Calibrating the iPhone with i1 Display Pro

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I see iPhones being used for all sorts of “professional” applications including video capture, and now that the phone sports a 12Mp camera, graphic arts quality photography. No excuses professional photography.

Several years ago I was made aware of a new iPhone and iPad application from Pantone called MyPANTONE that allows me to select colors from the Pantone swatch books, from photos, or from live scenes, and then use those colors to build color palettes that can be exported (easiest method is e-mail) to a desktop computer, and then opened and used in the Adobe applications. The app also makes QuarkXPress-compatible color files, but I have never tested those.

iPhone with i1 Display Pro 04
This is my X-Rite i1 Display colorimeter sitting atop my iPhone 6, reading colors that are being flashed there by the new Pantone ColorTRUE application. At the end of the process, the iPhone is calibrated and profiled. It works!

(I tried exporting a palette today, and it will not open in the Creative Suite… I wonder what has happened.)

Nov. 21 follow-up note: I reported the problem to Pantone, and in a few days they responded to tell me that they have now seen the problem, and are devising a fix. It is rare that tech support ever responds these days, but the Pantone folks have been very responsive and very courteous. I will report when the problem is solved.

Despite that big bug, I like MyPANTONE, and will continue to use it, hoping that the company fixes whatever is wrong – soon.

The issue of color comes up when I first launched MyPANTONE. There is a disclaimer on the splash screen that warns me that colors displayed on the iPhone or iPad may not be accurate, etc., etc.

And there you have the crux of the problem. The iPhone screen may not be accurate; in fact it’s pretty obvious that it isn’t accurate. My new phone has a visible pink tint to the screen, one which I ignore – mostly.

Last week I became aware of a new application from PANTONE, one called ColorTRUE. It allows me to calibrate my iPhone screen using one of several colorimeters and one spectrophotometer. By an amazing coincidence I own one of those instruments. I downloaded it in a heartbeat!

ColorTRUE requires that you install a small accessory application on your Macintosh, and connect an instrument to the same machine. I use the i1 Display instrument, which I use often to profile and calibrate my computer displays. Then, using the instrument on the face of the iPhone (or iPad), I run a calibration of the iPhone, which takes about four minutes. The interface on the iPad is slightly more elegant than the interface on the iPhone (a function of available screen real estate). Various colors are flashed on the screen of the iPhone, and the i1 Display reads them and sends them to the Mac, which then sends the data to the iPhone where a color profile is built.

The net of this is that I can now calibrate and profile my iPhone and iPad. It works, and it works well.

ColorTRUE screens 02
This is the X-Rite app ColorTRUE indicating that it is talking to my X-Rite i1 Display colorimeter. Once communication is established, the ColorTRUE app puts colors on the iPhone’s screen in succession to build a list of colors. With that data, the software creates an iPhone color profile that corrects the color on the phone.

But, I only get the benefit of the calibration when I am using applications that are ColorTRUE smart. The list is very short:



running the iPhone Photo Gallery modified by ColorTRUE

End of list.

Lauren Klammer screen 01
This is a photo I took recently being displayed by the Photo Gallery with ColorTRUE adjusting the color of the iPhone screen. On the left is the calibrated view, which is slightly warmer than the uncorrected version on the right.

It is conceivable that there will be more apps that can take advantage of the color profile, and that would be great. In the meantime, I am pleased with what I see.

I can open images in my photo galleries, and view them in ColorTRUE, applying one of several RGB color profiles to those images. I prefer Adobe RGB (1998). In my estimation that profile warms-up my images to the degree that I like, and they appear more saturated than they do in the iPhone’s native sRGB color space. I can also simulate one of several CMYK profiles to see what effect converting to CMYK might have on an image. The one closest to my usual choice is FOGRA 27, and I find that simulating the FOGRA space is very similar to the same image on my desktop Mac simulating the same thing.

ColorTRUE screens 07

This is the settings menu where a CMYK profile can be selected. I have chosen the FOGRA27 profile here, it being the closest to my CMYK favorite – GRACoL – which is not on the list of available CMYK profiles in the ColorTRUE app.

Other settings allow me to control the native white point of the phone: 6500K is the most logical, as it is the same as other LCD displays, and is compliant with the ISO 3664 international standard. There is also a brightness setting with various choices, my favorite is the Office environment where the brightness is very reasonable in my indoor work area.

In a world of color, and for a person who teaches color management, these apps, and the supporting instrumentation, make it possible for me to use my iPhone in the field and see accurate color, and very reasonable interpretations of how photos would be converted to the colors of a sheet-fed printing press.

Posted in Color Management, Digital video, Gadgets, Photography, Printing and Printing Processes, Software, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My mission to Mars, continued

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In a blog I posted last year, I described how I developed a series of AppleScripts to control Adobe Photoshop to crop, then increase the canvas size, then draw crop marks on a series of image parts to make a very large panoramic image on 10 sheets of photographic aluminum. That panorama is now on permanent display in the University Union at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.

In my most recent blog I described how I prepared 63 monochrome images taken by the Opportunity Rover on the surface of Mars to make a large full color panoramic image for the Baker Center, also on the Cal Poly campus.

The is the pattern for cutting the large panoramic image into its 14 printed panels. The aluminum material is available in sizes up to 48 x 96 inches. This image, when finished, was 22 feet wide and about 12 feet tall.

The large panoramic image was finished, and it looked great, but to print it, I had to divide it into 14 separate panels (two rows of seven) to make the photo ready for attachment to the wall at school. This required AppleScript, again, and Photoshop, again. But, this time I had two dimensions to worry about – two rows of photos that had to be printed and mounted with absolutely no error that would cause them not to match on any of their two or three touching sides.

This is quite difficult, because first I had to make the files ready, then have them printed onto paper (they are printed as mirror images), then transferred to the aluminum sheets in a dye-sublimation printing process. They then had to be cut on a mechanical metal-cutting shear, and ultimately assembled on the wall. Perfectly.

Any error at all would be visible as a gap between either the sides or the tops and bottoms of adjacent panels. Or both.

My effort began with an AppleScript that crops the large master image into one of the 14 panels. The cropping included one-half inch of bleed, and overlap, to be cut off on the metal shear. The left two panels had a one-half inch white space added while the right two panels had that gap added on the right. The middle panels overlap on both sides.

