photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

An experiment

(insert pun on spark here)

in Antarctica , Sunday, February 05, 2017

So, I've been have a bit of a play with Adobe Spark, which offers the opportunity, it says here, to "Easily create beautiful images, videos, and web pages that help tell your own story". Sounds promising. Here's my first attempt.

Adobe Spark Page

The complete lack of any kind of manual is a bit irritating - how hard could it be to provide something ? - but it seems all quite straightforward. It doesn't appear possible to customise themes much, if at all, for example by change text font or colour, but I suppose that is to save me from making horrendous style decisions.

Maybe I'll do some more...


Well, sorry, hate it… (First time for me on your site!) I like the photos very much, you have beautifully rendered the austere grandeur of these regions - but I don't like the presentation at all. This style of vertical scrolling with text and images is all the rage nowadays on the web, but actually completely disconnects me from the photos. Probably a personal thing, I guess I'm in the minority there.

By Bernard, on February 06, 2017

Actually I think a lot of people agree with you. I've seen a lot of very negative feedback on Adobe Spark, and apart from layout and presentation issues, there's also the question of Adobes's attention span on this sort of thing. They could easily drop support and thus remove all content.
I just decided to try it before making any judgement. I think the negatives outweigh the positives.

By David Mantripp, on February 07, 2017

(Inadvertently posted this under a Sekrit Identity first, sorry if it had made your comment administration a mess)
There seems to be something odd going on with one of the later photos. A label "RENIER POINT" (possibly I have botched the vowels) and the picture itself seems to be persistently partially obscured. The scrolling works in some way differently for that one, anyways.
I think I get the idea, and I kind of dig it.
I am fond of thinking of the mechanic of books. The way the page turns, and reveals. I did a book/magazine thing that, while otherwise a failure, was intended to be read front to back, but right to left. Turn the page to reveal the right hand page first, then turn your eyes to the left hand page. Repeat.
This format seems to push the scrolling mechanic forward, and the horizontal layering of your pictures works with that pretty well, I think. If you thought about it a bit, I bet you could get something really interesting going on. Imagine, say, with the current set that one of the pictures had a bright red RIB on the water in that inevitable lowest band of water?
I mean, stated as such, it's just a cool visual gimmick, but perhaps it could be used to make something with some weight.
In general I like what you're doing with Antarctica. It feels right, it feels so much more important than the inevitable pictures of penguins.

By Andrew Molitor, on February 17, 2017

Well, at least in part this was, as I said, and experiment, so I mixed up a few of the layout options Spark provides to see how it would all work. Actually it doesn't appear to provide much flexibility. Basically you get 3 options, inline inset, inline full page, and this floaty-fixed-against-background-scroll thing which is a bit hit or miss aesthetically. It's a bit like the dreaded Ken Burns effect and all these other clever animation tricks which look cool, but completely take over control. If framing is important to a photo then pretty much these things are totally destructive.
What I like about Spark is that it provides a very quick and accessible way to experiment with editing and go beyond the individual photo. I guess it also encourages visual storytelling, but that's not in my skill set. What I don't like so much is that it offers a very restricted tool set. For example you have no control over text colour, very limited control over typeface, very few layout options, and no way to zoom out to see a pasteboard or storyboard. Spark could do well to inherit some strategic features from InDesign - while preserving its simplicity. On the other hand, it is free, and the restrictions it places help to prevent too many visual trainwrecks.
I think some idea people would have jumped on this. These days, I'm not so sure - ever-diminishing attention spans make the whole concept look a bit archaic. But I think Adobe are to be applauded for at least trying. It does show that despite the barrage of forum criticism, there is still a (ahem) spark of creativity in the company.
Antarctica - well, it's difficult. It is so costly to get there for mere mortals like us, and the opportunities on a 10-12 day cruise (of which 5-6 max are actually in Antarctica) flash by, so the temptation to go for the hero shot at the expense of something more considered is quite overwhelming. The stuff you see on the web from the various gurus (including your mates over at Lula) also, in my opinion, are often visually hyped with the main intention of creating a wow factor to flog the inevitable "workshop" (translation - pay for said guru's trips to exotic locations). And I use the term "guru" advisedly. Anybody can slam the sliders up to 100 and drop in a heavy grad filter to get those or-so-threatening skies. But then subtlety - and indeed reality - go out of the window. And Antarctica is a dream for wannabe wildlife photographers - you don't even HAVE TO TRY! The wildlife either just sits there, or actually comes to you, and DOESN'T (often) TRY TO EAT YOU!!!
But anyway, I'm not judging anybody (except for "gurus" who get free advertising to sell their $250 A4 90 page book of pixel-peepery) - it's fun to do all those things. Personally, I'm trying to do something a little different, but I'm just doing it for me, I'm not trying to impress anybody. I've mentioned this several times here, but I felt somewhat internally vindicated when I discovered Stuart Klipper's wonderful book. Ok, I'm no Stuart Klipper, but at least I can draw encouragement from the fact that an actual fine art (as opposed to self-described) photographer has dedicated so much of his life to exploring similar directions.

By David Mantripp, on February 18, 2017