Ben Guest Photographer Website Now Online

My new website is now online at benguest.com

It took a little longer than expected.

I began designing the layout in late September 2010, then got busy with work (as did my web developer) for a couple of months. We went through a couple of revisions in Dec/ Jan- then transfered it to a new server in Feb, where I’ve been using a dfferent web address up until now. We’ve now switched the website to my normal website address.

A big shout out to Piotr Smietalo and Dominika Sochon at ArtCreation for developing the back-end of the site. Thanks for your patience guys.

Also, my further thanks to: a top Yank in Seattle who created my last website and very generously helped me with the transfer- Mike Karikas at Karikas Interactive; Joel Biss at Nippy Gecko for setting up my new hosting professionally and very quickly in February; Craig Judd at ID7 for previous hosting; and a very nice Emma Stirrup (as well as my Mum and Dad!) for kindly taking the time to proof-read my About Page text whilst adding extremely helpful input. Any grammatical misdemeanours (of which I may have added afterwards) are entirely my own responsibility!

There’s currently a small glitch with some of the gallery thumbnails visual ‘appearance’ for anyone without fast broadband and/or computer – you may have to refresh the page after loading it to make them ‘appear’ correctly – but other than that the site is fully operational. I’ll be updating it further with new images as I go along.

I hope you enjoy the images.

B G

June 2011

benguest.com

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Ben Guest Website updates

Published marketing material from my friends at Dyad Productions, including the images I shot for them earlier this year. Dyad have been hugely popular at the Edinburgh Festival recently, and Rebecca Vaughan was asked to do a segment on BBC Radio 4 for Woman’s Hour last year.

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About Page and background colour

My website developer put online a temporary ‘Home Page’ (I mocked up) several days ago, at benguest.com. This will stay up until the new website goes online. My old website isn’t fully available at this address anymore – though we may keep it at another address for old time’s sake.

Prior to handing over my final designs I decided to darken the grey background. The Temp Home Page actually uses the ‘old’ grey I’ve used for blog examples up to this point. I think the background is improved when more ‘charcoal’ in tone. I discovered this when deliberately adjusting the jpegs (darker) for my blog- to match the visual working profile in Photoshop of the same images. For some reason the image colours go a bit lighter/ less contrasty when putting my P.Shop edited jpeg’s into WordPress. I’ve had to adjust them accordingly when up loading.

Here’s the new current ‘About Page’ design using the darker grey (swatch tone 323232 in P.shop), without any adjustment for viewing changes, when up-loading to WordPress.

This is how it looks (approximately) when ‘deliberately’ adjusting the image to make it similar to what I see – as a visual comparison – with the actual version I’m using in P.Shop (on my monitor). It’s a further ‘correction’ for WordPress I have to do.

The image profile ‘shift’ for WordPress has indirectly done me a favour when designing the site. But I’m not sure why profile changes occur when transferring images to WordPress, after editing in P.shop. Is there a different profile that WordPress uses, which you can also use when editing in p.shop?

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Websites, Mars and Venus, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming…

…I got together for a briefing with my website developers on Friday and submitted some almost complete visuals. I’ll post some examples later for the photographic galleries/homepage, and the rest of the website, with the top heading navigation menu.

We had a very enjoyable hour or so discussing how the designs will work- yet came up against a slight difference of opinion. The two males (myself and the programmer Piotr) against the single female (Dominika, the business manager), had conflicting views about layout. I think neither side is actually right or wrong, I understand both sides objectively.

I designed two basic alternatives for header/ navigation layout to be consistent on each web page: ie my name on the left or right, with the heading, and the navigation menus alternately on the corresponding right or left.

See examples below (I’ve used my Contact Page layout this time):

Name on the left:

Name on the right:

We got into a discussion about Neuro-Linguistic Programming; which kind of goes with the assumption that your brain is taught (if you’re a ‘westerner’) to view text on the top left first in a layout as an immediate response, then look to the right as a secondary response. Ie automatically view horizontally, beginning from the top left to the top right on a page/layout, and finally end up at the bottom right.

