Dan Margulis Applied Color Theory

Readability and Teaching

   Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 12:09:24 -0600
   From: "drhobbes"
Subject: Professional Photoshop

    While I'm sometimes a little slow in figuring things out, and it may well be apparent to everyone else why Dan's writing is so valuable, it has finally occurred to me that the same thing that makes his books so valuable is the very thing that makes them so damnably hard to understand.  His books are clearly intended for experienced professionals who want to expand their horizons, yet his sense of humor coupled with a choice of really basic words and phrases is enough to fool beginners into believing that his explanations are perfectly clear and that we are a little dumb in not being able to grasp the material right away.  In fact it's analogous to a book on advanced surgical techniques written for experienced orthopedic surgeons. I've read books like this, some of which are so clearly written with a minimum of technical terminology that the reader is likely to forget that true understanding of such a text depends upon his having a firm grasp of biochemistry, embryology, human anatomy, physics, and a host of other disciplines.  Without that you might well read such a book and come out thinking you know as much about the subject as any surgeon.  Makes you feel good, but you wouldn't want to try out the techniques right away.

    So what's the point to this rambling?  Novices and intermediate level Photoshop enthusiasts, take heart!  The more you learn, here and from other books, the more knowledge you will gain from repeated readings of Dan's books.  To make full use of his explanations you must have a pretty thorough knowledge of almost all aspects of Photoshop.  You can use many of his techniques straight from the books, but to get the most advantage from them you're just going to have to keep learning from every available source.  Everytime you learn something new from reading other materials, you'll find something in Dan's books that suddenly makes sense for the first time.

    As for those hesitant to contribute to this Forum, you are doing yourselves a great disservice.  Every time I jump in and offer my own thoughts, my thoughts branch out and often lead to even more innovative solutions to problems.  Trying to help others solve their problems can teach you more than any book, especially when someone wiser points out how wrong you are!

Howard Smith
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   Date: Wed, 28 Dec 2005 15:55:36 -0800
   From: Mike Russell
Subject: Re: Professional Photoshop

From: "drhobbes"

[re Dan's books]
... his sense of humor coupled with a choice of really basic words and
phrases is enough to
fool beginners into believing that his explanations are perfectly clear
and that we are a little
dumb in not being able to grasp the material right away.

Dan's writing is accessible, but this does not amount to "fooling" anyone that the underlying ideas are simple, or making anyone feel dumb.  IMHO it does exactly the opposite.  There is too much obfuscated language surrounding color theory, to the point that it becomes an impenetrable barrier.  Dan cuts difficult concepts down to size.  When they are explained clearly, accurately, and in an interesting way, such ideas are much easier to grasp.  Above all, Dan provides example images to illustrate nearly everything he discusses.
...
As for those hesitant to contribute to this Forum, you are doing
yourselves a great disservice.  Every
time I jump in and offer my own thoughts, my thoughts branch out and often
lead to even more
innovative solutions to problems.

True enough, and the group would not be the same without you, Howard, and I mean that in the best way possible.  Take care, and may everyone have a healthy and happy new year.

Mike Russell
www.curvemeister.com
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   Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005
   From: Dan Margulis
Subject: Re: Professional Photoshop

Mike Russell writes,

Dan's writing is accessible, but this does not amount to "fooling" anyone
that the underlying ideas are simple, or making anyone feel dumb.  IMHO it
does exactly the opposite.  There is too much obfuscated language
surrounding color theory, to the point that it becomes an impenetrable
barrier.

There is an unfortunate tendency for writers to think that their ideas are more impressive if they are backed up by fancy-sounding words.

In the last year, amazon.com has begun scanning texts and ranking them according to three major readability indices. I am no more a fan of computer rating of writing than I am of histograms, but when talking about a scan of 100,000 words or more you can certainly get valid readings of how long the sentences and how big the words are. Plus, they tell you what the author's 100 most commonly-used words are. That is extremely helpful. Some of the words that are on that list for Professional Photoshop 4E are not words that I would have wanted to be there. I really cut back on their use in Canyon Conundrum.

Anyhow, a few other Photoshop books have been so rated, and I keep a spreadsheet of the ones I find. On the one hand my subject is more technical than anyone else's, and also I sometimes go off into literary riffs that are sure to poison the readability score. On the other, as Photoshop authors are not noted for their scintillating writing style, I thought my scores would be about average.

At present I have tracked ten other medium-to-advanced Photoshop titles of more than 88,000 words, as well as Photoshop for Dummies. The results are uniform. In all three indices, the other ten titles are clustered together. Then there is a jump, because Photoshop for Dummies is rated as much more readable than any of them. And then there is another jump.

The most commonly used test (it's the one the government uses to track comprehensibility of its own documents) is the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test. A higher score is better. The ten other titles score between 33.7 and 52.6, with an average score of 45.8. Time magazine is 52.0. "Trees" by Ansel Adams, which is not averaged in because its word count is too low, is 52.2. Photoshop for Dummies scores 57.5. Professional Photoshop Fourth Edition gets 60.8. Reader's Digest is a 65.

Although Flesch-Kincaid declares that I am less readable than Reader's Digest, the Gunning-Fog index disagrees. It finds PP4E *more* comprehensible than Reader's Digest, but less so than Ladies' Home Journal. I am crushed.

Anybody who's capable of speaking plain English ought to be able to write it, but that doesn't seem to be the case in our field. It's fine to use thirty-five cent words every once in a while but the objective still is to make the picture look better, which is a simple concept. Thinking that fancy words give the text more credibility is like thinking that a histogram tells you whether an image looks good.

Dan Margulis
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   Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 14:30:04 -0800
   From: Marco Ugolini
Subject: Re: Professional Photoshop

In a message dated 12/30/05 8:19 AM, Dan Margulis wrote:
 
Anybody who's capable of speaking plain English ought to be able to write it,
but that doesn't seem to be the case in our field. It's fine to use
thirty-five cent words every once in a while but the objective still is to
make the picture look better, which is a simple concept.

I agree completely. It seems to me that many people who write instruction books or manuals neglect to do a very simple thing: before they commit words to the page, they should reenact on their computer the very procedure which they are describing, as if they were novices going through it for the first time.

This reenactment should be done no matter how many times before one has gone through that procedure already, and no matter how confident one feels about one's command of it, because memory is never perfect.

Then, as they go through that reenactment, they should describe it the same way a novice would do it, step by minute step, detail by tiny detail, so that in the end, since all the elements are unambiguous, almost anyone will be able to do it (i.e., except those terminally averse to technology).

Otherwise, it's amazing how much we tend to take for granted if we do not do that reenactment, or how much we quote imprecisely or confusingly (in the wrong order, etc.).

Thinking that fancy words give the text more credibility is like thinking that
a histogram tells you whether an image looks good.

Many people can't resist the temptation of appearing more competent than is warranted by just sounding off some purposely foggy terminology. Unfortunately, many readers and people in general are still awed by that cheap trick. Which only encourages more of the same behavior.

A happy new year to you, Dan, and to all on this forum.

--------------
Marco Ugolini
Mill Valley, CA
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   Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 21:15:04 -0600
   From: "drhobbes"
Subject: Professional Photoshop

   I want to thank  Mike Russell for his encouraging comment, and to thank the others for their informative responses to my 12/28/05 post.

    Perhaps I should clarify my comments about Professional Photoshop giving the impression that it was much simpler than it turned out to be.  It did fool me for a long while, making me wonder how it could be that repeated readings kept providing new information even though the words were still the same.  Certainly there was no intent of implying that Dan is devious in any way.  He's probably the most, straightforward, get-to-the-point writer whose work I have ever encountered.  My problem, as a newcomer, was that he makes his points  with such short, simple sentences that the highly technical nature of his writing is not apparent to someone not familiar with either Photoshop or with the field of prepress.  At the risk of sounding like I'm trying to gain favor with Dan--something that no doubt borders on the edge of impossiblity--in my own experience this is the mark of an outstanding writer of textbooks.  He covers the subject clearly and thoroughly while at the same time forcing his readers to think for themselves.  It's painful, but effective.  It's my own good fortune he recognized that some of us are slower than others and provided this Forum to help us catch up and keep up.

     Now if Dan would just write a book on the technical aspects of commercial printing...  Am I the only one who would love to know what happens to digital files once they arrive at the printer's, how plates are made, how computer-to-press works, how an imagesetter works, how the presses are maintained and set up, how adjustments are made to the presses, how the inks and papers are chosen,  how the pressmen do their work  on typical press runs, what are the things that most commony go wrong, etc.?  If more people knew the problems  the printing technicians face and how they solve them, there would probably be fewer problems and less aggravation on both ends.  

Howard Smith
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   Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2005 08:37:40 -0600
   From: "Mike Davis"
Subject: RE: Readability and teaching

Marco makes a good point about trying to return to the novice perspective when attempting to write a description of a technique.  The problem is that it is deceptively difficult to do, if not impossible.

Years of accumulated knowledge are not shed in an instant.  On occasion, I teach seasoned law enforcement officers various forensic aspects of their jobs.  I do not know their ETE (Education, Training and Experience) and they do not have mine.  It is extremely difficult to address a wide range of ETE without talking over the heads of some and boring others.  I have my wife look over my Power Point presentations and make "dummy" suggestions about logic flow and terminology.  Professional writers rely on editors who should be able to perform a similar function.  Unfortunately, few editors are conversant with the intricacies of professional color correction.