22 foot layout

This is the road map I generated in Adobe Illustrator to guide me in making my AppleScripts. Precision to the pixel is necessary for a project like this, and the map made the process easier.

The top seven panels overlap at the bottom by one-half inch, while the bottom seven overlap on the tops. White was added to the opposite edges.

My script is run successively on the same image because of the overlaps. My technique was to write all the AppleScript/Photoshop script instructions in order, then comment them out (making each line start with a double-hyphen). Then I would remove the comment mark, run the script, save the result as a separate cropped (with overlaps) file, then use the History palette to return to the uncropped original, and run the next line in the script.

This is one line of that script, the line that crops the upper-left panel from the original large file:

crop current document bounds {0,0, 7502, 13056} angle 0 width 7502 height 13056 -- Crops Panel 1

This crops from position 0, 0 (absolute upper-left) to 7,502 pixels to the right, and 13,056 pixels down. This includes the one-half inch overlap on the right and bottom edges. The next line of my script is very similar, except that it starts 192 pixels to the left of the right extreme of the previous line (one-inch):

crop current document bounds {7310, 0, 14908, 13056} angle 0 width 7598 height 13056 -- Crops Panel 2

This manually executed script resulted in the 14 separate panel files being ready for the next step in the process. For that I wrote another AppleScript to instruct Photoshop to add canvas space and crop marks to the four corners of the panels. These crop marks must be absolutely accurate, which is why I use the script to make them. I have pixel-precision with these scripts, something that I do’t have if I do it by hand (I would never attempt this). Even a one-pixel error would result in a skew or a gap in the shearing step.

Crop marks detail image

This is an extreme close-up of an upper-left crop marks set. These marks are outside the image area of each panel, touching exactly at the corner. The AppleScript instructs Adobe Photoshop to draw the marks at the four corners of the images.

My final script put a text label at the bottom-center of each panel. These Mars photo segments tend to look alike, and it was important to keep them in the right order.

The files were sent to a firm that specializes in printing on aluminum sheets using the dye-sublimation process. They use two Epson wide-format ink-jet printers to make the paper images that carry the dye-sub ink, and they have a custom-built press for making the transfers to the aluminum material. The catch is that they don’t have a metal shear large enough to cut these panels, so that part of the job came to our town where “Stainless Steve” Rinnell’s metal shop came into the story. I called on Steve’s expert help and his massive metal-cutting shear on two earlier projects.

Doug and Rob install Mars image 09
Doug and Rob Brewster, brothers and technician-engineers for the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly, carry one of the Mars photo panels to its destination in the Baker Science Center.

Two skillful technicians from the College of Science and Math at Cal Poly enter the story here. Meet Doug and Rob Brewster, two of the smartest, kindest and most competent mechanical geniuses I have ever had the pleasure to know. They supervised and participated in the shearing process (I wasn’t there this time), and they did the job perfectly (it is the one precarious step in the process that is done by eye).

Rob devised a clever device and method for positioning the Mars panels that would ensure that they would go up in perfect position. Rob used the shop at Cal Poly to make aluminum blocks with tiny adjustment pads that would allow each panel to be hung on a wall-mounted rail system, then adjusted until the panels fit perfectly.

The rails were mounted on the wall in the Baker Center by the University’s Facilities technicians, a requirement for anything that is mounted permanently on the walls of campus buildings. After they did their work, Rob checked the flatness of the grid to discover that the wall behind it wasn’t perfectly flat, so he shimmed the rail mountings using a laser beam until the mounting rails were absolutely flat.

Doug and Rob install Mars image 30
Doug and Rob on a scissor-lift put the tenth panel in place on a grid of aluminum rails attached to the walls of the Baker Center at Cal Poly.

After that step, Rob and Doug made a set of four 3-D printed plastic register blocks that were mounted on the corners of each panel’s support rails. These blocks allowed the men to position the aluminum panels perfectly on their frames prior to being mounted on the wall. These impressive points of control gave Rob abd Doug the confidence that the assembly of the panels would go perfectly. We had no room for error at any point, and the mounting of the photo panels was the ultimate step in seeing this project to completion.

I watched them as a few of the panels were attached, and I returned a few times to check on progress. But, my role in the project was strictly supervisory (observational) at this point. The project was now in the hands of the pros!

Finished pano
This is the final Mars panoramic image on the wall in the Baker Center. At the lower-left is a legend of the photo, showing the position of the rover when the images were made, and describing the Mars exploration efforts of NASA, JPL, and the other institutions involved in the project. Photo by Eric Johnson

I am proud to say that the collaboration worked perfectly. The panels were up, and there were no errors in the cutting or the mounting. The photo is stunning! And, looking at it now, all I see is the Cape Verde peninsula on the side of Duck Bay in the Victoria Crater on the surface of Mars. It is very exciting to see this project completed.

Others working on the project included Michele Murfin-Fanning, the Interior Designer for the building, Dr. Phil Bailey, Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, Professors Derek Gragson and John Keller, and Dave Clendenen, the talented photographer who helped to document the project’s construction.


Posted in Adventures, Art, Color Management, Education, Imposition and Pagination, New technology, Panoramic Photography, Photography, Photoshop techniques, Software | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My brief visit to Mars

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I spent a couple of weeks on Mars earlier this year, on assignment to take some photos.

There was no oxygen, so I had to hold my breath for two weeks. I did not run into Matt Damon.

The work that I was doing culminated in the construction of a beautiful photo mural at Cal Poly in the College of Science and Mathematics.

Duck Bay Victoria
This is Cape Verde, seen from Duck Bay in Victoria Crater on the surface of Mars. The rover Opportunity made this, and thousands of other photos, while exploring the crater in 2006 and 2007. This is the image that I enlarged and prepared for printing on 14 sheets of aluminum for mounting on the wall at California Polytechnic State University. Images courtesy JPL and NASA.

OK. I was never on Mars. The images were actually taken by the Opportunity Rover, A Mars Exploration Rover, which landed on the surface on January 25, 2004. Opportunity is the sister vehicle to the Spirit, which eventually got stuck, and is waiting for the Auto Club to come rescue it (Spirit stopped transmitting signals in 2010). There is some dispute as to whether its current location consitutes “off-road” activity, so the Auto Club may not cover the cost of the rescue.

Mars Rover illustration
This is an artist’s illustration of a Mars Exploration Rover (MER). Both Spirit and Opportunity look very much like this. Illustration courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell.

