What’s new for photographers in Photoshop CC 2020?

Adobe has just released Photoshop 2020 at Adobe MAX. As usual, there is a long list of updates to cover a variety of audiences. First, a quick note for those of you using my Lumenzia luminosity masking panel for Photoshop, it is fully compatible with Photoshop 2020.


Here’s a quick summary of changes that should be of greater interest to photographers (starting with what I consider the most impactful changes):

  • Auto-sampling with the New Content-Aware Fill. When you set the sampling area to “auto”, the green areas will be set more intelligently for you (instead of a generic green rectangle).
    • In my experience, this new auto option tends to do a very good job when you start with a reasonably isolation selection to target the area for fill. It’s a very nice enhancement that makes this powerful tool even faster to use.
    • See my previous Content-Aware Fill tutorial for how to make the most of this amazing functionality.
  • Transform Warp. When you warp (Edit > Transform > Warp or Cmd-T and click Warp Button), you can create custom grids to control transform much more precisely.
    • This offers some very nice functionality similar to what I demonstrated in my Perspective Warp tutorial.
    • Use the split or grid options in the toolbar to define your grid, and then drag intersection points (or their handles to rotate content).
    • You can select and move several points at once by <shift>-clicking and dragging a box around them with your mouse (or just <shift>-clicking multiple points.)
  • Erase while using Brush Tool by holding the “grave accent” key (this is the <`> key on the top-left of your keyboard).
    • While this may sound trivial at first (especially if you are using to using the <E> key to activate the eraser), this is actually very powerful because it gives you an eraser with the exact same settings as your brush (size, hardness, flow, opacity, etc). This makes it much easier to erase without constantly toggling settings to match what you just painted, especially brush size.
    • Note that when working on a layer mask, the eraser works in a very strange way. You would assume that it makes the layer mask black so that the layer becomes more transparent. However, the eraser actually works different on the layer mask than it does on the layer pixels. On the mask, it simply paints with the background color. If that happens to be black, you’ll get the expected results. But if it is some other color, that’s what will be used. So this may make your pixels less visible or more visible. If you see strange results, just click <D> while the layer mask is selected and paint colors will revert to black background (and white foreground).
  • Smart Object Selection Tool. This tool intelligently refines marquee or lasso selections around objects (ie, this is like having a “magic lasso” or “magic marquee” tool).
    • Do not expect a perfect selection, this is a tool to help you get to a good result more quickly. If you draw a reasonably well defined selection around a clearly defined object, it does a pretty good job of enhancing the selection for you to save time. You can then refine the selection as need (such as via additional selections or refine edge) to perfect the selection.
    • Turn on “Object Subtract” in the toolbar to use the same smart enhancement when using <alt/option> to remove part of the selection, such as removing portions of the interior of your initial selection.
  • Enhanced Properties panel now includes more capability to edit your layers (including alignment, rotation, flipping, remove background, and select subject) or text (numerous new properties).
  • Cloud documents. This allows you to edit the same document more easily across multiple devices (such as saving your work from your desktop computer and then opening it on your iPad), and is even designed to support offline workflows (so your changes are synchronized once you reconnect to the internet).
    • If you are going to use the new Photoshop iPad app, you should get familiar with this functionality to help more easily work across devices.
    • To save: Use the “Save as Adobe Cloud Document” option via File / Save As. Once you save a given document in the cloud, it will default to saving in the cloud going forward (unless you do another “save as” and choose different options).
    • To open: Use the “Open Adobe Cloud Document” option via File / Open. When you open a cloud document, any changes will go back to the cloud by default (unless you use “save as” and choose different options).
    • Cloud documents include support for offline workflows, meaning that you can open, edit, and save a document when you are offline. You may open a “cloud document” offline if it was recently used and your computer still has a local copy.
    • You may view your documents online in Adobe Assets.
    • Learn more on adobe.com.
  • Other changes:
    • Free transform lock is now sticky. The <shift> key is now used to toggle between constrained and unconstrained based on the lock status.This makes it easy to set a default, but you can always quickly click <shift> to change the behavior
      • Various adjustments (paths, masks, etc) are now treated in the same manner for consistency.
      • However, the crop tool does not use the same logic (it will follow any constraints you type into the toolbar, otherwise it is unconstrained by default and constrained if you continuously hold <shift>).
      • If you prefer the legacy behavior (ie unconstrained by default and constrained if you continuously hold <shift>), there is now a checkbox to enable “Legacy Transform” behavior under Photoshop’s General Preferences.
    • Improved Lens Blur.  Go to Filter / Blur / Lens Blur.
      • This filter now uses the GPU for much faster performance.
      • New click to focus (crosshairs icon) for images with a “depth map”. This gives you creative control over depth of field, such as found on many new smart phones. Depth maps are primarily saved with images from a Smart Phone with 2 or more cameras and appropriate settings to save an HEIC file (not something you’re going to get from your DSLR, though there are ways you can manually create one).
    • 32-bit Curves and Levels. If you are using 32-bit files (such as HDRs created inside Photoshop, not Lightroom), this is a welcome enhancement to use some critical tools without converting to 16-bit.
    • Faster new document interface.
    • Extract layers from a Smart Object. Just right-click the Smart Object and choose “Convert to Layers”.
      • Lumenzia has actually had this capability for a while (see this tutorial), but it is nice to see it in natively supported in Photoshop as well. Note, however, that the new Photoshop utility will not extract any saved paths or channels. So if you have been putting this content into the Smart Object (which Lumenzia can do to reduce the size of the parent document), you should continue using Lumenzia to extract preserve channels and paths from the Smart Object.
    • Select Subject” has been updated for faster results.
    • Open images directly from your iPhone (Mac only, sorry Windows users). Just go to File / Import from iPhone or iPad.
    • “CompCore” (which was introduced in PS 2019) has been further updated. This should be a seamless change, but there were some bugs when first launched in 2019. In the unlikely event that you see any issues with blend modes or other layer-related issues, try disabling CompCore via Preferences / Performance / Legacy Compositing.


