Archive for the 'Photography' category

 | November 17, 2011 4:58 am

The shot below was taken at Zion’s National Park in Southern Utah, above the Emerald Pools. In the vernacular of Mormon Pioneers who settled the region, Zion means “Place of Sanctuary.”


 | March 24, 2011 9:36 pm

For my first entry in the “Lifehacks” series, I thought that it would be nice to tackle a very common problem. Namely;

What is the best way to synchronize a photo library between two computers?

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 | February 1, 2011 1:57 am

Venice City Crest - 1895

The other day, while picking through my typography RSS folder, I stumbled across a marvelous link. Originally shared by Johno of “I love typography”, it pointed toward a late 18th century title called “Early Venetian Printing.”

The book is a collection of illustrated pages from 14th and 15th century works printed in Venice. They cover all of the masters in addition to a few individuals I hadn’t ever heard of. It shows examples of their work and discusses  the principles that early typesetters followed. Additionally there are printers’ marks, water-marks, examples of music printing, and alphabets upon alphabets of initials.  It concludes with a section on the art of Venetian binding.

The book is a beautiful volume, and one that I desperately would love to have in my own personal library. Unfortunately, that will never happen. Early Venetian Printing is an extremely rare book that’s been out of print for decades.

Luckily, though, you can download the entire text (with all of the illustrations) from in PDF, EPUB, or Kindle formats. You can also browse the whole text online.

Here are a few of the images, just to whet your appetite. The full text can be found here.

Examples of Venice Book Design, 15th CenturyExamples of Venice Page Design and Illustration

Page Design, Venice 15th CenturyPage Design, Venice 15th Century

Full Page Engraving, 15th Century

Wood Cuts and Page Decorations, Late 15th CenturyPage Design and Initials, Late 15th Century

Venetian Biblical Engravings, Late 15th Century

Venetian Typography, Early 16th Century

The Winds

Interior Engravings and Initials

Title Page Engraving, With Decorative Border

Music Page Engraving from Venetian Hymnal

 | January 13, 2011 9:59 pm

Note: Still working on the book.

Since working on the Africa 2011 Calendar, I’ve found myself taking a thoroughly unhealthy interest in calendars of all types.  This includes highly innovative ones in addition to those of the more mundane variety.  In the process, I’ve learned an interesting lesson.  Calendars are a peculiar type of document.

Unlike a book or another piece of promotional material, they are typically meant to be part of the background. A good calendar really shouldn’t call very much attention to itself.  It should blend into the room or office, and should simple be there.  At the same time, it needs to be transcendent, functional, and inspiring. A calendar which raucously demands your attention is also a calendar which finds itself taken down and put away.  But if it’s not beautiful … then … what’s the point?

Perhaps that is why I am so impressed with the “Year of Light” calendar, created by Kristopher Grunert.  It is simultaneously stunning, functional, and interesting.  A wonderful calendar, which also doubles as a very attractive set of wallpaper. (You might also print it and hang it on your wall, in which case it would be marvelous wall-art.)

Year of Light - 2011-01

Year of Light - 2011-02

Year of Light - 2011-03

Year of Light - 2011-04

Year of Light - 2011-05

Year of Light - 2011-06

Year of Light - 2011-07

Year of Light - 2011-08

You can download the entire calendar from Kristopher’s website, here.

 | December 24, 2010 4:52 pm

Note: Still working on the book.

While at the book store yesterday, I came across a marvelous collection of photographs by wildlife photographer, Nick Brandt.  I’m not sure whether to call On This Earth: Photographs from East Africa a book of wildlife/landscape photography or a collection of classical portraiture and composition that happens to incorporate animals.  Brandt does a mesmerizing job of capturing both the surroundings and the personality of the animals he photographs.

Suffice it to say, I decided to pick myself up a gift.  After spending most of the morning studying the composition and contrast in the images, I am glad that I did.

(A side benefit was the ability to read the beautiful foreword by Alice Sebold, introduction by Jane Goodall, and afterword by Nick Brandt.  These can also be found on the photographer’s website.)

Note: The images below are both from Brandt’s first book, “A Shadow Falls,” as well as from “On This Earth.”




Giraffes at Play


Lion Couple


Savannah Vista



 | December 9, 2010 5:30 pm

Note: Still working on the book. At present, I am trying to nail down specific tasks and tutorials that would be helpful to writers and for beginning designers.  If you have any thoughts, please let me know in the comments.

Yesterday, while working on GIMP tutorials for the book, I came across a fascinating series of video tutorials by Joel Grimes.  It showed how to combine studio photography with background work in order to create stunningly surreal portraits and action shots.


Photo by Joel Grimes.

While I’ve seen this type of photography, I’ve never really given a lot of thought about the process used to create it.  Nor, to be frank, have I really paid all that much attention.  Until yesterday, that is.  (Other than soccer, sports really aren’t my thing.)

After watching the tutorials and digging into a little more, I’ve suddenly acquired a taste for it.  The drama, contrast and movement in these photos are absolutely amazing.  It’s the type of work that leaves aspiring photographers (like me) asking, “How did they do that?”

Turns out, though, that the process isn’t nearly as complicated as I thought.  Moreover, it’s well within the reach of “mere mortals.”  You just need to know how the pieces fit together.

Nor are the techniques limited to purely sports shots or human portraiture.


Photo by Joel Grimes

I’ve been playing around with the techniques using some architectural photos I took recently.  In the next few days I’ll try and post some tutorials using the GIMP.  If this type of photography interests you, though, you might want to check out the tutorials that Grimes offers.  His videos and articles on lighting and manipulation are fantastic.  It also puts lie to the belief that “Artistic technique cannot be taught.”

