Category: photography

I'd like some of that advertising action

Several weeks back, I was listening to the Technometria podcast on “Personal Data Ecosystems,” and they talked a lot about putting the consumer in the center of various markets. I wrote this post then, and held off posting it in light of the tragic events in Japan.

One element of this is the “VRM” or “vendor relationship management” space, where we let people proxy for ads to us.

As I was listening, I realized, I’m in the market for another nice camera. And rather than doing more research, I would like to sell the right to advertise to me. There’s a huge ($59B?) advertising market. I am ready to buy, and if Fuji had shipped their #$^&%^ X100, I was about ready to buy it. But even before the earthquake, they were behind in production, and I’m ready to buy. So I could go do research, or the advertisers could advertise to me. But before they do, I want a piece of that $59B action.

I don’t want to start a blog. (Sorry, Nick!). I don’t want to sell personal information about me. I want another nice camera. How do I go about accepting ads into this market?

I’m willing, by the way, to share additional information about my criteria, but I figure that those have value to advertisers. Please send in your bids for the answers to specific questions. Please specify if your bids are for exclusive, private, or public answers. (Public answers prevent others from gathering exclusive market intelligence, and are thus a great strategic investment.)

So, dear readers, how do I get a piece of the action? How do I cash in on this micro-market?

If I get a highly actionable answer, I’ll share 25% of the proceeds of the advertising with whomever points me the right way.

Facebook and "your" photos

Facebook Changes Photo Memories to No Longer Show Your Ex-Boyfriends or Ex-Girlfriends:

In response to numerous complaints, Facebook has changed its Photo Memories sidebar module to no longer display friends who a user was formally listed as in a relationship with. [Sic]

But it’s not just about selective remembering because “Your Memories Will Be Rewritten.”

That’s right Ilsa, we’ll always have Paris. At least once we set our status to “It’s complicated.” Otherwise, Facebook will surpress it all. And we can remember that lovely Dom Pérignon™ we drank while we were there. It’s funny, I remember Louis bringing out something else and threatening to water his garden with it. I didn’t think we were drinking Dom, but it’s obviously there in our photos.

Saturn's Moon Enceladus

NASA claims that:

At least four distinct plumes of water ice spew out from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus in this dramatically illuminated image.

Light reflected off Saturn is illuminating the surface of the moon while the sun, almost directly behind Enceladus, is backlighting the plumes. See Bursting at the Seams to learn more about Enceladus and its plumes.


But they can’t fool me. That’s no moon, that’s a battle station.

The Presentation of Self and Everyday Photographs

With the kind help of our awesome readership, Amazon and Glazer’s, I’ve acquired a camera, some books, a tripod, a prime 50mm, a flash diffuser, a polarizing filter, a graduated neutral filter, and some other random photography toys tools. You might question this, but I can quit anytime. Really! I even offered to loan my 50mm to a friend for a few days so he could get hooked make an informed decision about buying one.

Now, I know there are lots of people in our communities who post up their photos, and that’s their choice. I like to maintain some privacy-control of how I’m presenting myself. I have posted photos from my trip to South Africa and from the Privacy Enhancing Technologies conference, but those are almost journalistic. There’s something tremendously revealing about what subjects people photograph and share. Go ahead. Look. Ask yourself, who takes pictures like that? Why did they share that? What does it say about them?

Me, I prefer that people focus on my photos for themselves, and not for who I am. And I prefer to present a professional image that’s a carefully cropped subset of the whole.

And what I’m re-discovering is that it’s tremendously hard. A few of the shots at the end of the PETS set are, if I do say so myself, very nice. I have some bald eagles that I shot on Lake Washington while boating with some co-workers. Which stream do those go in?

There’s also a technical hard: I dug into EXIF a fair bit with exiftool, and there’s at least two serial numbers in each raw photo. (Camera body and lens. I don’t vouch for completeness, but for a Canon camera, start with exiftool -SerialNumber -InternalSerialNumber -CameraSerialNumber.) If you set IPTC data automatically, you have to remember to strip it. There are micro-variations from manufacture which (supposedly) can be used to fingerprint a lens, but my expectation is that’s complex and requires some reference images. I’m prepared to re-evaluate that exposure when Moore’s Law comes along for a conversation.

Then there’s wanting to be noticed. I remember being a new blogger, and obsessively watching the stats for new links. Compulsively linking to the big bloggers in the hopes of some love. Writing articles to bait some of the carnivals. Linking back whenever someone gave me a link. If I posted the photos (or even a link here), I’d presumably get a fair number of views. Does that do anything for me? Some folks have given me really great feedback and advice, but let’s face it, giving a new photographer advice is hard. There are so many things you could say, and which ones will help them improve? Does this person take feedback well?

Is there a technological approach which might help, with a crowd of photographers who commit to jointly telling the world their nicknames if there’s a decent anonymity set? But really, isn’t that just the old saw about the dancing bear all over again? (And doesn’t it go up against what Bob Blakley was saying? More on that shortly.) So for now, I’m interested: is there a better way to frame this?

Secret Photo Apps for the iPhone

If you try searching the App store for photo apps, you find all sorts of things to make your photos sepia. Or blurry. Or to draw on them. Which is great, but if you want apps to help you take photographs, they’re sorta hard to find. So here are some links:

First up, a reference guide for your camera. I didn’t bother with this–I have my manual in my main photo bag, and spend time exploring features, but it might be worthwhile: Rebel XS reference. (The vendor has lots more cameras available.)

Next, if you’re doing anything with landscape photography, you end up reading about hyperfocal distances, which is where you want to put your focal point to maximize the depth of field that’s in focus. There’s a couple of these, including Simple DOF Calculator, FoCalc, and Photo Guide which also includes an exposure calulator. I personally prefer the UI in DoFCalc.

If you have a studio, or typically have a computer handy when you’re taking pictures, this DSLR Remote looks very cook. You hook up your camera to your computer via USB, and your phone talks to the computer via wifi. Someone should hack up USB/wifi bridge so you can use one of those socket size linux boxes to do this, and just clamp the thing and a battery to your tripod. Alternately, an iphone to camera cable would be great, if only Apple would let developers use the USB port. (Maybe they do. But a search on iphone sdk usb turned up people looking and not finding. Which also puts the lie to this piece at CATO. You’d have to be smoking something pretty strong to not be able to search for “apple appstore reject,” or to not realize that there’s plenty of apps you can’t get because of Apple’s prudishness.)

Finally, there’s a great idea in GreyCard, to provide a uniform color that you can photograph and use to set the white balance. Unfortunately, the iphone is backlit. I wonder what shade of grey the back is?

Are there other interesting ones?

Camera thanks!

An enourmous thank you to everyone who offered advice on what camera to get.

I ended up with a Canon Rebel after heading to a local camera store and having a chance to play with the stabilization features. It may end up on ebay, but I’m confident I’ll get high quality pictures. If they’re great, of course, depends on my skills.

I hesitate to even ask, but what one book have you seen most help someone learn how to take great pictures? I want something that’s focused on how to orient & frame shots, not something on the technical side. The camera knows more about that than I ever plan to. So what one book would you suggest?

I’m thinking about the Rebel for Dummies book, since it covers both technical and artistic aspects. What book have you seen help others more?

Camera advice bleg

I’m thinking about maybe getting a new camera.

Before I say anything else let me say that I understand that sensor size and lens rule all else, and that size does matter, except when it’s megapixel count, which is a glamour for the foolish.

That said, I’m off to South Africa in a few weeks, and while my Canon S410 was a fine camera 5 years ago, I’m thinking that for a trip like this with a safari in the middle, I should get something that sucks less. I don’t really care about GPS or interchangable lenses. (Yes, I should. You’re so right. But I don’t want to be bothered. I’m not a great photographer.)

I don’t want to have a full-bore SLR, as nice as they are. They’re too big, I won’t carry it enough to really justify what it is. So if I want to spend less than a thousand bucks (ideally < $500), have something that doesn't require its own carrying case or manual, what's the current hotness?

Are any of these “micro-four thirds” available? Worth risking? Worth overcoming my “don’t want to bother with lenses?” Should I look at a something like a Nikon Coolpix P6000? = Is it worth getting a new phd mini camera?

Canon Says Over 50% of Cameras Repaired in First Three Years


In the Times Online article, “Digital DNA could finger Harry Potter leaker,” we learn that the person who leaked photos of the last Harry Potter novel has yielded up the serial number of their camera, which was in the metadata of the pictures they took.

From this, we lean that it was a Canon, likely a Rebel 350D, which means that the perp bought it in the US or Canada. (This doesn’t mean that the perp is there, as lots of people buy electronics in the US or Canada).

However, I blinked when I read something from Vic Solomon, a product intelligence officer at Canon UK:

From what we know, the device is one of the original Rebel cameras, probably a 350D, and given that they’ve been out for three years, it’s likely the owner would have had it cleaned or repaired in that time.

Likely? I take likely to be better than a coin flip — over 50% chance. I’m a huge fan of Canon cameras, and while I don’t yet own have a digital SLR (I’m very happy with my SD 700IS), I’d like one, and this makes makes me wary to hear that it is “likely” that I’ll be taking it into the shop in three years. I have a twenty-five-year-old A1 SLR, and it’s never been cleaned or repaired. Is Canon’s well-deserved reputation for quality a thing of the past?

Or was Mr Solomon merely shooting his mouth off? He also said:

The EXIF data is like the picture’s DNA; you can’t switch it off. Every image has it. Some software can be used to strip or edit the information, but you can’t edit every field.

That’s not precisely accurate. EXIF metadata is nothing like DNA. It’s metadata rather than code; it’s annotations about the picture such as date and time, f-stop, exposure values, orientation of the photo, and of course the serial number of the camera. While photo-editing software often doesn’t let you edit it, there are plenty of ways to get rid of it, and I’ll bet that very shortly there will be more of them, particularly if they catch the person who did this because of the embedded serial number.

Photo courtesy Lone Primate.