£700 worth of heavy (308gsm) matt paper ready for an up coming client job. This weight of paper can not be stacked in the printer so its going to be a long manual job but with Epson’s 200+ year ink life and a high quality Hahnemuhle paper each print will be worth the effort.
Client story: BBC Wild Isles
The latest David Attenborough series is due to air in the UK on Sunday 12th March 2023. The book of the series is available now at all good book shops (and Amazon).
Many thanks to the series producer Alastair Fothergill and others who got me involved to make sure most technically difficult shots in the book were up to the standard of the rest.
Ethical grading and retouching ensures that the images on the page reflect the nature they represent and not issues with noise, exposure and white balance that would introduce unnatural artefacts in the images. Also provided were my techniques to keep the dynamic range of the HDR material as much as possible, without care this can print very badly on the more limited tonal and colour range of CMYK, by mitigating against this the images can sing out.
If your organization needs to improve the quality of your publications, exhibitions or photolibraries then send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please note: I was not involved with this Youtube thumbnail!)
Client Story: Julian Lennon
A pleasure to work on Julian’s images recently for his latest major exhibition “Atmospheria” at the William Turner Gallery in LA.
My task was to prepare the files used in making the very large prints. These were made on a metal base using dye sublimation.
The file preparation was a very machine intensive process and some images grew to over 5GB when layered in Photoshop. The final stage of the process was quality checking at 1:1 to ensure no artefacts or dust spots made their way to these very high quality premium prints.
Careful work ensured that the prints retained the intentions of the photographer and allowed for close inspection of detail on the photographic surface without any significant enlargement artefacts even when viewed close up.
You can read more about the exhibition here
Client Story: Christopher Swann’s new book, “Sea of Dreams”
I received the most beautiful book through the post today Its by Photographer Christopher Swann and called “Sea of Dreams”. It covers the subject of Whales, dolphins and wildlife of Baja California. 450 pages of superb photography, illustrations and insightful text. ISBN: 978-1-7396721-0-2.
Tipping the scales at well over 3.3KG (the limit of my scales!) it is superbly printed and has to be considered the most in depth and beautiful interpretation of its subjects.
My work on the project was to help translate the more problematic underwater RGB files that often struggle to appear their best when printed in CMYK. I used all the options in my specialist toolbox to bring out the true brilliance in the images. I also worked on selected topside images to enable them to print smoothly across double page spreads.
Swanny is a very modest man but his work seen through this book is simply superb. I am very fortunate to work with one of the very best marine life photographers in the world, we share a desire to translate life to the page and are prepared to go through some pains to acheive it.
Thank you Swanny!
AI Generated Images – ethics, copyright and fun.
I took the image on the left in the 1980s and submitted it to the Tony Stone Photo library (later Getty Images). The images on the right are generated on my computer using the Stable Diffusion program with the text string “big ben clockface high resolution golden light dark sky dslr medium format highly detailed”
The image on the left was captured on film on location in Parliament square, the images on the right were generated by a program that used an algorithm to process such “real life images” and extract from them a sense of what the clock face is and without copying pixels recreate new images. I don’t know if my picture was one of the millions of web images processed in order to train the AI but I doubt that permission to use images in this way was granted by the photographers.
Getty Images announced that they will not represent images generated by AI on its sales platforms for this very reason, neither the source images were likely licensed and the output from these AI programs likely copyrightable. Getty clients are of course free to generate their own AI images but may run into trouble if their work then becomes public domain and a new message attached.
Some of the images generated were more like my photograph but they always came out kind of “strange”, not quite right. What I found more interesting was the mistakes (like the above images), the results of a fever dream or using a consciousness altering drug.
I’m reminded of a scene in the 1980 film “Fame”, in which the tutor (Shorofsky) and his student have this conversation:
Shorofsky : One man is not an orchestra.
Bruno Martelli : Who needs orchestras? You can do it all with a keyboard, an amp and enough power.
Shorofsky : You going to play all by yourself?
Bruno Martelli : You don’t need anybody else.
Shorofsky : That’s not music, Martelli. That’s masturbation.
What I think Shorofsky is getting at here is that a piece of classical music played by an orchestra is made up of humans responding to each other. Each player and their instrument are following and reacting with the conductor and others to create something unique and subtle, a synth can only play samples and does not have this human dynamic.
I would equate ethical photography to playing in an orchestra, an individual photographer interacts with the scene in front of them, they respond to the subject and the subject to them, they move around a scene and frame to find the light and the moment that comes together to make the image meaningful.
Ethical photography depends on honesty, introduce or remove elements (either in real life or in photoshop) and suddenly that nature is tainted, introduce AI generated elements and the integrity is compromised completely.
The counter view:
Use the same synthesiser and create new kinds of music (Kraftwerk / Brian Eno) and suddenly something new and interesting is created. I like the way AI images give us a fresh take on things, I like the “mistakes” stable diffusion and other AI systems make. Is it Photography? – no, not in a million years. Does it have a use? perhaps!
Client story: BBC Frozen Planet II
Nice delivery through the post yesterday. My work on preparing the stills and video captures from the BBC Production of David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet II series had arrived in book form.
I worked on 171 images from still cameras and 67 video grabs to provide a consistent, natural and ethical set of images suitable for repro.
Having watched the first episode on BBC iPlayer last night (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0cw0nb8) I was pleased to see that the images in the book correlated well with the equally natural grading in the video source.
I watched the program on a recent Sony Bravia TV with HDR (High dynamic range) enabled, the pictures were stunning. Ink on paper offers only a tiny fraction of the dynamic range of HDR so when preparing the files I used my knowledge of the CMYK repro process to ensure that I made the best possible files for the book. You can find out more about the book here: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/439081/frozen-planet-ii-by-white-mark-brownlow-and-elizabeth/9781785946578
I first started work on BBC Wildlife books in 2011 when I worked on the original Frozen Planet book, quite a ride! The problem I solved was to make images from multiple sources more cohesive by correcting colour casts, tone and contrast, noise and sharpness issues on a per picture basis before conversion to CMYK. This resulted in much better and consistant repro than if corrections were done on the printing press. Adjusting images on press nearly always degrades other images on the same sheet and cannot fix colour within colour or sharpness and noise issues at all.
Helping create premium books like this are one of the highlights of my work. I help amateurs and professionals, individuals and corporations. Each time I work I put in the same maximum effort to enable the client to get the most out of their work.
Can I help you? the chances are good, get in touch and lets start the conversation:
#ethical retouching #grading #colorgrading #colourgrading #stills #videograbs #repro #CMYK
The Photogaphy Show in Birmingam
I will be attending the show in Birmingam sometime between the dates 17-20 September 2022 at the NEC.
I will not be exhibiting but rather having a look around to see the latest technologies and guage the atmosphere of the photographic market and see if I can find any changes in how people enjoy and use their photography.
If you are a client attending or exhibiting let me know and I will stop for a chat, if you are not a client but would appreciate a short meeting then let me know also.
You can book tickets to the show here: https://www.photographyshow.com/
Alert: New QNAP ransomware threat
It has come to my attention that QNAP nases are under a new Deadbolt ransomware attack. It started on September 3rd and and affected one clients nas. I have taken precautionary measures on all other clients nases since.
Today I came across a QNAP notice (ostensably from yesterday) that pointed the finger to their Photo sharing app causing the vulnerability. I have updated this app on all client nases as part of my maintainance schedule.
You can read more here: https://www.qnap.com/la/security-news/2022/take-immediate-action-to-update-photo-station-to-the-latest-available-version