Monthly Archives: September 2009

Adobe TV: Backup tips, Little-known PS CS4 features, & more

The reloaded Adobe TV is full of good content. Here are some may be of interest:

Digital Photos Making Your Hard Drive Sink Like Venice?

While in Venice, Kush realized what a viewer was going through as photos filled the disk. He talks to Julieanne Kost from The Complete Picture about how to archive and backup those priceless memories.

Top 10 Little-Known Features in Photoshop CS4

Join Julienne Kost as she goes over the top 10 little-known features in Photoshop CS4 that can make a huge difference in the way you work.

Profiles of Creative Pros: The Life of a Photoshop Artist/Model

Retouching taken to new extremes!

Designing Minds: Erin Fetherston

In this episode we feature fashion’s “it” girl, Erin Fetherston. Her romantic and feminine designs are loved by celebrities and critics alike.

CS4-style Flex skins available for panel dev

Commenters here sometimes slag the use of Flash panels inside Creative Suite apps, saying that Flash leads to poor UI. These comments confuse the technology with how it’s been used. Unfortunately it’s true that some SWF panels (example) have been poorly done.
Endeavoring to drive more consistency, the Adobe Experience Design & developer support teams have created a set of “Scope Skins” for use in CS4 panels. According to the download page,

Scope Skins (for Flex Builder 3) were created to skin Adobe Flex apps to provide the same UI as a native Creative Suite panel. This was done with little impact to the functionality of the standard Flex 3 components.

If you’re creating panels for use in Photoshop and/or other Suite apps, please take a look at these skins and let us know what you think.

MAX session: How to Write a Plug-in for Photoshop

Next Monday from 5:00-6:30pm at Adobe MAX, Mark Niemann-Ross will be hosting an interesting session:

This hands-on session will walk you through the process of creating a Flex plug-in for Photoshop. We’ll start with a basic “hello world” shell, add a Pixel Bender filter, and then integrate an online service. You get to take your work home with you and show your mom!

AppleScript compatibility with Photoshop on Snow Leopard

Photoshop scripting expert Jeff Tranberry has passed along some useful info:

If you’re using AppleScript to automate Photoshop on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), you’ll want to update the Adobe Unit Types.osax scripting addition.

The Adobe Unit Types.osax file that ships with Photoshop CS4 and CS3 is a 32-bit component. Snow Leopard requires some scripting environments to be 64-bit.

Please see the following Knowledge Base article for additional details: Error about unit type conversion occurs when you run an AppleScript in Photoshop (Mac OS X 10.6)

Lightroom pulls further ahead of Aperture

The past couple of years at this time (see entries for 2007, 2008), independent research company InfoTrends has surveyed professional photographers* about their choices of raw image-processing tools. It’s interesting to check in on how the competition between Adobe Photoshop Lightroom & Apple Aperture is going.

Among photographic pros using the Mac,

  • In 2007 Lightroom was nearly twice as popular as Aperture
  • In 2008 it was nearly three times as popular
  • In 2009 it’s approaching four times as popular

By the numbers:

  2007 2008 2009
Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in 66.5% 62.2% 57.9%



35.9% 37.0%
Aperture 5.5% 7.5% 6.3%
On the Mac platform only:    
Lightroom 26.6% 40.4% 44.4%
Aperture 14.3% 14.6% 12.5%

You might notice some decline in the use of the Camera Raw plug-in inside Photoshop as more pros move to using Lightroom. Let me be clear in noting that Photoshop use among these pros remains in the 90% range, and that the decline applies only to Camera Raw usage. (That makes sense as Lightroom and Camera Raw share the same processing engine, and photographers are, as expected, handling more of their raw processing in Lightroom.)

As always, everyone at Adobe couldn’t be happier about the warm reception pro photographers have given LR, and we’re grateful to the amazing, thriving community that’s grown up around the product. The team has just scratched the surface of Lightroom’s potential, and the future looks great.

[Update: InfoTrends asked that we add additional statistical information to the results provided in the blog post. I should have noted the margins of error, which for all the respondents were +/- 2.5% (2008) and +/- 3.1% (2009) and for Mac users was +/-3.6% (2008) and +/- 4.5% (2009) at a 95% confidence interval. The differences between 2008 and 2009 fall within the margin of error for the sample sizes.]

