How to Cancel Creative Cloud, and have your paid copy of Photoshop CS6 still work.

Jul 14 2013

NOTE: this is NOT about cheating and canceling CC, but keeping the software. It’s about reverting to your legal, legit paid-for copy of Photoshop CS6.

If you don’t do this, and merely cancel Creative Cloud, what you’ll likely get when you try to run your legal, legit paid-for copy of Photoshop CS6 is some kind of warning about the license no longer begin valid.(grrrr, Adobe, Grrrrr: I paid for it ! Why make me jump through all these hoops?… Oh. Wait. It’s about the MONEY isn’t it… grrrrr.)


I’ve just been thru all this: canceling Creative Cloud (CC) subscription and going back to my paid-for version of Photoshop CS6 (PSCS6.)

Reverting took hours. Maybe something here will help you shave off a few of them.

 I will NOT be responsible for you following these directions. All I’m saying here is that they worked for me. You are on your own.

You NEED to have your PSCS6 installer .dmg or DVD to do this


You ARE going to have to reinstall PSCS6 –from scratch– !

Not as easy as you’d hope, but about what you’d expect from Adobe.

Deactivate PSCS6 (Photoshop CS6). Ignore complaints.

(Backing up the PSCS6 folder would be a good idea now.)

Run the PSCS6 uninstaller. (This will leave your third-party plug-ins, fortunately.)

Rename this folder whatever; “aaaaa” works fine.

Now go to each of your CC product folders and run its uninstaller. There is no way to uninstall the whole CC suite at once. If there is no uninstaller, just drag the (name)CC folder to the trash.

The last item to uninstall this way is the CC folder itself.

Now look and see if your applications folder has any (name)CC folders left. If so, trash them.

Next, find anything installed along with (older) PSCS6, including the Adobe extension manager; Bridge; etc, and run their uninstallers and/or trash them.

Now, go to your root-level Library folder / application support / adobe, and find anything left over from CC and trash the whole thing.

Find any thing that looks like this (especially if it has a CC instead of CS6) and trash it:

Adobe PCD
Bridge CS6 Extensions
Color Profiles
Adobe Photoshop CS6
Scripting Dictionaries CS6
Startup Scripts CS6
Extension Manager CS6

 NOTE: Do this part with care, and remember that YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN HERE!!! 

I only have PSCS6 and Lightroom. If you have other legit copies of Adobe software, deleting something above might screw it all up. I don’t know. I will NOT be responsible for you following these directions. All I’m saying here is that they worked for me.



At this point, if memory serves correctly, you can reinstall PSCS6 from your dmg file or DVD. (Be sure to have your serial number handy.)

If this install fails there’s something left over from CC that I probably forgot. (I’m doing the best I can here…) My experience was that the install of PSCS6 version 13.0.0 went OK. NOTE what I’m saying here: failure of Adobe updaters usually happens because you have something too recent. If it’s not too  recent, then basically, odds are it’s something you still have that the installer is choking on, not something wrong with the installer itself. Hunt for stuff the remove/trash, and try again.

Launch PSCS6 and choose updates from the help menu. (This failed a few times for me until I realized that my Adobe Extension Manager was too recent. If you deleted it as I suggested above, this should not be the issue.)

Hopefully, the updater will work, and you’ll end up with 13.0.5.

Quit PSCS6 and relaunch it and run the updater again. Lather, rinse, repeat until you’re up to date.

NOW you can grab your plug-ins from your “aaaaa” folder, and drag them back where they belong.

I hope this helps a bit.

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What do I use to sign photographs?

Jun 25 2013

What do I use to sign photographs?

Well, if you’re printing on matte paper, you already know that you can use pretty much whatever you like: pencil, pen, markers…

…but if you’ve tried signing on the “resin coated” papers (glossy, luster, satin, semi-matte) you know that none of those work at all well.

The solution is to use a pigment pen, often called a “gel ink pen.”

My personal choice is the Sanford Uni-Ball Gel Impact 1.0mm metallic silver #60658.

I chose silver because it’s subtle against white paper, and doesn’t detract from the image, nor draw the eye off the image, as black ink does.

While I’ve seen these pens listed for $17 or more, a little searching on the internet will find them for less than $5.




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How describe a print to a gallery

Jun 07 2013

Hi folks

I’ve spent some personal time over the years looking into how to identify a piece of art to a gallery. That is, what is the “correct” or “expected” way to identify a piece.

