Creating an output for my work was a very long and windy road with many obstacles which had to be overcome. Within this article I will cover the process I went through. I’ll start with the Lenticular images.
Using a technique similer to a Lenticular image was always going to be a challenge. So, in preparation I created a test model, just to understand the process of making it. Step one was to understand how large it was going to be. I wanted it big, big enough to catch peoples eyes when they walked passed. The limitation I had was really paper with which is 24″. The image could have been as long as it wanted as the paper is on a roll. So, as a simple solution to the problem I rotated the image 90 degrees and printed it length wise. The overall printed dimensions of the photograph was 65″ wide by 20″ high.
This stage was to understand how the paper would react when bent and creased into shape. Answer – a lot harder than my small scale model. First step was to score down each crease line, making sure it was 100% accurate. I did this because the paper was curving instead of bending. I soon realised that if you push remotely hard you’ll be buggered as the craft knife you go through the paper – vital knowledge. Once this had been down I could move on to making the creases and bending it into shape.
Renforcement! The scale model i built didn’t need any reinforcement due to its small scale size. Larger objects tend to bend more, bad news. My answer was to reinforce each section with three bits of mount board. This aided in another way too. It gave it structure to stop the photo paper bending in on itself. Unfortunately I didn’t have any subtable substance to adhere the mount board to the photo paper so in the interest of time I had to use sellotape. To my surprise this did actually stick… for a night. The morning after it was loosing its power to stick.
This step was to stick the photograph to the MDF. This if anything was the most annoying part – and the most insecure. To marry the MDF to the photo paper I used small bent mount cards, one end attached to the MDF and one attached to the photo and acted like a hinge. Fin
A few days after I had completed the test model I brought it into show my other classmates to gage their opinion to the display technique. The overall response was good. They like the idea of how each photograph would look but were critical on the manufacturing saying it was too flimsy, and they were correct as it was about to fall off the MDF. Doing this test model gave me vital knowledge towards the final models.
Next step was to print my final images out and collect materials. I first of all sent three out of four images to be printed and sending the fourth one at a later stage. I soon realised that it was going to be a longer job than anticipated due to a few modifications needed. The biggest modification, and the most time consuming one was to add triangular sections to the top and bottom of each image. These would be first gaffa taped town to the photo and later glued. These triangular sections improved each model significantly in terms of structure and looks. Perviously it was possible to look inside the structure and see the messy mount board supports. The triangular sections made it impossible to look inside. The main aid these gave was to adhere the photo to the MDF. I made the triangular sections longer so that they wrapped around the MDF and his pulled the photo tight. I then glued the triangular sections to the MDF. One other improvement was to replace the sellotape throughout the structure with high grade gaffa tape. Due to time constraints I didn’t have enough time to manufacture the fourth and final one. I didn’t anticipate how long each one would take. However in some respect I didn’t really matter as the three images I printed out were all different in terms of the use of the Golden Ratio (one that uses it very well, one that kind of uses it but not only extremely well and one that doesn’t use it at all).
The final images used were:
The main reasons I have build a website was because it enables an audience who don’t go into university to engage within my work. Through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook posts with links can be added for people to navigate to my site. The viewer will be able to view and rate if they think each individual photographer belongs in the “professional” or “amateur” category when relating the images to the Golden Ratio. These results will come through to me at the backend of the website where I can tally them up. Another good reason for making a website is to house the images of which they are over 500. Alternatives to a website would have been a book or even printing all 500 and displaying them all somehow. A website would be much more suited for this type of image count then a book or even printing.
I started off thinking about what is the best way to design a website that has enables certain functions:
1) It must look minimal, sleek, sharp and crisp
2) It must have some kind of voting system embedded within the front end (how it looks and acts when anyone views it) and backend (how it works “behind the sense”).
First of all I addressed how my website would look or the “theme” as its known. For WordPress you can download thousands of individual themes for free. As you can imagine you can search around the internet for hours upon hours finding the right looking theme, which I did to no prevail. So I starting thinking, what could I do with the default theme that comes preloaded when you install WordPress. Twenty Ten is the name of that theme. Its a sharp and crisp black and white theme, very minimal. I started looking around in the HTML area of the theme and taking bits of code out according to how I wanted it to look. A few key changes were to remove the header image and to make each page one column instead of two.
Once I had the website looking the way I wanted I moved onto the gallery aspect of the site. The gallery was probably the most vital point of the whole website as it would control each photo. WordPress has me covered on this front too. Because of the customisation of WordPress I was able to import a plugin called NextGEN Gallery. It’s this plugin that basically controls every image on the website from the resizing of the thumbnails to the displaying of the galleries.
