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Changes

July 5, 2015  |  Site-related

As you may (or may not) have noticed, this last week we slightly reformated 75Central.Com in as far as image sizing. Before, images were 950px wide and now they’re almost twice that size at 1800px wide (or, in the case of square or photos with portrait aspect ratios, 1200px tall).

Why?

This has actually been underway for several months, as we’ve been secretly publishing images at this new resolution but using CSS to constrain the sizes as we worked to get a decent backlog of images resized and republished. Unfortunately, as we’ve published a new image every day for almost 8 years, there are over 2800 photos in our back catalog. As of now, we have almost two years of our archives resized and published at this new resolution and are continuing to delve further and further into the archives to get every photograph published on the site resized to this new standard, which is why you might encounter smaller images if you go back far enough or start clicking through on the random link.

There are a couple of reasons for this new sizing standard:

  1. Larger images stand out more in Google Image Search, on social media and while surfing the web. There is also some evidence that Google and Bing both rank larger photos higher in search results.
  2. More and more people are browsing the web on high-resolution devices, such as Apple’s Retina MacBook Pros and now the Retina 5K iMac, both of which we use here to edit our photos, as well as high-resolution mobile devices. While these, for the most part, do a good job of resizing images so that they look decent at such a resolution, nothing beats a high-resolution master file.

In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to resize our archived photos as well as publish a new photo every day as we have since 2007. Thank you for your patronage and happy shooting!


The 2014 75Central Photography Year-End Recap

January 1, 2015  |  Site-related

Last year, I posted a year-end recap for 2013, so I decided to continue this year with a 2014 year-end recap.

  • We made it to seven years of daily photos on 75Central.Com. In fact, the photo for January 2nd, 2015, is the 2,700th photo shared without a day missed since we started in 2007. Crazy, eh?
  • I continued my switch to the mirrorless micro four-thirds format, investing in a few new lenses and a tiny Lumix GM-1 as a back-up body/pocket camera.
  • Travel this year was a bit lighter than 2013, a result of a few day job changes on my part (the company I’d been working for for over 9 years sold out and massive layoffs followed. I floated around a bit, but luckily landed a great job working for my manager from my original job). That said, I did make it to Chicago, Minneapolis and Las Vegas this year, so not a complete loss.
  • And, like last year, here are 2014’s top 10 photos (as decided by Flickr’s mysterious “Interestingness” algorithm):


Marina City

An abstract architectural study of Chicago’s Marina City and the adjacent The Langham hotel tower

 

The Yellow Bull

Detail of a Lamborghini Aventador—named for a bull that fought valiantly at the Saragossa, Spain bullring in 1993—at the Cars in the Park event at Dallas’ Cooper Aerobics Center.The Arch Under the Cloudy Sky

The Emery Reves Arch of Peace rises into the cloudy sky at the Meyerson Symphony Center in the Dallas Arts District.Branches

Intricate tree branches rise into the overcast sky at DFW International Airport, Texas.Four Blackbirds

A mural of blackbirds frames four windows on a building in Deep Ellum, Dallas, TexasThe Lamp’s Shadow

A lamp throws a shadow onto a brick wall at Eastside Village in Downtown Plano, TexasWinter Trees

Stark, leafless trees spotted on the grounds of DFW International Airport, Texas.The Rickety Old Barn

An ancient wooden barn slowly rots at Penn Farm in Cedar Hill State Park, Texas.The Flight Helmet

An United States Air Force pilot’s flight helmet found at Addison, Texas’ Cavanaugh Flight Museum.

The Chain and Shadow

A rusting chain hanging from a pipe casts a shadow inside the abandoned Long Machine Tool Company building in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The 75Central Photography Year-End Recap

December 31, 2013  |  Site-related

The Earth has taken another long loop around the Sun and 2013 has come and gone, so I thought—like so many other media outlets—I would take a few moments to jot down a year-end recap of the world of 75Central Photography.