All authors dealing with Photoshop users face an overwhelming list of competing authors and texts.  The competition is fierce and attempts to be original abound, often at the expense of readability.  Dan has distinguished himself by avoiding most of the detailed descriptions of using the various functions, concentrating instead on using PS (or any capable imaging editor) for a specific purpose.  His audience has a higher entry level of ETE, hence it is not quite as necessary to "talk down" to new users of PS.  PP4E does not, I assume, reach many new PS owners.  It was only after a year of rather intense learning and much research that I "found" PP4E.

As with any advanced text (my background is in chemistry), the advanced material is not easy going, and often not in your "native" language.  But then nothing is gained without effort.  Comments about PP4E and PLC confirm this.  Forget the readability, Dan, and do what you do best.  I'll read and re-read this stuff anytime!

Mike Davis
mldavis2 AT sbcglobal DOT net
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   Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2005 16:13:45 -0000
   From: "Jorge Parra"
Subject: Re: Professional Photoshop

     Now if Dan would just write a book on the technical aspects of commercial printing...  
Am I the only one who would love to know what happens to digital files once they arrive at
the printer's, how plates are made, how computer-to-press works, how an imagesetter
works, how the presses are maintained and set up, how adjustments are made to the
presses, how the inks and papers are chosen,  how the pressmen do their work  on typical
press runs, what are the things that most commony go wrong, etc.?  If more people knew
the problems  the printing technicians face and how they solve them, there would
probably be fewer problems and less aggravation on both ends.  

Not only there is a lot of relevance to the matter of conventional printing methods, but there is also a lot of curiosity and vacuum of information concerning the digital printing methods, in the more "modern" digital printers( and I am NOT talking about Epson/Canon printing).

Many will appreciate such kind of  information  as to make sure we update/upgrade our knowledge on conversions to optimise files for these new systems.

My best wishes to all in the coming year.

Jorge Parra
www.jorgeparra.com
www.urbanbikini.com
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   Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2005 10:59:34 -0600
   From: "drhobbes"
Subject: Re: RE: Readability and teaching

Mike,

    It is a real problem trying to teach anything technical to people who don't have the appropriate background for getting a full grasp of what is being taught.  Most authors either ignore the problem or deliberately talk down to their intended audience.  A very few have grasped the importance of teaching in terms that can be understood by any reader who has at least average intelligence and a variety of life experiences.  The most important thing I've found is to use a variation of Andrew Carnegie's advice to talk in terms of  the other person inerests.  In my case I've found it very effective to talk in terms of things that are familiar to the general public.  You've got to present the material so they can literally picture what you're saying in lieu of trying to remember rules and definitions. Examples from real life are especially helpful in creating mental images. Almost anyone can remember pictures better than they can remember words.

    I'm still trying to analyze Dan's approach.  It escapes me how he is able to communicate technical information so effectively without resorting either to simplistic language or to highly technical terminology.  Yet I still can't say that he talks in terms of things familiar to the general public.  If anyone can help clear this up for me, it will certainly be appreciated.  Effective writing and teaching techniques are among the many things that continue to fascinate me, hence my odd interest in trying to understand Dan's teaching method.

Howard Smith
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   Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2005 14:32:59 -0500
   From: "Michael Demyan"
Subject: Re: RE: Readability and teaching

Howard:

I have been a student (book and forum) of Dan's for over 5 years, since PSver3.

He captivated my mind by his down-to-earth common sense approach to the problems at hand. He comes from pre-press (CMYK land) which is the nature of all images we see in print, whether on paper or photos that use cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks. I was always interested in quality images and have been a serious amature photographer since 1960. With the development of computer graphics my interest turned to graphic arts, and eventually to digital photography. After reading may books on layout and colors Dan's first book Professional Photoshop began to answer so many of my questions and make color more understandable. I have a scientific background so understanding the fundementals of light and colors were already there. But the application to graphics and computer images needed some comon sense explanations which Dan's books have provided. I already understood most of the film end of photography both B/W and color so the transition into the digital world was much easier. The reason Dan's approach succeeds, in my humble opinion, is that he takes the time to give you a real world application and then walks you through it - literally as you would - encountering all the nay-sayers and pin-heads that say "it can't be done". In the end he finds a solution. The following year he finds a new approach and lets us all in on the new method. Digital imagery is constantly changing with the new tools being developed. What has not changed is the final process that makes all the work you have done visible to the client. The inks are still the same. The paper is for the most part still the same. This is the constant battle us "artists" have with the "guy just doin his job on the press". "Hey - I've been doin it dis way for 20 years now - you gonna tell me sum'tin new??"

