It’s Not That I Don’t Like You. Sometimes I Just Don’t Feel Like Talking To You.

Last month I started to work on the backyard landscaping now that almost all of the updates to the house have been made. The patio is getting rebuilt and the back fence run is getting replaced later this year. I didn’t want to do a full privacy fence across the back so I decided to go with a 4-foot high wood fencing system from Home Depot. Now I like my neighbors, but there are times I want to sit on my patio not have to look at them or have them look at me. The solution is this series of tall planters designed by Fabien Joly. (sorry folks the link takes you to a Flash based website.) IRF is a collection of tall planters that have rectangular shapes and thin and high profile which makes them ideal for patios or terraces where you want a bit of privacy. Each planter is constructed of fiber cement and they come in a variety of colors ranging from bright green and blue to charcoal gray. With the tallest planter coming in at just under 4 feet tall these seem like a perfect solution to have a little bit of privacy while making the patio look better.

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John Carpenter’s First Music Memory.

A couple weeks ago Device pushed out to Vimeo a wonderful little animated short.  The film is narrated by John Carpenter, as he explains his first music memory. The animation is really nice with great transitions between the scenes using the current frame to morph into the next scene as the story unfolds. The limited color palette and subtle textures help to frame the narrative as it unfolds, with all of it drawing you in and holding you captive for a minute and a half. Great stuff, and like all good stories it got me to thinking about my first music memory. I was sitting in my bedroom upstairs with the window open, and my mom was playing Harry Belafonte singing “Midnight Special” on the record player in her studio. The studio window was open and the sound just floated out across the yard

I was sitting in my bedroom upstairs with the window open, and my mom was playing Harry Belafonte singing “Midnight Special” on the record player in her studio. The studio window was open and the sound just floated out across the yard and upstairs. It was summer. It was warm, and I was sitting in the sunlight on the floor playing with Lego. I was 3 or maybe 4. I hadn’t started Kindergarten yet, so I know I was younger than 5. I know I heard music before that, but this is the first time that the total experience stuck with me and permanently burned into my memory.

W + K Sao Paulo’s New Identity System

Most people think of branding as a logo. And most people think of a logo as visual identity. A logo is one component of your visual identity system which makes up one part of your brand.  A great example of this is Weiden and Kennedy Sao Paulo new visual identity which is shown in the video below. They break down the inspiration for the logo design and then show how it is translated across a series of touch points as part of a larger identity system. No this doesn’t establish their branding. Branding is much larger than just a logo, visual identity system or editorial voice. Branding encompasses everything that establishes a relationship with a product, company, or service. The example in the video is one hell of an awesome logo and identity system though.

Little Jerusalem Chalk Bad Lands

Every year I take an annual trip to Estes Park Colorado with my friends Tim and Bryan. Usually, it’s in May, but we have added a September trip to the mix as well. The point of this road trip is to do some hiking, take photo’s, relax and enjoy, weather permitting. I say that because sometimes Mother Nature decides overcast is all she is going to give us and it doesn’t make for very dramatic images. This year was one of those years. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t try, and actually Tim and Bryan got some pretty decent images in Rocky Mountain National Park. Uninspired by the overcast and not feeling the photo love, I busted out the Moment Macro lens for the iPhone and tried a completely different approach to things with mixed results. The good news is, Kansas showed us the love.

Driving to Estes involves taking I-70 for 9 to 10 hours across the great expanse of Kansas, and while most people think of Kansas as a “fly-over” state, it’s probably because they have never taken the time to venture off the freeway or see the Tallgrass Prairie lush from spring rains. For the last few years, we have broken up the drive by stopping in Oakley and the following morning making an excursion to a couple of landmarks about 30 minutes Southwest of the city and the freeway. Last year it was Monument Rocks. This year we hit the “Little Jerusalem Chalk Bad Lands” which is now a state park and will open to the public in June. I’m glad we did because Mother Nature smiled on us with a brilliant clear spring morning that gave us perfect golden light.

