More film scans now on Flickr

My travels with a near 30-year-old camera continue: my tired but still lovely Minolta CLE from 1981-ish.

I had a great time in Paris last month with the camera on my first day, but since then I’ve put a few more films through it. The results have been variable and I have some learnings to share…

1) very fast film (high ISO numbers) has been disappointing. The 1600ASA Fuji stock I used in Brighton caused problems in scanning (bit soft) and also in the way that iPhoto displays the jpegs (seem to block and smudge, but when examined at 100% in Photoshop or Aperture, the grain was in focus and clearer, but still not great). The perfect film so far for the grey winter days has been the Fuji 800Z Professional film. I think I’m in love.

Here’s a shot from the Brighton shots to show the grain, colour ‘bloom’ and general lack of punch:

If I’m being kind I can see that the lens is resolving well enough, but straight from the scanner it’s lacking some of the kapow and oomph that the Paris set had.

2) Older Leica lenses aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The shot above was with an old Leica 28mm Elmarit-M 2.8. Not a bad lens in anyone’s bag, but lacks the contrasty punch of the 40mm f2 Rokkor that comes as standard with the CLE. I really wanted it to be brilliant (especially since I’d swapped an Xpan body for it!) but it just didn’t do it for me. Annoyingly, the amount of Aperture-twiddling I needed to do to in post-production rather spoils the point of dev&scan.

3) The new Leica aspherical is just lovely.

This is from the Regents Park set: Fuji160 film and the 28mm Elmarit-M 2.8 ASPH. It’s a dinky, wee little thing and it’s brought back the ‘punch’ and contrast. Look at this image at the original size and you’ll see that the scanner’s managed to get more of a ‘grip’ on the negatives – you can even see the water marks on the surface of the negative. Resolving power is wonderful and the delicate handling of out-of-focus parts (eg the little boy in the sand) is just beautiful. I’m in love. Motto – always read Ken Rockwell before buying a lens! Interestingly, after the Leica rebate this lens is the same price as a 20 year old second hand inferior one and now a worthy swap for my 10yr-old Xpan.

3) My CLE over-exposes. Routinely, by about a 1/3rd to half a stop. I’m not sure whether it’s an artefact of the metering pattern (I don’t really like averaging systems – I loved the 12% weighting of the Nikon F3, and everything since then is just not quite right). I’ll run a few more films through before I commit to adjusting the ASA dial, but it’s worth knowing.

4) The absence of some features are truly a pain. Why no AE lock? Surely, simple to implement (and existed on other cameras that shared the CLE’s electronics). Also, a nice reminder in the viewfinder of having set exposure compensation would be nice… Still, not annoying enough to warrant the expense of a Leica M7 πŸ˜‰

5) You need to think carefully about the film stock and how you’ll use/process it. I’m taking a lazy approach, aiming for zero intervention: C41 commercial process, machine scanning, import and upload. A bit of tweaking on saturation and the black/shadow level is all I’ll do. Anything else is a) not true to the Cartier-Bresson decisive moment and b) if I’m going to mess around twiddling I might as well do a different approach!

I’m trying to settle on films that have the cool tones of Fuji film, excellent edge contrast (works best on the web) and good tonality. Fuji800Z is wining on the colour front. It may help that the lab, Panther Imaging on Clerkenwell Road, use a Fuji scanner. Then again, it may not.

B&W has been disappointing with HP5, but the Fuji Neopan 1600 was just exemplary. I slightly overexposed to capture highlight detail and then adjusted -1/3 in Aperture and couldn’t be happier. That won’t work for the summer though…

The main reason to obsess about this (apart from it being an obsession, naturally) is that you need to “know” how the image will turn out in advance. Unlike digital (where you can shoot, chimp at the screen, fiddle and reshoot), you have to see the image in your head, plan and expose – knowing the combined effect of exposure, film behaviour and standard scanning effect. That’s why it’s fun πŸ™‚

So, I have a few trips planned in the coming weeks – to Amsterdam and Manchester – where I’ll have a couple of hours to wander the streets and take some more shots. I’ll update my impressions of the CLE and the tiny lenses, and also think I’ll be concentrating on the Fuji 800Z and HP5. Not quite sure what I’ll do once Spring is sprung – faster films will blow out the highlights pretty quickly, so I’m interested in any advice for a ‘summer film’ stock…

Speaking: Sense Network and London College of Fashion

It’s been another busy speaking week.

