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Blurb Book Review – Comparing Sizes and Papers

Blurb is the modern day photo album and gone are the days of plastic sleeves displaying boxes of 4×6 prints with hand written messages on the back. Blurb books are perfect for family, personal, memory and vacation books. But what about fine art? or what about for resale?

I have a growing book collection from some of my favourite photographers. I only have so many walls to enjoy prints, so for me, books provide an easier way to support and enjoy the images of other photographers. But this also means – that for no other reason than desire – I also want a book of my own.

Many photographers would love to be published and because only the most successful will ever get picked up by a publisher, the self-publishing market is growing and becoming easier and easier. Arguably, Blurb has become the leader. Maybe even more so now that they have embedded themselves in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

I have several mid sized Blurb books printed between 2006 and 2012. They have been consistent and I can’t see any significant printing changes. In December of 2011, I stepped it up and took a chance by ordering four large 12×12 160 page books with the heaviest paper and all of the upgrades – for a grand total of $187.42 CND each. Definitely more pricy than anything equivalent in a bookstore.

I was satisfied with the results and throughout 2012, I created two alternatives of the same book but at a much smaller scale of 8×10 120 pages and 7×7 80 pages. In the end, I had a sampling of almost everything Blurb had to offer. Here is my non technical review.

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Your Photography Website

This post is for the other photographers – in particular, those in business.

I have had this blog post half written for more than 6 months and could never pull the trigger on the publish button. The topic felt too specific for a generalized statement and because of that, something didn’t feel right to justify a blog post rant. However after an interesting discussion tonight with onOne‘s education manager Brian Matiash, it gave me that needed incentive to complete this post because I’m not the only person who judges ones brand partly based on presentation. There are companies like Brian’s and surely future clients browsing portfolios also judging you on how much consideration was applied to the website.

But first, lets be honest. Everyone is hopefully more critical and focused on the details when it comes to our own industry. Chefs with food, contractors with houses, doctors with health, etc, etc, and designers like myself with websites. We are all trained to care about different things and rely on others to fill in where we choose to focus less attention.

Two summers ago, I had a small presentation at a PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada) seminar on web technologies to discuss the elements of a reliable website. Although much has improved since then — there is still more work to be done. Poorly implemented websites are still common and with all the photographers in the world so focused on perfecting their images, they often settle for presenting them in a substandard way.

So in a world where art, design and images are so very much subjective, here are some details to consider:

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Time-Lapse Photography as Wall Art?

Daydreaming.

I was recently watching an incredible time-lapse film but while admiring how perfect it may be – the film still struggled to keep my attention. How can something so beautifully done lose my interest so quickly? Perhaps it’s related to my lack of interest for video slideshows. In a slideshow, some images will surely be amazing and you’ll want to spend more time with them. Others will be less interesting that you wish to skip over. The problem I have with slideshows is that all images are weighted the same and the editor decides how quickly you should view them. With this variety, you may not willing to move forward to the next image presented in front of you because your mind is still focused on trying to process that image 4 slides ago.

But the imagery in this film spaning over multiple season got me thinking. With the advancements of digital picture frames, how cool would it be to have a single time-lapse image hanging on the wall that would simulate a full year of a single well composed scene?

Consider a 365-day time-lapse image that is shortened into playing over a 7 day loop. It would be fast enough for the constant movement of weather but for every day on the wall, the image would play 52 days worth of activity equalling a sunset every 27 minutes. This image in your living room would display a new season 4 times a week giving you a winter image every Monday and summer every Thursday.

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The Power of Photography

We live in a very visual world. Every electronic gadget is now capable of recording images and millions of photographs are taken every minute. We are overwhelmed with the noise of new gear announcements every other week — full of marketing specifically designed to lead us into believing buying XYZ will make us better. The volume of this noise can often cloud our better judgement and quickly distract us from the real values and rewards of creating photographs.

I am very much guilty and I routinely ask myself… Why do I do this? Why do I care so much? Why do I spend so much time in this world of photography?

By it’s simplist definition, photography is an art that freezes time. We are recording history. We are documenting. And we are preserving memories. Photography is huge within my family and there is no denying that we all love to share, remember and tell stories. Photography is social. Photography is archival. And photography is priceless because when something is destroyed from flooding, fires, natural disasters — after life itself, it’s always the lose of photographs that stand out as significant.

So why am I writing about this tonight?

Every once in a while I talk with another photography who is capable of summarizing what photography is all about in a beautiful way. I first met Maurice Henri in his hometown of Moncton a few years ago and have since been pushing to have a venue for him to come to the Island and speak. Tonight was that night and he delivered a powerful presentation with more impact than I could have ever hoped for.

Since 2005, Maurice has been building a personal project called Cameras for Healing. Starting with the west African country of Sierra Leone, Maurice set out on the incredible journey to emotionally heal through photographic arts those living with pain, grief, fear, poverty or stress. All in a country that has nothing we can so easily take for granted.

As I feel the need to write this, I also realize my words can’t do his presentation any good. Maurice’s stories were incredibly powerful. Everything from his 28 adopted children through sponsorship, buying equipment for the women to start a sewing business, or his role in building a school for a village. All of his actions, support and most importantly results were started by providing cameras, teaching photography, and giving victims a voice to speak out, express themselves by telling their own stories and finding hope.

