David B. Brooks Blog

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Feb 25, 2009 0 comments

Maybe it’s just me, my peculiar life and perspective, but I was just reminded by an article about jazz in the New York Times(Home Life With Mikes: A Jazz History by Nate Chinen, February 17, 2009) that included a part of W. Eugene Smith’s life defining a connection between music and a photographer. I suspect the connection is enhanced in my mind in part because in high school my ambition was to be in music as a singer, and I participated in several choral groups as well as took voice lessons for a couple of years. After high school four years in the military intervened and provided the opportunity to become interested and get into photography. I was not sorry I got detoured because having a deep voice myself, and baritones became eclipsed in those years by singers like Johnny Rey and his pop song “Cry”. Regardless, even though I embraced photography completely, I still enjoy music, especially jazz.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Mar 12, 2011 4 comments

Thanks to a remark made by Ansel Adams in the late 80’s to an interviewer, regarding his overseeing the printing of one of his books of photographs that was reproduced by scans of his images, Ansel stated he was impressed that digital editing could accomplish adjustments to images he could not make in his own darkroom. For me that was handwriting on the wall, that the future of photography was in digital imaging. During 1989 I began my shift from analogue film photography to digital. It went slowly and haltingly, there weren’t many products that supported digital imaging with computers. But little by little more and more scanners became available, as well as software to edit images with a computer. So I learned mostly from personal experience using scanners and software and talking with a few colleagues on internet forums about how a scanner worked and the beginnings of image editing with a computer.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: May 31, 2009 2 comments

Color is a part of our environment and a part of our awareness of it from early on. We take it for granted and usually learn to identify colors by name before kindergarten. Our first foray into mixing paints teaches us that mixing red and blue produces purple and mixing yellow and blue, green. And if we have the benefit of science teaching and physics that color is a property of light and behaves in certain ways. Otherwise color is taken for granted, even for photographers whose awareness can be expanded to understand that the primary components of color in light are red, green and blue, and the colors of inks and dyes are their complements, cyan, yellow and magenta.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Oct 18, 2009 0 comments

I have been following the various commentaries about Windows 7 for almost a year. There were lots of user annoyance complaints that have gotten nearly all of the attention and to an extent seem to have been resolved. Most technical experts reporting on Windows 7 have been positive based on testing both beta’s and the early release version more recently. Most were positive as far as they went, but that was superficial. When you get into particular features then there is much less review feedback, or almost none. And so far the performance that effects serious digital photography editing and processing is not apparently an issue of any concern. In fact I was surprised some of the key color management experts have not given Windows 7 that much attention.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Nov 15, 2008 0 comments

Human vision is incredibly adaptive so you can see in bright sunlight on a ski-slope during mid-day and at night on the highway to drive home. But this adaptability being essentially automatic and subliminal can be a disadvantage because your perception of small brightness differences between screen and print is not obvious until the print becomes a physical reality that makes it apparent.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: May 08, 2010 0 comments

Photography is approximately a 140 year old technology, but among the younger set using the latest cell phone models photography is often an integral part of this newest communication mode, take a picture with the phone and send it to someone else. When I first began doing photography almost 60 years ago it was a lot more of a challenge to participate than pushing a button or two, there weren’t even any reliable light meters then to use to calculate the film exposure, plus the many other things that all had to be done individually like focusing the lens on the subject, setting the aperture relative to the shutter speed, all relative to the ASA speed and type of film you were using. In other words photography in the 1950’s was a demanding technology to perform and of necessity had to be a concentrated single-minded experience.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Dec 12, 2008 0 comments

The last two days have been a bleary-eyed ordeal reading as many forum posts as I could on “prints too dark” from a Google search on that phrase, which obtains almost 2 million results. What I was looking for was as complete a picture as possible why people trying to make photo prints were getting unacceptably dark print output. I didn’t get very far into the almost 2 million results before my eyes gave out reading the forum posts, but I did find that a lot of users have discovered the cause of dark prints is an LCD display that is too bright. But confusion reigns when it comes to how to fix the problem, very often involving color management and the idea of using Photoshop’s “soft proofing”. Some forum gurus have been recommending adjusting the display brightness to match the print output, and actually that practical philosophy was used before there was such a thing as Color Management, but it largely precludes color matching using CM and a calibrated and profiled display, if in reality an LCD display can be reduced in brightness to actually match the range of print densities or the CRT monitors of the past. Some users found that instead of having their photo editing application control color, select having the printer driver control color, which with some printer drivers does provide an output print density adjustment and yields satisfactory print brightness results, but the downside is that some printer drivers will automatically adjust print density and others don’t, as well as color matching with what you see on-screen is not usually supported.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Sep 15, 2010 0 comments

