Saturday, June 26, 2010


I got some of a drubbing due to my opinion there is not much new in Adobe Photoshop CS5 for photographers. So I took it upon myself to look at all of the evangelical video on it at What I found were lots of new things art directors, ad producers, designers and many other professionals who use Photoshop will surely like for all kinds of photographic manipulation needed for production projects. But still little or nothing new a serious photography enthusiast would need or want unless it’s someone devoted to making highly modified and distorted photographic fantasies. And I have done a little of that myself, in fact it was the record industry rock and roll part of my career. But I do digital photography editing and processing today and everyday, particularly of scanned film images, and have a copy of Photoshop CS-5 I use. So far I have found nothing new in it I can’t do with CS4 in my everyday work with photographs with my computer.

However, one of the videos on by Russell Brown about using Camera Raw to do retouching set me off into an exploration and discovery I am thankful for. I usually don’t write about what others publish, but in this Russell Brown piece he acknowledged “stealing” the idea from a couple of colleagues, so I don’t mind admitting he opened a door for me I will relate here. However my interest was not retouching photographs as Brown’s video details. But for anyone scanning photographs on film, especially some old or less popular and often faster films that are not current E6 or C-41 process emulsions, all too often you can get graininess, emulsion defect artifacts and skewed local color that is difficult to edit with any standard photo application to get the usual, smooth, sharp and balanced color most contemporary popular films will reproduce in a scan.

So, if you have some finished scan files you would like to improve by adjusting to reduce graininess, noise and local color that is shifted or skewed, open the files in Adobe Bridge. Then any file you would like to make better with editing adjustments, click on it o its marked and if on a Mac type in Command then R, ( Control key and the letter R key on Windows) and that file will be opened if it is a JPG, or even a large TIF file, by Camera Raw. On the right side of the Camera Raw screen where your image has been opened, there is a tall window with eight different icon buttons at the top. Camera Raw usually opens to a general adjustment set of sliders in three sections: at the top are Temperature and Tint. The center group of sliders includes, Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Brightness and Contrast. The bottom block contains three slider adjustments for Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation.

Obviously the Camera Raw image adjustments are designed for digital camera produced images, not images scanned from film, so all of the adjustment sliders don’t really apply to any advantage. But if an opened image is too warm or cool that can be neutralized with the Temperature adjustment. Or if the Red/Green hue balance is off, like the reds are too strong and the green of foliage too weak, a little shift of the slider may help. Some of the slider adjustments in the middle section I found the most useful. For instance in some film scans getting a neutral black is difficult with standard editing tools without affecting the color balance of the lighter tones in the image, and I found the Camera Raw black can be increased and the black is shifted to a neutral tone without affecting the balance of the lighter colors. This may make the image shadows too dark, so the Fill Light can be adjusted to open them back up to see more detail. The most valuable adjustment is in the bottom section and it is called Clarify. If your image is too grainy and noisy, move the Clarity slider to the left. If you need a lot of Clarity adjustment to clean up the image texture and smooth the tone, it may cause the image to loose contrast and look lighter. Then the Brightness and Contrast adjustments above can restore those values. And if the result of these adjustments makes the color weak, you can add both Vibrance and Saturation or just one or the other as your image appearance demands.

If your scanned image is too light or dark in some segments of the image tone range, then click on the second icon at the top from the left that will open a Tone Curve dialogue. If you are not used to adjusting curves, use the Parametric option and then use the sliders below for Highlights, Lights, Darks and Shadows to lighten or darken those segments of the image range. In addition you can modify the segmentation of the tone curve range by moving the segment tabs at the bottom of the graph.

An interesting and advantageous set of adjustment tools is opened by the third icon at the top that sets up the Detail window that has two sets of sliders. If you have some distorted color noise in your scan file, which is a frequent artifact from scans of older and odd kinds of both slide and negative films, the Color Noise Reduction may lessen this odd color in your image. And, if the Clarity slider adjustment did not reduce the surface texture noise in your image enough, try the Luminance Noise Reduction. I found this very helpful with film images that record noisiness in very light tones adjacent to specular light sources in a picture, like a sunset shot. The top Sharpening section is basically conventional with sliders to input the Amount of sharpening, and Radius to select how many pixels in the original the sharpening is to include. The Detail slider seems to be like the control in scan software that limits the range of tones the sharpening is applied to. But I found that at the end of my Camera Raw image tweaking adjustments, I could simply add sharpening if needed, but without adding noise artifacts next to sharpened objects in the image, which is often a limit in applying an Unsharp Mask enhancement in scan software.

