Thursday, February 25, 2010

Funny Google result

I'm getting a little extra traffic for the search term "tiger rant" where apparently I was placing pretty high but I'm the first result on the second page. Why? This post where I was irritated at the San Francisco Zoo who seems to think it's OK if the tigers get out and eat people as long as they're unpleasant people. 'cause, you know, tigers always stop at one.

Somehow I suspect that's not what they're looking for, but such is life on the Internet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I think I'm in love

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Little updates

My experiment selling posters is ongoing. The results so far have been underwhelming to say the least, but I said I'd give it until March 1st so if you want to get one now's the time. I really don't mind trying things and having them fail but I'm not going to leave the site cluttered up with a bunch of options that nobody wants - I already offer way too many and it confuses people (the major effect so far of offering posters is now I'm getting questions from people verifying before purchase that the lab prints are regular photographs and not press-printed posters - something they were never concerned about before).

Obviously I haven't posted any new work in a while. Sorry about that - if I realized we'd have the kind of unsettled often raining weather we've been having this season I would have been more aggressive about getting some studio shoots scheduled. I'll see what I can do to jumpstart that a bit - the good news is that with my new computer gear and workflow I can get sets up very fast. If you're tired of swinging by and not seeing anything new I suggest poking through the archive section if you haven't already - I'm about due for another purge.

Normally I'd include a paragraph about how nice it's been to watch Olympic curling but our men's team in particular... ugh, I don't even want to think about it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

20 years of Photoshop

Yep, version 1.0 of Photoshop came out 20 years ago. Obviously it was originally designed for scanned film and drawing and such and not digital cameras. It's almost synonymous with "retouching" at this point although the program does much more. I use it, although I spend much more time in its sister product, Lightroom, which was built from the ground up for photography and is much faster and workflow oriented.

I almost worked on Photoshop as a programmer. Back in the mid 90s... I think it was 1995 actually... I was working on developing test tools for screen savers at a company called Berkeley Systems (if "flying toasters" or "After Dark" rings a bell, that's them). Then I was put on the team for the next version of the product itself but the whole thing was falling apart and it seemed time to leave. I had two places I was looking at. One made pretty dull software - basically sat on top of a database and provided a nice interface and could track all kinds of process and workflow stuff. They mostly sold it to track trouble tickets but as an example it made a great bug tracker. And the other was Adobe, to work on Photoshop.

But the problem was, the Photoshop job wasn't for the main development team. It was working for the QA (Quality Assurance aka software test) team to instrument the product so they could track down bugs and crashes and memory leaks and such... because the software was already getting bloated in 1995. And the reason the QA department was making the hire was because the main developer group thought it unnecessary or was otherwise against it. So the job would have been half political - basically smoozing individual developers to devulge enough about the code to add hooks where necessary. And the other problem is it was a repeat in many ways of the job I'd just been promoted out of, and I wanted a business card that said "Software Engineer" and not "some oddball guy we tacked into the testing department because the real developers aren't being cooperative." It looked like a total train wreck and I didn't need two in a row.

So I took the more boring job, and I'm absolutely sure it was the right decision, but it would have been an interesting challenge, that's for sure.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Craigslist Kelp

Not a model wannabe this time, but a photographer wannabe.

So I have this extra light that I keep meaning to sell but haven't really put any energy into it. I should probably just list it on eBay but because of fees and just the pain of shipping it I've avoided it. I did however finally get my butt into gear and list it on craigslist.

Being an honest guy I mentioned this noisy fan and discounted the price $25 below what they're going for. And my God it brought out the bottom feeders. One person wrote this detailed table with the cost to ship it back to Alien Bees, fix it, and ship it back. Well, first off if the fan's going to bug you, and you want a totally new one... buy a totally new one. Especially since they go for only about 10-20% lower than new so it's just not that much cheaper. I'm not sure why they go for so much but they do. But more interestingly - he just made up the numbers. The amount he quoted was about twice their standard service charge - which includes shipping back! And he was clearly lying because he said he checked with the company but the prices are very clearly stated on their website.

Another guy said, well, the price for a new one is such-and-such and argued down from there. The thing is - he started with a price about 10% lower than they go for on the companies website (which is the only place you can get them - there are no dealers), left out shipping, rounded a couple of times (dropping $9 at one point), and made it look like I was asking some crazy price. If I were math challenged and didn't know what the actual price is I might have believed him. It was very convincing... except that none of the numbers actually added up.

I'm in no rush so I'm just ignoring the lowball offers, and actually it's been kind of fun reading them, but it amazes me that people spend the time to justify what's basically a crazy number, hoping that the person selling hasn't spent 5 minutes searching completed items on eBay to see what they're selling for.

Last time I sold one of these it went in a few hours, and it's too early to tell if I'll get some good response. (If not clearly I need to open it and see what the fan's rubbing against and bend something because people are fixating on it). I wonder if it's real photographers who are trying to save money, or if it's people who know how much they go for on eBay and they're hoping to lowball people on craigslist and flip them? I bet it's flippers because it's just too devious otherwise.

Update: Sure enough, the very next day somebody wrote to me in the morning, we hashed out some details and he dropped by the local coffee place where I meet models on his way home from work. I brought my Vagabond unit which lets you run studio lights anywhere, showed him it works, got cash, and we went. No muss, no fuss.

He's in a similar circumstance to when I started - he's a photographer but hasn't done studio stuff and wants something to learn on. It'll serve him great for that and I also used it for the first couple of years of professional work as well until I had enough lights that I didn't need it. Nice to know it's going to a good home.

The cool thing about Alien Bees is that they really do hold their value. Because of the fan I sold it at the low end of the range, but it was still only about $50 less than new. So it cost me $10/year for that light...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Anybody want a poster?

I'm trying an experiment - offering a couple of posters for sale.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Happy birthday

Happy birthday to me,
Happy birthday to me,
I just turned forty,
Oh shit.

Want to cheer me up? Buy some prints. Here's an incentive - for the next 24 hours I'll include a free signed 8x10 of my choice with your order (it will be something I have on hand - I always have some extra prints around because of minimum orders at the lab).

Friday, February 05, 2010

Nom nom nom

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Blogger sucks. They're discontinuing the kind of blog I have - where I use their tools to write it, but then it's pushed onto my local site. Using the surviving options it's possible to set it up using a custom domain - but not into a subdirectory. One thing I like about the current setup is that the blog's just another part of the site with basically the same look, etc. and this is going to be a step away from that. The good news is that it appears that I can use a subdomain, so basically instead of it becomes

It's not quite as clean but it's doable. One obvious disadvantage is that I won't be able to use my current stats package but since I just updated it since September obviously I don't pay too much attention to that anyway. I suspect there will be a lot of other little annoyances but we'll see.

It's not clear yet if I'll be able to keep my existing templates or if I need to start with a modern one and tweak it to make it look basically like the site. Probably I'll need to start with a new one which would give me the more modern/useful archive column in the sidebar and such.

There's supposed to be a migration tool available at the end of February, so I'm not going to do squat about it until then, but sometime between then and March 26th when they kill service I'll be moving over. In theory it's supposed to be pretty transparent with redirects from the old URL to the new one but we'll see.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Just checking in

I'm still alive and all that. I have a couple of models lined up to do stuff if it ever stops raining (three or so where it's vague, one where we're basically checking in every weekend to see if anything looks good in the next few days). If it keeps up a whole lot longer I'll book some studio work, but between portrait work and my "to do" list being outdoor heavy I'd really like to shoot some models outdoors.

The whole "getting everything that was on my PC working on my iMac" thing continues to go well. As an example I run awstats locally to keep an eye on my web stats, but not that often so I just now got around to installing it and updating my data since September. There were no real surprises - traffic's been pretty stable over the long run with the occasional spike if some popular site links to me. I'm really happy with my iMac - I have it set up now to boot in either MacOS and Windows 7 and it's really eased the transition back to the Mac.

eBay's decided to make massive changes - they're eliminating the stores as we know it so there will be only one kind of fixed price item, which has its pros and cons. It's really not obvious what I should do - probably I'll just keep a token presence there since it's been less and less of my sales anyway, but I haven't made any decisions yet. They're trying to get everybody to commit to an expensive store subscription package by Feb 16th but they're awfully vague on exactly why you should do it so early. Sigh... but it looks to me like I should maybe just have it set so a couple of fixed priced items end every day and eliminate auctions entirely. The big reason to keep some kind of presence there is it's where a lot of my new customers from from.

Other than that I'm trying to keep the newly mobile baby from causing too much chaos (watching her is much more full time than it was when she slept more and stayed where you put her), and finishing off some of my apparently neverending homeowner to do list.

I've been posting the occasional little funny thing that's not worthy of a blog post over on Facebook - if that sounds interesting, check it out (I know the whole "fan" language irritates some people but it's the best way to keep both a private and a public page on Facebook - the wording wasn't my idea.)
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