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Tuesday, 19 May 2009


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Hm, I think I figured out. Forget all about that horrible left-right scrolling thing. Just read each post as a separate page, and use the links to the previous and next post links to move around. I just subscribed to the RSS feed; seems to be the best way to keep with this.

I winder when all those photography sites that use Flash galleries will realize that they're not a good idea. They're shortchanging their own pictures by wrapping them in something almost designed to take the attention away from the image and onto the interface. Great for the flash gallery maker, I guess; not so much for the photography.

I'm originally from New York and now live in London. Google "New York" or "London" and you get where I live. Take that, Waukesha.


P.S. I frankly hate the Lens format. I haven't been able to figure it out on my own (I've clicked from links on the front page, but haven't been able to figure out how to navigate within it once I'm there). I may try to follow your directions, but somehow I don't feel like a blog should come with "how-to" instructions. Just so this doesn't turn into an anti-NYT post, I'd like to point out that David Pogue recently had another excellent column: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/technology/personaltech/14pogue.html

Whoah - a squirrel?! Hot damn, that's brilliant!

Seriously, though, thanks for the heads up. No-one's been emailing me about this at all! Must go have a look...

Don't know if you have already seen it or if you have already mentioned it somewhere here, but the Boston Globe has a nice photoblog, too.


You can avoid a lot of the web formatting silliness by going through the NY Times' City Room Blog to view the Lens category.


Hey Mike -

It's not as bad as you make it seem. The Lens blog is actually very elegant, one of the better photo blogs out there. And Fred Conrad's stuff is amazing.

By the way, once you go the the static home page, just click on the "Lens: Photography, Video and Visual Journalism" banner up top and it will take you to the blog. You can either look at it in its default size (which makes reading the captions easier) or you can go full-page.

There is a reason why books are printed with black ink on white paper — they are meant to be read.

Adding insult to injury, we have here gray text on a darker gray background, and tiny fonts to boot.

No, thank you.

No, you are not being petty. This is the basic stuff of presenting information first and not letting the presentation technology get in the way. For how many centuries have we (here in the Western World) been flipping pages in just one direction? How irritated to we get when someone gets the bright idea of building a horizontal book that flips vertically? The answer is "plenty, and rightly so."

Just give me the pictures and keep the dodgy little arrows in one place so I don't have to go hunting for them!!!! And while you are at it don't make selecting a picture among moving targets some sort of exercise only a skeet shooter could love.

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Have a nice day.

lens is not iPhone compatible either... Darn flash requirements!

"I read a couple of "webzines" (Playback and Winding Road), that remind me whenever I read them how annoying and inconvenient their magazine-simulator format is, and how much better they'd be if they were simply presented in a standard web format."

Here, here!

I guess that should have been "Hear, hear!" Oh well. You can't tell how they spell it when you hear it when you are watching the British Parliament on CSPAN. Now I feel like the people that spell you're your.

Gotta love how if you follow a "Read more" link and then want to go back, the only way appears to be the Back on the browser which takes you to the very first entry, not the one you came from. I agree with the previous comment about Flash sucking, and it always puzzles me why so many photographers think they have to use it on their webpages.

Don't use "Google". Use "Clusty" instead!


Hey David Burnett - it's about time you wrote us a book ;-)

Dear Mike,

I thought you were just being cranky this morning.

I just looked at the website. Wow, you're being kind. So many ways, so wrong!

Horizontal versus vertical is not a big deal. SCROLLING horizontal is a horrible idea (that many galleries and photographers have used). It gives people headaches (literally), because it causes a kind of optical whiplash. White on black type has been known and established to be ergonomically bad for well over 20 years. Gray on black is even worse. So far as I'm concerned, the site is unreadable.

Then there are the lesser flaws: go to one of the pages that has video on it, and the little row of image navigation numbers doesn't appear at the bottom. Also, look at any of the image pages from a compositional point of view. The thing that your eye gets dragged to is the big glaring LENS logo. If you're going to suppress type and everything else to the point of being unreadable, downplay the rest of the framing so that at least your eye focuses on the photo instead of getting dragged away.

This is not the worst website I've seen by people who should know better. Check this one out; this is the online documentation for using ColorMunki:


Mind you, this is from the Pantone/X-Rite people. You'd think if anyone would understand visual ergonomics, they would.

The reason this is worse than the NYTimes site becomes apparent on this page.


There are six hot links on that page. Did you find them all?

I don't want to play Where's Waldo's Webpage, thank you very much!

pax / Ctein
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Some time back Brooks Jensen mentioned this site on his podcast. It's an excellent webzine with a more traditional web layout AND it's about photography to boot...


Good "web names" predate the web by a lot. Famous examples include "Xerox" and "Polaroid".

The Boston Globe's "Big Picture" site is very much worthy of attention. Since "blog" and hence "photo blog" is a rather broad term, I can't say definitely that it isn't one; but what it is is a presentation now and then (not daily, but pretty often) of a group of news photos on a topic, culled from his inside sources I guess (I don't get access to news pictures in that resolution). So it's an editorial effort on the part of the guy who runs it. Different from what you see most places, and IMHO quite valuable.

Packrat, your advice to use "clusty" instead is ill-placed; in the particular case that was being discussed, it does LESS well than Google, the NYT photo blog "lens" doesn't appear in the first couple of pages (all I checked).

Oh look, yet another Flash site. I'm done - on to something less painful.


Capa's FALLEN SOLDIER $2500 for sale on the site.

