Purist photography

Simon St. Laurent has a new essay online about digital photography compared to film photography, and the discipline to not use Photoshop to enhance our photos. He wrote this in response to Tim Bray’s Photointegrity essay.

Tim writes about the cult of photographic puritanism and minimalism, and taking the …bits the camera gives you and push ’em out on the Web, even though the end result could be less work published online:

If I took that vow there’d be a lot fewer pictures here, but each would, I think, somehow mean more, because you’d know that nobody, however well-intentioned, had pissed in the pipeline from the camera to your screen.

Or is such an ethic inherently foolish given the vast amount of software that runs in the camera when you push the little silver button? Probably; so what I’m going to do is strive to balance Truth and Beauty.

Simon talks about his new digital camera’s effects on his own photographic discipline:

The pictures I’m taking now, even when I’m shooting similar subjects in similar conditions, just aren’t as good. I can feel ten years’ worth of rust that needs removal, but I also feel myself resisting the kind of discipline I used to have. When I can go from original to good enough with a few minutes in Photoshop, it’s tough to convince myself to put in the extra effort when I’m taking the shots.

He also makes the point, though, that professional photographers have rarely been purists, most making use of darkroom tools to enhance their work. Cropping, dodging, and burning have always been key tools on the path from film to print, Simon writes.

I have no hesitation about using Photoshop to ensure that my photos are the best they can be before I publish them online. This is true regardless of whether I take film or digital photos, though my film shots usually require less effort. That’s primarily due to the higher resolution and color saturation I can achieve with my film camera, as compared to my non-SLR digital camera.

To me, creating a photo doesn’t end when I release the shutter; the process continues until the photo is published. This included darkroom techniques, and even the use of photo retouching before digital enhancement; it continues now with tools like Photoshop.

However, you have to have relatively good material to start. For instance. my orchid photos were almost directly published from camera to web, with some minor cropping or sharpening, and some enhanced contrast (my digital camera tends to wash out colors much more than my film). In the case of my window shots posted recently, there’s little I can do with Photoshop to remove the window glare – a polarizing filter attached to the camera would have eliminated this effect, but I didn’t have it with me the day the photos were taken.

And many of my photos are taken to form a story rather than to be accepted as is for themselves. In these cases, I rarely touch the photos, and I don’t expect them to be appreciated separate from the story they’re published in.

In fact, the process to create a photo can occur before the shutter is released. When I’m interested in specific images, I’ll plan a photo or series of photos out long before I grab my camera; sometimes months ahead of time, as with photos I’ll be taking this next week of dogwood trees in bloom along a trail I hiked almost a year ago.

Regardless of camera or medium used, or purpose for photo, until it is published, the act of creating the photo continues: fueled by need and inspiration, with camera in hand, and in front of my computer.


Entering our manyth year of syndication discontent

Ben Hammersley has a new article at the Guardian on the syndication format wars, as they enter their too manyth year anniversary.

As he sees it, don’t hold your breath for a united RSS/Atom syndication effort. However, unless you’re specifically coding an application that generates syndication feeds, or consumes them, most people could care less which syndication format is used:

And so, as it stands, the content syndication world has two competing specification “brands”: RSS in its many flavours, and Atom. The Atom project has been very successful, with the two biggest weblogging firms, Blogger (run by Google) and Six Apart (the people behind Movable Type and Typepad) adopting the standard. This produced more than half a million users alone.

This switching effect, where one or two developers can move thousands of users between different specifications, highlights a valid point: for the end users, the argument is close to meaningless. As long as their RSS reader software can read Atom as well, they will never notice the difference – and most of the contemporary RSS readers have been, or are being, upgraded by their authors to support both specifications.

The only quibble I have is that Ben has lumped RSS 1.0 into the ‘RSS’ specifications, and the two really are separate specs, with a shared name. Other than that, I agree with Ben – the end user could care less. The only requests I’ve had in regards to my feeds is the type of material included, such as full content compared to excerpts; and providing more information about the source, such as my name in addition to the weblog’s name.

There! I’ve had my RSS and Atom syndication post for the year. Now that I have that out of the way, I can move on to other things.


