news, announcements and articles

Dark Sky Night Photography Workshop in Terlingua, TX

March 31st-April 3rd 2016 in the Big Bend region of West Texas
with Scott Martin and Lance Keimig

Ocotillo by Scott Martin

Scott Martin and  Lance Keimig team up again to present a four day/night photography workshop in the Terlingua ghost town in the Big Bend region of West Texas. The Big Bend region is 300 miles away from the nearest city and feels every bit of it. It’s one of the country’s best kept secrets, full of history and pristine landscapes (more…)


Breathing Color Podcast

Yours truly featured in today’s Breathing Color Podcast #20 talking about RIPs, printer drivers, nesting, layout, workflow and the big “to RIP or not to RIP” question.

BreathingColor


Night Photography Workshop in the Eastern Sierras, Mono Lake and Bodie Ghost Town

July 2nd-5th, in Lee Vining, Eastern California
with Scott Martin and Lance Keimig

This Night Photography workshop will feature two nights of photography at Bodie Ghost Town, one at Mono Lake, and one on the Conway Summit. Each day we will have hold a critique and classroom instruction in the community center from 11a-5pm and will enter the field afterwards staying out past midnight. The workshop is suited for those with limited NPy experience, but at least basic photo skills, and familiarity with shooting RAW in manual mode with a DSLR. More advanced students and alumni are welcome too, we know you love shooting Bodie at night!

Steve's Rock by Scott Martin

Conway Summit, Mono Lake and Bodie ghost town are not only some of our favorite locations that we’ve been making images in for decades, we’ve also been leading night photography workshops here for over ten years. We think you’ll find Mono Lake’s signature monolithic rock structures that extend upward from the lake are ideal for night photography. The dramatic granite moonscapes of Tioga Pass (more…)


A quick introduction to Lightroom 6/CC

When you first install Lightroom 6/CC you may find yourself asking “Wait, how is this different from Lightroom 5?”, which is to say it’s an easy upgrade and familiar on all counts. But as you use it you’ll notice lots of meaningful new features everywhere – some small and some big. Here are five things in LR6/CC that I find significant:

Photo Merge

The “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop” and “Merge to HDR in Photoshop” features have both been brought natively to Lightroom. And let me tell you, the process of combining frames in LR6 is so fast, easy and friendly that it’ll make you want to do it more often. From the Library module, goto Photo>PhotoMerge to get started. When combining files with Panorama mode, LR6/CC generates a large TIFF, but when combining raw files with HDR, Lightroom generates a much smaller and more potent composite raw file (DNG) instead of a TIFF. These features are super simple, easy to use. They have developed a new architecture for these features that will allow them to do some great things moving forward, but because it’s different, your results may vary slightly from what you would get in Photoshop. For now, Lightroom has finally made these tedious tasks insanely easy and have simplified our workflow in the process. Love it.

Photo Merge brings native HDR and Panoramic stitching to LR6/CC

Photo Merge brings native HDR and Panoramic stitching to LR6/CC

Facial Recognition

You’ve likely used another app that uses facial recognition to automatically identify people’s faces that you’ve taken the time to label once. For those that work with portraits, it has the potential to greatly simply the tedious task of including names in metadata. Look for the new “People” view button to get started. It’s in the toolbar area of the Library module, next to the Grid, Loupe, Comparison and Survey buttons. (more…)


What my days look like as a consultant

I thought I’d show everyone what my days often look like as a consultant. For 20 years, I’ve traveled around working with people in their studios on issues like color management, workflow, and print quality. A lot of the time this means working on big printers like these.