First of all I had to take the digitised images and reduce the size of them. I used a lightweight program called ImageResizer which did the job well. Setting the perimeters at 900 pixels wide by 596px high at 72dpi gave me a nice small file to upload to my server. When working with images online you must consider one major factor, file size. This is for two reasons. One, a smaller file size means a faster loading webpage. Two, larger images take up precious bandwidth, and bandwidth costs money. So a smaller image size it is. As soon as they were resized and compressed into a zip file I could upload them onto my server and point NextGEN Gallery into the right direction. Once it had all be set up backend it with a few tweaks here and there it was good to go.
The final step was to set up a voting system. Luckily I found a plugin for NextGEN Gallery called NextGen Gallery Voting (NGG Voting) which allowed votes to be cast when a certain bit of code was inserted into a post. Problem being that it wasn’t set up to say “Professional Photographer” or “Amateur Photographer” but “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” instead. Looking in the code of NGG voting revealed that it just pulled two PNG images from an image folder on my server. So I changed these two images to say “Professional Photographer” and “Amateur Photographer” in Photoshop, redesigned the backgrounds a little making them look more appropriate and uploaded and replaced the old PNG images on my server with the new ones. Only slight problem with this is when looking at the results backend the labels are still named “Thumbs up” and “Thumbs down”, thumbs up being professional photographer and thumbs down being amateur. Not a massive problem.
Once this was installed the website was launched. A slight hiccup happened when my hosting company had half a days downtime where my site was inaccessible. Noting I could do, just part and parcel of the web.
Once everything has settled down I set about hanging my Lenticular images and setting up a Mac Mini with the website on.
The Final Stages
Hang the Lenticular images up wasn’t too hard as the MDF was a good material to screw the metal loops on. All that need to be down was to line everything up correctly with the aid of a sprit level and sticking a few things down. Setting up the Mac Mini proved to be slightly more difficult. Setting up the Mac proved to be a little bit of a problem. I needed it to act in a few ways:
1) To display my website and function.
2) To be as tamper proof as possible (I didn’t want people browsing to other website)
3) To be on a timer so that it switched off during the night and back on in the morning
I used the default Mac XOS internet browser called Safari to display my website on. I explored using others like Firefox but decided not to for one reason. I found a plugin called Glims for Safari which enabled a nice full screen mode of viewing the website. This removed the tool bar (where you enter a URL) and bookmark bar making it hard to navigate towards another website. Firefox does have a full screen mode but it is much easier to close and change websites. I also removed the keyboard from the Mac leaving only a mouse. I did this as I didn’t have any text fields on my website – so no one need to enter any text. However, even using Safari with Glims it still was possible to change websites. I needed backup plan. I’ve been using a program called Log Me In on my Mac for a while now. This peace of software allows remote viewing/controlling of any computer that it runs on. With Log Me In installed on the Mac Mini I could remotely view whats on the screen at any one moment and, if it was on another website, change it back my mine. The beauty with this software is that I don’t have to be anywhere near the computer. I can do it sitting down at home or while i’m at the pub.
The last part was to program the Mac to turn off in the evening and on in the morning. Mac OSX as a build in schedule within the energy section of the preferences. This allows you to set the computer asleep and turn it back on again at certain times of the day. Great, or not. Whenever the computer goes to sleep it looses the login credentials for the university network so it would automatically route to the login page.
Because the computer isn’t connected to the internet because its not logged in I couldn’t remotely control it from Log Me In. So, I removed the automatic scheduling for it to go to sleep and wake up. As a way around this I will enable the screen saver around 8ish in the evening and disable it when I wake up in the morning.
The very last thing to do was to design the voting cards which will allow the viewer to vote which one they find the most visually pleasing and the least visually pleasing and to design a flyer to dot around campus.
It’s been up for a week now and so far so good. My one fear that the Lenticular images may all collapse in on themselves hasn’t happened and the computer hasn’t crashed yet. Overall i’m very pleased with how it has all turned out. I think the website functions very well and does its job of supplementing the Lenticular images by the exhibition and also works as a stand alone piece on the internet. The Lenticular images do their job well too. Being bold and eye catching has enticed people towards them and more importantly engaging with my work. To date (25/11/2010) i’ve have had 60 responses through the vote box next to the Mac.
All in all it was a fun experience. Experimenting with many new techniques that I’ve never tried before. Hopefully the results will reflect the amount of time put into making the project.