So, Howard, read - do - learn and try doing it with your own images. You are only limited by your imagination, buget, and the "guy makin your prints"

I have decided not to rely on that "guy" for most of my critical work and print my own.
When I must use outside vendors I send them a trial to see if they can match what I expect.

Mike Demyan
www.mikedemyan.com
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   Date: Sat, 31 Dec 2005 19:24:46 -0600
   From: "drhobbes"
Subject: Re: RE: Readability and teaching

Hey, Mike, it's good to hear from you again!  You've no doubt forgotten about helping me out a couple of years ago after I spent days trying to correct the strong yellow cast in a set of swim meet photos posted by another Forum participant.  When I asked you for assistance, you responded fully and without delay.  You can't imagine what a boost it was to find a solution to a problem that otherwise would have continued to be an almost constant aggravation.  As you pointed out, everyone uses a different approach, but without the kind of help you offered it would have been a long, hard struggle for me to figure it out the first time.  That was a time when I thought one could do anything with curves--another of my basic misunderstandings of Dan's writing.  It wasn't his fault, because his coverage of curves was very comprehensive.  It's just that with lack of experience we are inclined to get a death grip on the things we can understand and let the rest go jump.

You encouraged me to continue working to develop my own skills, something I intend to do as long as I can get to my hardware.  The thing about Photoshop that has the greatest appeal for me is the infinite number of combinations of tools and techniques available.  I'm doing my best to find out what can be done with all of them!  It's always such an immeasurable joy to find something new and truly exciting that can be done with just this one program.  Everytime someone advertises a new plug-in it becomes a challenge to duplicate their results with Photoshop alone.  Sometimes it seems that it's possible to do an even better job wth Photoshop alone.  At least you've got more flexibility when you go that route.  By the time you are done you pretty well know how and why everything works the way it does, and that leaves open the possibility for still more exploration.  With plug-ins we can't really be sure of the how and why.  Take masking for example.  With channel masks, Calculations, and Layer Masks ready for use, can a plug-in really do any more than what we can do ourselves?  Take the horse and cowboy on the Professional Photoshop CD, for example.  Figuring out an efficient way to mask this took months of effort before finding that channel masks manipulated with Calculations would give an excellent starting mask that could be refined in minutes with the aid of a Layer Mask.  Result?  In less than 10 or 15 minutes you have a mounted cowboy who can be dropped into another suitable image so naturally that one would think the composite  was printed from an original photograph.  Why go to all this trouble when it would have been quicker to use a commercial program?  Because what that cowboy taught me can be used for most of my masking needs in the future, with the added advantage of being able to modify it as needed when an unusual image problem is encountered.  By knowing the limitations of the method, it would almost immediately be apparent if another technique could be used to better effect.  So it would take a little work to blend colors and contrast realistically after pasting the cut-out into a new image, one would have the same problem with any commercial masking program.  All they can do is cut out the subject.  It's up to us to refine the composite.

Thanks for your response, Mike.  Hope to see more of your posts in the future!

Howard Smith
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   Date: Sun, 1 Jan 2006 17:33:16 -0000
   From: "John Farmer"
Subject: Re: RE: Readability and teaching

I think there are many reasons why Dan's books are so effective but one I've noticed particularly in his LAB book is his occasional trick of personalising the program. The image of LAB simply yawning when faced with an imaginary colour when all other colour spaces cannot cope is ridiculous but thoroughly memorable. Likewise, handing photoshop a lighted rocket of 110L27A24B and asking PS to figure out what *it wants* to do about it  (wants to, for goodness sake, does he really think it's alive?) and the program throwing up it hands is making it react like an exasperated cook faced with a hord of uninvited guests. The "reactions" are human and easily understood. The point is fixed and there is a visual hook to hang it on.

It doesn't explain how it is possible to re-read the books several times and get more out of them each time but I don't think his books are unique in that respect. I hesitate to compare Dan's books with the scripture, comparison with Leonardo da Vinci was going quite far enough, but the Bible is a collection of books which also bear repeated reading. There are lots of others.

It has been an interesting thread, even if it is a little peripheral to colo(u)r theory.

John Farmer
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   Date: Sun, 01 Jan 2006 14:42:03 -0800
   From: Marco Ugolini
Subject: Re: RE: Readability and teaching

In a message dated 12/31/05 6:37 AM, Mike Davis wrote:

Marco makes a good point about trying to return to the novice perspective
when attempting to write a description of a technique.  The problem is that
it is deceptively difficult to do, if not impossible.

Hi Mike.

Indeed. That is the challenge for the writer: to make the best attempt to "deconstruct" what is being described, down to the smallest significant detail. (For example, if a writer is touching upon bit depth, in certain situations it may be redundant and unnecessary to go as far as to provide an academic description of what a bit is, or even the difference between 8 and 16 bits, and it could be more significant just to tell the reader where the application's command is that one must use to set or change a file's bit depth.)

