Christmas card made from photo of Concord's Colonial Inn

Christmas Card Concord 2005
Do it yourself greeting card, made with Adobe Photoshop CS 2 from this original image. Printed on 10 mil Epson Archival Matte Paper with HP Photosmart 7960 inkjet printer at 300ppi resolution in 5x6 inch size. It looks even better in print than here onscreen.

Getting started with Total Training for Adobe Photoshop CS2

Check it out on Flickr

This weekend I've been learning how to better use Photoshop by watching the 22 hour training video on DVD, Total Training for Adobe Photoshop CS2, hosted by Deke McClelland. I've been a Photoshop user for about 7 years now since version 4 (where CS2 is like version 9 I think).

So far, my only training with Photoshop in the past has been through hands-on experimentation and countless hours upon hours of image correction and manipulation for the many photos I have on the web. I've been carrying around the Total Training set of DVDs for a while, waiting for the time and impetus to sit down and start the training. I've decided that with the Adobe merger with Macromedia, now is the perfect time to begin improving my existing skills and learning the many, many new features introduced with CS and CS2.

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Snowfall at Concord Center

View this photo gallery. Yesterday's snowstorm on December 9th lasted over twelve hours, blanketing Concord, MA in 15-18 inches of light, powdery snow. This morning I was up before sunrise to photograph the town before the traffic and christmas shoppers would swarm to the center.

www.flickr.com


Below, I've also made some renderings from these images in Adobe Photoshop, so check them out too. They are available for printing up to 20" x 30", so contact me if you're interested.

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Hello Adobe!

Since the announcement Thursday evening, the blogosphere has been saturated with speculations, musings, tributes, and congratulations about the Adobe merger with Macromedia. As a former Macromedia (and Allaire) employee, I'm personally excited that today is Day One for me at Adobe, and I can finally say so!

Although, it turns out that in the office Day One is not much different than any other day for me from a practical point of view. Its business as usual here in Newton. My same customers calling for support, the same ColdFusion community members IM-ing me, and the voices of my same colleagues echoing in the hallway.

So what am I excited about? Well, I get to work for the 13th best company in the US, according to Fortune Magazine, where if you consider only software companies, Adobe comes out as #1. For another, for 7 years I've been a big fan of Adobe Photoshop. I know it better than Jasc PaintShop Pro or The Gimp, or even Fireworks. Now I can approach Photoshop as a professional rather than just a hobbyist, and I look forward to more opportunities to learn the many features in Photoshop CS and CS2. I also get to watch ColdFusion evolve closer integration with Adobe products including not just PDF generation but their server technology as well. When Macromedia acquired Allaire who would have imagined Flex or Flash Forms or Flash Remoting, so imagine what the future holds for ColdFusion under the auspice of Adobe. Yet ColdFusion is still guided by and supported by many of the same passionate folks that have been doing so since the days of Allaire.

Like Jared said,... Yes, I'm psyched. Here's to another 10 years, folks!

Adobe Merges with Macromedia



Renderings of the First Parish of Sudbury

www.flickr.com


Winter settles in at the First Parish of Sudbury, MA. The sign reads: First West Precinct Meeting House on the Rocky Plain built 1723. This is the Second Meeting House. Built in 1797. Unitarian since 1839.

For this set I used a Sigma 10-22mm ultra wide angle lens on a Canon D20 Digital SLR, with bracketing at 2/3 stop and manual exposure at f8. Selected photos were post processed in Adobe Photoshop using a technique that includes applying a medium degree of Poster Edges which creates a watercolor with pen & ink look as though they were hand drawn.

This photo gallery also available on Flickr.

Learning about printing and framing of large prints

Shutterfly print of Concord CenterShutterfly print of Tunkhannock Viaduct This fall I've starting making a more serious effort to learn and practice photography as an art. I've purchased a Canon EOS 20D digital SLR with a variety of lenses, I've taken a class on using Digital SLRs at the Decordova Museum, I've taken a local printing workshop, and I recently purchased a 21 hour Total Training Photoshop CS2 DVD from Adobe.

While I think my technical mastery of the digital SLR is good to very good, and my composition is very good, I still lack printing skills and equipment. One day I'd like to have a home studio with large format printer from Epson or HP where I can print 13x19 inch prints on high quality art paper or canvas like that from Moab. From there I'd like to try to sell my work for a small profit to recoup costs and then a little more for my effort. I'm thinking over methods of selling that include dutch auctions on eBay, negotiating with local restaurants to hang and sell framed images, participating in arts and crafts festivals, as well as obtaining a permit from my town to sell them on the street in the town center. I'm not sure what's possible yet, but check back here next year and hopefully I'll have it figured out.

Until I can develop my own photo studio at home, I had a couple of my favorite recent images printed in 20x30 inch format by Shutterfly. The original images were high quality and suitable for printing in 11x17 inch, so rather than having Shutterfly englarge them, I used a technique in Photoshop to upsample them by first adjusting the resolution from 72 ppi to 300 ppi, then incrementally increasing the print size until I reached 20x30. The result is an image file about 5 times larger but with a resolution and size suitable for this large format printing without noticible degredation in quality.

I was moderately satisfied with the prints as they came back from Shutterfly. While the site says they will be printed on a flat, low-reflection matte paper, in reality it looks more like semi-gloss because it much more shiny than I hoped for. The image quality was quite good, and I'm having these two photos professionally matted and framed by Corner's Framing. The staff at Corner's Framing was very patient and helped me understand the whole process and the cost breakdown so that I could make choices to lower the cost. Framing is quite expensive, and I learned that the frame itself is by far the largest factor in the price. Our initial selection for a frame cost $444 just for the wooden moulding, but they helped me find a a nice looking, suitable frame for about $175 instead. It will be 2 weeks before they are ready.

