLR-Zoom for my big camera (which holds up to 6 lbs.) and the regular size for my little pocket cam (which is more portable). I’m a big fan of Canon’s wireless flash system, so this also seems like a great way to mount a remote flash in an inconspicious location.

Regular (digicams and flashes):

DSLR (no zoom):


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400D support is out with ACR Camera RAW 3.6

Filed under: — adam @ 11:17 am

It’s a beautiful thing. I downloaded the ACR 3.6 update (still beta, but seems stable), and the output on the 400D shots is very very good.

As predicted, with a decent RAW converter, the evident noise is strongly diminished, and the noise that remains is very very fine and can be easily removed with Noise Ninja.

Here’s a shot I took at ISO 800 with no flash:

Get the update here:

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The state of Adobe RAW processing for the Canon 400D

Filed under: — adam @ 5:01 pm

Camera RAW 3.5 doesnt support it. Camera RAW 3.6 will be out “soon”. My results with the Canon DPP processor have been pretty dismal. Lightroom Beta 4 is out, which does support it, but I haven’t really played with it yet, as it got a bit choked up (but hasn’t crashed yet) when I threw my 30,000+ photos into its library.

Some comments from Thomas Knoll (the man):

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Pixmantec acquired by Adobe

Filed under: — adam @ 2:22 pm

I got word this morning that Pixmantec was acquired by Adobe. Great going, guys!

Rawshooter is by far my favorite raw converter, and it’ll be great to see those tools integrated into the Adobe suite.

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Testing different monitor calibration targets

Filed under: — adam @ 8:53 am

With the purchase of new monitors (see also, I noticed that I was getting really muddy blacks, even though I had the contrast set properly. Through some trial and error, I discovered that the Spyder2Pro I was using to calibrate was wiping out whatever changes I made to the contrast and brightness settings, and flattening about the lower fifth of the gradient curve to black.

I discovered that I could alleviate this by calibrating to a different gamma/temperature target – I had been using the windows default of 2.2-6500K. Through some more trial and error, I found that the “right” balance seems to be 1.6-6400K – colors are still crisp, and I still get a good range of shadows. I think I may have thought that my old monitors had some limitations that they didn’t, and the calibration was at fault instead of the hardware.

Have you experimented with different gamma/temperature targets? I know the mac defaults to 1.8-6500K, but when I tried that one, it was still way too dark in the shadows (testing on a 64-band gradient). 1.6-6400K looks great, but it seems like a weird number to end up at.

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The Shot Behind the Shot

Filed under: — adam @ 3:25 pm

A while back, I started a Flickr group called “The Shot Behind the Shot”. There aren’t many photos in it, but I like them all.

These are the rules for pictures in the group:

Every photograph tells a story. Some photographs capture a photographer trying to tell a story, and in doing so tell a completely different story.

This group is for those different stories.

Please be encouraged to add comments about why you felt compelled to capture the photographer capturing something else and what that means to you.

All shots must 1) have another photographer in the shot, 2) also include at least some of the subject of that photographer’s shot (no pictures of just photographers, and no pictures where you are the other photographer’s subject unless they otherwise meet the qualifications), and 3) tell a story different from the one that the photographer is telling. If the shot does not show what the other photographer is taking a picture of, this is the wrong group for it. Gratuitous pictures of public asses and/or nudity are acceptable, if they meet these qualifications. However, pictures may be arbitrarily deleted from the pool without comment at the discretion of the admins. Keep it tasteful and interesting. You have been warned.

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Taking advantage of the Commons

Filed under: — adam @ 10:21 am

I received this email in my flickr inbox this morning:

“I am writing to let you know that one of your photos with a creative commons license has been short-listed for inclusion in our Schmap Rome Guide, to be published late March 2006.”

And a link where I was given an opportunity to remove my photo from the queue or approve it for use in their guide. I responded to this before I had my coffee, so I didn’t capture the text from the page as I should have before clicking no. But it had a short blurb of text with something along the lines of “oh, even though some people may disagree, this isn’t really a commercial use, because it’s free to download and the ads support keeping it free”.