I do remember very well how long it took me in earlier times, when I was building up my own knowledge, to figure out the missing steps in descriptions put together by authors who sauntered about in their writing without much concern for coherence or completeness.

Years of accumulated knowledge are not shed in an instant. On occasion, I
teach seasoned law enforcement officers various forensic aspects of their
jobs. I do not know their ETE (Education, Training and Experience) and they
do not have mine. It is extremely difficult to address a wide range of ETE
without talking over the heads of some and boring others.

There is definitely a difference between written and spoken exposition of a technique or general issue.

When speaking, one must be careful not to lose one's audience, and that means taking the necessary steps to "size up" the composition and interests of the people being addressed. That can be done by means of a few carefully-placed questions and a show of hands, as well as pre-screening. Also, the speaker has to be able to shift focus and emphasis quickly, based on variable audience needs.

When writing, I think that "more is better," because if one writes exhaustively, with as much detail as relevant, the advanced user is still able to skip (something impossible in spoken lectures), while the less-experience one will be happy to find what is needed for a successful replication of the results described.

That is, unless one is expressly directing one's written work to an expert or beginner audience. In which case, the experts don't need everything spelled out, whereas the beginners must have that.

I have my wife look over my Power Point presentations and make "dummy"
suggestions about logic flow and terminology. Professional writers rely on
editors who should be able to perform a similar function. Unfortunately, few
editors are conversant with the intricacies of professional color correction.

Perhaps the editors, or someone on their behalf with a level of experience similar to that of the intended audience, should take the time to sit down at a computer and follow the written instructions and see how well they themselves can replicate the results described in the text.

Just a thought.

Best regards.

--------------
Marco Ugolini
Mill Valley, CA
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   Date: Mon, 02 Jan 2006 03:31:23 -0000
   From: Stephen Marsh
Subject: Re: Readability and teaching

Marco Ugolini wrote:

Perhaps the editors, or someone on their behalf with a level of experience
similar to that of the intended audience, should take the time to sit down
at a computer and follow the written instructions and see how well they
themselves can replicate the results described in the text.

Marco, Good publishers have recruitment staff that scour the internet for groups such as this that are related to a certain product, looking for contract technical editors for such tasks. I have been lucky enough to perform such work on three titles and through my Photoshop beta testing I have interacted with other people familiar on various Photoshop lists performing the same tasks for other publishers. If you are thinking of doing this for the money, then don't bother.

You may also recall that in the past Dan has asked for a group of readers to perform such testing on his work, before publication. Of course, these folk are often far in advance of the casual user who may pick up the book and they too may accept something as a given just as the author does, which the eventual end user still fails to grasp. That comes down to the individual technical editor, editor and author to agree upon, with the technical review having an important but subservient position when compared to the overall authors or editors decisions.

Stephen Marsh.
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   Date: Mon, 02 Jan 2006 05:05:42 -0000
   From: "markds0"
Subject: Re: Readability and teaching

I have been reading this thread with interest. From the time I first met Dan Margulis in two of his sessions at Photoshopworld and started reading his books and articles I realized this is a person in total control of his medium with deep knowledge and experience of colour correction in Photoshop, as well as being an excellent teacher. One quality of excellent teaching is to leave a little for the student to figure out by him/her self, and Dan appropriately told me as much when I asked him for some detail infill on a point I hadn't grasped. OK, that works in a classroom. Does it work in a book? It depends on who the book is intended for, and this is a decision an author makes in collaboration with his publisher - because there are technical, editorial and commercial considerations underlying these decisions. If the object is to mainly reach a more advanced audience, then Dan's explanations of things are very well-pitched. If the intention is to reach as broad a Photoshop audience as possible while maintaining the same coverage, the books would need to be expanded, because it takes more pages to write a cookbook where every detail of each recipe is spelled out explicitly. So the cost increases, but so may the audience and the sales. Like everything in life - judgments, compromises and trade-offs need to be made.

Meanwhile, I hope to keep on reading and learning. Thanks Dan.

Mark Segal
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   Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2006 11:08:55 EST
   From: Dan Margulis
Subject: Re: Re: Readability and teaching

John Farmer writes,

It doesn't explain how it is possible to re-read the books several times
and get more out of them each time but I don't think his books are unique in
that respect. I hesitate to compare Dan's books with the scripture, comparison
with Leonardo da Vinci was going quite far enough, but the Bible is a collection
of books which also bear repeated reading. There are lots of others.

There are, but only a few hundred that are universally conceded to be so, in the sense that commentator after commentator speaks of the necessity of reading them several times. My guess is that two-thirds of these books are literature rather than nonfiction.

The you-have-to-read-this-several-times business is the signature response of those who like my books. There have been hundreds of such comments. Part of the penalty of being well-read is that I fully understand in what company I am being placed.

