Monthly Archives: October 2012

Dropbox vs. Sendspace

Yoohoo, I did a job. Well, a small one, anyway. A start-up company in the area of interior design needed visuals for their marketing materials had been looking for a photographer. The early bird certainly catches the worm – I was the first bird to reply to their mail and thus got the job. I’ll write about the shoot another time. Today they dropped in to pick up their images which they had requested to be burnt on disc.
 

How do you normally pass on images? In the interest of recycling and the environment, I am a great believer in paper-less communication. So I actually prefer passing on images via dropbox or sendspace. Unless you maintain a website with access-restricted viewing areas that you can invite customers to, individually, Sendspace and Dropbox are probably a better, quicker and environmentally friendlier way of getting images to a client. They are both services free of charge but they have different strengths and weaknesses. Dropbox essentially is a cloud storage service. You can sign up for a free account on which you open folders. Into these you then upload files which you can share with specific people, keep entirely private or share with everyone. For the latter two options you create individual links that get sent to the people you want to share the documents and files with. (This works with soundfiles as much as with text or image files.)
 

Dropbox has a couple of drawbacks, however. Upon initial signing up for the free service you receive a limit of storage space of 2GB. This can be extended to a maximum of 18GB – you receive an extra 500MB per new sign-up you refer to Dropbox. Not that much, considering how big photo files are. – The second drawback is the fact that your clients need to sign up to Dropbox in order to access the files you have stored for them there. While this is a great way for you to collect more storage space, it doesn’t really look that great to a client.
 

Sendspace is better in that respect – there is no sign-up required to make use of this service. However, that is because Sendspace is not a cloud storage provider as such. Essentially Sendspace allows you to send big attachments with a message. Like Dropbox, you upload your files into Sendspace’s cloud; once uploaded you can forward the images via a specially created link. Great: The service is free and no sign-up is necessary. Neither do your clients have to sign up for anything. The drawback: Free users have a file limit of 500MB. You may have to zip files before using Sendspace, thus creating an extra step in your workflow.
 

Maybe the good old disc is the way to go? My clients wanted a “hard” copy of the images rather than download the files onto their devices. That left me with a little packaging dilemma. I really do not like those plastic CD cases. (Again the goody-two-shoes environmental issue). And yet you need to pass on CDs safely and nicely – as a bit of advertising for yourself, I suppose. But fret not, while I am on my little Queen-of-the-Internet lecture here, I’ll let you in on a nice little secret. Instead of fiddling around with inDesign or some other programme to create a CD envelope, I simply use a website that offers loads of free, handy imaging tools. Bighugelabs.com is the magic site. You choose a cover image, upload it to the site, add a title and your business information. Click and the CD cover template is created. All you need to do is cut it out, fold it and stick your CD in. Boom.
 

Any secrets on “postage and packaging” you would like to share? Always interested!

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Mirror, mirror on the Wall

My almost-daily musings on photographs today led me to think about mirrors in photography. (Tech nerds tune out – I am not talking about the internal mirror of the SLR but of the kind that hangs on a wall.) 
I was looking at a fashion shot in which the model was staring into a mirror, thus the viewer could both see the model’s impressive profile as well as the delectable face, full-frontal. Same, obviously, applied to the clothes in the shot. And I was wondering how good or bad I like that little style device.
Now, I’ve used it as a compositional device, myself. And felt thoroughly unoriginal for it. Shots over shoulder into the mirror *yawn*. 

This is evoking an image that gives the viewer a perspective on the subject from two (or more) points of view. (Just think of Picasso’s famous portraits of Dora Maar and you know what I mean. ) But this is actually Cubist photography on a far more realistic level than Picasso was ever able to create. No weirdo nose growing out of an ear and chameleon eyes twisting around to the sitter’s back. 

Art historians will tell me that that is not what Cubism is about. I am simplifying. Maybe it’s something to be explored in a different way…

Honesty

Photography has always been a very deceiving art: Choosing frame and composing the component parts of an image can put quite some spin on the documented reality. And it doesn’t stop there – there are all the tricks of the trade from clothes made to fit on a skinny model by stapling the garments into a big bunch behind her back; blazing fires in grand old fireplaces for interior photography – which in fact are just a ball of scrunched-up newspaper that lights up in the 10 seconds it takes to make the picture…

What we see in an image nowadays is less real than ever. And I really don’t mean that in terms of photoshopping ugly duckings into beautiful swans. Just a simple crop will do the trick – leaving out bits that are undesirable. Or enhancing colour and tone just with a simple click if we are lazy. 

I really do wonder whether it is honest to shoot digital. Isn’t film a much truer medium? What you catch on the negative is there. Bang. I am probably deluding myself, though, because in the age of scanners, negatives are probably not even used for enlarging anymore. They are just thrown on the scanner, scanned and then get the same lying photoshop treatment that all digital stuff gets, too.

Oh dear oh dear. Must be in a black mood tonight. 


Communication Breakdown

Hello there, I have a bit of a housekeeping issue going on here. 


There isn’t a huge amount of commenting going on on this blog. Not complaining, just stating the facts, guys. I write, you read – a few brave souls occasionally give me their two Cent’s worth in the comments. Until recently – when I started getting loooooads of anonymous comments. 

