a dear friend who will be deeply missed

Friend's Comments

from: Chris Ballance, Moffat, Scotland.

I knew Bruce in Edinburgh, just before he left for the USA (I'd forgotten all about Mowgli and the Donuts until seeing the website.).

I haven't seen Bruce for 30 years, and only knew him for a couple of years, but I remember him so well, and very fondly. I was very sad to hear of this news. Apart from a couple of reported sitings of him over the decades, I had no idea what he was doing, but frequently remembered him and assumed we would meet again sometime. It sounded like he flourished in the USA.

My memory of him is that he was always sociable, to everyone, even those he really ddn't particularly like. He was the Man at the time.  But much more than that, he was always ready to listen and give of his time and soul, a truly generous decent person.

Catching up on his last 30 years, I was particularly interested to see his interest in the Dalai Lama. I doubt either of us had much heard of Tibet back in 1977, but last year I had the honour of chairing a meeting at which His Holiness spoke. Odd to have followed similar paths to an old friend, without knowing it. (I'm now elected to the Scottish Parliament, a concept which I am sure would have given Bruce huge amounts of amusement)

'Night Bruce, I'm sorry our lives moved away and I didn't have a chance to catch up with you. But  I'll bet, wherever you were, you're badly missed.

from: Linda Hendry, Scotland

I did not know Bruce well for long and it was long ago but I wish I had seen him more often and more recently. Together with his then partner Wilma, he was my tenant in 1975/6 leaving a legacy of tobacco tinted walls and a great New Year party. The complicated back story to this involved me getting them evicted from where they had been staying previously and then from my home when I had to return to it. So it was a measure of his tolerance that when he interviewed me in 1979 for a job with Gingerbread the single parent family organisation he was working for in Edinburgh I got the job!

Mutual friends kept me up to date with Bruce over the years since then. I visualise him now puffing away on some rainbow coloured cloud from a tanka with Jim Smith who also died of smoking related causes.

from: Michael Stokes, Idaho

The rarity of face to face encounters with Bruce over the years I knew him, I felt a deep, personal positive impact on my life that is permanent. Two stories keep coming to the top of the many I have with Bruce.

The first story was around ten years ago, when we finally publicized sRGB but hadn’t taken it to the IEC yet. Bruce and I had discussed color spaces many times so I was surprised when he published an article contrasting sRGB against the ICC and other color spaces in an unfavorable though amusing manner. Bruce and I met for an off the record conversation at Stephen Johnson’s studio. In a conversation that took less then two hours, Bruce taught me more about the field of journalism, writing, entertainment and technical education that I had learned previously or since. He also did what I view of one of Bruce’s core abilities. He showed me how I could personally make a positive difference for end users, my company and myself. What remains with me to this day is Bruce’s passion, friendship and sincerity is helping anyone who asked. His help typically went far beyond providing the simple answer, but typically provided insight for me to improve myself and my efforts in general.

The second story was just over two years ago. My company had confidentially invited a dozen or so very influential experts in for an internal review. This particular group of a experts represented a very diverse group of perspectives and opinions. Everyone in this group jokingly agreed that together they had never completely agreed with each other upon any particular technical topic. During the meeting a difficult situation arose which caused all of the experts serious concern and they kicked me and my colleagues out of our own meeting so they could privately discuss it among themselves. Bruce invited us back into the meeting room a while later and informed us that he has been chosen by his peers to speak for the group. I will never forget the awe and amazement that Bruce was able to communicate the caring, passion and deep concern that this collection of very distinct individuals felt. Bruce passionately, clearly and concisely communicated the groups concerns, putting aside his own personal views. This event remains with me as a poignant reminder of the clear esteem that Bruce was held in by even the most respected experts in his field and the respect he had for their esteem.

I can still hear the warmth of smile in his voice. I know that’s mixing visual, audible and emotional metaphors, but that’s the type of person Bruce was. He easily transcended any one media in a manner that communicated the warm in his soul as he taught us all sometimes difficult lessons on how to live better.

Remembering Bruce Fraser
By Rick LePage

On Saturday, Dec. 16, a long-time friend and colleague of mine, Bruce Fraser, passed away. He succumbed after a short bout with lung cancer, a few weeks shy of his 53rd birthday. To many of us, he was a warm, gregarious man and a loyal friend. To anyone who ever read his columns, reviews or books, he was a writer of wonderfully clear and often highly opinionated prose. To those fortunate enough to see him speak, he offered valuable tips and tricks with a minimal amount of technobabble and a fair helping of Scottish humor.

Bruce defined himself as a “color geek,” and that he was. Long before any of us were paying attention to RGB, CMYK and ColorSync, Bruce was knee-deep in it, largely a result of his frustration and fascination with the first generation of scanners for the Mac. He turned that passion into his profession, moving from product reviewer and user to book author, lecturer and guru. Later, as one of the co-founders of PixelGenius, he became a software developer of sorts, helping create a suite of Photoshop plug-ins because no one else was making the tools that he needed to use in his own work. Over the years we joked about the rise of “Bruce, Inc.,” but he never lost that interest in helping one more person get past some problem with Photoshop or digital photography. It was important to him that he not be viewed as some lofty lord of the digital realm—although he relished that role—but as a regular guy who was unbelievably happy that he could make a living doing something he loved.

