Saturday, August 10, 2013


For photographers who need color managed computer editing and processing, a new class of professional grade displays has arrived. This was confirmed to me that NEC’s PA242W is an LED back-lit 24 inch LCD display offering a color range width of 99.3% of Adobe RGB. At a list price of $1,299 in todays market it better be more than good.

For the rest of us, Asus has a 24 inch LCD monitor with 1920x1200 resolution and an Adobe RGB color range that is selling on-line for just over $500. Very soon after receiving an Asus PA249Q for testing and an evaluation report I had it installed on my newest Mac mini. Adjusting, calibrating and profiling with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro resulted in the closest match to my selected aim points I have achieved with any recent display.

This new Asus reproduces digital photographic images with accurate color, smooth tones and very fine detail. It made a number of portrait images easy to retouch manually with Photoshop, with the efficient clean up and correction of complexion errors were effortless to produce finely glamorous images to print. Land and city-scapes were equally easy to edit the image values to obtain an ideal balance of highlight to shadow detail, with a range of colors true as my vision could recall and imagine of the original scene. 

With this new LED backlight just introduced to professional level LCD displays, I was a bit skeptical as this form of backlight, even though it uses less electric power and generates less waste heat has been thought to also reproduce less accurate visual colors. But the RG Phosphor setting selection type the current i1 Display Pro software offers results in a profiled display screen that is a match to some of the best recent CCFL backlight displays I have used. The products from doing edits from high resolution raw scan files proved to me I can obtain an accurate visual perception of image values and adjust to an ideal I cannot improve on.

This technology world we live in keeps changing leaving us lost at almost every turn. But this latest Asus brought me back to where I needed to be to get the visual evidence on screen I require to do justice to photographic editing. Sometimes with new things we get more PR-speech than proof, and the change is just another pain where it hurts most. I cannot imagine doing professional quality photo editing with an iPhone, but that is the latest claim I read in my news today. No wonder many of us are wary of this new world we get as each day passes. It is re-assuring Asus understands the essential parameters that must be met to obtain good professional graphics on-screen reproduction, They set about providing it with no fuss or feathers, the PA249Q monitor is easy to deal with and provides what is needed, a very good quality LCD display at an affordable cost in today’s world many of us can afford.

If you have any questions or comments send David B Brooks an e-mail at

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I have been subscribed for a long time to Google’s news service for information on photography and technology. Usually what I get each week are references to stories I have already been aware of to some extent, so seldom exciting until this week. Google news service did a compilation of at least a dozen articles about digital camera sales in America and elsewhere. There was a great contrast with some news that mirrorless system cameras only have 2% of sales in the USA, and five times as many, 10% in Japan.

Google was circumspect about why Americans are not buying these new, technically capable but much slimmer and lighter camera packages, indicating Americans don’t think they are “real”. I’ll not be quite so indirect by saying what I read between the lines in what enthusiasts say to me in e-mail is that dSLR cameras are attractive to them because they have an obvious look and feel to their previous 35mm film counterparts. And , that the new mirrorless system cameras are just fancy point-and-shoot cameras they do not see any serious photography enthusiast being seen with one and being respected as a photographer. In other words it doesn’t matter what technology has accomplished by putting as much performance in a smaller, lighter mirrorless system camera, it does not resemble what they recognize as a serious camera.

America, I have to assume is still a major part of the world camera market, so if camera companies cannot sell but a very small part of what they develop for the future in the USA, and the rest of the world remains in a recession; this rejection of mirrorless system cameras could be a very large loss to camera companies other than Canon and Nikon who have been late and put little into their mirrorless system offerings. But I’ll not venture any predictions on how this will play out ahead. Maybe like me, other photo enthusiast will also get tired of lugging a large heavy bag of gear around. When I changed the mirrorless systems were not available, but a very small but high resolution Sigma DP1 replaced my dSLR. Would I have chosen one of the new mirrorless system cameras instead? Probably not as the cameras that interest me currently are the Fuji X series, a step in a slightly different technology direction. Photographers won’t follow any trends set for them, it’s just like trying to herd cats. 