So far I have adjusted about 15 scanned image files I found from recent scans were still lacking ideal qualities even after tweaking them in Photoshop. Most were improved noticeably using Camera Raw in one or more dimensions of quality making them better images that are as good as the scans I obtain from newer E-6 and C-41 process films. From this little experiment with Camera Raw applied to scanned photographs, you can be sure I will be using it more for what I would call image tweaking, in the future. And, I am sure I will learn even more capabilities as more experience is gained. So, if you have not tried this, do some experimenting, the Camera Raw adjustment tools solve problems standard photo editing tools can’t cope with easily or effectively.

If you do try this, let me know, my e-mail is

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Wouldn’t you know as soon as I admit a typo mistake about 8 gigs of RAM in a Mac Mini in the July issue Digital Help, the following week Apple Announces an all new Mac Mini that will allow just that much RAM to be installed. No , I did not know about the new Mini, I did make a mistake. Ahead of the times? Well, that is usual for me, but I did not see a new Mini coming in my psyche.

I have owned and used Apple Mac Mini’s from the beginning of the model. I now work three of them pretty hard, and they do it all very well. Even so, I have been reserved in my recommendations to users. But with this new model I believe if it runs and lasts as well as my previous Mini’s, it is now an ideal computer for any photography enthusiast. Besides now coming with 2GB of RAM expandable to 8GB, it also has a 2X faster NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated video graphics support to the display. It also has built-in support for the latest 802.11n Airport Extreme WiFi networks, as well as Bluetooth 2.1. A 2.4 GHz Intel Core Duo processor with 3MB of shared L2 cache, runs this new Mac Mini computer.

The package is a bit wider at 7.7 x 7.7 inches, but is only 1.4 inches tall, and is now encased in a cast aluminum housing, with easy access to the interior from a removable bottom panel that provides easy access to the RAM installation. And unlike previous Mini’s, this new one has a built-in power supply, so the far left side of the rear has a household power input socket. The connector interfaces on the rear are somewhat different, still with a Gigabit Ethernet socket, FireWire 800 socket, and then a new HDMI socket for direct connection of video and sound to an HD TV, and the Mini DisplayPort, as well as four USB 2.0 connectors, and also a new SD card slot, and both in and out audio connectors.

The one main component in the new Mac Mini I have not mentioned is the 320GB hard drive. It can be upgraded by Apple in a sale to a 500GB unit, but that is really not that much larger. Some of the tech expert writers in hardware suggest a better way to expand Mini hard drive capacity is with an external Hard Drive. From my experience I would agree with that as I have used several brands of external FireWire connected and designed to sit under the original Mac Mini drives. The most recent one I have purchased through the Apple Store is an Iomega, unit and like others adds a powered hub of USB 2.0 connectors as well as additional FireWire sockets. If an external drive has a problem, replacing it is easy and you can do it yourself, and does not require an expert Apple technician to go into the guts of a Mini.

There are three functional, necessary items not supplied with an Apple Mac Mini. One is a display, so a photographer buyer has the option of selecting a good LCD display that supports color managed and brightness adjusted performance for matching printing and other output of digital photographic files. If you already have a keyboard and mouse, most USB models will work with the Mac Mini. However, I have found Apple’s latest keyboard very comfortable and efficient, and the USB wired models are affordable for their high level of quality. I was once an exclusive PC Windows user, and still use the Microsoft Office Suite of applications for the Apple Mac. I find the Microsoft made mice with their Apple software support for right button functions is an advantage and works well with a Mini for most mousing needs.

The basic Apple Mac Mini now comes in just one model instead of two, but there are many upgrades and additions that are available. The basic price now is $699, but for a serious digital photographer I would recommend ordering a Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM which adds $500 to the price. I have been doing fine with the older version and 4GB, so at least that much.