I might buy that if there was any sort of community sharing going on here. I don’t see the content of the site being released under a CC license, I see a big fat “All rights reserved” at the bottom of the homepage, and the terms of use (which also, incidentally, says you’re not allowed to use ad blocking software) contains this choice little gem:

The geographic data, photographs, diagrams, maps, points of interest, plans, aerial imagery, text, information, artwork, graphics, points of interest, video, audio, listings, pictures and other content contained on the Site (collectively, the “Materials”) are protected by copyright laws. You may only access and use the Materials for personal or educational purposes and not for resell or commercial purposes by You or any third parties. You may not modify or use the Materials for any other purpose without express written consent of Schmap (”Schmap”). You may not broadcast, reproduce, republish, post, transmit or distribute any Materials on the Site.

This is a gross perversion of what Creative Commons is about. Ad-supported “free” content is commercial (unless Google is “just trying to organize the world’s information and any money collected from selling ads is just helping keep that goal alive”). Taking CC-licensed media from other sources and roadblocking the license while claiming that the use is non-commercial is possibly deceptive.

[Update: there's more discussion on this Flickr Central thread.]

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Outstanding pictures of China

Filed under: — adam @ 2:50 pm

My friend Kyle sent me this link, which has some truly breathtaking pictures of China:

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Oil-based lenses on the way

Filed under: — adam @ 12:38 pm

Oil based lenses have the potential to put zoom cameras basically everywhere. Because they require no moving parts, they’re very compact, power efficient, and fast. The digital imaging world is changing fast. Sensors are already tiny , and glass lenses have been an obstacle to miniaturization. Oil based lenses, where the zoom can be adjusted by running a charge through the lens, will fix that problem.

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Tutorial on making cutouts with Photoshop

Filed under: — adam @ 12:29 pm

I’ve posted a short tutorial on how to make cutouts with photoshop:

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Flickr finally adds “replace photo” feature

Filed under: — adam @ 9:38 am

Nice! I can’t say how many times I’ve wanted to fix a photo after I’ve uploaded it, because the transfer didn’t work properly, or I learned a new photoshop technique, or I could just make it better in some way.

The fine folks at flickr have just added a “replace photo” feature, which is now in the editing options of all pictures you’ve uploaded down on the right hand side under the “Additional Information” block.


Photoshop CS2 tuning guide from Adobe

Filed under: — adam @ 7:44 pm

There’s some very good information in there about tuning the OS and Photoshop for performance with CS2.


Apple announces pro-level raw and image processing software

Filed under: — adam @ 3:32 pm

Looks like Apple has finally decided that they don’t need any other software companies at all.


Really amazing photos from New York nightlife in the 70’s

Filed under: — adam @ 9:47 am

All sorts of naked, painted, and blowjobby.

With a caption like “A man applies Crisco shortening to his arm in preparation of inserting it into Annie Sprinkels [sic]“, how can you really go wrong?


Amazingly comprehensive Canon SLR FAQ

Filed under: — adam @ 8:58 am

Wow, there’s all sorts of good info in this amazingly comprehensive Canon SLR FAQ. Mostly it covers film cameras, but almost all of that is applicable to dSLRs too.


THANK YOU ADOBE – favorites in the open document window

Filed under: — adam @ 10:05 am

My most frequent complaint about the Windows interface, all flavors of it, is that the open file dialog has this little row of quick access icons, and they’re not programmable. My folder arrangement doesn’t match the default, so this makes me work just a little bit more than I should have to nearly every time I open a new file. I recently switched to using the Adobe open file dialog for CS2, and was stunned to find that it shares the defined favorite folder settings with Bridge.


Thank you!

(Activate this by pressing the “Use Adobe Dialog” button in the file open dialog – you can switch back anytime you like.)


You never know what could happen.

Filed under: — adam @ 11:38 am

You never know what could happen.

Originally uploaded by Caviar.

My first save of the Deleteme Uncensored group


LAB color correction

Filed under: — adam @ 5:29 pm

This book has, quite frankly, revolutionized everything I know about dealing with color in Photoshop. If you do any kind of photo editing, you need it.

I don’t think it’s a substitute for understanding color and contrast correction in RGB or CMYK, but if you already do, it provides an alternate way of looking at things that yields MUCH better results very quickly, and in some cases does some things that single-color channel correction can’t really do.

