melbourne

Juanita's Kitchen, Food and Product Photography

ISO 1000, f5, 1/75sec.

Imagery is a necessary and important component of building brand resonance and brand equity. We want our imagery to tell a story, to express brand meaning and engage with our consumers to solidify brand relationships. Photos are a huge part of brand imagery so it's integral that they suit the brand. 

Juanita's Kitchen's brand imagery feels homestyle and rustic, so I needed to take photos and process them to fit that aesthetic. I'm going to go through a few of my Lightroom settings to show how I processed the photos to get the look and feel I was after. 

Gear used for the shoot: X-Pro2 + XF35mm f1.4 (50mm FF equiv.), Lightroom CC 6, VSCO Film Pack 1. 

I used the VSCO film preset Kodak Portra 800++ (sometimes 800 HC) as a starting point and made tweaks after applying the preset. However, the stock preset settings look like this:

 
 
 
 

This preset works well for a number of reasons: 

  • The slight decrease in highlights prevent the light from being too white on the food and blowing out the detail 
  • The increase in shadows brings out detail on textures from tortillas 
  • The slight bump in saturation pulls out a little more green from parsley or lime

Also, looking at the tone curve, we are lifting the blacks to give it that tiny bit of film-like haze. In other words, the blacks aren't totally black, more like a very dark brown. 

One of my favourite things about the Kodak Portra presets is the grain. As most of the photos were taken between 1-4PM on a cloudy Melbourne day using only natural light, I was already on ISO 800-1000. X-Trans sensors are very clean high ISO performers, so I wasn't going to get that nice Fujifilm grain. Without the grain, I felt the photos looked a little too clean. The addition of the grain from the presets looked great and really added a lot of texture to the polished stone table, food, and glossy jars. I found that adding grain to glossy textures really helps to move away from a clean and polished look. Juanita's Kitchen is homestyle cooking, I didn't want the photos to feel like they were trying to be fine dining. 

ISO 1000, f5, 1/60sec.

ISO 1000, f5, 1/110sec.

The leaf imprints in the stone table really made the product shots more interesting. ISO 1000, f3.2, 1/80sec.

ISO 1000, f5.6, 1/20sec (not hand held).

I also had a few photos that I wanted to put on Instagram right as they were leaving the kitchen during service. Not having enough time to process in Lightroom, I Instead transferred the photos from the X-Pro2 to my phone, and using the VSCO cam app I picked a filter, made some cropping tweaks, a few colour adjustments and they were ready for social media in a couple of seconds.

ISO 2000, f4, 1/70sec. C2 filter on the VSCO cam app. 

ISO 2000, f1.4, 1/680sec. C2 filter on the VSCO cam app. Was in a rush to get the photo so settings were far from optimal, could've been much sharper. Definitely didn't need to shoot this at f1.4 or 1/680sec, but it still looks great on Instagram! 

The shoot was a great learning experience as I have never really shot products before. Getting photos in the kitchen during a service was also a very interesting experience. Next time I would really like to experiment with some studio lighting just for more control. 

ISO 800, f3.6, 1/70sec.

ISO 800, f4, 1/70sec. 

ISO 800, f4, 1/70sec.

The Prototype Process, Part 1: A Better PTV App

The layout of a better designed app.

It's astounding how many apps you use only to ask yourself "Seriously, who designed this?" In Melbourne, the most guilty culprits are the Public Transport Victoria (PTV) app and tramTRACKER. These apps are devoid from any actual user feedback or input. These apps are not designed by asking us "What kind of app would you like to help you get from point A to B" but rather "This is how you get from point A to B". Today in the age of Web 2.0, the public has empowerment in how they want to use their technology, and successful applications have embraced the democratization of creating new technologies (Beer, p986), PTV and tramTRACKER seem to be unaware of this. 

Think of Uber, an app that practically exists as a protest against the substandard service of Taxis. Taxis were the ones saying "This is how you get form point A to B" and Uber asked us how we actually would like to do it. Web 2.0 signalled the shift to user-created content (Beer, p986) and showed us that creating without the input of your users is to lack empathy, and a lack of empathy makes for an incredibly frustrating consumer experience. 