You can find lighting tutorial and basic photo manipulation instructions on his workshop site (, in addition to video tutorials on his YouTube channel.  Additional information is available at the Wacom tutorial link. (No worries, a Wacom tablet is not required to follow the steps.  Nor, for that matter, is the Adobe Creative Suite.  I’ve been using GIMP and I’ve been very happy with the output.)

Until I get my own, open source version of the tutorial posted, here is a bit of inspiration.  Included are works from the portfolio of Grimes and another photographer who works in the same style, Tim Tadder.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all of the images were taken from the respective photographer’s websites.

Joel Grimes




Tim Tadder











 | May 9, 2009 4:21 pm

balancing-barn-by-living-architecture-and-mvrdv-squ-mvrdv-balancing-barn-su.jpgThere is a reason why the tuxedo hasn’t changed in more than a century.  Put simply, there is no need for it to.  Unlike other things, it doesn’t need to evolve or mold itself to the fashions of the current age.  It’s just fine the way it is.  It’s traditional.

And barn architecture should be traditional.  They are practical buildings, and as a result should be made of relatively impractical things.  That means natural materials.  Most of the structure should be made of wood (preferably oak) or stone with big timbered logs being an even better choice. Steel and concrete can be acceptable, but edge out on the tacky side.

Thus, there is only one word to describe the structure being proposed by MVRDV and Mole Architects near Suffolk in the United Kingdom: travesty.  (Though monstrosity comes remarkably close as well.)  First, they are proposing an “open” architecture with beautiful bay windows and gobs of free-space.  While barns can certainly be open, they should not include bay windows.  Have you ever seen the type of slime a dedicated horse can produce?  Second, it’s made out of modern materials: specially treated steel and composites …  and it’s cantilevered.  Words do not even begin to describe how wrong it is to cantilever a barn.  (Even if it is really a vacation home that some hack decided to call a barn.  I would never house animals, much less people in such a disgusting and clearly unsafe building.)

Traditional barns are so much better.  Traditional barns have character.

John Moulton Barn - Mormon Row - Grand Teton National Park Hi Ute Ranch - Park City, Utah

Winter Barn in Utah - Park City

Wagon Wheel and Barn - Morgan, Utah

Utah Farm near Capitol Reef National Park

 | March 21, 2009 3:13 pm

It’s a beautiful day outside.  We’ve been very lucky to have five or six such beautiful days in a row.  They are the type of beautiful day that generally encourages irresponsibility and miscellaneous recklessness.  The practical and otherwise successful have argued that being able to put off temptation, in this case enjoying such an amazing day, show the type of tenacity required for achievement.  They’re probably right, and while I might make claims on practicality; I harbor no delusions of success.  As a result, yesterday I decided to lay aside work and do things other things.

For the past several months, I have intended to write a series of small posts about basic and not so basic horsemanship.  Part of this desire stems from an utter dearth of information on important things: rawhide braiding and the making of a saddle horse, amongst others.  While I have the posts more or less drafted, I’ve felt that they lack a certain degree of clarity.  Horsemanship is a visual and physical activity and cannot be learned from reading, no matter how clear the words.  My little articles require pictures and illustrations.  A beautiful day gave me the perfect opportunity to go and take those pictures.  There was only one problem, I lost the telephoto lens to my camera several months ago.

Wild West Mustangs

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 | November 21, 2008 3:50 pm

I’ve been doing a bit of research for a short writing project. While doing so I came across this post over at WebUrbanist.  Though it is a bit of an oldie, it is still a goody!  In brief, the author looks at twenty four abandoned towns and cities from all over the world trough mini-photo essays.  Reading through the descriptions and looking at the images sent my wander-lust far into the red-zone. Ever thought about diving the ruins at Alexandria?

Me and Sewell

(Photo) The supply train arriving from Rancagua. The train was used to carry supplies and other materials as well as men. Everything at the site had to be brought in.

I found the little blurb on the town of Sewell, Chile to be particularly interesting as I’ve been to Sewell.  While living in Chile during 1999 and 2000, I and several friends made a day-trek to the place.  At the time that I went, I didn’t have anything better to do and so I didn’t know anything about it.  Neither, for that matter, did any of my friends.  We were there because a few of the locals said that it was an important part of Chilean history and that we should visit.  So, we did.

Unreal only begins to describe the experience.  Rather than a town, Sewell might better be described as a temporary labor camp that grew roots and notions.  It is built on the side of an outrageous cliff and was only accessible via train. We started our visit by piling onto the labor bus for the mine workers and then spent the next two hours winding our way up dirt roads that climb from Rancagua (near sea level) to the camp, which is above 6000 feet.

As the town was built off the side of a mountain, it has no streets (this becomes obvious when you look at a photo of the place; the impression you get when there is even more impressive). You can only get around via the (many) stairs. What is truly bizarre, however, is that everything is still there!  A lot of things look like the workers just stepped out and will probably be right back. The brightly colored buildings are still bright and the “streets” are in excellent condition. In fact, some of the accommodations appeared more comfortable than my apartment in Rancagua.

(Left) The abandoned mining city of Sewell, Chile during the 1930s. Sewell was finally closed in 1977, some ten years after the mine (known as El Teniente) was nationalized by the Chilean Government.

At its time, the place was an absolute thriving metropolis. There were 16,000 people that lived there from all over the world. Even more impressive, it thrived in what was otherwise a wasteland. Though 6000 feet certainly isn’t the roof of the World, the mountains surrounding El Teniente are fairly barren and host snow for much of the year.

If you get a second, head over to the Wikipedia page and read a bit more about the place. Also be sure to check out the Retro Ski page, which has some really cool pictures.