 

  • This year marked the sixth birthday of the photoblog, during which we never missed a day of posting a photo. Some were great photos, some were—in retrospect—not so great photos, but we’ve always had fun sharing with you, our readers/viewers.  And now we’re almost half-way through our seventh year of photoblogging and have no intention of stopping anytime soon.
  • We redesigned the website, moving to a more responsive modern design. (You can read about the various iterations of the site here). The interesting thing is, analytics have show that since we made the change in July, our visitor engagement has gone down, so we’ll probably be moving back to a simpler design in the near future.  In the interest of transparency, reasons for this downward trend seem to be related to load times, non-intuitive navigation and SEO-related issues.
  • We moved from Fotomoto for our print fulfillment to SmugMug then back to Fotomoto. This was a situation that was out of our control and affected not just our site, but every other photographer that relied on Fotomoto for integrated print ordering. Sometime in the late summer, Fotomoto was sold to a third-party that immediately took the site off-line without warning or explanation, leaving us, and the rest of their customers, scrambling to find a solution. We moved our print ordering to SmugMug, but were unhappy that they do not offer an integrated ordering solution like Fotomoto had, forcing us to hack together a kludgey solution using custom WordPress fields to link to the SmugMug “buy page” for each photo, which was a labor-intensive process. Luckily, after a few weeks of Fotomoto being down, the sale failed to complete and Bay Photo stepped in and bought it, reactivating the service and coming to our rescue. Within minutes of Fotomoto coming back online, we had 75Central.Com re-integrated with their ordering infrastructure.
  • We completed a fair amount of travel this year. Destinations included Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, the Texas Gulf Coast, Seattle, Alaska (Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau & Glacier Bay), Carcross and Emerald Lake, Yukon Territory, Victoria, British Columbia, San Francisco and, most-recently, our perennial destination of Las Vegas, which included side trips to Red Rock Canyon and Mount Charleston. Unfortunately, for the first time in over a year, we have no travels planned for the foreseeable future, though there are thoughts of perhaps Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake and Yosemite sometime in 2014.
  • Speaking of travel, it was our Alaska trip that had a big impact on my choice of gear for the last few months and probably the next few years. For that trip, I lugged a gripped 60D, a 24-105mm L and a 100-400mm L around for a week.  And it about killed me, both from the weight and the bulky awkwardness. So, once I got back, I looked into moving to something smaller. Having seen a fair amount of well-known photographers make the same leap, I started moving to a mirror-less system, settling on the Panasonic Lumix G6. My first big test was the week I spent in San Francisco in November. And I loved it! Small, unobtrusive and lightweight, this camera is packed with a lot more features than any dSLR from Nikon or Canon. And the sensors and lenses have gotten so good, I can’t really tell a difference between shots I was getting with my dSLR and shots with my MFT camera. The only slight drawbacks are that there seems to be slightly-less dynamic range and the focus on moving objects is not-that-great, but as I mostly photography stills, I’m not too worried about it.
  • And, finally, a photographic recap:
    •  The Top 10 Photos from 2013 (based on comment count):
      1. Rainbow RingThe rainbow-colored lights of a thrill ride on Galveston, Texas’ Pleasure Pier pierce the dawn’s twilight.
      2. The Cruise Ship’s AtriumLooking skyward in the nine-storey atrium aboard the cruise ship Carnival Magic.
      3. The Old JagDetail of a classic Jaguar Mark 2 at Dallas’ All British and European Car Day.
      4. The Cloud-Topped MountainA cloud envelops a small-glacier-topped mountain in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.
      5. FrozenFrozen brush on the shore of the Great Salt Lake at Antelope Island State Park, Utah.
      6. F MarketA historic streetcar on San Francisco’s F Market & Wharves rail line, as seen in the Fisherman’s Wharf area.
      7. Serenading The Citydallas-traveling-man-skyline-seated
      8. The Reflected GlacierAlaska’s Glacier Bay National Park’s Margerie Glacier is reflected in windows aboard the cruise ship Norwegian Pearl.
      9. The Skyline at NightDallas’ distinctive skyline as seen from the Continental Avenue Bridge over the Trinity River floodplain.
      10. Reflected Clock TowerA clock tower reflected in a puddle, spotted along the Mandalay Canal, Las Colinas, Irving, Texas.

