A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Active Capture Design Case Study: SIMS Faces

We present a design case study for the SIMS Faces application. The SIMS Faces application is an Active Capture application that works with the user to take her picture and record her saying her name for inclusion on the department web page.

Chang, Ana Ramírez and Marc Davis. AIGA (2006). Articles>Web Design>Photography>Case Studies


Case Study: Shipshape Photography

Photography has become an essential element of the communication mix for the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), and is used to reflect the diversity and international nature of the business. If executed properly, a photograph can help explain a technical point or issue in such a way that it makes sense to an audience outside of the shipping community. We initially decided to use photography to enhance the visual content of our annual report. We now also use it in company newsletters (both internal and external), brochures and exhibit stands.

Smyth, Gillian and Susan V. Gonzalez. Communication World Bulletin (2006). Articles>Graphic Design>Photography>Case Studies


Creativeprose: Free Photography Podcasts

New photo-oriented podcasts pop up all the time, and you could listen to them all day every day and not get through everything. But this article points out a few of the better ones.

Stone, Terri. Creative Pro (2007). Design>Graphic Design>Photography>Podcasting


Deconstructing the Author Photo

Let's be honest. Writers used to be a homely lot and most of them still are. The general unattractiveness that spurs them to write in the first place (versus, say, leaving the house) is compounded by a characteristic, bloodshot squint earned through hours of deciphering Canada Council grant applications and the night before's Molson marinade, downed to obliterate the rejection-letter blues. Lighting and soft lenses can only hide so much. Yet publishers insist on including the author's photo on the book jacket, their unsightly portraits like roadside accidents from which you can't turn away. Trolls belong under the bridge, not on the bridge's architectural brochure.

Boucher, Lorie. Writer's Block (2002). Articles>Publishing>Photography>Marketing


Digital Cameras and Domestic Photography: Communication, Agency and Structure   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article seeks to open up debate on the nature of communication in digital domestic photography. The discussion locates itself between the putative poles of `digital democracy' and `digital literacy', questioning the communicative co-ordinates of the snapshot and identifying the `idiomatic genres' in which it takes place. The authors argue that digital cameras enable domestic photographers to take `good' or professional-looking photographs and make certain capacities of professional cameras available for consumer use. Conversely, however, they argue that the question of critical understanding of the politics of representation in domestic camera use remains, since technical proficiency is not necessarily always accompanied by analysis. One reason suggested for this is that, frequently, the uses of photography are insufficiently analysed. The article therefore criticizes the idea that (domestic) photography can be understood in terms of `language' without paying due attention to the use of photography to capture the nonverbal.

Cobley, Paul and Nick Haeffner. Visual Communication (2009). Articles>Graphic Design>Photography


Digital Photoreproduction for Documents and Books   (PDF)

Smith describes the process of digital photoreproduction--the use of digital technology to scan images and save them to a storage medium. The article includes a list of addresses and Web sites for several companies that produce digital photoreproduction machines.

Smith, Gary M. Intercom (2001). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


Don't Forget the Point-and-Shoot

When I travel, I sometimes don't want to lug around my gear bag, filled to the brim with two SLR bodies, several lenses, and accessories. Sometimes-especially at night and when I'm going to breakfast or lunch-I simply want to walk around, see the sights, and take some fun snapshots.

Sammon, Rick. Layers Magazine (2005). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


Fast Frames

Here's a couple of super quick frame effects to add a little burst of creativity to otherwise mundane photos.

Snider, Lesa. Planet Photoshop (2006). Design>Graphic Design>Photography>Adobe Photoshop


How to Make a Photoshop Montage

Anyone can cobble together a few photos and textures and create a humdrum montage. To elevate yours beyond this it takes a few simple tricks using Photoshop’s awesome array of tools. Do it right and the style has got dozens of applications from static navigation or graphics, through to animated banners and interactive collages. This tutorial explains how to create a great Photoshop montage in 19 steps, so let’s get started and have fun with it.

Webdesigner Depot (2009). Design>Graphic Design>Photography>Adobe Photoshop


How to Take Excellent Portrait Photos

Simply put, a portrait is a representation of a person.They usually focus on a person’s face, mood and expression. Traditionally portraits were sculptures or paintings however, in modern times, a photograph is the most recognized way of taking a portrait. In most cases, the subject looks straight at the camera in order to engage the viewer. In this article, we’ll be giving you simple techniques to help you take portraits and also self portraits, to make the very best of your photos.

Webdesigner Depot (2009). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


Make Your Night Photos Pop

Some tips on how to improve photos that are taken at night.

Kloskowski, Matt. Planet Photoshop (2006). Design>Graphic Design>Photography>Adobe Photoshop


Making Your Digital Camera See More

One of the challenges of photography is to capture the image that you see with your camera. With modern cameras performing all of the light measurement and changing the settings, in most cases when you press the shutter button, the image that you capture is an accurate representation of what you saw; that is, until you attempt to photograph a scene that has extremes in lighting. When you’re out shooting a sunset, for example, you can see both the foreground and the sunset quite clearly, but after taking the photograph, the sunset looks brilliant and the foreground is black as pitch.

Huss, Dave. Layers Magazine (2005). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


New Pix in Town   (PDF)

An overview of the new - and explosively growing - world of royalty-free photographs.

Soberanis, Pat. Adobe Magazine (1996). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


Photo Study

Users take photos to highlight important aspects of their lives and context. The photos are assembled into collages and studied to highlight opportunities for new technologies and barriers to their acceptance.