If you don’t already have a solid understanding of how color channels work in RGB or CMYK, you’re likely to be confused by what’s being explained in this book. Learn that first, then come back to this.


How to back up your tablet settings

Filed under: — adam @ 10:12 am

If you have a Wacom tablet, here’s how to back up your app settings:


NY Eye and Ear Infirmary

Filed under: — adam @ 1:24 pm

NY Eye and Ear Infirmary


Canon announces 5D 12mp dSLR for $3300 (retail)

Filed under: — adam @ 2:24 pm

Canon is, quite frankly, kicking the shit out of Nikon. At this rate, I’m guessing that they’ll hit the $1000 price point for full-frame dSLRs in 4-5 years, possibly less.


Photographer Series

Filed under: — adam @ 9:50 pm

I’ve started a series of cutouts of photographers in action. I really like these.


Great tip on creating layer masks in Photoshop

Filed under: — adam @ 12:55 pm

Create a layer mask from another layer:

That’s just incredibly useful.


Why I shoot photography.

Filed under: — adam @ 12:13 am

I shoot photos for the same reason I cook and program computers.

I believe that humanity’s high calling and deep purpose is the neverending struggle against the varied forces of entropy. Tempered by the wisdom of allowing natural forms of order to co-exist and simultaneously be captured in time, we live to create in our environment a reflection of our own inner sense of order. Every meal prepared, every elegant algorithm, and every imperfect echo frozen by sheer force of will is one more piece of the pattern coalesced from the ethereal storm and notched on the spear of humanity’s collective soul.

Take a handful, grab hold of the writhing chaos, keep your grip in the face of adversity, and shape it into something that can’t help but be beautiful until it hurts.

We will eventually be forgotten, and remembered only for what we added or took away.

I prefer to add.


Adobe Camera Raw possibly doing something wrong with noise?

Filed under: — adam @ 12:15 pm

I’ve noticed that a lot of my photos have been more noticeably grainy recently. Like this onion stacking shot. (Whether you like this effect or not is not the point.)

At first, I just chalked it up to high ISO and/or exposure compensation. But then I did some informal tests, and found that Breezebrowser Pro (which I switched away from to go to Adobe Camera Raw 3 because ACR is easier to use with my Photoshop workflow) on a few of the RAW files, gave much cleaner and less noisy results, even with noise reduction turned off.

In my limited testing, with the settings I used, images produced from ACR are definitely noisier and more posterized in the noisy areas than the same raw files processed with BB, with the same exposure comp, no sharpening, and noise reduction completely off. Indeed, even the +1.6 images from BB are less noisy than the +1 images from ACR.

I’m not certain that one of the other settings isn’t causing the problem, and I’m somewhat at a loss about how to go about doing an unbiased test. Suggestions are welcomed.

On a related note, turning noise reduction on in BB gives even better results than the BB baseline, where even cranking luminance smoothing and color noise reduction all the way up in ACR seems to have very little effect. Moreover, Photoshop’s reduce noise filter works noticeably better on BB-converted raw images where it seems to do very little on ACR images.

Needless to say, this result is pretty disturbing, and I hope I’ve just done something wrong.


Breezekit lets you make your own photo books

Filed under: — adam @ 9:29 am

Via Lifehacker:

“We strongly believe that with today’s 6 color and 8 color inkjet printers and wide available of specialty inkjet media, you can produce photo books with better print quality than the 4 color printing offered by online Photo Book printing companies such as myPublisher, Shutterfly, and Ofoto.”

Nice. I may have to try this out.


Thoughts on flickr interestingness

Filed under: — adam @ 9:48 am

Exploring the flickr interestingness pages, I find that they certainly have a lot of dramatic and quite excellent photos, although they all sort of start to blend together after a while into one big high-contrast blur.

But this seems likely to only increase the number of viewings for photos that already have a lot of, er, exposure.

Where’s the revolutionary interface for browsing the lost gems that nobody looks at?


Things I hate about Bridge

Filed under: — adam @ 5:32 pm

Adobe Bridge (bundled with CS2) is much much better than the File Browser in previous versions. It has some great features. It’s very fast, and has good support for previewing a large number of different file types.

But there’s still a lot to hate, mostly about things they seem to have left out (of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ve just missed them). I’d love to see these things in an incremental update and not have to wait for CS3, if in fact they are missing.

  1. There’s no place to paste in a location from another window! If you’re looking at an open folder in another browser or OS window, to get to that path in Bridge, you have to navigate to it. This is really basic missing functionality!
  2. Yes, you can drag and drop files to your email program, but I think this belies the Adobe workflow way of doing things. I’d like to see the ability to “Send files to” a location, including another program (email, batch uploader, etc…), with the ability to run a script or some actions (think Image Processor) automatically. And while I’m talking about Image Processor, why can’t I run an arbitrary number of actions there?
  3. Why no fullscreen view or very large preview?
  4. This is more of a Camera Raw issue, but it’s central to the centralized workflow that Bridge encourages – why can’t I store multiple different raw settings for a single image? (I haven’t been using Version Cue – is this doable that way?)

There’s probably more, but the point here is that Bridge is great. It’s fanstastic for many things, and it does a lot that’s good that none of the other files browsers I have do. But it falls down on some of the basics that make it unsuitable for using as the only file browser.


Opening RAW photos in CS2

Filed under: — adam @ 10:33 pm

Another very informative article from Photoblog 2.0, this time on ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) 3.0.

Again, I mostly agree, with some comments.

I wholeheartedly believe that adjusting raw images in photoshop is an integral part of the modern photography workflow. The camera is an input device for getting your raw material. Obviously, the better the raw material you have to work with, the better your final product will be, so photoshop is no substitute for learning how your camera works, improving your shooting technique, or taking good pictures. But the latitude that you have available to you in photoshop is something that can’t be ignored.

A few general things about that:

  1. You can now adjust exposure by a whopping +/- 4 (yes, FOUR) stops! Using the full extent of this is likely to give you some severely messed up shots, but I’m totally stunned at the amount of detail (and noise!) it pulled out of some old badly underexposed raw photos that were almost completely black. Note – this is an excellent argument for shooting raw and keeping your raw files around – the raw processors are only getting better, and you can keep revisiting old frames to see if they can be improved with the new tools. If you shoot jpeg, you got what you got. [Update: Here's an example of a +4 stop recovery.]
  2. You can choose to apply sharpening to the preview only, and leave your actual image sharpening for full photoshop. I highly recommend you do this. In Bridge, it’s under Edit>Camera Raw Preferences.
  3. You can now open a bunch of raw photos, make adjustments, and save the changes to the raw files without ever opening the photos themselves in photoshop. This can save you a bunch of time in batch conversions. Also, ACR does batch processing in the background while you’re doing other things.
  4. A fun ACR trick – holding down the alt key (option on a mac, I think) while you slide the exposure or shadow slider shows you just the highlight and shadow clipping. This is supplemented by the checkboxes at the top for showing these in color overlaid on the image.
  5. If you want settings saved in the the sidecar .xmp files instead of a central database, you need to change that in the Bridge preferences (Edit>Camera Raw Preferences).


Generally good advice on digital image processing

Filed under: — adam @ 9:04 pm

Digital cameras don’t produce pictures.

They capture impressions of the light that came through the lens, and it’s not a picture until you put some processing behind it. Even the simplest, most rudimentary digital camera has a tremendous amount of processing behind it. If you shoot jpeg and use the resulting images, the processing doesn’t go away, you’re just letting the camera choose the defaults for what the processing should be. When you shoot raw, you can do the processing yourself, and get a lot more control over every variable in the procedure.

There’s a pretty good guide to the steps here (via lifehacker):

The basic workflow is similar to what I outlined in my digital camera workflow diagram.

I mostly agree with the points in the article, but I have a few comments to add:

  • I would avoid auto levels, auto constrast, and auto-color. Generally, they give horrid results unless you’ve tweaked the default settings. (Scott Kelby has a good section on this in his Photoshop for Digital Photographers books, which are outstanding.) The tools to do these adjustments by hand, particularly Curves, are not terribly difficult to learn to use, and well worth the effort.
  • Sharpen last! If you’re shooting raw, no sharpening has been done for you. This is good. It should be done as the last adjustment, and at 100% magnification so you can see the effects close-up. Photoshop sharpening applied correctly will always be superior to what the camera will do for you, especially with the CS2 Smart Sharpen filter.
  • My typical order of operations is: fix any glaring problems (rotation, editing out major objects), fix color, fix contrast/brightness (both with curves), fix up blemishes, reduce noise, then sharpen. If I want some special effects, there may be more steps in there.


Fireworks pictures from the East River

Filed under: — adam @ 3:25 pm


Mermaid Parade Photos

Filed under: — adam @ 1:58 pm

We spent the day at the Mermaid Parade yesterday in Coney Island.

I’ve uploaded a bunch of photos:

If you don’t have the patience to go through all of them, here are a few of my favorites:


Flash metering and focal point lock

Filed under: — adam @ 9:16 am

Interesting thread on about flash metering systems and focal point bias.


Longhorn slated to include RAW support

Filed under: — adam @ 12:08 pm

The next version of windows is slated to include RAW support natively. I wonder if that’s good or bad for DNG.

Nude lighting with 3D modeling

Filed under: — adam @ 8:53 am

This photographer uses Poser as an alternative to real models for experimenting with lighting for nude shoots.


Flickr is now DHTML

Filed under: — adam @ 1:59 pm

Flickr is now DHTML, on some pages anyway.

This is a particularly interesting example:


NYC subway photo ban plan aban…doned

Filed under: — adam @ 11:34 am

Good, because this wasn’t going to help.


My friend Perry lives near the wall that collapsed onto the West Side Highway

Filed under: — adam @ 11:11 pm

Raw, unedited, likely to move, gets interesting around 1449:


Default is one of my favorite photo blogs

Filed under: — adam @ 10:07 pm


Why photo editing is important

Filed under: — adam @ 3:38 pm

While looking at Kottke’s pictures from Paris, I immediately noticed that he’s got a good eye. But here’s why photography, in my mind, is not just about taking good pictures, but also about solid editing.

Here’s one I particularly liked:

Kottke Original

I spent about 15 minutes with this, adding sharpening (big difference!), tightening up the color curves, and cropping a little. Granted, I’m making some assumptions about what the day looked like, but I didn’t get the sense that it was really hazy there.

Adam Fields Edit

In this particular case, the yellow hose here is such a defining factor that I might even go one step further and give it a real focus:

Adam Fields Black and White Edit

But maybe that’s too much.

These edited images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.


Naked in Barcelona

Filed under: — adam @ 5:29 pm

I’m told this is a series of pictures of people who walk around naked all over Barcelona.


The New Nude

Filed under: — adam @ 2:59 pm

Petter Hegre, nude photographer extraordinaire, has started a new magazine.


This is the best photography advice I’ve ever read

Filed under: — adam @ 5:46 pm

” Most amateurs are so bad at editing that they don’t have to look any further for the reason why their photography is not as good as it could be.”

And then a long post with some suggestions on how to fix that.


Don’t walk, Rock!

Filed under: — adam @ 11:39 pm

New York Metro piece on “Thundercut”, the Brooklyn couple who deface the Walk/Don’t Walk signs downtown.

I’ve photographed their handiwork (without knowing who they were) before.


New Canon cameras I immediately want

Filed under: — adam @ 5:38 pm

Digital Rebel XT is an 8MP, no-startup time, E-TTL II, DIGIC II, 2nd curtain sync, mirror lock-up, 25% smaller, 10% lighter version of the Digital Rebel. And it comes in black. For under $1000.

Also, there are new 5MP (SD400) and 7MP (SD500) minimicro pocket sized doodads:

I can almost heard the gentle bread browning and butter spreading as Nikon becomes toast.


Your camera does matter

Filed under: — adam @ 10:56 am

Ken Rockwell (who, I feel compelled to say, takes outstandingly beautiful pictures) starts off “Your Camera Does Not Matter” with the definitive: “Your equipment DOES NOT affect the quality of your image. The less time and effort you spend worrying about your equipment the more time and effort you can spend creating great images. The right equipment just makes it easier, faster or more convenient for you to get the results you need.”

I respectfully disagree. While this may be true if you define “equipment” loosely enough to cover the bare minimum of “professional-level equipment” and “quality of your image” to mean “something good, whether you wanted it to look like that or not”, those are pretty loose definitions. In the digital non-professional realm, you’re dealing with this issue every day. Most digital cameras are not only sub-professional, they’re just plain bad.

