Photography Weblogging

Faux photoblog

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Six Apart has announced the preliminary release of TypePad, a hosted solution for those people partial to Movable Type. Prices look pretty decent, low enough to be competitive, but not so low that there’s thousands of weblogs on one server.

Among the features is HTML-free templating, moblogging, automated FOAF generation from the blogroll (hmmm – don’t agree with this one), as well as the ability to show what you’re reading and listening to. The best decision Six Apart made with TypePad was pointing the weblogger’s domain names at their weblogs. Depending on the web server used, this is a very doable thing, and I think other hosted solutions are going to have to look at this as an option.

One of the functionalities that TypePad has that Movable Type doesn’t is a ‘photoblog’, photography weblogging setup. I imagine this will interest quite a few folks who already have their own hosted MT sites. I liked the look and feel of many of the photoblogs I looked at, such as Joi Ito’s San Francisco photos, so I set out to re-create the look in a Movable Type weblog called MT Faux PhotoBlog. Once I figured out the templates, it was quite easy to create the album, and I may do this for other photo albums.

How does it work? The solution requires that the server have ImageMagick, and the ImageMagick Perl wrapper installed. Otherwise you’ll need to create your thumbnails yourself.

Categories are created for each photo, sans the photo extension. For instance, a photo such as tunnel.jpg would have a category called ‘tunnel’. When the photo is uploaded, it’s uploaded as a separate entry, and a thumbnail is created. When I create the thumbnails, I don’t constrain the image proportions, so that I can create square thumbnails. In the Faux PhotoBlog, I’m using thumbnails of 120 x 120px sizes.

To get the front page, I replaced the traditional MT entry listing with the following:

<div id=”content” style=”align: center”>
<div class=”blog” >

<MTEntries lastn=”20″>
<a href=”<$MTEntryPermalink$>”><img src=”<$MTBlogURL$>photos/<$MTEntryCategory$>-thumb.jpg” alt=”<$MTEntryTitle$>” class=”mainpage” /></a>


What this template code does is create the URL for the image by concatenating the category name, with the blog URL and photo thumbnail filename extension (jpg). Instead of category, you could also use entry title, but then this forces it into a title that might not be descriptive. Instead, I used entry title for the ALT tag for the image, and reserve category for the filename.

To force the images to line up and wrap without using an HTML table I created an img CSS class to use with the images that sets the image to inline display:

img.mainpage {
display: inline;
margin: 5px 5px 5px 5px }

I also gave the images 5px of space around them on each side. All the images are given a border, in this case a solid grey one.

(If your browser doesn’t support display:inline, you can also surround each photo with a SPAN tag, as this forces the image inline. However, if you do this, make sure your outer DIV block doesn’t have left padding or margin, or you’ll get uneven wrapping.)

This takes care of the main page. For each individual page, to get the lined up thumbnails, I used the following:

<div class=”side”>
<MTEntries lastn=”20″>
<a href=”<$MTEntryPermalink$>”><img src=”<$MTBlogURL$>photos/<$MTEntryCategory$>-thumb.jpg” alt=”<$MTEntryTitle$>” width=”50″ style=”margin-bottom: 10px” /></a><br />

I’m using the browser resize capability – resizing the thumbnails from 120 down to 50. However, that’s something you can change. It just seems to match the PhotoBlog look. Additionally, in this setup, I only list the most recent 20 photos, but you can change this, on the front page and in the sidebars.

That’s it. Then, to add a new photo, just upload a new photo, make sure you create and upload a square thumbnail the same name as your original photo with a ‘-thumb’ appended, and name the category for the photo the same name as the image file:

photo: tunnel.jpg
thumbnail: tunnel-thumb.jpg
category: tunnel

You’ll need to rebuild all entries each time you add a new photo, otherwise it won’t show in the sidebar. Chances are, you’ll want to consider keeping your photo albums smaller, less than 100 photos.

TypePad’s photo album feature probably has a lot more features, but for those of us on MT, at least we can capture the look.