What I wished for in days past before digital, was the time and resources to go out and make photographs with my 8x10 inch field camera.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


After the LaCie 324i was discontinued there have been few affordable LCD displays to choose from, with Dell’s Ultrasharp U2413 the remaining choice at about $500. 
In the last week two new Adobe RGB wide gamut LCD displays with all the specifications photographers and pro-graphics users require have been announced. 

The first of these new professional-graphics LCD displays  is the LG PrimeColor 27EA83-D model that is already on some store shelves. However, it is a large 27 inch model priced at just under $1000, a very modest amount for that large a screen. And, unlike all previous pro-graphics models, this new LG has LED backlight which had been avoided for continued use of CCFL by all previous makers including NEC and Eizo. But that difference may be minor if the display is accurately adjusted, calibrated and profiled, it should still reproduce a superior quality of reproduction of photographic images. The important capabilities that it can be reduced in white luminance brightness to 80.0 CD/m2, and has a 10-bit processor for smooth tone gradations, using an IPS screen, puts this new LG with an LED backlight in an equal category of performance with the much more costly established brands and models of pro-graphics LCD’s.

The second new premium pro-graphics LCD display with an LED backlight is a 24 inch model from Asus called the PA249Q that is not yet being delivered but is listed by many stores and on the web for just over $500 competing in price with the popular Dell Ultrasharp U2413. The performance specification of this new Asus are almost the same as the LG PrimeColor model with an Adobe RGB wide color gamut and being capable of adjustment in white luminance to 80.0 CD/m2 so it will be capable of supporting color managed printing without dark prints.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


What is life but a trip through time? Time is the one thing we cannot influence or control. As individuals, what was before can never be restored, because what went before is now a part of who we are, and restoration is just adding a new branch onto the tree that has become you and me. We do choose the journey somewhat if only by opening the doors of opportunity circumstance and others put in our faces to unlatch or pass by. The one opportunity I have usually opened doors to explore new paths, is photography.
I tried many other doors along the way, and with good luck learned more about myself, and the world I was living in. But now after 60 years of travel, I have settled to not opening any new doors, I’m road weary. So it is maybe a time, as long as I can do a little, to look back on my journey to understand where I have been and what that road now means to me, and maybe a few who travel parallel paths.
Of course because anyone reading this has a parallel interest in photography, that has to be the main focus of my thoughts. Because without subjects there is no photography, it necessarily complicates the story. Because for me photography was not just making pictures, but engaging in the adventures in living that involved my subjects. A lot of exploration and occasionally some adventure if not knowing much about your subject requires a lot of learning.
Of course being based in Hollywood to do my photography the one natural subject there are the many beautiful and interesting women in town for a variety of reasons. The challenge is always to what extent the interests and intentions of women as subjects coincides with my interest in photographing them. A challenge always, as the relationship was never much more than a guessing game because very few of my subjects made it simple. And when they did, very often the photographic potential suffered. Complexity is a mystery very often worth exploring. It’s much richer than mutual exploitation to fill simple, particularly common needs.
Hollywood is also a place that needs dilution and counterpoint. So the fact getting in a car usually and seeking picture adventures with distinctly diverse subjects was essential to both my work and perspective. I learned this early when I was a reluctant military person stationed in Alaska. The people I knew there were mostly indifferent or impossible challenges to get along with. But free time off base was a land full of challenge I now wish I had the skill then to capture photographically, much better than I was able to do.
But in the early 1950’s just learning how to do all of the photographic process was a thousand times the challenge it is today. Yes I accept, but resent the advancements that have made photography easier, because today due to easy there are many billions of mediocre images of almost every corner of environment, and kind of human, this planet contains. The results seems to me that photography no longer attracts much serious interest as a way to express a creative talent, so few do that. Is that a reason for me to be cynical and negative about the democratization of photography?
No for many reasons, but the most recent to come to mind arose from this year’s carnival season. From just one magazine I read, The Atlantic, I was able to enjoy quite fine photography from Rio’s Carnival. Besides the mind boggling display of creativity captured in the pictures; to know so immediately that the joy of life is so well celebrated in Brazil, provides much more hope than despair about this world today. It also reminds me that the change from analogue to digital that began for me in 1989, afforded a new opportunity to learn and explore; and to acquire new tools to better perform the skills I have been developing for most of my life.
One might suggest it is all the result of attitude, and for a photographer it is an attitude of an open and exploring vision. You can only make photographs of what you see in your mind’s eye as a picture. The way life and things looked yesterday may be very different in tomorrow’s world. So, how people are looking and seeing today may suggest those new attitudes of vision. That does not mean the obvious of taking up and doing photography with an iPhone or the camera in the latest tablet computer. But how does having a camera integrated into one’s daily living tools affect how we see life from moment to moment. This was so readily illustrated by a one in a century meteorite which struck earth in the Russian Urals near a city and was captured in its flight across the sky by many different cameras, some stationary, some in vehicles and in the hands of people. So now everyone in the world can see some of what that experience looked like, and maybe it will be another century before a meteor strikes again, but now we all know what it looks like.