* 1,045 in North America this year, a sample very similar to that of past years

Adobe MAX in two weeks; Travel & registration deals available

If you’re tempted to check out Adobe MAX in LA but haven’t yet pulled the trigger, check out the range of discounts available on attendance, transportation, and lodging. MAX is always an incredible show, and we hope to see you there.
Update: I forgot to mention that my fellow PMs will be presenting some great sessions on Photoshop. From the session guides:

  • Join Photoshop Product Manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes in a deep dive into the hidden gems of Photoshop CS4. He’ll also reveal many new technologies released since Photoshop CS4, including the Digital Negative (DNG) Profile Editor for customizing camera profiles, Pixel Bender for creating filters and effects, Configurator for producing custom panels in Photoshop, and enhancements to Adobe Camera Raw. Tuesday, October 6, 2009: 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
  • Join Photoshop Product Manager Zorana Gee as she shares her favorite techniques for working with the incredible Photoshop CS4 Extended 3D features. Learn how to paint directly on 3D models, wrap 2D images around 3D shapes, convert gradient maps to 3D objects, and add depth to layers and text. Monday, October 5, 2009: 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Monday Illustrations: Retro-modern Coke heads

Stop-motion grooviness: Type & Legos

Being a fan of stop-motion filmmaking, I thought I’d share a couple of great recent finds. (Full-screen viewing recommended in both cases.)

“Handcrafted with love by BYU design students and faculty, for the 5th Typophile Film Festival. A visual typographic feast… Everything in the film is real–no CG effects!” [Via Marc Pawliger]
Meanwhile, as for “8-Bit Trip,” good lord:

“1500 hours of moving Lego bricks and taking photos of them.” And I thought Gondry’s Fell In Love With A Girl vid was extreme. [Via]

Adobe co-founders to be honored by President Obama

Wow–very cool news from Washington. According to the Merc,

President Obama Thursday picked Adobe Systems co-founders Charles Geschke and John Warnock to receive one of the nation’s highest honors bestowed on scientists, engineers and inventors — the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Geschke and Warnock were chosen “for their pioneering contributions that spurred the desktop publishing revolution and for changing the way people create and engage with information and entertainment across multiple mediums including print, Web and video,” according to a White House press release.

The pair, who will receive the award at an Oct. 7 White House ceremony, founded Adobe in 1982 and serve as co-chairman of the San Jose software company known for its editing, graphic design and Web development tools, which include its widely used Acrobat and Photoshop products.

Congrats, Drs. Warnock and Geschke! Your many fans will be there in spirit.


Wednesday Type: Sentient muffins, Kerning in space, & more

Lightroom 2.5 and Camera Raw 5.5 Now Available

Lightroom 2.5 and Camera Raw 5.5 are now available as final releases on and through the update mechanisms available in Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom 2 (choose Help->Updates). Direct download links are here. These updates include camera support for the following models:

  • Nikon D300s
  • Nikon D3000
  • Olympus E-P1
  • Panasonic DMC-FZ35*
  • Panasonic DMC-GF1

Release Notes:

  • Camera Raw 5.5 and Lightroom 2.5 include a correction to the demosaic algorithms for Bayer sensor cameras with unequal green response. Olympus, Panasonic and Sony are among the more popular camera manufacturers affected by this change. The demosaic correction provides a subtle visual improvement to the processing of those raw files.
  • Lightroom 2.5 corrects for the following problem in Lightroom 2.4. Lightroom 2.4 on Windows continued to display the import dialog when a memory card was detected regardless of the preference setting “Show import dialog when a memory card is detected.”

[Via Tom Hogarty/Lightroom Journal]

* Note that in Europe and Japan this model is marketed as the DMC-FZ38. Unfortunately, due to a metadata difference between these cameras, files from the DMC-FZ38 will not be supported until the next Camera Raw and Lightroom updates.

A Post-Apocalyptic "Where's Waldo?"

Bruce Haley, whose stirring war photography I’ve mentioned previously, has come up with a novel idea:

I decided to feed the industrial junkies and gamers and sci-fi nuts and add to the dialogue on dead machinery…  so I dumped a ton of photos onto my site that have never been seen before, in a section entitled “The Post-Apocalyptic World,” and also threw a contest into the mix…  It’s sort of a end-of-days “Where’s Waldo?” type of thing: Amidst all of the vast wastelands of rust and abandonment, one can find six people and a dog…  so the first 5 people who find these will get a free copy of my limited-edition portfolio.