(Access the individual and main index templates, and stylesheet. )


Well, I left parts out, didn’t I? When you upload a photo, have MT create a new entry and use the embedded photo option. If you have the software installed, also have it create the thumbnail for you at the same time – making sure not to constrain the proportion, and make the thumbnail square.

In the entry, delete everything but the URL for the photo, converting it into an img instead of a hypertext link if you used a thumbnail when creating the entry.

Alternatively you can just create a fresh entry, and add the image yourself – but you’ll then have to provide a thumbnail. If you do, remember to name the thumbnail imagename-thumb. Don’t try and constrain the photo itself as a thumbnail using width and height in the img tag, unless the photo is square to begin with – browsers don’t do a great job of converting a big rectangular photo into an itty bitty square thumbnail.

To make the photos display properly, you’ll also want to change the chronological order to forward chronology, not the typical reverse chronological order of most weblogs.

Thanks to Al for correction to my earlier statement: MT will create thumbnails if you have either ImageMagick or NetPBM installed. Ask your ISP if you’re not sure.

And if you have problems, holler.


Once you start shaking out the socks all sorts of toe fuzzies fall out

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

President Bush has spoken out against gay marriages , a move applauded by religious conservatives in this country and elsewhere. Some would say that he’s doing so in order to keep the loyalty of the fundamentalists within the Republican party. I can’t help thinking that it’s also because he’s trying to redirect conversation away from Iraq, the economy, and other things going bump in the night for him.

His discussion about having White House lawyers find a way of defining marriage to be for heterosexuals only is ludicrous – exactly what does he think he can do with White House lawyers? But I’m saddened to see so much Congressional effort in this regard when we’re faced with so many other issues our elected officials should be focusing on. I guess it’s easier to force one’s way into bedrooms than to face and fix real problems.

The Vatican has also called against gay marriages in this country, issuing a 12-page document on the issue. According to the Kansas City Star’s report on the document:

Gay adoptions “mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development,” it said.

The document calls on Catholic politicians to vote against laws granting legal recognition to homosexual unions and to work to repeal those already on the books.

“To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral,” it said, although it did not specify penalties for Catholics who do.

Considering the Catholic Church’s recent problems with child molestation, one pauses when one reads a document saying that that gay adoptions are doing violence to children. I have to contrast the documented damage that has been done to children in the name of religion and by the religious over the years with such unsubstantiated claims of ‘violence’ on the part of gay parents – where is the proof? The statistics? Where is the documentation?

No, the damage being done ‘to’ the children of gay couples lies primarily in that they are new souls being raised to think for themselves, to question the dogma, to reject the blind reliance on faith, and most of all, to reject the status quo that forms so much of the foundation of the Religious Right.

I sometimes wonder if I support the right for gays to marry because I’m a feminist, or am I a feminist for the same reason I support gays being able to marry, and raise children – people’s potential should not be limited because of antiquated laws and beliefs narrowly interpreted and enforced by those with the most to gain. Too much oppression, violence, and bigotry has been committed in the name of “God”, no matter the names used to represent “God”; and the logic behind most of the oppression just doesn’t make sense.

For instance, where is the harm to society in two gay people being allowed to celebrate their love with a ceremony, as well as being treated as a couple in the eyes of the law? This doesn’t prevent heterosexual couples from sharing the same privilege. It doesn’t force homosexuality on anyone. It’s not going to suddenly make straight kids accept gayness into their lives. Why do we care so much for what happens between two adults who are in love?

The people who are anti-gay marriage remind me of the anti-abortionists – the same moralism, the same sense of ‘righteousness’. The anti-abortionist argue vehemently against abortion, and cry for the unborn children – but if they’re that concerned about children, why are there unwanted children still in this country? Why are there still children desperate for a home, or who are abused, hungry, and neglected? I’ve never understood a group of people who seem to care more for unborn children then they do the ones that are already here, and base their spurious reasoning for their actions on ‘God’.

(A loving God, at that, as they wire yet another abortion clinic with a bomb, or string another gay kid up to die in the desert.)

