Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What I Learned from Helen Gurley Brown


I have never purchased a copy of Cosmopolitan in my life.  In fact, it has rarely done anything other than annoy me with its covers featuring too-perfect women, too good to be true “lifestyle tips”, too far beyond the average budget “must haves”, its constant subtle implications that, happy though I may think myself, I could be doing better.  Nay, I should be doing better.

However, it must be said that the work of Helen Gurley Brown has had a profound impact on me and the way I live my life, an impact that has so far spanned 25+ years and will no doubt continue as long as I do.  I first read Sex and the Single Girl as a teenager, back in the 80’s.  I have reread it several times since then.  And not a day goes by that I don’t apply something I learned from that book to something I am doing that day.  I’m not single, and I’m no longer really a “girl” in the youthful sense of the word, but the lessons still apply, some even more so now than they did when I was younger and on my own.


~ HOW TO EAT HEALTHY MEALS WHEN YOU’RE BROKE

Before there were such things as Farmer’s Markets and health food stores, HGB explained very simply and clearly how to maintain a healthy diet on a miniscule budget.  It involved nothing more than the most rudimentary of cooking skills and the willingness to pay attention to what you were putting in your body.  Nothing groundbreaking by today’s standards, but back then it was.  I’m grateful to have learned this long before I was in charge of buying my own groceries and planning my own meals because, by the time I got to that point in my life, I was ready.


~ THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VALUE AND ECONOMY

Back when SATSG was written, the examples given read along the lines of “Don’t spend $2 on a pair of everyday shoes that will last you three months, when you can spend $15 on a pair that will last you three years”.  These days, you can’t even buy a picture of a pair of shoes for $2, but the logic still holds; think things through, do the math, and figure out what’s really in your best interests, even if it means holding off on a purchase for a bit while you save up enough to make the purchase worthwhile.


~ WHEN EFFORT CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF MONEY, AND WHEN IT CAN’T

Even the most economically-minded DIYer will have to face two realities sooner or later; sometimes you have to spend a little more on better materials, and sometimes you have to hire a professional.  Whether it’s decorating your home, fixing your car, upgrading your computer, whatever you’re doing, learn to recognize when it’s to your and your project’s advantage to spend a little extra to keep the whole thing from falling apart and costing you everything you’ve spent.


~ HOW TO LET SOMEONE KNOW YOU’RE REALLY LISTENING

Look them in the eye while they’re talking.  You’ll be amazed at how much they appreciate it, and how much more you actually hear.


In appreciative memory of Helen Gurley Brown
February 18, 1922 – August 13, 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Things That Are Not Artistic Nudes


I spend quite a bit of time on deviantART, scouting out content for The Poetic Pinup Revue.  It’s one of my favorite parts of the job, and it has netted some truly beautiful images that might not have found their way to our pages otherwise.

However, it must be said that for every gem uncovered, there are several layers of non-gemlike material to be got through first, and the majority of them are found in dA’s “Artistic Nudes” category.  Granted, they only wind up there for lack of a more suitable category, such as “Porn by People Who Do Not Have the Balls to Admit Their Work is Porn” or even a more general “Photos of Nipples and Genitals with Little Else to Recommend Them” but, while I will never tell another artist what to create, the following really don’t qualify as “Artistic Nudes”.


~ EXTREME CLOSE-UPS OF PENISES

I don’t care if you were able to light those veins in such a way the resemblance to Picasso’s Old Guitarist is unmistakable.  This is, and will never be anything other than, a really good look at some guy’s junk.


~ FAKE LESBIAN SEX ON TARGET ‘HOME ESSENTIALS’ COMFORTERS

You do us both a disservice by posting these images on dA; I have to look at them, and you are missing out on the many higher-paying markets for this type of material.


~ GRINNING WOMEN WITH THEIR HANDS ON THEIR BREASTS AND THEIR KNEES THREE FEET APART

No, I know.  What you’re actually doing here is making a statement about the higher power of the vagina and liberation from the societal bondage that once insisted women nurture their offspring singlehandedly, hence the flailing labia, willfully hidden nipples, and oh-so-cheery disposition.  But the problem is, a lot of people just don’t get it.  So you’re really much better off not posting these until we as a civilization have advanced sufficiently to give your work the appreciation it so richly deserves.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I Thought a Niche was Supposed to be a GOOD Thing


Once upon a while back, I read and refrained from joining in on a conversation about required sizes of digital images for quality print.  One individual insisted that 300 dpi and 72 dpi are exactly the same thing and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Yeah.  I’ll let you absorb that for a moment.

Party B said “um… no” and proceeded to explain why.  Party A refused to listen, and Party C, on whose page this conversation was taking place, finally said “hey, let’s just cite artistic difference and end this”.  Wise party, that C.  C was wrong, of course, but at least the conversation ended.

