Pixels 2 Pigment Update – Okinawa Aug 4-5 (Podcast 348)

Pixels 2 Pigment Update – Okinawa Aug 4-5 (Podcast 348)

Today I’m going to provide an update on the Pixels 2 Pigment workshops that we kicked off on August 4 in Okinawa, the sourthern-most island of Japan. Then next week, because I haven’t done a travelogue style Podcast where I talk about my images and my techniques and artistic decisions, I figured it would be nice to do that and walk you through some of the images that I shot while down on the beautiful island of Okinawa.

Firstly, let’s take a look at our first Pixels 2 Pigment Okinawa workshop, and I’d like to start by thanking Chris Willson for hosting the Okinawa workshop weekend, and I’d also like to thanks Chris for the workshop name too! I had started planning this workshop when Chris contacted me about going to Okinawa, and just dropped the name out in conversation. Over the following 24 hours I couldn’t get the name out of my head, and asked Chris if he minded me using it. He graciously agreed, so huge thanks are in order there as well.

I’d also like to thank the participants that joined us for the two full days. It was a small group but they were all talented photographers, and it was a pleasure to view some of their images and help them optimize their workflows and make some prints of their beautiful work. [Of course, the workshop is open to photographers of all levels, and everyone takes away useful information and a highly efficient, optimized digital workflow.]

Day One

Now, I’m not going to report on everything we cover in the workshop, as that would take two days, but to give you an outline we start literally from techniques used to create quality pixels, which is the start of the process. I explain about exposure and shooting techniques, and capturing the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, and why this is important. We then move on to the digital workflow, transferring our images to the computer, with Lightroom tips interwoven, then we create a camera profile with the X-Rite software to apply to our images in Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW.

One major theme throughout the workshop is improving efficiency and optimizing the digital workflow, so tips on how to do that are interspersed throughout, and we move through some Lightroom tips and techniques to calibrating to the display, and how to optimize your system for frustration free image editing through to printing.

Once we have the camera and monitor calibrated, it’s time to move on and create a printer profile. I use various X-Rite calibration tools starting with the i1 Display Pro, ColorMunki Photo and the new top of the range i1 Photo Pro 2. I explain how to print the profile targets and the group gets involved actually scanning the profile target sheets using the ColorMunki and the i1 Pro 2 devices.

Scanning Printer Profile Targets © Chris Willson

Scanning Printer Profile Targets © Chris Willson

Once we have our printer profiles, we’re ready to print! Each participant bought 3 to 5 of their favorite images and as a group we voted and decided which ones of these to soft-proof and print. Breathing Color have kindly provided us with Lyve Canvas and Laminate, and some stretcher bars to create a gallery wrap of three of the groups prints. As the group was relatively small, we chose prints from everyone, and printed three of them for gallery wraps, and two as fine art prints with borders.

We timed the print creation to be completed at the end of day one, so that they’d be able to dry overnight, but before we broke for the day, I explained the various things to consider when choosing a fine art paper, including what to consider when you will hang or display your prints.

Day Two

On the morning of day two, the first job was to protect our canvas prints with Breathing Color’s Lyve Laminate. I’d also created a print of one of my images so I demonstrated the Lamination process to the group and again, they took turns laminating their own prints, which went really smoothly with my lamination techniques, which took me two weeks of trial and error to perfect. The group had this down in five minutes.

Laminating Breathing Color Lyve Canvas Prints © Chris Willson

Laminating Breathing Color Lyve Canvas Prints © Chris Willson

While the canvas prints were drying we continuing working on tips and techniques with Lightroom and then Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and Color Efex Pro 4. Some of the group has not yet used these plugins and were really impressed with how easy it is to make incredibly high quality and well toned black and white images, as well as the stylized color images with Color Efex Pro 4.

We then worked through exporting images from Lightroom including efficient ways to export large numbers of files for various purposes and Lightroom’s Slideshows, Books and Web modules.

Of course, no digital workflow is complete without a powerful and fail-safe backup regime, so we cover that, as well as archival storage for the prints that you’ll make, and we touch of creating Portfolios from both the image selection process to physical portfolio considerations.

By this point, the canvases were dry and ready to trim and stretch onto the gallery wrap stretcher bars. In this image (below) you can see Shawn Miller who I interviewed in Episode 347 of this Podcast last week, trimming a canvas print of his beautiful Clown Fish photograph.

Shawn Miller Trimming his Clown Fish Print

Shawn Miller Trimming his Clown Fish Print

As each participant creating a gallery wrap trimmed their prints, we moved straight on to the stretching process, and they finished their gallery wraps. Here (below) we see Shawn again with his gallery wrap. Note that because I had to take the cutting mat down to Okinawa, we were limited in the size of the gallery wraps that we could create, but once you know how to do this, you can basically create a gallery wrap as long as you can print them. This size is what you can do with a printer capable of printing up to 13×19″ prints.

Shawn Miller with Gallery Wrap

Shawn Miller with Gallery Wrap

And here is another shot of the group with their prints, and I have the print of my own photograph that I created, which was presented to David Edenfield as I drew his name from the hat as the winner for this gallery wrap.

