Blatant Image & Social Manipulation. The Power of Influence and Inspiration.

There are many faces to image manipulation, some as ancient as thought itself. Just as poets, musicians, and novelists influence the mores and social sensibilities of a culture, photographers push the mood of societal attitudes with the same persuasive force. Some pictures come as gentle and suggestive mental nudges while others blow through the senses with the offensive force of a sledge hammer.

The photographer wields the most powerful and influential tool in any culture. For good or bad, it’s manipulation. Photography is today’s emotional shaping tool that can either be used to shape or distort social behavior. Bending the truth is bending the minds of the gullible and the weak; both are dangerous weapons.

The influence of photography on a society is psychology 101 and this psychological prybar changes attitudes and behavior more than it changes fashion. The power of change is driven by the intent to change the social conscience with fear or hope, dread or aspiration, discontent or satisfaction. Influence affects society with the simple mind altering drug called imagination.

Influence vs Infringement.

john-lennonJohn Lennon challenged just about every accepted societal standard of politics, culture, and religion with music, by suggesting that accepted socio-religious standards be replaced with new age consciousness in his song Imagine. Freedom of expression is a human right and entire generations are shaped by the poets and balladeers of human change. The younger generations are always the more pliable targets for “evangelism” of all varieties. Writers, Poets, Musicians and Artists of all sorts each wield weapons of social change. In each case, the medium is merely the vehicle; the driver is the mind of the individual.

Societies have been influenced by dreamers and visionaries throughout history. The “follow me, I’ll take you to the promised land” is a very common theme used by some very uncommon leaders. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, Mao’s Little Red Book, MLK’s “I have a dream” speech have each influenced masses of people. Anybody with a dream, a passion, and a social pulpit can alter beliefs and attitudes. Imagination, influence, innovation, and individual all start with the all powerful “I.” Now, with the Internet, you too have a pulpit. What will you do with it?

Shaping Visual Perception.

Casting a vision is hardly a new trick; it is as old as man himself and it has been used and abused within every culture since the very beginning. From charlatans to visionaries and from P. T. Barnum to Jesus Christ, public expression has long been the turnstyle that alters human behavior. But for the first time, this political/social power is now in the hands of every individual, for commercial, personal, religious, political, and financial power and gain. How this influence will be used by each individual will reveal something of the color of one’s soul, the shape of his character, and the force of his conviction.

Clarity is Shedding Light… literally.

Altering a mood with images (another “I” word) isn’t that difficult, all it requires is a knowledge of image editing basics or one of many current pre-fab software packages available on any platform. The mood of a photo can be set with a couple of clicks and sliders. Emotion runs highest in black and white images even more than color images.

Tonality influences visual perception and sets the emotional interpretation. Simply moving the middle tones into the three-quarter tones changes the message. Don’t settle for good enough when with a little effort, you can clarify a poor image and reveal the beauty within. There are no presets that can rescue a poorly captured image, but a little common sense and a couple of minor adjustments will turn a dull statement into an attractive shot. Use your skills to help people see the best in everything.

I invite you to explore two of my personal commercial websites. They, unlike this one, are intended to pay the bills while hoping to remain entertaining. Ironically, these two sites provide two different image expressions. One presents altered reality while the other delivers foundational and indisputable truth. Both serve a useful purpose.

Alius Gallery. This is my new graphics gallery featuring my own unique photo rendering process. Alius is a Latin term that means alternative. I chose this term to identify this rendering style because Alius art is interpretive. This gallery is quite unique in that you purchase and download the actual original digital files rather than just a printed image on paper or canvas. With Alius, YOU determine who prints the graphic and what size it will be. Photographer almost never share their original creations. Normal galleries simply sell you printed canvas.

Gotta Know Training Videos. These nine animated color science sessions deliver insights into the fundamental truths about color and digital photography, and do so on a level that is neither intimidating nor boring. Your personal photographic skills WILL increase simply because you will understand the simple truth beneath the complicated terminology.

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5G Technology and Digital Photography. What It is and What You Should Know.

5G is the fifth generation wireless technology for digital cellular networks that began wide deployment in 2019. But what exactly is 5G and how will that affect digital photography? One answer is obviously speed. Each generation of gigahertz transmission has stepped up the speed of data transfer, and with ever-increasing image sensor capabilities, the bulk size of individual images (let alone the size of 4K and higher video files) increases the need for speed when transferring these images from one source to another. Like it or not, we’ve become a generation of speed freaks.

The Demand.

Nikon D850

Nikon D850

The latest generation of digital camera image sensors captures between 30-45MP of data with each RAW image in addition to the size of the accompanying JPG. This means that data card real estate and transfer speed capabilities must increase exponentially to accommodate the photon collection glut of data. And that’s just the parking lot acreage on the camera card. Transferring those images from the camera to the computer is another issue altogether. This transfer is now routinely accomplished over WiFi, either at home or over a remote location network. Some of this info will make your head spin.

