Photography

New Art Site Coming

So this blog has been very quiet for more than a year. BUT a new art site is coming soon here,

http://www.sciarts.co.uk/art/about.html

It’ll be exciting!

To busy for Crufts!

Well, Murphy is such a cool dude. He joined us on a photoshoot. Almost always too busy for Crufts he says. Enjoy.

#lucyruralandcreative, #rurallife, #crufts, #jackrussell, #GoogleVirtualTour, #Dumfries

Customised virtual tours on-line

So you want something different. Customised virtual tours on-line

This is the fourth in a short run of posts about virtual tours on-line. The first three have been about Google Trusted Tours. But right now I want to turn my attention to non-Google tours, our own customised tours.

These are great if you want something out of the ordinary.

Anyway, to give you an idea of what we are talking about here’s a few that we made earlier. Click on the images in this post to access the tours. You can click on the maps or click on the ‘targets’ on screen, or use the icons at the bottom to move around the businesses. These are virtual tours.

Cockermouth Leisure Centre customised virtual tour

Cockermouth Leisure Centre customised virtual tour

 

Cedar Gallery Windermere customised virtual tour

Cedar Gallery Windermere customised virtual tour

 

Artemis Gallery Cockermouth customised virtual tou

Artemis Gallery Cockermouth customised virtual tour

These are ideal for large establishments, or places with geographically widespread facilities or rooms. It means that there is no need to ramble through plain corridors to get from one room to another or from a swimming pool to a gym area in a large sports complex for instance. 

A customised virtual tour can be designed around what you want to show. They help turn virtual footfall into real footfall and present important value considerations to your potential customers.

Success at Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

See what happens when you get a Google Tour with us! (see our earlier post on Town & Country Interiors) Congratulations to Town and Country Interiors in Carlisle who have been voted independent retailer of the year by Carlisle Living for the second year in a row.

See our Google Tour of Town and Country Interiors here. Congratulations once again!

Another Fab Google Trusted Tour – Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Well, we’re really pleased with this shoot. It’s at Town and Country Interiors in Carlisle, a super local retailer. Try using the tour below.

Of course, I just have to show you the impact of the Google tour – the before and after when searching for the business. Here is the before image on the iPad (you get similar results on other devices). The images were very dark and there was not real clarity of the business in the imagery.

BEFORE the Google Tour and Photographs

BEFORE the Google Tour and Photographs

And below we now see the result AFTER the Google Tour and Photos.

AFTER the Google Tour and Photographs

AFTER the Google Tour and Photographs

  • Notice that the Street View image has been improved to show the clear and inviting entrance – this was done by manually connecting the tour to Street View.
  • The logo is displayed – making branding easy, again using one of our stills.
  • All the images are clear, sharp, fresh and inviting and make it very clear what the business is about.

Here’s a few of my favourite still photographs that went on line with the tour.

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Town and Country Interiors Carlisle

Try Googling for ‘Town and Country Interiors Carlisle’ yourself and see what you see.

Another fab Google Tour – Focus on Felt Andrea Hunter Artist

Another favourite of our tours is presented here. Completed for a wonderful artist called Andrea Hunter, (who also by the way stars in the documentary Connections: Sheep to Chanel). In the picture below you can see where she works her magic in felt. Try clicking and scrolling and moving around on screen:

The impact on the search results is priceless. Here before the tour on an iPad (other devices show similar results):

Before a Google Tour Focus on Felt

Before a Google Tour Focus on Felt

Not bad, but could be better – so here it is AFTER we’ve uploaded the tour and photos inside the Google system.

After a Google Tour Focus on Felt

After a Google Tour Focus on Felt

 

A picture can paint a thousand words. Try searching for Focus on Felt in the UK, and see what YOU see on screen!

Onwards and upwards!

 

Before and After a Google Tour on the web

Now I’m going to show you the search results BEFORE and AFTER a Google Virtual Tour and Photos are added. This is for a business called Number Fifteen. Number Fifteen is a delightful arts, crafts and gift shop in Cockermouth.

On the left hand side (below), is how Number Fifteen USED TO APPEAR on an iPad when searching for the shop.

On the right hand side – this is how it NOW appears after we have completed a Google Tour and included our professional photos.

Number Fifteen before & after a Google Tour

Number Fifteen before & after a Google Tour

 

You can see that there is a tremendous improvement in the business presence and presentation.  Which one do you think your customers would prefer, I know which one I prefer!

In addition to the map, you can see See Inside (the Google Tour), you can go to Street View and you can take a look at the Photos that we produced.