Opportunity was designed to last for 90 sol (the unit of Martian days). It has outlived that expected lifespan by a factor of 45, and is still driving around, gathering information and photos of the Martian surface, and making geological discoveries. It was Opportunity that very recently discovered that there is liquid water on the planet, and that discovery has caused a new round of applause for the little rover.

Opportunity spent about two Earth years exploring a site called Victoria Crater (it rolls at mere inches per minute when it moves). That exploration resulted in thousands of excellent images being sent back to Earth where they are received by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. There are six cameras on Opportunity; they are called:

Forward HAZCAM
Microscopic Imager
EDLcam (Descent Imager)

The panoramic camera has the ability to shoot panoramic and stereographic images, often simultaneously. This is a list of the filters on the two camera imagers of the Pancam:

     LEFT CAMERA                    RIGHT CAMERA
1 = 739nm (338nm bandpass)    1 = 436nm (37nm Short-pass)
2 = 753nm (20nm bandpass)     2 = 754nm (20nm bandpass)
3 = 673nm (16nm bandpass)     3 = 803nm (20nm bandpass)
4 = 601nm (17nm bandpass)     4 = 864nm (17nm bandpass)
5 = 535nm (20nm bandpass)     5 = 904nm (26nm bandpass)
6 = 482nm (30nm bandpass)     6 = 934nm (25nm bandpass)
7 = 432nm (32nm Short-pass)   7 = 1009nm (38nm Long-pass)
8 = 440nm (20)Solar ND 5.0    8 = 880nm (20) Solar ND 5.0

The photos I was interested in processing were taken on September 28 and 29, 2006, in the Victoria Crater, looking at a promontory called Cape Verde from Duck Bay where the rover entered the crater.

For this project I took 63 of the PANCAM images from the left camera only, and put them together into a panorama that would eventually be printed 22 feet wide by almost 12 feet high. My image is made up of 21 sets of three images, red, green and blue (I wrote about Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii doing this in the early 20th century using the same technique).

The process was relatively simple. With the assistance of Stephen Benskin, a photo technician at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I was able to download the source images from the online database of Mars photos, and then assemble these into sets of three R-G-B images. Then, using Adobe Photoshop, I put the three imges into their appropriate channels to make them “full color” images. Mr. Benskin also provided a Photoshop Statistics file to use to “color-correct” these images to the degree that the JPL scientists like to think the Martian atmosphere would look to humans. This file was applied in the Match Color palette in Photoshop.

MER Pancam
This image of the camera mast was taken when the MER mock-up was built at JPL in Pasadena. The two PANCAM lenses can be seen with black disk packages mounted. Inside these packages are the arrays of filters listed above. Photo courtesy of JPL/NASA

Once I had the 21 source images prepared as color images, I was ready to make a panoramic image by stitching them into a whole (the PANCAM shoots with an acceptable overlap so that standard stitching programs will stitch them together).

The first big problem I encountered was that the PANCAM’s resolution is only 1,000 x 1,000 pixels. It’s a 1-megapixel camera! And, the first column on the left, and the last column on the right are white pixels, making them slight hindrances to stitching. I fixed this problem by writing an AppleScript to direct Photoshop to crop the images to 998 pixels x 1000 pixels, eliminating those white columns of pixels.

The resolution problem was much bigger. In order to print this panoramic image as a billboard-size photo I would need gigabytes of data. Stitching the 21 images together at their native resolution would create a file of just a few megabytes. This was clearly not going to be good enough, and the project would be doomed to being a blurry image.

Genuine Fractals to the rescue!

In 1997 I was approached by a couple of gentlemen who had worked with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop a photo enlargement program called Genuine Fractals. They wanted me to try the software and write about it in the original version of this blog (on the Graphic Arts Monthly site, now defunct). That program was developed by the Altamira Group in Burbank, California. Genuine Fractals uses fractal algorithms licensed from a company called Iterated Software to enlarge images far beyond the rudimentary up-scaling that can be done in Adobe Photoshop and other imaging applications. The process creates a fractal map of an image that is based on the detail in the image, then making that map into a file that is resolution-independent, so that the image can be made any size without losing that original detail.

Over the years, Genuine Fractals was sold to a group called the Lizard Group, then eventually was added to the offerings of OnOne Software, which makes a collection of stand-alone and plug-in products for image processing.

By an amazing coincidence I already own the OnOne products, so I have the current version of the fractal program, now called Perfect Resize.

I calculated the size of the image I would need to cover a 22-foot space on the wall, made a few test images from the Mars photos, and settled on a resolution of 193 ppi for the final images (not as much as I really needed, but it was the best I could get. This resulted in the full panorama being 3.86 gigabytes, which was – barely – adequate for the purpose.

I applied the Perfect Resize software to each of the 21 color images, bringing them all to the full size I would need. Then I put the resulting files into PTGUI Pro, my favorite stitching program, and made the image for the wall. It worked perfectly. The apparent sharpness and the detail of the contributing images were maintained, and the full panorama looks great.

Please read the rest of the story: How I separated a 22-foot panoramic photo into 14 precisely-rendered panels, then had them printed with absolutely no error.


Posted in Adventures, Color Management, History, Panoramic Photography, Photography, Photoshop techniques, Printing and Printing Processes, Software | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Chicago Exposure Expedition


In my last blog, about taking the Photowalk with Trey Ratcliff at Burning Man, I mentioned that young Mr. Ratcliff does this in cities all over the world. He has a tremendous following, and it’s an impressive thing to have so many people show up for an event like this.

I have no such following.

A few days after returning from Burning Man, and after I spent an hour or so cleaning my camera equipment, I left for a few days in Chicago, Illinois (one of my favorite cities!).

I was there to attend and participate in the GraphExpo trade show and conference. I held two seminars at the event, and I did booth duty in Cal Poly’s booth on Education Main Street. On Wednesday morning I had a breakfast meeting with the Gravure Association of America at the Drake hotel on upper Michigan Avenue, and then I returned to my hotel.

Window washers on Intercontinental 15

Window washers perform aerial feats on the windows of the Chicago Intercontinental Hotel. Each one sits on a small board suspended by two ropes from the roof of the building while they perform an intricate (and seemingly choreographed) dance with soapy water and a squeegee.