How will 5G technology impact digital photography? Consider that an experienced shooter will capture between 100 and 300 (both RAW and JPG) images during a typical outing. Not even considering the rapid succession of images captured during a “live” shoot when in Burst mode, this excessive accumulation of captured images requires serious transfer efficiency just to keep the traffic moving. 

If you imagine your camera images as automobiles traveling down the highway, the congestion on the image highway is becoming significant and the volume of cars- staggering. Not only must the speed limit on that highway increase but additional lanes will be required to accommodate the massive number of vehicles traveling the highway.

The Accommodation.

5g-network-transformation-rwdThe digital communications industry is an ever-evolving cause and effect animal that feeds on technology, innovation and speed. This industry builds glutinous devices that generate massive amounts of data and require breakneck-speed delivery vehicles. Digital technology is a growing beast with an insatiable appetite whose keepers never stops feeding it. The industry’s dual mottos seem to be “too much is never enough,” and “nothing succeeds like excess.” To accommodate this need for speed, the communications side of the industry is tasked with building faster and more powerful transmission solutions. Hence, 5G.

As with previous network products, the transmission racetrack is divided into regions called “cells”, that are linked by individual antennas. This array of cells and antennas is analogous to high-speed lanes on the digital highway. Virtually every major telecommunication service provider is deploying these antennas or intends to deploy them soon. The frequency spectrum of 5G is divided into millimeter waves; mid-band and low-band. Low-band uses a similar frequency range as it’s predecessor, 4G. 4G was a marvel in its time, but time is but a stepping stone with technology, and the steps are getting closer together.

5G technology and digital photography is a highway that is both deep and wide by definition, and that means quicker downloads, increased interactivity of devices, much lower latency rate and a significant impact on how we live, work and play. Latency is how long it takes the network to respond to a request, which could be you trying to upload an image to a server, play a song or video or load a website for example. A network has to respond to a request before it even starts loading, which can lead to minor but perceptible lag. We all know the drill and are familiar with the spinning beachball of lag. The connectivity benefits of 5G are expected to make businesses way more efficient and give us race car drivers increased access to more data, using Autobahn passing lanes and utilizing the full speed limits more than ever before.

Speed Limits.

5G IllustrationDATA TRANSFER SPEEDS OF 10Gbps and 8K Video on fast track? This all sounds impressive, but what does it actually mean?

Gbps (gigabytes per second) transfer rates are common in fixed networks transporting business class data, but are still only a pipe dream for most fixed network “coach class” users. According to AT&T, at 1Gbps you can download 25 full frame JPG images in under a second, a TV show in under three seconds and an HD movie in less than 36 seconds. 10Gbps is widely accepted as a realistic expectation for 5G when it is fully commercially available, but early 5G services seem to be topping out at around 1Gbps.

But this is still a vast improvement over the current data highway speeds. This year 5G is expected to roll out with more than 50 billion devices and 212 billion sensors connected to network services, generating more than half a zettabyte of data traffic per year. If you’ve never heard of a zettabyte before, it’s 2 to the seventieth power. While the full implementation of 5G is still a couple of years away, the current increase in performance is welcome indeed.

While the new 5G encompasses a full spectrum of performance issues from pure hair-on-fire transfer speeds to near-instant interaction between networked devices, probably the most conspicuous advantage to the photography industry will be the access and speedy transfer of large images to and from compatible sources. This leads right to the heart of one of my favorite new toys… personal and group cloud servers; in particular photo club servers.

These private online storage facilities provide both protected access and massive library storage. With a private server, you have not only a library, but a very quick and knowledgable librarian. This is private servitude that is both completely legal and ultra safe. Away from the crowded speedway of the shared Internet, private servers provide a world of security and access that rivals a digital gated community. More info: (

Back to the 5G Technology and Digital Photography Highway.

4g_versus_5GWhen fully implemented, this 5G superhighway will provide a long awaited solution to the logjam of downloading images from the camera to the computer as well as the problem of off-site image storage while also providing seamless access to all personal image libraries via any networked device. This same (personal or group) server is already available via cell tower using the 5G pathway. There are currently more than 236 million WiFi connections in the US alone.

New wave digital cameras will undoubtedly provide direct upload services to properly 5G capable servers. This means that sharing and posting images will be accommodated instantly and remotely. Not only that, manufacturers are quietly working on recognition and communications links between users of particular high-end model cameras. Images captured by one shooter can be monitored (and shared) by other shooters and devices, even in remote environments. 5G, combined with quite affordable (quick and massive capacity) memory cards will enable shooters to capture and transfer huge images. Projections of background image processing will either lighten the editing and sorting process or exacerbate it- the jury is out on that one.

