Micro Sculpture – Ted Talk by Amazing Artist Willard Wiggan

Micro Sculptor Willard Wiggan was an undiagnosed dyslexic 5 year old when he started skipping school, and escaping to a miniature fantasy world, where he became an architect for the ants in his garden shed.  His talent has grown into an ability that can only be described as amazing.  Willard creates sculptures on the heads of pins, and in the eyes of needles using his hands, a microscope, and tools he fashions from the likes of the hair of a fly, or an eyelash.  His work, which has been described as “the eighth wonder of the world”, can take up to three month to create, and is sometimes so small it can’t be seen by the human eye!  Listen to his talk at TED, and check out his mindboggling art at his website, willard-wigan.com

The Power of Social Multimedia – United Breaks Guitars

At about 7:30 this morning, (which is pretty early for me) I came across a link to Dave Carroll‘s youtube video about United Airlines, and how baggage handlers broke his guitar by throwing it onto the tarmac as he watched. For a year United refused to compensate him for the damage.

When he had finally had enough and had been told “No” for the last time, instead of getting mad, Dave Carroll got creative.  He wrote a song, filmed a video with his band “Sons of Maxwell“, and posted it online for the world to see.

Here it is:

Well wouldn’t you know it, it went viral.  More than 500,000 views is 3 days, and featured on tons of blogs, and CNN, and even Fox news.  Surprise, surprise, after about 50,000 views Dave gets a call from United who wants to “make it right”.  Apparently when the enitre world can see how you treat people, suddenly it matters.

I could go on about how United’s response is reactive not proactive, to little to late, or mention that integrity is defined by what you do when no one is watching, not what you do when the whole world is watching.  I could also talk about how Dave taking his complaint viral really got results.  Should United Airlines have stepped up to the plate before Dave wrote his song, of course they should have, and they are now probably wishing they had. But that’s not why I’m posting.

The real success here is how Social Multimedia can be an agent of change.  This is only a consumer example, who didn’t see photos from the protests in Iran shortly after the election there.

There are a few key factors here, that helped Dave’s video to go viral and get results.  His message was simple, “United Breaks Guitars”.  He told a story that almost anyone who has to fly regularly can relate to, we can put ourselves in his shoes.  He was telling a story we all know, little guy vs corporate giant, David vs Goliath.  Not to mention a catchy tune.

Here’s the thing, his video will work.  Most likely it will work in ways he never expected.  Sure thousands if not eventually millions of people will hear his story and say “shame on United”.  He will likely get compensation from United for his Guitar, what he wanted in the first place.  He has been inundated with inquiries about his music. But, the most important and most powerful result will likely be United’s long term response.  The company said this:

“Dave Carroll’s excellent video provides United with a unique learning opportunity that we would like to use for training purposes to ensure all customers receive better service from us.”

United either has some excellent PR people that should perhaps be transferred to the Customer Service Department to do some training, or they are actually going to do something about the way they deal with customers.  Image how many complaints a day a company like United Airlines gets. They have opportunities daily to implement positive change in their customer service, but it takes a viral county music video complaint shown to the world, and a PR catastrophe for them to really take a look at themselves and think about change.  THAT’S the real power of Social Multimedia.  Let’s hope they follow through!

ps. I learned about “United Breaks Guitars” from a Twitter post by David Meerman Scott.  I recently read Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” a fantastic insight into the growing importance of new media in marketing, and PR through interactive customer feedback.




Experimental Photography – Getting Your Groove Back

Over the past few months, a lot of the well known blogging photographers like Chase Jarvis, David Hobby, Joe McNally, and Drew Gardner have been talking a lot about the value of shooting for yourself. Personal work is good for the soul.