The other part of the penalty is realizing that there are several hundred books that I wish to re-read, and lots of artwork that deserves careful examination, and a ton of music that needs to be studied. If I don't devote more time to doing these things soon, I won't have the opportunity.

For that reason, I've said before that I expect this year to be my last one of writing about color. I expect the edition of Professional Photoshop that will be out later this year to be my final book, and I am planning to end the Makeready column in 1/07.

That leaves seven columns to go, counting one that's already written. That one kind of responds to what Jorge was asking for last week, being about how photographers have difficulty coping with commercial printing conditions (it's called "The Science of the Skosh".)

While I have a tentative lineup for the other six, I'm willing to change it if there's a groundswell of opinion that a certain topic needs to be covered. So, if anybody wants to offer suggestions for some final topics, now's the time.

Dan Margulis
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   Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2006 11:11:12 EST
   From: Dan Margulis
Subject: Re: Re: Readability and teaching

Stephen writes,

Good publishers have recruitment staff that scour the internet
for groups such as this that are related to a certain product, looking
for contract technical editors for such tasks.

Authors definitely need all the help they can get and the contribution of a technical editor can be helpful, or worse than useless, depending on the individual. No one person is ever going to be able to accomplish everything that could be desired.

In a perfect world, the technical editor has to be expert enough to challenge the author when blanket assertions are made that aren't properly backed up, But he has to think enough like a beginner to notice when crucial information that is completely obvious to experts but not so to beginners are omitted. Yet he has to have the good judgment not to insist on needless explanations that frustrate everybody. In practice, few if any people can balance all three of these requirements.

In a perfect world, the technical editor is a good enough writer himself that he notices when chapters are badly organized or repetitious or where certain concepts are poorly explained. In the real world, a person's abilities to analyze prose structure have nothing to do with technical knowledge.

In a perfect world, the technical editor checks every reference and every recipe. In practice, only a person who could read Remembrance of Things Past in a one-week sitting would have the patience to do it. Example: ever since layers were introduced, the command has been Layer: Add Layer Mask. In Photoshop CS2, the word "Add" was deleted. It wasn't publicized, and I didn't notice, and I used the old language in Canyon Conundrum, and sure enough some reader couldn't figure out where the "Add Layer Mask" command is. What is the technical editor supposed to do, check out every single command to be sure that the author hasn't left out a word?

Most importantly, in a perfect world an editor leaves well enough alone. If he has nothing constructive to add he should just shut up. In the real world editors, particularly if they are being paid, feel that they have to justify their existence. If nothing is wrong with the manuscript, they'll want changes made anyway.

You may also recall that in the past Dan has asked for a group of
readers to perform such testing on his work, before publication. Of
course, these folk are often far in advance of the casual user who may
pick up the book and they too may accept something as a given just as
the author does, which the eventual end user still fails to grasp.
That comes down to the individual technical editor, editor and author
to agree upon, with the technical review having an important but
subservient position when compared to the overall authors or editors
decisions.

The decision to be edited by a group is one of the smartest ones I've made as a writer. Having this list as a means of gathering such a group is an awesome resource that gives me a big advantage over other writers. Members of a group don't feel constrained to offer changes just for the sake of offering them. Authors are naturally resistant to criticism, so when an editor complains about clarity, the tendency is to ignore it. If two or three members of a group complain about the same paragraph, there must be a problem even if I can't see it myself.

Plus, one of the big problems with a book is that certain readers may read certain sections in perverse fashions and derive meanings therefrom that aren't intended to be there. Nobody wants to write ambiguously but sometimes there's a hidden ambiguity that the author and most editors can't detect. In Canyon Conundrum one beta reader read a certain statement as an ethnic slur. Another read my description of a graphic in a way that I did not intend it to be read and as a result was confused by the graphic. Once they explained why they thought these things, it was very obvious how they had drawn the conclusion, and I made the necessary changes, including redoing a graphic. But if left to my own devices I could have read those sentences a hundred times and never seen what the readers did.

I'll be posting a message to the list in the next 2-3 weeks asking for volunteers for the next edition of Professional Photoshop. I hope all readers realize how important what these people do is.

Dan Margulis
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   Date: Wed, 4 Jan 2006 17:57:49 -0000
   From: "John Farmer"
Subject: Re: Re: Readability and teaching

I was having a good day until I read that. Retirement would never have been the same without Dan's books and the list. I hadn't expected him to quit before I expect to myself.

But he is right. There is a lot to pursue outside a professional life (at least I have lived long enough to learn that for myself). I hope he will continue to monitor and contribute to this list but whatever he does I won't forget him in a hurry.

I'm going to make a small request, Dan, a little bit of vanity on my part. I would very much like to have an autographed copy of your last book. (I've got all the others). What chance?

