In 2003, a police officer stopped me for using a tripod in Times Square without a press pass. I’d just left a Broadway show and was taking a few pictures of the new Hershey Story store’s facade for potential use in a website design (back during my JPL days). The officer informed me that a press pass was required throughout the city. I left disappointed, and I spent my subsequent graduate school years in the NYC area without at thought towards doing decent night photography.
Earlier this year, I was doing consulting for a startup in Bryant Park and learned that this requirement had been lifted. I’ll likely be posting more of my favorite photos, but I spent that first night shooting the Flatiron building. Here’s the results.
I began using Flickr less and less while the service bounced around like a beach ball between owners (Yahoo, Vertizon, etc.). With SmugMug’s acquisition of Flickr this week, I finally decided to pull the plug on my account.
It’s funny to be sentimental about a social media service, but I remember discovering it and using it alongside my friends in grad school.
On a related note, I was discussing with a friend who considered blogging to be dead. The medium is definitely evolving, but I’ve always found comfort in the reliability of self-hosting. Ads, tracking, subscriptions–none of that here.
With that said, here’s a few pictures I recovered from my Flickr account. I’m glad I still have this site as a venue to share them.
Biking the abandoned turnpike in 2011.
Attending the Frank Robinson statue giveaway after a long night at Max’s in 2012.
My son enjoying Hersheypark.
Milton Hershey’s home. Now home to the Hershey Trust, it’s closed to the public, but I was fortunate enough to do a shoot there.
I guess I’m superstitious, but I often think great years are followed by…not-so-great years. This definitely felt like a transition year career-wise, though I did get to mark off a few more bucket list items. Ultimately, what this all means is I’m really looking forward to 2018! In the meanwhile, I’m keeping with my tradition of digging up photos I shot over the year that haven’t seen the light of day.
I finally made it to the Cloisters. Another bucket list item down.
I got to see my first bottle label come to life.
This view never gets old. I’m going to miss it.
Hey, that’s me!
Roadside America. Definitely a kid-pleaser.
“One flower opens; five petals”
Another shot from Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Taking a business meeting in the middle of Bryant Park.
New York, 1:1200 scale.
A shot from Brooklyn during my (very) brief residency back in New York.
Again, this view!
What can I say? I’m a fan of color. Graffiti Alley, Baltimore.
I helped organize TEDx Harrisburg and many of my pictures ended up on the Flickr account. I don’t think this one made it.
Oftentimes the best Christmas present is the one you didn’t know you even wanted. Seeing old friends with Bitcoin fortunes doesn’t hurt, either.
If you’re in Central PA and pick up this month’s issue of The Burg you’ll catch my cover artwork.
Ironically, I did most of this on an train and in Brooklyn, but last night I ran out to see what my inspiration looked like (only to discover the lights weren’t on!). The tree hasn’t gone up, either, so I’m hoping it does get lit up this season.
I wasn’t sad to see it go, but I was sad to see folks applaud the death of it. Sure, I don’t think the vulnerabilities or performance issues were really brought to light until after Steve Jobs’s famous Thoughts on Flash got Adobe hustling, but as a designer and instructor, I had an appreciation for the software that few probably did.
When I first started using Macromedia Flash, it set itself apart from the incumbent interactive software, Macromedia Director, in that it was targeted for the web, and its use of vector graphics yielded a smaller file size. It also offered consistent browser rendering and a single outputted SWF file where all of its contents could be embedded.
Besides the analogy of a timeline and symbols in the WYSIWYG, What really piqued my interest as a designer was the ability to write code to create organic patterns and designs. My first real exposure to this was in the book “Flash Math Creativity”. Suddenly I was interested in sine waves and recursion when I hadn’t ever been interested in math, before.
Later in my career, I began working with object oriented programming in ActionScript. I stopped using the timeline and started writing all of my classes exclusively in TextMate. For animation, I used Greensock or MosesSupposes FuseKit. I also attended the Adobe Flash NYC User Group and built a comraderie with other designers and developers. I even tried Flex (enough to never use it, again).
In the classroom, Flash served as a gateway drug to programming and motion. My students were passionate about creating animations, properly integrating sound, and discovering how to do things with code. Granted, I was the first to advocate eliminating Flash from our curriculum while other schools still taught it, yet while it was a part of my class there was a certain magic that it had with students–one that hasn’t been rekindled, since.
Recently, I’ve read about a petition to open source Flash, as well as played with WickEditor (definitely check it out, it’s incredible for what it is). I didn’t think Flash could be open sourced with its MP4 license integration, but regardless, I’m not sure it’s something the world needs. While I do wish there’d be an easy way to view some of my past art projects and old jobs, Flash was built in a time before responsive web design, before SVG on the web, and before HTML animation had adequate browser support. The other issue with successors to this platform is the output format. SVG? Canvas? It seems like animating in non-canvas DOM elements is the popular way to go these days, though Flash’s potential successors seemingly have bloated code that relies on JQuery for animation.
