Category: General

Avoiding bland, cliché photography

There are plenty of stock photography sites out there, and while many of them are expensive, more and more of them offer some great, affordable images to use in your designs. But before you decide on your image, be sure to read through this post at DesignShack titled 10 pitfalls to avoid when using stock photos.

Cliché photos

The handshake - perhaps the most overused design cliché of all time

The article covers topics such as avoiding cliché and overused photos, creating bad clipping paths, and avoiding obviously posed photos.

Perhaps the most important piece of advice offered is to shoot the images yourself. A decent DSLR camera can be had for $500 nowadays, and can produce stunning images in the right hands. Beef-up on your photography skills by reading through the great photography tips and reviews at Digital Photography School, or subscribe to a photography podcast such as Daily Photo Tips with Chris.

Regardless if you choose to buy stock photos or shoot them yourself, be sure to make good choices when selecting images for your designs.

Rant: Stuff that ticked me off last week

I’ve never been at a loss for things that leave me scratching my head or gouging my eyes out when it comes to what I read on the Internet. There’s just so much stupidity out there just waiting to be discovered.

I spent the entire week trying to figure out why my stupid Apple Time Capsule has all of a sudden decided that it will allow me to access any web site on the Internet except my own. Since I wasn’t writing for this site, I had plenty of time to catch up on the supersize cornucopia of stupid found scattered across the intertubes.
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Alien Skin announces Bokeh 2 plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS5

Bokeh 2 boxAlien Skin has released Bokeh2, thier easy to use tools for creative blurring, including spiral motion blur. New support for Adobe Photoshop CS5 64-bit and Lightroom is in the mix, as is an improved preview feature which is now much faster and more interactive, making experimentation easier.

Bokeh 2 gives photographers and designers a wide range of tools to focus attention where they want it. The focus region is easily placed over the subject and then the fun begins. Every aspect of the lens blur can be customized, from highlight intensity and shape to motion blur and vignette.

Bokeh 2 released

Focus attention where you want it with Bokeh 2

Bokeh 2 now works in Lightroom, including batch processing. The 64-bit version of Photoshop CS5 works great with Bokeh on both platforms. Bokeh provides multiple techniques for non-destructive editing in Photoshop, including Smart Filter support and rendering effects on a duplicate of the original layer.

Bokeh 2 sells for $199. Owners of Bokeh 1 may upgrade for $99. Online or physical delivery is available through the Alien Skin website. Free upgrades will be automatically sent to purchasers of Bokeh 1 who purchased in April 2010 or later.

Bokeh 2 is a plug-in and requires one of the following host applications:

  • Adobe Photoshop CS3 or later
  • Adobe Lightroom 2 or later
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 or later

I’m a huge fan of Bokeh, and I plan on putting it through its paces and post a review as soon as I get my hands on it.

Photographing the perfect landscape

Rolling hills and vales, enchanting areas of woodland, rugged shorelines and a dappled spring meadow can all become the most obvious of subjects for the landscape shooter, often yielding strongly emotive and awe-inspiring results.

Photographing landscapes

Shooting landscapes is all about the setup (a little HDR treatment works sometimes, too!)

The recipe for success however is less obvious. Unless of course you read this great article at Digital Photography School on photographing the perfect landscape.

News portals for Mac users

Mac NewsKeeping up with Mac-related news can be a daunting task. Apple has never been so popular, so news portal sites that offer Apple/Mac-related news can be a great way to keep up with the latest goings-on.

Below are a few of the sites I tend to go to when I’m looking for news on any particular Apple/Mac related news. The Mac Observer is a daily visit for me, and MacNews is a favorite forum hangout.

Apple / Mac-related news portals

Apple / Mac-related news portals keep you up-to-date

Mac.Alltop

Alltop is a site which allows you to view the latest topics on virtually any subject you wish with a customized MyAlltop page. Mac news is pulled from numerous sites, including some more obscure places that even I didn’t know about.

The Mac Observer

The Mac Observer, a site that’s been around for many, many years is one of the best Mac news portals out there. They have an extensive list of sites they pull news from. Generally speaking, if there’s news about Apple, The Mac Observer has you covered.

MacNews

MacNews, part of the AppleCentral group of sites, brings together top headlines from a variety of RSS feeds. The site also offers a great group of discussion forums.

Addict-O-Mattic

Addict-O-Matic provides the latest headlines on topics such as entertainment, politics, shopping, sports, and of course, Apple. You get all the feeds from the best sources in each category. And like your search results dashboard, you can personalize the layout of the headline boxes, delete ones you don’t like and bookmark your personalized page. I love the clean layout of this site.

MacDailyNews

MacDailyNews is great because you’re presented with a long list of headlines and one-line summaries of the articles, making it quite easy to find what you’re looking for.

MacNN

MacNN offers a news portal page, collection all the latest headlines for you. I’m not a huge fan of the site, but it has been around for many years and offers plenty to read.

AppleLinks

If you’re looking for volume, AppleLinks is the place to visit. Over 2,000 pages of Mac news awaits you. They also have an interesting way of presenting the news that you really have to see because it’s difficult to describe.

TechMeme

Techmeme pulls together tech news of all sorts, but features quite a bit of Apple news at any given time. I like the site because it gives a great overview of all the hottest geek news, regardless of what OS you prefer.

If you have a favorite Mac and Apple-related news site, feel free to share it in the comments.

Inspiration: Apple education infographic

Apple Education Infographic

Click to view original

Infographics are quite popular, and can be a great experience for designers to work on because it allows you to be totally creative without the concern of how the graphic fits in with an existing campaign, etc.

The infographic, How Apple is Revolutionizing Education, uses simple graphics and a small color palette to get its point across. I think they pulled it off quite well.

You can view the full size graphic here.

I love working on infographics, and found a great place for inspiration. You can check out what other designers are doing with infographics by visiting The Infographics Showcase.