Centralized authentication

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I just got home, and still unpacking. However, I decided to take a quick break and while I was catching up with my weblog reading, I discovered that more information about Movable Type 3.0 has been released, including some info about the comment registration process:

With a suite of comment management features and versatile comment registration–utilizing a centralized authentication service we’re calling TypeKey–Movable Type 3.0 will give you more control than ever before over the public face of your website. We’ve spent a lot of time planning a comment registration system that will fit the needs of different types of webloggers, and we have focused our attention on a system that will encourage registration and open communication.

In addition to providing authentication for comment registration, TypeKey’s open nature will enable developers to build applications upon the infrastructure, utilizing its authentication hooks. Since TypeKey and comment registration are such a significant addition to Movable Type 3.0, we’ll be going into more detail about these features later this week.

Did I read this wrong? I must have read this wrong. I thought it said that Movable Type was creating some form of a centralized authentication system, which was then going to form the basis of the new comment registration system, with built-in authentication hooks ready to be used by other developers.

I must have read this wrong. I can’t believe that Six Apart would centralize authentication–something that’s been fought for years with other like schemes–and then plunk hooks for external access on top of it.

Nah, my eyes must be tired from the trip. Time to finish unpacking.

Weird how your mind can play tricks on you like that.

I was cryptic from being tired when I posted, so I thought I would expound on my earlier writing.

Authentication of commenters, and prevention of automated tools from spamming – that’s two different things.

I don’t care if I know the real identity of people who comment at my site; I just want to keep automated tools from hitting my site, and be able to clean up comments easily for the individual spammers.

One solution is comment registration. Registration will stop automated comment spams – or at least, it should. But that just means that we have more control over who can comment; it doesn’t mean that we have to know a person’s true identity. That’s not a requirement for me.

Personally, I don’t even want registration, if there are good throttles on comments and trackbacks to keep my system from being overloaded. And if there’s a good mechanism to clean up.

Why authentication?

I guess we stay tuned…

Legal, Laws, and Regs

Judicial activism

Just a quick note to point something out that I will be talking more about this weekend. Michael Hanscom pointed out a House Resolution to allow Congress to override the Supreme Court when the Court indulges in what the family values folk term “judicial activism”. What are examples of ‘judicial activism’? Try the civil rights movement, the right of women to control their bodies, and gay rights.

But before you get too worried about this bill, when I went looking for more information, I found Ten Bills to battle Judicial Activism. (Michael created a separate post on this.)

My biggest concern about the hooplah around Howard Stern has always been that while the ‘freedom of speech’ people are occupied with the antics of Mr. Stern and the new FCC fines, some very real, and very serious bills are being introduced into Congress by several very strong, very organized, and very united groups. They are not only working to get these bills introduced, but they are also working on putting people into Congress, and the White House, to support this ‘purer’ Constitution.

What’s more disturbing – Supreme Court Justice Scalia has come out in defense of a ‘dead Constitution’:

Today, Scalia – who is often add odds with several members of the Supreme Court – said many prefer to look at the document as a “living constitution,” one that evolves based on changes in society.

And as a result, issues such as abortion and homosexuality, which are not addressed in the Constitution, are discussed in courts.

Scalia’s premise is that an evolving Constitution allows personal interpretation on the part of the Justices when new issues arise, such as Gay rights and abortion. However, times change, and if justice is frozen in amber, we women would not have the right to vote, and blacks would still be picking cotton on their master’s farms.

I’ll take a living Constitution, even with the increased difficulty of ensuring proper judgements, than a Constitution whose inflexibility chokes the soul out of our country.


Powderpuff blogging

Sometimes a picture finds me, and then I know I have to write a story to go with it. Well, in this case, it was three pictures; therefore I have to create a three-picture story: The Powderpuff Blogging Manifesto.

However, the writing must wait, as I’m in the midst of preparing to head home tomorrow. The early return trip is my St. Patrick’s Day present to myself, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be heading home. This week has not been a good one, but the ride will be sweet – favorite music, good cup of coffee for the road, and pre-dawn light.

Speaking of St. Pat’s, did I ever tell you that the Powers clan used to pour molten lead down their enemies throats? I’m sure I did, it’s my favorite story. I’m quite proud of my Irish ancestry – the same ancestry shared by the lovely lady in the last picture.