The Other Paris Metro

[This post]( at _Sleepy City_ has a wonderful collection of photographs of the Paris Metro as glimpsed by a pair of daredevils willing to risk electrocution, pursuit by dogs and police, and the occasional surprise train to discover unused stations and trains. I am not so interested in the daring part than I am in the tableaus from another time. Stations lined with tiles. Trains made of metal and wood.

Sympathetic Sensibilities

One of the awesome — in the original sense of *awe* — things about the web, and about blogs in particular, that is both like and unlike, say, the experience of literature, is coming across someone with sensibilities akin to your own. You get a sense of affinity sometimes with literature, especially in the realm of autobiography, but it’s a drawing toward. The thrill I sometimes get when I read someone in the middle of a project, in the middle of thinking, is drawing alongside them. We are peers in the sense that they write and I read and, in some cases, I write and they read. It’s not yet a thrill I have encountered in my scholarship, but perhaps I will one day.[^1]

This *drawing alongside* (a bit of Heidegger there in keeping with my newfound desire to return to my intellectual roots) is thrilling in the sense that one finds oneself in the company of like-minded others. More importantly, it is often the case that these writers are themselves struggling to articulate something themselves. Thus, there is a kind of drawing together in not yet knowing what one wants to draw.

Such is the case for me and the [Coudal Partners][cp] in general: they have realized my own love for notebooks in an actual, [ongoing commercial enterprise][fn], by creating the _Field Notes_ line of notebooks:

Field Notes

No, I don’t use them myself — I prefer a slightly larger notebook, as I have discussed elsewhere, but hey, CP, we can talk about it! — but all the trouble they’ve gone to get them right, and the fact that they are now in the offset printing business is something I find totally amazing.

What prompted this post, however, is eeriness of their current project, a film with the working title of [_Seventy-Two Degrees_][72]. The idea, and driving force, behind the film is this photograph:

When I showed it to my wife and described how “the picture” had become an obsession that transformed itself into a film project for the Coudal Partners, she laughed out loud, recognizing my own fondness for that particular era and that particular aesthetic. I have, in general, always been fond on high modernism, especially its European inflections and in some of the American manifestations of the fifties and sixties. I am also quite taken with the allure that technology held in that era. Before encountering this post, I had begun to re-read some old Alistair MacLean novels, having watched _Three Days of the Condor_ while at UCLA for the NEH seminar:

The folks at Coudal go one better in their research and turned up this great gem from the fifties: [“On Guard! The Story of SAGE”][film] by IBM Corporation, Military Products Division. (Really, you need to watch it — and *thank you*, [Internet Archive][ia].)

Where this takes me next … well, I have a few ideas.

For one, now that I am beginning to enjoy writing the boat book — I mean, actually looking forward to producing prose — I find myself thinking about what I would like to write next. Sure, some more work in this area might be possible: I’ve begun a dialogue with the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology and BOEMRE to extend my research on fabrication shops into larger shops that service the offshore industry. And I am also thinking about thinking about the nature of the creative dynamic within the Cajun and Creole music scenes in Louisiana. But I also find myself thinking about fiction writing.

More on that some other time.

[^1]: I would even, I think, change the subject and scope of my scholarship were I to find a partner, let alone a larger collaboration, with whom to work. Granted, the only way others will be able to find me is if I publish more. But I am not entirely sure that the pieces I have coming out in the next few years really represent what all I am interested in. Scholarship is such that we break off very small pieces these days. (Again, if I make this assertion it is up to me to find a way out of it.)


Lightroom and JPEGs

All users of Adobe’s Lightroom software need to read Jeff Friedl’s post about JPEG settings in the application. In a nutshell, his own experiments with the quality “slider” reveal that its 0-100 range really amounts to 13 actual outputs, which may or may not match Photoshop’s same number of outputs when saving for the web. More importantly, he noticed that if you save a file as compressed, you do not really gain anything in terms of visual quality if you save above “75” on the slider. Files get bigger, but images do not get (noticeably) better. Great results from a great guy.

(For the record, I use, and paid for, his Flickr plug-in which allows me to upload directly to my Flickr Pro account from Lightroom. As I consider using Zenfolio, I will also likely use his Zenfolio plug-in.)

Pro Photographer’s Workflow

Chase Jarvis is the author of the popular Best Camera blog and book. (His argument is/was the best camera is the one you have with you, and so the book is a collection of photographs taken with his iPhone camera. The subtext is that one should focus on such abilities as composition, lighting, and framing rather than worry about the gear/gadgets in your hand.)

Also on his website is a nice video that details his workflow. Jarvis is a professional photographer with not only a serious staff who accompany him everywhere but also a pretty serious collection of gear. Essentially, he runs all his images and video through Aperture and onto hard drives — Adobe, are you paying attention? Video! — the hard drives escalate from portable drives in the field, to small RAID drives in hotel rooms, to a serious XServe set up back at his office/studio.

The takeaway here? Backup, backup, backup. And an important corollary is many, many copies in diverse locations. (Offsite, offsite, offsite.)

A tidbit within all this is the file naming convention they use:




Magic Is Now Here

Adobe’s John Nack posted the following video on his blog revealing a new “Context Aware” healing/deletion functionality in PhotoShop CS5. I don’t do that much with PS that I typically need to upgrade — I only went from CS1 to CS3 for the Intel compatibility — but this new functionality, no, this new *magic* is amazing:

More on RAW and JPEG

This past spring Pravina Shukla asked me what a JPEG file was and what was the best way to interact with them (if that was the format that your fieldwork data was in). I asked on [Mahalo]( and got an answer, but I continue to read around in hopes of finding better answers to her questions and to the many folks who ask me:

* There’s a detailed [raw] over at Luminous Landscape. It’s part of their “Understanding …” series.


The 1909 Color Photography of Prokudin-Gorsky

I’ve seen [these photographs][tp] a half dozen times over the years, but every time I see them, I am impressed not only by the richness of the color but also by the view into late nineteenth-century life in Europe. (Obviously, Russia, but I imagine the images of peasant life reflect larger patterns.)


And here’s the header note:

> In 1909 a remarkable project was initiated by Russian photographer Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky. His mission was to record – in full and vibrant color – the vast and diverse Russian Empire


Flickr apps for iPhone

Macworld has a review of three iPhone apps that allow you to work with your Flickr account. I don’t see anything that transforms my current workflow, but it’s nice to know they are there. [Here’s the review.](

Videography for All?

[OS News has a nice post]( about how the video “scene” has opened up to amateurs in the same way that photography has — pointing out that much of what resides on Flickr is “amateur” only in that the folks doing it are not getting paid to do it. The skills and techniques and subject matter are the same as professionals. (The contrarian in me wants to argue that the real opportunity here is to change the nature of photography, to make it more interesting than conventional professional photography which itself was modeled on fine art paradigms — I would argue that the blend of fine art photography and photojournalism combined with passion for place is what sets my aunt’s photography, Tika Laudun, apart from others.)