. Usability Body of Knowledge (2007). Design>Usability>Photography>Methods


Photos for Interaction

Software companies and other parties involved begin to use the power of a distinct visual design to express both their brand identity and custom interactive design solutions to the users. While this implies a new freedom for designers working in the field of interactive software products, it strengthens the importance of visual design for the design of user interfaces. Designers working on concrete graphic solutions for a specific interface are breaking away from established standards defined by a software vendor. It is now the responsibility of those user interface designers to choose graphical elements wisely to make a product’s interaction principles visible and usable.

Guenther, Milan. Boxes and Arrows (2009). Design>Graphic Design>Photography>Interaction Design


Picture This

Film is dead. The history-changing miracle that made it possible to accurately reproduce anything the eye could perceive is now itself part of history. The cause of death? Digital imagery. But no one is shedding tears. It all began innocently in the mid-1980s when digital photos were a geeks-only, barely noticed novelty. It has since spread around the world in pandemic fashion. In its wake, entire industries have been killed off as more and more people succumb to the digital bug.

Salvo, Suzanne. Communication World Bulletin (2006). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


Pinhole Panoramic Camera   (PDF)

Pinhole cameras have been a long-time favorite of adventuresome photographers. But forget the Quaker Oats carton and go wide with this roll-film, panorama design.

Orr, Ross. Creative Pro (2007). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


Review: Review of Nine Books on Digital Photography   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article reviews the following books on digital photography: Shoot like a pro!: Digital photography techniques by Julie Adair King; Digital photography bible: Desktop edition by Dan Simon; How to do everything with digital photography by Dave Huss; Total digital photography: The shoot to print workflow handbook by Serge Timacheff and David Karlin; The practical guide to digital imaging: Mastering the terms, technologies, and techniques by Michelle Perkins; Digital photography expert: Light and lighting by Michael Freeman; The essential lighting manual for digital and film photographers by Chris Weston; Digital photography expert: Close-up photography by Michael Freeman; Professional techniques for black & white digital photography by Patrick Rice.

Sullivan, Bill. Technical Communication Online (2005). Articles>Reviews>Photography


A Sack in the Sand: Photography in the Age of Information   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Throughout the 1990s the relationship between culture and technology was sharply focused in a debate about whether digital technologies signalled the death or radical displacement of photography. The case for the cultural continuity of photography centred upon a rejection of a strong form of technological determinism. It is now clear that far from being displaced to the margins of culture, there is now more photography than ever. There have also been dramatic developments: mobile phone manufacturers have put more cameras into people's hands then ever before; the photograph as social document and historical witness persists but in changing ways; photographs circulate globally on an unprecedented scale via electronic image banks. It is clear that such changes and developments do involve new technologies. However, rather than being due to the kind of technological determinism debated earlier, this is because photography has come to exist within a new technological environment. In many recent accounts, 'information' and information technology are repeatedly cited as constituting a new and shaping context for photographic practices.

Lister, Martin. Convergence (2008). Articles>Graphic Design>Photography


Snap! Photography and the Culture of Instant Gratification

How did it feel to instantaneously capture a moment in time on a small rectangular piece of paper? It must have felt like pocket alchemy when people took their first Polaroid photographs. In fact, it still does. Watching a ghostly photograph resolve into clarity on a Polaroid camera is a surreal experience. It’s truly sad that Polaroid is a dying technology.

Riaz, Ahmed. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Graphic Design>Photography>History


So You Think You Want to Upgrade Your Compact Digital Camera?

Fundamentally, a digital camera is three things: a lens (either fixed or replaceable), a sensor (the thing that collects the light from the lens), and a pile of electronics (for focusing the lens, saving the images, and managing all the settings). When we talk about the specs for these things and want to compare them across cameras, there are a handful of geeky numbers worth bringing up. Every lens is rated in terms of its minimum and maximum focal length (i.e., how far it can zoom), how much light it can capture (i.e., its widest aperture or f-stop value), and a host of other features (minimum focus distance, for macro shots; weight; weather sealing; etc.). The numbers you're most likely to see are the focal length, typically listed in millimeters and often in "35mm equivalent" numbers. This is a bit wonky, but you need to understand it.

Wallach, Dan. Rice University (2009). Articles>Technology>Photography


Storytelling Photos

Anyone can relate the facts of an event, just like anyone can hold a camera up to a scene and document it. But bare facts and badly composed images make for poor communication. It takes skill and talent to write a good story, one that will inform and entertain. The same is true for photography. Images have always been storytellers. A good image can relay large amounts of data in a format that is pleasing and quickly absorbed by the viewer. That makes photos potentially more influential than a massive amount of words.

Salvo, Suzanne. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Graphic Design>Photography>Visual Rhetoric


Taking Advantage of Quickmask

Dave Cross shares some tips on using Quickmask in Photoshop to feather a portion of a selection.

Cross, Dave. Planet Photoshop (2006). Design>Graphic Design>Photography>Adobe Photoshop


The Tao of the Digital Photographer

In just a few short years, the digital camera has blown past its tipping point so completely that many younger shooters have never touched a piece of film. The instant gratification, the tiny camera size and the ability to share images with the world now defines the experience of photography. But if you want to make great digital photos, there are some things you need to know.

Philpott, Keith. Communication World Bulletin (2006). Design>Graphic Design>Photography


Tone Down Highlights

Sometimes the only thing that keeps a good portrait from being a great portrait is a little too much shine on the skin. Here’s a quick and easy way to tone down those highlights.

Harris, Rich. Planet Photoshop (2006). Design>Graphic Design>Photography>Adobe Photoshop



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