Software developers will latch onto this new turbo-charged transfer and processing capability quickly. Expect serious editing capabilities handled by AI routines to be embedded into even mobile software apps to enjoy the power on the new 5G Autobahn. Now the same technology that makes driverless vehicles more able to respond to fast changing situations than humans will be entering the onramp of digital photography soon. Faster response, reduced lag, and more device interactivity will open up a whole new generation of devices. Buckle up.

I’ll publish some followup information about the whole 5G situation next- some things very cool- some things very scary, both for you and for your current way of life. All things you should certainly know about. Keep your eyes wide open. See you next time.

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How Stupid We Were Then & How Smart We Are Now

Have you noticed in the last decade just how stupid and gullible you’ve been all your life?

If you’ve tuned into the “experts” who reside in and sponsor the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, and the We Know Better Channel, etc. you’ve noticed that virtually everything you learned in school about history and science was wrong, ignorant, deluded, or purposely deceptive. It seems that the new breed of experts now clearly see evidence that the less intelligent historians must have missed. Could it be that eye-witnesses, historians, and documentarians that were on the scene at actual events couldn’t have witnessed the events accurately. Where they all incompetent spin artists? Hmm-m… 

Of course the new experts are far more factual, honest, and intelligent than those who witnessed the events in real time, during the actual occurrences. And of course, these new experts have no ulterior agenda behind their efforts, or do they? Could they be discrediting eye witnesses and rewriting history so they can change the records to fit their new narrative. It seems that everything that we learned as noble, good, and fair really didn’t happen like we thought. Apparently there was an evil agenda afloat back then, deceiving the masses. We were just too ignorant to see it.

Not that I suspect that there is a sociopolitical agenda at work in our society; all of the world’s current reporting sources are totally unbiassed and are strictly fact-based. Yeah, right! Remember, every change in culture is always ushered in by a deluge of rewritten history. It has happened many times before and it is happening again. Wake up. As I remember (or at least as I learned), a guy named Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda burned all the political, philosophical, and history books in an effort to reshape German culture in the 1930s.  

The shows that irritate me the most are the ones that claim to clarify the teachings of the Bible. I guess I notice these shows because I’ve been a serious student of the Bible for over five decades. I know a bit about this book. The experts’ “clarifications” try to discredit most of Christianity’s basic beliefs, biblical records, words of Jesus, and tenets of the faith. The experts they call in are laughable; the most obscure, liberal teachers of religious studies they can find. Most of these experts on Christianity come from organizations and schools that I’ve never heard of before. I almost never hear them interview the stalwarts of fundamental Christian theology. They wouldn’t dare. To those who have not personally studied the Bible, these arguments seem quite plausible. To those of us who know different, it is shameful. Their presentation of faith is reduced to a social program supposedly reflecting the teachings of Jesus, though not the Jesus that I know very well. The distortions are palpable. They disregard the truths of the Bible, choosing to bend their meanings to meet their progressive agenda.

The arguments for most of these new revelations usually start with a phrase like “what if…” or “could it be…”. Once they present a far-reaching (and almost insulting) alternative theories, they then set about to build upon their suppositions with very twisted theory built on even more obscure claims and wild assumptions. In the end, they prop up their straw cases as if they are more reasonable explanations of what really happened. In the case of biblical issues, any passages the Bible that contain a supernatural component, they always propose a more plausible secular and scientific explanation of what probably happened. When “God” is acknowledged, He is portrayed as an ancient benign observer of science, rather than the Causer of the science. Secular science attempts to trump God every time. Science merely discovers what God created and then credits their discovery as intellectual achievement.

We are being played like a cheap fiddle, my friends. Both history and the Bible are being rewritten to whitewash the facts and present secular fantasy as fact to a whole new generation. Could there be a sinister underlying agenda behind much of this new wave of science revelation? Guaranteed. I’m personally tired of all the new experts telling me how ignorant I am for believing the facts presented in one of the most reliable historical records we have. 

Guard your hearts and protect your children with the truth.

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Introducing Alius

What you see here is an example of a very special and unique graphic digital treatment that combines photography and sensitomic interpretation. Put simply, the colors and tonality curves of photos are identified, isolated, and interpreted very purposely and precisely.

Sunset Original

Enlarged Area of Original Image

The original process that inspired this rendering is called posterization, and can be experienced in Photoshop and other image processing applications.

Sunset Posterization

Enlarged Area of Typical Posterization

Typical Photoshop posterization results are very mathematical and crude.