Well, it happens that a few days ago I was in a real funk. I couldn’t get motivated to slog through the pile of office work I had stacked in my in-box, or the editing waiting for me in the depths of the hard drive. I find that times like these, when I ‘ not being very productive anyway are perfect times to get out an revive the creative juice flow by trying to shoot something new. My subject of choice is usually some type of abstract nature. The weather was lousy, gray and overcast with a little bit of rain. Not perfect landscape shoot weather, but then again, is there ever such a thing as perfect landscape weather? Suddenly I remembered the B+W 110 3.0 (10 stop Neutral Density filter) I bought months ago for shooting daylight long exposure photos. I have been meaning to try it out for ages, it’s still in the box. It’s just the type of thing that would lend itself to shooting on a less than perfect day. The filter would allow me to to take quite long exposures (2 minutes I discovered) which would blur the clouds, and water, while stationary objects remained sharp. All of a sudden, the funk was gone, replaced by creative excitement.

here are a couple of the results…

andrewdoran_com_EstuarySouth This is the Squamish Estuary, looking south towards the ocean

andrewdoran_com_Chief The same estuary area, looking east towards the Stawamus Chief, the second largest granite monolith in the world (Gibraltar is 1st)

I had planned to go to the old docks by the ocean too, but I got so into it at the estuary that I ran out of daylight. The sky even co-operated a bit, and opened some late in the day blue patches, providing me with some interesting cloud movement. Exposures were f22 @ 2 min.

No matter what your creative outlet is, taking some time to do something just for yourself always energizes. Write a poem, or a song, design you ultimate kitchen, paint, take some photos, whatever gets your mind going. After this little selfish outing, I came back to the office refreshed, and was able to tackle my work with enthusiasm. I also have a couple of new pieces that will likely end up on my wall.

Get out there and do something for yourself!

Time Lapse Photography – Sasquatch Music Festival

I have been playing around with some time lapse photography in my spare time. Trial and error and online learning.  As an architectural photographer, it’s something I could see offering to my clients for the right exterior projects.  This one was just for fun, and is far from perfect, so I played around with some "Tilt-Shift" depth of field effects.  Let me know what you think in the comments. Don’t forget, if your connection can handle it, click the HD button to see it in the best quality.

The time lapse sequence was photographed the Sasquatch Music Festival, this year on May 24th.  It’s a shot of the Main Stage at The Gorge Amphitheater, in Washington State.  Probably the best place in the entire world to see an outdoor concert. 

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Vancouver Police – Camera Seizure Policy

Vancouver Police announced today (June 17th 2009) that they will be officially updating their policy manual to prevent officers from confiscating cameras and other recording devices from the public without consent, a warrant, or a lawful arrest.

While they say the policy has always been in place, they are now putting it in writing, and enforcing it. Nice of them to bring thier policies in line with Canadian law, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The issue came to a head when Vancouver Province news photographer Jason Payne was roughed up, and had his camera taken by police while photographing a Police shooting incidnet. In fairness to the Police, they did apologize shortly after the seizure. This comes on a long string of bad press for Vancouver area Police made famous by the RCMP Robert Dziekanski tazer death at the Vancover Airport. The video of that incident was surrendered to Police on scene who promised to return it in 48 hours. Then they changed their minds, and the videographer Paul Pritchard had to retain a lawyer to get it back.

The announcement of Vancouver Police to update their camera seizure policy is a big step in the right direction. I’m not a press photographer, but this is a victory not just for the freedom of the press, but for all Canadians. Everyone has the right to take photos of Police officers at work, or anything else that happens in public. Compared to what’s going on in the UK where police can arrest anyone with a camera if they have a “suspicion” that the photos may be used for any type of terrorist purpose. It’s a very vague and dangerous law as far a free speech goes. Especially when many authorities think they can tell you to stop taking photos for any reason.

The Vancouver policy comes on the heels of a New York City announcement of a similar reminder to Police that people are allowed to take photos in public (by the way if you want to waste some time and get angry, hang out at the “Photography is not a crime blog” for a while!)

It’s good to see that at least some Police Departments are doing the right thing, and reminding their officers of our freedoms. Let’s hope other jurisdictions follow their lead.

Mountain Bike Photos – a la Strobist

I don’t end up with tons of time these days to shoot things for fun, so when my brother Paul showed up yesterday with a surprise day off and asked if I wanted to join him for an afternoon in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, how could I refuse? but, still being extremely sore from my bike park visit last Saturday, I decided to take it a bit easy, and take some gear along to try to can a few shots for fun.  Turned out that I was having such a good time that we only stopped twice to shoot a quick shot.

