29 March 2009

More SoFoBoMo Thoughts

I did some thinking about PDF file creation and hosting, as I was coming up with an answer to Billie Mercer's question on the SoFoBoMo Flickr forum.

Here's what I wrote:

If you have CS3, perhaps you have Adobe Acrobat (the full version, not just Acrobat Reader). It comes with Creative Suite. Anyway, if you've got Acrobat, you can combine the separate PDF pages generated by Photoshop CS3 into one multi-page PDF file by starting Acrobat, clicking on "Create PDF" and selecting "From Multiple Files..." then browse to the folder where your files are located.

If you don't have (and don't feel like buying) Acrobat, another easy way to make a PDF file is to create the book in Word first. You can lay out pictures and text there however you like. Then using any of several "print-to-PDF" utilities (such as the free PDFCreator) which you would have installed first, just print from Word as if you're printing to a printer, but select the PDF output instead of your printer.

Now about hosting: Anita has her own website and she has uploaded the PDF file directly to the root folder on her website. That costs money and is non-trivial. However, there are other options that are nearly as good.

1) Try http://freepdfhosting.com (it's free, but you have to register, and you have to make a donation in order to store a PDF file larger than 2 MB which a book of high quality photos probably will be). Pretty straightforward to create an account and upload files. I haven't tried it myself, but I've Googled to find other books hosted on it. The URL will look something like this http://freepdfhosting.com/uploads/413a3e072b.pdf (you can check out that book to see an example of how your book will look).

2) Try the free webspace available through SkyDrive on Microsoft Live Spaces (http://spaces.live.com). Uploading files is pretty straightforward (once you've created your account, navigate in the browser to your public folder and click "Upload Files" then Browse on your hard disk for them), but viewing them isn't quite as smooth as if you had your own webspace. It doesn't show up embedded in the same browser window, but asks whether you want to download the file. And the URLs aren't very nice. But you can store up to 25 GB for free.

3) Try creating a free website on Google Sites (http://sites.google.com). Pretty straightforward to sign up for an account and create a new site. You need to upload your PDF file as an "attachment" to some page in your site (e.g., your home page), but then you can point people to the URL of the file directly. File size limit: 10 MB per attachment.

4) Try uploading the PDF file directly to Google Docs (http://docs.google.com). Like Google Sites, you have to have (or create) a Google account to do this. But once you've got one and are logged in, just click Upload, Browse your computer to find the file, and click "Upload File." Again, the URLs aren't very nice, and there's a bunch of Google Docs framework stuff at the top and right of the window. File size limit: 10 MB per PDF.

None of those solutions is IDEAL, but they're all pretty simple and have varying advantages/disadvantages.

I have realized that I can't just do a Blurb book, because I do want to have a PDF result to post online, and Blurb doesn't give you one. So I'm back to the drawing board planning to either use InDesign (which I'd need to spend some more time learning) or Word. I don't want to have to do the layout twice (both for PDF and for the printed Blurb book), so I'm going to try to do what someone else suggested and just export the individual PDF pages (complete with text and photos) as JPGs and plop them in to Blurb pages one at a time with full bleed. I'd like to try that once before the real thing comes along. I still think I'm going to go with Issuu for the hosting, as I really like its polished looke and page-turning interface.

Another thing I've decided to do, at the recommendation of an artist friend, is to prepare for the actual shooting I'm planning to do over the two weeks of the Food Course by photographing my meals from now until then. I think that not only will that discipline prepare me for the SoFoBoMo task, but it will also prepare me for the contemplative aspects of the Food Course. It will make me more mindful of what and how I'm eating, and it will help me to slow down as I approach my meals. Perhaps I'll be more grateful for them, too.

OK, here goes the first meal. Took 23 shots and kept 6 of them, to tell the story of my dinner.

Hmmm, a full fridge, but nothing interesting to eat...

Besides, I haven't done dishes in weeks and there's gross stuff growing in my big cooking pot...

I guess it's one of those frozen dinner days...

Zap it...

Nice and hot...


Back from Boston

I had a wonderful visit with my nephew Isaac over the past week. There's nothing like spending time with a baby to bring you back in touch with what is fundamental about being human. All other things fade in importance when you're looking into his eyes and babbling back and forth with him. I could sit with him on my lap for hours mesmerized by his little movements, his attentive looks, and his adorable smiles and coos. It was very hard to tear myself away to go to the airport. Here are a few choice photos.

15 March 2009

SoFoBoMo 2009

The challenge is on again this year, to complete a photography book, from start to finish, in one month. It's called SoFoBoMo (for Solo Photography Book Month) because it's loosely modeled after NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaSoAlMo (National Solo Album Month). Last year 170 photographers signed up, and 60 of them completed their books. That shows it is challenging, but not impossible.

This year I will be taking part in a two-week intensive course on the theology of food, called "Food: Creation, Community, and Communion," on Galiano Island, from May 25 to June 5. My intention is to photograph every aspect of this course, the participants, learning, gardening, slaughtering a lamb, cooking, partaking in meals, celebrating communion, etc. This book will be a documentation of the course. I plan to complete it by June 25, 2009. I am even hoping to get credit for doing this as my optional extra project.

Today's photo is of one of the sheep from Hunterston Farm on Galiano Island, with her triplet lambs. Who knows? Maybe one of these lambs will be the one we slaughter for the Food Course. I shudder to think of it. Reminds of me of the time when my mother went to visit her cousins as a kid and she naively asked "where's Blackie?" (their pet lamb). Her cousin blithely replied, "Oh, he's in the freezer." I guess, though, when you live on a farm, that's part of life. I don't know how they choose one to slaughter for this course. It seems such an ominous thing to do, but of course humanely slaughtering an animal on one's own farm for the purpose of food is far better than what they do in commercial slaughterhouses. I'm sure I will be learning more about all of this in this course.


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