Obama via Photoshop

Photographer Pete Souza has captured what’s billed as the first digital presidential portrait.  Folks have nerded out and parsed the EXIF metadata, learning that the image came from a Canon 5D Mark II and was edited in Adobe Photoshop CS3.  NPR features a piece on Souza’s history photographing presidents. [Via Bryan O’Neil Hughes, Adam Pratt, and Klaasjan Tukker]


Quick-thinking Photoshop team member Adam Jerugim has shot Pete a note and is working on setting him up with a copy of CS4 (hey, we can’t have the White House lagging in technology).  We just have to make sure we’re not breaking any rules that would get him in trouble as a government employee.  (It’s not Jan. 20 yet!)

11 thoughts on “Obama via Photoshop

  1. I wish someone was looking out for me and hooking me up with CS4 ;).
    Seems kind of weird that this is the first time a president has had a digital portrait.
    2000 and 2004 I guess technologies were not mature enough?
    I wonder what camera will be used 20 years from now. The advancement of technology is astonishing.

  2. Now if only they had remembered to convert to sRGB instead of Adobe RGB before uploading that JPG. On profile unaware browsers (most of them) the colors are drastically affected.
    [I noticed that, too. In fact, the colors look quite different on the Engadget site vs. the White House site. I’m not quite sure what happened. –J.]

  3. The photo looks a bit cool to me and the RGB values showed it. I warmed my copy a couple of steps and lightened it slightly according to the histogram and I think it looks much better that way.
    BTW The detail is excellent.

  4. It looks like there’s been a bit of a muddle here.
    The image shown on the change.gov site has a *Photoshop* AdobeRGB tag (the photoshop:ICCProfile tag in the raw data), but doesn’t have an actual *exif* profile tag (the exif:ColorSpace tag is -1, which means uncalibrated). The skin tone looks far better if I assign sRGB to it in Photoshop. The raw exif shows that it might have been converted to sRGB in PhotoMechanic prior to publication, and that program may have failed to amend the Photoshop data tag appropriately.
    I suspect the one on the Engadget site has been imported into Photoshop as an AdobeRGB image, converted to sRGB, then exported as an untagged jpeg.
    Interestingly, in Firefox with profile-awareness (supposedly) on the two look identical to me, but there’s a clear difference when viewing in IE 7. (Bad news for Firefox – IE 7 rendering of the pic on the change.gov site is the closest to what I see when opening it as sRGB in colour-managed Photoshop.)

  5. It’s a nice enough portrait,though in the full-size version you can see that the catchlights in BO’s eyes are a white lighting umbrella. Maybe that’s true of a lot of studio portraits, but to me it just doesn’t look right. That has nothing to do with the picture being digital, of course.

  6. the lint on the lapel indicates (perhaps) that the image didn’t see too much of Photoshop! Perhaps not enough, as Charles indicates. Assigning sRGB does render more pleasingly.
    I think I’ll display this portrait next to one of FDR….

  7. Pete Souza’s a fine photographer, with an impeccable reputation. But I have to confess, considering the great painters over the years who did official presidential portraits, not to mention Ansel Adams portrait of Jimmy Carter for the National Portrait Gallery being the first official presidential portrait that was a photograph, I found the quality of the image less than exciting.
    I would have expected much better lighting. Much more time and thought put into the background. It just sort of leaves me cold as a portrait.
    The fact that it was done by a 5D Mark II (I just gone one at work last week) is irrelevant. To me all this fuss pretty much shows how so many pixel peepers out there haven’t got clue one when it comes to what makes a great photo. I wouldn’t care if it was made by a Holga, a Leica or a ham sandwich. Is it a great photo or not?

  8. I bought the CS3 Extended suite last spring. I just got a Canon 5D Mark II. What a surprise to discover that Abobe won’t support it.
    I’m still numb.
    [Adobe (meaning Photoshop CS1-CS3) does support the 5D Mk II. You need to use the free DNG Converter: Download for Mac|Win. –J.]

  9. Hi Jack,
    Thanks for the reply.
    I downloaded and used the Adobe DNG converter as you suggested. I had hoped it was a plugin for Adobe Bridge CS3 which would work autonomously in the background. It doesn’t seem to be. It does however convert files as claimed.
    I bought Adobe CS3 Extended last May (2008). I believed that the included ARC (Adobe Camera Raw) and Adobe Bridge would be powerful workflow tools. And they were! Until now.
    For those of you who don’t know this, Adobe ACR version (final version for CS3) doesn’t convert Canon 5D Mark ii raw files for processing in Adobe CS3 Bridge. You need the free Adobe DNG converter (Digital Negative) to make Canon Mark ii files compatible. It’s a additional step in the workflow.
    I was using bridge while shooting tethered. Unless I’m misunderstanding something, using Adobe DNG converter in this process is a procedural leap backward. Now, I won’t even be using ACR or Bridge in regular untethered processing.
    It’s been just eight months and one new camera (” Canon 5D Mark ii “) since I purchased CS3 Extended and now my versions of Adobe ACR and Adobe Bridge have been rendered effectively useless and obsolete. And Adobe doesn’t seem to care (I know it’s not personal).
    I sincerely hope that Adobe Systems, Inc. reconsiders their position concerning support of Abobe ACR for CS3, Bridge CS3 and the compatibility of those applications with the Canon 5D Mark 2.
    The 5D Mark II may become one of the most famous cameras of this era. There’s a great deal of discussion in forums concerning CS3’s incompatibility.
    I understand that Adobe would like an open file format standard and I would too. But, by not standing behind the Adobe product that some of us bought so recently, we feel betrayed.
    Please help us.
    -Ennis (An Adobe Customer)
    (When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied, “Only stand out of my light.” Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light.–John W. Gardner)

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