Sunday, May 31, 2009


Color is a part of our environment and a part of our awareness of it from early on. We take it for granted and usually learn to identify colors by name before kindergarten. Our first foray into mixing paints teaches us that mixing red and blue produces purple and mixing yellow and blue, green. And if we have the benefit of science teaching and physics that color is a property of light and behaves in certain ways. Otherwise color is taken for granted, even for photographers whose awareness can be expanded to understand that the primary components of color in light are red, green and blue, and the colors of inks and dyes are their complements, cyan, yellow and magenta.

But even with a photographic understanding of color functions and behavior, Color Management is often a world of confusion. And fortunately or not, Color Management is an essential to obtaining a color match between a photo displayed on a computer monitor and print output. Exactly why it is confusing may be due in part to the expectation that if a computer is involved it should reproduce the same color put into it in a print made by that computer - isn’t there any standard involved? Unfortunately not because when computers were brought to the desktop I don’t think anyone of the manufacturers was thinking any farther ahead than just getting established and surviving in a business that was a new frontier. So when color computer devices began to appear, each one reproduced color differently, and color independence has continued without any effort to standardize to this day.

Color Management is a scheme to essentially standardize color reproduction using a computer. It resulted from some of the major computer companies coming together and forming the International Color Consortium, the ICC. This organization developed the framework for color management as well as a standard color palette so everyone could reference the same colors using a computer. but many users are having difficulty implementing Color management to obtain a match between screen and print output, in part possibly for some photographers because there was no precedent, or corollary function in analog film photography. Or maybe because it is such an entirely abstract process.

Regardless, one Color Management service provider,, a few years ago put together an on-line resource library that has grown to be both comprehensive and easy to access most of the support information one would need to understand how Color management functions. So there is good help available at thanks to the good and generous people at Chromix in Seattle.

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I used to obtain references to ACDsee from Windows users as it was an affordable option for image asset management over much more complex and expensive professional products. But recently I’d heard nothing of it until macWorld announced a bets is available for the mac. Apparently ACDsee for the Mac will be available in release version for $170 in 2010.

The MacWorld announcement engendered a firestorm of retribution from Mac Deneba Canvas users who feel betrayed since Deneba was purchased by ADCsee and the Mac version has since been dropped. That seems to be tit for tat since another popular image asset management that was a 3rd party Apple application was bought out by Microsoft and has since fallen on the ill machinations of the folks in Redmond, Washington.

Aside from that some point out that ACDsee doesn’t do much that Apple’s own iPhoto, that comes free with a Mac is capable of, or can be purchased if need be for about half the cost of ACDsee for the Mac. To carry that argument a bit further, any Apple Mac user who is into digital photography gets the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Elements, also about half the cost of ACDsee for the Mac, gets the Adobe CS4 version of Bridge, which has just about all of the features of ACDsee and more, as well as Adobe Camera Raw and a very competent, easy to use photo editing application.

So I am curious what the folks at ACDsee are thinking, it is something about which to be curious, whether they are thinking at all.

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I receive all too many reports from people who have purchased a new dSLR camera that they cannot open the camera Raw files, or their computer doesn’t recognize the file format. The same thing with Adobe Photoshop, Elements and even LightRoom users, they can’t access the images from the Raw files their camera saves. Sometimes it as simple as downloading the latest upgrades of Adobe Camera Raw from the Adobe web site. But too often it’s is not that easy. Older Photoshop versions for instance do not support the latest versions of upgrades to Camera Raw, or even the computer operating system will not support these newest dSLR Raw file formats.

Generally this problem can be avoided in one of two ways. First do a thorough search of the camera manufacturer web site relative to the camera you want to buy, and look for “minimum requirements”, especially for software. This is a bit like the fine print in a mortgage loan contract, if you don’t pay attention you may find there is something you signed and thereby agreed to that can become a serious problem down the road - we hear about that in the news almost daily these days. In other words find out what you need in computer system and application software that is essential to be able to use all of the capabilities of the new camera you plan on purchasing. So, be sure the camera you buy is supported by the computer and software you have. And once you do buy a camera, install the provided software that usually includes a Raw file converter application for free. Then at least you have that access to your raw files, and often the best quality of conversion to a standard computer file format like TIFF.