Should I start selling my prints, I think I'll try to have them professionally matted for about $40 including dry mounting and backing, but I'll either sell them matted only or in inexpensive metal frames. You can view a smaller version of the Concord Center print and the Nicholson Bridge print.

Resources:
Framing Large Prints
From your hard drive to your wall

Renderings of Concord Center and the Hartwell House

Photo gallery from an early morning in Concord including Concord Center, the Unitarian Church, The Colonial Inn, and the Hartwell House in nearby Lexington. These are renderings of Concord taken with a Canon EOS D20 and enhanced with Adobe Photoshop CS 2 to give them a hand drawn ink and watercolor feeling.

I'm still learning about printing techniques, but I've already learned how to upscale photos so that I can make larger prints without significantly reducing image quality. Just for fun, I ordered the first rendering of Concord Center in a 20" x 30" size from Shutterfly. The upscaling and posterizing enhancments caused the filesize to increase from about 11MB to 61MB, and Flickr won't accept files that large, so I had to use Shutterfly. Photos of that size are done in matte paper only, although it looked more like semi-gloss to me. Aside from the glossyish paper, the photo came out great at that size. I'd like to do a custom print on watercolor paper on a professional printer and then matte and frame it for my home.

These photos were taken during a 1 day workshop of personal instruction from Bill Claybrook of New River Photography. It was just Bill and I, so the workshop was definitely worth it just for the personal attention alone. Bill and I made our paces through Concord Center on a Saturday morning, and then at the Hartwell House on Battle Road on the way to Lexington. Then we spent a few hours at Bill's house where he showed me his techniques for printing, and then we went back on the road for more photography at the Shaker Village in Harvard, MA. Oddly, Bill's primary occupation is a Linux industry analyst and currently works for Novell, maker of Suse Linux. His articles can be found on the web including at Linux World Magazine on Sys-Con.com.

www.flickr.com


My other photo galleries of Concord, MA:
- Autumn in Concord, MA
- Snow Storm in Concord, MA
- Concord on Forth of July

Morning Frost, Trains, and Tractors

My wife and I spent the weekend with my family in northeast Pennsylvania. It was a beautiful autumn weekend and the drive along 84 through Connecticut and New York was incredibly scenic while the trees were all changing colors. One morning I woke up at sunrise to photograph the Nicholson bridge, also known as the Tunkhannock Viaduct. I stumbled onto cornfield on the side of the road where I found rows of post-harvest corn stalks intermingled with fallen leaves, all of which were covered in a thick frost since it was so close to tributaries of the Susquehanna river and the fog the must have rolled in heavy that night. Later that day, we visited my cousin Diane and her husband Frank but I got caught up with a fossil of a farm tractor sitting in the backyard.

The highlights of my weekend are here in photos on Flickr, so check them out. I particularly like posterizing the photos in Adobe Photoshop because I can achieve an ink and watercolor look.

www.flickr.com

[steven@macromedia /work]$ shutdown -h +360 'Going on sabbatical. Please log off'

Like many others at Macromedia, its my turn for a long sabbatical, although I've been eligible for over a year. For the next six weeks, until September 12th, I'll be out of the office. I suspect that this is the first and the last time I'll be able to take such an extended leave.

I plan to spend the first 3 weeks at home, biking, swimming, reading, and blogging. Some of my objectives include reading parts of several technical books including one on Eclipse which has a chapter on building plugins, one on building Dashboard Widgets on Mac OSX, and one on Photoshop CS. I may take some time to read up SELinux, too.

During this last month I've been reading Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, which I highly recommend, so I hope to finish that up. I think that Friedman's book is complemented by Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, and by Spencer Well's The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, but best if read (or viewed) starting with Wells and finishing with Friedman. If I find a day to spare, I think I'll finally sit myself down to watch the whole 8 hour series Cosmos, by Carl Sagan.

During the second half of my sabbatical, I'll be in Barcelona, Spain and then in the high Pyrenees. My wife and I were married in a civil ceremony two years ago and now we will be having a formal ceremony in a 12th century church in a small mountain village near the border with France, close to Pico Aneto, the highest mountain in Spain. I used Ray's BlogCFC to create a dual English/Spanish informational website to assist the guests.

If you're not familiar with the region, check this out. Its a small Javascript app that zooms in on Barcelona and the Pyrennes, which I made for those who will be travelling from the US. It's a little slow in MSIE, but great in Firefox. This was before Google Earth came out, so I was trying to provide a way for non-technical people to get their bearings.

shutdown -h +360 "Going on sabbatical. Please log off"
Broadcast message from root (pts/1)
(Fri Jul 29 11:56:35 2005):
Going on sabbatical. Please log off
The system is going DOWN for system halt in 6 hours!

I, CRINGELY: What does Adobe's purchase of Macromedia mean? Bob explains

The title and topic of this week's I CRINGELY column are as follows:

"A Flash in the Pan"

This message is being sent to inform you that Robert X. Cringely's latest column is now available online

What does Adobe's purchase of Macromedia mean? Bob explains, and talks about NeuStar, the VoiP company worth banking on.

"Of course, Adobe gets a lot more than Flash from its $3.4 billion (all stock, no cash) purchase. It gets Codeweaver and ColdFusion,"...

"Macromedia, in contrast, has great customer support and very good developer relations. Let's hope some of that stays." ...

"So it is a good deal all around, especially if Adobe can learn from Macromedia how to have fun."


See also:

Informit.com: What Drove the Adobe Systems-Macromedia Merger?
"Assuming that happens, the new Adobe Systems will emerge as a powerful software company with an array of products including applications such Photoshop and Illustrator - which are commonly used in publishing content in the print and web worlds - as well as Macromedia's Dreamweaver and ColdFusion products, which are essential elements to building web sites."

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