Luminosity masking is easier than ever with Lumenzia v8

Version 8 of the Lumenzia luminosity masking panel for Photoshop is now available as a free upgrade for all customers. This is by far the the most ambitious update ever, with over 350 new features, updates, and bug fixes in total. It’s never been easier to create the perfect luminosity mask or selection to make beautiful photos. And the updates have been designed to avoid changing any existing workflows, so you can jump right in. Be sure to see the highlights and initial demo videos below (more to come in the months ahead).

Lumenzia v8 is featured extensively in my new Dodging & Burning Master Course. This comprehensive course goes well beyond simple “dodging and burning” to help you learn how to add dimensionality, movement, and depth to your images through a deep understanding of artistic principles and novel techniques to apply them.

My Exposure Blending Master Course also includes a new section to highlight ways you can take advantage of new features in v8. And at the same time, the panel design and workflow has been carefully designed so that you don’t have to change any of the workflows you’ve learned. You get new capabilities without a new learning curve.

Buy Lumenzia v8 now.


New features in Lumenzia v8 include:

  • Compact interface mode. Will the new slider capabilities in v8, you can now hide 34 button in Lumenzia to simplify the interface and save substantial space on your screen, while retaining the full capabilities of Lumenzia. This reduces the height of the panel by 35%, which is enough to show approximately 3 more layers in the layers panel on a typical laptop if you doc Lumenzia above layers like I do in my videos.**
  • Dramatically faster performance! Panel performance has been optimized in numerous ways, especially when using previews and the sliders.
  • New slider capabilities, including**:
    • Sliders for BlendIf! You can now create highly customized BlendIf masks quickly and without opening the layer styles dialog in Photoshop. This allows you to target intermediate values (such as L1.5), as well as a greater range with options such as L0 and L7.
    • Slider for Smart Filter Mask feathering.
    • Slider for Mask Density. This helps allow you to easily bleed adjustments through.
    • <ctrl/cmd>-click “Mask” to convert any Lumenzia preview into a layer. This gives you new ways to create black and white art, as well as use blending modes for creative effects.
    • Wider value slider for more precise control.
    • Continuous full-screen previews when adjusting feather via precision slider.
    • Workflow enhancements (double-click to reset feather/density, more text input options, improved tooltips, etc).
  • Improved Dodge and Burn:
    • Luminosity-only (color neutral) gray or transparent dodge/burn layers! This makes it easy to dodge and burn on a single layer using familiar techniques while working on portraits or other images that where color shifts should be avoided.
    • Edit “Dodge” visualizations. This makes it much easier to create precise / high-quality results, as you can easily ensure that brush strokes are consistent and do not spill outside intended areas.
    • Revise the brightness/color of your dodging/burning paint at any time. This makes it incredibly easy to revise your results, especially when trying to find the perfect color to mix for desired results.
    • Painting sunlight into bright highlights with the new “Extreme” blend mode. This helps easily add color to near-white pixels.
    • Improved workflow for visualization and working with multiple dodge/burn layers. You now have a single interface to create visualizations or new dodge/burn layers, keep the active selection when visualizing, visualize dodge layers using BlendIf, etc.
  • Improved selections:
    • “Sel” has been updated to allow you to visualize saved selections before loading or combining them. [Note: this feature is not available in all versions of Photoshop].
    • “Sel” can now load saved selections to a layer mask.
    • “Sel” can now add, subtract, and intersect saved selections with a layer mask.
    • Color” can now be used to refine an active selection. For example, you may use this to target highlights in the blue sky (without adjusting the white highlights of a snow-capped mountain).