I do believe that with the fallout of Flash that web design got a lot more static. Websites relied upon basic parallax and (gasp!) homepage carousels for animation. It’s only now with broad browser support that motion in websites is starting to re-emerge.
Don’t mourn it
I don’t miss the polyfills of SiFR for custom fonts, nor do I miss having to make a redundant HTML content with SWFObject. Heck, no one misses those silly preloaders, either! If anything, I should be grateful that the death of Flash steered me towards open source tools and how they prove to be stronger to the community.
What I miss (and I realize I’m part of the minority) is the community this software created and the gateway for design students learning to code. These days, I may have students fire up a text editor with a live server to make edits, and while that’s accurate for the modern industry, it’s clearly a lot more intimidating for young designers.
I hope something comes along someday to fill that gap.
The task of my portfolio redesign wasn’t neglected like the last go-around, but it’s never easy. Still, It’s refreshing to finally emerge from my cocoon and reflect on how my technology decisions have changed over the years. I was never fully satisfied with my last iteration, and decided to see if I could rebuild what was my Flash portfolio site in the early 2000s, except this time, responsively and using Web Standards.
Here’s a quick comparison of what’s changed since the last iteration (2013-2015):
Styling: SASS and CSS Grid Layout
In 2013, I was using Bourbon Neat. By 2015, I had moved onto Susy, as I liked its simplicity and didn’t feel I needed Bourbon’s polyfills. I almost started using Susy for my layout, but the release of Susy 3 in June 2017 convinced me that Susy had realized it had reached its end-of-life and that it had become a polyfill for the CSS grid, the new standard.
While I am using CSS grid in some places, it turns out I had to rely far more on absolute-positioned elements. While CSS grid support was rolled out for all the major browsers earlier this year, support for animating properties like grid-template-columns and grid-template-rows have yet to come to fruition.
I have been using GulpJS as a part of my typical workflow, but Vue CLI uses Webpack, so there was no need to complicate things.
Package Management: NPM
For package management, I’ve abandoned the new deprecated Bower in lieu of Yarn, but in this particular project I stuck with good ol’ NPM.
Performance-wise, modern JS frameworks are all fast (see this impressive benchmark table!), but I wanted a popular framework that utilized virtual DOM rather than something that manipulated the DOM. This led me to React and Vue.js.
I’d been fortunate enough to recently work on a large React project, and I was curious to see how Vue.js compared. Frankly, doing any kind of search comparing the two will give you a deluge of first-hand accounts of developers “graduating” to Vue.js over React.
After having worked with both, my conclusion is, I prefer React, but would choose Vue.js.
A funny response, I know. Why, do you ask? What I like about React is its OOP-like class structure, but most of all, the render() method, which requires whatever HTML you’re outputting to be rendered beforehand. You’re not seeing output littered with conditionals and foreign syntax (v-bind:) attributes. You’re also not seeing <template> HTML beside <script> code beside <style> syntax.
React Syntax (perhaps slightly more verbose but clean):
Now, I’m certain that anyone that knows Vue.js will counter with the fact that you can use JSX syntax (along with its ugly htmlFor and className custom attributes) and a render() method with Vue. The thing is, I doubt many people will, and that’s okay. I didn’t switch to such syntax, primarily because Vue’s Essentials documentation led the way.
So what do I like about Vue?
It’s approachable. I didn’t need Webpack to get a “Hello World” test up-and-running–I simply included a <script> in my page and witnessed the magic. This tidbit may be trivial for advanced application developers, but the low barrier appeals to beginners. It’s that kind of appeal that helps build a strong community.
Built-in router. No third-party choices to be made, here. I don’t understand why Facebook wouldn’t make such an official package for React.
Web Component format. Vue mimics the structure of a web component, and while I didn’t write any scoped styling in my components, it’s handy to have. I know, I just complained about the structure, but I’ll come kicking and screaming with any open-source standard.
VueX. Like VueRouter, Vue comes with a defacto state management.
I’ve read the Facebook FAQ and heard how even large corporations like Apple continue to use React, but I’m a proponent of open-source software and would feel better about using it if they just changed the license.
I confess that this won’t prevent me from using React, again–as a matter of fact, I will likely move the front-end of this blog to it. Furthermore, the U.S. industry still uses it heavily compared to Vue, and I need to remain marketable.
So, there’s my stance on it. I am paying particular attention to which framework WordPress will choose for its core, but it will definitely be interesting to see where the entire industry goes. I’d encourage others to try these frameworks out, themselves.
Here’s a few shots of Italian Lake I took the other week. I suppose some shots on Instagram inspired me to go out midday.
I forgot just how much fun it is to process infrared. Traditional color correction goes out the window. I basically make sure the RGB curves don’t have any plateaus on the edges, do some lens correction and dehazing, then fiddle with the color mixer.
I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and three boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.