The GraphExpo show shuts down at 2:00 on the last day. By the time I had returned to my hotel, it was time to check out. I guessed that it would take me about 30 minutes to get to the show after that, followed by no more than an hour of time on the show floor, after which I had to get to the airport to catch a flight back to California and a faculty meeting in the morning. (Using logic similar to Arlo Guthrie’s logic in Alice’s Restaurant…) I decided not to go back to the trade show, but instead to spend two hours on the river in Chicago having lunch and taking photos.

Walkers on RiverwalkWalkers on the Riverwalk promenade create interesting shadows as they walk below me.

So I dragged my suitcase over to the Whole Foods store near my hotel and I bought provisions for a nice lunch. Then I took those to the Chicago River, just a block away, and began my own version of Trey Ratcliff’s Photowalk. Mine differed in two significant ways: 1) I was working alone, and 2) I couldn’t call mine a Photowalk because that’s his phrase for his famous walks. I decided to call mine an Exposure Expedition.

Building reflections 01The windows of one of Chicago’s riverside buildings create delightful reflections of its opposite on the other side of the river.

The rules: I gave myself one hour, plus or minus a bit, to walk and take photos along the Chicago River. En route I stopped and ate lunch at one of many comfortable places that the city has provided for people like me to do things like this. I also had a train to catch at about 2:00 p.m., one that would take me to O’Hare (about 45 minutes from Clark and Lake Streets). I could take photos of any subject from any location within one block north-south of the east-west-running river. No other rules.

I snuck one daybreak photo into the mix, one which was not taken in the allocated hour. It was so lovely I just couldn’t let it go.

KayakersKayakers float under the Dearborn Street bridge.

I took 123 photos, some of which were intended to be stitched into panoramas later. Using my strictest editing techniques, I narrowed the selection of photos down to 15 (two are stitched panoramas). I did very slight color corrections on some of them, I cropped a bit here and there, and I made a slide show of the resulting images, using the Output functions in Adobe Bridge.

Chicago Exposure Expedition 067Tourist boats cruise the river, taking people on sightseeing voyages. The Chicago River is a wonderful urban playground and the center of a beautiful city.

The result is very satisfying. I like the 15 photos, and I feel that my hour-plus spent along the Chicago River was very productive. It was time well-spent, and it was one of the prettiest days I have ever spent in Chicago. The weather was superb, the food was good (albeit overpriced), and the public was having a great time along the river. All of this added up to a very successful Exposure Expedition. I plan to repeat this event again, and I might invite the public to participate. If I decide to do that, I will be sure to invite you.

To see the slideshow of my 15 photos, click here.


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Burning on a photowalk with Trey Ratcliff

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Apologies, readers…

I burned out on blogging early this year, and took a break. I thought it would only last a few weeks.

But here we are nine months later, and I am just now getting back to it.

While I was “away” (working, teaching, traveling, building things, etc.) I thought many times about topics I wanted to include in this blog.

My readership is now up to about 150,000 readers, and that’s impressive. I just hope that you have not lost faith in me.

In late summer my wife and I ventured again to Black Rock City in northern Nevada to attend Burning Man 2015. This year we knew how to navigate and what to do when it gets dusty (it got dusty a lot more this year than last). We did really well this year at getting to the events we wanted to attend, and we enjoyed ourselves a great deal more than we did last year (though we enjoyed ourselves last year too).

Burning Man 2015

This is Trey Ratcliff doing his sermon on the roof of a truck at Burning Man.

Sunrise on the Playa is my favorite time. The light is fabulous, and the art installations are simply amazing. There are always people out there, many waiting for the sun to rise to illuminate their mornings. Some have spent the entire night out there (we did not do this, opting instead for the comfort of our RV).

On Tuesday evening this year I joined Trey Ratcliff, a very well known photographer who leads a series of quite popular Photo Walks in cities all around the world. His Burning Man Photowalk started at 7:00 p.m. that evening.

Burning Man 2015

Trey (second from left), with his followers in Center Camp. We were getting ready to take one his famous Photowalks.

I had never met Trey (and though we did say “Hi!” in passing, I still have never really met him). I was curious. He is a charming young man with a great eye, and a great attitude about photography. I like his style, and I was especially impressed by Trey in person. He led an impromptu “sermon on the roof” of a van in Center Camp, surrounded by about 50 photographers. We ranged from the battle-hardened pros with multiple cameras and years of experience to those who were there just to rub photographic elbows.

I fall somewhere in between. I had two cameras and four lenses with me on the Photo Walk. Everything was stored in water-tight nylon bags (that I bought on Amazon). Everything I wasn’t carrying around my neck was in my backpack to keep it away from the Playa dust. This made changing lenses a bit hard, but it saved me some trouble cleaning the equipment after I got off the Playa.

Burning Man 2015

Two of the “seasoned pro” variety with their equipment on the Playa.

Trey is a golden hour photographer, preferring to take photos at the time between dusk and dark. His work reflects this passion. His camera at Burning Man was a new Sony Alpha with its phenomenal ISO range. It’s possible to take photos in the dark with that camera. I followed with my Canon 5D Mark III, and a Canon T2i, a little older but still effective camera for late-day photos. I ended up using the 5D most, because it has better low-light capabilities.

Trey is charismatic, and his followers hang on his every word. I had the most fun photographing the photographers as they listened to him, and as they took their own photos. As it got darker, the opportunities for photography faded away, though there are still many things to take photos of in the dark at Burning Man. An hour into the Walk I returned to Center Camp to join my wife for a performance by a couple of youthful singer-songwriters on stage there. The more faithful continued on with Trey in the darkness, walking out to the center of the Playa where The Man (called the Souk) is located.

Burning Man 2015

One of my fellow photographers in the Trey Ratcliff group. Notice the Playa dust on his camera. It is impossible to avoid the dust, but fortunately it’s easy to get off.

An old adage among pro photographers is some variation of “f-8 and BE THERE!”

This is especially true at Burning Man. If you want to take good photos, you must be prepared to ride a bicycle in a blinding dust storm while taking photos with one hand, the other on the handlebars. You must be willing to get up at 5:00, and to stay up very late at night to get the most interesting images. I am much better at the former than the latter.

Porcupine sculpture 09

…and this is an unposed photo I took of a group of four young women on the Playa. They were standing inside one of the many art installations along the Esplanade.