 

And, just for fun, here’s a link to a set of our 25-most interesting (however that’s measured) photos of 2013 on Flickr.

So, that was 2013. Let’s hope 2014 will be a great year as well. From 75Central Photography, Happy New Year!


Six Years On

August 12, 2013  |  Site-related

I started 75Central.Com six years ago today. Longtime fans might remember when it was LeftyRodriguez.Com, the result of me owning that domain name for inside joke-related reasons.  In the intervening six years, I’ve never missed a day of posting a photo, though I have been a little late on occasion.  Sometimes it’s been hard to find something worthy of sharing, such as a six-month or so period in 2008 when I didn’t shoot at all and had to dig deep into the archives.  Other times, I’ve been flush with photos that I wanted to share, almost to the point where I worried that I was posting too many photos from the same place or of the same subject, such as my many trips to Las Vegas with Laura, my wife, or on our adventures in the Caribbean over the last year.  In less than a month, we’re heading off to Alaska for a week and I’m already worried that this site might become too “Alaska-centric” over the following months.

My first photo posted on this site was of an armillary I found at George Eastman’s House in Rochester, New York.  What better way, I thought, to kick off  my photoblog than something interesting I’d photographed at the home of the founder of Kodak—the company that became synonymous with “photography” and brought so many “Kodak moments” within reach of the everyman?

 

George Eastman’s Armillary

The first version of this site was a home-brewed mishmash of ASP code that I cooked up one weekend in a coffee-induced frenzy.  I’d decided that I was going to start a photoblog and, dammit, I was going to do it as soon as possible:

First Version

After growing tired of trying to write my own extensions/maintain the code for this version of  the site, I found the ready-made Pixelpost platform and set about migrating over to it, giving me this rather-dark design:

Unfortunately, within a couple of months of migrating over to Pixelpost, the once-vibrant community behind it gave up its enthusiasm and the project died.  In fact, if you go to the Pixelpost site today, you’ll find that it’s forever stuck on version 1.7.3, the very same version I started using in 2010.  By 2011, I was ready to try something new, so I once again migrated to another platform: WordPress, which is, in retrospect, where I should’ve started.  For the last two years, this is what 75Central has looked like to visitors:

site3

In May of 2012, four-and-half years into photoblogging, I decided it was time to retire “LeftyRodriguez.Com” and move to something more professional.  The idea for 75Central came to me while sitting at a light at the intersection of US 75 and Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, Texas.  Glancing up at the street sign along the freeway, I noticed that it was signed “75-Central Expressway” and the name clicked.  It would be a great tribute to my home here in the Dallas area, where US 75/Central Expressway is a major highway as well as a subtle nod to my birth year of 1975.  And, most importantly, the domain name was available.

And, just in the last month, we’ve redesigned the site into what you see today…automatic slideshow, responsive theme and integrated print ordering.

So, now, six years on, I’m still shooting and hope to continue for a long time.  I made this mosaic in celebration of this milestone; it’s made up of some of the 2,192 photos that I’ve shared over the years.  Thanks for being a fan!

75m


Rebranding

June 18, 2012  |  Site-related

You might have noticed that LeftyRodriguez.Com is no longer LeftyRodriguez.Com.  I’ve rebranded—obviously—as 75Central.Com.  I’m also using my real name rather than a fiction made up on a drunken night years ago while hanging out with former friends.

Why 75Central?