Try Googling ‘Number Fifteen Cockermouth’ now and see what you see.

It will look slightly different on mobile and pc, but the key elements will all be there.

This is one of my favourite tours. You can see it here, why not take a virtual tour?

Have we photoshoped our emotions?

WE NEED YOUR HELP. A good blog requires research, some say a rule of thumb is at least 10 hours worth. For others it is a lifetimes experience easily distilled by the author into a critical observation of their own or in identifying the value of the insight of another.

Lucy-and-Nikon

Let us be honest and say despite experience, we both tend to labour away with methodical research, references etc, hopefully leading to a conclusion and/or more questions… Until now that is. You see I am struggling, the question I asked myself was,

"Why do people take pictures and why has it grown so much in popularity"

which seems at first to have an obvious answer. I wanted to place this in context with what psychologists had to say on the matter and balance that with the personal observations of others. I HAVE STRUGGLED.

My first observation was not what I expected: That this same question has been asked hundreds and hundreds of times before(1). So my question changed in response and it became a little bizarre:

"Why have so many people obsessed over this question?"

I searched what must be hundreds of bulletin boards, feedback sites, photographic sites, social networks looking for the question and the answers. I do not have sufficient data to analyze the questioner or the responses by age or even sex although I found my prejudice that it was exclusively a ‘male’ preoccupation was very flawed. I won’t attribute any comments because whilst they are open to the web community, the discussions where they arose may contain content the user may consider more personal.

My first conclusion was this;

"People have identified a change in their own behaviour, one driven by technology, they notice it as being different to their past behaviour and different to their immediate forebears."

Given my previous studies and those we highlighted of Fogg(2), it is at least in part a case of technological persuasion(3). Technology and in particular mobile technology has allowed such rapidly accessible image recording equipment through small cameras in mobile phones. I then asked myself the obvious second question:

"What persuaded them to take notice of a change in their own behaviour?"

And this question holds an interesting answer. Ignoring photographs taken for professional reasons I think that one almost universal answer appears: That is they have taken so many photographs, that they are swamped by them. They do not have time to print them off or even look at them or analyze or enjoy them. They seem almost puzzled by their own behaviour, they create more of everything and yet cannot use it. Even as a professional I have some sympathy with their plight and I will end up grabbing a decent photograph and photoshopping it to ‘perfect’ rather than finding the best if the best takes too much effort to identify. I said this answer was almost universal, there are a small hardy group that edit whilst they go along and only keep a few photographs.

I think its fair to comment that technology has changed the behaviour of both groups. It has allowed us to consume and almost gorge ourselves on excess imagery to the point where we can’t go on, or alternatively we are forced to continually self moderate and monitor ourselves: To be self disciplined in a fashion that technology, money or perhaps more generally nature used to do for us.

We have been given tools that are liable to excess and we use them that way. I have tried to identify powerful well reasoned studies in psychology on this but I have come up short.
I am left wondering why is something so ubiquitous so poorly studied?

I want to return to this topic in a moment but lets extend our thoughts to the hobbyist. Now I will be loose with my definition, this could include the pros or semi-pros photographic explorations for their own interest or the hobbyist who is creating more than just family snapshots.

If you analyze their responses carefully, and I admit in some cases I am surmising as to the extent to which they are true hobbyists, another clear message arises.

Digital technology allows them to freely experiment, to master a skill in capturing the world, sometimes the beauty, sometimes the horror, sometimes the wonder of the surroundings, nature and life. Its a passion.

And this is a lovely answer, its about art, its about creative freedom. As others have said,

"…and it is the simplest form of creative expression."

I think we must view that answer carefully and not take it to mean creative photography is easy per se. That is generally not what is meant, I believe this is referring to the fact that less mechanical skills are required, less dexterity is required than with say playing a musical instrument or drawing. The detail is a matter of opinion but I hope you get the principle of the comment, that those that are visually creative have much more opportunity with digital photography to be creative. Photography has even been used as therapy(4) although I am not in a position to comment on its success, it can certainly aid memory loss patients and those with Alzheimer’s(4).

And it is here I would love to stop.

But somewhere in my life I was beaten into being a scientist, so I cannot stop without telling you the rather less palatable part of my findings. Lets start with the good news. Kids that have grown up with nothing other than mobile technology perhaps are the most honest over their use of images. They are fresh, the editing maybe through Instagram or whatever app is popular this month. And if their images are intended to deceive they are done so openly, so the Victorian look, a retro look, look I am standing on the moon, its honest in its fun. OK this is not universal, but broadly the case. The other piece of good news I found was that people used it,

"…to capture the moment, the memories of an event, to have an opportunity to relive it by looking back at the images."

and

"…help to recapture the emotion, relive it."

