CDIA Web Development: A mix of LAMP and RIA that lacks focus

The B.U. Center for Digital Imaging Arts has just added another core curriculum to their stable of information technology certificates by introducing the Web Development Certificate. As you may know, they completely won me over with their Digital Photography program, and one of my coworkers at Adobe has been raving about their Audio Production curriculum as well. As such, I have high expectations that they will deliver great instructors for the chosen curriculum.

Their Web Development certificate program, founded on more than 20 courses, emphasizes the use of PHP and MySQL as core technologies, including a Rich Media Web Development subtopic focusing on the use of Flash and ActionScript. Along the way there's a sprinkling of Javascript, XML related technologies, and AJAX, and the course is capped off with some Content Management and Web 2.0 social network topics.

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A Continued Recommendation for The Center For Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University

Street Shooting - BU CDIALast summer I posted my initial thoughts on the Professional Digital Photography program at Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts (CDIA), as well as some short video clips from the studios. While I've been attending the 18 month part time program I've received numerous inquiries requesting additional advice or insight about the program. I've decided to synthesize my email replies into a single blog entry for the benefit others who may be interested as well. Below you'll find an update on my experiences and some helpful advice.

CDIA DP101 LabI absolutely love the quality of instruction, facilities, and equipment available in the Professional Digital Photography program at Boston University's Center for Digital Imaging Arts. They have a well thought out curriculum, outstanding instructors, and state of the art facilities. They are so successful that they've purchased a large building across the street from their primary location in Waltham, MA to effectively double their capacity. They also operate a new campus in Georgetown, Washington D.C., and I've heard they are opening additional campuses in San Francisco, CA and Austin, TX.

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Photography Web Utilities and My Recent Work

The holiday season has come and gone with little blogging on my part, but there's a few photography utilities for the web that I've wanted to mention. Its been a busy season with a couple weeks in Barcelona and a regular evening schedule at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at BU. It won't get less busy for me, so now's the time to share...

Lightroom SDK: Flickr Export Plugin
Lightroom Flickr Export PluginThe SDK (Software Developer's Kit) for Lightroom provides software developers a way to build custom plugins for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. An example plugin to Export photos directly from Lightroom to Flickr comes with the SDK, so download the Lightroom SDK to get it. Even if you don't care about the SDK and aren't a software geek, download it anyway just to get the plugin to make your Flickr workflow even easier.




SlideShowPro for Lightroom
Speaking of Lightroom (yes, it is my favorite piece of image software right now!), for just $25 you can buy an excellent plugin for Lightroom to export stylish and sophisticated Flash-based Web Galleries for your website. Its very easy to use and provides an intuitive panel of gallery styling options. Previously, to use SlideShowPro you had to understand the Flash Authoring tool in order to get started, but with Lightroom its now incredibly simple to use. Here's where you can check out a Web Gallery example of the SlideShowPro plugin for Lightroom




FlickrEdit: Backup Your Flickr Library
And speaking of Flickr, I've recently read some recommendations for FlickrEdit, free utility that permits you to backup all your images on Flickr to your local desktop, among other things. I haven't used it yet, but it seems like a very useful safety net to have around.




Photographic Storytelling with Soundslides Plus
Moving back to the topic of Web Image Galleries, I've just stumbled across a remarkable Flash-based tool from Soundslides geared towards photojournalists that enables you to easily synchronize digital audio recordings with a collection of photographs. Check out this newspaper article Through the Artists' Eyes to view two wonderful examples.




HDR and Tone Mapping with PhotoMatix
Although Photoshop CS2 and CS3 have a built-in automation tool for generating HDR images from multiple exposures, I've been giving Photomatix a test drive because it has been touted to have better fine-tuned control over the Tone Mapping process. In fact, I find that when using Photomatix I have had more success with HDR, just take a look below for some recent examples. There's lots of detailed knobs and sliders during the Tone Mapping process in Photomatix, and to save time later when I produce a satisfying result Photomatix allows me to save my settings. Later, when working on a new image I can try on some of my previous settings to quickly see if any produce a pleasing effect.





The Tower of Our Sea La Proxima Dirty Business


There we have it... I hope you find some of these useful as I have. Now, since I've got your attention, here's some of my recent work both from the studio at CDIA and from my recent trips to Barcelona and San Francisco. Enjoy!

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Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Adobe Lightroom: The gifts that give then give again

If you're giving Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop CS3 for the Holidays this year, or if you're lucky enough to receive them as a gift, read the EULA to double your gifting fun!

I've seen very little mention of the Adobe End User License Agreement, or EULA, for these products in the blogosphere, and I haven't spoken with anyone that already knew about this little gem either. Specifically, the EULA is the license that Adobe gives you as the purchaser or user of the software, and that license states the terms under which you are legally permitted to use them.

Both Lightroom and Photoshop CS3 EULA state, under section 2.4 Portable or Home Computer Use, that you're allowed to install the software on not just one, but two of your home computers! Yippee!!! There is a small caveat that technically you're not permitted to use the same product at the same time on the two computers, but unless you're a serious Type A Multi-tasker then I doubt you'll have to worry about that... The official Legalease from the EULA is as follows:

Adobe Lightroom EULA

2.4 Portable or Home Computer Use. The primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer.


Adobe Photoshop CS3 EULA
2.4 Portable or Home Computer Use. The primary user of the Computer on which the Software is installed may install a second copy of the Software for his or her exclusive use on either a portable Computer or a Computer located at his or her home, provided the Software on the portable or home Computer is not used at the same time as the Software on the primary Computer. You may be required to contact Adobe in order to make a second copy.