             Daydream -2000

Monday, February 4, 2013


Just as the Eskimo has been de-tribalized via print, going in the course of a few years from primitive nomad to literate technician, so we, in an equally brief period, are becoming tribalized via electronic channels.”
-Edmund Carpenter / Marshall McLuhan - Explorations In Communications

Most who do photography today are very aware making images has been revolutionized in process from an analogue to a digital media. To a large extent that change has masked the even greater change photography plays in the culture of our times. Most of what organizes our images is a different media that has not changed picture content, but how we use photography as a communication within the cultural environment.

Photography has over a century old place in our history, but only recently have photos been shared and communicated through the internet as part of every aspect of our daily exchanges between people. In the analogue days of photography what camera users did was a specialty isolated as a hobby or profession in the culture. That distinction and isolation no longer exists with FaceBook, Flickr, Instagram and hundreds of similar media hosts connecting all of us to a world of pictures and much more. News and advertising accessing us through ours and others images - we live in a global museum of pictures of ourselves and the world. Google anything and you find what it looks like in a digital photo on a computer display screen.

The tribalization McLuhan and Carpenter referred to in 1960 has largely occurred in my adult lifetime from the mid’50’s to the present. Photographs as cultural material content
has remained largely the same although improved significantly in image quality over time. What has changed is the role images play in our culture, the global village is now a space well known through photographs. The great varieties of ethnic distinctions in people has diminished in two generations. Everyone today looks like another human being to our younger generations. But of course some old-timers are anxious and fearful their presence has disappeared with their past.

We have known the phrase Global Village for half a century and have realized the technologies of today make the world a smaller place through travel, shipping and communications. But are we aware of the cultural changes. Hardly, as they are evolving in and around is unseen but still apparent and powerful. Some college teachers have noted their students are now different than before, and we call them millennials. But do we of the older generations know them? I could say what does the word ‘gangnam’ mean. You can look it up on Google and you will find: you get ten different breakdowns of the term mostly referring to style. "Gangnam Style" is a Korean neologism mainly associated with upscale fashion and a lavish lifestyle associated with trendsetters in Seoul’s Gangnam district, which is considered the most affluent part of the metropolitan area. In colloquial usage, it is comparable to the English slang terms “swag” or “yolo”. Although half way around the world in a country with a spoken and written language very alien to our own english & european counterparts, its culture has spread into the western world in many ways beyond their Samsung and LG electronic products and Kia and Hyundai automobiles. There are no leaders in Korea intentionally exporting their cultural idioms. It’s just mutual human interest through music and fashions that propel differences around the world.

How we are being tribalized can in part be blamed on new technologies like cell phones and and the internet; but hardware does not explain behavior and culture. The the physical means ideas and concepts are communicated and how that has changed our view of reality influencing how people act and react, is something more. Now we exist as if we really are living in a small village that now encompasses the entire planet, or most of it. The term viral expresses all this occurs instantly, but how it comes about is inexplicable. Something that has universal meaning happens significantly in one place, and its affects spread around the world. The most immediate example was the gang rape on a bus in Delhi, India. The news spread instantaneously well beyond India, and one affect was fear among women. Since that awful rape and death of the victim, women in India and elsewhere are beginning to come out into the open to criticize their society, a typically paternalistic authoritarian but supposedly democratic regime, of its failing half of their population. That story resonates in much of the world and the result is a lessening of the establishment’s power in this “man’s” world, and extending a common populism to another including everyone.