    • Use Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) to modify the preview when creating a selection (<ctrl/cmd>-click “✓Sel” while viewing the orange preview layers).
    • Expand and feather selections as you create them.
    • Use any channel when loading or combining selections.
  • Improved BlendIf support:
    • Convert any BlendIf to a layer mask (for both “underlying” or “this” types of BlendIf). This allows for custom refinement, as well as being an excellent way to help better understand how BlendIf works. This includes support for BlendIfs targeting underlying layers, this layer, and even color BlendIfs created with Lumenzia.
    • <shift>-clicking “Vignette” will automatically add a BlendIf for advanced control and results.
    • Apply or remove BlendIf from multiple layers simultaneously.
    • Multi-channel BlendIf. This is helpful for advanced targeting (such as using L2 Red with Not L2 Blue to target the warm colors in the sunset for increased saturation, without adding more blue to the sky).
  • Improved sharpening:
    • Automatically generate edge/lights masks to avoid sharpening noise.
    • Improved and simplified options to avoid sharpening halos along high contrast edges.
    • Enhanced BlendIf masks to help avoid clipping highlights and shadows, especially loss of color in highlights.
    • Improved High Pass sharpening can now avoid color fringing (sharpen luminosity only) and offers gray visualization to help choose the ideal radius.
  • Edge and Surface masks via “Edge”:
    • Create an edge mask from a Quick Selection or luminosity selection to help target and fix halos!
    • Automatically create edge or surface selections and masks for better targeting of sharpening or noise reduction.
    • Create beautiful line art with one click.
  • Workflow enhancements, such as:
    • Use Content-Aware Fill on Smart Objects.
    • add more layers to an existing stack via “PreBlend”.
    • create an independent Smart Object by <shift>-clicking “PreBlend”.
    • use “Split” when multiple documents are open.
    • improved tooltip appearance and performance.
    • and many more enhancements to subtly improve the speed and experience of luminosity masking.
  • These are just some of the highlights. There are over 350 new features, updates, and bug fixes in all.

** Note for CS6 users: While Lumenzia v8 includes hundreds of enhancements for CS6, several new interface updates require CC (such as compact interface mode and BlendIf sliders). This is unfortunately due to limitations of the >7-year old CS6 platform. Differences are primarily in appearance or workflow. Functional capabilities generally remain nearly the same. And of course, you automatically have access to the CC panel if you ever update to Photoshop CC. See the release notes for full details.

Buy Lumenzia v8 now.



Existing customers can download any time via the links on this page (which is also linked from the bottom of all my newsletters).

How to reduce noise in Photoshop

There are two common scenarios where noise creeps into our photos. One is when shooting at high ISO, typically indoors or at night. The other is when we try to lighten and extract detail from the shadows. In both cases, the problem is a lack of light and the solution is to either gather more light when shooting or use noise reduction during post-processing. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to reduce noise in post with Adobe’s solutions.

There is a lot of debate about which software does the best job of reducing noise. There are many great options, and some of them can outdo Adobe in some  scenarios. But I still prefer using Lightroom or ACR (Adobe Camera RAW in Photoshop) most of the time for a few reasons. First, while I’ve seen some results that are better, the ones I’ve tested are only slightly better (sometimes worse) and not very compelling in my opinion. I typically find that LR / ACR provide results that are good enough (indistinguishable from other options in 40×60″ print sizes I use most). Second, the Adobe tools are generally much simpler to learn and use than other options (which sometimes have dozens of confusing sliders). Third, it is typically much faster to adjust a few sliders when you’re already working in LR or ACR. And fourth, there is some convenience in being able to adjust the settings in a RAW Smart Object (though you can apply many 3rd party filters to a Smart Object as well).