It has recently been brought to my attention that someone of the Party A school is starting a magazine.  And their “niche” will be not requiring high-resolution images.

You need another moment to absorb?  Yeah.  I did, too.

Now, I could leave this alone, let it crash and burn under the fucktacular flame of failure that awaits it not long past the release of the first issue, but my concern about letting this “magazine” follow that road to inevitable ruin is that it will not go alone.  It takes a lot of people to make a magazine.  I happen to like the majority of the pinup models I’ve met, in person and online, and I don’t take kindly to the idea of anyone letting their own Grade A shitcompetence make any of those ladies look bad.

So, ladies, if you are reading this, a word of advice: Do not EVER let yourself be published by ANYONE who claims to not need a high-resolution copy of your image for print.


~THE TWO BIG REASONS A MAGAZINE LIKE THIS WILL FAIL

1) A large part of the confusion in situations such as these arises from a lack of understanding of what a high-resolution image really is.  A 300 dpi image is not automatically high-resolution, and a 72 dpi image is not automatically NOT high-resolution.  There are other factors that need to be taken into account.  And contrary to Party C’s above citing of artistic differences between the two, they are mathematic realities, not merely differences of opinion.  And dpi is not the most important factor.  The most important factor is the total number of dots, not how many happen to be displayed per inch.

Say you are prepping an image for a standard size single page layout.  An 8.5 x 11 inch page at 200 dpi, which is a good quality for print, translates to a total image size of 1700 x 2200 pixels.

If you begin with an image that is 300 dpi with a total image size of 2550 x 3300 pixels, you’re fine.  There are enough dots to get the job done.  However, if you have a 300 dpi image with a total size of 1275 x 1650, you have a problem.

If you have an image that is 72 dpi with a total image size of 7650 x 9900 pixels, that will translate to an 8.5 x 11 inch page at 200 dpi perfectly well.  You have enough dots to get the job done.  However, if you have a 72 dpi image with a total image size of 612 x 792 pixels, you have a problem.

Compression is not a problem.  Expansion is.

When you try to spread your 612 x 792 original image over what needs to end up as your 1700 x 2200 page image, what happens in this; you only have .36 of a dot for every 1 dot of image you are trying to create, and the rest has to come from somewhere.  And where it comes from is...

Guesswork.  Total guesswork.  Educated guesswork, true, of the type called “intuitive” and “content-aware” and all sorts of other terms of jackoffery that software marketing companies need to label guesswork so that it sounds like your computer actually knows what it’s doing.  But the bottom line is, your computer is making up content to fill 1 dot with only .36 dots of original information.  And the end result looks something like this:

Click to enlarge. Please. Click to get a better view of what happens when a computer has to make up 2/3 of your information.
Nobody is going to pay for that kind of crap print quality twice.  Not even my mother would pay for that twice, and she loves me and my work pretty much unconditionally.


2) Even when a magazine makes it abundantly clear that high-resolution images are a requirement for print, there are far too often instances of images being submitted, usually by models but occasionally by photographers too, that the person doing the submitting has no legal right to be submitting.

Usually, if a person is in possession of a high-resolution, non-watermarked copy of an image, it is an indication that they have the right to use it as they see fit, as long as proper credit is given.  Photographers are not in the habit of handing out print-ready files to models who don’t also have permission to submit them for print, and only the worst kind of fool would ever just post a file of that type where it could be downloaded by any casual Internet passerby.

So when Magazine A says to Contributor B “I need a hi-res image”, and Contributor B says “well I don’t have it and I can’t get it”, that should tell Magazine A something.  Specifically, it should tell them that Contributor B does not legally have the right to give Magazine A permission to print the image.

What this magazine is doing, other than creating crap-quality content, is opening the door for a flood of images that it has no right to use.  Oh, you say they’re going to get a release from both parties?  And what’s to stop Contributor B from just completing that themselves, particularly in an age of electronic releases where there is no actual live signature required?  And even if there is a live signature required, how do you know it’s actually the signature of the photographer, and not Contributor B’s best friend?  Anyone can tell you that you can stay in my house for a week.  Only I can give you the keys and show you how to work the coffeemaker.  Obtaining a high-resolution, non-watermarked, print-ready copy of an image is about the best assurance a publisher can have that everything is on the level legally.

But, if Magazine A insists on skipping lightly down this path of inanity, convinced that they are actually doing anyone a favor by saving them the “hassle” of obtaining hi-res files, how long do you think it will be before a lot of photographers get really pissed off because 1) their images are being used without their permission, and/or 2) the images are the aforementioned total crap quality, which does not do good things for anyone’s professional reputation?

Yes, it’s always nice to be published.  But do you really want to be published like that?