Our Movie of the week this week is a long one. I had the pleasure of chatting with my old friend Frederick Van a couple weeks ago. We talked about photography, workflow and my new book on scanning photo collections. The video podcast is embedded below.
After a very long wait, I can report that The DAM Book 3 is really taking shape and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve spent the last several months researching, writing new content, and reorganizing the book. I will have a publication date and table of contents to announce by the end of August.
Here’s some of the new stuff.
Connected Objects, Connected Collections – One of the greatest changes we’re seeing is the inherent connectedness of images – often from the moment of capture. Born-connected images have particular DAM challenges and opportunities. This is partly covered by the chapter on publishing and sharing, but the whole notion of connectedness will thread throughout the book, as it touches every part of DAM technology and workflow.
Publishing and Sharing – I have an entirely new chapter on the ways that you can share images out of your collection. I’ll define the difference between Exporting, Publishing, Integrating, and Embedding. Each of these methods of sharing requires different workflows and tools, and each has its own strengths.
Cloud Services – Cloud-based services are an essential part of storage and distribution for most photographers/collection managers. I’ll lay out the landscape of these, and how you should understand what each can do (and what each one cannot do). My work over the last couple of years designing Photoshelter Libris has been a tremendous opportunity to better understand how cloud fits in to your workflow.
Photography as Language – The most tectonic change in the world of photography is its transformation into a language that is now spoken by nearly everyone. This has some really important ramifications for everyone – but particularly for photographers and collection managers. DAM is now becoming an essential part of communication strategy that goes far beyond the marketing department. Photography-as-language increases the need for, and changes the nature of, DAM. I’ll lay out the case for this, and help you prepare for this increasingly important development.
Network Attached Storage – NAS was pretty immature technology when the last edition of the book was published, and since then it’s come of age. NAS devices have become quite capable for remote access to a collection, automatic offsite backup and as local media servers. I’ll help you understand if NAS addresses your needs.
Artificial Intelligence – Commercial AI is starting to become a commodity, and is showing up in enterprise DAM (such as Extensis linking with Clarifai). Of course, we’re also seeing this on the desktop with facial recognition software. I’ll help untangle what it’s good for and what it’s not good for, and how to spot important changes int he technology.
Less workflow, more ecosystem – When we started DAM Useful Publishing, our goal was to split publications into workflow and ecosystem. The DAM Book will help you understand how image and DAM technology work, and it describes some workflow theory. But the actual workflow demonstrations are now split into the DAM Book Workflow Guides. There are several reasons for this.
- It helps to keep the book to a manageable size
- It allows me to update on a more organic schedule – as technology changes, I can update a particular book
- It allows me to publish in the proper format. I believe that workflow should be taught with a combination of text and video, and the ecosystem stuff is better communicated with a traditional book format.
It will be a book, not a multimedia book. I love the multimedia ebook for workflow, but I think that this material is better presented as a traditional text-and-figures book. We’ll start with an electronic version, so that we can get it out as quickly as possible. We’ll follow that with a paper version as quickly as we can get one printed. Details to follow.
Special Offer still available – We still have our special offer in force for people who buy The DAM Book 2. If you buy it for $19.95, we’ll give you $15 off the purchase of DAM Book 3.
This video from Digitizing Your Photos outlines two related types of film copying equipment – rail systems and bellows systems. I’ve been using these systems for more than a decade to digitize large amounts of my own film. They are fast to use and relatively easy to set up for a photographer experienced with lighting.
At the moment, these systems are do-it-yourself, but we’re working on finding someone to produce them commercially. In the meantime, we’re about to start renting ones I personally own. Click here to find out more.
When digitizing your photos, it’s important to capture any “nearby” information. Dates and notes on slide mounts, writing on the back of prints, notes on boxes and envelopes and other information can help you understand the content and ownership of the images. It can be time-consuming to stop and transfer these notes to your scans.
In Digitizing Your Photos, I show how I approach the capture of nearby information. The fastest, simplest and most complete way to record these notes is to shoot photos of it, and include those photos in the catalog. In the case of prints, it’s simple to flip the print upside down and shoot the backside. Boxes and folders can also be photographed as you shoot the contents of these containers.