For a current PC Windows computer user making the switch is easy and and there really is not much to learn to adapt from one to another, Why do I say that? Well, I run both Apple and Windows applications on one of my Macs. There are two basic options, either install a copy of Windows you own as a dual boot setup using Apple;s Boot Camp; or my choice is to use a virtual software method, one of which is offered by Parallels ( at a modest cost. Parallels supports running Windows in its own window, or running Windows applications in the Apple screen workspace. In addition other than Microsoft, many software companies publish their applications in both Windows and Apple versions, like Adobe, and if you are a registered owner and don’t have an Apple version installation disc, many of these companies will provide an Apple version for a modest fee for the additional Apple installation disc. In other words you can have all you have with Windows, and much more with an Apple Mac Mini.

I don’t yet have one of the new Mac Mini’s, but I already run my HD TV with a Mac Mini that replaced my cable box.Something to think about! The cost savings without the monthly bill for cable TV will pay for the Mac Mini I purchased in just a few months.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Fobsun is a Chinese manufacturer of LED lighting with a wide selection of products listed on their website I took interest in Fobsun because they sent me a news item about a downlight they make that has standard lamp socket as used in America and white light output near 6500K color temperature. This lamp is also about as bright as a 40 watt incandescent lamp. To me its color temperature close to that of an LCD computer display and moderate brightness makes it an ideal candidate as an illumination source for environmental lighting where computer digital photography is done and prints are being made, in a light source matching the computer screen. It is a Fobsun Horizon Down Lights Adopting SMD LEDs, FLB-E27-90W-H, E27 base SMD bulb,38*160mm, 90LEDs,7W,100-260VAC, white color, 6000-6500k,630lm US $16.98

I was interested in obtaining a couple of samples for test and evaluation. And the international marketing department at Fobsun was very congenial and helpful, although they are not inclined to supply journalists with free samples. But I would buy some and their web site was recently set up to handle Visa credit card purchases. Unfortunately all I have is an American Express card, so that didn’t work out. Something will I am sure, and maybe I can get a couple of these LED lamps to work with.

But the experience brought something else up you might find interesting. I live in a small town so I make many purchases on-line if for no other reason than not going into our local Walmart. I like to cook my own meals, so found recently I can buy many French food products from; as well as fine Italian food products from It seems that the whole world is beginning to have stores on-line. This of course is a convenience to any small-towner like myself, but it also says something about Marshall McLuhan’s idea of a global village. If you still enjoy photographing with B&W film, I am sure with the Internet you will always find a source somewhere for the kind of film you need, and much else too I suspect.

Of course some people do not like change and make it into a political agenda, but maybe there will be a bit more practical freedom and democracy in a world that is fully accessible to shoppers on-line. The whole world becomes a market square for anyone who wants to shop and chat a bit. This is a change that could be interesting, and computers don’t use much fuel, especially oil.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


That Apple has overtaken Microsoft in size may be easily rationalized by Windows people claiming 80% of PC users are using Windows. But just because so many are is not a necessity to conform, in fact it may be a bad idea.

At least one really major company may think that. The Financial Times reported today that a number of Google employees have stated that Google is now requiring their 10,000 employees to us another operating system. That may have a little to do with the fact Google is working on their on operating system Chrome OS. In the meantime apparently most Google workers are switching to Apple Macs.

That may be logical because Apple Macs are not prone to hacking and virus infection, and Google bad experience with hacking in China may have been a incentive to make the change now, even before their own Chrome OS is released.

But just because Google is possibly moving away from Windows maybe for security reasons, is that good enough reason to follow suit. From my experience since I moved from Windows to Apple Mac, I would agree it is enough of a reason. But Google also knows I am sure as soon as their own Chrome OS is ready their employees can add Chrome, still use the Apple operating system and Chrome simultaneously on the same desktop with just one machine, You can do the same thing, but with Windows by adding it as a virtual operating system, so it is protected from hacking and viruses behind the Apple Mac, and you still have your Windows application available on the Mac desktop.

Yes, with an Apple Mac you can have an Apple Mac application running as well as a Windows application at the same time and with both windows open on screen. This is done most popularly with Parallels software to run other Operating Systems and applications virtually, but there are others as well.