- 11:38 am - Mon, Mar 19, 2012
A website that will help donate instruments to less fortunate kids.
- 11:45 am - Fri, Dec 9, 2011
Masking, Adjustment Layers, Depth Maps, and Knockout Layers
My Creative Project for the Week
This has always been one of my favorite photos to work with. I shot it a few years ago at Ft. Worden State Park in the middle of a rain storm as I was running back to our cabin. Obviously, I spent very little time staging the shot - the lighting is terrible, colors are ‘muddy’, and there’s absolutley no depth of field.
Nevertheless, the composition is pretty good. This is why I’ve used this photo in quite a few demos in my Digital Imaging and Digital Photography courses. It gives students plenty to work with.
This week, I went back to the photo and did some adustment work. I did some masking with a few Levels Adjustment layers to fix the lighting and give it a bit of a creepy or foreboding look. Then I laid down some curves - more masking - to treat the color in the brick, grass, sky, and foliage.
To give the shot a hint of perspective, I used a Lens Blur Depth Map and followed it up with a gradient knock-out layer - and yet again, more masking - to give the blurring a clean, convincing transition from front to back.
Finally, I finished the piece off with a subtle vignette….and a mask.
It feels good to go back to Photoshop and my photography recreationally - something I missed quite a bit as a former grad student.
- 8:20 am - Tue, Dec 6, 2011
This is an awesome article on drawing inspiration from other artists, while still maintaining originality - a question/topic that frequently comes up in my classroom.
- 10:13 am - Mon, Nov 21, 2011
Where do you stand?
This week, our content and discussion in my Advanced Creativity and Design course covers self-assessment as creatives and designers. I believe one of the most critical elements of being a successful creative and/or designer is being a progressive creative and/or designer. To be progressive means to be in constant progression—constantly moving forward on a plane of upward improvement.
There is absolutely no way to do this without being able to self assess such progress. A successful creative is one that can look at themselves objectively and honestly, evaluating what is truly good or positive in a project or creative act and what is truly bad or negative. Now, keep in the mind that the use of the words ‘bad’ and ‘negative’ take on a new meaning in creative assessment. “Bad” or “Negative” acts in creative assessment do not always produce something that others may not like. In fact, perhaps “Bad” or “Negative” aren’t the right words. Maybe “static” is more appropriate. Basically, when a creative and/or designer has produced something with equal or less effort, experimentation, and passion (key word being passion), than the previous project or act, the new project can be considered ‘static’, as in stationary on the plane of creative progression.
In our Advanced Creativity class, students are required to assess themselves on a micro level, or weekly basis. They are required to participate in one creative project of 2-3 hours each week, after which they blog about their experience and grade themselves. As the instructor, I do not question the grades they give themselves in these assignments. At first, I was worried and took the risk that each student would inevitably give themselves an ‘A’ each week. This would surely invoke some kind of conversation with my supervisor as to why all of my students seem to be “Aceing” each of my projects – or why isn’t my class more challenging?
Nevertheless, I took the risk and I’ve found the after two semesters of the teaching the course, I’ve been very fortunate to have students who are brutally honest with themselves. I found that very rarely were students awarding themselves with A’s. In many cases I felt the students deserved better than what they had granted themselves – but as promised I did not fight any of their personal evaluations. The results and creative growth I’ve seen from these students have been remarkable. I’ve seen Freshman out-design Seniors and I’ve heard upper classmen make comments to lower classmen something to the effect of, “Damn, I wish I had thought of that.”
(Also, I should mention—for any admins following along at home—the class is built in such a way that even if I did have a student self-awarding A’s each week without completing their other assignments and projects, they would not be able to pass the course. I follow their weekly blogs, administer written and practical exams, and maintain strict in-class participation standards.)
This week in class, I shared an article on creative self-assessing for graphic designers on a macro level – or a broad overall evaluation. My students have become accustomed to micro-evaluating on a project by project basis, but today’s lecture was all about assessing themselves as overall creative’s. As we speak, each one is blogging about their own ratings. The scale they’ve been asked to use is one developed by Graphic Design Blog found at:
If you’re any kind of creative, I would highly recommend a self-assessment on a micro and macro level. I had each of my students discuss with their classmates where they think they stand in a macro stance. Personally, I thought each of them were a bit further along than their own assessments, but I truly respected and appreciated their responses.
- Where do you think your most recent creative project stands on your own plane of creative progression?
- How much effort did you apply to this project in relation to the one before it?
- Where do you stand as an overall designer using the stages in the link above?
- What can you do to break into the next level or are you content where you are?
- Finally, what limitations or restrictions are keeping you in the current stage?
