Friday, November 23, 2012


Is the number of cynics increasing? Do more and more people think an upgrade is just a ploy to make money without providing much or anything?

That conclusion could be why upgrades like the new Microsoft Windows 8 is not getting very much enthusiasm. But it could be a lot of other ideas, concerns and people do get tired of old habits. I remember during my youth each fall the big thing was to visit all the car dealers to kick the tires on all the new auto models. It was an expected unofficial holiday and almost every auto brand complied with new models every year and always in the fall. But these days trading in a year old car for a new one when the leaves turned color is a forgotten habit half the current population never knew. Now it is the realm of high-tech products. Currently the more fashionable thing to show off is your new laptop computer, it just lacks the excitement of everything chrome with finned rear fenders. And sadly the office crowd is blase about almost everything, thanks to IT managers who like nothing better than saying no, or was it the politicians that took over that world.

Anyway, upgrades maybe don’t deserve cynicism. The computer operating systems are just trying to keep up with the kids and their newest gizmos. Smart phones and tablets also have operating systems, so it has made practical business sense to incorporate the new device systems with what runs a personal computer. The short side of that is these new operating system upgrades do not run all the older software or have support for older hardware accessories like film scanners. Oh yes, there are workarounds, but a lot of computer users are just sitting tight and running their old system like Windows XP; and that includes many corporations. In fact Apple OS10.6.8 is becoming much like Windows XP in the hearts of users. But then you can’t buy new hardware like the latest Apple Mac or PC laptop and have it delivered with an older operating system, in many cases the new machinery will not run except with the latest software. More work-arounds, maybe and maybe not.

So has high technology created its own Catch 22 for itself? Yes if the companies like Apple, Adobe and Microsoft ignore the data indicating fewer and fewer people are choosing to upgrade. Of course some of the drag is just a kind of satisfaction in getting along with what one has, and a good part of that is that comfort comes with familiarity and there is an innate fear of having to learn new ways to do things - unless there is a very good reason to change. But as more and more computers have improved reliability, product failure is less of an incentive to invest in the newest system or to upgrade the operating software.

All this would be helped a lot if forced obsolescence was avoided in the process of upgrading. So why don’t companies that upgrade make a priority list of what helps not just them and their business, but what helps people. One solution is to make newer systems backwards compatible. This is built into CD/DVD disc design - my oldest music CD’s play well using almost any kind of disc drive in the newest devices. But of course Apple believes disc drives are no longer necessary, so it leaves them out of their newest computers - but fortunately you can add a disc drive externally connected to an Apple Mac. So as long as there is a readily accessible alternative you can hang onto the old, familiar and often essential ways to get things done.

I just wish this was taken all the way so all of your established tools and techniques can be preserved. For instance if you have an old Mac that is worn out you can get a new one and easily transfer all of the data on the old Mac onto the new one quite easily. Unfortunately if some of those goodies don’t work with the new one you are left hanging in an empty world. So why not also allow copying the old system too, and provide a way to run it virtually in the new one????? In a way this has been done by software companies like Parallels systems, which allows Microsoft Windows operating systems to run in virtual mode on an Apple Mac. But sadly neither Apple’s Boot Camp or Parallels allows running Apple’s 10.6 operating system virtually on a newer Mac that runs OS 10.7 or 10.8. 

This makes me reluctant and not inclined to buy a new Mac, because I have one relatively recent Mac mini with OS 10.7 and it won’t run all of my older scanners or the software I prefer to do my work. So this almost new Mac mini  gets used very little, and that pisses me off with Apple enough to not even think about buying a new toy. And that Apple has provided the joy in my life. I am not just into having things, but I get irritated when anyone gets in the way of my doing the work I most enjoy. So, Apple, Adobe, Microsoft et al when are you going to begin thinking more about the consequences of upgrades and that to some of us they are really downgrades!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Since photography began popularly at the end of the 19th century an argument has gone on whether making a photograph is an art or is it a science. It is a continuing question that has never been resolved for much of the 20th century, and still remains a question. Of course some photographer’s work is now accepted by the establishment and publicly as art. But the fact that the photographic process is scientifically based, even more so in the digital age, leaves much doubt and misunderstanding in the minds of many who adopt using a camera.

Much of that doubt and confusion is the result of a photographic business community that keeps the process as secretive and so little understood deliberately. Mystery is to their benefit in the marketplace - would you buy a sausage if you really knew what’s in  it? So the public is at the mercy of what companies are willing to share, and it does not amount to much understanding of the hardware and software they are using However, one thing you can be sure of is that the science behind photography demands that the photographer must think scientifically rather than artfully to make photographs.

Fortunately people are not so easily led to abide to the dictates of the establishment, and think and do more as their spirit demands. So a side business has developed that supports every creative image manipulation method imaginable to satisfy the quirks of individuality and self-expression. Sadly that has not added much to photographers understanding of how the medium, a camera, a computer and software function. Mystery still prevails and the “magic” remains in the hands of the establishment’s secretive possession. This is further complicated and made ever more obscure as today’s computers and software are inept at providing much control over the photographic process.

The personal computer business began in ernest in the mid-80’s with a lot more garage factories putting together components than is commonly known. But these were mostly difficult to use requiring the user learn command-line control. So the next development making computers user friendly was what is called a GUI (Graphic User Interface), that led to some off-shoots like computer games and digital image editing and processing. But the typical personal computer was always a mix of often not very compatible pieces designed and constructed to provide independent color reproduction. That situation still dominates and a personal computer has no idea of what image is presented on-screen and cannot identify what the subject of the picture is, even that it might be a photo of something natural.

In the mid 1990’s Color Management was introduced and soon was supported by the two most popular computer operating systems. This allowed for a translation of color values so any RGB number set would reproduce the same objective colors in a color reproduction device like a display or printer. Color management however is a limited value as it does not assure that the RGB color captured in a digital image is true to the subject color photographed. And, Color Management is still far from being universally used by photographers.
This leaves digital photographic imaging being subject the photographers’ perception to be able to adjust, edit and process digital camera or film scanned images to match or not the image that was the subject. So photo images, however they are reproduced are done so by personal, individual visual perception and evaluation. Whatever the image is in relationship to the subject is the photographer’s choice. As a choice made by diverse minds it must be called accurately art of some kind; good or bad.

Monday, October 22, 2012


We are on the cusp of changes regardless politically of what next months voting results. Although many would like America to be like it was in the past anyone who is a serious photography enthusiast knows that is a fading interest. The digital photography world has almost completely obliterated the film photography of the last century and more. My Shutterbug readers are nearly all over 50 years of age and they are getting older and of course fewer. I have not received any e-mail from a younger photo enthusiast in recent years, but maybe that’s because I’m an old guy even though someone new to reading Shutterbug does not know what my age might be.

That today is different than yesterday I am reminded of by my colleagues, those who write about digital media because computer editing photo images is my primary subject. For instance one magazine just featured new 27 inch LCD computer displays, and not one is a model I could recommend for a serious digital photographer. All three are LED backlit which demands using the newest display management system to accurately calibrate and profile the display. In addition all three have a color range limited to the sRGB range that is just 2/3rd the color gamut of any camera that offers Raw files from the sensor capture. Additionally all are very bright with a high white luminance that may not allow adjustment to reproduce the equivalent of paper white to be able to edit for color managed printing.

But displays are a small part of computing changes. Microsoft is about to offer Windows 8 and so far it is not known how many older software applications and hardware devices like scanners will be supported. And today’s commentary is critical,”Where is the Start button?” All brands of desktop personal computers are reporting fewer sales and have concerns the demand will continue to be smaller, as more and more users buy tablets. Even the camera companies are concerned about their future prospects as more smart-phones and tablets offer better and better built-in cameras. Even Google is now offering a Chrome laptop at a very modest cost, further weakening the market for the established brands.

In the 20th century although serious and professional photography was a small niche specialty it was led by sufficient companies like Kodak, Dupont, Canon and Nikon as well as many smaller brands that were able to maintain long and consistent places in the marketplace. But today, with digital photography so dependent on computer editing and processing, the photo imaging industry is even a smaller, largely ignored step-child of a much newer technology. 

However, the needs of marketing for professional photographic services will continue and high-end photo and graphics computing products will remain. But as there are fewer and fewer professional quality-level enthusiasts left over from the 20th century film days, the smaller number of camera sales will drive prices for high-end photo and graphics computing performance to pricier levels beyond the reach of most amateurs. That will weaken and narrow the interest now supportive of these products. The aspiring wannabe professional will face an increasing challenge to afford involvement, competing and establishing themselves at a profitable level. And it is easy enough for advertising and marketing illustration to option other ways to produce marketing images of products in what is a volatile and changing segment of the consumer industry.

So, am I painting a bleak scenario for a future of serious photographic enthusiasm? No one knows what tomorrow may bring. There may be new technology options that will make enthusiasm both practical and exciting, I cannot imagine. But being too old and too tired to still participate fully as I did in the 20th century, and realistically not inclined to look very far ahead is its own bias. Maybe I know too well the 20th century will not return or be repeated.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


A lot has occurred in the world’s news in the last couple of weeks, and maybe some things should be all added together because even though separately reported, combined they make a difference. That was seen, although not entirely at the UN General Assembly this last week, with Barack Obama said he is sad for the uprisings the Islamophobic You Tube video caused, while at the same time arguing for our Constitutional protection of free speech as a foundation for democracy for everyone. Of course even the newly elected leaders of Muslim countries argued against free speech, not realizing that without cell phones, computers, and the internet, the new democracies in the middle east may not have developed as they did. 

Today free speech is a reality for much of the world that is now connected by cell phones and computers, that are quite capable of transcending the differences in languages between all the varied countries on this planet. Earlier in the week, Google one of the largest sources and conduits of information in the world announced they are purchasing NIK software which can provide a photo processing and editing capability to their network. Photographs as much as speech are a part of the stories individuals tell to each other over the internet and cell wireless networks.

Also this week a technology dispatch in The Atlantic reported that Harvard University neuroscience research had found why people share on the new social media networks. It is because the sharing activates the brain’s reward system, increases dopamine activity. This reward apparently comes from the activity of sharing information, telling your story to others and they doing the same. Apparently the sharing for each is a rewarding experience when it is about the person telling the story, and to some extent the listener. Maybe checking one’s e-mail or FaceBook pages is not just an idle task but plays into our basic motivations. Looking back to simpler, earlier times when people lived in villages the culture was learned from story tellers amongst the older generation, what public schools are supposed to do today.

These and many more new technology capabilities change our culture and are ways of connecting with the world and each other. Because conservatives are very afraid of change, and are trying to hold it back is not a solution, it just creates more problems. The world continues to get smaller and has become the global village Marshall McLuhan described 50 years ago. Now we need to learn how to live in that village and get long with our neighbors. It is happening inadvertently, the Foxconn factory making iPhones in China has workers who are beginning to realize they are important and must be taken seriously; and a factory of workers in Pakistan was not and most died in a fire. The world is beginning to know these things. So now, how do we encourage and help with understanding throughout this world we all influence and participate in to make it work for everyone?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Although there is little difference in the appearance of a dSLR camera and its 35mm film predecessor, that has to do with the human ergonomic way of using tools and obscures the fact digital photography has little in common with film photography.Yes both cameras use lenses and shutters and similar viewfinders, but the process is not alike even though both can produce photographic looking images.

The camera originated as a mechanical, optical-chemical device from the industrial revolution well over 100 years ago. Some of it’s first image making tasks were to record the movement of horses running and birds flying, and provided insights and understandings that began the modern machines of transportation we now have with railroads, automobiles and airplanes. But the cameras and the pictures they reproduced were physical objects made by a machine process of exposing light sensitive silver to the light reflected through a lens onto film. And the process of development was a physical change to the exposed silver by chemical reaction, producing an object and product of a machine, a thing that is a physical photographic image we know as a transparency, negative and print.

For the sake of mutual understanding let’s assume all subjects are a part of nature reflecting light that can be focused onto a light sensitive medium, either photo film or a digital camera sensor chip. Even though the subject may include artificial man-made objects like an automobile, a bicycle, or a house, they are all manufactured from natural ingredients, so they are really as natural as grass, trees, water, air and people.

The one key difference that distinguishes digital from the old mechanical method of producing a photo image of reality is that it is now done with electricity. Another distinction is that the digital area array senor is actually a matrix of pixels or sensor sites which applies its form to the reflected light of a subject. The result is the exposure is a measurement of millions of independent matrix elements which defines a metrical pattern. So what is reproduced is a representation of light measurement reading that fit into a matrix form and the electricity generated by this measurement is recorded as number values of different amounts of red, green and blue values. In other words a metrical collection of numbers recorded as a file that if read with an editor would not reveal a picture. Just pages of rows and rows of numbers and a few letters.