There is even a trend toward life logging where you record every moment of your life in small visual bites(5) and I need add nothing more about Google glass(6). Life logging goes way beyond biography such as Ringo Starr’s eBook Photograph(7). It is like a real life Truman Show(8). Where I started to worry was in reference to the idea that imagery was used to define more ephemeral but more personal elements of the image taker. For example as one bulletin board contributor noted publishing photos helped,

" …to define a sense of my identity."

And this worries me in the context of images in social media. I found a series of answers forming about 10% – 12% of all those I studied (admittedly only a few dozen among a few hundred responses) that suggested something slightly sinister, that they were broadly along the lines of,

"…taking photos for show."

and that images for social media are produced so as,

"…to receive the approval of others."

and these can become,

"…emotionally depleted."

And there were a few semi-pros who suggested they felt it necessary to produce the best images to honor the technology they owned. They would spend time photoshopping images to demonstrate their skill. But in doing so they had lost some of the emotion in their images: Family photographs edited to emotionless perfection. Are we now sanitizing our own life history? Are we applying a mutually agreed on-line eugenics. I am struck by comments along the line of,

"We take pictures because we do not trust our own memory."

Will the history that we leave behind be a history of what we want people to read/see and not what’s true. Will we even accurately recall events. Are we engineering our own legacy, our own story? Do you think I am over reacting. Well legacy management sites already exist, for example Mind at Rest Wills(9) and an aggregate of sites at the Digital Beyond(10) and a Google search already provides us with a list of digital reputation managers. And kids already select the platforms where they broadcast information to different audiences, an intuitive form of reputation management, they share different details with different groups of friends(11).

This blog has not ended up as I expected it to be, a celebration of photography in our everyday life. It somehow has emerged with a more complex darker element and perhaps without clear conclusion. As ever with us monkeys we seem to be able to tread the path of beauty and ugliness with equal dexterity. No wonder we are so damn successful. We may have provided no answers in this blog but I hope it has been interesting, and next time you see a photo on-line you might ask yourself why? Perhaps its not always the obvious reason.

I started by saying we needed help. We know that we have more readers than respond to us so if there is anything you wish to add or draw our attention to on this subject we would love to hear from you either as a comment or via email. We will try and build your response into a future blog on this subject. Thank you.

 

References (all retrieved and checked on May 30th 2013 unless otherwise stated)

1) This question has been asked so often that there is simply no place to stop when referencing those that have asked it. Just Google it my friend, Google it. (checked May 15th-30th 2013). Note: also the questioners and respondents might not represent the whole of the world of people who take photographs, only those who are on bulletin boards, social media… etc. Nonetheless they are an interesting slice.

2) Mobile Persuasion: 20 Perspectives of the Future of Behavior Change
Editors BJ Fogg and Dean Eckles, Authors; BJ Fogg, D Eckles, I Bogost, S Consolvo, E Holmen, M Spasojevic, J Ulm, S Tanquay, S Walker , S White Publication Date: 2007 | ISBN-10: 0979502527 | ISBN-13: 978-0979502521
http://www.amazon.com/Mobile-Persuasion-Perspectives-Future-Behavior/dp/0979502527
(retrieved and checked on April 14th 2013)

3) See blog on Technology Persuasion.

4) http://www.phototherapy-centre.com/home.htm &http://click.si.edu/Story.aspx?story=615

5) MIT review of how the technology works, http://www.technologyreview.com/news/514361/logging-life-with-a-lapel-camera/ and the Life logging camera http://memoto.com (retrieved and checked on May 31st 2013)

6) Google Glass http://www.google.com/glass/start/

7) Ringo Starr eBook Photograph https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/photograph/id647308686?mt=11&affId=2267884&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

8) From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show

9) http://www.mindatrest.co.uk/blog/how-do-you-manage-your-digital-legacy#.UaiZz5XsJWI

10) http://www.thedigitalbeyond.com/online-services-list/

11) http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57572154-93/why-teens-are-tiring-of-facebook/ and also private communication Juli Morsella/Aisha Morsella http://www.julimorsella.com

 

The Zeitgeist of the Web or How to avoid a kick in the teeth by a kick to the head

composite

Daniel Kahneman’s(1) work has been well commented on by a number of reviewers since Allen Lane and then Penguin published his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’. Awarded the Nobel prize for economics, he had been someone on our list to study in relation to the current economic climate. The idea was to try and form coherent thoughts toward a better economic way forward, perhaps a new form of capitalism, removing some of the obviously lousy decision making in what we currently have. It’s something many are grappling with.