Personally, I think I would place myself in level 4, or the “Profound Pro”, though I think the word ‘profound’ is a bit above my self-assessment. As the article suggests, this is level “that many graphic designers want to reach within their first year of practice.” This was certainly not the case for me. I feel I reached this level 2 or 3 years after design school. What I think really matches me in this stage are the problem solving, “creative engine,” and “wheels of imagination”.
As a freelance designer, I find myself constantly bombarded with problem solving scenarios. I work with a lot of small business owners with grandiose ideas and less than grandiose budgets. I’ve found that I’m becoming better and better and getting my clients the biggest bang for their buck in design and marketing. This can include anything from social media campaigns, to using certain, cheaper colors in their brand palettes. Basically, I would say problem solving and imagination are my greatest strengths in my business and personal creativity.
As for stage 5, the “Ingenious Einstein” – I may never reach it. Of course, I would love to be numbered amongst some of the great nobles of this category, but I’m not sure I have the resources—namely time—required to attain this stage. I LOVE to teach, but in all honesty, it keeps me somewhat sheltered from what’s going on in the real world of design and creativity. I spend 55-60 hours per week either teaching or prepping/grading. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to move up my creative plane. However, the ingenuity, innovation, and inspiration I am able to feed on from my students keeps me progressing within that stage 4 level and I’m more than content with that.
Anyways, that’s my blog blurb of the day.
- 11:04 am - Mon, Nov 14, 2011
- 1 note
Your First Creative Memory
Okay, well I’m back. I haven’t posted in WAY too long as I’ve been tied up with work and grad school – also, I’d be lying if I tried to say a little bit of my time hasn’t been occupied by my Xbox.
Nevertheless, I’ve completed grad school and I’d like to get back to weekly posts here. Plus, I’m teaching an Advanced Creativity and Design course in which I require my students to blog on a weekly basis. I figured this was a great opportunity for me to get back into it.
The first assignment I gave my students (today being the first day of the course) was to think back as far as they can to their first creative experience or memory. At this first this seemed a bit challenging and most of them had to spend a few ‘blank’ minutes staring at their computer screens. However, before long each of them was able to come up with something and their experiences were pretty neat. Some of their experiences included building with legos, playing with their food, playing house or ‘town’, inventing games, and playing dress-up.
What I found most interesting is the existence of two types of creative’s or imaginators (if that’s even a word). The constructivist creative’s or ‘imaginators’ seemed to create or construct a world around them in which they interact and create. Their world has rules and guidelines that can be followed or even broken – the important factor being that these rules or guidelines exist and must be recognized. The constructivists include the game inventors and those that play ‘house’ or ‘town’. Obviously, the game has rules that eventually produce winners and losers. Less obvious, playing ‘house’ and ‘town’ may not produce winners and losers, but there are still rules to follow. There usually needs to be a ‘mom’ and a ‘dad’, perhaps ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, each of them having their own set of rules or guidelines consistent to the role.
The other group – and I don’t really have a name for them – seemed to be completely unrestricted in their experiences. They simple grabbed the materials in front of them and created without any recognition of rules or standards. Certianly, the materials they worked with were some what confined to rules as in the case of legos where only certain pieces will fit into other pieces or the mashed potatoes that could only be built so high before falling. Nevertheless, these rules were not pre-arranged by the creative, but discovered through the interaction.
I’m not prepared nor qualified to offer any thesis on why some students create in one manner over the other. However, I’m familiar with all of these students and their prior work and I can vouch for their creativity and originality. All of them are destined for great success in the design world. In other words, I don’t believe one form of creative approach is better than the other – it’s just who we are. And, I’m sure in many cases they overlap.
I asked all of my students that they take something from their reflection. I asked that they try to remember they way they felt during these experiences and try to tap into that emotion – the excitement of exploration – and apply it not just to their work in this course, but all creative projects they encounter in their careers.
My first creative memory is similar if not identical to a couple of my students. The earliest I can remember being creative or creating something was playing legos with my twin brother. I remember making these uber-simple airplanes with no more than 5 or 6 pieces. You could consider these the ‘stick figures’ of airplanes. My brother and I made hundreds of these – an entire Air Force if you will. I’m sure the fact that my dad served 25 years in the Air Force and raised us in atmosphere surround by all things aviation contributed to these creations. Eventually, our lego planes got better but we never stopped building those ‘stick figure’ crafts…especially when we needed ‘bad guy’ fodder to destroy.
So, I guess this places me in the constructivist category as I almost set out to build something specific. I may not have understood or even recognized the laws of physics as they applied to flight, but I recognized that airplanes needed two wings, a nose, and a tail. Those were my rules.
Anyways, that’s my blurb for the week….