On Wednesday 25th I gave a version of my Epiphenomena and Magic presentation to the folk at the Sense Network. Great venue (loft floor on Wardour Street) and a fun, engaging crowd. Slides from this presentation are the same as for Digital Shorts: see them on Slideshare.

On Thursday evening, 26th, I spoke at the London College of Fashion for the BA in Fashion Management students, as well as some postgrad and faculty folk.Β  Leaving aside the rather peculiar feeling that ‘being in a classroom’ can engender, we had a fun and interactive evening discussing the commercial implications and opportunities for fashion given the UK’s sophisticated online customer.

The slides are available as ever on Slideshare, or below:

Ps073 Lcf

View more presentations from ikj. (tags: ecommerce fashion)

Microposting(s) for February 25th through February 27th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – February 25th through February 27th:

Microposting(s) for February 6th through February 24th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – February 6th through February 24th:

  • Livescribe :: Never Miss A Word – oooh – a tingle of desire.

    Not only (yet another) magic digital pen, BUT it now has a Mac desktop client (yay) AND rather tasty leather-bound pads of specialist paper…

    Tech, stationery, mmmm

    Now, all I need is Pelikan to make a digital fountain pen and heaven beckons!

  • Q&A: Matthew Yeomans on social media measurement | Blog | Econsultancy
  • Brandbook – Notebook World – Oh – heaven is a place on earth. It's here.

    Not only is this every desirable element in my "Hi Fidelity-esque" Tourette's Stationery Specification Fetish, but this allows you to construct the very book(s) of your dreams.

    I've asked for a quote, but I sense that the cost may be more appropriate for a buying club approach than a personal indulgence…

    It's made my day though.

    Courtesy of Monocle who've gone and had a bunch made (although not as I'd have specc'd of course. Sigh).

  • Leica camera repairs – Luton – Old skool repairs for old skool cameras.
  • ActiveCollab for Agile | activeCollab – Using ActiveCollab for Agile-ish projects…

Acquisition Manager, E-commerce, House of Fraser, House of Fraser | Econsultancy

Acquisition Manager, E-commerce, House of Fraser, House of Fraser | Econsultancy

A quick heads up for a new role at a client, House of Fraser.

This is a really interesting post in a vital and growing aspect of HOF’s ecommerce activities.

Initial setup of the affiliate and acquisition activities has been done by Chris Bishop, so it’s by no means a greenfield situation, but it’s an evermore important part of the marketing mix.

Customers expect not only to see retailers present on niche, offer and voucher sites (that’s now obvious) but two important new factors are emerging:

  • closer working with key affiliates like MyDeco and ShopStyle (both demanding of product data, imagery, metadata, collaborative campaign and promotional management), and
  • ever-tighter cross channel working – leveraging the in-store activity, PPC, SEO and on-site promotion for maximum customer satisfaction and of course profit.

The integrated, friendly and capable team at HOF are the cherry on this particular cake!

Note that applicants need to add a supporting note to their CV stating in 500 words or fewer the three tactical, “day 1” things you’d do to improve SEM and/or affiliate activity.

Applications to:

Rebecca Bedwell
Resourcing Advisor
House of Fraser
27 Baker Strert
London
W1U 8AH

Tel: 020-7003-4809

resourcingho@hof.co.uk

Profit per pixel second – pps?