Second, as a general rule with primary hardware and particularly computer operating systems and key applications like Adobe Photoshop whether CS, Elements or Lightroom: register the product you have just installed with the manufacturer and provide your e-mail address. Microsoft, Adobe and Apple provide e-mail notification if you sign up for it for bug fixes, patches for virus vulnerabilities as well a maintenance and new feature upgrades. If you have a broadband connection these patches, fixes and upgrades can even be installed automatically. This is far better than later on finding your system or software is not up to date with the minimum requirements needed to support your new camera or other new hardware and software. Bringing an old computer up to date can be a daunting task because usually the latest upgrade, like SP3 for Microsoft Windows XP, requires that the previous upgrades, SP1 and SP@ were previously installed.

Some of you don’t want to register your system or provide your e-mail address for fear of getting a lot of spam advertising e-mail you don’t want. That does not happen with the major companies if in the sign up you select not to receive e-mail from the company’s partners, Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and other major vendors don’t abuse having your e-mail on file, they know better than to alienate their customers. But what if you don’t have a fast broadband internet connection and use dial-up? Well, large software downloads then may not be a possibility, or on the other hand upgrading your computer and software yourself is just too confusing.

There are professional “computer geek” services available in many communities, or at least a local computer repair shop. An expert computer repair person can upgrade a system usually quite quickly and efficiently. But in times of tight budgets like these days, that may be an expense you don’t want to afford. There may be a more affordable option as close as your local community college or even high school. Most public schools these days have computer technology classes. So call the school and talk to the instructors. I would guess there are a few students, even those that help maintain the school’s computers (my daughter did this when in university) that may also provide computer assistance on call in your home. So you can both support your local community schools and students, and get often very up-to-date computer expertise to assist you for a modest fee.

PS If you bought a computer from Dell, HP or any other brand, besides registering the computer with the maker, also be sure to register your copy of Windows with Microsoft on their web site!!!!!

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have been preoccupied now and for some time by the challenge of defining an affordable platform for inputting digital photographs and then printing them with matched color and density to an LCD display image. There are quite a few LCD display choices at $1,500 and up which support both color and density print matching with a color managed workflow. But an affordable consumer LCD display ($300) has been the elusive goal of a lot of searching. And from what I have heard from industry insiders is that the major display manufacturers in the immediate future are cutting back on their support for high-end, niche pro-graphics market displays.

At $1,500 and up for a display, that is a niche market surely, only supported by higher end computer designers, artists and top-rung commercial photographers. But the fact I am aware of hundreds of consumer outlets that sell dSLR cameras, I got thinking the serious digital photography community must be larger by many fold. So I started looking for data as to what the sales figures in America are for dSLR cameras. That was a bit harder to find out than just a simple Google search because the companies that that gather and publish such data charge huge fees for an Acrobat .PDF file copy of their reports, and I am not one to shell out hundreds of dollars for a small segment of information. But after a lot more searching I did find some information, and finally got a reliable figure of dSLR annual sales, and it was substantial, 9 million units per year considering these cameras are priced usually beginning about $600.

So just how large might the population of the serious photography community be? I have not seen a credible estimate for 30 years, but at the height of 35mm SLR camera sales in 70’s it was assumed to be approaching 20 million. America has grown a lot in the generation since, and gotten richer, so maybe now close to 30 million to be conservative? That is not out of line considering a goodly percentage of homes today have at least one computer. And that leads me to wonder why there are no LCD displays configured to support digital photography, there are sure plenty of PC models targeted at high-end gaming and that can’t be any larger a population.