Details about the project are in the “Contest 9-9-09” section.

Daring Fireball on Cocoa/64-bit

John Gruber has posted a thorough, thoughtful piece on iTunes, Cocoa, and 64-bit software. He makes a number of useful, sensible points about how Cocoa is “not magic pixie dust” but does open the door to UI & performance improvements. (Lest anyone forget, the Photoshop team has been working for quite a while to move Photoshop to Cocoa and 64-bit.) It’s well worth a read.

A few thoughts:

  • Getting functionality for free (e.g. when a standard Cocoa control is improved) sounds great, but it’s something a developer like Adobe has to consider carefully:
    • Whether or not it’s important to you, cross-platform consistency matters a great deal to many customers (e.g. those in a large company that runs Macs & Windows machines). It’s hard to expose one’s apps to those sorts of changes. (As I’ve written, consistency within an OS & consistency across OSes both matter.)
    • I know Adobe apps sometimes catch flak for using custom UI widgets, but you don’t want the apps limited (or made inconsistent) by what the different OSes provide. If customers benefit from something like scrubby sliders, and if you want the experience to be consistent, you need to provide them yourself.
  • Gruber writes, “Maybe the Carbon APIs will never go away, but I wouldn’t bet on that.” I don’t know what Apple plans; I just ask (as I’ve asked them previously) that they communicate plans in advance. If they want to say, “Listen, four years from now, Carbon-based & 32-bit apps aren’t going to work anymore, period; you can transition everything now, you can wait ’til the last second, or you can spread it out,” that’s fine. (It’s enormously helpful in planning, actually.) Just provide plenty of lead time so that no one–Mac users, developers, or Apple–gets squeezed.

Snow Leopard 10.6.1 update released

As you may have seen by now, Apple has released the 10.6.1 update to Mac OS X Snow Leopard. We are working with Apple to address some of the application stability problems customers have reported when using Snow Leopard. We believe many of the problems have been addressed with 10.6.1, and we continue to work with Apple to resolve outstanding issues. If you continue to experience problems, please let us know.

Friday Photography: Shots to the Chops & more

Why do you want a 64-bit iTunes?

Prior to today’s Apple announcements, John Gruber wondered aloud on Daring Fireball:

What I’m interested in is more esoteric: is the Mac version [of iTunes] still a 32-bit Carbon app? Common sense says yes, but that’s because common sense says it’s never a good time for a low-level framework rewrite. But the writing is on the wall: the future is 64-bit, and the only path to 64-bit is Cocoa, so eventually, it has to happen.

Let me be really clear: I think Cocoa is great. I think 64-bit is great. (We’re embracing both with Photoshop.) But I’m really, genuinely curious: What specifically do people believe a transition to either is going to add to their software? In the case of iTunes, I have to ask:

  • Do people really have performance problems* with iTunes as it is?
    • I never have. It filters my 3,000-item library as fast as I can type, does a lovely job with HD video, and whips through album art in Cover Flow. I can’t recall others complaining, either.
  • Do they want iTunes to use more than 4GB of RAM?
    • I think we can safely say “No.”
  • Do they complain about the UI (e.g. non-standard scrollbars) and think that Cocoa will make iTunes more “Mac-like”?

So what, then? Let me put it another way: If you were directing the iTunes team’s efforts, why would you–as a customer–tell them to spend their time on Cocoa and/or 64-bit, at the expense of doing other things customers want?

I don’t know why I feel compelled to scratch this itch. See, a smarter, lazier, and/or more cynical product manager than I would simply kick back, shut up, and say, “Photoshop CS-X is 64-bit and based on Cocoa, so you should buy it!” If anyone dared ask how these facts might benefit her, I’d just loudly repeat, “But it’s COCOA! and 64-BIT! So that’s, like, AUTOMATICALLY AWESOME!”

For better or worse, that’s not how I roll. I want people to buy my (and our) work based on real value, not due to lack of information. I suppose I can take some weird solace in the fact that no matter what I say, many people will go on happily believing whatever they want.

So, out of honest curiosity I ask: If you’re pining for iTunes 64, why (specifically)?

*Not, of course, that 64-bit is any kind of panacea.