Over the last couple of years I’ve had two concurrent obsessions when it comes to ecommerce: data and online merchandising. The former is the foundation of everything we do and sell online – product data, customer data, metadata, behavioural data… Increasingly, my interest in data has extended to behavioural and attention metadata, as well as the free(r) interchange of said data. The interchange is made possible with APIs, microformats and emerging XML standards in Attention Profiling Markup Language, APML. The open data and data portability movement is also vital for a future in which all sorts of data can intermingle, be mashed up and generally create valuable services.

I covered this for the last two years in presentations, culminating in my Digital Trends series given this month where we reach a level of ‘epiphenomenology’ and magic by extension of these trends. The slides for this presentatio are available on Slideshare.

In tandem, I’ve been working with clients and collaborators on advancing approaches to online merchandising – the art of selling online. We’ve covered this twice so far at the European eCommerce Forum (notes of the inaugural ECF are posted last year) and it’s also a module in the upcoming Certificate/Diploma in Internet Retailing. The aim of course is to maximise the profitability of the merchandised ‘page’ online.

This approach was fine where eCommerce was in a growth phase and customers seemed keen to spend evermore time online. However, in a saturated market there’s evidence that online customers are settling into a core group of a dozen retail sites (where ‘retail’ include aggregation/affiliate, voucher and cashback portals who – from a customer’s perspective – are simply alternative ways to shop). The battle now is for the customer’s attention as much as for their money once you have that attention.

These two themes come together in a measure for merchandising effectiveness – profit per pixel second.

This combines the notion of ‘yield per pixel’ presented to a customer, with the idea that one only has a given time in which to persuade the customer AND that those seconds have been ‘borrowed’ from the customer’s other activities, their other favourite sites or simply from calls upon their time in the ‘real’ world.

This approach means that we might no longer want to ‘retain visitors’ on our sites for a long time – rather, a quick, effective visit might be best for the customer. We can also start relaxing about multiple, short visits to our sites (for example research, or monitoring stock availability or trends) if we can see that contributing to sales. The ‘yield’ or profitability measure focuses our efforts upon getting the most profit rather than buying the highest turnover.

I’ve been doing some initial work on how this proposed measure might inform day to day merchandising activity, or even be measured (since we know that ‘not all pixels are created equal’), but I’d appreciate thoughts and help on this, not to mention alternative suggestions or rebuttals.

Do let me know either in the comments or via direct email, as well as volunteering to help with some data – in confidence, of course.

DigitalShorts: blackboards, magic, google history and porn

So then, to Brighton, for another outing of my Digital Shorts presentation, arranged by Econsultancy (see events calendar on my business blog).

It was lovely to have an excuse to visit Brighton again, and a quick, chilly wander along the seafront with my new-old Minolta CLE and tack-sharp 28mm Elmarit-M and a roll of Fuji 1600 ASA (golfball-grain)… results shared in due course if acceptable – although do see the results from Paris last month…).

The venue was cosy and there was an interesting group – many digital agencies, a sprinkling of retailers and some software vendors.

The fun began (ahem) when we realised that there was neither a projector nor a screen available. A couple of frantic calls later and we realised that they were ‘lost’. Hmm. In the Hove lanes we could see into people’s Home Offices and so was tempting to have Craig push in a door and ‘borrow’ a 40″ plasma, however in the end the cafe downstairs lent us their menu blackboard and – drumroll – a piece of chalk!

So – with the support and chuckles of the assembled, alcohol-fuelled crowd, I cracked on with a presentation with the power of waving hands and – yes – chalk πŸ™‚

It was a laugh and the questions from the audience were tough, robustly-put and really engaging. I had a great night.

Indeed, I _knew_ it was a cunning group by the way they took my demonstration of Google History to heart. I’d mentioned how APML and attention tracking were alive and with us, witness Google’s history (and showed mine, noting how one should be careful sharing this in case of compromising past activity!).

Anyway, after the presentation I left my laptop at the front for people to see some of the demos and realised that a couple of people were looking a little _too_ sneakily pleased with themselves (yes, you know who!).

