Another Photo Walkabout Tomorrow

It’s time tomorrow for yet another photo walkabout, when my dear buddy Nicholas and I wander around looking like absolutely ridiculous human beings and pointing things at cameras while asking you to come along and do the same. This time we once more have a model, who once more is pretty. Wouldn’t want to break trend here. Don’t believe me? How about a picture? Yeah?

Photo Courtesy Caitlin Davies

See? Like I said. So, the plan is tomorrow, May 10, 6pm, at West and Washington St here in the fine city of Indianapolis. Free as always to come, but we encourage tipping of the model, who’s coming out and being a good sport so you can get awesome pictures. If you need to get ahold of me about it, use any of the contact thingers down in the site footer. Seriously people, they’re their so you can contact me. Hit me up. Keep me company. Stalk me at night. Please, no Phil Collins outside my window, though.

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Illustration 2: Madame La Veuf (NSFW)

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First Illustration

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Sparkle Beta Gets Closer, Blog Starts To Take Form

sparkle

All you hip kids waiting eagerly on the first major Grimey Studios project–Sparkle–to hit beta don’t have much longer to go. The galleries remain fast and stable, providing elegant effects in IE6, IE7, IE8, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome browsers. The built-in permalinking and variable speeed slideshows will continue to please your viewers. The support pages are quick and painless to add and edit, as simple as picking a choice and as friendly as typing in Word. The last major hurdle is the blog, which today got a massive jolt to the theming and is at least good enough for viewing.

Things that still need done before the initial beta release:

  • Finish the blog (theming, Fancybox, comments, comment form, blockquote styling, and a few other details)
  • Address the gallery captions (they’re a bit unreliable and frustrating, which is counter to the goals of Sparkle)
  • Add the “Modern” and “Sophisticated” color schemes (those’d be “Black” and “Grey” to you proletariat out there)

Once the beta is out, there will be some continued work as we push towards version 1.0, which should include cleaned up graphics, better load time, and a few other tweaks here and there.

Also, soon Grimey Studios will be able to offer a custom version designed to work quickly and easily with WP eStore, a powerful Paypal-driven shopping cart that’ll let you sell your work direct from your galleries, all while maintaining the chic and minimalist portfolio look of a modern fine arts or commercial photographer.

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Sparkle Updates

Done (or Mostly Done):

  • Footer (now contains extended links: Cooliris/Media RSS, Blog RSS; also contains “powered by Sparkle” badge)
  • Parent Galleries: now support text and generate simple lists for all galleries under them.
  • The main gallery system (obviously). Still supports variable speed slideshow, infinite galleries, auto-thumbnails, and captions.
  • Faceplate/menus (mostly done, active page tracking still needed)
  • Info pages (mostly done). They at least exist at all now, though some more styling will be nice.

Big “To-Do’s”:

  • The blog. All of it. Whug.
  • Tweak Fancybox’s styles and close button to be less stolen wholesale from this site.
  • Add “About Sparkle” page to link with logo
  • Color schemes.
  • Figure out a way to add about info to galleries while retaining austerity. I’m thinking more custom fields might sadly be the way to go here.

And I still have 2 weeks to get that settled for the beta. W00t!

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Sparkle Blog Gets Real Fake

blog-previewSparkle takes another step towards its release today with the first draft of the blog portion of the interface mocked up and available to rub your eyes all over.

The goal, as with the gallery portion, is to focus development on ensuring the optimum availability of options and a design that emphasizes the expectations and mechanics of the medium, without conflicting with the clean minimalism of the gallery.

The design aims to be very modern and approachable, without sacrifing professional austerity. The ultimate goal is to present a blog interface for artists to speak through that suggests professionalism without being so stark as to strain the reader’s eye, encouraging them to spend longer reading actual content, and increasing the likelihood that a given artist will stick with them by allowing personallity to temper impressions gained from the gallery.

Whew, that was a lot of jargon-speak. Surprised I didn’t throw ‘synergize’ in there somewhere. Keep your eyes peeled, the first demo of the final gallery mechanic is coming soon.

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Sparkle Gets Official: Logo, Goals, Roadmap, and Licenses

sparkle

Sparkle, Grimey Studios’ first major public offering, got a bit more official today as Nick, Max and myself settled formally on the name and logo (seen above). Sparkle is currently being built using Anders Ekdahl’s AD-Gallery, and John Leavitt’s TTF Titles. It will still be built as a theme (well, more of an interface solution, given the included codes) for WordPress. And, given that long history of GPL source, it should be obvious to anyone familiar with that license that Sparkle itself will be released using the GPL. For those not in the know, this means we’ll be releasing Sparkle: the end-product and it’s code source, freely available, and you’ll be able to freely modify it, use it, change it, redistribute it.

The logo, and all support imagery we use to develop Sparkle’s identity will be released under the Creative Commons’ BY-NC-SA Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.

But, enough licensing! You want to know what we’re aiming to do, and where we’re going in the future. Well then. Hit the jump and find out.

Read More

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Designing an Instant Artist Portfolio Using CMS

So, I’ve been pondering really hard lately the idea of CMS systems like old WordPress here and their application to new artists. One of the big problems I’ve run into time and time again in web design is that good designs usually require and interface too complicated to safely be used in a WYSIWYG, leaving site maintenance to be done by people with at least passing–and preferably intense–experience in HTML and CSS.

The alternatives were to use simpler systems, with better ease-of-use, or to build a content management system, itself an arduous task and one that would inevitably add a lot to the client’s tab.

When I started these blogs, I assumed like many people probably do, that usign a system like WordPress was going to be messy and oriented solidly towards blogs. Afterall, weren’t all the blogs more or less the same layout, and the same post-feed mechanic? WordPress was fine if you wanted to blog, but proper sites still needed a human touch.

Now that I’ve retooled a WordPress theme entirely for Roberts, I believe completely the opposite. In fact, I’m so convinced that with the right skin, one approached from the traditional clean, artist online gallery aesthetic, you could use WordPress to manage not only a full (say, 3-6 gallery, maybe sub-galleries) portfolio, but you’d have built-in access to SEO improvements, and things I didn’t appreciate until recently like a media rss and Cooliris integration, and not have to give up a sheen of gloss, that I am going to convert my own site here over to a full-blown WordPress hack next month just to show what the system is capable of.

Then, Mr Brustkern and myself, with some testing input from the prodigal Ms Roose, are going to develop what I learn from that change over to a slick, stock gallery system we’ll distribute as free as possible (we’re looking into customizing one module for the full-pro experience that will require 45 bucks to play, but it looks like a free implementation is entirely do-able.)

More to come.

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Elements of Composition

In college I had to go through a series of staged classes that focused on the basics of composition, with a focus on gestalt and Notan and similar “pure design” foundations. So, I have to admit, as I’m helping some friends understand the basics of composition to better their photography, and I can’t find any good texts that explain composition without linking it to one medium or another. There’s no text that says “Hey! This is composition as it applies to all 2 dimensional art!” And I think that’s a pity.

So I’m going to work on writing one, I think. Now, to go back and brush up myself on the formal principles and elements. It might be the designer in me, but I really think recognizing the general aspects– the building blocks, if you will– like line and shape and hue, well, I think that’s more important than knowing what pthalocyanine blue is, or how EV comp affects noise, or what the hell conte crayons are.