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All posts for the month November, 2011

They’re a pain in the arse. Especially when you’re in them. But sometimes, when you’re NOT in them, and you have a nice overview of what’s going on, a traffic jam can be a very inspiring thing. When you’re a photographer, at least.

Traffic jam

D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/11, Nikkor 50mm, Singh-Ray VariND filter

The cool thing is that you can take a whole series of shots and they all turn out differently. And then you can combine stuff. Take a car from here, a tram from there, some tail lights from a third, etc. etc. And “minor” details like a biker and/or pedestrian from a few others to set the mood.

Now all I’m waiting for is ambulances, fire trucks and police cars to race by so I also get some blue lights in there still. Since that happens pretty much on a daily basis, it’s just a matter of time.
To be continued…? ;)

As a marketing person I look at things. I look at commercials, I look at posters on the street, etc. I may not look at them in the same way as a non-marketing person would, but I think in this case it doesn’t matter how you look at it, it’s a fail nonetheless.

Commercial posters like this are supposed to be made attractive so that people will come running to your store / shopping center. So when I passed this poster on the street, rather than getting excited to get there my jaw pretty much fell in my lap, because it’s so disgusting…’

Kluuvi shopping center ad

Kluuvi shopping center ad. Copyright by and courtesy of the genius AD/Design agency that came up with this.

I was in the car, so I didn’t have time to read all the small print. It may just be that this is a (bad) joke or a poster for an animal protection group, but I don’t think so. It may be that they try to convey the message that they are environmental/animal friendly with what they offer.
But what I see is a big header “Eat & Joy” with a picture of a terrified cow that smells the rancid smell of fear and death of his fellow cows in the slaughter house and the realization that his/her fate is exactly the same. I don’t feel at all inclined to come Eat & Joy in Kluuvi after seeing this poster.
It’s tasteless and totally misplaced in my opinion.

But hey… Whatever floats your boat. Maybe Kluuvi is aiming exactly at the people who get off on these kinds of images.

I’ve written about Adobe before.
I’ve always been very happy with Adobe in regards to their products, but seriously, their upgrade policies are just a pathetic little example of how a monopolist can manipulate the market without any punishment.
I consider myself a loyal customer, but even with that, as a freelancer it’s a big bite out of your finances if you have to upgrade a package like Creative Suite Premium. So what I do is skip a version all the time. I bought PS2, PS3, PS4, then went to PS6 and from PS6 to CS1, from CS1 to CS3 and from CS3 to CS5 (I still have the 3,5″ floppy disks from PS3, I wonder if they are worth anything already :D ).
But anyway… In previous posts about Adobe I was ranting about the price differences between upgrades. In this neck of the world an upgrade has continuously been more than double the price compared to the US upgrade prices. Marketing and translation, they say at Adobe (after cutting of any and all continuous questions from my part). I say that’s bull shit. With whipped cream and a cherry on top.

And guess what? CS6 is coming next year.
And hidden in a blog post on Adobe’s website they quietly address their new policy regarding upgrades:

With regards to upgrades, we are changing our policy for perpetual license customers. In order to qualify for upgrade pricing when CS6 releases, customers will need to be on the latest version of our software (either CS5 or CS5.5 editions). If our customers are not yet on those versions, we’re offering a 20% discount through December 31, 2011 which will qualify them for upgrade pricing when we release CS6.

So the sneaky little bastards in the money-gathering department at Adobe are basically FORCING you to upgrade every single version, otherwise you have to pay the full price for an upgrade.
With CS5 I’m still ok, but I guess my “skip a version”-technique will stop here, if I want to be eligible for an upgrade price to CS7. I know the “skip a version” is very commonly used, and I know a good number of people who were planning the CS4-CS6 step. But I guess that’s out the window.
Only surprise now will be what the actual upgrade prices will be. I won’t be surprised if we’re paying the jackpot again.
I don’t approve of software piracy, but with these kinds of “policies” the big guys do make it very tempting for the little guys to go down that road.

Shame on you, Adobe!

I don’t know if it’s a typo, or if “they” really think everyone’s a total stupid idiot, but I run into these kind of things actually quite frequently.

Advertisement in Runners World

Advertisement in Runners World, credit to those whom deserve it (not me).

So this is an ad from the Dutch version of Runners World, a magazine aimed at the athletes who spend their time running.
The thing I was laughing about was the black and blue text above the Polar watch:

Abonneer je nu voor slechts € 59,95* een jaar lang op Runner’s World en ontvang een Polar FT2 trainingscomputer t.w.v. € 59,95 cadeau!

That means as much as “Subscribe to Runner’s World for a year now for only € 59,95 and receive a Polar FT2 training computer valued € 59,95 as a gift!

