Categories
Reading

Wet Wednesday

Morning Nuggets – Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Albert_S – Unsplash

Pfizer and BioNTech Conclude Phase 3 Study of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate, Meeting All Primary Efficacy Endpoints – Pfizer – “We are grateful that the first global trial to reach the final efficacy analysis mark indicates that a high rate of protection against COVID-19 can be achieved very fast after the first 30 µg dose, underscoring the power of BNT162 in providing early protection,” said Ugur Sahin, M.D., CEO and Co-founder of BioNTech.

Larry Brilliant Says We’ll Beat Covid—After We Go Through Hell – Wired (Steven Levy) – “And if you are thinking of spending your 2020 Thanksgiving dinner the way an epidemiologist does, go Swanson instead of Butterball.”

Immunity to the Coronavirus May Last Years, New Data Hint – New York Times – “How long might immunity to the coronavirus last? Years, maybe even decades, according to a new study…”

Boeing Responds to FAA Approval to Resume 737 MAX Operations – Boeing – “The FAA’s directive is an important milestone,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide.”

Trump and his supporters are discovering how hard it is to sabotage election results – Washington Post (David Ignatius) – “When the history books about this election are written, (Christopher) Krebs will be one of the heroes.”

How Bill Demchak turned PNC into a US banking powerhouse – Financial Times

How to Get Started with Street Photography – Borrowlenses.com – “Street photography requires a lot of grace.”

Apple announces App Store Small Business Program – Apple – “New program reduces App Store commission to 15 percent for small businesses earning up to $1 million per year…”

The Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication – Basecamp – “Internal communication based on long-form writing, rather than a verbal tradition of meetings, speaking, and chatting, leads to a welcomed reduction in meetings, video conferences, calls, or other real-time opportunities to interrupt and be interrupted.”

Categories
Reading

Third Tuesday

Tuesday Morning Nuggets – November 17, 2020

Glenn Carstens-Peters – Unsplash

M1 Macs review: The Next Generation – Six Colors – “The decision to abandon Intel, seemingly risky when we all first contemplated it a few years ago, has become blindingly obvious in hindsight. These new relatively low-end Mac models, all powered by the M1 chip, are faster than all but the very highest-end Intel Macs.”

The Golden Rule of Pandemic Survival – The Atlantic – “My colleagues’ guidance boils down to this winter’s golden rule for interacting with anyone outside your immediate household: Don’t spend time indoors with other people.”

COVID-19 and Walking Japan – Craig Mod – “What it’s like doing this walk during COVID-19? How stressful is it? How different is it?”

The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done – New Yorker (Cal Newport) – “Imagine if, through some combination of new management thinking and technology, we could introduce processes that minimize the time required to talk about work or fight off random tasks flung our way by equally harried co-workers, and instead let us organize our days around a small number of discrete objectives.”

By the Way, Donald Trump Could Still Launch Nuclear Weapons at Any Time – Wired – “Among the authorities he’ll retain until his final minutes in office? The awesome and awful power to launch the United States’ nuclear arsenal on command.”

Introducing Amazon Pharmacy: Prescription Medications Delivered – BusinessWire – “Customers can now purchase prescription medications through the Amazon online store – convenient and reliable access, without leaving home.”

How to Pretend You’re in Paris Tonight – New York Times – There are countless ways to invite Paris into your home. All you need is a little creativity. And perhaps a glass of Champagne.

Categories
Reading

Monday Nuggets

Monday Morning Nuggets – November 16, 2020

Toa Heftiba – Unsplash

Early Data Show Moderna’s Coronavirus Vaccine Is 94.5% Effective – New York Times – Researchers said the results were better than they had dared to imagine. But the vaccine will not be widely available for months, probably not until spring.

Huawei, 5G, and the Man Who Conquered Noise – Wired – “What gripped him most was solving a challenge that Shannon himself had spelled out in his 1948 paper: how to transport accurate information at high speed while defeating the inevitable “noise”—undesirable alterations of the message—introduced in the process of moving all those bits.”

How The “Experts” Invest Their Money – Can I Retire Yet? – The book is a collection of 25 essays written by financial experts, ranging from financial advisors, journalists, authors, and professional portfolio managers. All shared what they actually do when it is time to put their own money where their mouths are.

