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Listening to photos, vintage photo ads, and a quote by me about HDRI are all cool things I've seen recently via the John Nack on Adobe blog.

By Jack Howard

January 8, 2010

Here's a couple of cool things I've come across recently via John Nack's blog. If you're not subscribed to this blog from the one of the lead developers of Adobe Photoshop, you should. John has a great inside line on what's interesting and enlightening, and sometimes just plain strange in the world of photography.

 

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If you own Photoshop, you've seen John Nack's name in the list of credits in the startup screen, oh, every single time you've launched CS4. John's official title is Principal Product Manager, Adobe Photoshop, but he's also become well known for his John Nack on Adobe blog. If you haven't subscribed yet, you should do so now.  From his perch at Adobe, John has a great view into some very interesting topics and perspectives on photography, from a very decidedly non-gear-centric position, I might add, which is a refreshing change from so much of the gadget obsession on the photographic web. John's blog is on my list of must-read sites to stay on top of what's cool, new, and sometimes just plain weird.  Here's a few rabbit holes I've gone down recently via John's blog:

 

Photosounder Photo-to-audio software converter

Years ago I accidentally put a CD-ROM of digital photos into the cheap little boombox in the paste-up and graphic design room of the weekly newspaper where I was working.  It actually tried to play the CD and it was, well...um...interesting for about a second before getting annoying. As I started working in depth with audio this year with Adobe Soundbooth, I wondered what it might sound like if you turned a photograph's histogram into soundwaves and SFDs. Now I don't wonder, because I discovered Photosounder, which is one of the most interesting and bizarre digital synesthesthic programs I've stumbled across. Check out my test with a signal-boosted shot from my Lightwriting images, and pay particular attention to the audio treatment of the ember trail in the far right of the frame. And as you may well imagine, tone mapped HDR shots generate a very rich and full audio track.

 

Photosounder is weird, strange, and very, very cool. Click on the flyout box in lower right on the player to view fullscreen.

 

Compare Adobe Soundbooth's Spectral Frequency Display of the ember as interpeted by Photosounder, to the on-screen representation of the ember. This is so cool!


On a marginally related topic, check out this very addictive noisy typing web app, too! (FYI: You'll probably want headphones on if you're at work for both of these!)

 

Vintage Camera Ads

There's something about the nature of gadget and technology-driven advertising that makes yesterday's ads seem so dated and campy just a few years down the line, as we've already blogged about from a television commercial perspective, and via a link to all sorts of classic print advertising from Nack's blog, I stumbled upon the motherlode of classic print photography ads from all sorts of magazines from the 1880s to the present day. Some of these you'll be sure to remember, and some, upon seeing for the first time make you wonder: what were they thinking with this ad! (There's one from Minolta in the late 90s that stands out in particular as an example of this!)

 

Pentax Ad, circa 1978 via VintageAdBrowser

 

Photography Quote o' the Day on HDRI

John recently published a quote by me on the state of public perception of HDR photography.  And this reader comment on my Training Wheels rant also goes to the heart of this issue. Gene-0- in Michigan appears to associate the over-the-top tone map style with HDR, and appears to be missing my point that HDRI is about much more than the late '70s black-light poster hypersaturated style of tone mapping. As I wrote in the now-quoted email chain:

 

  • "This style of tone mapping has become synonymous with HDRI in a way that isn't good at all. It's as if T-Pain's Auto-Tune tracks were the blanket description for 'music.'"

 

In fact, I think Gene-0- is missing my point that a wider autobracket sequence on SLRs may actually lead to more photographers creating more natural–but not necessarily any less dramatic–HDRI images. The wider the range of captured data, the less you have to lean on software to crank up the detail to 11. Of course, you can still push everything into Spinal Tap territory with a very wide bracket sequence, but the biggest part of the public preconceptions about HDRI being inextricably identified with this trippy style is due in part to psuedo-HDR and semi-psuedo-HDR workflows where a single shot or a minimally bracketed image sequence (3 shots at +/- 1 EV, e.g.) is run through the magical gears of 32-bit merge and mapping engine with an eye towards pushing everything over the top.

Sometimes I honestly do like the hyperdetail and saturation effect, but please don't ever forget that this is but one small facet of HDR photography, just as T-Pain's particular brand of auto-tune crooning is but one small scoop in the big display freezer of various musical flavors.

 

Know of any other great photo blogs we should be checking out? Let us know!

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