Some photographers worry about the dust on their camera equipment, and indeed, the dust is awful. It’s an alkaline mix of salts and a tiny amount of abrasive silica. The dust has the consistency of talcum powder, or for those in the graphic communication world, toner. The dust is so fine it gets into cracks and crevices that you will never reach to get it out. But, pay no attention to the dust! Take great photos!

Burning Man 2015

Trey talks to the group as the sun went down.

In my second year of Burning Man I again treated the cameras as expendable (though they are not). Cleaning the exterior of a Canon 5D is easy; use a damp washcloth and wipe the dust off. Canon’s water-tight seals on this camera (not on the less expensive T2i) keep the dust out, and as long as you don’t remove a lens in a dust storm, the cameras will survive.

Even cleaning the glass surfaces of the lenses is no big deal. I have clear glass filters on my lenses, so I just wipe them clean with a lens cleaning cloth that I ALWAYS have in my left-rear pocket. Even if I wreck a filter, my lenses will be OK.

I took my usual several thousand photos, and I got a lot of nice images. I have made a modest gallery of a couple of hundred images that I invite you to see (it takes a few minutes). These have been edited down to eliminate duplicates and to concentrate on those I liked best. I hope you enjoy these.

And, to my photographer friends at Burning Man: nice work! I have seen many images taken by others that I consider much better than my own. I still have a thing or two to learn about taming the Nevada desert to take the best possible photos.


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ePubs – under the hood

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I’ve been making ePubs for several years, and I have taught courses on ePubs at GraphExpo and at Cal Poly, where I am employed as a professor. For the first few years I was very grumpy about ePubs, as they were not created nicely by InDesign. There were sometime serious flaws as a the result of exporting a document to ePub format from InDesign. Adobe improved that a lot (still a little bit of work to do there!) and now I find that InDesign-generated ePubs are nearly correct, and that makes the job easier.

Though advertised as being able to create an ePub (ready to publish), InDesign doesn’t get everything right, and it’s very important to check all ePubs for compliance with the ePub standard. This is most easily done in a shareware program called Sigil (available online).

ePub icon

When you open an ePub file in Sigil, the contents of that file are exposed, and fully editable. In one backwater menu of Sigil is a green checkbox for verifying your ePub against the international ePub standard. The most common error that I find is that the date in the ePub is not formatted correctly. InDesign doesn’t force the information correctly from its IPTC data, so it usually needs to be repaired. If you enter a date as Month/Day/Year, it’s not compliant. ePub wants the date to be Year-Month-Day (with hyphens). It’s easy to fix in the content file in Sigil.

ePubs are very similar to web sites. They contain a master folder (Site), an images folder for any images that are embedded in the book, and a Text folder for all of the contributing text (this is slightly different from a web site). They also contain a Fonts folder that holds any fonts used in the ePub, and unlike a web site, they contain a Contents file and a TOC file for the table of contents.

ePubs are specially-compressed ZIP files. They can be unzipped to view the contents, and the contents can be edited by hard-code editing in a program like Text Wrangler. Sigil makes it much easier, because it converts otherwise unreadable components of the ePub package into editable files. If you unzip an ePub file successfully (and it is easy to do so unsuccessfully), you can work on the component files, but you must be meticulous when zipping the files back to ePub format. It’s safer to use Sigil, and let that program put them back together when you are finished.

Examining the components of an ePub gives you a good idea of the structure of these files. Let’s start with the ePub file itself, then open it to see its components. The .epub suffix is covering the document that is actually a .zip file. If you change the suffix, and unzip the file, you (might) get the following folder.


Structure of an ePub part 1

Once an ePub file is unzipped, the resulting folder can be seen with three subfolders. The two marked with a red dot here are used by e-book readers to recognize the component files of the book.

Inside that folder is the content in three main parts: META-INF, mimetype, and OEBPS (Open eBook Publication Structure). Only the last of these three is of interest to us. Inside the OEBPS folder are several more folders including Images, Fonts, Text, Styles, content, and toc (table of contents). The content and toc files are text files, but must be modified to be read by a text editor (Sigil does this for you).

Structure of an ePub 2

Once the OEBPS folder is opened, it reveals these four folders and two files. This is the core of an ePub.

In the example here I have made a book from a public domain text of L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. That book has only one image, its cover, which was made into a JPEG and a PNG by InDesign at the time of export. I discarded the JPEG in Sigil, because it’s not actually used by the ePub, and it takes up valuable space. When producing books with numerous illustrations, those will show up in the Images folder. Careful editing of an ePub will usually allow you to discard extra image files that are not used in the book.

Structure of ePub fonts

In my Fonts folder are only two fonts, both in OpenType format, that are associated with this book (other books could have more). The Apple iBooks app was updated last year to acknowledge and display embedded fonts, so viewing this book on an iPad, for example, will display it in the fonts that I used to create the book. Other book readers will not do this, substituting generic fonts instead. Only OpenType and TrueType fonts work with book readers. PostScript fonts will not work.

Structure of ePub text

In the Text folder are as many text files as there are chapters in the book. Each one is an xhtml-tagged file with the contents of the chapter. It is easy to edit these text files, and that makes last-minute corrections possible. This past week I made an eleventh-hour change to an ePub just before converting it to a Kindle book file and uploading that file to Amazon, saving several steps and considerable time.

Structure of ePub, CSS

The Styles folder usually contains only one file, the CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) file for the book. Here you find the xhtml-encoded styles for your book, and here you will discover immediately if you left anything in the original book unstyled, as InDesign will create as many styles as it needs to make your book work. I have a personal policy that everything on every page of my books must be styled, and this saves InDesign the trouble of creating extra styles on the fly. I like my CSS to be clean and succinct, without superfluous styles for single words or lines of type that I left unstyled in the original.

Structure of ePub TOC

The toc.ncx file contains the table of contents in xhtml format. NCX stands for Navigation Center eXtended. This is a text file, but it’s best to let Sigil open it for you and make it editable, as opening it in a text editor is risky. In the table of contents file is a reference to each a href (just like a web link), which will deliver the book reader to the appropriate chapter. In the book I made, there are only the 24 chapters in the table of contents, and the contents document is just one level deep. In another book I created recently a multilevel table of contents resulted in four pages of content material.

The content.opf file is a file that contains a manifest of all of the content material in the book. It lists the chapter texts, the contents components, the cover art and any other illustrations in the book. OPF stands for Open Packaging Format, part of the ePub standard. It is legible and editable by those who understand its construction, so edit with care. In one book a few months back I discovered an errant page in my book. I removed the page, then removed the reference to the page from the manifest, and the book was repaired. Had it been any more complex than that, I probably would have gone back to the original and figured out how to fix it there.

