Goodbye to a friend: Uwe Steinmueller - 8/8/14

by Dave Etchells

posted Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 3:07 PM EST


This is a sad and difficult post to write; I just learned yesterday that my friend Uwe Steinmueller passed away from a heart attack, back on the 8th of this month.

I can't even remember the first time I met Uwe, but it was at least 10 years ago, at some camera-company event introducing a new model. I subsequently saw him at many similar events and trade shows over the years, and counted him as a friend, although we saw each other only infrequently.

Uwe was a person I was always glad to see. Regardless of whatever might have been happening in his personal life, Uwe was always upbeat, friendly, and energetic. More than anything, though, he was truly passionate about photography. It was all-consuming for him and his wife Bettina, a remarkably guileless and caring person herself. The two always worked together, and most (perhaps all?) of their photos are signed Uwe & Bettina Steinmueller, or B&U Steinmueller. They worked so closely and collaboratively that they didn't consider any of their photos as belonging to one or the other individually. I don't think I've ever seen two people whose lives were more closely intertwined on a daily basis.

Uwe and Bettina's particular passion was for fine art landscape photography, and Uwe was unusual for not only having an excellent eye for composition, tone, and color, but at the same time having such a deep understanding of photography's technical aspects, particularly in the digital world. For him, intimate understanding of the technical side was critical for extracting the most information possible from image files, and then translating a great photograph into a great print.

Uwe Steinmueller was a leader in the world of fine art photography, and a friend I was always glad to see

Uwe was an early and strong proponent of raw-based workflows, and did a great deal to educate other photographers on the topic. (Including writing a book with Jürgen Gulbins on the subject back in 2006 which is still in print.) Now, it's just one of those things everyone knows: Shoot and process from raw for the best image quality. Ten years ago, though, few people really understood this. More than any other single person I can think of, Uwe played a big part in making the benefits of raw processing common knowledge.

Uwe was always eager to share his knowledge, and he wrote a number of books and ebooks over the years, several of which are still available on Amazon* (Only two remain in print, but Amazon still has stock for several others.)

Uwe was a master of Photoshop, always seeking ways to get the best out of his images. He collected a number of the Photoshop filters he developed, and put them on the Digital Outback Photo website, where people can try them out and purchase them. The filters cover things like optimal sharpening, detail extraction, high-quality image upsizing, texture blending, luminosity masking, plus free tools for manipulating stacks of images, split toning, splitting luminance and color to manipulate the two separately and more. I don't know Bettina's plans for the site, but it's still up as of this writing, and I would expect any funds from filter sales would go directly to her.

Most recently, Uwe developed texBlend, an iOS app for blending textures between photos. It sells for only $1.99 on the iTunes Store.

My hope in mentioning Uwe's books, filters, and texBlend app is that some of you might purchase them, giving Bettina a little extra support at what must be an unimaginably difficult time. Uwe's life, accomplishments and contribution to the photography world went far beyond books and filters, though. Everyone who ever met him came away blessed. Besides being a never-failing advocate for the art of photography, he was an incredibly nice guy as well. I'll miss him.

(If you knew Uwe as well, or were touched by his work in some way, through his books, or all the knowledge he shared on his website, please share your thoughts and memories in the comments below...)

* Note: I've attached Imaging Resource's affiliate ID to the Amazon link above. I'll pass any affiliate fees we receive from the link along to Bettina if I'm able to make contact with her. If not, I'll donate anything received to an educational or charity-oriented photographic organization in Uwe's name. (I don't have a current email address for Bettina, if anyone reading this knows one, could you pass it along by sending it to web@ our domain name? - Thanks!)