Certainly, there’s value in not blaming your tools for bad pictures, or on spending all of your time fretting over your equipment to the detriment of the art in photography, but I think it’s wrong to say that good tools don’t affect the final result.

He goes on to say “You finally realize that the right gear you’ve spent so much time accumulating just makes it easier to get your sound or your look or your moves, but that you could get them, albeit with a little more effort, on the same garbage with which you started. You realize the most important thing for the gear to do is just get out of your way.” In the modern world, this is unrealistic. A lot of the “features” of digital cameras exist only to do as much as they can do to get in your way, not out of it. Good photographers can get better results out of cheap cameras because they understand how photography works. But there are some shots that you simply can’t get at all without the proper equipment, some technical limitations that cannot be overcome with vision or technique.

Maybe you can get something, and maybe it’ll even be “interesting”. But will it really be what you wanted, or what you saw, or will it just be your inferior equipment imposing its own vision?


Canon 20Da (astro)

Filed under: — adam @ 2:50 pm

Canon has apparently modded the 20D to optimize it for long night shots with low noise:


Forget math – photography is the universal language

Filed under: — adam @ 2:14 pm

This photo blog consistently delivers pictures that just take my breath away.

Like this:


Using a car LCD TV as a monitor for your DSLR

Filed under: — adam @ 11:29 am


Why sensor size matters

Filed under: — adam @ 5:39 pm

This is a very good explanation of why digital sensor size makes a difference in imaging devices.


Freezepop @ Rare

Filed under: — adam @ 2:52 pm

I went to see Freezepop on one of their infrequent visits to NYC.

I took lots of pictures, which are here:


Maeda on “The Color of Black”

Filed under: — adam @ 1:58 pm

Becoming a photographer has really tuned me in to subtle shades of black, white, and grey, as well as the effect that throwing a little blue (cooler) or red (warmer) into the mix has on what we perceive. This is a nice little piece on that:


Digital photo noise reduction by calibration

Filed under: — adam @ 12:32 am

The core of this technique is to take a black frame (with the lens cap or a dark towel over the lens) at exactly the same ISO and exposure time settings, then subtract that frame from your image. This should give you a much clearer image with much less noise. This technique has been floating around for a while, but this is a very clear description of the process, plus a very strong background explanation of why it works and what kinds of noise it doesn’t fix.


Thom Hogan photo predictions for 2005

Filed under: — adam @ 2:21 pm



Filed under: — adam @ 1:23 pm

PureJPEG is a program that strips exif, application, and comment data from jpegs without affecting the compression, making them smaller.


Non-realistic photos

Filed under: — adam @ 11:19 am

This describes a new technique for taking non-realistic photos with a digital camera and multiple flash exposures. This is very cool – the images look like detailed illustrations, but they accurately capture the actual full contours of the object. This has pretty serious applications in technical illustration and medical imaging, among other things.


Explanations of optics flaws

Filed under: — adam @ 10:46 am

A good collection of the kinds of things that can go wrong with imaging optics.


Tips for not raising suspicion when you take pictures in public

Filed under: — adam @ 10:54 am

Not so much tips as a case study, but interesting nonetheless.

It’s got this gem in it:

"Beyond these limited steps, the Investigator agreed that there was little a photographer could do to avoid coming under suspicion in these troubled times."


Photoshop highlight/shadow clipping in the raw plugin

Filed under: — adam @ 12:14 pm

Photoshop is just FULL of cases where if you press the alt key while you’re doing something, it does something totally unexpected (but related), and usually incredibly useful. To the best of my knowledge, these are not all documented together somewhere convenient, but if they are, please point them out.

The rawformat blog points out a nice one, which lets you see where your highlights and shadows are being clipped based on your raw conversion settings:


My eclipse photos

Filed under: — adam @ 11:36 am

Wish I’d had a longer lens or a telescope with a photo mount, but some of them came out pretty good.


More bodypainting

Filed under: — adam @ 11:53 pm


Cool bodypaint photos

Filed under: — adam @ 9:44 pm


Testing your digital camera’s resolution

Filed under: — adam @ 10:00 am

This is supposed to be a free non-commercial version of an ISO12233
resolution testing chart. I don’t have any experience with "official"
ones, but this seems like it might be useful.

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