I strive for precision and clarity with my cameras and lenses so it makes sense that I would want the same for my editing viewing platform. I love the set up of my two side-by-side MultiSync PA302W screens that give me edge-to-edge sharpness and precise color clarity. As the digital world becomes more finessed we need all the elements to come together to help us produce the best images possible and my NEC color monitors are a great aid with that process. The large monitors seamlessly switch back and forth to help me edit with ease and cause less eye fatigue. I love having the large area real estate--the only drawback it makes me less inclined to edit on my laptop in the field! They are the envy of everyone who walks into my office.
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisonwrightphoto
Successful color-critical workflow starts with planning. Consider how you are going to create and edit your files and how and where you plan to output them.
I begin with my cameras. I choose the best cameras. I shoot with two 45 megapixel Sigma SD1 bodies and one Nikon D800E, plus a wide range of pro Sigma lenses. When it comes to capture, I work in RAW. I then process my images utilizing the widest color gamut available, ProPhoto RGB. This ensures that my conversion produces the most colors possible in my images.
The most critical part of color control comes next: working with color-accurate displays. What I value in a good studio display is precise color reproduction, high resolution, and consistent color. The system I work on day-in and day-out is configured with dual NEC PA301W displays, both calibrated with the NEC SpectraView II system. The color accuracy of these PA301W displays allows me edit pictures with outstanding color accuracy. Few monitors allow for 30 bit color—the PA301W displays do. With spot-on color, I can on-screen proof 4-color publications and know exactly how they will look when printed.
I mentioned consistency. While we all might aspire to calibrating weekly, of course, there are times when I do not follow such a regimen. My NEC monitors are forgiving for such errors. For more than a decade and with different NEC displays, I have seen highly consistent colors , day after day. Even when I forget to run my calibration, colors remain consistent.
Finally, there’s your output. As a publisher of photographic books, the vast majority of my output comes through partnerships with designers and four-color printers. When my studio setup, my designers’ systems, and my printers’ equipment are all synchronized—meaning we all calibrate precisely to the same standard—we produce consistently top-notch reproductions.
Beyond printing, I also present many image-based programs to all kinds of audiences, from photography groups to nature-focused organizations, from elementary and middle schools to college and graduate students. For these presentations, I have been using NEC projectors for over a decade. They are rugged—I’ve never had one fail—and, even more importantly, produce beautiful, bright, and color-accurate images. I currently travel with an NEC NP-M402H projector. It produces 1080p images that are bright and beautiful—they make my work shine. And, as a professional presenter, I am happy to say that I have never been let down by any of my NEC projectors. They are built to last.
My photography is edited in Sigma PhotoPro, Adobe Photoshop, Photomatix Pro, and Helicon Focus, running on a Intel-based PC that drives two NEC PA301w displays. While many photographers prefer Macs, I cut my teeth in high school programming early PCs. Today I build my own PC systems to match my photography and publishing workflow.
In terms of software, Sigma PhotoPro and Adobe Camera Raw are my RAW image converters. I use Sigma PhotoPro for my SD1 Merrill images. These extraordinarily-detailed files require unique processing software in that Sigma cameras contain sensors that are different from all other brands. Their color-accurate Foveon chips record all three colors—red, blue, and green—at every pixel site, unlike the interpolation of two of the three colors at every photo site in all other camera sensors. This produces extremely even color gradations and results in precise edges. My D800E images are processed in Adobe Camera Raw.
The bulk of my photo editing—mostly optimizing images—is done in Photoshop. I work in many layers as I work on landscape and wildlife images. And I use a combination of Photoshop and Photomatix Pro in producing HDR images. For focus stacking, I use Helicon Focus. This amazing software allows you to focus on different planes of your subject and combine them into one almost infinitely-sharp image.
As a photographer, I always talk to other shooters. I read reviews. And I visit brick-and-mortar stores. Magazines and online publications provide all kinds of good insight. I enjoy both editing content on sites such as DPReview, Popular Photography, and other photo sites. I also extensively read consumer reviews. Besides the numeric rating, such as 4.5 out of 5, I find discursive comments highly useful.