A digital photo only looks like a picture when opened with a photo application and the RGB pixel values are displayed as pixel colors in an LCD display. A personal computer has no idea of what a user is seeing on screen. LCD display adjustment, calibration and profiling will help match the screen image to what is printed using a color managed application like versions of Photoshop. But still the adjustment of image values is mechanical using basically the same mechanical adjustment tools first offered in computer paint programs in the 1980’s - nothing has changed basically just refinements. However there are exceptions in software that does recognize the matrix pattern of image content by a computer. First of all cameras and some photo applications have borrowed surveillance face recognition technology. The Professional Portrait retouching application also recognizes digital camera matrix patterns to automatically retouch face pictures made with digital cameras. And of course the system of automatic image adjustment editing recently released to individual users as Organic Imaging functions on the basis of a massive library of digital images they have recorded and processed over the last decade.

Otherwise the typical personal computer is blind to the information it processes when the content is digital camera made files. The main processor is device independent from the display - there is no personal computer recognition of digital images by either the computer or the display, which is only there to provide a GUI feedback and control of what the computer’s applications are processing. An adjustment of displayed digital photographic qualities has to be evaluated by user’s perception and adjusted by sight and individual judgment. The hardware and software are potentially capable of digital matrix pattern recognition and automated adjustment, but the companies that design, make and sell personal computers so far have not even acknowledged that digital image recognition and automated adjustment based on image recognition is possible or of any interest to users. So don’t expect a new model personal computer that is digital photo image aware  and capable of automated digital image adjustment any time soon. What we are getting is a slicker package design with faster and faster CPU chips, but basically the same design capabilities that were available in 1990.

Of course I must add that scanning film images produces a digital photo file that is electrically generated and a hybrid version of digital photographs. This fact allows the editing of these images advantages of both the film and digital mediums. But unfortunately matrix pattern sensitive automated function like retouching do not work the same to support automatic retouching as effectively as it can be done with digital camera produced portraits. However, the Organic Imaging ( application and process seems to automatically adjust scanned film images as effectively as digital camera made photographs.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


How do you store digital photographic image files is a question photographers send to me in various forms; wanting to know how, and what products to consider. Security that the data stored will be safe from loss or damage is a prime issue, you can’t replace an image file if it is the only one and is lost. File storage has been a computer user issue from the earliest days of personal computing, and for most of the time since then it has been up to the user to provide a solution. There are many choices from hard drives installed in computers to external HD’s connected to a computer; and including mirrored duplicate drive in what is called a RAID system. Then there is the possible choice of disc drives now standardized on CD and DVD, with the recent addition of the Millenniata DVD discs using a proprietary long lasting disc material and requiring a  special LGE writing drive.

In recent times a technology that provides the sharing of commercially owned storage farms called “cloud storage” has been opened to individual computer users either directly or through a photo service company or organization. For the individual user there is an unusually complete and accurate information resource to get an understanding of the “cloud storage” technology on Wikipedia. ( I would be confident the experts in the field have applied thorough editing to this Wikipedia  document to see it is as complete and as objective as possible. And it does cover the subject of data and individual security, indicating that these “cloud storage” services are privately or corporately owned, and the companies could become bankrupt, go out of business or suffer physical disruption and even destruction of facilities by both natural and other disorders could make access via the internet as well as their power supply no longer viable.

That their are security issues is in the news frequently when one or another vendor reports the loss of the personal account and password data of large numbers of ordinary customers. But like any disaster occurs affecting many people it is not news that sinks in, people do not relate to what they now call “big data”, its not personal. But just a few days ago a journalist who writes for Wired magazine had his cloud accounts hacked into and he lost the use of his MacBook, iPad and iPhone as well as all of the data stored on his work tools - he was not backed up on a hard disk of his own. (   This news went viral all over the global village, and at least two major technology companies have since hardened their username/password security as a result.

I cannot claim being clairvoyant about image fie storage security. I adopted an old system using gold/gold CD discs I began using almost 20 year ago, the only affordable system then available. It was a lucky choice as all the image files I have produced over the years are still available to me, I have not lost one file, and no hacker can get even near my CD stored files. I just follow an old saying, “if you want it done right do it yourself”. It is not that I distrust Apple, Amazon or any of the other large corporations that have computer hard drive farms located now all over the world, but many of these companies except Apple did not even exist when I started doing digital photographic images, and many of the familiar companies then are now gone, or on a downward track to who knows where like Kodak. Fortunately, unlike it was back in the 90’s good quality secure storage hardware is available to individuals now at very affordable costs. The only thing you might miss by letting the clouds overhead drift by is convenience, the cloud is not free, you rent space one way or another. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012


The end of this week I received an e-mail LaCie sales notice with a surprise. The LaCie 324i LCD display I reviewed in Shutterbug, was featured with a $769 price. So I called LaCie and spoke with a sales representative and got some interesting news. LaCie is discontinuing its sales of displays and the 324i like the one I purchased and have written about has been discontinued; there are no more new ones available. The $769 price advertised is for refurbished units of  this excellent 24 inch, wide color gamut LCD display. It comes with a 180 day warranty and does not include a hood or LaCie’s calibration hardware and software. 

For those interested in a high quality pro-graphics LCD display the few refurbished models in stock may be a real value. I have been using mine for about two years now and its performance is excellent. But I am sorry LaCie displays will no longer be available as LaCie has been a good source for quality  displays for some years now, and I am still using one of the earlier models I purchased many years ago before the addition of my recent 324i. To connect to obtain more specifics on this sale by LaCie go to:

Monday, August 6, 2012


Tools are an essential part of modern life. Without spoons, forks, knives, pots and pans, preparing food would be a much more difficult task. Without a lawnmower trimming your lawn would be almost impossible. Without wheels you would be dependent on your feet to get around, and that is slow and tiresome.

These tools we are familiar with, as a carpenter is with a hammer and saw. We know how they function and that knowledge allows us to use these familiar tools effectively, and usually safely. In the last 25 years another set of tools based on electronics and digital technology has been added to our culture. Most of us don’t know very much about them although we buy devices that involve these tools, and extend ourselves well beyond our imagination. I can connect instantly by e-mail or phone with someone in Europe, China or as far away as New Zealand. We are all part of the internet, the so-called global village.

But this village may not be a very friendly community. Just today I read about a fellow journalist who had his iCloud account hacked into and he lost all of his access to and data on his laptop, his cell phone and tablet computer, and more. Sadly, he had not backed-up his computer and devices, so he has become a rather lost person without access to his work and livelihood. Extensions of ourselves through modern digital tools can be dangerous if we use them without thinking of the consequences, of what dangers they bring to us.

It won’t get any better as just this week I was informed of a very useful new app (computer applications): it is called Polkast which allows you to use WiFi electronic communications to have complete access to all of your data files wherever they are, on a iPhone, made with a digital camera or stored in your home computer. You can check out this new digital data tool at Another advertised in my favorite computer magazine and recommended by them is a USB facility of a similar nature called CloudFTP, and it makes any USB storage device wireless to share data files from your camera for instance to a computer or USB thumb drive, and more. You can check this out at Hyperdrive CloudFTP listed on Google shopping, as well as listed by

This is not a warning about a present and future of danger to you. Not at all, but it is an alarm for you to learn about what you are getting into using any of these new and extended communications tools. You do need to understand how they work so you can take the essential precautions to avoid serious consequences. These days I get frequent e-mails from photographers who have adopted digital photography only recently, and often also new to using a computer. That means there is a backlog of essential basic how-to that may be missed by recent converts, that those of us who have used these tools for the last quarter century learned, all too often the hard way, by the knocking about you get when flying by the seat of your pants. 

I am glad to help when someone jumps in and buys a new desktop LCD display to use with a laptop, but did not realize to make it work for creating high quality digital photo prints, the display needs to be adjusted, calibrated and profiled too. Or a photographer wants to edit and save JPEG photo files and does not know the limitations inherent to the JPEG standard file format. But sometimes there is little I can do for someone who has an expensive scanner that is no longer manufactured and sold, because there is little support for the product. The one thing I can say that will help, and that is to become as well informed as possible about the tools you are using and be aware of what precautions they demand to make your world as secure as it can be.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Not long ago a photographer reader asked me why, considering most home/office computers are not capable of handling advanced, color managed photography editing, some companies do not make and sell a computer model that does. Well some PC makers back in the 90’s did, but apparently the volume of demand was not sufficient for them to be a viable, profitable business, so photography/imaging PC workstations have become a thing of the past.
I don’t expect most of you were paying much attention to personal computing when it was just beginning to get into the consumer marketplace in the mid 1980’s. But with a few long-gone rare exceptions, computers then did not have any graphics capability, the monitors were only capable of producing lines of text and numbers. They couldn't reproduce pictures. It wasn’t till the early 90’s that PC’s got a graphic user interface (GUI) , and the first version of Windows was very limited. It took a little more time before graphics paint and draw programs, some of which would support photographic images were generally available. In the industry graphics color was and still is largely unregulated; color devices were described as being color independent. In other words no standard of color was regulated and applied to any computer or image reproduction device that required them to be consistent with any color standard. But some companies got together and formed the International Color Consortium and did develop a standard color format, that is now the basis for the color management industry.
Even so, today the computer industry is the result of a free market that developed helter skelter and grew like topsy. Not even Sony one of the founding CRT monitor  companies, even makes displays today for their own computers. They dissolved their partnership with Samsung, one of the two largest manufacturers of LCD displays, the other being LG Electronics. So today, none of the popular computer manufacturers actually produce the LCD displays they sell as part of their computers. And the market that dictates what displays are and will be is dominated by their largest consumer segment, buyers of TV’s.
Today the individual photographers who wants a computer and display that supports high performance in digital photography reproduction is such a small market segment it is neither identified or acknowledged. In other words each photographer is on their own to put together a custom system that will do the best possible with digital photography. Fortunately there are companies like Eizo Nanao  and NEC as well as marketers like LaCie who produce and sell high graphic performance LCD displays. As well as Dell Computer has Ultrasharp (U2410) LCD display models that meet professional graphics performance requirements. Choosing a personal computer brand and model that also provides good support for digital photography is a bit like looking for a needle lost in a haystack.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


That there is not an easy way to use a digital photography editing application to get pictures to look their natural best is an accepted fact. Most see it is a steep software learning curve and competence using it takes a lot of practice. Images have many attributes like optimization to fit a computer file-space, Adobe calls levels, and then there is brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance sharpness and more. No one button click will do this in any of the image editing applications automatically found in consumer use today, except the first auto-Levels in Photoshop works quite reliably - but there is a long road yet to travel to perfection. The solution requires the image is open and displayed on a computer screen so you can see it and recognize what needs adjustment. The problem is that process does not provide the computer being used with any understanding of what the picture is your viewing.
For those of us who understand a digital image is a matrix of pixels and each one has five numerical values , an XY number set that locates the pixel’s location in the matrix, and a set of three RGB numbers that identify the pixel’s color. Whether the pixel information was made by digital camera with it’s own sensor that has a matrix of cells that function like millions of individual tricolor light meters or a scanner that does a similar thing essentially, a picture is not inherent in that mechanical information until it is reproduced by a computer screen and software or with a digital color printer. In other words, our computers are not aware we are dealing with pictures, just a lot of numbers for pixels whose pattern reveals a picture when reproduced. The users’ vision provides the recognition of what the subject of the picture is, but the hardware and software is not aware if it’s an image of a motorcycle or a horse, a cat or a chicken - we know what the subject is by seeing it, the machine and its software doesn’t.
These two disparate forms of information, a computer file and an image of reality do not come together in any sensible fashion for individuals. But in the world of media where newspapers, magazines use large numbers of images these two distinct kinds of image information have been brought together to efficiently process and enhance image quality for specific purposes. Over a decade ago Elpical in Europe has been providing an automated image enhancement service to media that combines objective image data and means to identify picture subjects based on acquired information through image processing that has resulted in an effective automatic enhancement that recognizes and identifies the kind of image that is being adjusted.
Just recently Elliptical made an individual user application software called Organic Imaging available. Immediately after the announcement at the DRUPA convention in Dusseldorf, Germany I downloaded a beta version of Organic Imaging. I found first that it does not have the distorting faults of the consumer image editing automatic adjustments, Organic Imaging recognizes when an image is ideally edited manually and leaves the file intact without change. To test it positively I made a selection of atypical, difficult to edit color slides, and scanned them to high-bit raw TIFF files. I processed these with Organic Imaging, and a separate set with Photoshop’s three auto adjustments, and finally took the raw originals through my personal workflow using SilverFast HDR for editing adjustment to finished ready to print 8-bit TIFF files. Organic Imaging enhanced and edited these image to results close to or exactly how I would do the processing manually. By the time this series of tests was done a release version of Organic Imaging was available I downloaded and installed. I then took some dSLR Raw files from my archives, converted them to raw 16-bit TIFF files and ran them through Organic Imaging with equally good results.
It is not just that Organic Imaging does an effective job of automatic image enhancement because it incorporates a recognition of picture subjects, but it is also a very easy to use and affordable software solution. There is no charge to download the Organic Imaging software from, and the processing of the first 250 images is also free. If you try it and like what you obtain enhancing 250 images, you can pay with a credit card through PayPal inside the application to process more at a modest rate each. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

ColorEyes Display Pro 1.6 for Mac - Apple Monitor Updater

The Apple Monitor plugin allows Coloreyes to adjust the brightness of Apple monitors automatically based on your target luminance value. There are no color adjustments in Apple monitors so all this tool does is adjust brightness. It definitely makes profiling easier and faster on Apple monitors - No longer mess around with the brightness sliders!

This standalone updater is specifically for customers who have already purchased ColorEyes Pro 1.6 prior to May 9, 2012. and will only run on v1.6. You can download the update only and install over your existing 1.6 install here:
Download the Apple Auto Brightness Updater Go to web URL adress at end of release

If you have an older version of ColorEyes running on Lion unfortunately there is not an option to update the apple monitor plugin other than upgrading to v1.6

If you want to update your copy of ColorEyes Display to 1.6 you can buy the latest updated version in our store for $49. All new purchases include the updated apple monitor plugin.
The 1.6 update requires that you already own a serial number.

Friday, April 20, 2012


When I was a kid in grade school I was able to go to Saturday movie matinees; and that was in the 1940’s. Living in a small city on the Canadian prairie during the Second World War there was nothing else available to me to see what the rest of the world was like. Those memories of matinee films stayed with me and I am sure influenced my work as a photographer some years later.
Being almost all black and white films the lighting of the subjects on-screen was a crucial part of the visual experience. And just by chance I recently became interested in films made before my time and found dozens from the 1930’s are available from NetFlix on DVD, a very affordable media for home entertainment. Even though the ’30’s was still early in motion picture history, the techniques and image quality is often as  fine as you will see in contemporary films. 
In the last couple of weeks I have seen about a dozen films from the 1930’s featuring stars that are still well known for what they accomplished on-screen. Some of the most outstanding include films with Marlene Dietrich directed by Josef von Sternberg beginning in the early 30’s and in 1934 with The Scarlet Empress a story of a young Prussian princess who was married to Peter III of Russia and soon learned the intricacies of Tsarist rule and took advantage to become Catherine II Empress of Russia. The large cast, ornate costuming and sets that replicate the Kremlin were an immense challenge to photograph and each scene is a lesson in masterful lighting as good as anything made today, and is easy to appreciate in black and white without the distraction of color. Plus now in America where women have yet to achieve full equality the story of Catherine II reminds us there have been great women everywhere throughout history.
The distinct style of Marlene Dietrich is unique to film history but there was a great variety of stars and films made also in France and America of course that are in NetFlix list of DVD’s. The American rage of Parisian entertainment, Josephine Baker best known for her dancing in nightclub revues was also a star of films like Zouzou directed by Marc Allegret which featured her superb acting abilities as well as a role as singer, and of course gorgeously exotic for those days. Films with Josephine Baker go back to 1927, although Zouzou was made in 1934.  
We are more likely to think of Cecil B DeMille in terms of big American films about history, but in 1935 The Last Days of Pompeii with Preston Foster and a large cast of Hollywood actors and actresses told the story of the period before and at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius. It is another black and white spectacle on screen with masterful lighting of a demanding and extravagant set and equally varied scenes in the picture. One of the great advantages of these old films now on DVD, you can easily stop the film at any frame and capture a still, so you can study the lighting more acutely. With some setups that still can be saved and you will be surprised how well it will reproduce as a B&W print.
Could a photographer ask for anything more at the low cost of renting a NetFlix classic movie that’s full of lighting lessons that apply just as well as any current instruction for lighting even with digital photography?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Many photographers who have been making pictures for a long time have a collection of images still on film. The advent of digital photography has taught us there are many advantages in having these images in digital format, for preservation to avoid fading colors in films, as well as easier more compact and economic storage among many other conveniences. But unlike me some of you do not find scanning and editing digital images the pleasure I do. But affordable scan services that are all done in America have not been readily available, and having your photos sent to a third world country for scanning is just too scary at any price, or maybe politically offensive.
Now one of the better names in digital photography, Lumier Photo, has announced a new modest cost film and print scanning service that is all done in Rochester, NY. The service they are offering is done by skilled technicians, and your original image remains safe and secure here in the USA.
Both prints scans and film image scans can be saved in either JPEG or TIFF format. The print scan resolution is selectable between 300dpi and 600dpi using a flatbed scanner. And film in 35mm , super 35mm , 126 format as well as 110 slides, even half-frame 35mm slide are scanned at either 4000, 2400 or 2000dpi for storage on CD or DVD discs.
Scan prices start at $.70 or $.80 for prints and $.75 for a slide. Service can be extended to include repair of image damage, as well as restoration via digital editing and processing after the image is scanned. 
Anyone interested in image scan services can contact Lumier Photo at 100 College Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, or call 585-461-4447; or visit their web site at
Since LCD displays for computers have become popular ColorEyes Display Pro has helped many photographers with display color management support that has both advanced capabilities and is effective and easy to use software. Now with the announcement of Version 1.6 for the Apple Mac ColorEyes capabilities and support for sensor hardware has been extended to the X-Rite i1 Display Pro, the original X-Rite ColorMunki, the new Spyder4 including multiple monitor support, as well as DDC support for NEC PA series displays, Wacom Cintiq tablets and some Dell displays.
Although the Mac Lion 10.7 monitor plugin has not arrived for ColorEyes from Apple, that upgrade will be covered in this Version 1.6 as a free update in the future. Support for all the previous colorimeters and spectrophotometers in the previous version of ColorEyes will remain. The extent of the added support in this new upgrade requires an upgrade fee of $49, as well as a serial number from a current version of ColorEyes.
Additional information about this new Version 1.6 and ColorEyes is available on their web site at:, or call 978-670-1416
Integrated-Color Corp. PO Box 738, Barrington, NH 03825

Saturday, April 14, 2012


One of the bad jokes of April was that a Java enabled malware had attacked millions of Apple Mac users. It’s not unpredictable considering Apple since the introduction of the iPhone and iPad has become one of the most popular and active technology companies in the world. So of course it will attract the disaffected and discontent who will launch attacks on Apple systems. Sadly I am afraid the protection we had from Apple being a niche player in a much larger world is gone and disappeared in the bright light of popular high tech toys.
Today MacWorld published an analysis of how Apple has responded to the attack. Since the infection was noticed Apple has sent Mac users three new Java upgrades. The latest apparently contains a “tool to remove the flashback malware from infected systems”. I can’t say if this will be continued by Apple vigilance and equally effective and timely responses in the future. But in the personal computer world in the past user were pretty much on their own and had to spend money and effort to protect their computers from the risk of attackers infecting and damaging personal computer resources.
It seems maybe a bit paternalistic on Apple’s part. But personally I would like having expert eyes behind me that will step in with upgrades and fixes to make using a computer and the internet less risky. It is inhumanely technical and almost alien to those of us who are not part of corporate consumerism, so it is welcome that Apple identifies so readily with its customers the people who have become a part of the community. I felt this somewhat over a decade ago when I moved from the PC world to Apple, and even though I had problems that were addressed in a way that supported my loyalty, I was not fully convinced being a part of the press and known to be outspoken. Was Apple just helping me because I have a voice and might write critically of them?  But this very different public role Apple has taken in defense of users to protect them from external attacks and the subterfuge of hackers, has put Apple on the side of people, its customers. The Apple stores, now in ever more communities is a symbol unlike their competitors they do not hide from the people who depend on them.
This recent flashback malware is the first significant general attack on Mac users and Apple with its latest Java upgrade assumes responsibility in its protection strategy. So let’s hope the enemy takes a lesson from the Apple response and unlike others Apple will not put its customers out on their own in the position of dealing with security and at the mercy of dubious outside companies that make a profit from the fears of people who are at risk, encouraging the attackers to do even more damage. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Some choices are an advantage. You can select a digital camera from many that suit your needs and are within your budget, and likely get good quality image results. Almost as many choices are available for computer applications that support editing and processing digital camera image files for both Windows PC’s and Apple Macs, and they will get the job done effectively for most users. But when it comes to how to manage, and adjust a computer display screen for photography using an application like Adobe Elements or Lightroom and how to do it, the internet is full of imagined options and short on reliable facts.
If you run a Google search on a workspace profile name like Adobe RGB (1998), which is a pretty well known term now because advanced digital cameras can be set to save in Adobe RGB, you might expect an understandable explanation in an Acrobat .PDF document published by Adobe. I doubt you will get past the first couple of pages before giving up. If you don’t have an understanding of advanced physics the formulae are a mystery that explains nothing to most ordinary photographers, might as well open a text on trigonometry for entertainment.
But then if you get into some of the internet forum discussions about color management and display calibration and profiling, you might find questions from many users whether they should set their display to Adobe RGB (1998). The simple answer is no, and the reason is Adobe RGB (1998) is a workspace profile for Photoshop and many other Adobe applications to use internally, it’s not a display profile. But in an hour of reading I only found this information by chance, deep into a lot of extraneous discussions.
Some of the readers who are aware of color management as it applies to displays, ask what color temperature (white point) to use, and what gamma setting, realizing there are a lot of options. But are there really, even though some users employ various different settings? Today these are false and misleading choices for most photographers using a computer. Present computer systems like Windows and Apple have conformed to one standard gamma of 2.2 and a color temperature of D65 or 6500K. So lets just look at these basic settings as they are applied to todays LCD displays for computers. 
Even though some computer users still select the old Apple standard of D50 or 5000K, and gamma 1.8 they have their reasons, maybe that the display color temperature should match the color of the working environment. Many have installed D50 work area lighting. So I have to ask if D65 on a display looks too blue in D50 environment light, maybe it would be less costly and difficult today to replace the environment lighting, in the old days there weren’t any options, but today there are. But I am afraid people are inclined to hang onto what they are used to and resist change.
However technology changes, and one standard that applies to LCD displays now is that the backlight for the screen is 6500K. So if a user wants 5000K or D50 instead that shift has to be made in most cases by the resources in the computer’s video card. (Eizo Coloredge displays excepted, as are NEC Spectraview models.) Maybe that capability for the rest should be kept free for more important functions. Personally I changed the room lighting in my lab to LED lamps that last a very long time and use little electricity while producing an even amount of light of a color temperature that closely matches my LCD display’s backlight. It was easy to do and the price was a very small fraction of what an LCD display costs.
The other specification some insist they have to modify is gamma. The standard 2.2 some argue does not reveal enough detail in dark areas of subjects. Well there is an option in most display management software aim points, and that is to raise the black luminance to a slightly higher value than minimum. That will then be a part of your display profile and set the reproduction of the darkest black in an image a bit higher on the physical range of values the display reproduces. This will make what is in shadow more easily seen on screen.
Yes I am arguing for conformity to standards, a bit regimental for some Americans comfort likely. But there are good reasons. One is that many photographers will use an Adobe or another application from Corel or Lasersoft SilverFast that are color managed. And adobe, the most popular, in its Color Setting asks you to select a working-space profile for RGB editing like Adobe RGB (1998) or sRGB, which are used by many of us. Working space profiles impose their built-in settings on the display of images on screen. On launching the application whether Elements or CS5 Photoshop, the application references the default display profile so it can adjust images to the working space profile’s dictates, and in the case of sRGB and Adobe RGB the gamma is 2.2 and the color temperature (whitepoint) is 6500K. So If you have chosen a different white point and gamma it is essential that you select a working space profile that coincides with your gamma and white point choices if you want to work with Adobe applications and have your images accurately reproduced.
With Apple Macs their applications like iPhoto and Aperture work in display space, and if you save a TIFF file the display profile will be embedded in the file. This doesn’t help anyone else who receives the TIFF file because it is unlikely they can duplicate your display and its profile. So with Apple you have the ability with the Colorsync utility to convert the image to Adobe RGB (1998) and then it will be the image’s embedded profile. In other words color management is designed by Adobe’s implementation, and Apple’s to share image files with others computers, and they can reference the embedded profile and display the image as you saw it with your system to the extent hardware differences allow.
There are good and broad beneficial reasons to adopt standards, besides making life a bit easier on yourself,

Friday, April 6, 2012


That is what Scott Kelby has suggested. What is it? An adjustment in the print output module of Lightroom 4.1 that supports luminance adjustment or “matching”. From what I have read from users in web forums it can obtain a corrected print brightness if the image file otherwise produces a color-managed print that is too dark.
Some may think this new tool corrects the problem. But no, it may compensate for the dark print but the cause of prints too dark remains because the LCD display hardware is still too bright. This causes the user to miss-edit the brightness of the file with his software. And even if the user has calibrated and profiled the display, dark prints are only part of the error that results. If the luminance range of the display caused poor imaging editing adjustment with software, calibrating and profiling a too bright display will also produce a display profile that is skewed and will not result in either seeing accurate color reproduction on-screen but also skewed color in resulting prints even if the brightness is adjusted with Lightroom to an acceptable level.
One of the more frequent commentators on color management, the Digital Dog (Andrew Rodney) posted a concluding comment on the discussion of the luminance matching adjustment in Lightroom 4.1, “Title: Re: Luminance matching: Soft Proof vs. Print Adjustment sliders - Post by: digitaldog on April 05, 2012, 08:58:55 AM
Quote from: jeremyrh on Today at 02:44:18 AM
One could argue that using the brightness slider is no more a "hack" than turning down the brightness of the screen  ;D
I could argue it easily (want to go there?). 
A print is either too dark or it isn’t. Got nothing to do with the screen. A print might match the screen, might not. Different story. One slider affects the output (and only in a single application while leaving the RGB values alone). The other slider affects the display and leaves all files in all applications alone and consistently. So yup, I think the sliders that affect a document that is too dark, solely for a print, in a single application is a hack. People can use it (they can use a preset or adjustment layer in say Photoshop). As long as they understand the causes and effect of the problem, fine with me. Now if you want a print that isn’t too dark and you want it to match the display, the hack isn’t going to help one bit.”
One might ask why, even though Lightroom 4.1 is in public beta, would the company, Adobe, include a fix for “prints too dark” that avoids the basic hardware cause that LCD displays are too bright? Is it because user printing has been adversely affected by photographers just giving up because of frustration with poor printing results? Has the photographer discouragement reduced Lightroom software sales recently? And if the application has a print output luminance fix correcting for dark prints, maybe it will encourage more users to upgrade to Lightroom 4? I really wonder because this fix that does not correct for the LCD display hardware cause, surely could come back on everyone with a sharp sting. The fix has a high price even if it works to obtain better brightness print output, but at what cost to color and image quality?
I don’t have any answer other than to use an LCD display that will adjust to photographic color management requirements. Although there is not a lot to choose from and most pro-graphic displays are costly, a software work-around seems to just delay the inevitable. But in the five years the prints too dark problem has plagued many, many photographers, I have not seen any industry support to encourage people to avoid the cause and use good color-management solutions. For many of us prints too dark is not a problem, and it doesn’t need to be for anyone serious about doing digital photography. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012


David B. Brooks - March 2012
In recent questions and answers in Shutterbug Digital Help there has been a concentration of interest in LCD displays, color management and printing reproduction problems. For me it began to show up about five years ago when there was an eruption of complaints listed from numerous sources on Google about “my prints are too dark”. I began to investigate what the dark prints problem was and what might be causing the problem. In the beginning there was no apparent and clear picture, it was complicated with few common elements. Some were blaming color management directly or indirectly, but that was obviously not an answer although color management was affected by the problem. The reason was that color management and the use of profiles does not involve the lightness or darkness of print output. That is entirely a function of the brightness and contrast adjustment stored in the image file that is being printed. It was not a printer or print driver problem because there were no commonalities, all printers and drivers were involved in the problem and these same printers and drivers were also used without a print too dark issue.
This concentration of interest is due to what the display and computer industry offers and what the digital camera industry develops and promotes, as well as a practice of denial by many major players in the industry, including Adobe, Intel, Microsoft and Apple, just to name a few. They do not admit that there is a problem of “prints too dark” even though early in its development Google had millions of hits on the subject posted on their web site.
Why there is a problem is because the color management system (ICC) was designed when only CRT monitors were used with computers, and incidentally the average brightness (white luminance) at about 90.0 CD/m2, if the monitor was adjusted to 6500K color temperature. The coincidence is that 80.0 to 90.0 CD/m2 is a match to paper white. So a correlation between a screen image with a color managed system and a color print output came about naturally some years ago.
The prints too dark problem arose as CRT monitors were displaced by newer LCD displays, which are generally much brighter with a higher white luminance compared to CRT monitors. Without adjustment of the white luminance, photographic images edited and adjusted using an LCD display that’s too bright and recorded by the image file. So when printed by a color managed workflow the prints were correspondingly dark. That may seem counter-intuitive, but it is not considering the process. If the image was edited and adjusted on a display brighter than paper, when it is sent to a printer driver the RGB positive is inverted to a CMYK image that tells the printer how much ink to put on the paper. But if the image file assumes the paper is brighter than reality, too much ink is applied to normal brightness paper.
This problem becomes even more complicated by how camera companies function in what they provide photographers. For snap-shooters using point-and-shoot  cameras a JPEG/sRGB file is adjusted in brightness by the camera’s processor assuming the real, true brightness of paper, so if the file goes directly to a print service the printing machine applies the correct amount of ink for the brightness of the image. If the photographer has a typical home/office computer with an LCD display and opens the image to edit it with an application like Adobe Elements, Lightroom or Photoshop; they are all color managed applications which adjust the Adobe working space to match the display profile. If the computer is not display color-managed then the Adobe applications matches to the generic profile installed by the computer/display. If the display has been adjusted, calibrated and profiled at a bright luminance setting, the color-managed display is for a color set that is greater than paper, so it will be skewed. In either case color matching becomes dubious; but as long as the working space is sRGB and the image from the camera is sRGB, color divergence may not be very apparent. But if the Adobe working space is set for printing (Adobe RGB 1998), then both the color range and brightness are off, plus an sRGB display will only reproduces 2/3rds of the color in Adobe RGB.

A similar situation exists if a photographer uses a dSLR camera and saves in Raw format. Then even if Adobe RGB workspace for printing is selected, if the LCD display has only an sRGB color range, of the possible colors in the image will not be reproduced on-screen. And if the screen is not adjusted to the equivalent of 80.0 or 90.0 CD/m2 white luminance, profiling of the display may be skewed in addition to the image being edited for a greater brightness than printing on paper matches.
Many in the industry understand that standard home/office computer displays involve a multitude of contrary catch 22, problems relative to their use for digital photography. So if that were admitted would photographers buy these computers and image editing applications and adjust their photographs perceptually on-screen? Maybe not, some wouldn’t. Some would just use JPEG/sRGB save and send their images unedited to a print service. But many photographers want to fix errors in photographs, crop them, and combine them together, or whatever “magic” is offered by application sold to them. Some would also like to print their own images for Christmas cards or birthday greetings, so many things people like to do like sharing images with relatives and friends.
But when a photographer buys a home/office computer most may not be aware that there is nothing in the computer that has any data as to what the color content as seen in the display is and what the colors are according to any standard. There is a general conformity that the red, green and blue data in image files is reproduced as such by computers. And that is why display management software and hardware, a colorimeter sensor to measure the display are offered. These display management devices do two things: 1. Calibrate the display and provide a data file adjusting video output so it conforms to the ICC (International Color Consortium) standard RGB colors. The calibration file goes into the computer’s boot-up folder and is started when the computer is turned on. 2. The display is measured exactly as it reproduces a pattern of standard ICC colors and records variations from the standard in a text file called a profile. This file is placed in the operating system color profile folder, and is activated as the display’s default profile. This profile is referenced by color managed applications like Adobe, Elements, Lightroom and Photoshop and is used to adjust the video output to conform to the working space profile selected, like Adobe RGB (1998) or sRGB. Although some of the newest display management software has automatic display control, many home/office displays do not have supporting DDC (Digital Display Control) that will allow ADC activation and display adjustment. So many LCD displays, even if color managed, may not be adjusted for the white luminance that matches paper white, it’s not easily done manually with good success.
Most home/office LCD displays are very bright compared to CRT monitors from the past, with maximum white luminance as high as 400.0 CD/m2. If this brightness is lowered to 80.0 or 90.0 CD/m2 white luminance, if it can be decreased that much, very often the color reproduction is adversely affected and distorted.
For photographers who use dSLR cameras and save images in Raw format there are only a very few pro graphics LCD displays that both reproduce nearly all of the Adobe RGB (1998) color gamut range, and will adjust to 80.0 or 90.0 CD/m2 white luminance and reproduce highly accurate color, they are:
1. The Dell Ultraharp U2410 24 inch 1920x1200 pixel LCD display.
2. The LaCie 324i 24 inch 1920x1200 pixel LCD display.
3. The Eizo Nanao Coloredge and both Flexscan S and SX display models in all sizes.
4. The NEC Spectraview model displays in all sizes necessarily including the Spectraview software and a supported colorimeter.
Current display management systems include: X-Rite i1 Display Pro, Data Color 
Spyder4 Elite, and the ColorEyes Display Pro software and a supported colorimeter. 
Some photographers may be lucky and avoid problems like “prints too dark”. Others may just give up and loose interest. The rest we have heard from, often completely confused by every difference of opinion there is on all of the photo web sites. If the display is color managed with calibration and profiling at a brightness with a greater white luminance than 80.0 or 90.0 CD/m2, then the profile does not match the colors that should be reproduced in a print. In other words a bright LCD display that is calibrated and profiled will not reproduce color-managed print output in either print density or color that matches the image displayed on-screen.
However, I am not alone on this issue. Good answers are available from dozens of color management shops around the country, from both NEC Spectraview and Eizo Nanao display dealers located in most major cities, from the professional departments of some large camera stores and pro labs, as well as in the accredited schools of professional photography; not to mention the many individual photographers I have become acquainted with. I seem alone on this in the press largely because enthusiast photographers do not frequent expensive professional services, and Best Buy has no solutions, just standard home/office computers. 
This is not just a problem for serious photographers, it is an opportunity. Many serious amateur photographers want to understand and get the best results available to them. In the last five years since “my prints are too dark” made me do some frantic searching and investigation the digital photography and personal computer markets have changed. With cameras there are ever more varied choices, but selecting a computer that will support digital photographic editing and processing is a not even a fair crap shoot. Most home/office computers will handle JPEG/sRGB snapshots and sharing images with friends and family in many different ways, by e-mail, in slide-shows, or on a public web site. But doing any serious image editing although possible opens up complications. For instance, although Adobe and other software vendors do not tell you; Elements, Lightroom and Photoshop are color managed applications; and that really demands calibrating and profiling your display. If you don’t you also do not get an accurate image of your photo on-screen according to any color standard and if sent in an e-mail the picture may not look like what you saw on-screen when it arrives on another computer.
If you buy an advanced dSLR camera and want to reproduce the best image qualities it offers, a companion computer must be even more capable and specialized than most off-the-shelf store models are.  If you want to use the Raw digital camera format, then most of the displays on home/office computers available today will only reproduces 2/3rds of the color variations captured by the camera. If you want to make prints that duplicate the image you see on-screen, the LCD display has to be adjusted to a brightness that matches that of paper-white in printing paper. This along with a color range that reproduces Adobe RGB in Raw camera files is only available with a very few professional grade LCD displays.
Digital cameras and computer have little in common. But the basic rationale and practical considerations that apply to choosing a camera also apply to choosing a computer to do digital photography processing and editing. First you determine what kind of photography you want to do. Then you select how you want to use the resulting images. Then you select a camera and accessories that will accomplish that within your budget. The more advanced and sophisticated you want to get with photography the more you need to acquire a sophisticated camera type, make and model to select and buy, usually at a high cost. These same considerations apply to a computer you may want to use to do your digital photography processing and editing – the two technologies need to parallel each other to accomplish success with both.