Thursday, January 31, 2013

Textures and Shapes

LOFT cards from Black River Imaging
LOFT cards from Black River Imaging are thick and luxurious!
I have just returned from working back-to-back photography trade shows for Black River Imaging: Imaging USA in Atlanta and the Sports and School Photography Annual Conference in Las Vegas. In my visits with professional photographers, they want textures and shapes!

Texture as in the 51 point thick LOFT cards printed with a luxurious eggshell finish that invokes memories of the letterpress era.

Shape as in the elegant die cuts around the edges of the specialty shaped cards.

Texture as in the snakeskin and ostrich leather choices available for the Mosaic albums.

What are your favorite trends in photographic products?

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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Share Your Point of View

Speedfly Sunset BarrelRoll by Manuel Gindl
The GoPro Photo of the Day for January 11, 2013 uploaded by Manuel Gindl
If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, GoPro must feel extremely loved. Ten years ago, GoPro introduced a camera which could strap to the wrist of a surfer to capture the wave from the surfers point of view. When people using the camera discovered they could use the device to share experiences on YouTube, the company caught a wave of it's own. GoPro has sold over 3 million cameras in the last three years.

This year at CES, almost every major camera company and several new companies were promoting their own version of a wearable point-of-view device. These are designed to be durable which was best explained by JVC as "quad-proof," the four proofs being waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and freezeproof.  The accessories available for the GoPro Hero3 camera include mounting brackets for your helmet, chest, handlebars, roll bar or surfboard.

GoPro encourages the use of their camera through their website which includes the featured video of the day, and the photo of the day. GoPro users are extremely excited about the brand and often mention it in the videos they upload. A quick search for GoPro on YouTube just found 474,000 videos.

What's your point of view? Are you planning an experience that you could share with the world?


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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mirrorless and Wireless

Samsung Galaxy Phone
The Samsung Galaxy Camera runs the Andriod OS
Last week, over 150,000 people gathered in Las Vegas for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest annual innovation event. For those interested in cameras and imaging, the most important trends involve the shift to mirrorless cameras and the introduction of dozens of Wi-Fi enabled enabled cameras.

Camera manufacturers are hoping that both of these can slow down the shift to capturing images on smartphones instead of dedicated cameras. The popularity of smartphone photography resulted in a 19% decrease in the volume of compact camera sales in the United States last year. This is not surprising considering that the iPhone 4 and 4S are the number one and number two devices used for uploading images to Flickr.

However, iPhone users tend to be photocentric and there is a strong correlation between iPhone ownership and SLR camera ownership. Although the resolution of the iPhone is sufficient for most uses, it's fun to have a camera that allows more creative control in certain situations. While a digital SLR camera has been the typical choice for these situations, mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras are a nice upgrade.

Digital SLRs are generally an adaption from 35mm cameras. Originally, the size of the film dictated the size of camera body and the size of mirror which deflected the image to the viewfinder. The mirror was required because the film was a passive sensor which could only display an image after it was exposed in the camera and developed afterwards. Camera makers based their digital cameras on film cameras because they could reuse their camera designs. Photographers bought them because they looked and felt like high quality devices and could work with lenses they already owned.

Mirrorless cameras with interchangable lenses offer the advantages of of SLRs without the bulk or the weight. By using the digital sensor for both image capture and the viewfinder, there is no need for a mirror. By optimizing the optical path for the actual sensor size rather than 35mm film, more light can be captured with smaller lenses and the camera body is smaller. Photographers are figuring this out pushing the sales of mirrorless cameras up 141% in 2012.

Part of the fun in photography is sharing. Compared to smartphones, sharing with dedicated cameras has been cumbersome. After taking a picture, you had to move the image from your camera to your computer and post it to Facebook or Flickr through your browser. The new Wi-Fi enabled cameras imply that you can take your picture and immediately upload it to your favorite social media site.

In reality, there is a great deal of difference between the capabilities of the different Wi-Fi enabled cameras. The Samsung Galaxy Camera and the Nikon Coolpix S800C run the Android OS which means they can upload images using the same apps that are available on the Android smartphones. The Canon EOS 6D transfers images to preferred websites through the Canon Image Gateway. Others require transfer to your smartphone or tablet before you can share your images with your friends.