Further, when Lightroom was still in beta version back last January, the Lightroom Program Manager, Tom Hogarty, posted to a forum thread that you may choose a different operating system when installing the second copy, just in case, for example, that you have PC as your primary computer and a Mac Powerbook as your second, then you're good to go.

Strange Days Indeed: The Snappah Hits the Big Screen

The SnappahA nonprofit called Sea Studios Foundation is making a film in cooperation with National Geographic Television and PBS, called Strange Days on Planet Earth, to be hosted by Edward Norton. This film will spotlight key issues affecting the health of the world ocean and highlight cutting edge scientific research.

A producer recently contacted me to request the use of one of my studio photographs entitled "The Snappah" for use in Season 2 of the program due out this winter.

The Snappah (a play on how a Bostonian might refer to a Red Snapper) was a creative shot I came up with one day while in my class on Introduction to Studio Lighting at CDIA. The image just popped into my head of an Alice in Wonderland type of outrageous dinner setting with a fresh fish too huge for the plate, accompanied by absurd utensils, and a bouquet of something with real punch. That morning I took a walk through Whole Foods Markets for inspiration, and voila, I was smitten with the snapper.

I'm absolutely thrilled on so many levels to know that one of my images has become so successful. On Flickr the image quickly made it into Explore, Flickr's most interesting photos for a given day, and was complemented by scores of comments and favorites. To have the image used in PBS science documentary in conjunction with the National Geographic Society is a dream come true and validates all the time and hard work I've been putting into goal to become a professional photographer.

You can read more about my experience at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University in Waltham, MA.

CDIA: Split Shot - Integrating Photoshop in the Creative Studio

Integrating Photoshop Into the Creative Studio -- That's the snazzy title of the 8th course in CDIA's Professional Digital Photography program. Not too long ago, photographers that shot film could spend hours setting up perfect lighting in a shot using snoots, grids, reflectors, gobos, and other light modifiers to capture the perfect image with one shutter click. With the advent of digital photography its possible to achieve that perfect shot in far less time by shooting several versions of the set then combine the images in Photoshop using layer masks and blending. In the digital photographer's studio, the final image is often a composite that makes best use of time between setting up the lighting and post production editing.

The first exercise in this course is known as a split shot, a technique to control reflections in a set. Imagine an art director sets up a product shot in the studio composed of a couple books and some CDs, carefully placing each element in his or her preferred configuration. Then its the photographer's job to capture the image just as the art director composed it, even though the set may have elements of differing reflective surfaces or different contrasts. The CDs have prismatic reflections of the books behind them, and the books may have shadows or glossy reflections of the other books or CDs in front of them.

To achieve a well lit, final image begin by capturing the original set, then use light modifers such as cards or gobos to capture subsequent shots where one element of the set is lit properly. Weight down the tripod to completely avoid nudging the camera since later several captures will be layered and combined.

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Leopard Day 0: A Day in the Life a Mac Fanatic

www.flickr.com


7:00 AM
Wake up early (yes, 7AM is early for me) to prepare to go to the Apple Store opening at 9AM


7:10 AM
Check the Apple website and find that the countdown still reads 11 hours. By 10/26 they didn't mean morning of 10/26. Back to bed.


4:45 PM
Leave work to head over the Apple Store at the Natick Collection Mall


5:30 PM
Join the line camped outside the locked doors of the Apple Store. A kid in front of me walks the line, returns to his father to report that they are #38 in line.


5:35 PM
The frumpy old guy next to me starts chatting with about Macs. Says that he's a web developer that works at home and uses Dreamweaver and Flash on PCs and wants to trash them for Macs instead.

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Interactive Google Map of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail

The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail is a proposed development in Massachusetts that will convert a former railroad bed into a 25 mile, multi-purpose trail stretching from Chelmsford to Framingham, passing through the towns of Westford, Carlisle, Acton, Concord, and Sudbury too . The trail is logistically broken out into three phases, each to be developed sequentially as fund-raising and litigation with abutters move along in parallel.

The BFRT website is chock full of useful information for to help support the building of the Rail Trail. The map which diagrams the route and its 3 phases is rather vague unfortunately. I decided to diagram the bicycle path's proposed route using Google Maps instead, which allows for precise plotting, zooming, and both map and satellite views.


View Larger Map

I would love to see the whole network of rail trails in Massachusetts developed to encourage bicycling for sport and commuting since the roads are so very hazardous here. For starters, a connector trail to join the BFRT with the Assabet River Rail Trail would extend the trail network to Marlborough, Hudson, Maynard, and Stow. It would be a dream to also connect it to the Minuteman Bikeway that runs from Bedford to Cambridge and provides access to the Alewife subway station and Boston.

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Morf Transit - The Burlington Vermont Welcome Wagon

While in Burlington Vermont this weekend, I setup to do an HDR image on Church Street, the pedestrian thoroughfare with cross traffic at every block. An HDR image at night requires several long exposures taken in sequence.

While in the middle of the sequence, this driver from Morf Transit taxi service pulls up to wait for a client and stops right in front of me, although there was plenty of space in front of and behind it.

Morf Transit's Beligerent Driver

For 5 minutes I wait patiently with my wife beside me, just chuckling to ourselves over his parking tactics. No bigggie..

After 10 minutes I'm wondering if I should just move closer to the church in the distance and start over. The driver begins honking his horn to notify his clients that he's ready.

At close to 15 minutes of waiting the driver continues honking, and rolls down his windows to get some air. I took this opportunity to request if he wouldn't mind pulling forward a bit, and the conversation goes roughly like this:

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Adobe MAX 2007 - I'm there in spirit

Making Hard Things Easy


As Jason Delmore, ColdFusion Product Manager, says:
"You really distilled our CF message".

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