Turns out that they’d indulged in a little guerilla history frigging, gently porn surfing (along with the kindergarden ‘reset home page’ routine) in order for this to appear in my history: excellent!

I know that an audience has taken my points to heart when we see this sort of behaviour πŸ™‚ I can teach them no more than this πŸ˜‰

During the evening we took a journey that looked at the phenomena that occur when ever-better structured data, metadata, behavioural data meets open, free exchange over increasing numbers of nodes. We then considered further possibilities – ‘epiphenomena’, if you will – and how these in short order would become indistinguishable from ‘magic’.

It was a great opportunity to think a bit beyond the pressing commercial exigencies of 2009 and envision the services we’d be engaging with in a couple of years.

If you’re interested in seeing the slides they’re online at Slideshare:

Ps071 Digitalshorts Manchester

View more presentations from ikj.
Finally, the event’s been covered on Twitter via the #digitalshorts tag:
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=digitalshorts
Finally, I’m going to be delivering a similar presentation for the Sense Network on 25 February in London – see my calendar for details.

New ‘upcoming events’ calendar

I’ve been wondering for a while how to keep my public speaking, training and conference events in one tidy place.

I’m pleased therefore to have come across Kieron O’Shea‘s rather lovely Calendar Plug-in for WordPress.

You can see this up and running at my ‘business’ site’s Speaking and Events page.

There’s also an RSS feed of my upcoming activities available. This is not part of the standard install but an email to Kieran earlier this evening resulted in a ‘by return’ php script posted on the support site.

Wonderful.

Let me know what you think of it, and of course check out the plugin for yourselves.

Digital Shorts – my first ‘twittered’ event

Last week I presented at Digital Shorts in Manchester. It was a really fun evening with an engaged crowd, good questions and a great set of conversations afterwards. And of course a beer or three catching up with some ex-Littlewoods colleagues afterwards.

The slide deck is available here – looking at how data + open interaction + standards + behavioural insights can lead to an ‘epiphenomenology’ or, put succinctly, ‘magic’.

I don’t want to spoil things yet (especially since I’m delivering the presentation in Brighton on 11 February), but I did want to note that this was the first time I’d had an event ‘twittered’.

So we all know about twitter – microblogging, or a public-ish exchange of sub-160-character messages (think of a group instant-messenger session, or an IRC channel ‘done’ via single message) – but at this event there was someone in the audience ‘twitting’ my points.

On twitter you direct message at people by the incantaion “@[username]”, so for example to be certain that a comment appeared on my ‘radar’ you’d include “@ianjindal” in the message. Think of this as a way of ‘attaching’ messages to me.

A further development are ‘hash channels’ – anything prefaced by “#” creates (or adds to) a channel. These can be created on the fly (eg #createdonthefly): the genius of these is that they act as a ‘tag’ or a collector: without the need to establish a ‘channel’ in any formal fashion, twits from any number of people can be aggregated into a feed.

This was shown to good effect with #uksnow (coverage of the recent snowy weather in the UK) or channels that formed to cover the recent emergency landing of a jet on the Hudson.

There’s no ‘ownership’ of the channel and there can be conflicting claims (eg #TCUK was claimed by TechCrunch UK and The Co-op UK). The only ‘right’ in this instance is ‘might’. You can’t claim, own or protect a channel. However, as an ad hoc, current and flexible ‘collector’ these are ideal.

One such is #digitalshorts (you can see this here at http://search.twitter.com/search?q=digitalshorts). You can see that @GeorgiaBrown did a great job in transcribing activities – especially since I don’t seem to have been misquoted at all πŸ˜‰

So – let’s see whether Brighton manages to micro-blog the evening πŸ˜‰

In the meantime, here are the slides from the evening.

Ps071 Digitalshorts Manchester

View more presentations from ikj.
ps you can find me on Twitter as twitter.com/ianjindal

Microposting(s) for January 25th through February 5th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – January 25th through February 5th: