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.