Okinawa Group with Prints and Gallery Wraps

Okinawa Group with Prints and Gallery Wraps

Giveaways

In addition to giving away a gallery wrap of one of my photos, we also drew names from the hat to give one person a copy of their choice of Nik Software’s plugins worth $100, which Michael Taylor won, and David Orr won an X-Rite ColorChecker passport. These three items will be given away at each workshop, and then when I’ve finished the workshops in each continent, I’d draw another name from the hat to see who will be the lucky winner that will receive Nik Software’s Complete Collection Ultimate Edition worth $500! I’d like to also thank Nik Software for this, as well as Breathing Color and X-Rite, for their support. This workshop would not have been possible without you guys!

Pixels 2 Pigment Registration

This first weekend in Okinawa was just the first of a series of workshops that I’ve planned world wide. We’re in Tokyo on August 25-26 and then I fly to sunny California for the first US workshop in Los Angeles on September 1-2, then up to Vancouver in Canada on September 8-9, back down to San Francisco on September 15-16 and across to New York for September 22-23, before going up to Canada again for a weekend in Toronto on September 29-30. Then I fly over to London for the weekend of October 6-7, and to Sydney Australia on October 20-21 and Melbourne on October 27-28. Phew!

It’s going to be a hectic few months, but I am totally stoked to be able to bring this workshop to you personally on your own turf. This Podcast turns seven years old in a couple of weeks time, and we have so many listeners around the world that I have never been able to meet in person, and this is one way that I figured we could make that happen, without you having to come all the way to Japan, so I do hope we get a chance to meet over the next couple of months.

If you’d like to sign up, visit the Pixels 2 Pigment Web site, and click on the links for each location in the middle of the page, then you’ll need to click the Paypal button and pay your workshop fees to commit to joining us.

Note though that for the three US venues, I’ve teamed up with Calumet Photo, and so the registration for these workshops is being handled by Calumet. Spaces are relatively limited, so don’t hang around if you’d like to join us for the Pixels 2 Pigment weekend in your area. I do hope you can make it though. It’s going to be so great meeting some of you listeners in person after all of these years.

Pixels 2 Pigment

Next Week

As I said, next week I’m going to get back to a travelogue style Podcast for the first time in a while, and walk you through some of the shot that I came back from Okinawa with, as I stayed for an extra week after the workshop and had a great time down their shooting with friends like Pete and Haruna Leong, David and Naoko Orr, Shawn Miller and Michael Taylor. Even the total strangers down on Okinawa are so kind and such warm people, it’s a beautiful place, and I can’t wait to get back down there at some point.


Show Notes

Pixels 2 Pigment Web site: http://www.pixels2pigment.com/

Music by UniqueTracks


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Podcast 344 : Successful Color Management and Printing Webinar

Podcast 344 : Successful Color Management and Printing Webinar

This week I’m releasing the replay of our July 9 Webinar with Photoshelter and X-Rite, in which I talk about Color Management and how to get better results from your printing. Here’s our list of topics.

  • The importance of color management – starting with nailing exposure in camera.
  • Calibrating your digital workflow, including using camera profiles and monitor calibration.
  • Preparing your workflow for frustration-free printing.
  • Marketing tactics that work for photographers who want to sell prints.
  • And more!

I also answered a few questions offline after the event, which you can see on the Photoshelter blog post here.

If you subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes, you may have the mobile/iPhone version downloaded already. Below though is the full size video captured by Photoshelter during the Webinar. This is better for seeing the photos etc.

Successful Color Management & Printing with Martin Bailey from PhotoShelter.com on Vimeo.

This Webinar was also a bit of a primer for our Pixels 2 Pigment workshop/seminars that we kick off in August in Japan, then go to the US and Canada in September, then the UK and possibly also Australia in October. Please visit the Pixels to Pigment Web site for more information and to sign-up.

I hope you enjoy the Webinar and look forward to seeing you on the Pixels 2 Pigment workshop!

Here are the images that I showed in the Webinar too, as a bit of a page filler… 🙂

Five Monkeys

Five Monkeys

Colour Collaboration

Colour Collaboration

Lone White

Lone White

QI #2

QI #2

Deception Island Iceberg

Deception Island Iceberg

Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye

Kussharo Lake Tree

Kussharo Lake Tree

 


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Podcast 343 : X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2 Review for Photographers

Podcast 343 : X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2 Review for Photographers

Today we’re going to take a look at the i1 Photo Pro 2 calibration solution from X-Rite, and i1 Profiler, the software that you’ll use to run the device. For me, this is an upgrade from the i1XTreme UV Cut Color Calibration Solution, so we’ll also touch on the main differences between the two solutions, if you are considering upgrading yourself.

i1 Publish Pro 2 Box

i1 Publish Pro 2 Box

For my testing, I actually used the i1Publish Pro 2, not the i1Photo Pro 2, and as the price of these two solutions is different, I first wanted to touch on the key different between the two.