As photographers, is there anything we need to do? No, pictures are like words they are neutral. We just have to be vigilant they are not used intentionally to do harm to others. Culture evolves of its own without much governance. Making laws that inhibit culture has never worked. We just have to live with it and keep it connected to reality as much as possible, supporting that which has a positive meaning to human life. 

Hackers in China Attacked The Times for Last 4 Months

For the last four months, Chinese hackers have persistently attacked The New York Times, infiltrating its computer systems and getting passwords for its reporters and other employees.
After surreptitiously tracking the intruders to study their movements and help erect better defenses to block them, The Times and computer security experts have expelled the attackers and kept them from breaking back in.
The timing of the attacks coincided with the reporting for a Times investigation, published online on Oct. 25, that found that the relatives of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, had accumulated a fortune worth several billion dollars through business dealings.

Really, how can any force silence thousands and thousands of cell-phone users living in every corner of the global village, all talking to each other? There is no security against the talk that fills every village and changes feelings and ideas. Centralized force is becoming absurd, but not defeated. The powers of politics will stir the pot, so let’s be vigilant, so that it does not spoil the stew.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Our senses afford us the experience of life. The arts that derive from our senses are the rewards of care, value, as well as the gifts of many others that make up our world. Although we are flooded today with the arts of the senses we are yet to become immune to their heritage and influence.

It was a very different world we lived in when we could not share in worlds of spirits not our own. And what is our own is more now a commonality than an exclusion. Life has become much larger as our world has become smaller. Yet we cannot accept others or get along with them because their spirits are somehow foreign although as human as our own. We become smaller not larger by taking without giving the appreciation of all the many others that share their spirits with us.

I have learned that one spirit teaches another. My spirit was first awakened by music. Then the necessities of life interrupted and I became aware of a visual spirit I found in photography. Although it consumed my interest in and dominated my spirit for some time, I have gradually returned to a life  involving both the audial realm as well as the seeing one.

Little by little the two spirits I follow have come together with a little help. That was a four year long project of working in photography to illustrate many different kinds of music. It opened my ears to music I had not known before and provided new challenges to my being able to see the world as photographs. But most that sight and sound can be related spirits, not antagonistic worlds unto themselves. That is not unusual as many listen and look at the same time. But the extent to which they are related is seldom thought of except by circumstance. An opera, a musical theater, naturally bring all the spirits together. But we do that intentionally and it seldom occurs without trying and deliberate effort.

However there are many instances in life around the world like carnival in Venice and Rio where it is a natural coincidence, others as well I am aware of too that are less obvious to most people.  The spirits of sight, sound and motion live well together when people get together and celebrate this life we all take part in. So why not enjoy it all as one where our spirits flourish together.

This can happen individually too if we want it to. It doesn’t have to be passive, just having music as a background to daily tasks. The spirit of the images I create and work with can be related to the sounds I care about; conjoined together enhancing each other. It only requires an openness to something that is only divided in our minds as to how things should be, but should they? 

Many of the photographers I have known have also been musicians, or is it vice-versa. One I have recently corresponded with works at both music and making photographs, but apparently keeps each realm unto itself. That seems natural, but is it really; or is it the result of a culture we live in that assumes divisions that may not be true but endured none the less. My faith is that the spirits we all live with are one and the same, so dividing them is maybe a false promise, to what I do not know. 

I have learned after a lot of being oblivious that what has made me appreciate the spirit of sound and sight are from the same being just human. What divisions and limitations we apply to ourselves as part of being in a culture are real but not an imprisonment. We are really free to be as fully who we are as we have the courage to be.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


A couple of years ago or so a friend alerted me to a really good quality LCD display that supports professional-level digital image editing and color management. It is the Dell Ultrasharp U2410 display that when introduced had a list price of $599. Since then many of my readers have purchased this Dell U2410 and not one has faulted its very good performance.

Now a reader brought my attention to the Dell Ultrasharp U24110 being on sale for $200 less than its introductory list price. Now this excellent performing product is available for just $399. So even if you don’t need a new display LCD display today, get one now so when you need it you will have one. Just go to

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Recently an article has appeared in severals place on the web that is based on a exhibition and story by Mia Fineman a curator of photography at New York’s Metropolitan Museum. It looks at the pat, mostly the Pictorialist dominated history of photography that began just before the beginning of the 20th century,but brings into question the use of Photoshop in this current digital era of photography.