Would a $300 plus a bit, LCD display that has good quality support for digital photography be all that difficult to put together? I don’t think so as the screens are already available as well as any other technologies needed to make print matching for both color and density capable out of the box. What features would be needed for a digital photography model LCD display:

1. Either a lower backlight brightness level, or a backlight brightness level adjustment control, and the ability to set the white luminance to 90.0 CD/m2.
2. A wider color gamut of 92% of NTSC color gamut.
3. Both contrast (gain) and brightness adjustment.
4, Discrete settings to adjust the display to D65, 6500K color temperature. and a 2.2 or L* gamma.
5. DVI-DDC support that current color management display calibration and profiling software can engage to adjust the display.
6. A wide-screen diagonal size of 21 to 23 inches.

If such a “digital photography” LCD display model were made I do not think there would be much impediment to getting it to the potential buyers. There are already dozens and dozens of consumer outlets offering dSLR cameras as well as computers. I think if digital photographers knew there was an affordable LCD display made to support what they do with their computer to process and print photographs they would be in line waiting to buy one, even in today’s depressed market.

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

Saturday, May 2, 2009


The severity of and multiple factors that caused the recent economic crisis are a force of change. For a time fear has frozen activity economically among a lot of people at all levels, but that will thaw as people find they need to get along in their lives and the market for essentials remains substantial, even automobiles will pick up in sales as many will need to replace what they have out of necessity. And as most people get back to their lives, they will also return to the activities that are essential only to their enjoyment of life, including photography.

In the meantime the big dip in buying, especially non-essentials, has put great stress on all kinds of companies, and some will not survive if they relied too much on cutting the margins very close to attract buyers. But even the largest like Microsoft is being reactionary apparently running ads attacking Apple, which has felt it necessary to respond with their own ads. That irrationality pervades in times of stress is to be expected, but why is an 800 pound gorilla (Microsoft) afraid of a small monkey (sorry Mac users), in the jungle of modern commerce, it sure would not happen in nature. The monkey high up in the trees is no threat to the gorilla’s territory on the ground. And in reality the territory Apple has carved out in computing is quite distinct from the territory Microsoft dominates. To me it is just more evidence the real world is much more rational and sensible than the artificial turf of business, which seems to get even more insane than usual when times are difficult.

But out of this cauldron of nonsense some good things seem to be emerging. Hard times has forced inertia aside and survival means adapting to a changing world. Computer publications like CNET and Apple Insider have just reported that we can look forward to some lower priced Apple computer models in the near future. And in general it seems the demand for computers has not lessened so much as there is a consumer shift to less costly models. This of course has lowered gross sales figures which looks worse really than what buyer activity actually says about the future. People are still going to get new stuff, they are just not going to be quite so extravagant in their choices. Specifically as far as Apple is concerned the immediate focus seems to be on offering more affordable laptops and possibly an iMac at $899, which would reduce the high cost as a barrier for users who might switch to an Apple Mac.

I am sure many of you have noticed, if you allow e-mails from computer sellers, that sales inducements featuring much lowered prices are now more frequent. Personally I have my doubts that there is much value associated with these lo-balled products being pushed at us. But later in the summer as the appeal is directed at the back-to-school crowd, some entirely new products with better value for the computer user will be a part of the offerings.

In the meantime, there are other hints that inertia is not enough to keep old ways going. An announcement was made jointly by Photo District News and B&H Photo/Video that they are jointly sponsoring a virtual photo trade show in the later part of May ( So will the change in economic conditions finally displace anachronisms like the photo trade show? For those who are thinking that such expensive ways of doing things traditionally can be shifted to the internet surely have to consider the fact how much of the American market has broadband or even internet capability, and how many who do not will they lose as customers. It would be interesting to know from the long established mail order businesses like Adorama, how much of their business is still old-fashioned mail order, how much is done by their 800 toll free phone access and how much is now done over their web site? America is well behind most of the first-world countries in broadband implementation, in large part because the US government has kept out of it and allowed the private communications companies a free market. But the result of that is that cable and telephone companies have only been interested in easy profits and are not concerned that people who could most benefit in low population density outlying areas of the country obtain efficient and affordable internet service. Maybe the Stimulus Bill recently passed by Congress will help to change that.

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at: