Thursday, February 28, 2013

You Would Even Say it Glows

New Fire and Ice by Thomas Mangelsen
New Fire and Ice by Thomas Mangelsen
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to take a look at the images at the Thomas Mangelsen Images of Nature gallery in Las Vegas. These images are not only visually stunning, they also seem to change with different light levels and the gallery exhibited some of them in a room with a dimmer to demonstrate this effect.


Most of the images in the gallery were printed on silver halide photo paper laminated to the back of a sheet of acrylic. This is a beautiful way to mount a photographic print, but most of the visual impact, including the interesting effect with the dimmer, was in the original photography. These images will exhibit similar characteristics when printed on high gloss metal or any other method which has crisp and vibrant color reproduction.


Cypress Sunset by Thomas Mangelsen
Cypress Sunset by Thomas Mangelsen
This style of photography draws characteristics from a group of American painters in the mid 1800s who painted landscapes and seascapes that were infused with light. These “luminist” painters created works that radiate light, whether from a window of a stone cottage or through shafts of sunlight penetrating through the clouds. This was was a favorite technique of the Hudson River School and was incorporated into western landscapes by Albert Bierstadt and others.

Between the Sierra Nevadas by Albert Bierstadt
Between the Sierra Nevadas by Albert Bierstadt
Luminism strongly influenced the popular “Painter of Light” Thomas Kinkade who called his use of light the “Kinkade Glow.” He has explained that his method for creating the glow relies on three visual aspects: “soft edges, a warm palette and an overall sense of light.” The effect is particular effective for Kinkade in suggesting romanticism and nostalgia with a sense of mystery.
 
The Beginning of a Perfect Day by Thomas Kinkade
The Beginning of a Perfect Day by Thomas Kinkade
To emulate the Luminist style, your image should contain saturated pastels, particularly the warmer shades of yellow and orange. The edges of the image can be darker so the eye is drawn to the main source of light and the reflections the light creates.

After becoming familiar with this style of painting and photography, I decided to dig through my own image archives looking for examples. I believe these images of a sunrise over the Indian Ocean, which my wife Terri captured last year in Mozambique, fit the description perfectly.

Indian Ocean Sunrise One by Terri Williams
Indian Ocean Sunrise One by Terri Williams
Indian Ocean Sunrise Two by Terri Williams
Indian Ocean Sunrise Two by Terri Williams
I had some of these printed by Black River Imaging on 16x20 metal and tested the effect with a light and dimmer in my dining room. The pictures really do change dramatically as the light level changes. 

Try it for yourself and see what you think!

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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, February 21, 2013

Lead, Follow AND Get Out of the Way!

Lead follow and get out of the way.
The phrase "Lead, follow, or get out of the way" has often, and probably incorrectly, been attributed to Thomas Paine.

As a leadership philosophy, the admonishment is not quite right.  It works better with "and" instead of "or." A great leader leads, follows and gets out of the way.


A great leader leads by clearly articulating the mission and building the right team. A leader follows the conversation about the mission and considers how input from the team should refine the mission. Finally, a great leader gets out of the way and lets the team accomplish their mission.

Are you leading or getting in the way?


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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, February 14, 2013

The Thrill of Ownership

Desktop 3D Printers from Stratasys
Desktop 3D Printers from Stratasys
For me, it started with Stratasys, the 3D printer company. I had been researching additive manufacturing tools for building a new product and had even visited the Stratasys headquarters to see the machines in operation. Ultimately, we selected an Objet printer for the project and our new product was not successful.

Statasys remained intriguing however.  This was a mostly unknown technology that seemed like it could change the world.  So after carefully research and consideration, I took some of our savings out of some slow growing mutual funds and purchased a portion of the company.

Since that purchase, the company has grown, added new printers, introduced new modeling materials and made several acquisitions.  As an owner, it has been thrilling to watch.

There is an important psychological difference between buying stock and purchasing part of a company, even if the actual financial transaction is exactly the same. Often, buying stocks is similar to a poker game; you try to guess what the other stock buyers are thinking and whether investor sentiment will push the stock price up. In purchasing a company, the focus is on the intrinsic value of the company, the suitability of the products for the marketplace and the skill the management team has in operating the company.

As an owner, I have a responsibility to understand the marketplace and know the strengths and weaknesses of our products compared to those of our competitors. I need to pay attention to revenues and margins.  I need to watch cash flows just like any other business owner. For me, this is both exciting and good practice for the assessments that I have to make regularly for my employer.

Since that initial investment, I have purchased a few other companies. Ownership is a lot more challenging and rewarding than following the daily fluctuations in an index fund. Instead of watching the game, you are in the game.


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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.



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Opportunity in Personalized Manufacturing

Shutterfly Logo
Yesterday's disclosure of stellar performance by Shutterfly proves something I have known all along: there is tremendous opportunity in personalized manufacturing. The online photo imaging company's fourth quarter profit jumped 50%, topping their own estimates and exceeding analyst expectations.

The company no longer separates prints from other personalized photo items in their financial statements, but it is a safe bet that their 35% increase in full year revenue did not come from making more 4x6 prints. The growth came from stationery, greeting cards, photo books and photo based merchandise.

There are still people in the photo industry complaining about the changes that have taken place over the last decade. In the meantime, Shutterfly continues to demonstrate what can be accomplished through consistent new product development, continuous improvement to web user interfaces and aggressive marketing.

How does your growth compare to Shutterfly?

What are you planning to do about it?

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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.