“By tracing the history of manipulated photography from the earliest days of the medium to the release of Photoshop 1.0 in 1990, Mia Fineman offers a corrective to the dominant narrative of photography’s development, in which champions of photographic “purity,” such as Paul Strand, Edward Weston, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, get all the glory, while devotees of manipulation, including Henry Peach Robinson, Edward Steichen, and John Heartfield, are treated as conspicuous anomalies. Among the techniques discussed on these pages—abundantly illustrated with works from an international array of public and private collections—are multiple exposure, combination printing, photomontage, composite portraiture, over-painting, hand coloring, and retouching. The resulting images are as diverse in style and motivation as they are in technique. Taking her argument beyond fine art into the realms of politics, journalism, fashion, entertainment, and advertising, Fineman demonstrates that the old adage “the camera does not lie” is one of photography’s great fictions.” Metropolitan Museum of Art book description on

MIA FINEMAN: Most of the earliest manipulated photographs were attempts to compensate for the new medium's technical limitations -- specifically, its inability to depict the world as it appears to the naked eye.

The idea for the exhibition grew out of a question that was posed at nearly every presentation on photography that I've given or attended in recent years: How has digital technology, especially image-processing software like Photoshop, changed photography's relationship to truth?

I discovered a connection between trick photography and stage magic, which was the most popular form of mass entertainment in the late 19th century. Stage magicians often performed illusions featuring decapitation and "talking heads," and this motif was quickly picked up by photographers, both professional and amateur.

Photographers have always used whatever technical means were available to them to create the pictures they wanted to create -- Photoshop is the latest tool. That said, I do think there's a tendency among some contemporary image-makers to overuse digital tools and effects -- but it's mostly a matter of taste. In the commercial world, especially in magazines and advertisements, digital retouchers sometimes get sloppy, but the general public has gotten very good at spotting telltale blunders like missing limbs or misaligned body parts, models with weirdly poreless skin, and errant shadows cast by absent objects.


Most experienced photographers realize from working with the process that every photograph is a distortion of reality, it is never true to objective reality or for that matter to what we see with our eyes. And for that matter neither is human vision anything but another kind of manipulation of objective reality. We are all fooled by our own minds to believe what we have learned to be “true”.

Fortunately many photographers in the last 150 years of its history have also written about their ideas  of what making a photograph is and should be. From soon after the beginning of the use of the process in England and France there  has been a movement of enthusiasts to have photography accepted as one of the established arts. Fortunately many of these statements have been published in a single book: A PHOTOGRAPHIC VISION - Pictorial Photography, 1889 - 1923, edited by Peter C. Bunnell.

Although much of what was written by many, some of whom have images referenced by Mia Fineman, smacks of political ideology of one primary purpose, that photography becomes an accepted medium among the arts establishment. In that regard various techniques were promoted as being more or less art-like, while a few argued for using a technique that rendered images truer to the nature of the photographic process, Sadakichi Hartmann in particular. One statement in 1896 by Gertrude Kasebier however was more autobiographically candid, indicating that what is true to a photographers vision should not be subject to the styles of what is commercially successful. “The key to artistic photography is to work out your own thoughts, by yourselves. Imitation leads to certain disaster...... New ideas are always antagonized. Do not mind that. If a thing is good it will survive.” 

The concluding 1923 section is edited by John Wallace Gillies after receiving letters from Clarence H. White, Dr. A D Chaffee, Edward Weston, Alexander P Milne and W H Porterfield as Statements by Pictorialists. Gilles comments leading into the series of letters. “In the Pictorial section of photography one can make almost any kind of statement he pleases, and some will nod sagely, ‘Yes‘ and others will disagree with great heat. It is right or wrong as it happens to strike the other fellow. There is nothing absolute, nothing settled. It is an art, or not an art as we please to have it. Stieglitz at present makes his pictures sharp and is ready to tell everybody that a fuzzy picture is not the thing. Clarence White likes his pictures softer, and has  held to that view, which speaks well for his opinion. Steichen made them fuzzy years ago, and now cannot get them sharp enough. So what are we to think? Each one has something to say and each statement is different. One might think from this that Pictorial Photography must be an art, for we find the same conditions among painters, all wrangling about what is best. True it is, therefor, that photographers have all the indispositions of artists and, if that makes art we surely have it in photography.