Lightroom / ACR offer several tools that can affect and control noise in the “details” tab. These tools fall into a few bucks including sharpening (the first 4 sliders), luminance noise reduction (the next 3 sliders), and color noise reduction (the last 3 sliders). While this tutorial briefly covers sharpening (because it affects noise), you should definitely check out my tutorial on deconvolution sharpening to learn how to make the most of sharpening. Also, while this tutorial is demonstrated using ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) in Photoshop, the sliders work exactly the same in Lightroom.


Sharpening is very important to set correctly, as sharpening adds noise and therefore has a strong impact on noise reduction. (You may <alt/option>-click any of these sliders while sliding for an enhanced grayscale visualization).

  • Amount: Controls the overall amount of sharpening, per the next three sliders.
  • Radius: Controls the size of the sharpening effect.
  • Detail: Controls the sharpening algorithm used (unsharp mask when set to 0, deconvolution when set to 100, and a blend of the two in between).
  • Masking: Creates an invisible mask that limits sharpening to areas of detail when set to a value greater than 0. This is intended to help avoid sharpening noise, but tends to create strange artifacts/transitions. This is usually best left at 0.
  • Recommended workflow: Set radius to its minimum (0.5) and detail to its maximum (100) for deconvolution sharpening. Set masking to its minimum (0), as this slider tends to produce artifacts when used. Then adjust amount to whatever final value looks best (when viewed at 100% or closer).


Luminance Noise Reduction

These sliders are the critical tools for noise reduction and where you should pay the most attention. (You may <alt/option>-click any of these sliders while sliding to visualize in black and white).

  • Luminance: Controls the overall amount of luminance noise reduction, per the next two sliders.
  • Luminance Detail: This is like “masking” for sharpness. It controls the pixels that should NOT get noise reduction.  Slide to the left to get maximum reduction, and slide to the right to preserve fine details (such as secondary stars, or the edges of the brightest stars).
  • Luminance Contrast: This helps restore contrast lost to noise reduction, such as the softer gas clouds in the night sky. Try increas
  • Recommended workflow: Adjust sharpening first per the above workflow (or temporarily set to zero if the image is extremely noisy). Then, set luminance temporarily to a high value so that you may more easily visualize while tweaking detail and then contrast (in that order). Once you’ve optimized detail/contrast, adjust luminance to whatever final value looks best (when viewed at 100% or closer).


Color Noise Reduction

These sliders can be important in certain niche scenarios, but are generally fine at defaults. If you want to keep things simple, you can generally ignore these.

  • Color: This controls the overall amount of color noise reduction, per the next two sliders. Most cameras have a “Bayer filter” to capture color and need some color noise reduction, so decreasing below the default 25% is generally a bad idea. Increasing towards 50 may be helpful in some high ISO images, though very high amounts tend to remove too much color at edges.
  • Color Detail: This is also like “masking”. It controls the pixels that should NOT get color noise reduction. Slide to the left to get maximum reduction, and slide to the right to preserve color at edges. The default 50 is generally very good. Try sliding to lower values if you want to eliminate color on edges (such as around stars). You should avoid high values, as this is prone to showing color noise (anything over 70 is typically a risk). So 25-50 is generally a good range.
  • Color Smoothness: This helps smooth color over larger areas of the image. Very low numbers can improve color glow around small objects, but can also result in local blotchiness. Larger numbers can create more uniform color, but may also dull finer details. The default 50 is generally great, but you might want to experiment.
  • Recommended workflow: Adjust sharpening and luminance noise reduction first per the above workflows. Then, set color temporarily to a high value so that you may more easily visualize while tweaking detail and then smoothness (in that order). Once you’ve optimized detail/smoothness, adjust color to whatever final value looks best (when viewed at 100% or closer).


How to further improve noise reduction

While this tutorial covers global noise reduction in a single RAW, there are some tricks you can use to push the results even further for high ISO shots of the night sky, including:

You can use the workflow shown above with either of these techniques to help get the best overall results.

Which camera gear do you really need?

A lot of new photographers ask me which camera gear they should buy. It’s a great question, and I always tell people to invest in photography travel and education before gear. I can’t think of a trip or a class I regret, but every time I get on Craiglist to sell something, I’m reminded of money I could have better spent on skills and experiences.

I’m going through reverse GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). After years of clinging onto unnecessary purchases like Steve Martin in “The Jerk”, I’ve finally made a serious dent in slimming down my camera gear. 

Let’s face it, probably every landscape photographer reading this is a gear junkie. Almost all of us either buy lots of equipment or lusts for it. There are of course exceptions, but I haven’t met too many.