There was a time in my life when Will Rogers often stated, “I know only what I read in the newspapers.” had a resonance with people. No one has taken his place in American culture and spoken for what can be learned from TV, or what they read on-line. Maybe it is just changing too fast to make any sense. It sure is when it comes to managing color on a computer system. When that began to become popular, to buy a sensor and software to measure and color manage the differences between a computer monitor and a color printer, it worked for a few of us pretty well. I had been reading, studying and experimenting with color management for years hoping it would finally be realized for most of us with computers and then Adobe released Photoshop 5.0/5.5 and it was then a real possibility for everyone.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Feb 12, 2009 0 comments

I was just reminded by a list of currently established luminaries in the photography world, that what I knew and the names and images that inspired me during my early, formative years as a photographer are no longer current, replaced by names and images that are unfamiliar and don’t have an iconic role in the photography niche of contemporary culture. What has changed is not the quality of photographic work being done, but that there is now a greater volume of public information in a digitized cultural venue that is huge and rapidly evolving. Today’s photographic talent is simply lost in a deluge of image media of every kind and description. Magazines, newspapers and books still exist but even TV has been displaced partly by the internet and YouTube. How different it is when a movie star, Selma Hayek on a mission to Africa assisting in a campaign to reduce the high death rate of infants, is covered by ABC News in scene where she breast feeding a baby of a local woman who had gone dry. This most humane gesture caught on video has now gone “viral” on the internet. I find nothing to criticize, but in such an instantaneous global village of images, that will soon fade with the next “viral” pop news event, can any image attain a lasting iconic status, much less the person behind the camera who made the image?

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Feb 07, 2011 0 comments

The other day I received an e-mail press news release about a new handheld light meter. I had not seen any news of handheld light meters in some time, so of course I read it. In style and content it was much like what I probably read twenty years ago. But what struck me strangely, now that virtually all cameras are digital, is the fact a digital camera is really just a light measuring device that records the light readings of millions of pixel sites and records them in an image file. Of course that does not preclude the value of a narrow angle spot or an incident light meter, they are useful in measuring the light on and from a subject to make an informed decision on making a photographic exposure with digital or on film.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: May 13, 2009 0 comments

I have been preoccupied now and for some time by the challenge of defining an affordable platform for inputting digital photographs and then printing them with matched color and density to an LCD display image. There are quite a few LCD display choices at $1,500 and up which support both color and density print matching with a color managed workflow. But an affordable consumer LCD display ($300) has been the elusive goal of a lot of searching. And from what I have heard from industry insiders is that the major display manufacturers in the immediate future are cutting back on their support for high-end, niche pro-graphics market displays.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Sep 25, 2009 0 comments

I always like to work with the newest and best, but the reality of my budget is always the deciding factor. So I upgrade a bit less often than I would like. This time I had no say in the matter. A freak accident wrecked one of my Mac Mini’s and its external hard drive with backup in one fell swoop. Panic time and calls to Apple for help. Even though not responsible Apple was generous in helping with the recovery, although I had to spend some money too, plus invest a lot of work time. But the recovery is almost complete.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Apr 03, 2010 0 comments

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

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Dec 05, 2008 0 comments

I don’t know if you have noticed on TV, but ads for some new flat screen TV’s are now touting mind boggling figures for contrast-ratio of a million to one. Can anyone see a million to one? Or does it matter in the definition of a talking head’s picture on screen to what the pundit is saying about his crystal ball into the future of Barack Obama’s governance after January 20? Technical specification have been a boon to imaginative marketing mavens ever since cars were described as having horsepower, and the race goes on for who can concoct the most outlandish claims.

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David B. Brooks Blog Posted: Aug 28, 2010 0 comments

If the bulk of what is written and read is considered, one would have to think having just the right, even the best, camera and lenses is the secret to making good photographs. But although some of the mail I receive from my Digital Help column does involve shooting hardware, most of it is spread over other issues like printers, scanners, and software, as well as a bit about computers used for photo processing. However, the stumbling block that gets in the way for many trying to find a way to make better photographs are limitations of perceptual experience and understanding.

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