Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mountains and Clouds desktop wallpaper

I’ve made some desktop wallpaper from my Canadian Rockies photography, which you are welcome to use for personal, non-commercial purposes. Enjoy!

16:10 aspect ratio
1680 x 1050
1920 x 1200
2560 x 1600

16:9 aspect ratio (suitable for dual monitor)
1920 x 1080 1920 x 1080
2560 x 1440 2560 x 1440

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Notable works at the Carnegie Museum of Art

I visited CMOA today for the confluence of about five photographic exhibitions, along with the PGH Photo Fair. None of the exhibits thrilled me quite as much as the Yours Truly exhibit last year, but the variety and quantity on display this year was impressive. I think the highlight of the day was the Architecture+Photography show, primarily for introducing me to the work of Ezra Stoller. I was particularly pleased to see that Stoller photographed the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope at Kitt Peak. Johnstown native Luke Swank was also represented in Architecture+Photography and elsewhere in the museum. His signature on the prints really is the draftsman-style signature depicted on the cover of the book. I also enjoyed seeing Joel Sternfeld and Zoe Strauss prints in the Outtakes exhibit. And if I had an extra $4,000 lying around, I’d have been very tempted by an Eadweard Muybridge pigeon-in-flight motion study that was for sale at the Photo Fair.

I also enjoy seeing the non-photographic works of the museum, particularly the modern pieces, and I wanted to share with you some of the most interesting. Oddly, many of these were missing their gallery tags, requiring me to research them myself.


Artist Unknown
Conical Form #17 (1997)
This sculpture is in a temporary installation outdoors, with several related works. The black octagonal base anchors the work to the earth, while the slender corpus of the work reaches heavenward. This symbolizes the duality of our finite life—we are embedded (stuck, really) in the reality that surrounds us, but we constantly strive for something greater. A related work in the installation tempers the ambition of Conical Form by calling for caution.


Artist Unknown
Untitled (2014)
This recent work was commissioned by the museum. It reminds the viewer that preparation is essential to success—a visual retelling of the aphorism that fortune favors the prepared mind. Graphically, the negative space around the piece makes it more significant than its dimensions would suggest.


Simplex Grinnell
Flammable/Inflammable (2003)
This assemblage combines a number of industrial elements, including a metallic cylinder (painted red), a dial, and a rubber hose. While the cylinder is printed with “Instructions”, those are merely evidence of Grinnell’s trademark humor. This is not, in fact, an interactive exhibit, as I’m sure the docents have had to tell numerous patrons. Despite that, the work is clearly one of optimism for the modern age, as evidenced by the needle pointing to the green “good” region of the dial.


Sherwin Williams
Pintura Fresca (2014)
This groundbreaking work is installed in an unusual gallery within the parking garage, making it nearly as hard to find as the Teenie Harris exhibit. Like many modern works, this one is about the materials of painting. What sets this work above the rest is its ephemerality. It’s not just about brush strokes or canvas texture, it’s about the very wetness of freshly applied paint. What will happen when the paint dries? Will the sign remain, an ironic statement about the transitory nature of accuracy? Perhaps the artist will re-apply the paint, making it more of a performance piece. Or perhaps the work will be dismantled, having enjoyed its brief but glorious contribution to the modern canon. If the latter is the case, I count myself exceedingly fortunate for having visited at just the right time.


James E. Rohr
Automated Tragedy Machine (2007)
This interactive installation challenges the viewer to a number-guessing game, and rewards the successful with a cash prize. But the displayed text suggests a darker truth—life is a zero-sum game, and the amount won will somehow be deducted from the “winner’s” other assets. This work is multilingual, allowing all visitors to experience the unsettling philosophy that it espouses.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Photo Tips for Mom: Burning in the edges

When I printed in the darkroom, I would usually take a piece of cardboard, and use it to block the light in a way that the edges of the print would receive additional exposure. This was called “burning in the edges,” and it would make the edges of the print slightly—almost imperceptibly—darker. Why did I do this? Well, because Ansel told me to. But the real reason is that our eye is drawn toward brighter parts of the print, and darkening the edges slightly keeps the viewer’s eyes from wandering out of the frame.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


This evening I played around with freelensing—holding a camera lens in front of the camera without mounting it, so that you can tilt and move the lens around freely. Like a tilt-shift lens, this allows the plane of focus to be other than a vertical plane in front of the camera. Unlike a tilt-shift lens, it’s very hard to control precisely.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Photo Tips for Mom: Querying keywords

Querying, or searching, your Lightroom catalog for photos with certain keywords is done in the Library module.

The search will work by narrowing down, or filtering, the displayed photos to show only those with a certain keyword. So we have to start by showing all the photos that we want to search. Use the panels on the left to choose your starting point. One common option would be All Photographs:


Once you’ve picked your starting point for the search, expand the Keyword List panel on the right side of the screen, and find the keyword you want to looks for. You can do this by expanding the tree, or by using the search box.

When the keyword you want to search for is visible, hover over it, and a right-facing arrow will appear:


Click the arrow, and your displayed photos will be filtered down to those that have the keyword. Note that anything underneath the selected keyword will be included, so searching for Birds will include American Robin.

Lightroom’s filtering capabilities extend beyond keywords. In the Library Filter boxes that appear at the top of the screen, you’ll see that you can filter on all kinds of parameters, such as the lens used. The filter panel will show four things to filter on, but you can change each of those by clicking on a search parameter:


To stop filtering, click None:


Photo Tips for Mom: Applying keywords

Lightroom has a number of ways to set keywords for photographs. Keywording is done in the Library module.

One Shot image-by-image recap

I wrote about a few images in depth, but for most I didn’t have much to say, and let the image speak for itself. Since the point of the project was to see if I could make a decent image with only one shot, though, I thought I should offer some opinions about how well each image succeeded.