The female amongst us (Dominika) went with that clearly logical classical ‘western’ preference. However, ironically (you’d think men are supposed to be ‘logical’), the two males (Piotr and myself) went with the alternative; that from a functioning design point of view having the name on the right, and the site navigation on the left, somehow ‘felt’ better to us visually.

Of course, there’s no right or wrong about this, and I ended up seeing both sides- I initially I wanted my name on the left when I first began designing the site. I just thought it was interesting.

So. Left or Right. Which is better?

And…men’s vs women’s ‘brains’ (are there actually any true stereotypical factual differences, or do we often make generalisations)?

…And let’s not also get into politics or religion here!

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Dyad Productions

Some friends of mine (Elton Townend-Jones and Rebecca Vaughan) recently set up a theatre tours production company called Dyad Productions. Their new website can be found here

Last year Rebecca was touring in a show she wrote called ‘Austen’s Women’. She got top reviews at the Edinburgh Festival, appeared on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 and ended up doing the show in London’s West End, Australia, and the US. I shot some extra last minute publicity stills for their production company. This year she asked me to do all the publicity shots for Dyad’s first production called: I, Elizabeth.

We did it on a shoestring budget with less than two hours to quickly shoot some images at Campus West in Welwyn. I was fascinated that three Elinchrom lights and just an old Nikon D70 (!) I bought along could deliver goods. There was no time to sort out details like hand positioning, the shape of the dress, and other specifics. We needed to knock off a lot of shots quickly – from several different positions – before the ‘curtain’ literally came down on us (the venue needed to put on a scheduled show on the stage we were using).

I hesitated putting these images up because of this, yet I was very happy with the results considering. Interesting that you can produce work under those circumstances, particularly with that type of camera. The colours went a bit wonky (the reds and some of the saturation) when I up-loaded these images to my blog (not sure why that happens?), yet I was pleased with the actual files (edited tiffs from RAW) given to the client. As a stark contrast, a week later, I was using the latest Leaf Aptus mk 2!

Three of the images we chose for Dyad’s marketing material:

I also really want to give a very big shout out to Dyad Productions in their first year…

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Website

I’ve discovered potential client copyright issues (of which I completely understand/empathise with), with some of the commercial images I’ve made over the years.

Not using a few of these images diminishes the overall visual ‘effectiveness’ – in terms of immediate impact – for at least one gallery portfolio ‘option’ I designated/designed (at least in my own personal super critical opinion!). So I may have to adapt my gallery layout with differing images to ‘pad’ it out as a section.

I mocked up some changes to the ‘galleries’ links in the top menu navigation. I doubt I’ll go for these first attempts; they’re just temporary ideas to be expanded on. However I have a deadline to get the layout/design finalised (for the site to be built in Nov), so I made a start. The Devil is always in the details, particularly when you make changes…

Who said designing a professional photographer’s website was easy!

I came up with this initially (see below). Though naming the portfolio galleries as: 1/2/Personal is a bit cack-handed! I may go for Galleries 1/2/3 instead. But I also don’t like that as a ‘description’ for differing portfolio’s (though some pro-photographers do it that way). I prefer them catagorised/named in relation to what they are. I think it’s more intuitive for a person looking at a website.

So- time to get my thinking hat on again. The upside is this could ‘shorten’ the info details along the header. It also may solve my ‘too many words/info in the header strapline’ problem I encountered when adding the extra menu links (discussed previously).

I also tried this instead, using a drop down menu from ‘Portfolio’ on the left, with the same gallery links added.

Just for fun: I’ve used another image taken on my travels (within the template) that I also added to my image library website the other day. Though not sure if I’ll include this particular image on my new website as of yet.

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Website and Library

I added some new images to my web library at carbonmade tonight, and took a couple down. While I was doing it I decided I still like this image, so I might use it on the personal portfolio section of my new main website. Again it was taken in eastern Oregon, in the Wallowa mountain range, several years ago.

