Update: I challenged @darth to make a poster for the movie "The World According to @Darth," using The World According to Garp as a reference. In less than thirty minutes, the poster was born, complete with tiny, perfect textual details that you have to see at full size to fully appreciate.
My standard operating procedure is to use an ultra-high resolution camera combined with a top-of-the-line macro lens to photograph tintypes. I use strobe lights to illuminate the artwork. Strobes produce "hard" light, much like the sun on a clear day. In addition to the strobes, I place a polarizer over the camera lens and polarizer gels over the strobe lights. This eliminates all reflections and enables the camera to pick up a greater tonal range along with more detail.
The original photo is on the left and an intermediate step on the right; you'll need to click through to see the finished product.
Its a single exposure with the model viewed through optical glass at 45° and the fabric positioned to the side. At the time there was zero retouching after the event. Now of course I have the luxury of scanning the transparency to clean and refine the image in Photoshop - God bless its digital socks.
In the March issue of Vogue Dangin tweaked a hundred and forty-four images: a hundred and seven advertisements (Estée Lauder, Gucci, Dior, etc.), thirty-six fashion pictures, and the cover, featuring Drew Barrymore. To keep track of his clients, he assigns three-letter rubrics, like airport codes. Click on the current-jobs menu on his computer: AFR (Air France), AMX (American Express), BAL (Balenciaga), DSN (Disney), LUV (Louis Vuitton), TFY (Tiffany & Co.), VIC (Victoria's Secret).
The uncanny valley comes into play here, which we usually think of in terms of robots, cartoon characters, and other pseudo anthropomorphic characters attempting and failing to look sufficiently human and therefore appearing creepy and scary. With an increasing amount of photo retouching, postproduction in film, plastic surgery, and increasingly effective makeup & skin care products, we're being bombarded with a growing amount of imagery featuring people who don't appear naturally human. People who appear often in media (film & tv stars, models, cable news anchors & reporters, miscellaneous celebrities, etc.) are creeping down into the uncanny valley to meet up with characters from The Polar Express. I don't know about you but a middle-aged Madonna made to look 24 gives me the heebie-jeebies. Perhaps the familar uncanny valley graph needs revision:
I'm not entirely satisfied with this version. I used a shareware program for OS X called DoubleTake to stitch the images together and it's not suited for this kind of scene. Too much of the image turned out blurry & fuzzy and you have little control over which pieces of the image take precedent over the others. Some of this was probably user error and on some parts of the image (when there were less pieces involved), it did a wonderful job. I'm going to stitch a version in Photoshop by hand (and put a black background behind it) to see how it compares.
Update: Lots of photo stitching suggestions from people. Jake turned me onto Autostitch a few weeks ago, but alas it's not available for the Mac, nor do I have one of those fancy MacBooks on which to run Parallels. Calico is an OS X app that uses the Autostitch code, I may check that out. Photoshop CS has a built-in Photomerge tool that does panoramas. Hugin is a GPLed image stitcher that works on Windows and OS X. (thx galen, dan, jake, arlo, joe, glen, jason, and nicholas)
Apple announces Aperture, professional-grade software for managing and manipulating photos. A little bit o' iPhoto mixed with Photoshop, it looks like. (Also, new Powerbooks...higher res, better battery life.)
Here's a sampling of the rest of the AIGA Design Conference, stuff that I haven't covered yet and didn't belong in a post of it's own:
Juan Enriquez gave what was probably my favorite talk about what's going on in the world of genetics right now. I've heard him give a variation of this talk before (at PopTech, I think). He started off talking about coding systems and how when they get more efficient (in the way that the Romance languages are more efficient than Chinese languages), the more powerful they become in human hands. Binary is very powerful because you can encode text, images, video, etc. using just two symbols, 1 and 0. Segue to DNA, a four symbol language to make living organisms...obviously quite powerful in human hands.
Enriquez: All life is imperfectly transmitted code. That's what evolution is, and without the imperfections, there would be no life. The little differences over long periods of time are what's important.
Enriquez again: The mosquito is a flying hypodermic needle. That's how it delivers malaria to humans. We could use that same capability for vaccinating cows against disease.
1. Design is the easy part. 2. Learn from your clients, bosses, collaborators, and colleagues. 3. Content is king. 4. Read. Read. Read. 5. Think first, then design. 6. Never forget how lucky you are. Enjoy yourself.
Nicholas Negroponte: If programmers got paid to remove code from sofware instead of writing new code, software would be a whole lot better.
Negroponte also shared a story about outfitting the kids in a school in Cambodia with laptops; the kids' first English word was "Google", and from what Negroponte said, that was followed closely by "Skype". He also said the children's parents loved the laptops because at night, it was the brightest light in the house.
Ben Karlin and Paula Scher on the challenges of making America, The Book: Books are more daunting than doing TV because print allows for a much greater density of jokes. In trying to shoot the cover image, they found that bald eagles cannot be used live for marketing or advertising purposes. The solution? A golden eagle and Photoshop. And for a spread depicting all the Supreme Court Justices in the buff, they struggled -- even with the Web -- to find nude photos of older people until they found a Vermont nudist colony willing to send them photos because they were big fans of The Daily Show.
Bill Strickland blew the doors off the conference with his account of the work he's doing in "curing cancer" -- his term for revitalizing violent and crime-ridden neighborhoods -- in Pittsburgh. I can't do justice to his talk, so two short anecdotes. Strickland said he realized that "poor people never have a nice day" so when he built his buildings in these poor black neighbohoods, he put nice fountains out front so that people coming into the building know that they're entering a space where it's possible to have a good day. Another time, a bigwig of some sort was visiting the center and asked Strickland about the flowers he saw everywhere. Flowers in the hood? How'd these get here? Strickland told him "you don't need a task force or study group to buy flowers" and that he'd just got in his car, bought some flowers, brought them back, and set them around the place. His point in all this was creating a place where people feel less dissimilar to each other...black, white, rich, poor, everybody has a right to flowers and an education and to be treated with respect and to have a nice day. You start treating people like that, and surprise!, they thrive. Strickland's inner city programs have produced Fulbright Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, and tons of college graduates.
And some final thoughts from others at the conference. Peter Merholz says that "form-makers", which make up the vast majority of the AIGA audience, "are being passed by those who are attempting to use design to serve more strategic ends". (That's an interesting thought...) A pair of reviews from Speak Up: Bryony was a bit disappointed with the opening Design Gala but left, like everyone else, in love with emcee John Hockenberry while Armin noted that the preservation of digital files is a big concern for museums in building a collection of graphic design pieces...in 35 years, how are you going load that Quark file or run that Flash movie?