Now if you look all over the internet, you’ll find answers that contradict what conclusions I’ve come to (and are listed below.)

My ultimate arbiter however was simple:  how does MOMA do it?  If MOMA does it one way, then Podunk Gallery is going to be hard pressed to complain.

The most common question is “which comes first, height or width?”

Height.  (A panorama is 12 x 40, not 40 x 12.)

What size are they asking for, image or framed?

Image. (Consider a 4″ x 4″ photo in a 36″ x 36″ frame. Would you list that in a catalog as “photo: 36 x 36” ? )

What is the media?

What you used to create the print. (NOT “photograph”  just a paintings are not listed as “painting” but “oil on canvas.”)

Inkjet prints are usually listed as “pigment print”  or “dye print” (perhaps along with “on matte” or “on luster.” If you use a special process, such as Pizeography, that would be “Pizeographic pigment print.”
Traditional prints are “silver gel” or “chromium” or “albumen” or whatever you used.

If you have a hard time remembering these, just think “HIP”:

I don’t expect everyone to agree with these conclusions, but I can at least fall back on the MOMA as my expert source, and say that I’ve never had any trouble using these descriptors during submissions.

FWIW. (For What It’s Worth.)


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Thoughts on color work

Mar 31 2013


My friend has a new 27″ iMac and he is perfectly happy with the colors he’s seeing on-screen. So, when I advised that he might be happier with a Dell U2410, which shows 96% of the AdobeRGB (ARGB) color space (instead of the iMac’s approximately 80%) he wasn’t so sure.  He also wasn’t too sure that using hand-tuned profiles for his printer was going to make much of a difference.


After those several comments, he concluded with:


“And also when all is said and done for fine art photographers it really does not matter how a print is made, what process is used, what ICC profile is used. It is all about the image and the impact it has on the viewer that is most important. 25 years from now, next year, even tomorrow no viewer will have much interest in how a print was made, only in what it shows and conveys.”


Here is my reply.


Let me begin by agreeing totally with your final statement. I usually express it as “It’s the print, stupid!” and it often seems we forget that fundamental fact when discussing many things photographic. It never hurts to remind ourselves that no one cares what canvas or paint da Vinci used – it’s the Mona Lisa. 


That said, artisans have discussed tools for thousands of years now, with an eye to better or more efficiently expressing their vision. Today, that’s “work flow.” 


The situation with color gamuts is not as simple as it may seem at first. For example, my Epson 3880’s gamut is larger than SRGB, and in some places, larger than AdobeRGB. (Generally, however, it falls short, as you noted, do all printers.) But then all that changes depending on the paper; ink; and viewing conditions. 


Canson Baryta, for example, exceeds (!) the monitor/ARGB color gamut in some of the blue-green, and bits of yellow and red, but lies well within most of the rest of the ARGB gamut. 


Simply stated that means that there are colors you cannot see accurately on your monitor that the final print can nonetheless produce, while, of the most part, the converse is true: you can see a lot of colors the printer will fail with. (Here, for example, is the Canson Baryta profile embedded in the (generally larger) ARGB profile. You can easily see where one exceeds the other: ) 


In programmer-speak, the situation is “non-trivial.” 


The larger issue is, of course, transmitted vs reflected light, and all the transforms the computer must jump through to make the transition. (In fact, the degree to which one can, today, succeed at getting a print that matches the monitor [and hence the artist’s vision] is nothing less than remarkable.) 


That, in turn, points out why one wants to view the widest possible gamut on a monitor. Compare this SRGB vs Canson Baryta plot ( ) and you can see why it’s much more difficult to guage accurate results on an SRGB (read:Apple) monitor – much more of the paper’s gamut lies outside the range you can see and work with. 


(Using ColorThink Pro, as I did to get those visuals, is helpful precisely because I can then see where color will be “pushed or pulled” [depending on the rendering intent] and thus make more intelligent adjustments.) 


As you’re likely expecting by now, I’d suggest that you find a chance to view a monitor with a wider color-space. When I first got mine several years ago, I was able to easily do a side-by-side because I work with a dual monitor setup. The difference was immediately apparent.) 