Sunset Alius

Enlarged Area of Alius Rendering

The Alius rendering process, literally by contrast and islolation, provides a totally controlled and nearly unlimited rendering platform for digital images. Alius is a creative wonderland for “graphic” interpretations where smooth gradations are replaced by precise pools of very accurate color. This treatment is best suited for bold and colorful interpretations.

Here’s another example. To appreciate this image even more, tap (Command-+/Control+) in your browser several times to enlarge and control the pictures.


Original web image

At the moment, this software is not commercially available, though we are considering developing it for the general public.


Alius Rendering

I will be publishing examples of Alius interpretations on this blog frequently and we’ll gauge the potential of development on public reactions. In the mean time I will accept limited production work over the next several months as we explore the potential.

Comments and viewpoints are welcome.

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Be Somebody

In times like this that all the opinions and convictions about politics and cultural issues should be recognized as important issues. However, in times like these we must realize that neither of these issues are solution-driven and should not occupy the driver’s seat in the current discussion. What we need is clear thinking, individual action and personal participation.

In times like these we see who we really are as human beings. The question of “will we survive this world-wrenching catastrophe or will we slowly fade away as a civilization?” is a very real one. We all have choices to make, and we must make that choice today. The old adage “you’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution” should hit you square in the face when you look in the mirror. I know it has hit me just this morning.


There are three classes of people on this planet and you’ll rapidly discover which class you belong to. This class structure has nothing to do with the haves and the have-nots or any political persuasion, it is a clarification of character. 

The top tier in this class structure is composed of the level headed, big picture leaders. These leaders are not particularly political, sports, or business persons, they are those who can see the big issues for what they are rather than how they are perceived through the lens of a particular ideology. These leaders are visionaries come from all walks of life, who see obstacles for what they are and determine to face those obstacles and find new paths around them.

The second tier in this class are those who catch the vision of the leaders and determine to be agents of change in the midst of the all the confusion and clutter. This class is a much smaller group of people who are dedicated to making a difference instead of making a noise. These are the true movers in society; the nonpartisan heart of the civilization who have decided to roll up their sleeves and make things right, right where they are.

Then there are those in the vast majority who are simply overwhelmed. They can see only the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and cannot see beyond those obstacles. These are not bad people, they are good people who are so overcome with the problem that they cannot see beyond it. These are the people whom the first two tiers must recognize not for their shortcomings or fears, but for their desperate need for leadership, comfort and direction.

Be an Agent of Change

It is times like these that we must decide which classification we wish to join. This is a choice we all can and must make individually. We are all a bit frightened by this epidemic, but we must make a conscious decision about what part we will play in this very real drama. While there are few who are gifted to lead in a time of crisis, we all can join the second tier and be agents of change. Change from fear to encouragement and from apathy to action.

Do something today to join that second tier. The world desperately needs difference makers. We all have friends and family who are less fortunate, more vulnerable, and just plain frightened about where all this is headed. You don’t have to have all the answers be in this group, you just have to have the desire to make a positive contribution. Take action today to do two things in your personal life. 

First, decide to contribute to the solution in ways you can. No matter how much this situation is impacting you, you probably know someone who is less fortunate. While we cannot freely travel and visit others, we can call, text, FaceTime, and email them, reassuring them that they are loved and not alone. This single act of mercy will do wonders both for you and for those you contact. 

Second, determine that you will not allow yourself to think negative or political for the next seven days. This doesn’t sound like a lofty goal, but every habit takes time to develop. Be the agent of change in your world. There is plenty of fear and negative news in the world right now and not nearly enough love and concern. This is your chance to be a leader in your world.

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The New Corona Photography Workflow

The Bad Medical Virus.

Corona VirusWhile the planet seeks a solution to the pandemic problem of the Corona virus, may I suggest we use this opportunity to participate in an innovative photographic exercise in the mean time.  This Corona workflow might be just the spherical ray of light that we photographers need in the midst of a dark and scary time. We need to reclaim the word corona.

Fortunately, photography is a very personal process. We all use digital devices to capture interesting subjects and express emotions but none of those devices are multi-person in function. So why not step up your personal photography and share your projects more openly online with a Corona photography workflow. There are obvious opportunities available to everybody that are both extremely safe while being very public. Why not join the Facebook group of your local photo club and (safely) start sharing more openly with thousands of your closest friends?

Sun Corona

Our new photography corona workflow is about LIGHT, not disease.

I’m appealing to the leadership of every photo and camera club to provide online assignments and challenges based on the subject of light. Publish each submission publicly and give recognition to all entries. The assignments and challenges can be announced on club Facebook pages and posted (in larger sizes) on club websites. This will not only promote activity within the clubs but will share those talents with the rest of the world’s photo enthusiasts. This kind of effort will show the heart of digital photo community and will widen the family circle and lift the spirits of millions.