I’ve certainly been in this camp for years. There are many reasons I’ve bought so much stuff over the years:

  • I did a little bit of everything. I’ve shot 50 or so weddings, dozens of family photos, studio portraits, products, macro, sports, cityscape, and landscape. Some of these much more than others, but there are truly unique demands in each of these categories. This is a somewhat legitimate excuse for many purchases, but I probably could have approached things in a much simpler way. I could have rented some studio lights that I bought, used extension tubes instead of a dedicated macro lens, and so on.
  • I didn’t know what I need. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you can’t easily try different gear. I’d do a bunch of reading and research of course, but you can find someone willing to recommend just about anything you can buy. So while they might be great for figuring which 50mm lens is the best, very few of them really help you decide whether you should be buying any 50mm lens. That’s why I try to include my rationale and perspective on my gear page. What’s great for me might have no value for you.
  • It was exciting. I’m a techy guy and I love figuring things out. I should have spent the time better figuring out the things I already had.
  • I wanted the best possible images and thought more specialized gear would help. To a degree, this is true. But every extra thing you buy is one more thing to master, and that can hold you back.
  • I wasn’t making hard choices. You can’t carry everything, so end up making more trade-offs for weight or specific functionality as you get more and more lenses. Having a few zoom lenses that can all accept the same 77mm ND filters has helped me get more great shots at the right focal length. And a lighter bag has encouraged me to explore and shoot more.


After a while, the clutter left from those poor choices started making the problem more and more obvious. So I decided to take stock of what I really use.

I bring the following gear on nearly all my trips:

  • Nikon D850
  • Nikon 16-35mm f/4 (I can’t remember the last time I left this at home; I particularly love how easy it is to shoot wide angle images with ND filters)
  • Sigma Art 14mm f/1.8 (amazing for night skies and wide angle; I will leave this when I need to pack light)
  • Nikon 80-400mm (great for abstracts and other long lens shots; I will leave this when I need to pack light)
  • Really Right Stuff TVC-33 or TVC-24 tripod with BH-40 or Arca-Swiss Cube head and L-bracket for the camera
  • Breakthrough ND filters (especially the 6-stop)


That left a lot of other gear gathering dust. Almost all of it is great stuff. But great gear doesn’t necessarily mean great for me. So I’ve sold equipment like:

  • Sony a7Rii mirrorless camera and related lenses. All in, it’s a great camera and I would recommend it to anyone who wants mirrorless. But my experience kept pushing me back to my D850. The weight savings wasn’t as substantial as I’d hoped and I never got comfortable with the ergonomics and menu system. I struggled to get shots nearly as quickly as I can with my Nikon. I’m sure I could have improved quite a bit if I threw myself into it fully, but that’s part of the problem with too much gear. It doesn’t matter how great it is when you don’t give yourself enough time to master it.
  • Nikon 105mm macro lens. I haven’t shot macros in years and I still have extension tubes I can use if needed.
  • Nikon 16mm Fisheye lens. After correcting the image for distortion, the field of view is similar to my 14mm. I find panos work fine most of the time. And the old-school focusing mechanism on this lens is very jumpy in the cold of winter.
  • Nikon 35mm f/2. This lens is beautifully sharp, small, and cheap. But the focus also jumps like crazy in the cold, and f/2 isn’t as wide as I’d like for night shots at this focal length.
  • Nikon 24-70mm. The older version of this lens wasn’t as sharp as I want, the new one won’t take my 77mm filters, and I rarely need mid-range focal lengths.
  • Studio and portable lighting gear. I haven’t had a good reason to keep so many soft boxes and strobes for years.
  • And so many little gizmos I can’t even remember them. Cheap filters, extra camera bags,

I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to make all these fun purchases, but I think I would have been better off investing in education or saving the money. And my life is simpler without the clutter.


So, what should you buy?

I don’t have a simple answer – I really can’t tell you what you should buy. Even if you want to shoot the same subjects as me, your needs will be different. You may already have lenses from another camera brand, a different budget, a number of other factors that would lead you down a different path. And my advice is fairly limited. I don’t review gear I haven’t personally used for some time. It takes a long time to see all the pros and cons of new equipment and learn how to use it in the best possible way.