The issue of blocked up blacks (at least on the monitor) is an adjustment issue: you want a contrast ratio somewhere closer to 300/400:1 than to 1000 or 10,000:1. (The ICC blackpoint contrast ratio is 287:1.) Contrary to expectation, higher contrast doen’t mean you can see into the blacks better! 


Since ARGB is a wider space than SRGB, when using your monitor, you’ll be able to see further into the blacks as well. 


And finally, there’s the whole 8-bit / 16-bit thing to remember in all of this. 8-bit color is sRGB, generally speaking. 


If you send a file to a printer as 8-bit, you’re asking the printer driver to convert it to a smaller color space than ARGB. 


The good thing about that is that if you’re using an Apple or other sRGB monitor, the print stands a much better chance of matching what you’re seeing on-screen. 


The bad part about that is that you’re throwing away color that definitely could have been printed! 


Epson Pro printers, from the 3800 on, can handle 16-bit files… which is to say more colors than sRGB allows. 


If you have an Epson, try the simple experiment of sending an ARGB 16-bit file to the printer once as 16-bit and once as 8-bit. The difference should be visible. 


(Tangentally, printing at 2880 instead of 1440 will also show better results, not as many expect in detail [although that’s true] but in transitions. Print some wide-dynamic range clouds at 2880, and you’ll see what I mean.) 


You are absolutely correct that tweaking in Photoshop “…whether it looks better on the display…” will get a better print. 


That said, with better, more accurate ICC profiles, you’ll need to do less tweaking, eh? 


One thing I do is find a soft-proof profile that best matches the paper / ink I’m using and do my final print-tweaks while viewing “through” that in Photoshop. (Since with color, I’m not using the Epson/Photoshop drivers to print, but instead using ImagePrint RIP (IPR), it’s not always true that I can simply choose the paper profile, but it’s a very good place to start.) This technique helps immensely. 


All told, there is still ultimately what you’re using: experience. You’ll never print _exactly_ what you see on the monitor: it’s transmitted vs reflected; it’s monitor gamut vs ink gamut vs paper gamut. (Yeah: the color of the paper is going to have an effect on the percieved color range, and while no one but me uses “paper gamut” it’s still a real part of the equation.) 


So, some of the colors you see on-screen will print more vibrantly; most will print less. Some colors you can’t see accurately on-screen, but will print nonetheless. These are things you learn by experience alone, one print at a time. 


Does any of this mean “my way” is somehow better than “your way?” Not necessarily, since we’re both getting results we like. But I can say for sure, that I’ve been along the whole path in this thing, and arrived at this point in my workflow journey, feeling like I’ve made life easier than it used to be. 


But remember: “It’s the print, stupid!” Changing horses is not necessarily wise.

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Profiling the Dell U2410

Feb 20 2013

You’ve got one of those nice Dell U2410 monitors for your photo work.

You’ve got a puck, like the i1Profile, to drop across the screen to calibrate it.

And you’ve got the profiler software, with lots of options… just like the monitor has lots of options.

So, conscientious photographer that you are, you head off into tweaking this and that: R,G and B values and so on, using the Custom Color section of the U2410 menu.


If your goal, as it should be, is to get the most accurate color you can, with the lowest delta (difference between what should be and what is) that you can, the process is incredibly simple:

Set the Dell to preset mode AdobeRGB. Hang your puck on the screen, run your software, set the target brightness to 80 cd/m, and hit the go-button.  (Side note: personally, I choose the largest number of color targets in my X-Rite 1Profiler app; a couple hundred if memory serves…)

Either way, the factory-calibrated AdobeRGB is much closer to perfect than you’re likely to ever get by tweaking the individual guns, contrast, brightness, hue, saturation and yadda yourself.

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7 Tips for 12/21/2012

Dec 20 2012

Instructions for Photographers
for the events of 12/21/2012

1) Pick a place well above sea-level from which to record the action.
2) bring plenty of film.
3) a high-shutter speed is recommended, although extreme depth of field will have its benefits.
4) this is a perfect excuse to get that motor-drive you’ve always wanted.
5) a tripod is probably not necessary, but make sure your Vibration-Reduction is on.
6) a battery-operated printer will expedite those prints.
7) a packed lunch is suggested; dinner will not be necessary.

Good Luck!


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From the other side of the table: a reviewer’s take

Nov 03 2012

I’m recently back from my contribution to The Center for Photographic Art’s annual Exposure Weekend. The event is 3 days of lectures, workshops, field-trips and portfolio reviews. This year I was again asked to do photographic critiques.