Of course, nothing beats going to your local brick-and-mortar retailer to find out whether your dream equipment is a good fit for you. Seeing many choices before you, and trying it out, is invaluable. Trade shows are great places not only to see gear first-hand but also to get good deals.
It was handed down to me: My grandfather was a photographer, and my father is a photographer. I was inspired by them, and I had a number of cameras handed down to me—I cut my teeth on an Argus C-3. I loved winding the shutter, focusing using the split-image range finder, and taking double exposures of myself using a tripod and the screw-on self-timer!
My parents were both teachers—now retired—and our family of five traveled extensively in the summer. We took lots of pictures. When we got home, Dad would project his slides, and we would critique them together. It was a great way to learn about subjects, composition, color, texture, and other components of good photographs.
After teaching for a couple years, I decided to start my own photography business. I took pictures of whatever I could, for whatever fee I could get. My craft improved, and my images started appearing in newspapers and magazines. In 2010, I caught the eye of Dave Metz, marketing, at Sigma. He was assembling a team of Sigma Pros. I now travel around the country teaching people how to produce better images.
That same year I began work on my award-winning Curious Critters children’s books. These have sold over 100,000 copies. There are now five books in the product line, and eight more are coming out by the end of 2016.
The message is we all start somewhere. If you are looking to take the next step, do it. Learn always. Have confidence in your work. And share it widely. You are your best salesman!
I am really enjoying working on my Curious Critters photography series. This fun project began by taking a few high key photos of animals for use in Sigma ads for Outdoor Photographer magazine. Quickly I realized the potential for other uses of these up-close and personal, white-background animal portraits.
Right away, people kept telling me I should create a children’s picture book with the whimsical images, so I did. Right away the book started receiving awards. It sold out in four months, received six national book awards, and was licensed by Scholastic for their book fairs and book club. To-date, “Curious Critters” has sold over 100,000 copies.
Naturally, I began work on additional books. In 2014 I released “Curious Critters Volume Two,” which featured more common North American animals. And on Earth Day 2015 I released “Curious Critters Marine,” focusing on creatures of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.
To accompany the various critters staring readers in the eyes, I wrote short narratives in which the animals share fun facts about their natural histories. To write these, I imagined that I talked with the subjects during our photo sessions and then wrote down what they had to say. I try to create different personalities for each one.
I am now introducing state board books for the youngest readers—forthcoming are Curious Critters books on Ohio (my home state), Michigan, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri—and I have four exhibits of Curious Critters prints traveling across North America. In addition, I lead photo workshops teaching people how to photograph live animals using my signature high key approach.
I have a dual PA322UHD setup in my studio, and—Wow!--these extraordinary displays have greatly improved my productivity. I anticipated how two large, extremely color-accurate displays would aid my image editing, but I never anticipated how much the spacious screens would facilitate other aspects of my workflow. Keeping multiple browser, word processor, and spreadsheet windows open at one time allows me to move from document to document easily and efficiently. And, of course, the brilliant color and sharp image-rendering make working with my photos a real pleasure.
As far as seeing my work during editing, doing my post-production on NEC’s PA322UHD displays is unbelievable. Their super-high resolution, accurate colors, and beautifully large size of these 4k displays create an incredibly immersive experience. I feel like I am in the scenes—right there with my subjects—in a way unlike any other before. Jumping from one display to multiple displays only increases this experience.
|To see more images from Curious Critters, visit www.curious-critters.com or my website at www.fitzsimmonsphotography.com|
Your monitor is the most important part of your workflow. It’s critical that you not only get the best, but that you calibrate it and understand how important it is in insuring your images are reproduced the way you intend them to be seen. The old computer saying of “garbage in, garbage out” is just as important here as it is in anything dealing with accurate data—why waste your time with something that isn’t the best?
Two NEC PA302W-BK 30” monitors. They’re arranged in a visual “V” in my line of sight, so I have a virtual 60” wide monitor setup. I calibrate every week so I can feel assured the color file I deliver is accurate.
Do your research, but also ask those whose opinions you value what they are using and why—color has been the focus of my career in photography, and what I am known for. An accurate monitor that can be hardware calibrated is, ultimately, the single least expensive and yet single most important component of your workflow over time.