HP Latex printers at New Era Publishing

HP Latex printers at New Era Portfolio

In addition to common aqueous inkjet printers, I spend a lot of my time working on UV Curable, Solvent, Latex and sublimation printers from companies like Vutek, HP, Epson, Gandhi, Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland, Inca and others. Last week I visited 3 clients in 3 cities including one of my favorite clients, HPI in Houston, where we worked on several of their printers including the Vutek HS100 Pro. To show you how it works, here’s a short video of it making a 30×40 print of my image Solitude on white aluminum dibond:

UV curable printing on the Vutek HS100Pro on white aluminum dibond

This monster UV Curable machine has 48 4” print heads that cost $3500 each and unusually accurate dot placement, for a UV printer. Even though it can print at incredibly high speeds, we have it in it’s slowest setting here that produces the highest quality. It uses an 8 color UV Curable inkset that can print on just about anything, including metal and glass. The LED Ultraviolet curing lamps you see positioned on each side of the carriage cures, frys and hardens the ink to the substrate before it has a chance to bleed or move. This type of printer was previously used exclusively for outdoor signage because of it’s extreme print durability and lightfastness. The print quality has recently become so good that people are using them to print artwork shown in galleries and museums. (more…)


Celebrating 20 Years of Color Management Consulting

20+ years ago I was splitting my time between a job where I was a Leaf45 scanner operator and an apprenticeship with a master printmaker. In the printmaking studio we were making large digital negatives on an imagesetter and using them to make hand-coated platinum/palladium prints in a wet darkroom. Back then everyone was using Photoshop 2 and had CRT monitors. While the color scans coming off the Leaf45 seemed pretty decent after a little color correction in curves, I was frustrated with how different the handmade B&W platinum palladium prints looked in comparison to the same images onscreen. We had developed curves to linearize the imagesetter that made the negatives but still, the prints on Arches Cold Press paper looked soo much different than they did onscreen. The paper had a warm tone that was darker and more yellow that what I saw onscreen. And the platinum palladium blacks were much lighter and warmer than the deep neutral blacks we saw onscreen.

Knoll Gamma

One day in the early 1990s I decided there had to be a way to fix this problem. I launched the Knoll Gamma Control Panel and made radical adjustments to the black and white points to match our wet darkroom platinum palladium printing process. I had been using Knoll gamma for a while but had never attempted to make such radical adjustments like matching the paper color and gentle blacks of a 19th century printing process. With just a minute’s worth of work I was able to get an astonishingly excellent match! All of the sudden, everything on screen looked like platinum palladium prints – even email! I saved these settings for platinum palladium and made another set of settings for the 4 color press work I was doing at my other job.

I was so excited about ‘monitor matching’ that I started going around to everyone I knew adjusting their monitors to match whatever printing process they were working with. I learned to adjust the RGB gain, brighness and and contrast settings on their CRT monitors before doing the final tweaking (more…)


Night Photography Workshop in Mono Lake and Bodie Ghost Town

July 31st-August 3rd, in Eastern California
with Scott Martin and Lance Keimig

Schedule:
July 31st – Optional Lightroom 5 Class in Lee Vining
August 1st – Tioga Pass or Mono Lake
August 2nd and 3rd – Bodie Ghost Town

Steve's Rock by Scott Martin

Tioga Pass, Mono Lake and Bodie ghost town are not only some of our favorite locations that we’ve been making images in for decades, we’ve also been leading night photography workshops here for the past ten years. We think you’ll find Mono Lake’s signature monolithic rock structures that extend upward from the lake are ideal for night photography. The dramatic granite moonscapes of Tioga Pass (more…)


Commentary: Monitors are bad and noise (can be) good

We’d like to think that todays $1000+ LED LCD displays are great but I’m going to say they’re not. They suck actually. We just don’t know better because we haven’t seen anything better – yet. Today’s displays are like cars from the 1970s – much better transportation than a decade prior but still horribly polluting, underpowered and unsafe in comparison to what’s coming in the next few decades. Today’s desktop computer monitors are fairly low resolution ranging from 72-150ppi. While this works fine for 95% of the people out there communicating via email and browsing the web, its having some negative consequences when it comes to photographic image development. People are over sharpening their images and including too much localized contrast. Most importantly, we’re taking out noise that can be beautiful and make prints look incredible.

The original digital capture [left and above right] is so typicially clean that it can lead to bland, boring prints. With grain added in LR/ACR the image prints beutifully with a luscious, precision fine texture. We’ve come to the incorrect assumption that becuase noise and grain looks terrible onscreen it will be equally terrible in print. That’s a false assumption. (more…)