"Like asking headphones to clean your ears"

Loving a good rant, I thought I’d pass along this bit from my fellow PM/photographer Bryan O’Neil Hughes. Hughes uses a Canon 5D Mk II and loves good camera tech as much as just about anybody. He does not, however, have much patience for gear-for-gear’s-sake, or for money as a replacement for sweat.

You don’t need an accelerometer to hold your camera level…and if you do, you should find a new hobby. That’s like asking headphones to clean your ears.

The problem isn’t software. It isn’t hardware. It’s the shoot-a-million-images-and-hope-to-hell-it-works-out philosophy that people are taking.

Here’s a snippet (repeated a million times when I used to sell high-end photo gear):

  • Customer: I want to buy a Hasselblad.
  • Me: Sure, we have those… Let me ask you, though: what don’t you like about your current camera?
  • Customer: It isn’t sharp enough.
  • Me: What sort of things do you shoot?
  • Customer: Landscape.
  • Me: Do you shoot from a tripod?
  • Customer: No.
  • Me: Do you own a tripod?
  • Customer: No.
  • Me: Let’s start there.

…And invariably they’d buy the Hassy. People always want to solve their own laziness with gear (often the wrong gear). I see it with photography, cars… man, I even saw it with skateboarding.

My Mk II has a grid overlay… my F3 had that… but honestly, if you need to lean on that to hold the camera straight… you should probably have your inner ear checked.

— BH

[In a related vein: “If You Think You Need This, Kill Yourself“]

New Adobe TV is live

The new & improved Adobe TV site has just launched. According to the team behind it, “It’s the first website in the world to deploy a video player built with the Adobe Open Source Media Framework (aka Strobe), and one of the first sites built using Adobe ColdFusion 9.”

The site has a new look & feel, new features include:

  • User-customizable homepage
  • Vastly improved navigation & search
  • Support for saving your favorite episodes to “My Library”
  • Support for sharing videos on social networking sites such as Facebook, Digg, and StumbleUpon
  • RSS feeds of your favorite shows
  • Pop-out video player for viewing videos at any size
  • Commenting & Rating
  • Tags

Please give it a whirl & let us know what you think.

From Russia with Pix

Sunday Type: Big grass, free fonts, & more

  • Dig the crazy, viscous, dimensional lettering of Alex Trochut (under the “Works” link; yes, nav is annoying, but don’t let that stop you). [Via]
  • Grass-type gets big in Here Lies Street-Art by D.O.C.S.
  • Glyphs runneth over in this Typographic Sculpture from Richard J. Evans [Via Marc Pawliger]
  • Free fonts:
    • Mårten Nettelbladt heavy-duty MISO is handsome–and gratis. [Via]
    • Designfeed lists Quad & others. (Oh Quad, I have plans for you.)

Feedback, please: Mobile authoring with Photoshop

Are you now, or do you plan to start, designing mobile applications, Web content, etc. using Photoshop? If so, what kinds of changes would streamline the process? Are you looking for templates, better shape/drawing tools, linked file support, automated resizing/output for different screens, better handoff to other apps, etc.?

Note that Adobe’s Device Central application (screenshot) is probably hanging out on your hard drive, and you can use it to display your PS artwork on a variety of handsets. When you’re in the Save For Web and Devices dialog in PS, hit the “Device Central” link in the lower-left corner. I was motivated to ask for info because the Device Central guys in particular are looking for feedback on how to evolve that app.



[Update: If you’re doing this kind of work, you may find this doc on Strategic Mobile Design (PDF) interesting. –J.]

Why your Web content will look darker on Snow Leopard

If you’re a Web designer, expect your CSS colors & your untagged/unmanaged images to look darker on Snow Leopard than on previous versions of the Mac OS. You’ll also see less of a visible color shift when going from Photoshop to Flash or other unmanaged environments (e.g. Internet Explorer).

Why is that? Apple has switched to a default gamma of 2.2, which is what Windows has used for years. Colors that aren’t color-managed are going to look darker on the whole. Your whole display will now be closer to what Windows users see*.

Apple’s marketing materials (and reviews of Snow Leopard) say only that the change is “to better serve the needs of consumers and digital content producers.” Not really knowing what that means, and wondering why Apple would change the Mac to match Windows after 25 years of using gamma 1.8, I sought out more info.