When coping slides, I suggest that you shoot the slides as a group after copying individual slides. Use front light to show any writing, and make sure the light rakes in from one side so that blind embossed writing shows up. This video from Chapter 2 shows the hardware setup I recommend to shoot the slide mounts.
The easiest way to build a copy setup for film (slides, transparencies and negatives) is to lay a lightbox on the copy stand and then put a negative carrier on top of that. This video from Digitizing Your Photos shows you how set one of these up (including how to make sure that the camera and the film are parallel to each other.)
I cover several other setups for copying film in the book, but this one requires no special tools and can be made wth stuff that is commonly available at camera shops.
This post kicks off a series of tips and techniques from Digitizing Your Photos. These posts will focus on a particular technique from the multimedia eBook, and include one of the videos from the book.
It’s common for vintage prints to exhibit Silver Mirroring (or Silvering). The reflections caused by residual silver can obscure the shadow detail in the print. Fortunately, it’s easy to remove the mirroring in the copy photo through the use of simple cross-polarization. This video shows how to cross-polarize and what the effect looks like.
This video appears on page 48 of Digitizing Your Photos with Your Camera and Lightroom.
We’re excited about the release of our new multimedia ebook, Digitizing Your Photos. It presents a comprehensive method for scanning photos with a digital camera, and managing the process with Lightroom.
The book is written for professional photographers, family historians, corporate collection managers, and cultural heritage institutions. We know that great collections of slides, prints and negatives are everywhere, and we want to help preserve and make use of them.
The book runs for 248 pages, and includes 90 workflow videos for a total of 9 hours of comprehensive instruction.
Here’s the first video from the book, which outlines the entire process.
And here’s the product page.
Once again it was a great festival: fun, exhausting, and thought-provoking.
Our talk, Adding Meaning and Context to Visual Media was a packed house, turning people away at the door. As with previous years, one of the main values to me was the time spent refining the presentation, and distilling the ideas to a logical sequence in digestible form. I’ll do a blog post hitting the main points, and I’m hoping to give the talk again with my fellow panelists, Anna Dickson and Ramesh Jain.
Sell-out crowd, with line out the door at our SXSW talk this year.
This year, I spent a lot of time learning about Artificial Intelligence, and came away with a lot more clarity about what AI is, how it is being developed, and how to take advantage of it. I also saw some of the ways AI-based assistants are shaking up the world of computing. I believe that Google home, Amazon Echo, Siri, and Facebook Messenger are actually racing to become the new dominant operating system. Natural Language Processing and Conversational UI will be the way we interact with computers in the future. The way this shakes out will be really important. I’ll have a post on that as well.
Photography (in all its many forms) continued to be a major component of what I saw at SXSW. This ranged from “traditional” photography, like Cory Richard’s keynote, to photography as advocacy in Aaron Huey’s work, to Casey Niestat’s new network, and on to the VR exhibits.
Ron Haviv and Lauren Walsh spoke about the democratization of archives and the Lost Rolls project.
There was more political activism, analysis and anxiety than in years past. This included a pretty frightening discourse on big data and fascism (from historical and speculative viewpoints). There was also a heavy emphasis on using creativity and technology for public good. Carina Kolodny and Marc Janks spoke about driving change through multimedia storytelling at Huffington Post. Rainn Wilson (Dwight!) spoke about building Soul Pancake, a media company based on empathy.
The National Geographic made a pretty big splash at the festival, with a 5 day installation in Vulcan Gas Company restaurant on 6th St. They brought in a great set of speaker presentations, and the event was attended by both Declan Moore, the CEO of National Geographic Partners (the media company) and Gary Knell, CEO of the National Geographic Society (the non-profit side of the organization). I believe that this was the first SXSW for both of them, and they seemed to be really energized by the festival. Gary also led a presentation about National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers program.
PhotoShelter sent down an exploratory contingent, including CEO Andrew Fingerman, founder Grover Sanchagrin, and Content Marketing Manager Deborah Block. I hope to see an even greater presence next year, now that they have been able to see the opportunities it presents.