By Edward Weston
Dear Gillies:-
“You ask me to write a short ms. on “Pictorial Photography,” in other words “illustrative photography,” for such is my understanding of the word pictorial. Well I cannot, for it has been years since I left the genre field, and anyhow there are so many painters well fitted to carry on this little by-product of literature. Forgive me, Gillies, for playing with words, but really, is not just “Photography” good or bad, significant without “Pictorial” or “Artistic” tacked on?  .............

Gillies Note:
Mr. Weston, my very good friend and a man of impeccable honesty, has fallen in with words, written by gentlemen who use them to hide behind. With the exception of Sherwood Anderson and John Tenant, these gentlemen who talk glibly about logic of things, using photography as a blind, are all more or less lost in delusion and smoke a sort of mental pipe together when they produce their manuscripts.


In America, and where else, did an unusual talent from Hollywood become the modern popular leader of Pictorialism in William Mortensen. But after being Cecil B. DeMille’s still photographer his individuality and self-driven vision soon drove him out of the studio dictatorships to Laguna Beach where he set up a small studio and taught students, created his own photographic visions while writing books and articles in popular enthusiast magazines. 

When I was still a photography student in Santa Barbara I drove down to Laguna Beach and visited with Mortensen. Some twenty years later, after his death, I was an editor at Petersen’s PhotoGraphic magazine and obtained an assignment to publish a retrospective of William Mortensen’s work in PhotoGraphic. I was helped by his widow and supported in this effort by the Photographic Society of America, as well as by several of his students from his years in Laguna Beach. 

Since then in 1998 The Center for Creative Photography Arizona Board of Regents published William Mortensen, A REVIVAL. His vision was democratic and reflected in his own words, “the man whose interest is in the picture itself. He may seek his picture in many different fields: in landscapes, in character studies, in portraits, in still life, in the ‘pure’ representations of textures. He may pursue his pictures with a box camera, with a luxury model miniature, or with an eight-by-ten view camera.He may prefer straight contact prints, paper negatives, fresson, or bromoil transfers. But, when all is said and done, his basic interest is the picture itself. Not how it was secured, or what process was used in making it, or what it may accomplish; but simply and solely the picture.”


Although many professional photographers in their hire to others accept the vision of who has hired them, so manipulation if there is any is for the purposes of the vision a photographer is hired to produce; it is just a job to solve someone else’s problem in a way that satisfies their vision. Many of us who have made a living by being a hired photographer realize they are not creating their own vision, but one for someone else. Even if you are making portraits for someone sitting for your camera, the vision created by the camera is the subject’s vision, or you may find few who will recommend you to make a portrait of them. The images a professional photographer makes for himself these days, are referred to by them as ‘personal work’; and from the better known of them you will find expensive coffee-table books of this kind of visualization.

If you want to create photographs from your own personal vision, you must be a photographer who is working only for one’s self, no one else. I think this is reflected in what photographers say about themselves. The manipulation and retouching now, in many cases is not done by the photographer before release to the client, but usually afterwards by pre-press technicians and retouching specialists.  Photographers are not ‘manipulating’ images to fool anyone else, unless of course they are part of a circus side-show or represented in YouTube, FaceBook or the like, seeking to go viral on the web. Manipulation of images to result in the best image you can imagine is not a dishonesty by most photographers, it is just a refinement of one’s own vision. 

In my collection of books and magazines, mostly about photography, there is one, ‘VERUSCHKA’, Trans-figurations, by Vera Lehndorff and Holger Trulzsch 1986, done before Photoshop, involving every imaginable manipulation of the subject envisioned by both the model-artist Vera Lehndorff (Veruschka) and her partner Holger Trulzsch. Whose visions are they; are they both, or either Veruschka or the photographer Trulzsch. Not one or the other surely, but only they really know. If it is anything it is a truth that vision is as consistent as the subject and image are and can be from any human perspective.