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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Web Design

With the advent of the World Wide Web, the designing of websites and web applications has emerged as a lucrative new profession. Typically, the web design process occurs in three basic stages. 


-The web designer sketches the layout of the website using Adobe Photoshop;

-The designer then uses Adobe ImageReady, which allows him/her to “slice” the layout into performing various functions on the website;

-The programmer then implements the design into html code, and the site goes online.


The web designer must strive to find the perfect balance between aesthetics and accessibility. A lot of web designers are coming at the field from a background in graphic design. The result is that they oftentimes obsess over how a page looks, without taking into consideration how a surfer is going to find the page.


Then there are SEOs – search engine optimizers – who are obsessed with the opposite – that is, getting as much traffic to a particular website as possible. Their focus is on how the sites works, and often care little for what the site looks like. In fact, SEOs and web designers often come into conflict over this very issue. The SEO will demand a lot of “ugly” features that they feel will bring more traffic to the site. These common features include bullet lists, text links, and lots of keywords. A collaborative solution must often be sought in order to strike a harmonious balance between function and appearance.


What this means is that it is vital for a web designer to have a strong background in visual communication. Graphics can be employed to serve business and communication purposes, and a designer well versed in this language will be more likely to build a successful website.


What’s more, by loading up a page with tons of graphics, designers often times anger and alienate surfers. The more graphically complex a web page, the longer it will take to load. Of course, this is less of a problem nowadays, since nearly everyone uses a high-speed Internet connection. In fact, designers are aware of this, and thus use increased bandwidth as an excuse for more artful webpage’s.


When designing a website, the most important issues to keep in mind are the purpose of the site, the audience, and the content. By deciding on all this at the outset, it becomes easier to set and meet goals of both a short- and long-term nature.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Adobe Photoshop Digital Revolution

Throughout the digital revolution of the 1990s, Adobe Photoshop played a leading role in expanding and re-defining the post-production process of photography. Suddenly, procedures that would usually take days or weeks and could only be performed by highly skilled professional artists and photographers could be accomplished in a few minutes by nearly anyone with basic computer skills and intuition. The overall quality of photographs improved tremendously with the use of this software, and artists soon began using Photoshop not only as a post-production tool, but as a tool for design.


The release of the first version of Adobe Photoshop coincided with the advent of the World Wide Web, which has grown to play a massive role in today’s technological society. Virtually every office, school, and household around the world is now connected, and web design has become a lucrative new profession. 


Although Photoshop was initially intended for print purposes, tech savvy designers soon discovered that the software was incredibly convenient for designing websites. The folks at Adobe, in response, began adding new features to the updated software that would appeal to web designers. Adobe ImageReady, a bitmap graphics editor now included with Adobe Photoshop, has become a standard tool in the industry for creating and editing web graphics.


Typically, the web design process goes something like this:


  1. The web designer sketches the layout of the website using Adobe Photoshop;
  2. The designer then uses Adobe ImageReady, which allows him/her to “slice” the layout into performing various functions on the website;
  3. The programmer then implements the design into html code, and the site goes online.


Another popular use of Photoshop on the Internet has developed into a favorite pastime of amateurs and professionals alike. It is a game called “photoshopping,” and it involves using Adobe Photoshop software in order to create a sort of visual prank or joke. The faces of celebrities are often applied to nude or pornographic images, misleading people to believe that the photographs are authentic. Another hoax that received a lot of media attention featured a shark attacking a helicopter. The photograph circulated widely on the Internet, until it was revealed that it was actually comprised of two separate photographs spliced together by a clever designer in Photoshop.


While Adobe officially discourages people from using the word “Photoshop” as a verb – they are afraid that it will undermine the trademark – one thing is for certain: Photoshop – and photoshopping – continues to alter the way we view the world.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Digital Photography

Digital photography has revolutionized the way we view the world. While some critics, nostalgic for the old days of film, claim that digital photographs are inferior to film in terms of quality, the market has clearly chosen to go digital. People simply prefer to view images these days on their computers and mobile phones. Fewer and fewer people are purchasing film and film cameras, which has taken its toll on companies like Kodak, who were pioneers in the photographic industry. A lot of small shops that once focused on selling or developing film no longer dabble in this area, or if they do, then it’s not likely to be their main focus.


Why? It’s now cheaper than ever to buy a digital camera. We’ve come a long way since the 1970s, when people normally viewed photographs with the help of a slide projector. You no longer have to wait to develop photographs in order to find out what the result will be. The results are now instantaneous, allowing photographers to edit while they work.


What’s more, as photographic images in the past have been prone to the wear and tear of time, this is no longer a problem, thanks to the wonders of digital technology. Digital photographs are stored on the hard drives of computers now. This preserves them intact for all of eternity, in theory. Unless a file is corrupted or deleted or the hard disk storing the file is damaged in some way, the photographic image rests intact. But as all computer savvy photographers know, the best way to prevent this from happening is to make back-up copies of all files. You never know when an emergency might arise!

One concern is that digital media will either be updated or neglected altogether and thus made obsolete in the wake of the high-speed rate that technological innovation seems to proceed at these days. In other words, is digital photography and digital media in general, just a fad? When the next big thing comes around, will we lose all that info we have stored on our hard drives in an effort to keep up with the frenzy?

Well, you never know. But one thing is for certain: While film has not yet become totally obsolete, it is unlikely it will ever regain its pre-digital popularity. While professionals disagree over the subject, film will probably always be around. Looking back at photography’s origins, it was predicted then that people would stop painting pictures. Just as artists continue to paint, photographers will continue to work with both film and the digital apparatus.