gladwell.com: My greatest triumph!

Gladwell

Sorry. I can't resist. John Carson, a fellow runner from Canada, unearthed this photo from the archives of the Toronto Star. It's the finals of the 1500 meters at the Ontario 14-year-old championships, many many years ago. The runner on the left is Dave Reid, who was the greatest Canadian miler of his generation. I will only say this: in this particular race, Reid placed second. I "retired" from competitive running a year later, in large part because I realized that the particular statistical fluke represented by me beating Dave Reid was unlikely to ever be repeated. (For the runners out there, I believe I ran something like 4:05.)

via gladwell.typepad.com

Such an amazing photo of a young Malcolm Gladwell!

My photo workflow


Friends have asked how I manage photos, so here's a breakdown of my typical process, whether that's shooting for 15 minutes in my backyard or several hours across the country, it all follows a similar pattern.

1. I set my camera on the highest burst mode, run 16Gb and 32Gb CF cards, and shoot all day (in JPGs, not RAW for speed, laziness, and disk space). For bike races especially, I'm bursting out a dozen shots a second as riders pass in the hopes one of them is in focus, capturing the light and action well. I typically shoot 300-1500 photos in a day depending on the activity. If there's a huge lull in action I sometimes review and toss out the obvious bad ones.

2. Go home (or to my laptop if traveling) and dump them all to iPhoto

3. Skim through the photos full screen in iPhoto, with the Information and Adjustments floating panels showing. Delete blurry/bad ones directly (which automatically advances to the next shot so it's quick), leave so-so photos, and mark good ones as 5-starred using the info panel.

4. I have a smart album in iPhoto set to photos taken in the last couple days that are also rated 5 stars.

5. I go through the best of photos again, weed out any that aren't up to snuff (simply clear the stars), and optimize the remaining.

6. I used to dump into Photoshop at this point to fine tune every shot, but now I'm lazy and there's so much content so I just use iPhoto's adjustment controls and often it's just hitting the auto-enhance button for most shots to get them 90% of the way there.

7. After I have my best photos all brightened up, I usually run the Flickr Uploadr and dump them to my Flickr account as a new set.

I've been working this way for the past couple years and typically it's pretty quick. Even going through a 1500 shot day, the time from when I start reviewing photos to the time I upload the best to Flickr is less than an hour. For smaller (300 or less) photos, it can be completed in about 15 minutes start to finish.

Softly relaunching

 Screen shot

So a long, long time ago I decided to both teach myself to shoot photos better and document my quickly changing life by creating a photo blog back on October 10, 2003 with the grand vision of keeping it going for ten years.

At the time, I was pretty busy with multiple projects, but thanks to moving all my photo management to a new mac and this new fangled application called iPhoto, I got my daily photo posting regimen down to about 10-15 minutes each day (which included download photos, select the best, edit in Photoshop, save to desktop, upload via FTP to site, then build blog post around it). It was a tolerable nightly chore, as long as my life stayed somewhat stable.

Soon after having a child a couple years later I started slacking a bit, then a bit more, until I didn't have 15 minutes a day to spare towards a little hobby site. I'd say the whole thing died sometime in late 2005 when I just gave up on daily posts. I streamlined the process further but the uploads and blog posting was too much of a hassle. I kept posting plenty to flickr, thanks to its ease of use with various photo uploading tools. In 2005, I started wishing for a way to make a photoblog powered by flickr entirely, which wasn't an option when I started.

Last year I stumbled upon Flogr, and I'd been wanting to try it out ever since. I finally got around to it today, and so it lives at www.tenyearsofmylife.com.

I'll start by saying I threw this together in about an hour, I tweaked the default template but know it has a bunch of annoying quirks (several I noted in Flickr's new App Garden thread linked earlier). The oldest photo seems to be dying and I haven't imported any of the 2003-2007 content that was previously on the site (I'll eventually do it). Also the feed sucks so I'm replacing it with a tag feed from Flickr. I'm not happy with the URL structure or even the idea of having an external URL for something that actually lives at flickr, but what I am happy about is the ease of use.

It's pretty much just a stream of my favorite recent photos posted to flickr and it really cuts down on the workflow to the point where a photo can go from my camera to iPhoto to the web and to this site in about four clicks within the span of a couple minutes. I'm no longer aiming for daily new photos or trying to make myself shoot one new one per day, I'd rather just keep it to as often as an interesting photo comes along that I feel like sharing which will likely be on the order of 3-4 per week.

Now that expectations are appropriately lowered, enjoy.

2nd curtain sync with a Canon 5D

aka “Merlin’s Rockstar Flash” aka rear curtain flash aka 2nd curtain flash

  1. Hit Menu
  2. Scroll down to custom functions, hit select
  3. Change custom function #15 from a 0 to a 1 to enable 2nd curtain flash
  4. Hook up a flash (if using a 550/580EX, change setting on your flash to enable 2nd curtain, if using a 420/430EX camera controls it)
  5. Change shooting to Tv mode, slow down the shutter speed to 1/30th a second or slower (it won’t work at faster shutter speeds)
  6. Take photo, flash should fire at the start of your photo and again at the end, producing a cool effect of half blurry with some sharpness captured by the flash.

(I’m writing this down because it took an hour of researching down ratholes to find it and I keep forgetting the entire process)

Do you realize Digital Cameras used to suck?

I was looking through some old photos I took from 1998-2002, some using a 1 megapixel camera while the rest were from a 3 megapixel camera. I had seen these images dozens of times before, and remembered them as well-composed, sharp photos. I was really getting into photography back then and I recalled the photos as my best work. Taking a fresh look at them today, the first thing that hit me was whoa, the photo quality is terrible! There is clearly a lot of low resolution blur going on. What happened to my mind’s beautiful memories of these images?

Here’s one I shot at SF’s MoMA. I remember thinking it was so arty and geometric and I recall it not being blurry but looking really sharp. If you look at it now, the screen over the window is a completely pixelated blur. I recall the same feeling when looking at Jason’s photos from Web98. I remember when the photos were new and I thought they were great back then but looking at them now, the quality is worse than my first cameraphone. Another old photo of bloggers got this reaction from me today. Back when I first saw it 6 years ago, it was a great photo. Today, it looks awful, severely limited by the technology of the day.

With the advent of better sensors and digital SLRs, it’s pretty astounding what comes out of a digital camera today. In an instant, I realized how fast and far the technology progressed in less than ten years. Could you imagine if traditional photography progressed from gelatin silver prints to medium format in less than a decade?

18-kottke-sleeps


18-kottke-sleeps, originally uploaded by mathowie.

I found a bunch of old photos. This is my favorite one.