What I can share is more general advice that I’ve learned from my experience:

  • Invest in yourself first. A professional photographer with an iPhone and a plane ticket is probably going to make more compelling photos than the average person shooting with a top of the line camera. The gear is a very small part of the art of photography. It matters, but rarely as much as your skill and the subject you are shooting. Prioritize classes, workshops, and travel where possible. If budget is a limitation, just go shooting with the best photographers you can find (I second shot weddings for years to learn the ropes and it was an incredible education).
  • Do not buy anything you won’t use in the next 30 days. When you get new gear, make sure you try serious shooting with it right away. If it doesn’t make a compelling difference, return it. If you make an impulse buy to take advantage of a sale, make sure you get out and try your new purchase right away. I could have saved a good chunk of change over the years by confronting the reality of a bad purchase immediately. This rule also forces you to think about whether you really “need” it.
  • When it matters, don’t be cheap. If you can get the good enough performance and reliability from a cheaper brand, save the money. But if the quality matters, it’s better to buy the right product first rather than after wasting money on something that won’t meet your needs. I’ve spent a lot of money replacing cheap tripods and filters over the years in particular.
  • If you aren’t using it, sell it. It’s painful to sell something for less than you paid. But the loss already occurred the moment you made a bad purchase, not when you finally admit it.


What do you think? What’s your advice for other photographers?

I screwed up

When I use gear that I think may be helpful for other photographers, I like to review it. I’ve always thought I’d been very thoughtful by trying to convey that information in a way that was unbiased and clear for my readers so that they could make informed decisions. If I’ve endorsed a product and subsequently had some significant experience with it that I think others would want to know, I’ve felt responsible to update my readers to keep them informed and allow them to make their decisions with all the relevant information I have. But this week I screwed up.

Last year I wrote an article about the 2018 MacBook Pro. It is a great laptop for photographers and I recommended it. Then I ran into a series of issues where I could not get the computer to boot and provided updates on this blog as I progressed through repairs (which turned out to be unnecessary). The final resolution was that there was no issue with the Apple computer hardware or software. The screen brightness was stuck at pure black due to my use and third party (not Apple) software I installed. I ultimately just needed to type my password as a workaround to login blind in order to restore the screen brightness.

I made the mistake of assuming that if my computer’s screen was black and could not be adjusted before logging in, that must be how this computer operates in general. I was excited to have some resolution and posted an update before trying to replicate the issue on other computers. Shortly after, I was able to confirm that the issue is not repeatable on other computers and I posted an update.

I never intended for my story to be shared with people to whom I hadn’t been recommending this computer. It was something I updated on a year-old blog post and shared with my followers. Unfortunately, my update was picked up and shared in the media and the story that has been shared is incorrect. I have contacted the authors of articles which I am aware of to clarify the story, however, I can only control is what I share.


So here’s the full story as simply as I can put it:

  • The issues with my computer are isolated to my machine only and were created by 3rd-party software I have installed. Neither the laptop hardware nor Apple software  have the issues related to brightness controls as I had previously believed.
  • I did not think to let Apple tech support know about some things I had done with my computer that wouldn’t commonly done by other users and are related to the screen or boot process, including the installation of third-party software that may have deep interactions with the control of the screen.
  • The installation of third-party software made it impossible for Apple Geniuses and tech support to diagnose the problem. When the issue could not be diagnosed, Apple made good faith efforts to repair my computer by replacing hardware at their expense under warranty. These repairs were now clearly not necessary.  Apple does not support third party software and cannot be expected to have been able to identify this issue.  I cannot overstate how impressed I’ve been with every Apple Genius with whom I’ve interacted, and so it’s important to me to stress that this issue was no fault of anyone at Apple but, rather, of my own.
  • The 2018 MacBook Pro is an excellent computer. It’s very fast and is a critical tool in my photography business. I stand by my recommendation of it for other photographers, as I have continuously since I bought it.


I hope others may learn from my experience. I think the following are good lessons I’ve learned here:

  • When troubleshooting issues, pay special attention to anything you do which may be unique. Think very hard. I didn’t think about the fact that I turned the screen off because it was something I had done typically days before I ended up restarting and running into issues. Most importantly, though, I failed to recognize that third party software could be to blame for issues that Apple, understandably, could not fix.
  • It is important to challenge assumptions which seem obvious to you. I thought that if the computer keys and screen are completely black, it was not responding. Then a Genius challenged my assumption that the back light would automatically turn on during boot and proved me wrong by simply pointing a flashlight at the screen.
  • Be very careful what you assume. I assumed when my computer did something, others with the same hardware and operating system would do the same. I did not consider that I may have done something to alter the way the machine boots up.


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