The CPA calls them “portfolio reviews” but I find that term confusing since for me a portfolio review is more like a job fair: the photographer goes with the hope of being discovered; the intent of finding work or perhaps an agent.

On the other hand, a critique is a critical artistic look at images with the aim providing advice to the photographer. Such advice varies from suggestions about future direction, to technical, such as cropping, sharpening, composition and so on.

The folks I saw ranged from a couple of seasoned photographers to several fresh-faced beginners.

The requests were quite different between the two, as you can imagine.

With old timers, it’s often related to digital issues, or over-sharpening. Surprising is how often it is cropping, or blocked-up blacks. We spend time looking at individual images with an eye as to how to improve the print and if the techniques used support the intent of the photographer.

For those just starting out, OTOH, the first thing I have to do is reassure them them “critique” doesn’t mean “criticism” but only “a detailed look.” They are invariably nervous, and arrive with some (false) sense that “my future depends on what I hear today.” Once they are dissuaded of that idea, we can begin.

As seasoned photographers yourselves, you can easily imagine the types of things I discuss with beginners, and while a lot of it is fundamental, a most important part is a gentle nudge along the lines where they show the most potential.

Back when I taught graduate students, the case was simply that most of them did not show a real aptitude for photography (which made those who did, all the more a delight.) However, among those young people who pony up several hundred dollars for a weekend, the odds of finding talent go -way- up, and I’ve been exposed to new visions and eager minds.

As you would expect, they don’t really know what they want from me, so I have to listen and watch and guide my advice accordingly. It’s sort of like dancing in a way: adjusting as we go along. Limited by a 30-minute time-slot, beginners with talent need encouragement as much as composition or technical advice.

But what is ultimately rewarding for me is when something I’ve said causes the light come on in their eyes.

Today, I helped on 20-something along the path toward environmental portraiture. She had a wonderful ability to capture expression at just the right moment.

But the one I’ll remember most easily was a new photographer who arrived with a portfolio of landscape and nature shots. She said she really want to know how to do landscapes, so I initially provided the usual bits about layering, depth, time of day and so on. She nodded and took it all in. Some of it even appeared to be new to her… but the light was still off in her eyes.

Then I said “Landscape photography isn’t about the landscape; it’s about you. If the image could have been taken by a robot camera with an interval timer, then it’s just a pretty picture. It becomes art when you realize that something attracted you to that scene. You see something that no one else does, and it speaks a message to your heart. Don’t just point and shoot. Move around. Crop. Include. Remove. Squat. Hide. Climb. When the viewfinder cleanly speaks that same message, click the shutter. Only then does it become your image; a part of your biography alone. Landscape photography is no more about landscapes than Weston’s work was about peppers.”

She had never heard that before, and I got to watch the light come on.

I love this job.

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Photography as fine art

Sep 17 2012

Can a photograph be fine art? If by “fine” you mean in some sense “good” or “better” then of course.*

In fact, the question betrays an ignorance of art per se , since that’s actually a question about the medium. Would the “Pieta” not be art if it were made of bronze instead of marble? Would “Starry Night” cease being art if it were done in acrylic? Or, as to film vs digital or cameras vs paint brushes – would “Starry Night” be fail the “art test” if it were done with camel’s hair brushes instead of sable?

Is a paperback of “War and Peace” lesser art than a hardback? Would it be more art if it were hand lettered?

These are trivial and superficial questions that completely miss the point of art.

Photography is a set of tools and techniques… as is music, and writing, and painting and sculpture… and so on.

The tools and the medium of presentation may appeal to some, and not to others, but in no case do they determine the art.

So what makes art “fine?”

I’d suggest at least three criteria, the first being endurance.

“Endures” is essential for fine art, but not sufficient.

Perhaps a clue resides in “great” art. Consider these: Picasso; Rembrandt; Rodin; DaVinci; Bach; Beethoven; Tolstoy; Shakespeare. Painting; sculpture; music; writing.

These people have all created great (certainly “fine”) art, and their works endure; they provide fresh engagement on each encounter. They hang on walls for multiple viewings; become dog-eared through repeated readings; bear listening over and over again.

That leads of course to “why?” and the hint lies in the list of names itself: they are names of human beings, not titles of pieces. For these artists, “fine” has risen to “great” and that we know their names provides the clue: their art endures because of its reach into the human condition. Because of that, we remember the human names of those whose insight was so acute.