The photos below don’t do the size of this chalk formation justice. The columns rise at least 30 to 40 feet in some areas and Little Jerusalem spreads out over a couple of square miles. We only explored a small section, and I need to go back for some night photography and to get a better feel for how large this place really is. If you have time to make the detour and stop I highly recommend it.

A couple of things to point out. Currently (May 2017) this place is gated and there are No Trespassing signs up. Before June enter at your own risk. If you spend the night in Oakley or arrive at the wrong time of the day, be prepared for an olfactory overload. There are a feed lot and a hog farm right off the main drag and the stink can be pretty overpowering if there is no breeze. It was so bad when we arrived I almost lost my lunch when I got out of the car. The good news is, both Monument rocks and Little Jerusalem are far enough away, you won’t smell it there. You will also want to go in some sort of SUV. The roads to both are dirt and gravel and can be a bit rough. My GTI would have had a hard time negotiating some of them.

All photos were shot in RAW on my Olympus OMD EM-1 with the 12-40mm and processed with Lightroom, Photoshop, and NIK Color FX Pro.

How Many Social Media Ads Do You Remember?

I use social media, but I’m not addicted to it. I post maybe once a day to Facebook ar twitter on average. Sometimes a bit more but not hourly. I also use both desktop and mobile versions of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. On the desktop though, I’m running things like AdBlock Pro, and Facebook Purity so I don’t see all of the ads that are being pushed via social media to me. Mobile, however, is a different story, with 15 plus ads being pushed to me with each Facebook or Twitter session. Now before I go on, I want to qualify what I consider a session. It is every time I log into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, after at least a one hour pause, so a minimum of 1 hour between my last visit and current visit. This is important because it relates directly to the actual effectiveness of the ads.

The point of any advertisement is for you the viewer to remember the brand and the product after you have seen it, and hopefully click through and convert to a sale. If any of these fail to get you to engage, the effectiveness of the ad is a failure as well. I’m going to ask everyone reading this to try something. Open Facebook or Twitter, go to your feed and block or hide every ad you see. This includes sponsored videos, sponsored posts, tweets from companies you do not follow, retweets by someone you might follow for a specific product or service you don’t care about, etc. If it looks like an ad kill it. Don’t engage with the ad, just get rid of it and move on. This is important because digital advertising has less than 2 seconds to hook you and get you to engage.  Now close out of the social media feed, wait five minutes, and try and recall any of the brands, products or services that were sponsored.

Chances are most people can’t remember 90 to 95 percent of the ads that were crammed into their feed disrupting the experience with things they care very little about. And because of that, I say most current social media advertising is a big old fail. Sure they tell you that the ads are targeted to a specific audience, and the data shows great levels of engagement because big data never lies. I’m not seeing it, however. The traditional social media campaigns I have worked on don’t perform much better than an email with about a two to four percent engagement and conversion rate. The ads aren’t bad, people simply ignore them because they have become white noise in the social media users feed.

In the last 24 hours, I have blocked, hidden or deleted 167 ads in Facebook, and Twitter on my iPhone. I couldn’t tell you what any of them were for. At the same time though, I have engaged with posts created by influencers that were ultimately promoting a product or service because I perceive them as a trusted source, and frankly I think this holds true for most people. So why then are you being bombarded with so much advertising in your social media feeds? The bottom line… Money. Social media advertising is a huge business that promises better engagement, a better value, and higher conversion rates, yet it has become the spam of this decade which makes me say that the effectiveness is an oversell.

When readers/viewers become numb to your advertising, your advertising is no longer effective. So, think back to all of those ads you hid and ask yourself how many of them you actually remember. Now think about someone you follow that recently posted something you found interesting, that ultimately was about a product or service that they liked. Did you engage with it? Did you share it? Was there a link in the post that you clicked on?  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you not only remember one, but probably two or even three which shows that influencer marketing in social media is more effective than traditional sponsored advertising. I know what all of the big social media powerhouses will say, they are going to continue to tell you that the current form of social media advertising is the most effective, has the greatest reach, and better conversion rates. And for now, it does because there is no alternative. The thing is though as they continue to oversaturate the effectiveness breaks down, and people become numb to the ads, or they do what I did on my Mac and block everything in the browser hiding the advertisements on the page neutralizing them all together.