Why Obama Fears for Our Democracy – The Atlantic – “What I’ve always believed is that humanity has the capacity to be kinder, more just, more fair, more rational, more reasonable, more tolerant. It is not inevitable. History does not move in a straight line. But if you have enough people of goodwill who are willing to work on behalf of those values, then things can get better.”

The Oral History of CNN’s Election Week – Esquire – It took office naps, rousing renditions of Motownphilly, and a whole lot of coffee.

Walmart Retreats Around Globe to Focus on E-Commerce – Wall St. Journal – Walmart has sold three longtime overseas holdings in less than seven weeks, each at the cost of some financial pain.

California, Love It and Leave It – Wall St. Journal – “The harsh truth is that California has fallen into disrepair. Bad policies discourage business and innovation, stifle opportunity and make life in major cities ugly and unpleasant.”

San Francisco sees nearly 7 foot king tides Sunday, more coming Monday – San Francisco Chronicle – High water was reported Sunday morning along San Francisco’s Embarcadero as well as at other flood-prone spots including parts of the bayshore in Mill Valley and Sausalito.

Best books of 2020: Technology – Financial Times – John Thornhill selects his must-read titles.

Categories
Reading

Morning Nuggets

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Case for Political Exile for Donald Trump – Politico – The country needs a clean break, Napoleon-style. And, hey, Trump might like his own island realm and an imperial title to go with it.

Reinventing the Newspaper, Week After Week – New York Times – Imagination is exactly what fuels her team every week for an At Home feature known by its editors and designers simply as “the activity,” a craft, game or other project in which readers learn how to turn the physical newspaper into a unique D.I.Y. creation.

Computer Scientists Achieve ‘Crown Jewel’ of Cryptography – Quanta – A cryptographic master tool called indistinguishability obfuscation has for years seemed too good to be true. Three researchers have figured out that it can work.

DHL, FedEx and UPS Are Ready to Save the World – Bloomberg – The logistics industry faces a mammoth task to safely deliver billions of vaccine doses. Those shipments could further juice the industry’s profits.

The Crown: Yes, Princess Diana’s “Uptown Girl” Performance Really Happened – Vanity Fair – “She walked out for eight counts…and then stopped, looked at the audience beautifully, and there was a gasp from the audience of 2,500 people who took an intake of breath all at the same time. They were speechless, and she was on fire.”

How to make sure winter is welcoming in the time of COVID – San Francisco Chronicle – With temperatures dropping and the days growing short, the Bay Area’s new landscape of parklets and shared outdoor spaces needs to be adapted to the realities of the season.

Categories
Cars

That Car with the Manual Transmission

Thanks to Niklas Garnholz for sharing his work on Unsplash.

Did you have one? When you were younger? Or did you start out in Drive?

The sound, feel and thrill of driving are to be relished, not relegated to the trash heap and memories along with carburetors, fender skirts, steel wheels and hubcaps. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in a sports car with a manual transmission and you too will become a believer.

David L. Scott writing in the Wall St. Journal, September 12, 2020
Categories
Blogs/Weblogs San Francisco/California Weblogs

Why have a Blog?

Photo by Derick Daily on Unsplash

Enjoyed this from Austin Kleon:

I didn’t start a blog because I had something to say, I started a blog to find something to say.

And:

Most writers don’t write to express what they think. They write to figure out what they think. Writing is a process of discovery.

I started this version of my blog on November 24, 2001. Ironically, it’s a link to a San Francisco Chronicle story about why writers enjoy living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

So why is it authors multiply here like cheap noodle restaurants?One reason the Bay Area is such a good place for writers may be the same reason it’s such a good place for arbitration lawyers and podiatrists – it’s a terrific place to live.

So much has changed in the almost twenty years since that article was written. Local bookstores, great restaurants, group events, …

After the last few weeks of fires, heat, etc., recent articles seem to talk much more about the problems – asking “why bother living in San Francisco (or California)?”

For example, this Washington Post article titled “Warmer. Burning. Epidemic-challenged. Expensive. The California Dream has become the California Compromise.

The cityscape resembles the surface of a distant planet, populated by a masked alien culture. The air, choked with blown ash, is difficult to breathe.