We use the PTV app and tramTRACKER because we have to, not because we want to. It is a shame that the developers probably didn't even ask themselves "Would I be happy using this application?". But why would they need to? They don't have competition. They don't even need to redesign their app, so I did it for them.

In rush to catch a tram? You're going to love all the popups that get in the way of critical info. Screenshot from tramTRACKER

In order to redesign the app, I wanted to apply a framework that would guide me into a human centered design approach. For this I followed the Institute for Design at Stanford's guide into design thinking where I used their formula of:

  1. Empathise
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test 

Doing the first 3 steps showed me what people wanted was:

  1. A centralised, all inclusive PTV app 
  2. Ability to top up a myki instantly using the app
  3. A street view visualisation of stops in real time
  4. A street view visualisation for getting from one stop to another
  5. No popups, decluttering, less bloated design 
  6. Relevant landing page

Now I was ready to design a rough prototype. 

Home page / Landing page

Above is the home page / landing page of the application. The first thing to note is the centralisation of the app. Everything public transport related is contained in this app alone. The top icons are trackers for each individual transport vehicle, there is a page for everything myki related, and there is also a journey planner.

Only information relevant to the user is listed, these being the relevant disruptions of stops nearby, or disruptions of frequently used stops. One thing many people disliked about tramTRACKER is that it would notify you of irrelevant disruptions that had nothing to do with your travel patterns or area. There is also the option to click "Where would you like to go" as an option for a journey planner where the application would map options to get users to their destination.

Put in where you are (or use your mobile's gps) and put in where you want to go. 

In addition to directions, a map is displayed to show you where the different stops are in real time to help with interchanges or just to illustrate the physical stop location.

In addition to directions, a map is displayed to show you where the different stops are in real time to help with interchanges or just to illustrate the physical stop location.

If you already know where you want to go and how you want to get there, simply tapping an icon at the top representing either the tram, train or bus and it will give you the relevant information you need.

An example of the tram page. Tapping a specific stop will show more arriving trams and their estimated arrival times.

When entering a custom stop, a visual representation of stops around you will appear to help guide the user to nearby stops. Users can also enter a stop by name or number to check real time arrivals.

One of the most requested features of the application is the ability to top up myki money in real time. It is bit backwards that you are able to instantly pay an on the spot fine for not having enough to pay for transport, but not able to rectify the problem without getting off the tram and heading to a physical location as topping up online takes 24 hours. The simple solution is to be able to check your balance before you get on, and top up right then and there if you don't have enough. It really should be that simple.

All relevant myki information, along with one click instant top up. 

Summary

This application re-design was all about taking two pre-existing applications (PTV and tramTRACKER), merging them together, and applying a human centered design approach to making it better. Improving the application would require some changes to infrastructure such as adding tracking capabilities for trains and buses and improving myki to allow for real time top ups, however these changes are possible and in order to make a better app are necessary. An app is only as good as the foundations it is built upon, and Victoria's public transport foundations do need to improve.

With populations increasing in the city by 3.2% annually, the number of those working in the city to increase by 2% annually, the amount of students in the city to increase 2.4% annually, regional visitors up 1.3% annually, and international visitors up 4.7% annually (City of Melbourne), there is going to be more strain and stress placed upon public transport. A more centralised app can help to mitigate these stresses and strains by allowing the flow of people in our cities to continue to move and make patterns predictable so further public transport infrastructure improvements can be made. 

In part 2, I go through the steps of creating a more targeted transport app and show how a working prototype was used to gather user feedback to refine the app. 

References:

Beer D, Power through the algorithm? Participatory web cultures and the technological unconscious, New Media and Society, vol. 11, no. 6, 2009

City of Melbourne, Daily Population Estimates and Forecasts Report 2015, http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/daily-population-estimates-and-forecasts-report-2015.pdf, Accessed Online March 24 2015

Wireframe prototypes created using FluidUI (fluidui.com)