Dorrance Publishing Scam… or Not?

I recently received an email from an outfit called Dorrance Publishing regarding my textbook A Semester of Photoshop. The subject line of the email was the rather alarming “Your Copyright Registration with the Library of Congress” and I first assumed it was the Copyright Office informing me of a problem with my registration. A quick glance (after opening the email in a web browser, since Dorrance is one of those clueless entities that sends email in HTML-only format) was enough to reveal that Dorrance is some kind of publishing company kindly alerting me to the fact that my book is a “candidate for publication” with them.

An unsolicited email with an alarmist subject line and evasively-worded opening paragraph set off a few alarm bells here, to put it mildly. So off to the search engines I did go… and I was not disappointed. Continue reading

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Gag Orders in Wedding Photo Contracts?

Here’s an interesting article on what, if it catches on, could be a disturbing trend in wedding photography: A contract clause (buried in the fine print, naturally) that prohibits the customer from posting negative reviews. (You can read the story at

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QR Codes: Don’t Put Them on Your Web Site!

Stop it, people! Stop putting QR codes on web sites!

A picture of a QR codeQR codes are those now-ubiquitous 2-dimensional barcodes that appear in magazines, advertising posters, etc. like the example shown at right. Yes, I know I am, in fact, "Putting a QR code on a web site by using this illustration, but that’s the point: I’m doing it as an illustration, not with any expectation of anyone using it.

QR codes are intended for print media. The user sees the QR code, scans (takes a photo of it) with a phone or tablet and is then whisked away effortlessly to the web site linked in the code without having to type in a URL. (The longer the site’s URL the more advantageous a QR code is because few people will make the effort to type in a long string of text.) There’s no point in putting a QR code on a web site because the person seeing it is, by definition, already on the web and doesn’t need any special technology to avoid typing: An ordinary link does the job.

(And if you use an image of a QR code as a clickable link on your web site you’re a wanker of the highest order.)

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Kodak Instamatic: The First Nail in the Coffin – 50 Years Ago

Kodak Instamatic Camera - Image from Wikimedia - Creative Commons License
Kodak Instamatic Camera
Image from Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

According to the George Eastman House blog, March 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Kodak Instamatic family of cameras. These cameras truly revolutionized photography for the masses, opened a path toward unprecedented profits for Kodak and… ultimately led to the company’s demise. (True, Kodak isn’t gone yet, but as a photographic entity it might as well be at this point).

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Why Would Anyone Advertise on Facebook?

I’m convinced: Advertising on Facebook is useless.

Part of the attraction, supposedly, for advertising on Facebook is that they know so much about all their users – through various, sometimes ethically-questionable means – that your advertising will be precisely targeted to precisely those people it will be most likely to interest. If that were really the case I can see why an advertiser would go for it: There’s no wasted money/effort directed at people uninterested in, or actually hostile to, your product or service. If that’s how it worked it would be great. But it doesn’t work.

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Lytro Developments. As Predicted

DP Review just posted a news article titled “Toshiba shows-off Lytro-style Light Field module for mobiles”, fulfilling a prediction I made in my original Lytro article about a year ago. Details: The 8-megapixel sensor reportedly delivers 2-megapixel images, which is a better ratio than I had hypothesized but that appears to be a case of different design trade-offs according to DP Review.

Read this article: Lytro camera for Toshiba mobile phones.

Addendum, 04 May, 2013

Addendum, 06 December, 2013

Still more cell phone developments: Apple patents a lightfield-type camera for iPhone.
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Exhibit March-June 2013

I’ve just been informed that two of my photographs have been selected for an exhibit that will be taking place in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, March 28 through June 28. There will be an opening reception on March 28. That’s just about all I know at the moment but here are the two prints that will be on display:

Two photographs by Mark Roberts: 'Live Oak and Vines' and

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Harry Potter and the Caller ID Cloak

Imagine what the world would be like if Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak was real.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the Harry Potter books (does such a person exist?), the Invisibility Cloak is, quite simply, a cloak that makes its wearer invisible. Harry Potter, being the hero of the books, uses the cloak only for good. Or, more specifically, to discover and defeat evil-doers. Now what would happen if the Invisibility Cloak really existed? What if, to take this thought experiment a step further, it not only existed but could be relatively inexpensive and widely available? Perhaps your first thought was the same as mine: Criminals would have a field day.

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New Version of FastStone Image Viewer

There’s a new version of my favorite, free image viewer/browser application.

FastStone has just released version 4.7 of their superb Fastone Image Viewer app. It’s Windows-only, so Mac users are left out, but anyone running Windows would be well advised to download a copy. It’s a flexible, easy to use image viewer with some basic editing capability. And it really stands out as an image browser, having most of the capabilities of Adobe Bridge but with better stability/reliability. It’s freeware, with a “donations accepted” page on the web site. Throw ‘em a few dollars if you like it (and I’m pretty sure you will).

Find out more and get download here.

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Rules for Increasing Image Size in Photoshop

There’s a lot of confusion about how and when to increase image size using Photoshop. I thought I’d clear things up by offering the rules I use:

Increasing Image Size in Photoshop

Rule 1 – Don’t do it.

Rule 2 – See Rule 1.

Rule 3 – If you must ignore rules 1 and 2, keep increase small.

Rule 4 – If you have to ignore rules 1, 2 and 3, keep your own name off the work and give credit/blame to someone else.

Rule 5 – If you have to ignore rules 1, 2, 3 and 4, change your name, leave the country and become a monk somewhere.

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