There is the Golden Gate Bridge, looming in the distance through a drift-smoke haze, and the Salesforce Tower, which against the blood-orange sky appears as a colossal spaceship in a doomsday film.

San Francisco, and much of California, has never been like this.

California has become a warming, burning, epidemic-challenged and expensive state, with many who live in sophisticated cities, idyllic oceanfront towns and windblown mountain communities thinking hard about the viability of a place they have called home forever. For the first time in a decade, more people left California last year for other states than arrived.

Indeed. Life is so rich…it’s all about finding something to say.

Categories
Living

A Sunday Morning – Late Summer 2020

I’m feeling a bit melancholy this morning – aren’t we all in some way?

But it’s a lovely day shaping up outside – the local lightning-caused wildfires are gradually coming under control, the air quality is slowly improving and the sun is bright.

But my mood is not so bright. Brad Feld shared his feeling – asking “Are You At Your Best Right Now?

Everyone I know is some element of tired, stressed, anxious, frustrated, or just running at maximum speed trying to keep it all together. People are short-tempered, irritable, irrational, and lashing out or thrashing around.

And he shares some good advice:

Give yourself a break and acknowledge to yourself and your loved ones that you are not at your best right now.

After reading Brad, I came across the latest from Ming Thein. He’s been a long-time inspiration for me in photography. In “Full Circle“, Ming writes:

“If things are starting to take on a tone of finality, that’s because this is the point at which I confirm the suspicions you’ve been having: MT the writer and mingthein.com are both going into retirement.”

My friend Doug Kaye and I took a San Francisco street photography workshop from Ming back in 2014. We spent a couple of days walking with him on the streets, watching him make his images, and benefiting from his critiques of ours. He proved to be perhaps the most challenging “coach” I’ve had among the many photography mentors I’ve had along the way. While he’s stepping back for now, I’m hoping it won’t be long before we are inspired again by Ming and his work.

Picking up this morning’s Sunday San Francisco Chronicle to read at breakfast added to the melancholy mood of my morning! With headlines like: Understanding 2020’s confusion, As workers at big businesses stay home, downtown SF’s small businesses suffer, and Willie Brown’s latest column Burning and looting in the name of justice will hand election to Trump.

And then there’s this: Chadwick Boseman helped us understand our history. His death shatters our hearts. Reading the news certainly doesn’t help swing one’s mood back to positive and out of the melancoly!

But setting the news aside, there are lots of positives to see and feel if I just pause and reflect a bit. Things like the wonderful creativity of people like Craig Mod, the inspiring work of the creators on KickStarter, the wonderful photography of my friend and teacher Cira Crowell.

Craig has it right when he talks about the benefits of walking:

“Those walking are almost certain to have clearer minds than those sitting at home or standing around with guns. Long walks may not solve all problems, but over time they have unquestionably activated groundbreaking insights of scientific reasoning, creativity, and philosophy. And have unlocked equality in the eyes of the law and the world.”

And

“It can be difficult to sometimes remember, but there is a lot of good still out there. Look well, look closely.”

Such a great reminder! I find it helps even more if you think about using your camera in those moments to slow down, breathe in and just see!

Sunday is a day for remembering the best, not dwelling on all that melancholy trying to wave over us. And, just maybe it’s just another perfect day for taking a walk…

Update: Oh, one more cheerful thing – it’s Warren Buffett’s 90th birthday today. Bill Gates shares some memories and makes him a birthday cake! And quotes some wisdom from Warren:

“You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with. So it’s important to associate with people that are better than yourself. The friends you have will form you as you go through life. Make some good friends, keep them for the rest of your life, but have them be people that you admire as well as like.”

Categories
Hong Kong Japan Kyoto Photography Photoshop CC Rome

More Creative Blending in Photoshop

Recently I wrote about a workshop I took from Julieanne Kost and one of the techniques she demonstrated that created a resulting image reminiscent of one of the styles used by artist Pep Ventosa. I included a couple of initial examples in that post.

I’ve continued experimenting with the technique, scouring my Lightroom catalog for multiple images of the same scene that might be good candidates for blending.

Here are a few more examples – from Kyoto and Mumbai – along with my initial examples from Rome and Hong Kong.