I wish everyone interested in photography could have attended tonight. From the violent stories of the sexual abuse of minors, aggressive killings, and the recruitment of child soldiers — the horrific stores were countered with positive ones. For a better understanding of Cameras for Healing, consider watching the following video:

Now that Sierra Leone is well established and on it’s way with a self-running Cameras for Healing program, Maurice has started introducing Cameras for Healing into Hati and Columbia with additional countries also asking for his help. I am already looking forward to hearing a future presentation.

Cameras for Healing Founder, Maurice Henri believes that the power of the photographic image can open the heart and change people’s view of the world. It also tells a story of the relationship between subject and photographer. It conveys what the image maker sees, feels and believes. Using his methods of art for healing, Maurice has helped many children and adults process stress, illness, and grief. He initially developed the Cameras for Healing method of Art & Creativity for Healing in his home province of New Brunswick, Canada in 2002 as an art workshop to help cancer patients and survivors deal with stress. Giving people validation and hope through my photography is what my life’s work is all about.

Either it be Cameras for Healing, Help-Portrait, or major film projects, the art of photography and story telling is incredibly powerful and rewarding.

Which brings me full circle to ask again, what photography means to you and why do we do it? If you have spent any amount of time reading anything on the web or in magazines — you might be tempted into believing that it’s about who owns the most or newest equipment.

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The Best Kept Secret?

Lets not read too much into the title but it’s pretty exciting that I lead off the winter issue of Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine with a introduction-like article in the editors column. This quarterly column is designed to showcase lesser known photographers and I was delighted when the editor contacted me to ask if I would be interested in participating. How could I possibly say no?

Outdoor Photography Canada

Today’s Image – OPC Winter 2013 Issue

Available on newsstands until April 5th 2013, You can find the article in the editors “From Where I Sit” column on page 9. Below are the two images Roy Ramsay selected for his write up.

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2013 :: Day 1

Today is the start of a new calendar. The day many commit to resolutions. Or the day others reflect back on the past 12 months. When I personally look back at 2012, I realized just how busy the year has been with many events still strong in memory.

On the design side of things, I started the year devoting much of my time to TinEye and their many image search products. It was also continued work with Mozilla Firefox. At some point mid-year, that all changed when I started giving most of my attention to some of the leading educational and training websites for emergency medicine paving the way to massive November conference in Las Vegas hosting 1800 EM doctors from around the globe.

For photography away from home, I found myself spending June in Iceland, October in Hawaii and a return visit to Zion National Park where I once again failed to summit Angels Landing.

For photography at home, I was invited to participate in a 75th anniversary PEI National Park book and worked on several commercial projects for Parks Canada and PEI Tourism.

To increase the quality of my prints and to learn something new, I setup a home printing workstation and accepted the challenge of producing high quality fine art prints at home without the assistance of a lab while benefiting from the rewards of being in full control from start to finish.

I continued working with the small Alberta-based publishing company oopoomoo and helped design and release the photography themed ebook titles: A Guide to Yoho National Park, A Guide to Kootenay Plains & Abraham Lake in Summer and Winter, Essential & Advanced Filters, The Creative Use of Aperture, The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage and Two Weeks in Iceland.

And on top of all of that, we planned a wedding with 200 guests when I married my best friend of 10 years.

I started this blog in 2001 but allowed it to transform and mature many times in sync with my interests and professional career. It has been victim to many redesigns, a couple archive resets, a full rebranding and several topic shifts. 2012 was one of those significant times that was hit with all of the above after I surrendered to the difficulties of maintaining an every day photoblog. A project I kept alive from 2006 to 2011.

Now, here I am a full year after the rebirth and this blog feels better than ever. I’m looking forward to another great year in 2013.

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Hiking in Search of Lava on the Big Island of Hawai’i :: Part 2

After discovering that finding flowing lava in Volcano National Park was not going to happen, it was time to go on a search with fingers crossed. At this point, all I knew was that the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent was active, it was on private land, and the nice lady at our hotel gave us a mans name who had access to this private land.

Equipped with only a first and last name, my best guess was the east side of Chain of Craters Road. There we were greeted by a team of security to a single private road to homes rebuilt on top of the lava fields. The effort to keep people from venturing out alone was high. I told security who I was looking for and although they knew him, they wouldn’t tell me how to contact him. They said I could watch from “the viewing area” – which happens to be 5km away.

This viewing area had another security guard – who was much more willing to provide information. After 30 minutes of chat and learning how the homes survive without water, heat or utilities, I had 3 possible names that I could hire as guides and within 2 hours, I was scheduled to meet back in Kalapana the next day to start the hike before sundown.

After the 5km one-way hike, I found myself standing face-to-face with the most intense heat wave imaginable burning through my skin. From 10 feet away, it felt like I was sitting an inch from a camp fire.

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Hiking in Search of Lava on the Big Island of Hawai’i :: Part 1

After almost 2 weeks exploring the Hawai’i islands, it was time to finish the adventure on the Big Island with only one goal in mind – the active volcano. Created when 5 volcanoes erupted and overlapped each other, several lava trails are visible when looking at the Big Island on Google maps. As a result, it’s very easy to find a mix of ʻAʻā lava (stony and rough) and Pāhoehoe lava (smooth and unbroken) everywhere you look.

Road Closed Hawaii - Chain of Craters Rd

Today’s Image – Road Closed

A road sign marks where the Chain of Craters Road once was before the 2002-2004 lava flow. An eruption that started on January 3rd, 1983 which still continues today earns Kīlauea the title of most active volcano in the world located on the eastern edge of Hawaii’s Volcano National Park. For a better understanding of the activity and scale, take a look at this map of recent lava flows from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Kupaianaha vents.

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