John Farmer
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   Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 15:42:57 -0700
   From: jim donovan
Subject: Re: Re: Readability and teaching

  Before they start piling up like all of "color management" "stuff" that Dan has proven less than useless when it comes to truly understanding color and how it interacts with itself and it's surroundings I want to say THANK YOU DAN!!!!!!!!! Your research,testing,work ethic,experience are beyond reproach and are in a class all by themselves.Reading your books is one thing...taking your class was a whole different beast and humbled the best of us. As a former stripper that wandered into the the drum scanning area back in the day you taught me and many others things that we would never in a million years figured out just "playing around".........in 3 days.If someone else did figure out what you have they have never made it public and they most certainly would have.

  Dan never said it in his class that I remember but about a year after I took the class it hit me. It had been in my head but never came to the forefront until I worked with Dan's methods for quite sometime. Color is color is color is color and nobody or no device see's it the same,it's not possible.The key to correcting color is understanding color not relying on something else to understand it for you and expecting a machine or program do it. Humans can think and adjust to surroundings on the fly unlike a device or program that can only do what it has been told to do.Anyone who has taken Dan's class and absorbed half of what he has taught knows this to be fact.We use numbers to represent color;learn the numbers and the color has no choice what to be what the numbers make it.Of course as with everything else there are endless variables that affect this...no need to state the obvious to an educated crowd.You taught us the why of the how...not let this thing think for you or tag it with this and it will be ok. For anyone who has not seen it Dan says it better than anyone can in 'Canyon".

"And given the differences in human perception we have to realize that the client is king.After all,in the land of the color-blind,the spectrophotometer isn't even the scullery maid. "At high noon in hell, when viewing conditions are the best,punishment is meted out to the unholy. Every color management consultant who has over-hyped his technology or overrelied on the measurements of an artificial measuring instrument ,is forced,day after day for all eternity to argue and demonstrate the accuracy of his profiles- to a jury of the color-blind." AMEN!!!!!!!

Thanx Dan, I will cherish every single word you have left to share and re-read all the ones I have over and over to get every speck of knowledge with-in.I have a collection of email's from this forum that are priceless and I refer to them all the time,they are a canyon of knowledge...and it's all free!!!!!!!.A little early but enjoy your retirement when decide to pursue it full time,you have worked you butt of and deserve every second of it. I hope you get 20 years of doing what ever you want to do whenever and wherever you want to do it.You didn't have to share your knowledge but you did and for that I bow to the master and am forever thank-full. If this sounds like too much praise to anyone they obviously haven't learned directly from Dan or if they have it was way over their head and they can't admit this reality,so save it. Dan has had help from tons of people and has stated so many times, but he was and is key to spreading the knowledge.Take the credit and praise you have earned and deserve it's more than I can convey with an email.Just my reality since I took your class a few years back. Take care...Jim Donovan,Puckhead
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   Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 17:01:03 EST
   From: Dan Margulis
Subject: Re: Re: Readability and teaching

John Farmer writes,

I'm going to make a small request, Dan, a little bit of vanity on my part.
I would very much like to have an autographed copy of your last book. (I've
got all the others). What chance?

If you get me a money order and are willing to wait for the mail and for customs to clear the book, the thing can be done, but it will probably cost significantly more than just buying the book in the UK. Contact me offline if you like, but a reminder that I will be in London in April teaching a course, and if you bring a book there I'll be happy to sign it. We hope to be able to arrange a gettogether for UK list members at that time.

Dan Margulis
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   Date: Thu, 05 Jan 2006 20:30:53 -0800
   From: Marco Ugolini
Subject: Re: Re: Readability and teaching

In a message dated 1/5/06 2:42 PM, jim donovan wrote:

"And given the differences in human perception we have to realize
that the client is king.After all,in the land of the color-blind,the
spectrophotometer isn't even the scullery maid.
"At high noon in hell, when viewing conditions are the
best,punishment is meted out to the unholy. Every color management
consultant who has over-hyped his technology or overrelied on the
measurements of an artificial measuring instrument ,is forced,day
after day for all eternity to argue and demonstrate the accuracy of
his profiles- to a jury of the color-blind."
AMEN!!!!!!!

With all due respect, these are cheap shots. No sane color management practitioner swears by his/her spectrophotometer. We all know that even the best tools are only as good as those who wield them, and their understanding of the goals and means to achieve them.

Only those who don't understand or don't care for it (for a number of reasons, some of which impervious to logic) can make such unwarranted and sweeping statements about color management.

The rest of us will just take the good of it and overcome whatever bad is there, just like anyone with common sense would do.

I just wish that we could agree to disagree while still respecting one another, and leave the vitriol in the dark pit where it belongs.

Thank you.