I’d struggled for months trying to find the perfect domain name that was available.  More and more individuals and start ups are having to come up with “odd” names just so they can secure a needed .com domain name.  One evening a couple of months ago, I was sitting at the intersection of Campbell Road and North Central Expressway in Richardson, Texas, waiting for the light to turn green.  I glanced up at the signage over the freeway and saw the numerical designation of North Central and was inspired: 75-Central Expressway.  It was weirdly perfect.  It subtly showed off the fact that I’m based in Dallas.  It was unique.  And, on a personal level, I was born in 1975.

I raced home to see if the domain was available.  Of course, for completeness, I’d need 75-Central.Com, Seventyfivecentral.com and, of course, 75Central.Com.  I lucked out and the first two were readily available, so I snatched them up.  Unfortunately, the last was expired but not yet out of the renewal period.  If I was lucky and it wasn’t renewed and I was able to snag it before someone else registered it after it became available, then I’d be set.  So began the waiting game.  Three weeks later, the registrar finally deleted it and I grabbed it.  I had the three domains I needed.

After some modifications to my site’s branding, here we are.  75Central.Com. Or 75-Central or Seventyfivecentral.  They all work.  Even LeftyRodriguez.Com still works, for completeness. (Also, I’d hate to break permalinks!).


Retraction

April 1, 2012  |  Site-related

One of the problems with running a daily photoblog with almost 1700 entries is sometimes it’s hard to remember what you’ve published already.  Last night, I posted today’s (original) image, went to sleep, got up, took my dog to the dog park then realized that today’s image seemed really familiar.  Returning home, I searched my archives and discovered I had posted a remarkably similar photo in July of last year.  I quickly updated the post with a new image, but am slightly disappointed in myself.  Anyhow, see for yourself:

 

Today’s original image:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balconies and Glass, published July 8, 2011:


Holiday Sale!

November 28, 2011  |  Site-related

I just realized that I hadn’t blogged in a while, so I thought I’d make it up to everyone by running a print sale. From now until December 15th (my birthday, incidentally), get 25% any purchase of $50 or more by using coupon code 8CCE0A .

How awesome is that? Pretty damn awesome.

To use, just choose a photo you want to buy, click “Buy Print” below it, choose your options and enter the code on check out.

Winston approves!


Randomly Viewing 500px

September 21, 2011  |  Apps Site-related

Certainly, if you’re into photography, you’ve heard of 500px, the upstart photo-sharing site from Toronto that’s starting to “put the hurt on” Flickr.  One of the great advantages of 500px is that the quality of the photography seems to be a lot higher than that on Flickr, mainly because it’s not a dumping ground for family snapshots, crap art projects and Instragram-esque drivel.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, there’s one feature that I’ve found lacking on 500px—the ability to randomly traipse through the photos on the site, discovering new favorites and making new connections with fellow photographers.  Sure, they recently added a button on the bottom of the screen that welcomes the user to “StumbleThru 500px”, but all that does is let you use StumbleUpon to view photos on 500px that StumbleUpon’s users have favorited.  What I wanted was a way to randomly move about 500px in an uncontrolled manner.

So I created a way.

Introducing Lefty’s 500px Randomizer.  Using it is simple: follow that link or go to www.LeftyRodriguez.com/500px, click “Randomize” and a new random photo page from 500px will load in an iframe below.  Click “Permalink” to open that pic in a new tab so you can bookmark it.  Easy, eh?

I can’t promise that the Randomizer is bug-free and there are a few features I’d like to implement still, but it’s yours to use.  Have fun!


Second Guessing

August 15, 2011  |  General Interest Site-related Technique

Sometimes (by which I mean, honestly, “a lot of times”), I second-guess the photo I’ve chosen for a particular day on the photoblog.  I usually post the next day’s photo the night before, queuing up several days if I’m going to be busy or out of town, choosing a photo that I think–at the time–has interesting composition and subject matter and looks great.  But then, sometime the next day or week or even  month–I’ll look at the photo and be like “what the hell was I thinking?”.  Ninety-nine percent of the time I catch my mistaken choice too late, once the photo has been published.  And, since I’m not a fan of rewriting history, I let it stand and make myself promise to do better next time.