I wanted to do a little strobist thing in the trees, to reduce the ambient, and light Paul hopping off a little rock drop on the trail.  I was reminiscing a bit about shooting film, as I realized that the D40x I brought, combined with the strobes would only be fast enough to shoot one frame.  For about 4 min set up, I think I got a decent one.

Shot with 2 SB-80DX units on slave mode both behind the action, pointing 45° towards the camera at full power.  one on the rock, camera left, and one balanced on a tree branch camera right (you can see the flare on the right side of the frame).  The remote strobes were triggered by a SB-28 at 1/2 power providing on-axis fill on the hot-shoe from about 10m (30 feet) away.  exposure was 5.6 @ 1/200th for a bit of motion blur shot at about 170mm.  A bit of high pass filter for added drama.

Probably not mag cover material, but really fun for a quick little 5 min shoot.  I can’t say how good it feels just to get out and shoot something different for a change.  It really is important to go out a do something creative just for fun.  We had a blast biking yesterday, and I have inspired myself to dream up a couple of more produced bike shots to try to pull off before the end of the summer. 

Grab your camera, and go shoot something new, just for fun!

Aerial Earth Photography and Much More – by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

At TED, Yann Arthus-Bertrand talks about global sustainability accented by some of his amazing aerial photographs.  He also shows off a teaser for his new film HOME which is an aerial extravaganza to show the damage we are doing to the planet, and what we need to do to help the planet rather than hurt it.  All of his work on the film is carbon offset, and the film will be provided to anyone for free without any copyright restrictions for viewing or distribution.  It was released today, and you can watch it online at the “HOME” movie website

In Bed With TED – Intro (to dispell confusion)

A while back I discovered the videos that are available on the TED website. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Some of the worlds most inspirational speakers, and forward thinkers talk at the conference, and the TED website makes all of the videos available for anyone to view.

I regularly find inspiration and insight watching a TED talk.  So much so that it has become a regular routine for me to snuggle in bed with my laptop and watch a few TED videos before I turn in.  Be careful, it can be addictive.  Of course, I always love the talks about photography, architecture and design, but there are so many other amazing topics, that I could follow non-stop.  That’s why I subscribed to the TED video RSS feed. If you don’t have that much time, you can go to the "In Bed With TED" category, or subscribe to the feed for In Bed With TED, and check out my favorites!

I Hope you enjoy!

Innovative Architecture – Vertical Farming

Photographing Architecture is a big part of what i do, and seeing new and creative architecture regularly gets me excited for the future.  There has been a real move recently towards increased housing density.  Vancouver, BC is one of the most vibrant cities in the world because of its density.  I have been to cities like Dallas, and recently Phoenix that are practically abandoned on a Sunday, because there is very little residential housing in the core of the city.  Vancouver on the other hand, is always alive. Before I lose the point, the trend in residential, since no one is making any more land has been to go up.  This does some great things. Aside from creating metropolitan vibrance, is keeps people living closer to where they work, shop, and play, reducing the need for transportation.  It does mean however that more supplies need to be shipped in from out of town.

Enter Vertical Farming.

photo from SOA Architects

Several innovative architectural designs offer a vertical solution to the urban food supply.  The one above is “The Living Tower” designed by SOA Architects in France.  Essentially it’s a farm in a high rise, using clean energy to grow fresh food for the city centre, reducing transportation costs for produce, eliminating growing seasons, and even cleaning city waste water to provide fresh clean drinking water a s a by-product.  Imagine a farmers market on the ground floor, where you can buy hydroponically grown fresh food that was harvested 15 minutes ago. Not to mention it’s an architectural photographer’s dream!

While the logistics are not simple, and solutions are more complicated than producing a great looking rendering, it’s the innovative thinking that gets me excited.  Solving problems through original architectural design could someday revolutionize the way we live, interact, and even eat.  Personally I’m looking forward to seeing, eating from, and hopefully photographing an amazing vertical farm in the future!

Checkout  eco-tower.fr for more information.

Twitpic Photo Updates

I am still looking for a good way to display my Twitpic photos automatically on my blog, but in the meantime, you can use these links to check out my most recent photo uploads, or click on the "Photostream" link to go to my twitpic account and browse!

Most recent photos at the top!