--------------
Marco Ugolini
Mill Valley, CA
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   Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2006 12:57:32 -0600
   From: "Howard Smith"
Subject: Dan's Books

Sorry to be gone so long. I didn't die--my computers were eaten alive by an unidentified worm. Installation of new operating systems followed by a couple of weeks of frantically trying to salvage files that weren't adequately backed up has kept me occupied. Some of you may have sent e-mails to me or you may have posted responses to my earlier posts. These, too, were lost as all of my e-mails went to the great Internet Beyond. If I failed to reply to anyone, please let me know. It was not intentional.

While this is an old subject, I didn't want to leave my original contributions unfinished. The answer to my earlier question may be obvious to most participants of this forum, and now it's obvious to me as well. Dan has never been bashful about expressing his feelings, especially in warning his readers that they're about to be introduced to a very technical subject. Having tackled Professional Photoshop long before learning much more than how to turn on Photoshop, much of what Dan was teaching was well over my head and yet his writing was so disarmingly easy to read that it lulled me into believing that I understood far more than I did. Thus my expression of amazement over being able to learn more and more with each subsequent reading as I learned more and more from multiple other sources that helped me understand the complexities of Professional Photoshop. Now, as to the overall appeal of his books--there are many authoritative books and articles covering some relatively advanced areas in Photoshop. What set's Dan's books apart is the character he puts into his writing. He doesn't just teach--he hammers us over our heads with the material. This, combined with his creativity and with the thoroughness of his coverage of the subject, explains his significant success. Some folks object to Dan's controversial teachings, but without his strong character and firm belief in his ways, a good many of us would have suffered even more than we do from being hammered over the head. It's hard to learn any technical subject that isn't presented in an original, challenging manner.

This post is not intended to re-open the subject or to generate controversy. These are just my delayed thoughts.

Howard Smith
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   Date: Sun, 15 Jan 2006 17:05:36 EST
   From: Dan Margulis
Subject: Call for Editing Help

Folks,

I'm in the process of writing the fifth edition of Professional Photoshop. Within a couple of weeks, I hope to have drafts of the first half.

At this point, I ask for volunteers as beta readers--people who are willing to give the manuscript a careful read, and give me feedback so that the final book can be as accurate and clearly written as possible.

I have used this method for both the last edition and for the Canyon Conundrum, where it was really spectacularly successful. Many problems were uncovered and corrected. Also, the group targeted several areas that were badly presented, and the rewritten versions have been among the most complimented parts of the book.

I will be restricting this to eight people, several of whom were part of the Canyon Conundrum project. Last time, there were more than 60 volunteers. Choosing a small group like this says nothing about the people who aren't selected. What I am shooting for is a diverse group, because the group has to represent all potential readers. It can't be all photographers or all retouchers or all academics or all experts or all beginners or all people who know me. But all those groups need to be represented, as well as teachers, artists, and as many other groups as possible. So if you apply and get turned down, it's no reflection on you, it's just that I have other people who wear your particular hat. The offer is always appreciated.

The beta readers' job is to uncover technical problems and identify areas that are not clearly explained. It is *not* to attempt to reform my writing style. The professional editor who will have at it when the beta readers' suggestions have been incorporated does a fine job of tongue-clicking and head-shaking at my deviations from received publishing wisdom without further assistance, thank you.

If you would like to be considered, please contact me OFFLINE by Wednesday 25 January.  Tell me briefly about your background and anything special that you would be bringing to the table. NOTE: if you applied for this for Canyon Conundrum, then I have your correspondence. Just refer me to it and tell me that you're still interested.

I will make the final selection shortly afterward and the first chapters will go out in February, God willing. The work will continue through the summer. The group usually gets around three weeks to finish a batch of chapters, sometimes less as we get close to deadlines.

PP5E is going to be 80-90% new material as opposed to PP4E. As previous editions were prepared before digital photography was really mainstream, I wanted to change the images being used to reflect today's practices. Many members of this list have generously provided libraries of uncorrected images that exhibit a variety of problems, represent a variety of practices, and come from a variety of digicams.

The book will grow to the larger page size of Canyon Conundrum, but it will be 100+ pages longer. In response to the clear consensus of this group, the section on channel blending is greatly expanded, and simplified. The curves section is entirely reworked. The coverage of sharpening is roughly doubled. There will also be big sections on the two major developments since the last edition, Camera Raw and Shadow/Highlight. The reason we can afford to add so much is that I will be deleting some of the advanced LAB material, referring people to Canyon Conundrum. The actual LAB material in this book is more user-friendly than last time, for the same reason.

While it's understandable that people might want to read about the latest and greatest before it hits print, I would ask for a commitment to give a careful and serious read to the draft with a view to improving it for future readers.

Many thanks in advance.
Dan Margulis