Smaller Files, Smaller Hassle

Harbor Springs, Michigan

The world is gobbling up megapixels.

Fifty here. Thirty six there. Even my modest Canon 6D has 20 megapixels. Any of these photo sizes feel too big for my creaky old 2009 21.5″ iMac. Editing a 6D RAW image, especially in Photoshop, always grinds my system to a halt.

You know what doesn’t? Photos from my classic Canon 5D. At 12 megapixels, my aging editing system has no problem processing those RAW files. It’s one of those hidden benefits of using an older camera: processing and editing is a snap. Even DP Review mentioned what a breath of fresh air the “small” file sizes of the original 5D were.

Yes, eventually I’ll upgrade my Mac. But bigger megapixels will continue to be a thing. When others upgrade, downgrade.


Organic Growth

Promoting Your Project

Ask anyone who’s had to promote a project – a book, a gallery showing, a performance – and they’ll probably tell you how exhausting it can feel. Especially if the project is close to their heart, and especially if the person tends toward introversion.

It feels like you put your heart and effort into something, and then you have to put your heart and effort into making sure enough people (a) care and (b) hear about it to be interested. Yelling is tiring, even when it’s about yourself.

Some people are pretty good at this. But when I think about it, usually those folks are speaking to a big enough audience that cares. They hit (a) and (b) from above every time they promote something.

My projects started small: a portrait project here, a documentary there, each with a modest built-in audience. They cared. Over time, the number of people who knew about me grew.

Organic growth means taking the long view. Person by person, project by project, you’re increasing the number of people who know what you do. It takes patience, and planning, and a bit of humility. But I love the process.

Dampen your expectations on the first few projects, because it’s going to take time to reach people that care. Start making stuff that people might have an interest in (that’s the first part) so that, for the next project, they’ll hear about it (the second part). Each time might just get easier.

Tell Their Stories

Quiet Mornings in Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Michigan

People say an image can change people’s minds. Video can, too, or heartfelt stories of people on the front lines.

Last weekend, we saw a lot of photos of people taking up the fight. This weekend, too (side note: is this the new normal?).

I have a feeling that what moves us more than those big crowd shots of people marching down avenues are the photos of individuals who are affected by government mood swings. When I’m faced with a group of women from Flint, Michigan, representing the tragedy of their situation on a national stage, it brings the whole big affair home.

If you make stuff – write, photograph, film, dance – now’s your chance to feature those individuals. Tell their stories. Express their fears. Make their voice heard. Do more than take crowd shots. Take on City Hall.

It’s easy to ignore a “Photoshopped” crowd shot of protestors. But it’s harder to dismiss our neighbors (or refugees) face-to-face.

Resizing Photos Easily Using Mac’s Automator and Services

Services can resize photos

If you’re like me, you probably have to resize photo files a lot. I’m constantly adjusting picture sizes to share with others, add to the blog, or post on Twitter.

There are apps that resize photos – tons of them – but I’ve found the easiest way is to do it with a right click right in the macOS Finder. I have this little Automator script set up where I can right-click on a photo file, go to Services, and resize a photo to either 1000 or 2000 pixels wide (above).

Often, I’ll duplicate the photo file and then resize the copy to preserve the original file’s dimensions.

Preview does this. Little apps here and there does this. But I like simply clicking and picking my size, and letting the operating system do the rest. You can do this easily within Automator (a great, time-saving little bundle of joy, by the way), but I’m making my two little Services available as a download.

Download the 1000 pixel version and the 2000 pixel version as a ZIP file. For installation, Brett Terpstra has a how-to on adding system Services in macOS (under “Move the File”).

Questions? Let me know in the comments.

Downtown Jackson, At Summer’s End

Toward the end of last summer, I took to the streets of my hometown for a solo photo walk.

I make lots of pictures of Jackson, but I hadn’t headed downtown with the intent to make a series in a while. With summer ending, and the light changing, I figured the hour near sunset would be fun to capture.

While downtown Jackson is on the upswing – lots of new restaurants, the brewery is booming, the road project is mostly done – you still feel like (as my grandmother would say) you could shoot a canon ball down Michigan Ave. after 5 p.m. and not hit a soul. The hope is that’ll change in time.

Here’s the first in a series of city photos focusing on Jackson, Michigan’s few downtown blocks.


Mark Marchesi, ‘Evangeline’

Evangeline, by Mark Marchesi

Over the holiday break, I used a (much appreciated) gift card to pick up Mark Marchesi’s photo book, Evangeline, based on his Acadia photo project.

This is my kind of photo project: about space, and history, featuring a tragic backstory. The photos of abandoned Victorian homes, and the tidewater landscapes – all with the background of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem.

It’s a beautiful book, with a soft fabric cover and lovely essay. And, because Marchesi’s project ran as a Kickstarter project, it has me thinking more and more about running my own crowdfunding campaign.

Pick up a copy at Daylight Books.