Wednesday, April 28, 2010


In the old days of computer digital imaging those big heavy CRT monitors at least matched printers and printer paper in brightness, so no too dark prints. With today’s LCD displays most are now made as cheap as possible for home/office computing and are two to four times as bright as those old CRT monitors, which for most computing is is an advantage, but not for digital photographers who want to color anD brightness match screen and print.

Originally Color Vision with their Spyder products made monitor calibration easy and affordable, and many are using a Spyder sensor and software to calibrate and profile their display to a color matching advantage. But only the top-end software allowed measuring the White Luminance brightness of the screen reproduction, and that function was pretty well hidden except to the most demanding “experts”. Now in Version 4 of the Spyder3 Elite software the screen brightness measurement and readout is easily accessible and there are a group of preset terms available for every computing purpose to easily conform the aim points for calibration and profiling including a dialogue that assists manually adjusting the display controls to reach a particular White Luminance goal.

In addition this new version 4 provides a lot more information on the adjustment, calibration and profiling result, as well as extended evaluations of display performance that can be measured additionally with recorded results. I made a quick trial of this new software, and it works easily and well providing users with everything they can do except buying a high cost display and matching color management system that allows the computer and software to make all of the adjustments directly to the display by a DVI/DDC or USB interface.

Recently I have written about new professional level wide color gamut LCD displays that reproduce over 95% of the Adobe RGB color gamut. Some of you have purchased one of these display, or another, and a few without the proprietary sensor and software, hoping to save money by using their old sensor and its software. Usually if the sensor and software is more than a year or two old it is filtered and configured to respond to the much smaller color gamut of home/office monitor and displays; and using it with a new wide color gamut display can result in a poor or even skewed, inaccurate calibration and profile. I have found the most recent Spyder3 sensor and software will work very effectively with new wide color gamut professional displays and provide accurate calibration and profiling, and the latest Spyder3 sensitometer will also work with other brand software effectively like NEC’s Spectraview 2.

The upgrade cost is very modest, and you can even upgrade from the Pro version to Elite reasonably, so this DataColor upgrade is one that serves users well and is extremely worthwhile.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


When I became interested in photography, the photo magazines of the time were the most ready source of information. They were at that time many years ago, full of inspiring images made by the photographers popular at the time like Pete Turner, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, as well as the famous photographers of the immediate past like Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and William Mortensen. Even some how-to books by Adams and Mortensen were helpful to a very serious enthusiast.

If you were really involved with photography, like any other interest the most successful and renowned photographers were what you wanted to emulate, and be like. Like a basketball player today, an enthusiast's hope is to make it to the status of professional. That is success.

Thanks to the military during a war, I got to a position of being paid to do photography rather easily. But I found that to e really accomplished and competitive, using my GI Bill benefit after the service to go to photography school, was the best ay to advice and get established in civilian photography,But once you have established your self professionally what you have become is someone else's photographer, not your own, The skills and abilities you have acquired in service to whoever is paying you to make a photograph for them. Now that has its rewards in profit and accomplishment, but the images are not what you would make for yourself. So, the goal of becoming a professional can be personally disappointing.

So what options are there to make photographs for the reasons that interested you in the beginning? You might be lucky and if you make photographs for yourself and then offer them for sale people will buy them. So you are lucky and some images are purchased. If this encourages you will the future images you make also be popular? If some images sell and other don't, won't you chose to make more like those that are popular? Of course, you sure won't make more like the ones that didn't sell. As this goes on are you making the images you would make for yourself, or those your customers would like to buy? Can you really be your own photographer and a professional? Or is making your own photographs and what you make to sell two different worlds. Of course this not an all or nothing balance, it is for most somewhere in the middle. But if you are photographing for other, they are part of the game.

So, the amateur enthusiast does enjoy an advantage in being true to photographing for the personal inspiration and one's own satisfaction in the image made. But although economic pressure and purpose do not influence the lone photographer following their own eye and inspiration, are we ever truly independent? Does the idea of what is good photography in the opinion of others have any influence? As much as people share their photos over the internet these days, I am sure whatever reaction is obtained might be encouraging or discouraging. Are we waver entirely free to be ourselves and express ourselves candidly, Not really unless we keep it all to ourselves.

Today I don’t get out much to photograph very often, not because it wouldn’t be enjoyable, but I’m old and tired and just getting out is more of a burden than a pleasure. But I have almost 60 years of memories and a library of photographs made in those years. I have culled out nearly all the photos I made professionally and kept those I made for the pleasure of it when I wasn’t working. There is not a great photo among them but the reason I was inspired to make the image remains, and is relived every time I do something with the image. Time and its perspective tells me what my purpose was, and I am afraid mine was rather self-serving as often as I could afford to play as a photo enthusiast. Being professional just paid the bills.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Today was the first one that the Apple iPad was delivered to customers. That was interesting considering there were long lines at every Apple store of people who had pre-ordered an iPad. They could just as well stayed home and their new iPad would have been delivered to them. So why stand in-line? There were also reams of commentary in my news gathering this morning, mostly vacant observations of course. But there was one telling insight of the fact unlike computers which are used to work and create stuff, the iPad is designed as a consumer of stuff. My computers are used mostly to do research, process and edit images and write articles and blogs. But I must admit I just bought another iMac, this time to replace my cable box to download entertainment, and that is consumption.

Of course that does not answer the question although the iPad is another toy. What does answer the question is the purpose to the individual a toy has, how is it used and why. Cameras in this respect are toys and some photographers collect more and more, better toys. Sometimes I see them displayed at greatly known and visited tourist attractions. I seldom visit these congregations of popularism, places like the south rim of the Grand Canyon, but some years ago I did because I had a traveling companion who had never seen the southwest of America. While my guest was enthralled by the view I was captivated by the tourists with 35mm SLR cameras hung around their necks, nearly all festooned with long telephoto zoom lenses. To capture the Grand Canyon on film you need the shortest wide-angle possible to even get part of its expanse on film. I never saw one of those cameras with a large phallus attached lifted and pointed at a subject, so I had to assume the gear was some kind of symbol, a badge of recognition. Look I have a big professional looking camera so name me photographer. Maybe that is a little crass, but I think toys have an identity purpose for many who collect them.

When I was a photo student I had one instructor I took very seriously. His name was Boris Dobro, and he was a European who had escaped the Nazi scourge in the 1930’s. He was highly prized and respected in salon photography exhibitions that were popular in Europe between the Wars. And, was particularly appreciated by many students who wanted to learn the art of printing photographs. But occassionally he would get reflective and take a break to tell stories from his past. The one that stuck with me now for 45 years was about a group of camera clubs that made large salon prints for exhibition and competition. It involved an unusual membership rule that everyone use a Zeis Ikon box camera for all their photographs submitted to the clubs for show and contest. Now the Zeis Ikon box camera was no Baby Brownie camera but had a multi-element lens, and aperture and shutter speed control. But of course the idea was to require a basic camera everyone could afford and that the purpose of the members activity was to create competitive, fine, photographic prints based entirely on the members talent and craftsmanship, and not on whether they could afford the best and most sophisticated equipment.

I am sure the clubs did not survive the Nazi regime as they were just too idealistically egalitarian and democratic.

But the concept and the Zeis Ikon box camera club’s placing value on skill and craftsmanship instead of the idea you need the best equipment remains. And it has been proven to me as I got to know many of the best photographers work over the years including, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Morley Baer, as well as William Mortensen and W. Eugene Smith, to name just a few that used minimal equipment and great creative craftsmanship.