- 4:57 pm - Tue, Aug 2, 2011
It’s been a while—a long while—since I’ve blogged, so I figured it was time to get back to it. As many of you know, I’ve become pretty obsessed with running, thanks to my twin brother, (a veteran marathon runner). Thanks to my brother’s personal coaching, I’ve been able to complete a number of half marathons and most recently, the Ragnar 190 mile relay. With his continued coaching, I hope to complete my first full marathon with the Seattle Marathon this coming November.
With Mike’s help, I’ve developed a comfortable distance threshold and have now turned my attention to improving my mile time. I’m fortunate to work closely with our LDS Bishop, Chris Luther. Bishop Luther is a retired Army Special forces Sergeant Major and also spent some time coaching Track at the University of Puget Sound. A few months ago he started me on “Fartlek Training” to improve my mile time. Fartlek, Swedish for “Speed Play,” is a form of training, or rather conditioning, for distance runners looking to improve their pace. The conditioning is focused on the heart and works by mixing intervals of speed with brief intervals of recovery. Over time, the intervals of speed are lengthened while the recoveries are shortened, building a stronger anaerobic endurance. Since I’ve started Luther’s Fartlek training about 2 months ago, I’ve shaved nearly a minute off of my mile time!
Some of my running mates have asked that I share my speed training program with them. Well, here it is. And, since I’m a graphic designer by trade—and super geeky over info graphics—I made a poster as a visual aid to accompany this. If you message me via the “Ask Beags” link on the upper left of my blog, I’d be happy to send you a high quality pdf version. I only ask that give me due credit for the design and Luther credit for the content.
1. Pick two days a week that will be designated as your speed training days and stick with them. Speed training is most effective when done twice a week with at least one day in between. These days should not include any kind of distance running. If you’re strapped for time during the week and need to get as much training in on your training days as possible, do your Fartleks first and all other training afterwards. For example, I like to do my hills and crossing training on my Fartlek days (after my intervals), leaving the rest of the week for my distance runs, or ‘junk mileage’. In other words, you want ‘fresh legs’ for your Fartleks.
2. Use your goal pace as your starting pace. Unlike distance training where you begin with a mile or two and work your way up to an eventual goal distance, Fartleks start with your final goal pace at short distances and gradually add to them. This builds a comfort level or tolerance catered to the goal pace. For example, if your goal is a 6 minute mile, your first leg of Fartleks should be run at a 6 minute mile pace. However, you’ll start with a shorter leg and gradually add to it. Eventually, your heart and heart rate will be accustomed to the pace for longer periods of time. This is known as anaerobic conditioning. Remember, Fartlek training is not about training your legs or muscles for speed. You’re not teaching your body to go faster. Instead, you’re conditioning your heart, heart rate, and breathing to endure the speeds for longer periods of time.
To help set your goal pace, you should first establish your current, comfortable pace over 10K, (6.21 miles). Your goal pace should not be a sprinting pace, but about 1 minute faster than your current pace. The discomfort should be felt in the chest, not the legs. If you’re not up to a10k threshold yet, hold off on Fartlek training.
3. Invest in a GPS watch that features CURRENT PACE. Knowing your current speed or pace is crucial in Fartlek training. Your heart needs a consistent pace to become accustomed to. You could use a traditional stop -watch and even have someone time you on your legs, but you still won’t know your pace until you’ve completed the leg. A GPS watch with current pace features tells you the actual pace (minutes per mile) you’re running so can correct and maintain the goal pace consistently for the entire leg. Be sure the watch you buy has CURRENT PACE features, as many GPS watches will only indicate average pace, which is updated every mile. My wife and I both have Garmin 405’s and we love them. They have current pace and are extremely user friendly.
4. Find a place. I find the best place for speed training a regulation, 400 meter running track-the kind you find wrapping around most high schools football fields. Regulation tracks are flat and usually made up of some kind of low-impact material, which is nice on the knees. Also, a regulation running track makes it extremely easy to measure your distances and vary those distances with accuracy. When your training for speed, consistency is the key and you don’t want any hills or sidewalks slowing you down. I use the track at Wilson High School, as it has ample parking is open the public year round. This training plan is based on a 400 meter track.
5. How it works: Basically, this training module is broken down into two days, which should be done weekly.
1. Run (12) 100 meter legs (Yellow ¼ lap) alternating the first at your goal pace and the next at a very slow, almost ‘trotting’ pace, then back to goal pace and so on.
- 6 Fast/6 Slow
- After 2 weeks, shorten the ‘trotting’ legs from a ¼ lap to a 1/8lap (half curve)
- After 2 months, start the process over with a faster goal pace
2. Next, run (6) 200 meter legs (Green ½ lap) alternating the first at your goal pace and the next at a very slow, almost ‘trotting’ pace, then back to goal pace and so on.
- 3 Fast/3 Slow
- After 2 weeks, shorten the ‘trotting’ legs to a ¼ lap (100 meters)
- After 2 months, start the process over with a faster goal pace
1. Run (6) 300 meter legs (Black ¾ laps) at goal pace, separating each leg with a 200 meter leg(Green ½ lap) at a very slow, almost trotting pace.
- 3 fast/3 Slow
- After 2 weeks, shorten the ‘trotting’ legs to a ¼ lap (100 meters)
- After 2 months, start the process over with a faster goal pace
- 12:43 pm - Thu, Jul 14, 2011
- 1 note
Beag’s Price Hike….
For those of you following my blog and Facebook posts on a regular basis, I will be raising my rates of $0.00 by %60. You should’ve gotten a letter.
- 3:05 pm - Tue, Jul 12, 2011
Computer for sale!
Anyone looking for a sweet deal on PC computer? This would be awesome for architectural students or interior designers.
It’s fully loaded. Check it out:
- Model/Brand: XPC Shuttle SN9565
- Windows 7 Professional
- 64 Bit w/Service Pack 1
- AMD Athlon 64 Processor, 3500+ (2.21 GHZ)
- 2GB RAM
- DVD Multi-Drive
- Flash Card Bay
- Wireless Keyboard
- Wireless Mouse
- 15” LCD Monitor
- Loaded with AutoDesk Products: Revit, AutoCad 2012, Inventor Fusion
- Microsoft Office (Word, PPT, Excel) (Older version)
- Video Card: ATI Fire GL-T2 AGP
- Installed Linksys Wireless Internet Network Card w/Antenna
Asking $650 OBO
- 10:49 am - Thu, May 19, 2011
- 2 notes
Here’s a topic I’ve been wanting to blog about for some time and after lecturing on it last week in my Photography class, I figured now was the best time.
In photography classes and/or discussions about photography, we often here the word ‘experience’ pop up as an integral part of the art form. If our audience doesn’t experience an emotion, thought, memory—anything for that matter—we’ve failed as a photographer—right?
I would absolutely agree.
Having said that, I’m reminded on an ‘experience’ I had back in 2009 when I traveled with a group of students and faculty to Portugal and Spain for a 14 day trip. I had never been to Europe and was immediately captivated. Even though there this was this timeless atmosphere, everything was brand new to me and seemed to move at the speed of light. My first day in Lisbon, (after overcoming the jet lag), I strapped on my Canon DLSR to neck and off we went.
I couldn’t take pictures fast enough.
This statue here—*click*;
That building over there—*click*;
The fountain over here—*click*;
By the end of the day I had shot well over 1000 photos and filled every memory card I brought with me. In preparation for the next day, I ‘dumped’ my cards onto my laptop and began perusing my cache of photos.
However, as I cycled through my shots, quickly tapping the down arrow one-by-one, a strange feeling came over me. I had just spent the entire day here, and yet none of these shots looked familiar. It was as if I was looking through some else’s photos—from someone else’s trip—from someone else’s experience.
For the most part, the shots were technically well done, yet they lacked that crucial ‘experience’ and emotion.
I quickly realized why.
How could I possibly capture and communicate an emotion or ‘experience’ if I hadn’t felt it or undergone it myself?
I spent that entire day with my camera welded to my face. I might as well of stayed home and caught a special on Portugal from the Discovery Channel.
Part of being a photographer is SHARING the experience—not just pushing some kind of fabricated emotion on your audience.
I hadn’t really experienced anything—except for a slight touch ‘travel-related’ issues with my stomach. But that’s an entirely different blog post.
It can be very difficult to truly experience something if you’re not doing so with your actual eyes and mind—undistracted from the camera and text book photographic rules you try to employ each time you open the shutter.
The next day I reluctantly left my camera in the hotel room and decided that today would be all about taking in the sites for myself and storing them not with the camera, but my memory.
Out of the 14 days, this one was my most memorable. I can describe to you, in full detail, Portugal better than my photos can because I WAS THERE.
I took it all in and got a feel for the area, the people, the culture, the overall atmosphere, and most importantly—the ‘experience’.
Now I was ready to put the camera back on and shoot.
The third day out, and everyday throughout the rest of the trip was amazing as I carefully balanced my shoot times with my personal experience times. When I go through my photos from that trip, I can see a dramatic difference in the photos from day one as opposed those taken after day two.
When you’re on location, whether it be local or abroad, slot out some time to put the camera away and truly ‘experience’ where you’re at. Once you have, you’ll know exactly what your photos need to convey.
If you’re just out for a day, use your midday lunch time to do this, since this is the worst time of day to shoot anyways.
Having said all of that, next month we have a tentative trip planned with the IADT Seattle Photograffix club to Fort Worden, out towards Port Townsend. If you’d like to go, let me know. We’d love to have you!