"Capa's FALLEN SOLDIER $2500 for sale on the site."

That strikes me as a bit high for a modern print, but it's probably well worth half that.


"Good 'web names' predate the web by a lot. Famous examples include 'Xerox' and 'Polaroid.'"

'Zackly. And 'Kodak.' And 'Leica.' And....

But not 'Lens.'


The Times was founded in London in 1785, and has been known as the Times since 1788.

The New York Times was founded in 1851.

Looked up Waukesha on Google Earth -yup, only one. Unique. Alone on this planet. Type in my home hamlet, Newham, and you get some obscure city in England 100 times as big as my little settlement in Australia. Injustice!! Waiting impatiently for Pentax news soon. Full frame????

Your ranting is justified.

"Lay on, MacDuff!"

I rather like it.

I have been going through it for 2 days now and think it works rather well. The neutral color scheme is fine by me, it's the blogs that have patterns and such with garish colors that I most object to. Visit Blogger.com's themes if you want a truly harrowing website/font experience.

Lens is a very poor choice of names indeed. I would have called it Orchestra.

The issue of over-generic names goes beyond the web and searchability. They are just a pest to communication, and they've always irritated me. I remember in the early nineties a coworker of mine was on the phone with a computer supporter. He asked her: "do you have Windows?" She said "Of course, dude, do you think I work in a prison or a coal mine?"

P.S. How DO you pronounce "Waukesha"?

Don't know if this marks me out as a Gen Y yuppie (which I guess I am), but I actually find the interface perfectly usable. The grey keeps my attention on the photos (the brightest part of the page). And the horizontal scroller has the following neat feature: once you click on it to give it focus, the left/right arrow keys move through the sequence of posts, and the up/down arrow keys walk through the photos in a single post. This is a super-efficient way to browse the whole set of recent posts.

I absolutely hate having to mouse-click (often on a link whose position shifts from page to page) to walk through a sequence. I'm not a big fan of Flash, but so far this has worked for me.

The really bad design for me is actually not a Flash issue -- the text color brightens on mouseover (which is fine) and the mouse pointer changes to the one indicating a clickable link even when the underlying text is not, in fact, clickable (which is emphatically not fine).

As for the name, try googling 'lens ny times' or 'ny times photojournalism' or 'ny times photo blog' instead. As long as you remember the name of the newspaper you're in good shape.

@Brian Reynolds: The City Room Lens section seems to be a different series altogether. Now _that_, I grant you, is horrendously confusing naming.

"P.S. How DO you pronounce 'Waukesha'?"

WALK-uh-shaw. ("Walk" as in walking, rhymes with talk.)

Most phone operators pronounce it "uhhhhh [long pause] wuh-KEE-shuh?"

A few locals say "walkie-shaw," but they're trying to be flip/funny, like people who call Indianapolis "India-no-place."


P.S. Thanks for caring.

"I'm originally from New York and now live in London. Google 'New York' or 'London' and you get where I live. Take that, Waukesha."

Yeah, but we're like a pimple on the butt of an elephant compared to New York or London. We're so small we don't even have our own bookstore. I don't think the only local movie theater is technically inside the town limits, either.

New York state has three Riversides, which is reputed to be the most common toponym (place name) in the U.S. There is at least one Riverside in each of 46 U.S. states. And New York City has a Riverside Drive (does it have its own Riverside too?).

Circling back around, we too have a street called Broadway. And to belong to a health club the equal of our local YMCA (on, um, Broadway) would probably cost eight or ten grand a year in Manhattan. And our local park is only slightly smaller than Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens put together.

Oh, and one more little advantage we have: you can buy a very luxurious, beautifully built four-bedroom house for $275,000. Of course (circling around one final time), then you're stuck in Waukesha.


"The Times was founded in London in 1785, and has been known as the Times since 1788.

"The New York Times was founded in 1851."

And I suppose next you'll tell me that Hyde Park isn't in Chicago, and London Bridge isn't in Arizona?


Mutt...er, Mike

The "Lens" might be losing a lot of visitors. The KISS principle might need to be applied more. Personally, if I hit a website or blog that takes me more than a minute to figure out, I'm outta there....

Ah but Mike, Wikipedia reveals that this WALK-uh-shaw has hosted any number of famous residents, such as Richard Sears, Steve Miller and Les Paul -- so there must be something in the (sadly now polluted?) waters.

And to boot you're only 18 miles west of Mil-wah-KAY.

(No "Riverside" as a neighborhood name here in Neuva York, although there is a "Riverdale" up in the Bronx.)

The thing about anything the New York Times does is that it gets amplified by the superstar effect to a great degree. Given the way Google Pagerank behaves, I see it leapfrogging everything except the Wikipedia entry within a few months. It's one of those (unintended) consequences of the internet - the center of the universe becomes more central. I think the NYT takes that a little bit for granted. That because it is the NYT, anything it does will (at least eventually) be considered the most important. So why not use common English words for names?

I agree with expiring_frog in that if you put your mouse in the arrow zone and use the arrow keys instead of the mouse, it's a very easy interface to navigate. Well, at least as far as the images go; you still have to click to get the rest of the text post.

The annoying "Lens" logo at the top can be hidden under the top of one's browser if you scroll the page down, and it's not visible at all in the full-screen slideshow mode.

I second the endorsement of The Big Picture - great images, almost always. The comments there are nowhere near as intelligent or as witty as the ones here, however.

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