In the last few years, firms have emerged dedicated exclusively to influencer marketing. They help tie a brand or product to a celebrity, sports figure, pop star etc. for those that aren’t  aware of what Influence marketing is, it is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on specific key individuals (or types of individual) rather than the target market as a whole. It’s not new. TV has been doing this for decades. Think about all those weight loss ads featuring people like Marie Osmond, or Oprah right. The difference is that influence marketing in social media and digital channels has greater potential reach because it isn’t limited to a specific region, it can reach anyone in the world at any given time. In addition, influencers can be anyone from a traditional media celebrity, to some kid that has managed to rack up a few hundred thousand YouTube subscribers.

Like I said, this isn’t new. Nike sold tons of Air Jordan’s not because it was necessarily a better basketball shoe. They sold them because Micheal Jordan’s name was on it. Digital Influence Marketing has been on the rise for the last 5 or more years. I think we are reaching a critical mass where it is poised to become the dominant form of social media marketing for a couple of reasons. First, it’s seamless. Someone you like, like something, therefore it’s cool and I’ll like it or want it too. Second, it’s perceived as a more trusted source. Most people don’t realize that the influencer is being paid to say they like or use something, especially when it is set up as a post in a social media feed. They don’t read like ads, they read with a higher sense of honesty and integrity and that means they will be less ignored, remembered more often, shared, and engaged with at a higher rate.

So, how many of those social media ads you hid earlier can you remember?

Sometimes You Gotta Get Really Small.

Sometimes when you go for a six mile hike in the mountains, Mother Nature blesses you with perfect light and subject matter for photography. Sometimes she gives you overcast skies, boring vegetation, and no wildlife to speak of. Today was one of those days, so I busted out the Moment macro lens for the iPhone and went small photographing all sorts of tiny objects of nature. Using the Moment macro is tricky. Depth of field is razor thin, and it requires you to move the iPhone in and out from the subject, with a lot of room for trial and error. Also wind will mess with your shots, since it jacks with focus. None the less using it was fun, and added to the walk.












The End Of The World Is Coming. Lets Study Some Art.

In a world where everything seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, and science is predicting the end of life in the next great mass extinction, it’s nice to know that there is art in the world. The world might be coming to an end at some point in the future, but you still have a chance to educate yourself about art thanks to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum loading 205 free art history books to the Internet Archive, all of which are available as PDF’s or ePub books.  Yes now as you contemplate the end of the world and hone your apocalypse survival skills you can bone up on the finer things and learn about Max Ernst, The Italian Metamorphosis, French Art in the 1970’s, Joseph Cornell, Francis Bacon, Pop Art in the 60’s and so much more.

Yes now as you contemplate the end of the world and hone your apocalypse survival skills you can bone up on the finer things and learn about Max Ernst, The Italian Metamorphosis, French Art in the 1970’s, Joseph Cornell, Francis Bacon, Pop Art in the 60’s and so much more.  Just be sure and pick up a solar powered charger for your phone or tablet so you can keep reading them after the power grid fails.

For the last 5 years, theGuggenheim has been digitizing its exhibition catalogs and art books, placing the results online. So if you want to study some art history this is the right place.  The collection also includes catalogs of retrospective exhibitions on masters like Paul Klee, Robert Rauschenberg, and Mark Rothko. Or you can explore older art with Chinese art in the 20th centurycraftsmen of ancient Perusculpture and works on paper or  Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection: From Picasso to Pollock. What better way to spend your time when you aren’t trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

Remember it is the arts and culture that separate us from the animals. Well that and opposable thumbs, larger brain capacity, the ability to create advanced tools, and a few other things.