Adobe Principal Scientist Lars Borg provided some perspective. Lars has spent the past 20 years at Adobe defining & driving color management solutions, and lately he’s been focused on digital cinema standards. Here’s what he said:

In the distant past, the computer world was colorless, bleak, stark black and white. No one cared about their display gamma, as gamma is irrelevant for displaying only black and white.

Macintosh, in 1984, introduced us to desktop publishing and to displays with shades of grays. Publishing at that time meant printing presses, and the dot gain of a typical press (then and now) corresponds to a gamma of 1.8. As color management was non-existent at the time (the first color management solutions did not appear until early 1990s, when color displays became more available), Apple’s pick of a 1.8 display gamma enabled the Macintosh displays to match the press.

In early 1990s, the TV industry developed the High-Definition TV capture standard known as ITU Recommendation 709, using a net gamma of around 2. Later, in 1996, IEC put forth a CRT-based display standard (sRGB) for the Web that would match the HDTV capture standard, having a net gamma of around 2.2. sRGB was slowly adopted first in the PC display market, next in the burgeoning digital camera market, and 2.2 became the dominant display gamma.

Is 2.2 the ultimate gamma? No. In 2005, leveraging color science research, the movie studios’ Digital Cinema Initiative selected a gamma of 2.6 as providing the best perceptual quality for 12-bit cinema projection. Today, few can afford a true Digital Cinema display at home, but as always prices are falling. Yes, that’s what I’ll have in my next home theater.

But, recall VHS versus BetaMax. The VHS format finally died with the last video tape. Gamma 2.2 will not be unseated easily. However, calibrated displays and functional color management will make gamma a moot point. Gamma will be for the Luddites.</blockquote

>Interesting stuff. Despite the Flash Player now supporting color management, I’m not holding out hope for Web developers suddenly starting to give a damn about the subject. At least now we’ll be less likely to hear complaints about colors “getting screwed up” when going from Photoshop to the Web.

* For what it’s worth, when I was a Web designer I’d always set my Mac monitor to gamma 2.2, the better to match the darker Windows environments on which my designs were most often viewed.

Adobe revises Snow Leopard FAQ re: CS3, Flash

Adobe has posted a revised FAQ (PDF) concerning application testing & compatibility with Snow Leopard. Notably:

Q. Do Adobe Creative Suite 3 products support Mac OS X Snow Leopard (v10.6)?

A. Adobe has worked closely with Apple throughout the Snow Leopard development and testing process. Adobe has conducted its own additional testing of our Adobe CS3 software on Mac OS X Snow Leopard, and is confident that our CS3 applications will function as expected with Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Adobe did uncover some non‐critical issues, which are documented for our customers to review*.


The initial release of Mac OS X Snow Leopard (v10.6) includes an earlier version of Adobe Flash Player than what is currently available from Adobe. Adobe recommends all users update to the latest version of Flash Player ( which supports Snow Leopard and is available for download from

* Same technote as referenced in my previous entry

A few problems found with Photoshop & Snow Leopard

We’re continuing to work with Apple to diagnose & troubleshoot issues that customers report when running Photoshop CS3 and CS4 on Snow Leopard. At the moment we’re aware of a couple of problems:

  • Switching to the Menlo font (new in Snow Leopard) in Photoshop can cause Photoshop to crash. The simplest option is to avoid selecting and using Menlo in Photoshop.

  • A bug can cause Photoshop & other applications to crash, particularly during Open and Save operations. We think this problem is the root of the instability David Pogue mentioned the other day.

  • Dragging an image from another application (e.g. Safari) window to the Photoshop application icon in the OS X Dock doesn’t open the image.

Note that the last two problems are not unique to Photoshop or to Adobe applications. We’re working with Apple to get these problems fixed as quickly as possible. Photoshop QE team members Dave Howe & Jeff Tranberry are tweeting info as it becomes available.

Wednesday Illustrations: Mosaics of waste, Pantone rainbows, & more

Housekeeping: CAPTCHA mechanism changed

I saw a number of complaints about the CAPTCHA system (i.e. the wavy text used to deter spam-bots) causing problems in the browser. The blogging admins have now switched it to use the more accessible “What’s 2+2” system I previously had installed. If you experience any problems with the new mechanism, please let me know (jnack at, in case commenting isn’t working for you). Thanks.