When I first met Bruce, I was a writer at MacWeek, and our common love of photography led us to shared experiences on the the digital imaging frontier. By the time I became MacWeek’s reviews editor in 1990, he was one of our primary contributors, turning out review after review of scanners, digital imaging applications, color management tools and digital cameras. He was fair and considerate in his reviews, but was never afraid to call a product bad when it was. To him software and hardware development was a process that was never finished: something could always be made a little bit better, and to those developers willing to listen, he often provided valuable feedback. He was one of Photoshop’s first big champions, and ultimately became a small driver in the development of the application, regularly spurring Adobe in print and behind the scenes to make it better. Photoshop returned the favor by making his Real World Photoshop (co-written with David Blatner) a huge best-seller.

Bruce worked as hard for MacWeek’s sister publication, MacUser, as he did for us, and, when those publications went away, he brought his talents to Macworld, acting as a valuable rudder to the magazine as digital imaging matured. Unfortunately for us, the demands on Bruce’s time, and the conflicts inherent in his relationship with Adobe and as a software developer, meant that we were able to use him less and less over the past few years, but he never ceased acting as an advisor and mentor to many of us at Macworld.

Bruce and I were close over the years, and while I have plenty of pleasant memories of us testing and discussing scanners, hard drives and printers in MacWeek’s labs, it is a week of music that lingers with me. During a sabbatical in 1994, I rented a studio in San Francisco, and spent a week playing music with Bruce, Ric Ford of MacInTouch, and another friend. Rest assured that I will never be mistaken for a musician. Bruce, on the other hand, was as gifted a musician as he was a color geek, and was just as generous with his time and knowledge. To him, there was no difference between pushing us to stretch our fledgling talents and telling us why we absolutely had to calibrate our monitors. He was just happy to be there, playing music with some friends.

The undulating circumstances of life brought me further and further away from both reviews and San Francisco, and, as a result, I saw less and less of Bruce in recent times. But, every time I ran into him—in the lab, at Macworld Expo, or randomly on the street—he greeted me with warmth and concern for my general well-being. That’s the kind of guy Bruce was. He had his prickly side (I did mention that he was highly opinionated), but at heart, he was a decent man.

I look over at my bookshelf and at a glance, see five books that Bruce wrote (you can find many of them here). I will continue to use the techniques and tips that those books have taught me, long after the applications they reference are gone, but, more importantly, I will cherish the fact that I knew the man who was behind those volumes. Bruce, Inc. might be no more, but there are thousands upon thousands of people who were touched in some way by the things he did. These days, that’s a good legacy to have.

Peace, my friend.

from John Nack, Adobe

I'm terribly sorry to relay the news that our dear friend Bruce Fraser passed away yesterday. His friend Stephen Johnson says that Bruce was resting in his own bed, surrounded by people that loved him. It was a very peaceful passing. It remains awfully rough for those left behind.

I'm not sure what to say, and I know that others will write better, deeper remembrances than this one. Bruce's work touched untold thousands of people, whether directly through his teaching and writing, or indirectly through his guidance of Adobe, Epson, and other companies towards better, smarter solutions. The outpouring of well wishes in response to news of Bruce's illness only hints at the reserve of goodwill and gratitude that so many feel towards him. As one of those many beneficiaries, I can share a few thoughts.

Many of the merits of Camera Raw owe a debt to Bruce. The move from ACR 2.0 to 3.0 was a huge one, filled with twists, turns, and tradeoffs. Bruce was among a handful of folks to whom I could drop a line at nearly any hour, asking for guidance. Back would come a deep, thoughtful, often impassioned reply, making his arguments plain. We'd often disagree, but that's part of what made the dialog fun and valuable. No matter how well Bruce got on personally with many folks at Adobe, I never had to worry that we'd get a free pass on anything. I will always, always be grateful for that.

This whole past product cycle, we've felt Bruce's absence as he battled his illness. Any number of times I thought of him and wished we could duke it out about favorite topics--DNG, Camera Raw editing JPEGs, color management for the Web, and so much more. I write this through a shifting blur of emotions--anger and sorrow at the loss, sympathy for Bruce's wife and loved ones, gratitude to have known him, relief that he is now at peace.


from Steve Kettley

Bruce and I shared a lot of music together in Edinburgh in the late 70s. He was eager to hear new things, and indulged me in even my wildest avant-garde jazz leanings. We also shared a flat at 30 Morrison Street, a chaotic place, usually crammed with visitors in various states of consciousness (or lack of it). I recall that he always made a point of washing the dishes once a month whether it was needed or not. Then one night he met Pam at one of our gigs and the move to the U.S. wasn't far off. We only met twice in the next 26 years, once shouting at each other in a noisy Edinburgh pub on a fleeting visit, and then in my flat in 2001. I had called him to announce that my band were to play in San Francisco, only to find that he would be in Scotland at that time! Fortunately he arrived before we set off - it was good to meet Angela then, and see how happy they were together.
  I had no idea how influential his work had become - all the testimonials to his achievements are humbling to say the least. It's also great that Bruce was still playing music and surrounded by good friends. I've missed his company over the years, but it was good to know that he was still around, however far away, the same warm, argumentative, passionate, obstinate, lovable guy we all remember.
 So long Bruce, and thanks for your friendship.

-Steve Kettley, Edinburgh, 9 January '07.

PS. I'm afraid it was me who sold the dreaded orange van to Mowgli and the Donuts, so fondly remembered by Alan Thomson in his letter. Sorry Bruce, Alan and the others - nothing personal!

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All original material Copyright ©2008 by Bruce Fraser

Last Updated: 2/7/08

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