Digital photography is a very dynamic and growing lifestyle, especially with the increased photographic capabilities of today’s camera phones. Photo clubs are comprised of all echelons of experience and all levels of equipment and now includes a growing number of phone photographers. We’ve all seen some pretty amazing examples of great pictures captured by camera phones with several clubs even featuring dedicated internal groups. The software features within these phones is both mind boggling and beyond the capabilities of many very expensive dedicated digital cameras.

Add to this the ability of camera phones to immediately (and extensively) edit and post images to all forms of social media. 

The Good Digital Viral Process.

Lifestyle photography is widely accepted and sharing of images is commonplace in our world culture. Since we all travel with these mini-marvels, virtually everybody can participate in this Corona photography workflow project and with little effort, it will go viral quickly. This kind of virus is good. This way, personal creativity can be unleashed and shared almost without limits in either subject matter or interpretation, and if well coordinated, can unite the minds and emotions of people and redirect emotions to a positive place while the medical world works diligently on an effective solution to the medical problem.

Sun Corona 2

The dictionary definition of corona is: the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars, the glow around a conductor at high potential.

Social community should be a goal that is openly promoted and encouraged by local photo clubs sponsoring “socially distanced” group activities and photo opportunities. Photo challenges can be organized online through a number of social media. During a time of world crisis like we are currently facing, the nervous human psyche can either suffer fear-overload or be creatively redirected, and this is one avenue that we can all travel safely. 

Shared activities need not stop, they simply need to be redefined as virtual group activities. This new sharing can become interpersonal and actually create stronger bonds between individuals who otherwise might not participate in a typical meetings. Social media has proven to provide a community sharing process that is even more inclusive than literal clubhouse meetings. This digital extension of the photo community clubhouse has the very real chance to involve persons from all aspects of society and age groups.

In my next post, I’ll present a cooperative process that will develop this concept further. Stay tuned.

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Black and White are Rarely Black or White

There are very few absolutes in this life. Most issues we face fall into more “gray areas” compared to the purely polar dictionary definitions of actual black and white. We use these terms rather cavalierly when expressing personal opinions even when the real life situations are anything but! This is also true in a number of photography-related issues. Since photography is the topic de jour, I’ll turn the conversation in that direction.

Hawaii Lava Rocks +

Total black and white can lose important detail. Occasionally this is appropriate for drama, but in general, even the darkest areas of an image should contain contrasting tones.

Here’s the hard facts. Black is the total absence of light, as in a cave at midnight with your eyes closed. Nada, nothing, total emptiness. Nothing is quite as disorienting or scary as total blackness. Blackness is un-relational and unforgiving. Even our sense of balance is affected by our inability to orient ourselves to our environment. What we can’t see, we can’t relate to.

Hawaii Lava Rocks BW

Opening up the darkest channel (unfortunately labeled “Black” in most software) can reveal depth that otherwise gets buried in the D-max of the photographic medium.

White is at the other end of the light measurement scale being defined as a direct unobstructed blast of light from the Sun at noon. Blinding, blazing, searing, scorching light. True white light would actually blow the rods out of our eyes and leave us (at least temporarily) blinded. Perhaps it is good that we don’t try to function either physically or psychologically in either of these two extremes.

In the photographic film and darkroom world, “D-max” and “D-min” determined the total light range of photographic prints and transparencies. Actual black and white light measurements simply cannot (by definition) be replicated in photographic materials. D-max refers to the maximum light blocking capacity (density) of a particular film or print. D-max is the point of maximum development for either film or prints in a traditional (chemistry-emulsion) darkroom environment.

D-max for an inkjet printer would be the darkest black that can be achieved by a particular ink on a particular paper (yes, there are different inks and papers that achieve different results). D-min would be the highest light reflective measurement possible from a particular paper with no ink. In either case, neither “”actual” black nor total white is possible. In truth, black and white can not be expressed in the medium of photography, though we still employ the terms.

FlagerBeach Model Dark

Actual original image (left) and adjusted image (right). No kidding. RAW files deliver!

By contrast, we live our everyday lives in the natural world where we can experience this “actual” extreme range of natural light. We occasionally witness these extreme lighting conditions and this reference to reality keeps our lives in clear focus. There exists a broad range of contrast in nature’s lighting that keeps our visual cortex amused and intrigued. We experience the extremes of light and dark almost every day and our eyes adjust to these dynamics quite naturally. But in the subdued visual expression called photography, we are restricted to using a much more muted palette, which presents our minds with a different challenge.

Our brains insist on detail to help us navigate our way through this world both visually and rationally. We are a relational specie and we rely on the existence of distinct details in our surroundings in order to relate and negotiate our way through those surroundings. The very same issue determines how we relate to things photographic. Which brings me to my point… finally.