In coming days I will write more about ePubs, so you have more geekiness to look forward to.


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Shooting 100 60MB photos every second with the Dragon

Blognosticator Head

For years I have been following the development of the digital video company called Red. They made news first at the National Association of Broadcasters event in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2006. At that show they introduced the world to the concept of very high resolution digital video, and the concept of working in camera raw in video, similar to the way that still photographers used their digital SLR cameras.

Red Dragon 1

This is the Red Dragon. It started its life as a Red Epic, but was recently upgraded to the new Dragon sensor, new electronics, and new cooling fans. One of the most impressive things about the Red cameras is their forward-looking engineering, which allows such upgrades. Fitted on the camera was a Zeiss Distagon lens. For the photo shown we substituted a Canon 100mm macro lens.

The company was founded by Jim Jannard, the founder of Oakley sunglasses. He put together a team of scientists, engineers, designers and cinematographers who were interested in taking the movie industry out of the film era and into the digital era. The movie industry was skeptical, to say the least. Film was entrenched, obviously, as the medium for making high quality motion pictures and television shows.

But, just as digital still cameras captured the imagination of photographers, digital video piqued the interest of many cinematographers who agreed with Mr. Jannard, and those pioneers chose to start making films entirely on digital video. The benefits were many, including reducing the cost of shooting, ease of use, speed of viewing dailies, and the ability to step directly from the original video to the special effects computer without having the digitize the film.

Another benefit of digital video is the dynamic range of the sensor in the Red, and competitive cameras. Film, under the best of circumstances, can retain a tremendous amount of information in a tonal scale. Usually this is measured in “stops” which is a relative expression of exposure (One “stop” is a doubling or halving of the amount of light that strikes the film or sensor relative to the previous value). If one simplifies it to mean how many “stops” there are between a detailed highlight and a solid black, film usually comes in at ten or 11 stops of exposure latitude, less if the film is “pushed” to a higher sensitivity, or if any compression of imagery is done with filters (this is often done to create a “look” of a certain era in film).

Canon 5D Mark III

The Canon 5D Mark III camera with optional battery grip. This was the other camera we used for the experiment in still photography. This camera is capable of shooting video, but we did not use that function in this example.

(This argument gets a lot of press, so I expect film lovers to start sending hate-mail when I say the following.)

Digital sensors were really lousy in 1995; they couldn’t compare with film under any circumstances. Much has happened since then. New CMOS sensors from Sony, Fuji, Canon, Nikon and Red (just to name a few) have continued to improve while film has continued to stay the same (no improvement in film has occurred in decades). The sensor on the newest Red camera, the Dragon, claims a dynamic range of 16.5 stops. That’s very significant, as it allows cinematographers to shoot directly into the sun while maintaining the ability to record information in the shadows at the same time. With four-plus stops of additional dynamic range, cinematographers are free to make more complex shots that take advantage of extremes of lighting. And, much higher ISO (sensitivity) values can be achieved with these digital sensors than film can ever hope to attain (“fast” film is rated at ISO 320; the Dragon goes up into the 2,000 ISO range, about four times more sensitivity without introducing significant digital noise into the image).

Martin Scorsese hates digital, calling it all kinds of names, and predicting that it will bring about the end of the movie industry. Sorry, Martin.

Many other directors love digital because it gives them more opportunity for creative exposure, higher ISO sensitivity, and massive amounts of real resolution (much more than 35mm film, but not as much as 70mm film) that can help them with special effects, cropping, and smoothing of shots when hand-held becomes too rough for even the crazy-action filmmaker. Another benefit of digital cinema is that you can shoot in camera raw, allowing for decisions like “look,” tinting, conversion to black and white, and much more, to be done after the shoot, and not in the camera. Complex sensitivity adjustments (curves) can be made to digital files that would be destructive to scanned motion picture film.

Mac Pro interior Canon

This is a still photo from the Canon 5D of a Mac Pro cylinder computer, showing the internal SSD storage on the left, and one bank of RAM on the right. This photo was taken with the Canon camera.

Another force to be considered is the rapid conversion of movie theaters to digital projectors. Directors like Scorsese are having a hard time demanding film as the industry moves away from film for final presentation. This requires purists like Scorsese to convert their film productions to digital to be distributed, and that makes him crazy. (I LOVE digital projectors in movie theaters because the colors are brighter, the images much sharper, and there is no image-shake, the effect of running film through worn-out projectors.) The titles sit still as I read them, and I really like that.


…and this is the same computer photographed with the Red Dragon. This is a still frame from video shot at 24 fps. The still photo was about 58 MB in size.

For anyone who has ever enjoyed the benefits of the Camera Raw filter/application in Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom, the same tools – and others specific to motion picture production – can be enjoyed in a raw workflow in digital cinema.

Some still photographers are now using cameras like the Red to shoot stills. They shoot a range of motion, then pick-through the individual frames to get their favorite stills. Then, those stills are captured and prepared for print.

I decided to try this for a recent still photo assignment. I shot side-by-side with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Red Dragon digital video camera. Though the work flow I used is not optimal, I enjoyed seeing how nice the still frames are from the Red, and how well it can handle the task of “still” photography.

Redcode screen capture

This is a screen capture of the REDCODE plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. This software allows for the viewing and selection of images from Red cinema footage. On the right are various controls for color temperature, ISO, color balance, and more. If one scrolls down in the software there is a three-point color corrector interface and additional controls.

The Dragon is a beast. It’s quite heavy compared to the already-heavy Canon 5D. I used a Really Right Stuff carbon fiber tripod for these experiments because I wanted to see each camera do its best on a solid platform.

For lighting, I put the Dragon at a disadvantage. I used strobe lights, which are incompatible with digital video. With my son Patrick at the controls of the Dragon, we used the modeling lights of the strobes as our only light source for the Red. The results were quite nice in spite of this disadvantage. I would shoot a series of stills on the Canon, then Patrick would duplicate those stills, using the same Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens, on the Dragon. If I do this kind of test again, I will shoot under incandescent lights for both cameras.

Later, using the Redcode plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, I opened the video sequences and captured a still from each selection. The Red plug-in for Photoshop is very similar to Adobe Camera Raw in that it allows for adjustments in exposure, color temperature, tint, contrast, clarity and much more.