As a kid I was interested in magic as a hobby, and my father was a doctor. A patient of his—an engi-neer—taught me how to develop film and make prints. Seeing my first print come up in the developer was a moment when I actually watched my own future “developing” in front of me—it was a pivotal moment. I apprenticed in NYC and then opened my own studio, doing editorial and advertising work.
I’ve always wanted to do a landscape book on America—but where? The cities and the canyons of the West, and the coasts have been the subjects of so many books. I’ve always been drawn to the work of the photographer David Plowden, whose minimalistic images of the “commonplace” in America’s heartland became all the more compelling when I made a road trip to Nevada in 1977 with Bruce Springsteen. So I’m working on a book about the landscapes of America’s Great Plains called “Tornado Alley: The Sky Above the Land Below”. Just this year I’ll make four trips out to the prairie as I work towards finishing the book. I’m three years into the research and photography and hope to have it published in 2020. An exhibit of my prints from the project is scheduled to open in NYC in September 2015:
“Chasing the Storm”, Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, 37 West 57th Street. September 3 - 27, 2015
Some of the images from this project can be seen at these two links:http://www.ericmeola.photography/portfolio/photography/prairie-light
Computer displays and monitors have been part of our lives from the first time we saw them in movies, or, better yet, touched a computer up close and personal. During that time they have gone from green-letter CRT monitors to flat panels, with countless iterations in between. I take monitor calibration and accuracy very seriously, and in teaching my digital-imaging courses I first used a Radius PrecisionView CRT -- the first monitor I'd used with an integrated calibration puck. A key part of each semester's lessons involved teaching students the importance of calibrating and profiling the monitor, which at the time took a frustratingly, painfully long time. We even had to wear little black kimono-type wraps to keep from reflecting light that might corrupt the process, requiring us having to start all over again. Admittedly, while it was a hassle, it demonstrated how vital it is to understand color gamuts, color spaces, luminance values, profiling, targets, and their impact on your work.
Fast forward a few years to 2007, when NEC premiered the NEC SpectraView II MultiSync LCD2180WG-LED display. It was unlike any display that I'd ever worked with. Colors just leapt off the screen; it was amazing, just glorious! Plus, with the integrated calibration tools it was dead accurate, more accurate than any display I'd ever worked with previously. I've been an NEC fan ever since. As a result, generations of my students have developed their digital skills with the steady and accurate help of NEC SpectraView displays. And who doesn't love those cool black hoods! Since then, I've used a wide variety of NEC displays, most recently the NEC MultiSync PA271Q and NEC MultiSync PA302W models. They are superb, reliable, and accurate, and the SpectraView II software makes them easy as pie to calibrate and profile. I held NEC displays in such high respect that I chose them to outfit the digital imaging labs I created for universities and other facilities. As an artist, I don't want to think about tech when I'm working, I just want to connect with the work itself, and NEC displays have always made that possible. When I'm working on curatorial projects, I need to know that I'm seeing precisely what an artist or colleague sent me, without any bias from my system. Because I'm involved in profiling printers and papers, it's critical that the display be absolutely linear and precise. The NEC displays that I've used and calibrated with SpectraView II software and hardware have always been the most trouble-free and reliable aspect of my computer systems, in addition to being gorgeous additions to the studio. Thanks for making me look good, NEC Displays!
The ultimate goal of most photographers is to capture a great shot and produce a print, book, blog, social media or some other form of output and do so as efficiently and as accurately as possible. Many photographers spend enormous amounts of time and money on their cameras and lenses but often neglect to consider the actual workflow, which can be a huge mistake. For the workflow to flow the color management must match as the image moves from through the chain from camera to output and it all really starts with with an accurate color profiled monitor. Folks fail to realize that the monitor as just as important as the camera and lens. Maintaining accurate color not only insures quality but in the long term in lowers the amount of time and money you will spend because with accurate color management you can produce a print or any other output faster, cheaper and more efficiently.
I use Lightroom and Photoshop with two NEC MultiSync PA302W monitors.
I think the most important thing for photographers to do when searching for new equipment is to understand what their goals are and to fully understand the process to get their. For example if you want to make a print and you spend $50,000 on camera gear and use an old monitor without proper color management you simply won’t succeed at your goal. Read books from trusted authors and take the time to take workshops and then talk with other photographers and finally shop around and buy from a reputable vendor.