Heidelberg Pipe Organ

Every physical item that we describe as “black” must be distinguished from actual dictionary-definition “black” if it is to be seen as a dimensional object.

Contrast is the determining factor in detail. Without contrasting tones, there can be no detail. Our eyes get to experience the full dynamic range of light in real life but in photos our perception is very limited by the whole visual D-max/D-min thing. We must learn to use what range we have to mimic the range that we don’t… get it? Pushing the internal tones around within an image will simulate the full range of tones that we normally see (and often take for granted) in real life.

FlagerBeach Ligit & Dark

Another example of extremes. The lighting was good on the female but the male model was underlit. Some serious internal adjustments were made in one copy of the RAW file and a masked copy of the correction was placed into the scene. Once again, tonal reproduction is key.

In a practical sense, detail is created when a visual relationship is established. The greater the contrast between tones, the sharper the detail becomes. In order to express detail in a dark area, there must be a distinction between black and “almost black.” Without that distinct separation, there can be no detail. There is a cardinal rule when printing a photo on a printing press… “there are no absolute blacks and only specular (reflections) pure whites in print.” Even pure white must contain a tonal element to maintain dimension and texture. Neither black nor white express detail. Black must be implied more than stated. Even a black hat or garment must contain tones of dark gray to carry the illusion of detail.

Bowers SBS

Black is a relative term. Total black looses important detail and dimension.

When a photo lacks internal contrast, it lacks detail. The tension of contrast creates both detail and definition. Of course even detail is a relative thing. Not all images require the same dynamic appearance. If all pictures contained the same degree of (internal or overall) contrast, the monotony of sameness would probably drive us to boredom.

The point I want to make here is that in order to keep the human mind amused, engaged and involved, we must learn to use all the tone dynamics at our disposal. Fortunately, the human mind (and it’s willing accomplice, the visual cortex) provide us with a very forgiving and creative instrument that interprets (and believes) the limited dynamics of printed photos. When this tonal orchestration is successfully accomplished, the result can be breathtaking.

We were designed to be very creative. Start believing that and watch the magic happen.

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The Camaraderie and Benefits of a Photo Clubs and Image Servers: Part 3

While the prior installments in this series describe the function of personal servers, there will soon be an even cooler (cheaper, simpler, and more powerful) alternative server product available to photo club members. Trial configurations of Cloud9 Photo Club Servers (much larger and faster server arrays) will soon come online in a handful of photo club locations providing some very innovative services and features in addition to ample personal image storage.

These servers can be shared by all participating club members, providing generous private image bank storage, educational areas, and expanded social features reflecting the personality and activities of individual photo clubs. Cloud9 servers will be much more efficient than private servers in both speed and cost to participating members. A simple elegant GUI (graphic user interface) will provide access to a wide variety of monthly (and even weekly) club updates, keeping members informed and tuned in to all club activities and providing communication channels with fellow members.Cloud9 UI DesktopCloud9 Photo club servers will provide many services and benefits for the entire club at a fraction of the cost of personal servers (and with none of the technical responsibility). Once each club member uploads their library of images to their private image bank, they can then view and share those images with anyone else in the club (or non club members by personal invitation) with the click of a button. While I cannot list all the features of the club servers, I can tell you that these servers will provide an amazing array of social services and educational programs within a single, very secure and private online source, centered around each local photo club’s interests.

The Cloud9 Photo Club Server is a new concept in server technology specifically designed around the needs of photography clubs and their members, consolidating image storage and dozens of services and features in a single server package.

Cloud9 Banner Menus
Cloud9 Photo Club Server is an online extension of the local photo club, offering a vast variety of services and resources in addition to significant online storage space for each participating photo club member.

Photo club servers provide participating members with high-speed anytime cloud access to their personal images, as well as upload services, group calendars (announcing activities and upcoming events), chat rooms, Power Point presentations and slide shows from past meetings, educational courseware, and much more; all while protected by automatic (RAID) backup services and system immunization from malware and viruses.

Cloud9 Features and Benefits

These are the current proposed features and benefits included in the Cloud9 Photo Club Server. Each member is availed not only a generous amount of image storage space for remote access, but a boutique resource digest of social, educational, and research vehicles.

Preparing servers to accommodate individual members takes significant time and planning, but once configured, the participation cost to the members will be minimal while the benefits will be enormous. The design, configuration and administration of these club servers is made possible through the joint efforts of individual club administrators and the server developers to make certain that all participating members have proper training and anytime access to all their images, while enjoying the club services and programs.

