Monday, June 23, 2008

Boston Globe's The Big Picture

The Big Picture is a photography/photojournalism side-project blog by Alan Taylor of the Boston Globe.  It launched June 1st.  A typical entry consists of a ginormous picture, a tiny caption, a normally-sized link to more thematically related photos, and comments.

Alan is not a photographer. He is not a journalist. He is a web-developer that finds interesting photos across the news wire, and posts them in an appealing way. He has been posting at a rapid-fire, almost-daily pace fueled by a backlog of ideas, but expects things will slow down. 

Alan explains on his about section that his blog is,
"Inspired by publications like Life Magazine (of old), National Geographic, and online experiences like's Picture Stories galleries and Brian Storm's MediaStorm... The Big Picture is intended to highlight high-quality, amazing imagery — with a focus on current events, lesser-known stories and, well, just about anything that comes across the wire that looks really interesting."
The size of the pictures is what makes the site today's most awesome thing on the Interwebs. The picture entraps you into its world with its sheer ridiculous richness of detail.  On Waxy, Andy Baio interviewed Alan and asked about Alan's rationale for choosing the image size he did: "You take a typical 1024 pixel-wide screen, subtract 34 pixels (enough to cover most browser's scrollbars), and you get 990px. I wanted to go as big as I reasonably could without causing horizontal scrollbars on most screens."

This is an excellent example of an editor contributing something novel by presentation.  So far, Alan has escaped any dodgy legal entanglements related to publishing such large images. He explains:  "The general rule appears to be (my understanding of it) that the images should not be easily reproduced in print. Big Picture images max out at 990 pixels wide at 72dpi. If you scale that up to print resolution of 300dpi, you get an image that's only about 2 inches wide, so we'd appear to be within that limit." I hope so. It'd be a shame to lose an awesome blog due to overzealous copyright protection.

Jason Kottke hails it "the best new blog of the year." Who am I to argue?
(From Waxy, Kottke twice)

No comments: