How to Get Great Color, Save Your Profits, and Never Have to Work Color or Density in Photoshop. Part 3

My last two blog posts discussed the critical need for spot-on metering and absolute correct white balance to avoid working your files in photoshop. Thus saving money and time which should result in better prints and a more profitable business.

Rule #3 – correct working space + Printer space = Great Print!
Digital cameras work extremely well in the sRGB space, and coincidentally, the Fuji Frontier/Noritsu printers of the world are designed to work within that space. Hmmmm, wonder why that would be….

Straight up – an sRGB work flow is your direct channel to go from camera to print. Shooting in Adobe1998 will not gain you any tonal range in the file. Both color spaces have the same levels per channel limit. And this is based on your camera’s bit depth, not your choice of working color space. Neither will any get whiter than 255, 255, 255 and neither will get any darker than 0,0,0.
You have black to white and the same number of levels in both. The gains are in the number of available colors. The larger the space the more colors. Typically these relate to high saturation colors that don’t often show up in most scenes.

These benefits of specific color spaces come into play on the output. Shooting in a color space that does not approximate that of your output device can lead to unpredictable color unless you are willing to spend the time converting to the output profile via a color managed workflow. That step can be sped up using batch processing, Remember, the goal here is to reduce your work load and still get a great print –  right?  Supplying a file to your printer in a mis-matched color space can result in saturation, contrast and color issues that will require intervention to get a good print. Again; Intervention = additional cost.

If you are shooting portraits and weddings, the largest percentage of your work prints 12×18 or smaller right? This means they go to our Fuji Frontier for printing on professional paper.
When  your work is more along the lines of fine-art, we strongly recommend a properly color managed work-flow that includes the use of output profiles. Your takeaway: Shoot in sRGB when printing to sRGB type devices. When printing to higher gamut devices, or when in doubt, shoot Adobe 1998 and convert to the output profiles.

Using the steps described in this series so far, you are well on your way to a slimmer, faster and more profitable work-flow. Barring any need for retouching, you should be able to go straight from camera to output and get a fantastic print.  Give it a try and let us know how it worked out for you.

Next week: Part 4. Picking the file format.

How to Get Great Color, Save Your Profits, and Never Have to Work Color or Density in Photoshop. Part 4

In the previous post in this series, I wrote about using sRGB for printing your studio work.
This post we talk about how JPEG can be your workflow friend.

Rule #4 – JPEG has benefits.
Shooting raw has its place. Like when the dynamic range of the scene far exceeds that of your camera. Or when you need to really fine-tune an image. But-if you are shooting raw because you aren’t getting good results in-camera with jpeg, please re-visit rules 1, 2, and 3. If you get the first three crucial elements in place, you won’t need raw for your portrait and senior work. Shooting in JPEG eliminates the steps required to convert from camera raw. If your image sensors are clean, and you have all the other elements in place you can send your files direct for printing/proofing without any further work, barring retouch or enhancements of course. This process may not be ideal for fine-art or landscape shooters, but it can be ideal for portrait and wedding shooters.

If you choose to shoot JPEG files, set your camera for maximum size files and the largest pixel dimensions. And be careful with just how much sharpening you allow the camera to apply. Too much sharpening and you might get too much pore detail on the closeups. Too little and the image will of course look soft. Excessive sharpening also limits just how large you can print the file before the sharpening artifacts become painfully obvious. Spend a little time testing now, and you’ll have the confidence to know later that your files will look great right out of the camera.

Rule #5 – Print on quality photographic paper.
This means professional paper. Not the over contrasty, over saturated non-neutral stuff you get from drug stores, discount marts, warehouse/membership stores. This means use a good pro lab. Not Costco, not Wal Mart, not Walgreens, not Drug Emporium, etc etc etc.

The papers you get from consumer mini-labs are purposely manufactured to NOT have accurate color. Yep, they make it screwy on purpose. You see, Joe Consumer likes prints with colors that aren’t real. They want false saturation and contrast for that extra snap. In most cases, their photos benefit from that assistance to help the snap-shot look a bit more appealing to the eye.

Professional paper is manufactured to very exacting standards to achieve neutral balance, correct saturation and excellent skin tones. Pro papers will handle extra saturation if you really need it for your “look”, so add it if you wish, but at least you have the option. And get this, just by using pro papers, you get an additional stop of shadow detail! That’s right, you get deeper blacks with pro papers. This means you can actually get a snappier looking print and hold shadow detail when your files are setup correctly.  A properly exposed, correctly white balanced image with great composition that is printed on professional photographic paper won’t need the artificial extra punch to compensate.

 

So there you have it, the keys to establishing a profitable and expedient workflow.

  1. For spot-on exposure and excellent detail use a professional incident meter, not TTL
  2. Perfect color comes from accurate white balance using a high-end accurate digital-ready target
  3. Using a colorspace that most closely matches your output device will speed up workflow and minimize color shifts
  4. For the studio, JPEG files will expedite your production and get you to print faster
  5. The most accurate color and deepest tonal ranges come from printing on professional papers.

We would love to hear how this all works out for you. Do you have other workflow tips you would like to share? Post them in the comments section.

Making YouTube Videos: Staying Organized and Spending Less Time Doing It.

The creative person inside of me always wants to go with the flow, let my creative juices just start to simmer and pretty soon I’ll have created something great. Well as much as I wish that’s the way it worked for my videos, it doesn’t. The devil is in the details. I have to think two steps ahead before I move one step forward.

We love making YouTube videos but we also stream them each month via our e-letter, website and Facebook page. That doesn’t sound like too much effort, right? Here are the steps I go through in the process of creating a YouTube video about 2-3 minutes long.

First of all, you have to find the talent (that’s the subject of your video). I look for someone that seems like they would be reasonably comfortable talking about their work. Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. The viewer knows when someone loves what they do. Whether you are videotaping an artist or a CEO of a company, you want your “talent” to love their chosen profession. Now that I have chosen my subject, I must get them onboard with the project. I contact them to schedule an initial appointment to discuss their art, what the video will be about and how we will use it. Take the time to get to know a bit about what it is they do. Since I video fine artists and photographers, I look at their art as some of it will be incorporated into the video. Approach them with the idea that this video is good exposure for them. As a safety net for them, give them the opportunity to view the video prior to posting it on YouTube. As a marketing tool, engaging videos are great. Potential consumers love videos!

It’s time for the first meeting. Getting a signed release is a good idea, and the first meeting is as good a time as any to get one. Make sure to agree on a schedule for the video shoot before you leave the meeting. Let the subject know to plan on a 1 to 1.5 hour slot for the actual shoot. Your subject is most likely excited about the project and getting the date of the shoot out of the way means you save time with back and forth phone calls or e-mails. That part is now done and you can move on to planning the shoot! Most of our videos have the element of a slide show edited into them. Generally that’s about 10-15 images one to one-and-a-half minutes per 2-3 minute video. During the initial meeting, ask them to supply digital images of their art or products (whatever it is that drives your subject). You can pick those up from them at the shoot. Adding additional content adds interest for the potential viewer and builds up the posture of the subject. The more your viewer is engaged, the more attention will be paid to your video, and the more professional you subject comes across, the more authority your video has as a marketing tool. You want the viewers to tell their friends, and engaging and informative can go a long way to get your video some exposure.

So far you have invested 1-2 hours in planning and meeting with your next potential star. Not too bad. Now it’s time to get behind the camera and shoot the video. Plan on shooting 7-15 minutes of raw video for 2 minutes of finished product. It could take you an hour or so to get this much material. Out-takes and other unexpected issues will eat a fair amount of extra time. Out of that raw video you will either edit out your 2 minutes max or you’ll have enough for a series of videos that you can use down the road. Double or triple your time based on how long the final video should be. There is setup, sound testing (it’s a good idea to do a short recording to ensure everything is hooked up correctly and your settings are correct, prior to shooting the real footage), and in general making the talent feel comfortable. Most of us are not professional actors and as such, feel a little nervous with a camera staring us down, recording our every nuance. I don’t “interview” my subjects. I just want them to talk about their art, what drives them, how they got started and just generally how they feel when they are creating. I want to deliver the emotion of the artist. Expressing how we feel about something drives us to fully engage.

Now it’s time to edit your video down to a manageable size. This can take no time at all or go on for hours. It really depends on the quality of the raw video and how you intend to express your message. The first thing I do is watch the entire un-editied raw video. I am looking for the subject to be relaxed and comfortable. If your subject really doesn’t make it to the point of being visually relaxed, it’s ok. You can strip out the audio and lay the sound track over the slide show for the video portion. If the slide show is at the end of the video, I add a music track to go along with the images. It really depends on the type of art or subject matter, as to the type of music I add. I ask the subject during the initial meeting, what kind of music they like. I create my tracks in Apple’s Garage Band, which is copyright free. If you use music that is owned by someone, you run the risk of being sued. You either create your own tracks, using something like Garage Band, purchase copyright free music or pay a royalty to the owner plus get permission. Most music tracks that have copyright, have a per use fee associated with them. That means every time it plays, there is a royalty that needs to be paid. So if your video goes viral, you could be in for a hefty bill. We’ll talk about how to create music in Garage Band in another blog. Once I have the video edited the way I want it, I export it to a Quicktime movie. I optimize the movie for viewing on YouTube. You can make it HD or save at a higher viewing resolution if you like. YouTube will handle up to 15 minutes of video with a size restraint up to 2 GB of data. Whew…that’s some heavy lifting! Once the video has posted to YouTube, we send our subject the link where the video can be found on our website and encourage them to post the link on their own websites, link to YouTube video directly or post YouTube video itself on their sites. Internet search engines like inbound links to your sites and videos are a great way to encourage those links. It’s a win-win way to promote your client, your art, yourself or your products.

Next time: Making videos ahead of schedule
Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.

Larger and Faster Storage is on the Horizon

Larger and faster storage is on the horizon!
At the current rate at which silicon-based technology doubles – approximately every 18-24 months, it won’t be long before our cameras outgrow their present storage form-factors. Nikon, SanDisk and Sony have announced their joint effort for a new portable storage specification aimed at meeting the future needs of music playback devices, digital cameras and video capture devices in a new standardized format.

The new proposed specs show a transfer rate of 500 Megabytes per second – far exceeding the present 167 Megabyte per second of the current CompactFlash specifications. Yes, that is a full gigabyte transferred every two seconds. The maximum theoretical storage capacity for the new devices are expected to exceed two Terabytes. These new memory cards are planned to be rugged, similar in size to the existing SD form-factor and have a lower power consumption and longer battery life – thanks to integrated power scaling. With the data speeds and power savings, I suspect we will see this new technology integrated as solid state drives (SSD’s) on laptops, smart phones, and other intelligent devices in sectors like medical and transportation. A projected production date for the new cards was not announced.

Save $1,298.32 by Building Your Camera From a Kit

For this week I’ve decided to tell you about one of my new favorites, the 35mm Do-It-Yourself
camera or the Gakken Flex
. This is a 35mm TLR (twin lens reflex) that you build yourself. The first thing that drew me to this camera was that it is a TLR, I have always wanted one, but they can be pricey. The second thing was that I got to put it together.

Gakken is produced by Otonanokagku, and each volume is a different science lesson. The kits have ranged from Theremins to Computers, Cameras, Phonographs and more. Each comes with a beautifully produced magazine that tells the history of the subject that you will be working on. Volume 25 has a great history of film and photography. Because of the popularity of these cameras they are being distributed by Recesky without the magazine, and can be found at Four Corner Store (Check to make sure they have them in stock.) I enjoyed putting it together, but really struggled because the instructions are in Japanese, and as I don’t speak or read Japanese I only had pictures to go from. The focus ranges from approximately 1ft. to infinty, there is only 1 appeture setting (best to use in bright sun), and there is only 1 shutter speed, approximately 1/60.

The great thing about these little darlings is that they use 35mm film, so you can get the film processed almost anywhere. The downside is that the frame is slightly larger than a regular 35mm so it will get cropped unless you have a special scan. But don’t fret, I have customized one of our scanners so you can get the whole frame, you just send your film to Reed Art & Imaging for the processing, proofing and scanning.

Here are some sample images that I have taken with mine. Note that you still get the blurred, vignette edges.

Photograph of a chinese yo-yo taken with a Gakken FlexPictured titled "Jungle Flare" taken with a Gakken FlexPicture titled "Steering Wheel" taken with a Gakken Flex

How to Add More Fun to Your Holga

Let’s talk about a fun accessory available for your Holga, the Macro and Close Up lens sets.Lens accessories for Holga toy cameraa These do have to be purchased separately, and they can be found at my two recommended shops, Four Corner Store and Light Leaks. These lenses just slide onto the front of the Holga lens, it is a tight fit so make sure to get them on all the way as it will effect the distance.

There are 5 lenses, 3 in the Close Up set and 2 in the Macro set. The Close Up set contains a 500mm, 250mm and 120mm. The Macro set contains a 60mm and 30mm. The tricky thing with these is getting the distance. For me it is easier to think of them in centimeters, mainly because I don’t have a measuring device that has millimeters on it. I have experimented with them a couple times and this last time was when I finally got something decent. With the Macro set it has been suggested that a flat object is best, I am still on the fence about that one. When using these lenses it is important to remember that the focusing distance is from the front of the lens. My first attempt, was measuring from the front of the camera. The Holga should be set to infinity when using the close up & macro lenses. Remember when using the Macro lenses because of the short distance the camera could block the light on the subject causing it to be too dark.

If you like Macro and Close Up photography this is definitely something you should add to your collection. Below are samples of what I got over the weekend. Don’t forget to leave questions or comments. Later!

500 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera250 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera60 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera30 mm lens accessory for Holga Camera

He Took a Risk and Landed the Shot

I have a fun story to share with you this week. I like to go out with a friend of mine and we both love take our Holgas. We always have fun and get some incredible shots. The thing I love most is how we will be at the same place, yet see and capture such diverse aspects. For one of our trips I wanted to journey back in my childhood, so we went to the elementary school I attended and a couple of the local parks I used to love going to. I went to photograph the old playground equipment that I used to play on everyday. I decided to invite my friend along to see how his shots might vary from my own, being that I had a emotional tie to the location and he didn’t.

Empty pool in the spring with melted snow runoffWe started the day at the elementary school and then headed over to the local park. The park is right next to a public swimming pool and a skate park. It was April so the pool was still closed for the winter, however, there was some water from melted snow. My friend decided he had to get a picture in the pool, so he jumped the fence to get the shot he wanted. While, I do not encourage or condone trespassing, a great photographer will do what is needed to get the shot. The park was busy with families out and about, it was one of the first nice days of the year, and I was concerned that he would get caught. Before he jumped the fence I told him I would play dumb and pretend I didn’t know him if he got caught, I also told him I wouldn’t pay bail . However, he managed to get in and out without any incident and ended up with a great shot (see left).

Below are a shot I took and a shot my friend took, as an example of how people photograph things differently. My shot is on left.

Geodesic playgroundRed Swing on playground

 

 

 
Have you taken any risks just to get the shot? Tell us your story. See you soon!

Making Videos While Stressing Less and Sleeping More

Once I have my subjects signed up and ready for the shoot, I like to make the most of the opportunity. I plan on at least 30 minutes to one hour on-site. I get as much footage as possible so that I can edit to my hearts content and maybe even get enough for TWO videos. If you have interesting subject matter and talent that feels comfortable in front of the camera, you may have a multi-part series. If your subject is comfortable and keeps on talking….keep on shooting. You never know what jewels you can come up with.

Schedule More Than One Subject Per Day
I find that when I am in my groove and setup for shooting, I can get alot done in one day. I try to schedule more than one subject per day. This allows me to focus on shooting when I’m shooting and editing when I’m editing. Same thing for creating the music in Garage Band.

Setup Private Viewing on YouTube
I upload my videos to YouTube but don’t let them go public until I am ready. Once they have been uploaded, I can take them public anytime I want. So if you want your video to go live on the 15th of the month, change your settings and go live on the 15th. It’s just that easy.

If you have questions or suggestions, please leave me a comment.

Next Time: Making Music in Garage Band

1 Easy Choice that Can Add Greater Creativity to Your Toy Camera Photos

Thanks for joining me again in our journey of toy cameras. I am going to answer the question: What are the different options once you have a exposed roll from your toy camera? Due to the fact that these toy cameras use either 120 film or a different aspect ratio on 35mm film you need to find a lab that can process Diana or Holga films, as your neighborhood 1 hour photo lab usually can’t. Which is why I am going to encourage you all to send your film to Reed Art & Imaging, because, well, this is a blog for Reed Art & Imaging. There are several toy camera enthusiasts working here and we take great pride in giving you the best from your toy cameras.

Picture named "Fire Hydrant" with normal film development

There are 3 types of film you can use in a toy camera, E-6 slide film, C-41 color negative film, or B&W negative film. If you are using either C-41 or E-6 these can also be artistically enhanced through a technique called: cross-processing. To cross-process you would process your C-41 negative film thru E-6 chemistry to get a slide or vice verse, E-6 slide film thru C-41 chemistry to get a negative. It is the chemistry that determines if the final film is a negative or a slide – not the film. This is a fun experiment I would encourage you to try as it causes an increase in contrast as well as unnatural colors. Check out the samples at the end of this article.

Whether cross processing or using normal film developing services, once the film gets processed there are a few options you have to choose from: There are proof prints, scans or contacts. With E-6 film it is already a positive, so you can’t contact them, however you can proof or scan them. I personally like to do small scans, usually 6mb, so that I can post them on facebook, my website and use them for editing. Several people choose to get proof prints, either 5×5 or 4×6 depending on the format of the mask you use. If you choose proof prints there is also an option to get a CD as well.

You may be asking yourself, “How do I know which type of film to use?”. This can be a difficult decision, but I will try to make it a little easier for you. I usually do not recommend using E-6 film, unless you are planning to cross-process. E-6 film is very sensitive and if your exposures are not accurate the images will be too light or dark, because of the limited control in your toy camera it is difficult to get the perfect exposure. C-41 color negative film or B&W negative film have more range in their exposures. WithCross processed film either you can be over- or under-exposed by almost a stop and still get usable images. With most toy cameras it is best to use a 400 ISO speed film. However, I would recommend experimenting for yourself. Just go out and have fun!

Next week I’m going to lighten it up a bit and let you know about some of the adventures in shooting I have had. Leave any comments or questions for me below. See you soon!

Above images taken with Fuji E-6 film and cross processed in C-41 chemistry.

“It cost half the price and looks twice as good as a picture frame!”

The Gallery Mount Photo Mount and Art Framing Collection.
For over 8 years now we have seen the popularity of this type of display for photographs, posters Print being edged as part of the Gallery Mount processand ink jet prints take off. The clean contemporary look of this art framing concept is very attractive and fits almost any decor. The fact that it is usually less expensive than other art framing ideas, more durable and so versatile has made it a fan favorite. Clients with fine art installations either in home or offices especially love it. Because of its durability, no glass to break or cause those nasty reflections, many institutions such as park visitor centers, museums and anywhere there is a high volume of traffic have made the switch. The base substrate is MDF in either 3/8 or 1/2″ thick. We recently produced over 100 pieces for a hospital in Massachusetts using Flame Retardant MDF so that the final product would meet their building code requirements.

Close up of Gallery Mount processPractically finger print proof, it can be cleaned with most any glass cleaner product so the care and feeding is very easy and minimal. Gallery Mounts are available in a variety of styles and edge colors. Between the ‘Flat’, ‘Float’ and ‘Box’ versions there is almost an unlimited variety you can create by mixing, matching and stacking them together to get a totally custom look. Over 22 edge colors and literally thousands of background matte colors round out the photo mounting options available. Also, they are very easy to hang using a frenchClose-up of beautiful Gallery Mount edge cleat for the Float and Box styles. The Flat version is hung by a keyhole and all hanging hardware is included. All images are coated with a UV protective laminate in either our new Crystal surface or our traditional Velvet. Durable, cleanable, less expensive and great looking, this is the only way to display your artwork, awards, posters and more. If your in the neighborhood please stop by as we have plenty of samples for you to see. If you have had a Gallery Mount made we would love to hear your thoughts about it. Also let us know about any creative designs or applications you may have come up with.