Each participating member will have their own gallery on the server to store a slew of their favorite “keeper” images. Each RAID-based server will be backed up to 3rd party commercial cloud storage as well as a weekly backup kept in a separate physical location just in case of theft, fire or natural disaster. That little bit of extra protection is essential to not only member peace of mind, but also to the club’s fiscal liability.

Cloud-laptop array
Storing digital images on popular commercial cloud system affords remote access from anywhere on the globe but this storage comes with not only a significant price tag, but also a sacrifice of both personal security and personal information sharing.

Photo club servers differ from commercial cloud storage most notably by the amazing variety of quality features and club-focused programs provided posted and updated weekly to the server. While photo club servers will require a monthly subscription, the benefits and services will far out shadow the modest monthly fee. Cloud9 Photo club servers provide much more than simple image parking space. The image viewing service provided will include both keyword and visual search functions as well as hi-res viewing, print, publish, and download functions, all online. And unlike Facebook photo club groups, the photos you share with photo club server members will not mysteriously show up on Google or Bing images next week!

Participating clubs will appoint a member as Coordinator to upload regularly-updated club information pertaining to individual events, announcements, and club news bulletins while a variety of fresh, timely photo news content, educational, and subscription services will be posted to the servers automatically. This online clubhouse atmosphere will bring new interactive life to each club by attending the growth and social interaction of individual club members.

Club servers will provide ample storage and advanced features (courseware, training videos, pro-tips, photo blogs and guest articles, etc). 

Cloud Photo Library

Photo Club Servers offer a wide variety of remote services to club members, including current DPS posts, display and downloading of personal images, club calendars, photo challenges (uploads and slideshows), educational materials, member directories, and more.

Well, there you have it; this is your invitation to get totally immersed in the activities and benefits of your local camera club AND to join the Cloud9 Photo Club Server community. Don’t miss either opportunity.

The Cloud9 Photo Club Servers are scheduled to be available to photo clubs by the end of the second quarter, 2020. If your club is interested in pursuing this opportunity, send me a note and I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to comment on what you think of the concept.

I enjoy speaking to schools, photo clubs and organizations every month presenting programs on digital photography, post production, and color science. If you’d like me to speak to your group, drop me a line. Check out my published articles on Digital Photography School…

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The Camaraderie and Benefits of a Photo Clubs and Image Servers: Part 2

Welcome back to the continuing discussion about photo clubs and image servers. Let’s dive in and look at some of the issues involved. If you haven’t read Part 1 in this series, I suggest you go back and do so before you continue with this post.

First, let me address a question that I often hear concerning this issue of ownership versus using parking space online. Why set up a personal server instead of simply employing a public (or commercial) cloud storage system? Good question.

Public cloud storage is a wildly popular way to upload (varying limits of) personal images to an Internet-based parking lot somewhere in the sky (or more likely, an enormous data farm located in some rural hillside in South Dakota). Hard drive storage is quite inexpensive now and thus these data farm storage systems often offer parking parking space for next to nothing… often “free.” Yeah, right!

How can they offer such a volume of storage for no money, or very little? The simple answer is that immense money is being made in the background, at your expense! Every time you sign up for something labeled “free,” a red flag shoud go up in your mind. Read the user agreement carefully and see how your profile information and other personal data is being harvested and fed to business partners for marketing and political purposes. In short, business is made on your information. The secondary source of income comes from advertising revenues. You’ll probably nothice that the recent inquiries you’ve made on Google and the purchases you’ve made on Amazon reflect the kinds of ads you see in the sidebar. This is no coincidence. Now, back to the issue at hand.

Personal Server Installation and Configuration

If you choose to go the personal server route, most NAS servers you can be purchased for next day delivery from Amazon and other online stores. These are simple plug-and-play units made possible by the fact that they are so simple to configure. Personal servers consist of a CPU and one or more bays for hard drives. You can either purchase drives separately or the buy the server and drives as a pre-assembled unit. Be aware that uploading your images to any server will take time, so it’s best to begin the process just before you go to bed and let the process continue to work while you sleep.

Single user cloud servers start as small as 2TB. Multi-bay units with faster CPUs offer four or more bays, each bay housing up to a 12TB drive. Best practice is to sum up your collective image file sizes and multiply that amount by 1.5 to determine the drive size you’re likely to need. The sky is the limit on storage since many NAS servers are hot-swappable and expandable. Keep in mind that single drive units cannot be configured as RAID arrays; you’ll need two drives for that. In addition, for most servers, you can purchase and quickly install additional RAM, which speeds up search and transfer functions. Connectivity for most all of these units includes multiple USB ports and disk-copy functionality as well as dual Ethernet connections for ultra fast data transfer to the modem or router.