Only rarely do I get a chance to fix my mistake before it’s “too late”.  Take last night, for instance.  I’d planned on going out to the roof of our parking garage late so that I could try to get some decent shots of the Moon while it was full and, for the first time in a few days, the skies were clear (or at least what passes for clear in Dallas-Fort Worth).  Knowing that I’d be up late shooting, I decided to go ahead and get a photo posted.  I’d traveled to Fort Worth on Saturday and had wandered around downtown there, taking photos like you do.  I noticed that Tarrant County was in the process of remodeling the clock tower on their courthouse, so I took a few frames from the roof of a parking garage several blocks away, unsure of how usable they’d be backlit against the stormy grey sky.  So, then, last night, I was surprised to find that they had a nice silhouetted effect that brought out the intricate details of the construction scaffolding and proceeded to choose one to process and post.  Unfortunately, in my haste, I chose poorly.  The frame I chose showed the scaffold on the left side and a crane on the right.  At the time, I think my thoughts were that these two subjects–while not traditionally composed–would balance each other out and make for an interesting comparison between the pieces of scaffold and the framework of the crane.  So I posted it.

And went about my business.  I shot the Moon. Came inside, showered off the humidity and downloaded and reviewed my Moon shots.  Then went to bed, reading some of my favorite photo-related sites and forums on my iPad.  Then I started to fall asleep.  And, as I lay there about to succumb to the Sleep Monster, it suddenly occurred to me “I’m about to publish a crap photo”.  So I leaped out of bed to my computer and chose another photo that was basically the same as the one I’d chosen, but used a strong centered composition–something one normally avoids but I think works well in this situaation–that focused on the clock tower scaffolds alone.  Processed and published, I went to bed.

And, now, almost 9 hours later, I’m still happy with my choice.  Here’s the photo I ended up posting on the photoblog:

 

And here’s the misfortunate first choice:

So, did I make the right choice?

The point being, never be afraid to second-guess yourself.  Oftentimes, our first instincts aren’t the right ones, despite what conventional wisdom says.


Four Years On…

August 12, 2011  |  Site-related

I started the LeftyRodriguez Photoblog four years ago today.  It’s hard to believe that it’s already been four years of “daily photo goodness” and–more importantly–that I’ve never missed a day of adding a new photo (though I can’t say that I’ve never been a little late!).

A lot has changed in those four years.  I’ve lost some friends and met new ones.  I’ve met and gotten married to the most wonderful woman I’ve ever known.  I’ve traveled from the lush hills of Québec to the flat, never-ending plains of the Texas Panhandle to the Gulf Coast to the desolate desert of Nevada, stopping off in the mountains of Utah, the hills of Arkansas and the arid nothingness that is eastern New Mexico along the way.  Four years ago, I didn’t have a pet…now I have two cats and a dog living with me.  I’ve moved from a Canon 400D to a 60D.  I’ve (mostly) switched from PC to Mac.  I’ve moved from Dallas to the tiny enclave of Addison.  I’ve been through two VW GTIs and now am driving a Tiguan.  Even my photoblog’s software platform has changed–from a home-brewed application I wrote myself to Pixelpost to, finally, WordPress.  The list of changes over the last four years could go on and on…

Things change, but I’ve never lost my passion for photography.  Each time I go out shooting, my skills still improve.  Composition.  Exposure.  Emotion.  These are things that you can’t learn from a book, but from experience.  Looking back through my archives, I can definitely see how this real-world education has improved my photography–some of my older stuff is almost embarrassingly bad!

So, to celebrate my four years of photoblogging, I put together a visual map of all of the 1462 photos in my photoblog, using a technique that I previously discussed here.  Basically, in the image below, each 20px x 20px block of color represents the averaged color of one of the photos on the photoblog.

It seems I like darker pictures!

Also, if you want to relive all four years in less than 2:30, here’s a video of every photo in random order:




So, anyhow, thanks for four great years and keep coming back for another four years of “Freshly Brewed Photos”.


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