What started this chain of thought – gay marriage and feminism – wasn’t that Sheila recommended me for inclusion in the Ms. Magazine weblog roll (thanks, Sheila – get better); it was because while reading the reports of our President’s new moral commitment, I was also reading an excellent set of weblog writings having to do with feminism and religion, starting with Alas, a blog’s What to do with those “I’m not a feminist, but…, followed by Noli Irritare Leones, Why I call myself a feminist, and bean at Alas’s response.

In the first essay, bean discussed a really lovely Guardian piece about the truth behind feminism, not the stereotypes. According to Zoe Williams, the author of the Guardian piece, feminists are not, “…the humorless, lentil-eating battle-axe who won’t swallow and the power-dressing, self-seeking career bitch who uses the movement to justify and advance her relentless amassing of cash”. As bean reminds us, it is because of the bad, bad Feminists that we have the right to vote, to read and write, to not be property of some man, and, most importantly, to have control over our own bodies.

Sappho at Noli Irritare Leones answered with why she calls herself a feminist, even though at first glance this may seem to contradict her Christian beliefs:

Why do I call myself a feminist? After all, I’m an actively churchgoing Christian (which some would see as at odds with being a feminist). I have reservations (for men and women) about “free sex” (and lots of people say “feminism and the sexual revolution” as if they were pretty nearly the same thing). I’d like to see a world with fewer divorces and fewer abortions; shouldn’t I then reject feminism as the cause of divorces and abortions?

She cites reasons including gratitude that she may vote, go to school, have the right to use birth control, work in traditional male fields, protection against rape and abuse, and other fruits of early and contemporary feminist efforts (forget about these at times, don’t we?) At the end, the final reason she gives is:

…because as a Christian I believe that both men and women are in the image of God, that both are called to humility, service, and willingness to “wash feet” as Jesus did, and that both men and women are also called to not put our light under a bushel, sometimes to be Priscilla to someone else’s Apollos, and generally to share our gifts.

(The reference to Priscilla and Apollo is based on the biblical story of the 13 year old Priscilla who would not worship Apollo and was ultimately beaten, sprinkled with boiling oil, starved, thrown to the lions and ultimately beheaded for her ‘impiety’.)

What a marvelous way of looking at the issue: God gave you talents, skills, and intelligence – you have a moral duty to exercise them regardless of your sex. This means being a great nurse or stay at home parent, even if you are a boy; or being a great software engineer (ahem), CEO, and President, even if you are only a girl.

Bean from Alas responded to the new thread of feminism and religion, providing the following in addition to other good points:

Feminists believe in the maintaining (or bringing about) legal and financial access to abortions. However, the majority of feminists also want to see a reduction in the number of abortions. The difference between feminists views on reducing this number and conservative views are that for feminists, rather than reducing access to abortions, they simply want to reduce the need for them – through better access to sex education and birth control.

I agree totally. Might surprise people to know that though I’m pro-Choice, I think abortions should be the choice of last resort. I believe women and men should practice safe sex, use birth control, or practice abstinence. However, sometimes these fail, or mistakes are made, or a woman is raped; in which case women have the right to safe abortions, rather than having to depend on some fake doctor with a dirty kitchen table and spoon. They should consider all the alternatives, first; but they shouldn’t be denied any of them.

Certain gay rights supporters might wince that I brought feminism and pro-Choice into a discussion of gay marriage; and there are feminists who will wince because I bring the topic of gay marriage into discussions about a women’s body and her right to control it. However, at the root of both is the question of religion, and people using religion as a hammer to flatten diversity, to punish the different, and to beat down equality. Regarding feminism and gay rights, I can’t see supporting the one without supporting the other – not because I am a blanket liberal and therefore I have these issues that I must believe and support to stay a good stereotypical liberal; but because fundamentally I believe it’s the right thing to do.

When I see religion being used to force government intervention with either, I will speak out. Even if this discussion does make a good topic to sidetrack folks away from talking about Iraq and a certain Presidential address that mentions non-existent nuclear weapons; and rising unemployment; and disenchanted and abandoned service people; amd corporate fraud and lack of accountability; and ‘terror betting’; and a growing health care crises…