Personal Server Packages

Personal cloud server packages offer a number of additional app plug-ins that can be folded into the server software. These packages offer additional functions that are very useful but they can also tax the operation of the server’s CPU.

Each server manufacturer offers a variety of very useful mini-applications that provide additional functionality, including image viewers, multimedia players, notepads, WordPress, email and more. These apps are offered separately and should be installed as needed, keeping in mind that each app can tax the CPU’s energy. Configuring the base units and additional applications can take some time and call for careful thought about their usage, especially if the server services and contents will be shared with others.

Maybe setting one of these personal servers ain’t rocket science, but it is a detailed process that could take many hours of time (and the patience of Job) to handle right since servers are normally set up by IT geeks, not photographers. And incidentally, the server instructions are written by geeks and for other geeks in a language you probably won’t understand without a geek dictionary. Take your time and learn as much as you can from the abundant YouTube tutorials online.

If, on the other hand, you are not technically-oriented but you see the benefits in participating in a Photo Club Server program… stay tuned. Part 3 of this post will reveal a totally fresh, new slant on digital image storage; the Cloud9 Photo Club Server. 

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The Camaraderie and Benefits of a Photo Clubs and Image Servers: Part 1

If you do not yet attend (or better yet, belong to) a local photography club, you may be missing out on a very special affiliation and a personal growth opportunity. Photography may be a solo practice, but it is much more special when you can learn from and share experiences with others who enjoy your passion. Most photo clubs meet once a month to share experiences, knowledge, and learn from special speakers and interesting presentations. The camaraderie factor alone is worth the price of admission. But while attending these events is special enough, there is now a special project percolating that will make memberships in these organizations even more valuable: the development of powerful photo club servers. More on that in Part 2 of this series.

Cloud Photo Library

Being able to access and view your photos online is a real necessity in today’s culture, but the cloud storage options come with risks.

We photographers like to show off our pictures to friends, customers, associates, and family at every opportunity. Those of us who provide professional photo services rely on quick, reliable, and private access to our images so we can share them with both current and potential clients. If you shoot pictures for a living, you know that you never stop prospecting and selling your services. Even those who simply enjoy shooting for the creative exercise and simple enjoyment have occasionally found themselves wishing they could show others some images located back on their desktop computers.

Every one of us (think airport layovers and doctor office waiting rooms), would love to reclaim that “wasted” time by doing something more productive than viewing out-of-date magazines or playing games on our mobile devices. While there are numerous ways to access the images that we’ve uploaded to various cloud services and social media platforms, sometimes the size restrictions, vulnerability, cost. and unauthorized public sharing of our images can be annoying. We love the social aspects of online services but privacy and personal security are becoming bigger problems than ever. And if you haven’t noticed recently, many of these “cloud” systems are rewriting their contracts, conditions, restrictions, and fees… and not to the subscriber’s advantage. Maybe its time to reconsider the options! Wouldn’t it be great to access any image you’ve shot at any time and from any remote location without clogging up your phone or dragging your library around with you?


QNAP provides several affordable personal servers for consumers and professionals alike.

Personal Cloud Servers 

As I outlined in a recent article (, there is an attractive alternative to commercial cloud services; the personal cloud server. Personal servers are Windows or Linux-driven CPUs hooked up to one or more server-grade hard drives. Once you upload copies of your photos to a personal server, you can view (and download) them from any location, any time. These toaster-size devices require only an Internet connection, a hard drive and a password to provide secure access to your entire photo library. Server-grade hard drives (like Western Digital’s Red and Seagate’s Iron Wolf series) are designed to operate continuously, twenty-four-seven, for years. Bargain hard drives simply cannot take that kind of beating without wearing out.

A personal server isn’t attached to your computer at all; but to a modem/router via Ethernet cable which makes it accessible from any remote location that offers Internet access. Through this device, you’re able to work on all the images you have uploaded as though you were sitting in front of your desktop computer at home. How cool is that? The hardware cost of personal servers ranges from $200-$750 (depending on the model and disk size chosen), and provides anywhere-access to the image files for each individual owner.


Synology offers a broad spectrum of reliable server products that can house multiple hard drives and provide massive storage (up to 12TB each drive) for all you digital images. Your entire library can be housed on a single online image vault, making every image available for work and display from any location on the globe.

Hopefully you can see the benefits of both photo clubs and personal NAS servers. In the third installation of this series, I’ll present an even more attractive proposition; Cloud9 Photo Club servers. This exciting new concept will revolutionize and revitalize photo clubs by serving (pun intended) as an extension of local photo club participation and services. Stay tuned in for the details on this new development.

I enjoy speaking to schools, photo clubs and organizations every month presenting programs on digital photography, post production, and color science. If you’d like me to speak to your group, drop me a line. Check out my published articles on Digital Photography School…

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