I enjoy sharing snapshots directly to Facebook from my iPhone. But when I use my "real" camera, part of the enjoyment is the selection and editing process on a big monitor after I get home. Then I share my best images on Facebook and on this blog.  So I'm not in a hurry to own a Wi-Fi enabled camera.

Will you be upgrading your camera soon?


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Camera sales data from GfK reported in the November/December issue of International Contact.

The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Best Camera

Milwaukee Museum of Art
The Milwaukee Museum of Art


"The best camera is the one that's with you." - Chase Jarvis.



In some ways, I understand that the best camera is the one that's with you, but it's not true for me.  I have an iPhone in my pocket everyday and walk past dozens of photo opportunities without seeing them. I know the camera in the phone can capture nice images, but the scene would have to reach out and hit me before I would notice.



For me, the best camera is one that reminds me that I love photography. When I pick up a "real" camera, I become aware of the beauty and texture of the world around me.  I see things that I would not take time to see otherwise.

A "real" camera does not have to be an expensive digital SLR. It can even be an iPhone. As long as it initiates the mental transition into "photographer."

Lake Michigan from the Milwaukee Museum of Art
Lake Michigan from the Milwaukee Museum of Art


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The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Additive Manufacturing Pioneers

Emma's "magic arms" 3D printed via Stratasys
Emma's "magic arms" were 3D printed.
In my last post of 2012, I made the observation that I would be following additive manufacturing, sometimes called 3D printing, closely in 2013. In that post, I noted that the technique had reached an inflection point where it would change manufacturing, distribution and marketing radically. Here are some of the most important companies in the industry.

  • Stratasys Ltd. manufactures 3D printers that that use the Fusion Deposition Modeling method of extruding molten plastic in layers to build a part. In 2012, Stratasys merged with Objet Ltd. which builds machines that use a PolyJet process. The PolyJet process employs an ink jetting process to apply photo photopolymers in fine layers. Each layer is cured simultaneously with ultraviolet light.
  • 3D Systems makes a variety of different 3D printers for personal and professional use. These machines can be used for manufacturing prototypes or final parts. The company was founded by Chuck Hull who invented Stereolithography, the original 3D printing technology. In early 2012, 3D Systems acquired Z Corporation which supplies machines that can build full color models.
  • Arcam AB is a Swedish company that provides a unique technology for the production of metal parts. Electron Beam Melting builds parts layer-by-layer from metal powder melted by a powerful electron beam. The technology is used primarily in the medical, aerospace and defense industries.
  • Mcor prints photo-realistic 3D parts from paper. This is the printer that Staples is market testing in some of their stores in the Netherlands and Belgium.
  • Renishaw is a UK based company with core skills in measurement, motion control, spectroscopy and precision machining. Their product line includes additive manufacturing technologies encompassing laser melting, vacuum casting and injection molding.
  • ExOne calls their additive manufacturing process Digital Part Materialization and their machines are used for 3D printing of sand and metal materials.
  • The NovoGen MMX Bioprinter™ from Organovo takes primary or other human cells and shapes them into 3D tissue for biological research. This technology was developed by a team led by Professor Gabor Forgacs from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
  • Makerbot is a rapidly growing manufacturer of desktop personalized printers. The printers are used by engineers, designers, researchers and people who just like to make things.
  • Shapeways is a 3D printing marketplace and community where individuals can make, buy and sell their own products. They 3D print everything on-demand which means that every order is customized and personalized.
  • Cubify is a website from 3D Systems to encourage you to "express yourself in 3D!" You can look for something unique that has been 3D printed or design and print your own creations from scratch. If you want to print at home, the site encourages you to purchase a Cube 3D printer which is "plug-and-play easy and looks pretty nice on a worktable."
  • Sculpteo offers a 3D printing service which is open to professionals or consumers. They can print from your 3D design or their community platform gives you access to 3D designers allowing you to share models, upload your own 3D designs and make them real through 3D printing.
  • i.materialise believes that people have an inherent need to express themselves and provides 3D printing services for demanding designers and inventors. 
  • Ponoko claims to be "the world's easiest making system" and offers both 2D laser cutting and 3D printer services.
  • To make a file for additive manufacturing, you will need software. Autodesk, Inc., is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software.

These are the companies that will change our world over the next decade. Are there any I should have included but missed?


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3D Printing Crosses an Inflection Point

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To Think Different, Read Different



The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which supplies specialty paper substrates to digital printersdirect marketing companies and photo book fulfillment companies.