I wanted to be a photographer since high school. Back in the Kodachrome days I was just starting my career as a newspaper photojournalist in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse, according to the Farmers Almanac, ranks fourth among the rainiest cities in the U.S. and cloudy 212 days annually. One might think that I would be unhappy in Syracuse but gray is a wonderful background for color and images standout against a dark sky.
My career has changed dramatically over time based on what inspires me. My inspiration in Syracuse was photojournalism and I completed what is still one of my most rewarding stories ever in Syracuse. The story was about a little girl who was burned and it ran on the cover of Empire Magazine. I continued photographing Renee and photographed her college graduation and even her wedding 20 plus years after working on that story. Finishing that story also made me realize that I had accomplished what I wanted to do with journalism and the publishing of that story led to my conclusion that it was time to move on.
When I finished the burn story I had grandeur ideas of changing journalism. My first assignment when I went back on the street after that story was an assignment photographing a woman with a very large cucumber in Baldwinsville, NY. It was great to get that assignment because I realized that it was time to move into my next phase. Sometimes we can get very comfortable in an uncomfortable place and we need a kick in the pants to move forward.
The moving on led to magazine journalism and eventually onto corporate annual reports and then to teaching and self generated assignments and fine art. Each phase of my life has come naturally but I would have never guessed that I would be teaching and traveling the world while I was in Syracuse. If I had to do it all over again I would take the exact same path. Working at a newspaper provided an excellent foundation for my future and I cherish that experience to this day.
For projects involve teaching…teaching is part of the growth process for me and I love it. I have the ability to work one on one with students and watch them grow. We tend to have many repeat clients and there is an immense amount of joy is witnessing the growth that takes place when you have the opportunity to work with someone over and over again. As a teacher I strive to engage, challenge, and inspire growth in my students. It is my hope that every student is capable of the same passion that I feel for photography and with that philosophy in mind, I teach within a structure which I believe fosters critical thinking both creatively as well as technically.
My teaching philosophy revolves around the idea of being as well-balanced of a photographer as possible. Technical skills must be mastered as well as conceptual skills but it must start with a solid image. No matter how accomplished you are technically, if your ideas are weak, then your images simply won’t work, and, conversely, no matter how good your ideas are, if your technical skills are lacking your images can’t work. No matter how innovative the idea is, it is not worth showing if it is done poorly. My teaching philosophy is to enable each photographer to create their own vision—to see things others would not see if they were standing right next to them. In this way, you learn how to see the subject matter that you might otherwise overlook. We all see color, but no two of us experience it exactly the same way; my shade of red is not what you’re seeing. Yet as a photographer, I want you to see what's in my mind's eye, which is where the challenge lies to capture and render a particular vision.
My second goal is to hone in on a students personal aesthetic point of view. We examine the choices that we make when producing a photograph, the choices that differentiate a great photograph with a lasting impression from a mere snapshot. I want to enhance their vision into the world of reflections, patterns, gestures, tone, abstractions, movement, and texture to name a few.
I want to extract their personal creativity and bring it to a new level.
I believe that photography is best learned by immersion. To challenge and be challenged by my students is my third goal. I begin with the belief that every student possesses unique capabilities that can be shared with others if given the appropriate supports. I challenge my students to share opinions with and to mentor one another. I also expect to be challenged by my students. I encourage my students to ask questions, and I am straightforward about not having all of the answers. When I become “stuck” I seek the input of my colleagues. Above all else, I challenge my students to understand that I am open to their thoughts, eager to hear their opinions, and thrilled to learn with and through them.
Finally, I attempt to inspire growth in my students.
For myself, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as an educator is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. Teaching is never stagnant and it is a constant process of learning about new philosophies and new strategies, learning from fellow photographers and colleagues.
I believe in a flexible manner of instruction, responsive to the unique atmosphere of a given class. I am aware of students’ different experiences and temperaments in hopes of developing their strengths while ameliorating their weaknesses. Every student, regardless of background, can improve his or her abilities and be emboldened to push beyond their own experience expanding their skills and their vision.