Each still frame captured from the Red Dragon is 58.2MB in size, where the Canon 5D is 66.3MB. These two sensors are very similar in size, though the Red’s is slightly smaller. The Dragon’s resolution in the horizontal dimension is slightly higher (6144 px vs. 5760 px). What is truly amazing about the Red Dragon, and similar digital cinema cameras, is that the camera can capture 100 frames per second at this resolution, a simply astonishing amount of information. At high speed, the Dragon can shoot slow-motion at up to 300 frames-per-second (the resolution must be reduced to 2K for this).

I am not a seasoned videographer, though I have worked in video in the past. To understand the full capabilities of this astonishing camera, one must also understand the complete Red work flow, which requires huge, fast hard disks for storage and a very capable computer to push that many pixels around at such speeds. Of course those who work in Red Raw can benefit from working at lower resolutions during production, then rendering their final work at the end of their projects.

And, like digital still photography, a raw work flow allows producers to change the color temperature, the contrast, etc. on the raw images, and then change their minds to do it differently without having to re-shoot their work.

I plan to do more extensive tests to compare the Red Dragon to my Canon, but time only allowed this one proof of concept at this time. More later!

Some raw resolution statistics for comparison:

Red Dragon sensor: 6144 x 3160

Red Mysterium X sensor: 5120 x 2700

Red Scarlet sensor: 5120 x 2700

Canon 5D Mark III sensor: 5760 x 3840

Nikon D810: 7360 x 4912 (Wow!)


Posted in Digital video, New technology, Photography, Photoshop techniques, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Upgrade adventures – a sleek new Mac Pro

Blognosticator Head

A few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and get a new computer. I have been using an aluminum Mac Pro tower for many years (I have had two of them). The current machine has eight cores, and all four disk slots are filled with enterprise speed 2TB hard drives. I have been using 14 GB of RAM, and getting along pretty well.

The new machine is one of the snazzy black cylinders that Apple is selling. It has a 3.5 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, 32 GB of RAM, and I ordered it with 256 GB of SSD memory. I thought this would be fine, but have since come to the realization that I need a lot more than that.


This is the plug side of the Mac Pro cylinder. It has room for four USB cables, six Thunderbolt cables, one HDMI outlet, an audio in and an audio out, and two Ethernet plugs. I have filled most of them already.

For hard disk storage I chose a ThunderBay drive from Other World Computing with four 4 TB drives inside. This would give me 16 TB of storage, but I set it up as a RAID5 array, leaving 12 TB for storage. This is only 4 TB more than I have been using, but I think it will last a while. When I fill it up, I will add another one and have 12 more terabytes of storage. The advantage of the RAID5 system is that the drive is (mostly) safe from hardware failures. If one drive fails, I can replace it and not lose any data. If two drives fail, I am sunk.


This is the interior of the cylinder. At the top is a cooling fan, and on the internal faces of the machine are the electronics. I upgraded mine to 32GB of RAM, and will soon upgrade the SSD drive to 1TB with a third-party upgrade made by Other World Computing (I ordered mine with only 256 GB of SSD, which has proved not to be enough space for my work). The other pair of RAM slots is on the opposite side of the machine; RAM can be changed by the consumer.

At the moment I have no back-up. I have a separate FireWire 800 Time Machine back-up disk array that filled up last month. When that happened, I shut it off. Once I get everything on the new machine settled, I will restart that drive and get back to incremental back-ups for safety.

In addition to these storage devices on the desktop, I have a 16 TB NAS server on the floor. I built this myself two years ago, and it has been a great companion to my day-to-day work. I use it as an archive storage drive. That drive operates over Ethernet, so it’s not as fast as the ThunderBay, which is a Thunderbolt 2 drive system, capable of reading and writing at preposterous speeds.

So now I have lots of storage, lots of RAM, not enough SSD storage, and a wickedly fast new Mac Pro.

It took me five days to transfer my four hard drives to the ThunderBay. I don’t know where they came from, but I have an average of three million files on each of these drives. I don’t think I created 12 million files, but somehow they are there, and I needed to copy them all from one to the next. My computer was tied up for days, and days. Occasionally I got some work done between disk copying sorties.

Once I finished configuring the 12 TB ThunderBay, I migrated my applications to the SSD drive in the new Mac Pro. And it was then that I realized just how short-sighted I had been when I ordered this machine. I have almost 500 GB of applications and support files, and on the new machine I have only 256 GB of storage space available. Once I realized this, I called Apple to see if they would let me send the machine back for an upgrade. I had waited one day too many before making the call. If I had called one day earlier, they would have allowed me to return the machine. Now I’m stuck with “only” 256 GB of storage in SSD PCI-e memory.

This last week, Other World Computing announced two new SSD upgrades for my new Mac Pro. I ordered the 1TB version, which will be shipping in January. Though a little more expensive than it would have been if I had bought the machine with 1TB in it, the new SSD will make my storage larger, and the company sends a small USB drive in which to put the old card when I do the upgrade. That USB drive will become a 256GB SSD portable drive when I’m finished. That might be a nice item to carry around.

The nice thing about the Mac Pro is that it’s compatible with my existing computer displays. I use two 24-inch Cinema Displays with Display Port adapters on the ends. These, conveniently, plug right in to the Thunderbolt receptacles on the back of the new computer and they work fine.

I can also use FireWire 800 with a small adapter, making it possible for me to use my Nikon CoolScan, my Epson desktop printer, and a variety of other FireWire devices I have scattered around my office.

My USB cables plugged in and worked also, so technically I suffered no technology obsolescence by purchasing the new computer. Everything I own still works on the new machine. I remember the time I upgraded to the aluminum Mac Pro and learned that my SCSI externals would never work again. This has been a more pleasant experience.

MacPro with wires

This is my Mac Pro with wires emerging from the back. Behind it is the OWC Thunderbolt RAID5 device with four 4TB drives within. Formatted, that allows 12TB of external storage.

Somehow my desk isn’t as beautiful as the Apple ads. Coming out of the back of the onyx obelisk are a scatter of cables, all heading off to a nearby location to connect to storage, displays, card readers, etc. I also have my external speakers plugged in and working with the new machine. It’s a rat’s nest of cables. But why complain? It’s a very cool computer, and it heralds a new chapter in my long relationship with the Macintosh.