The first part of the book is excellent and it introduced us to a concept related to the way we make choices; that of system 1 and system 2 thinking. System 1 is fast lazy thinking. Kahneman considered it in relation to numerics, its reactive and automatic, poorly analytical, good for deriving solutions with obvious answers, bad when the answers require more than trivial analysis; system 1 thinking is prone to generating errors when applied to anything other than simple problems.

System 2 thinking tends to be slower, more logical, a more conscious thought process and unswayed by emotive considerations. As people with a background in science we can think of it as more consistent with the scientific method. His Nobel prize was awarded for Economics as he considered these two types of thinking with respect to economic decision making; he indicated that system 1 gets in the way of system 2 thinking.

It immediately struck us that this had resonance with the advertising mantra of appealing to emotive and rational responses in your target audience. And for the past 8 months or so we have been working (along with other ideas) on connecting some of the work of Kahneman, and references we followed up, to the art of persuasion and in particular visual persuasion. As we have worked a little in experimental psychology, we had been linking this work to ideas and trends in psychology. We had not posted to date on this topic, as many of you will know, we had moved house and at the same time our newly launched website was hacked so badly that when we finally launched a new version it had to be re-constructed by hand line by line (Thank you Ariel!(2)) Imagine our shock yesterday (31st March) when we discovered that Phil Barden(3) had written “Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy” (Published February 2013) appearing to cover much of the ground we had independently considered. It extended to different areas, it appears broader and more commercial than our own studies and we would guess it pre-dates our thoughts too, so we can have no complaints, its just bad luck, a kick in the teeth.

More importantly life is about learning lessons, and on the positive side, the quality of our thinking is apparent, we were clearly on the right path. And there are three things you, the reader, should take from this experience.

Lesson 1 if you have a good idea, a dream, an ambition, something you truly want to do then just go out and do it. Don’t hesitate, don’t make excuses, don’t delay, if its something you love, then believe in what you can do, and do it.

Lesson 2, same as lesson 1, just get off your backside and do it! That means NOW. This is our path, we are shelving research of the topic and are just going to do things.

Lesson 3 is subtler. A friend, and a widely respected insightful artist, someone we have worked with, Juli Morsella(4), sent an email and asked was this just a case of parallel thinking, like Darwin and Wallace. Firstly its incredibly flattering to be mentioned even in the same breath as either (and totally unjustifiable!). But secondly it highlights something about the originality of thought and the all encompassing power of the web. To what extent had we responded to the Zeitgeist of the Web; That is had we followed a path of convergent thinking? How many others are thinking like us? Had we found an ‘apparently inevitably correct’ solution? Consider this, many media generators are trying to find ways to differentiate themselves in a fractionating market. Its no longer good enough to be a brilliant photographer or videographer you have to offer more, for us its the use of our intellect to produce content which is tuned to persuade from the start of the concept of a project. We can add in a way others cannot. But how many others had explored these same concepts utilising them for their own needs, and skills, so as to add to their own approach? How much has the web, its search engines and the free access to data, with the automated a priori sorting of data, influenced our thinking. Or paraphrasing Minnie Driver in Grosse Pointe Blank(5), how much do we all need a Shockabuku, ‘a swift spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever’. The Zeitgeist of the Web, is a subject that we will revisit.

References

1) Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, Publication Date: 3 Nov 2011 | ISBN-10: 1846140552 | ISBN-13: 978-1118345603 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thinking-Fast-Slow-Daniel-Kahneman/dp/1846140552/ref=tag_dpp_lp_edpp_ttl_in (Accessed April 2013)
2) Patricia Ariel http://art.patricia-ariel.com/ (Accessed April 2013)
3) Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy by Phil Barden, Publication Date: 1 Feb 2013 | ISBN-10: 1118345606 | ISBN-13: 978-1846140556 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Decoded-The-Science-Behind-Why/dp/1118345606/ref=pd_sim_b_2 (Accessed April 2013)
4) Juli Morsella http://www.julimorsella.com/ (Accessed April 2013)
5) Grosse Pointe Blank, (1997) starring John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Alan Arkin and Dan Ackroyd. Directed by George Armitage http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grosse_Pointe_Blank (Accessed March 2013) and http://www.imdb.co.uk/title/tt0119229/

Spring has sprung at Sciarts!

We’re going to be using area this to share info, techniques and topics of note. It is intended to have articles here which build upon the short notes in Facebook and other social media.

If there is a topic you are interested in please contact us at information@sciarts.co.uk

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