Categories
Cuba Lightroom CC Photography Photoshop CC

Colors of Place – Cuba

Last week I took an online seminar taught by Julieanne Kost and hosted by Santa Fe Workshops. She walked us through many of her creative techniques for image processing including one significant project she did last year called Color of Place.

In this project she wanted to explore the differences in color between various locales around the world that she’s visited during her travels. She put together a portfolio of 25 cities and the colors that she found from her photography in those locales. The results are a series of wonderfully colorful abstract images that display 50 narrow strips of color for each location.

In an online article and video she shared more about her technique using Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. Following her approach I put together my version of the colors of Cuba derived from the images I made during my visit there in 2013.

Colors of Place – Cuba – 2013

Categories
Photography Photoshop Photoshop CC

Creative Blending in Photoshop

One of my favorite photographers/artists is Pep Ventosa. He’s known for some very creative Photoshop techniques that blend images in unique and unusual ways. I fell in love with a couple of his styles when I discovered him years ago – and later met him at an Open Studios event he held in San Francisco. We now own several of his prints and have given a couple away as gifts.

Another great photographer who utilizes some very creative techniques for her images is Roxanne Overton – here’s her Instagram feed – she provides me with regular creative inspiration! From time to time she uses techniques similar to what I’m describing here.

Earlier this week, I took an online seminar from Santa Fe Workshops taught by Julieanne Kost, the long-time evangelist for Adobe. Titled “Beyond the Single Image” this workshop focused on Julieanne’s creative process – primarily her approach to compositing multiple images together in Photoshop. She showed a number of techniques – it was a great learning experience. She has an excellent blog where she frequently covers her techniques as well as having been featured in several YouTube videos that cover many of them as well. In addition, she’s an excellent teacher and has several online courses available on LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com.

One of the most interesting to me was a technique to blend multiple images together in a unique way that, as it turns out, results in an image with some of the same look as one of Pep Ventosa’s styles. When she showed the technique, she used it initially with video – using Photoshop’s video editing capabilities to blend together multiple images from a video to simulate a long exposure image with smooth water. This technique opened my eyes to how Photoshop could be used to perform frame captures from a video file and how she used a technique to blend them together.

The technique can also be used with still images – instead of a video file – to create a blended image that is somewhat analogous to one of Pep Ventosa’s styles. Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of this technique that I used to create the blend above that I made from four photos taken during a recent visit to Hong Kong. All of my originals are kept in Lightroom Classic – so the process starts there.

  1. Select 3+ (your choice how many) images in grid view in Lightroom Classic. With the images selected, right-click and choose Open as Layers in Photoshop.
  2. In Photoshop, after the layers are all open (may take a minute), select all the layers. Then choose Layer/Smart Objects/Convert to Smart Object.
  3. After the layers have been converted to a Smart Object, choose Layer/Smart Objects/Stack Mode/Mean. This will create a blend of all of the images with a look similar to one of Pep Ventosa’s styles.
  4. Now, you’ll typically want to feature just one element in one of the images – in other words, you will want to bring out some specific details from the blend. To do that, you’ll want to select the appropriate layer with the details that you want to use and then paste it as a new layer on top of the Mean version and begin to do some blending. To do that, double click on the smart object icon in the layers panel. This will open a new Photoshop document with all of the layers shown individually. Select the specific layer that you want and do copy all. Then switch back to the Mean version image and paste – this will create a new layer on top with your selected image. After that you can add a layer mask and you can begin blending as you normally would. Typically I start with a black layer mask and use a brush with white and reduced flow to paint in where I want the details to show.
  5. Once you’re done with blending, flatten the layers and save the image – which will bring the final version back into Lightroom. Or, if you think you may want to re-edit again, you could just save without flattening which will bring it back into LR – but it will be a very large file with all of the layers embedded, etc.

That’s it. It’s a fun technique to experiment with. I’m sure there’s some skill involved in selected the right few images to blend with this technique. You will need to play a bit to learn what strikes your fancy in applying this technique.

Thanks very much to Julieanne for sharing her techniques and helping me learn! Below are some other images I’ve created using this technique. Enjoy!

Reader – Rome
Pals – Rome
Mirage – Hong Kong