In the months ahead I will certainly appreciate the speed of the new machine. I’m especially interested to see how quickly this new cylinder will stitch 1,500-image GigaPan images. I’ll be making a couple of those in Death Valley in the next few weeks. With processing times of up to 12 hours on the old eight-core Mac Pro, I had to be very patient. The new machine should do that a lot faster. I’ll let you know how much faster.

The machine is, like most Mac Pro models, stunningly beautiful. It’s utterly silent. It was built in the U.S.A., and it’s made for very intensive computing. I do that once in a while.


Posted in New technology, Panoramic Photography, Photography, Printing and Printing Processes | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

100,000 Readers! Thank you

Blognosticator Head It’s actually 101,759 readers.

What started three and a half years ago on July 26, 2011 has now reached a major milestone in blogging for the graphic arts. The Blognosticator has reached and exceed the 100,000 reader mark. 100,000 Readers head I started this blog after three-plus years writing a similar blog for the late Graphic Arts Monthly magazine.

When they abruptly went out of business I wrote the Blognosticator for What They Think for a few months, and then took it private, as they say of projects that don’t do well in the bigger arena of publishing.

I have always maintained my independence, without sponsors (though I have courted one, unsuccessfully), and have maintained a good sense of editorial independence. I call a foul when I see one, and I get all Curmudgeonly occasionally when Mr. Curmudgeon takes his hand at the blog. But recently I haven’t been too curmudgeonly. It is only good news of late.

I have some projects in the works: First, I bought an amazing new Mac Pro cylinder computer, and have now successfully migrated to that machine. Friday afternoon I cut the cord to the old machine when a local mail order house had a failure of a similar aluminum Mac Pro tower.

Our common denominator was the local independent Apple dealer, MacSuperstore. The owner of that company, my good friend Shane Williams, sent me a text and asked if I could part with the old machine to save the company after a momentary power-outage caused something to fry in their older Mac Pro. Within minutes I had pulled the plugs from the back of the machine, removed the four internal hard drives (I’m keeping those for a while longer), and personally delivered it across town to the warehouse where it was needed. My new Mac is very quick, and I have learned a lot in the few weeks that I have owned it. More on that soon!

My other new project is a new Canon 5D Mark III camera, which jumped out of our local photo store and into my hands on Friday afternoon. I have been shooting with a Canon 1ds Mark III camera for about five years (long enough that Canon no longer makes that model).

The new camera has a slightly higher resolution sensor resolution, it has much more advanced analog-to-digital chips inside, and it has the ability to shoot in low light, where the older camera can’t do that so well. I will be testing that (I know it has been done, but I want to do it myself) and reporting on my findings.

And, there is progress on my until-recently stalled new book on graphic arts processes. That, which I started three years ago, will be coming back into the headlines soon. Watch for more on that in the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, thank you for making up one of my over-100,000 readers. It’s a pleasure to have you with me.

Thank you, Brian P. Lawler

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Quicken 2015 for Mac can no longer pay bills

Mr. Curmudgeon

I have been a Quicken user since 1987 – 27 years. Quicken allows me to keep track of income and expenses, and it has, until now, allowed me to pay any bill to any vendor online.

The convenience of this is impressive. If I want to pay the electric bill, I type the first letter or two of the utility company, and then I hit the tab key and type in the amount. Then I hit return and the bill is put into my payment queue. Later I can post all of my payments to be paid. It takes seconds, and it has been, mostly, flawless all these years.

This week my version of Quicken stopped working for online banking. Not a word from them – which is typical. Quicken is not known for communicating with their customers.

I went online for an arduous text session with a kind young man who tried to help me. After about 30 minutes typing back and forth, he asked if I was a user of Quicken Bill Pay. That was where I thought we had started the conversation, but he was late to the party. Once I told him that I was (for the second time), he indicated that Quicken will no longer support Bill Pay on the Mac.

This happened once before, about five years ago when we Mac users received a rude Dear John letter from Quicken telling us that they would no longer support the Mac platform. Many of us rebelled, and eventually we got a reprieve. Quicken extended the life of its 2007 version, making it compatible with the newer operating systems from Apple. That version held out until this week.

Quicken 2015 for Mac is filled with wonderful features, few of which I care about. And, they don’t actually tell you in their promotional material that is will no longer allow you to pay your bills online. I am pretty unhappy about this.

There are a few critical things I use Quicken for: ledgers of my bank accounts – income, outgo, categories of expenditures, etc. At the end of every quarter I make a report of business income, categorized, and I use that to file and pay my sales taxes. At the end of the year I produce a report of the entire year, categorized, and give it to my accountant for his tax preparation work. It’s very convenient.

I will still be able to use Quicken for that, but not for paying my bills.

Quicken Bill Pay is actually a bank. They have a physical location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. When I request a bill to be paid, they will either print and mail a check or make an electronic funds transfer to the vendor (their decision). It’s very simple. Most of my payments resulted in physical checks being printed and mailed to my vendors, and each month these show up on my bank statement as photocopies of the actual checks. Payments to large organizations – like the electric company – show up in the electronic funds transfer list in the same statement.

For this, Quicken has charged me about $10 each month for 27 years. And I have paid it with a smile. In a typical month I would have spent that much on postage, envelopes and printed checks if I did it manually. Those charges will now go away.

What will I do without Quicken Bill Pay? My local bank has an online bill payment system. I tried it for the first time today, and it’s easy enough to use. It keeps my vendors in a list, so it will be easy to pay the same vendor next month. I think that will work fine. And, it is free. As I pay these bills online, they will go directly into my bank statement, which might be a bit easier in the long run – no more hand entry of expenditures in the Quicken ledger.

As for my business reports, my local bank will allow me to download my transactions to my computer in a Quicken-compatible file format. That will probably allow me to continue to work with Quicken for my reports and annual statements by importing the bank statements into Quicken. And, if I upgrade to Quicken 2015, it claims that it will download my transactions directly from my bank – I might try that.

I will save $120 per year in fees, and I will have to spend a few more minutes paying my bills than I have in the past. And it will get done, and I will grumble about the slight inconvenience, and I will move on.

Nothing lasts forever. This one lasted for 27 years. Adieu, Quicken Bill Pay!

An addendum: On Sunday, December 14, 2014, Quicken announced a fix to their software that gives a new lease on life for online bill-paying. It took about a month, but they have updated the software so that it will work.



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