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Website

I’ve been delayed furthering my site design recently because of work, but managed to return to it this weekend. However, I’m in Web Format Conundrum/Problem City right now. Following my ‘too many links along the top strap line’ dilemma, a clever friend of mine suggested something obvious and simple: have the Portfolio page links as a ‘drop down menu’ instead. So I tried it, but then found two further format problems with my current design: A/ If I have my name on the left hand side (as I’d like) it means I’ll have to move the ‘Portfolio’ link to far right – at the end of all the links – to prevent the drop down menu actually appearing over the images when displayed vertically as a ‘drop down’ list (and also having the ‘Portfolio link as the last link in the list would just be wrong!); and B/ If I switch it around and have my name on the right, which then allows me to have the ‘Portfolio’ link at the beginning of all the links, I still have a slight formatting problem with some of the images, even if I display the ‘Portfolio’ links as a horizontal ‘drop down’ list instead. This is the type of dilemma you may face when having different format ratio images within a single web page ‘format’. Hopefully my web designer will be able to sort out this issue in regard to how the images are loaded within the design format.

This is the problem I noticed. Having the images as large as possible within the design currently means one of the portfolio links can end up sitting over a portrait image. I put a full portrait (black) and full horizontal shape (light grey) in together, to see how it looked.

This is ok because you can obviously make the portrait images slightly smaller- though I’m starting to dislike the ‘fit’ of the design when the drop down menu comes in- but I can live with that with some adjustment.

However the problem I’ve found with it is this. When you start having to make design adjustments with all this malarky, certain horizontal images (which have less height than others) then look like they’re ‘floating’ in the middle of the page and not as ‘anchored’ to the rest of the design (particularly when the drop down menu isn’t selected), of which I dislike!

I’m sure there’s a way around that in terms of visual display (without cropping those horizontal images at the sides in order to extend their ‘height’ in terms of ratio), and I’m not technically smart enough with what can/can’t be done with displaying images on a website to know whether this is problem that can be solved for horizontal/portrait images all to fit ‘snuggly’ within the design- so I’ll have to refer it to my web designer. It just made me realise, once again, that trying to format a design on a website for showing images (if they’re not all the same format ratio) can be problematic- unless you have a lot of money to spend on more complicated web design functionality.

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Website

I added an ‘About’ link to the Menu navigation to see what it looked like (see example below). Again, I was trying to avoid having extra links (or info) cluttering up the page- but it seems you sometimes can’t avoid it if you want certain aspects to your site. Some of the very top level professional photographer websites tend to minimise everything in terms of detail/links. I have a feeling they can do that because they already have a broad existing client base used to accessing at their work- particularly in the Advertising industry.

Still undecided about having an extra ‘About’ page. To do it I’ll have to make the graphic layout of the site bigger (screen-dimensionally) in order to create some space on the top title menu, alongside my name. It’s now getting a bit cluttered- I don’t like it as much as my previous designs. It’s either that or get rid of the ‘News’ link in the top menu navigation and have it somewhere on the ‘About’ page within the text- but I don’t want to do that. I want all necessary links on the top menu navigation as you open the Homepage, then consistent throughout the site wherever you navigate to.

I’ve selected four or five shots for the Homepage – currently not sure if this will be one of them – but I like the image and wanted to see what it looked like on the design.

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Website

I did some corrections to my proposed navigation menu today:

I decided to add a ‘Home’ link. Initially I wanted as little navigation links as possible on the top menu- I would have been happy using my ‘name’ on the page as the link you click on to get back to ‘Home’. However not everyone knows that you can do this on a website, so I thought I’d better make it obvious by adding a ‘Home’ link to navigate back to the home page.

I also added two little graphic horizontal dividers (within the menu navigation) to split the menu up into relevant areas, and also added a non link word- PORTFOLIO for the three portfolio gallery name links I’ve chosen. I kind of looked at the three gallery headers – STUDIO/ LOCATION/ PERSONAL, and wondered if everyone looking at the site would know what I mean. Ie ‘LOCATION’- does that mean where your business is..?

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