Now that in itself would be totally fine, totally generous. But notice the little asterisk (*) after the blue € 59,95? That always means that elsewhere on the page is a reference to that asterisk with a but, an or, conditions, other prices, etc. etc.
And surely, just under that piece of text is an asterisk with a reference, stating

* In plaats van € 50,00

And that short line means “* Instead of € 50,00″. See why that makes me laugh? You’re getting a great offer for a year subscription, which costs you € 59,95 and the normal price for that same year subscription is € 50,00. So basically you’re paying € 9,95 for that gift they’re offering (of which I doubt they paid a dime themselves, it’s probably sponsored by Polar for a full page advertisement). That’s kind of… sneaky, isn’t it?
Oh, and then there’s still the little bit of information under the watch, saying

Actie geldig zolang de voorraad strekt.

And that means that this offer is valid as long as they have these watches in store. Wouldn’t be surprised if they only got a handful. Polar surely wouldn’t have sponsored them with a box-ful of these watches for that full page advertisement.

 

Years ago I posted a few of these on my other blog.
Check these out:

Fantastic Dell offer

Fantastic Dell offer. New laptop, from 1.099 for 1.189

 

Product advertisement from former supermarket chain De Boer

Product advertisement from former supermarket chain De Boer

I guess the Dell one is clear, even if it’s in Dutch. The ones directly above here are scans from a supermarket brochure. They all follow the principle 2 for 1, meaning buy one, get the second one for free.
So the first one, one liter of juice for 1.32 and you get the second one for free. And in really small font you see that the price per liter is 0.66. Meaning, you really pay for both of them. Same with the oranges. 1.5kg cost 2.49 and you get the the second one for free. And the price per kilo is 0.83. And the wine costs 4.66 per liter, but you pay 6.99 per bottle of 750ml and get the second one for free.

(Sure sure… you can also debate that the price per is calculated AFTER the discount, but it’s still a very clumsy way of promoting your products, isn’t it?)

So I promised to do a side-by-side.
Here you go:
Top image -> laptop, uncalibrated, crappy, 13″ glossy worthless piece of sh!t
Bottom image -> desktop, calibrated, 27″ matte sweet widescreen

Mushrooms on the side of the road

D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm, off-camera SB-800 (flashed manually several times on the mushrooms near the end of the 30 second exposure)

Mushrooms

Same as above, but the post-processing was a bit better ;)

Of course you can argue that I could’ve tried harder and got the same result on the laptop, but there’s only so much you can actually see on a piece of sh!t which isn’t made for this kind of work. I tried desaturating the road (primarily red and yellow channels) on the laptop (just like I did on the desktop), and all I got was a load of banding and other unwanted ugly side effects. It just didn’t work.
It may not have been mainly the calibration problem, but also the fact that this screen can’t handle all these colors… Owwell, anyway… The difference is here, and obvious (and yes, I know, if I spend a bucketful of money I can get a very expensive laptop which can handle the colors, but that’s beside the point right now ;) ).

…(and the reasons why you should have a good, calibrated screen for doing image editing and/or color corrections on photographs)

When I was driving home from work the other day I passed (again) this particular part of the route. There’s a little bench there that I’ve been meaning to take a picture of for years already, but never got around to.
Neither did I this time. But I noticed something else which I hadn’t noticed before, for some reason. Funny, because from the looks of it, they’d been there already for awhile, and they were almost ON the street. Instantly I thought “Light trails, long exposure”, and I decided to come back in the evening (with camera, duh).

And so I did. And I sat on my knees in the grass for almost 40 minutes, trying to get the right picture. Cars slowing down all the time, because they thought I was a cop photographing speeders :D
It was a bit tricky, because of my positioning. I didn’t have much choice here, since right next to the mushrooms was a massive tree that I didn’t want in the picture, and a bit further on the road was a curve which would give a good swing to the light trails. But that meant that the cars coming towards me would shine there headlights pretty much straight into my lens.
And so it didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted. I had to make, or try to, separate exposures for tail lights and head lights and combine them in post-processing.
That worked out quite ok in the end.

But then there’s the thing with the screens. One image (the bottom one) I did on my desktop computer, with big, calibrated, graphic screen. The other one I did on my laptop, which, quite frankly, is a piece of crap graphically speaking. Sure, I tried calibrating it, but that only makes things worse. Glossy screen, reflecting the sh!t out of everything near and if you bat your eyelashes the color changes. So apologize you me for the bad quality of that first image. I will make a post in the coming days, when I get back to my good computer, where I put the two side by side: one done on the laptop and the other one done on the desktop, and see the difference.

Anyways… Fall wasn’t quite over yet.

Mushrooms on the side of the road

D700, ISO200, 30 sec @ f/5.6, Nikkor 50mm, off-camera SB-800 (flashed manually several times on the mushrooms near the end of the 30 second exposure)

Mushrooms on the side of the road

D700, ISO200, 20 sec @ f/8, Nikkor 50mm, off-camera SB-800 (flashed manually several times on the mushrooms at the beginning of the 20 second exposure)