Thus, equally essential with endurance is the second criteria: that fine art touches something innate to the human experience within the audience.

Yet a grandmother will peruse a photo scrapbook endlessly, and experience deeply human sentiments each time.

So regarding fine art, then “endure” means “timeless” and “humanity” means universal: these will cross beyond a particular lifetime, and often beyond a particular culture.

How are these criteria achieved then? By engaging the audience in an internal conversation. It could be an intellectual or an emotional conversation. Beethoven takes us on an emotional trip; Shakespeare causes us to ponder human foibles. Kandinsky & Magritte extract and re-arrange an essence of form, making the conversation less clear, but no less powerful.

What adds the “fine” to “fine art” here is the variety and depth of that internal conversation. Does the piece continue to engage over time? Is the conversation slightly different each time? In short: does the viewer grow from each subsequent engagement? These are all true of true “fine art” whether it’s music, or writing, or painting or sculpture or photography.

And like the other arts, photography can be representational or abstract. It can spark the conversation thru form or design, or by way of direct representation.

Strong photographic composition can be like music in its effect; representation can be like writing. Form can inspire or provide solice.

Is your work “fine art?” The test is whether you can hang it on your wall and not grow tired of it. Whether it engages you as you pass by… whether you pause before it and ponder.

How does one become a fine artist? The same way as in all the arts: constant practice, and the ability both to observe, and to look into your own soul and being.

The tools of photography offer much faster feedback than any of the other arts, and that in turn provides the opportunity (and the obligation) to grow and improve faster.

Finally: do not look elsewhere, but only inside. Your contribution is fine art only if it springs from you alone. The third criteria that all fine art shares is the unique perspective of the artist. For a time, the audience experiences the world as another being.

Does this mean you have failed if you do not become the next Matisse? Of course not, but there is nothing wrong with understanding art then and aiming high. Place the target at the best you can do; raise the target every day, and shoot.




*”Fine Art” can be a confusing phrase, since there are two uses of it. In the sense used above, I’m talking about “quality” as the primary definition. But “fine art” is also a mere category of photography: one dedicated to capturing beauty or emotion. This is as distinct from “wedding” or “commercial” or “scientific” (etc) photography. In this use of the phrase, it’s perfectly possible (and I see it all the time) to have really crappy “fine” art. (The current fad for hyper-HDR is my current favorite example of bad “fine art.”)

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Don’t overlap gradations!

Apr 14 2012

So you decide that you want to use the gradient tool to make some adjustments, say a bit of darkening in the sky, for example.

Fine… but only do it once!

If you do it and decide it’s not dark enough, do not go back and layer another gradient on top of the one you just did!

Undo it, change the setting, and do it so that there is only one iteration of the tool.

Why? Because layering them will produce banding.

You might not see it at first glance, but I assure you it’s there.

Of course, I found this out the hard way (as I do all the tips I put up here) – a graduated sky in one of my images had been in that state for at least three years. I never noticed it, and when I printed it, even with my ImagePrint RIP, it never popped out at me.

Then I got the Piezography 7-shades-of-gray system and devoted a printer to it.

And there it was, plain as day. At first, I thought it was my new system, but I went back to the image and blew it up to 150% and moved the cursor over the sky… and watched the number change. (Actually, I could see them on the monitor too. I guess I wasn’t paying attention before.)

The other printers used black and two grays, so there was a bunch of dithering going on, which effectively disguised the banding. The use of 7 inks, however, pointed out the problem in all its glory.

End of tale.

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Piezography, printing, gamma 2.2 and Photoshop CS6

Apr 14 2012

You can’t print Piezography (7 shades of black/gray ink) from Photoshop CS6 using the current (4/16/12) instructions.

Here are the instructions for using Piezography inks with CS6:

Here’s a version of the null-transform that does seem to work for Piezography, (which is concerned only with maintaining the 2.2 gamma, and not any colors) courtesy of Jon Cone:

1) work in Gray Gamma 2.2;

2) convert image to sRGB;

3) choose “Photoshop manages colors”

4) choose “Wide Gamut RGB” as the printer profile

all else as usual.

I ran a couple of prints this morning testing this, and eye-balling the output (compared to known good test prints done thru CS5) it looks correct, and as expected.

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