No, nothing sinister, nothing threatening, nothing naughty. (Do I sound almost disappointed? Nah, I can do without stalkerish molestation.) Simply annoying – comments written in broken English, quite obviously just run through Google Translate to make up some kind of gibberish that was then posted in my comment box. The point of all that? To include links to dodgy websites, I presume. I never cared to click any of the links lest I should get infected with some nasty virus.

Anyhow, after a smallish trickle of comments a few months ago, the whole thing has become so regular and so annoying that I have finally come to the point where I have to close the comment box. I don’t particularly like moderating comments. I believe in free speech and all. But not if that is being used to post dodgy advertising on my blog. 

So, dear *real* readers. Sorry if I am putting a nuzzle on you. You can still comment away – it is just that the comment will come to me before it gets published on the blog. That way I can make sure that none of that fishy advertising cr*p gets through to the blog.

And to you advertising leeches out there: I have some strong words on my mind, but all I’ll say is – please stay away!

Don’t Stop Staring

As a photographer, staring is not only my delight, it is also my business. I love to immerse myself in an image, looking at all details of it, letting my eyes wander from its focal point to the fringes and back again, revisiting it after a while to see if I am seeing something new, researching the background (not the visual one but the hermeneutical one) to see if that brings new interpretations and connotations to the table.
I have been doing a lot of that, lately. It is one of the things that I have learnt in college. I hated it at first. I really disliked those tasks where we had to research our projects and show evidence in the shape of discussion of other photographers’ work. Looking at other people’s work, I thought, would keep me from creating something original myself. It would drown my own creative ideas. It would stump my own creative development. Of course the opposite is true: It widens the horizon and it sparks new ideas in the viewer.
I am not that actively shooting at the moment, but I have built up one routine: I regularly write image analyses, purely for my own enjoyment. I study the lighting, make assumptions on the intended message, guess the camera settings, search for signs of Photoshop and generally pick the image apart as much as I can. And it has already had one certain result: I am appreciating portrait photography more than I ever did. Because there is so much to see, even in a head-and-shoulders portrait taken in front of a neutral backdrop. The human body is just an infinite canvas of emotions and connotations. It’s in the angle of the head, the shape of the eyebrows, the look in the eyes, the props, the background, the mood of the photograph. Surprised though I may be – I think I like people photography more than I ever thought. Thanks for my inspiration – and my education.

Pantone Eat Your Heart Out

There is only one reason why I am consoled with the fact that the nights are getting longer: I get to see the most gorgeous sunrises when I work on my early morning shift every day.


Ireland has the most fabulous morning skies! It must be the proximity to the sea – with the air cooling in the sunless night, the night sky is often without clouds. As the sun rises and the air is being warmed, clouds form where the sea hits the land and in the warm glow of the morning sun, the sky sparkles in all shades from bright pink to burning orange with patches of vibrant blue. 

It is a sight I never tire of – despite knowing the bad rap that sunrises and sunsets get from people. Tacky. Picture postcard kitsch. Well, stuff that. *I* am in total awe of the colour feast that nature provides for me every morning. And I cannot help but record the ever changing variety of hues. Pantone eat your heart out! 

I am reminded of the almost excessive description of the Atlantic skies in “The Boat”. Lothar Günther Buchheim’s anti-war novel is one of my favourite books of all time (first read at age 14 – take that for a geeky girl! – and read for the second time immediately after finishing it for the first time *haha*) and to this day I love the dichotomy of the book: the hard, unsentimental account of u-boat warfare contrasted with the poetic description of beautiful, sun-painted Atlantic skies. I feel vindicated in my love for sunrise photography. Sure, if a macho war correspondent can write about them with lyric tenderness, a soppy woman may do so, too…

F*ck it, Dude, Let’s Go Studying

Oh how lucky they are. Those who are going back to college these days. Did I ever think I would say that? YES, I did. Because I have always loved college. First time ’round, second time ’round. And now that my BA is over, I am missing it dearly.

I have immersed myself in sentimentalities – looking into my old visual diary from three years ago when I started my photography degree. It was a bit of a coincidence, to tell you the truth. Here is my “testimony”.

The economic crisis hit me in mid-2009. I was made redundant from my job in a large, US-American corporation which I had held for three and a half years and during the course of which I actually had experienced something of a “career”. Nonetheless I had already been contemplating a change, when the wave of redundancies crashed over me. I was shocked for about five minutes. And then it dawned on me that I could take this “rejection” as a gift – or maybe as a hint from the universe to finally do what I really want to do. I started a blog. On crafting *LOL*.

Over the course of that summer I was taking loads of photos for my blog – and for myself, now that I had so much time. And one day the idea formed in my head, that I should actually make another attempt at studying photography. My redundancy package was generous and offered me the financial freedom to do so. I set about searching for photography courses in Dublin. I wanted more than just an amateur course – I wanted commitment. Something medium-term. And I was delighted when I came across a one-year Diploma in Photographic Media in a Dublin college. And I was even more delighted when I found out, that there was no portfolio needed to gain a place on the course, but that you could apply online without much effort, simply by filling out a form.

“F*ck it, dude, let’s go studying” I thought to myself. And without any further discussion with my family, I applied, thinking, I could always decline the place on the course if my family thought they couldn’t spare me. It was the 12th of June 2009. Five days later received a letter of offer. The rest is history… but will be continued in this testimony, SOON.

I leave you with the last known picture taken BEFORE I started my degree in photography.