Andrew Fingerman talks with Amy Bailett of Killer Infographics about the changing nature of visual communication.
Of course, there was also great music, and again this year I got a small taste of it on my way out the door. One year, I’d love to stick around for the last 5 days of the festival and take advantage of that platinum badge. But, honestly, I’m just so exhausted from the Interactive festival that it’s hard to imagine spending even more time fighting crowds.
I’ll make some further posts that outline some of my findings, starting with one about AI.
As I tell all my photo and tech people, I continue to think that SXSW is one of the most important events that anyone in media can attend. Media is inherently driven by the technology that enables it. Even more important, I believe it’s really beneficial to understand how technology, content, and business models intersect. I think SXSW is one of the best places on earth to see what’s coming down the road.
Inquiring readers are asking, “What’s up with The DAM Book 3?” Wasn’t that supposed to be published by the end of 2016? As John Lennon famously sang (borrowing a phrase), Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. In the case of 2016, family obligations once again took me in an unexpected direction. We had some significant health challenges (that seem to be successfully met) as well as some other significant family milestones.
One of those milestones has reprioritized my writing schedule. We moved my dad out of his house of 55 years, and this has left me in possession of a massive family photo archive to manage. There are tens of thousands of photos in all formats – from daguerreotypes to glass plates, to vintage and modern prints, many thousands of slides, negatives, framed prints, scrapbooks and more. There are more than 10,000 images sitting on this cart, and that’s just a part of the archive.
There is some real urgency here. First, I need to get this stuff sorted and put away so I get my studio back. But more importantly, I need to get my dad to help me tag these images. He’s the only one left who can identify a large percentage of the people shown. Here is a small selection of the framed prints we copied.
A new DAM Book Guide
Working with my daughter Josie, we’ve been able to sort, triage, digitize, annotate and curate a growing share of this collection. And we’re making a book from the experience, Digitizing your Photos. It’s a multimedia volume that will give you a step-by-step cookbook for managing this entire process, using a digital camera to scan and Lightroom to control the optimization and management.
We expect to be shipping digital versions in April. The manuscript is essentially complete and I’m currently shooting photos and videos. I’m really pleased with the results of our scanning and with the comprehensiveness and clarity of the book. Stay tuned for more info as release nears.
Okay, so what about The DAM Book 3?
Our plan is to make 2017 the year of the book. I’m fully committed to getting TDB3 out the door this year (along with one other book as well). The DAM Book is a lynchpin to our entire publishing effort, and I feel a deep commitment to modernizing it. So, yes, barring some other curveball, I’m looking forward to pick it back up well before the solstice.
In a little more than a week, I’ll be headed to SXSW for the fifth year in a row. I’ll be speaking again this year, discussing how to programmatically add meaning to photos and other visual media (more on that later). I will have the pleasure of sharing the stage with Anna Dickson from Google and Ramesh Jain, professor of Information and Computer Science at UC Irvine.
2016 SXSW presentation with Dennis Keeley
Anna and I have been talking about these issues for years, ever since we met at the Palm Springs Photo Festival in 2013. We’v been on stage together a number of times, and it’s always an entertaining and enlightening discussion with her. Anna’s current work at Google is centered on deriving a deeper level of context about photographs through computer vision, linked data and more.
I met Ramesh at the LDV Vision Summit last year, and we immediately hit is off with a shared interest in pushing computer vision beyond simple recognition of objects and into the complex realm of meaning. He’s working with his grad students on the creation of a data model describing an Internet of Events which can describe and link geotemporal events. He’s a brilliant guy, and coincidentally was Thomas Knoll‘s professor at the University of Michigan when he wrote the first version of Photoshop. What goes around, comes around.
In our presentation, we’ll be examining how to think beyond what can simply be added by computer vision and analysis. How does the intent of the user get factored in? How can you use external data to understand visual media objects, and how can visual media – as the carrier of rich data – help to better build out an understanding of real world events.
Thanks to Photoshelter for helping to make this possible. I’m really excited that our CEO Andrew Fingerman will be attending.