X-Rite’s marketing materials state that the i1Photo Pro 2 is “Professional Color Management for Photographers” and i1Publish Pro 2 is “Professional Color Management for Prepress, Photo and Imaging Pros”. This really says it all, in that if you are a Photographer that wants ultimate control over your color, then i1Photo Pro 2 is the way to go. If you have a requirement to prepare work for Prepress, the Publish Pro gives you the ability to create CMYK+ printer profiles, so this may be the way to go if that’s the sort of work that you do.

The i1Photo Pro 2 is currently listed at $1,499 on B&H and the i1Publish Pro 2 is listed at $1,999, so you’ve got to really need that CMYK profiling ability to spring the extra $500. Even if you own a professional printer that supports CMYK printing, most photographers don’t print in CMYK, so if you are wondering what your situation is, then the chance are this is not important to you, so as a Photographer you could simply go for the i1Photo Pro 2 solution.

There’s actually a third solution called the i1Basic Pro 2 which does not have printer profiling, but does give you the best available display calibration, as well as Spot Color Measurement and management, which we’ll take a brief look at later. There is the ability to perform print quality checks, but not calibration, so we’ll focus mainly on the i1Photo Pro 2 solution today.

Do I Need the i1Photo Pro 2?

Does every photographer need the i1Photo Pro 2 solution? Of course not. It really depends on how accurate you want your printer profiles to be. If you are using a prosumer printer, the chances are a ColorMunki Photo may well be enough for your needs. I personally decided to upgrade to the i1 series when I bought my Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6350 large format printer, and until then, I’d been very happy with the results I was getting from the ColorMunki Photo. You get what you pay for of course, and so if you want the best, this is it. The choice of course is yours, based on your own budget and requirements.

If you want to see more about the ColorMunki by the way, I published a video review of that back in August 2010, Podcast episode 249, if you want to check that out.

What’s in the Box?

OK, so let’s take a look at what you will get, and the first improvement over the previous version of X-Rite’s flagship calibration solution. The original i1 had a nice carrying case, but although at this point still only a cosmetic upgrade, externally, the new case is very classy indeed.

i1 Pro 2 Carrying Case

i1 Pro 2 Carrying Case

(Click on an image to view larger and use your keyboard arrow keys or mouse to navigate back and forth.)

When you open it up, the front half of the case houses the printer calibration backboard and ruler, improvements to which we’ll look at later, and there are also pouches for the software, user manual, ColorChecker Proof and ColorChecker Classic targets, which we’ll also look at briefly later.

Carry Case Front Compartment

Carry Case Front Compartment

I took these out for the photo, but these things are of course usually packed nicely away in pouches built into the case. Next (below) we see the main compartment, which houses the i1Pro 2 Spectrophotometer, and the various holders and cables necessary to use it for it’s many calibration purposes.

Carry Case Main Compartment

Carry Case Main Compartment

The inside of the original i1 case was molded out of some kind of dark spongy polystyrene like packaging, and as I say, it was OK, but this new i1Pro case with its velvety touch just oozes classiness. The pieces drop into their dedicated location much more easily now, and when the case is closed they are met with the other half of the molding to fully protect them during storage and transit.

Because the molding is half in the cover here too, if you open the case the wrong way, the pieces aren’t all going to roll out onto the floor. They just sit in the lid, right there in their respective locations. X-Rite even went to the trouble to include a little indentation for the screw on the top of the Tripod Holder Base Plate to stop it from sliding off, which to me is one of those little extra bits of effort like the ones that Apple does to make our lives just a little bit easier, and generally more pleasant.

i1 Pro 2 Contents

i1Photo Pro 2 Contents

So, you have here (above) all the tools you need to fully calibrate your digital workflow. Whereas I use a ColorChecker Passport in the field to ensure that I have accurate color from my camera to start with, there is a ColorChecker Target included in the i1Photo solution too, for use in the studio. You use it in much the same way, but it’s obviously not built to be carried around in your pocket, like the Passport.

i1Profiler Software

All of the i1Pro 2 processes are managed from the new i1Profiler software. This is where you initiate all of the calibration processes and can save and manage your various workflows as well as ICC profiles.

Note too that i1Profiler can also be used with the i1 Display Pro device, which is a great option for color accuracy if you have no intention or requirement to create printer profiles. The software automatically detects which device you have connected to your computer, and if you click the little triangle to open up the Licensing section, you get a graphical indication of the functionality that can be used with that device and your license. You can see here that with the Display Pro plugged in, we have display and projector profiling, but none of the printer profiling options are available.

i1Profiler with i1Display Pro Connected

i1Profiler with i1Display Pro Connected

This is also useful if you travel and need a calibration solution while on the road, but you don’t need the printer profiling, because then you can take the Display Pro with you inside, as it’s a nice small package, but it works with the same software, so you don’t need to install multiple programs to run the devices.

Note that if you were to opt for the very capable ColorMunki Photo, for your display, projector and printer calibration, this does not use the i1 Profiler software. The ColorMunki comes with it’s own dedicated software.

Now, I’m not going to run through all the features of i1Pro, because X-Rite have done a far better job than I could with their training, including an excellent manual and video tutorials available right there in the i1Profiler software. What I will do though, is quickly walk you through the main points of calibrating your display and then a super quick look at projector and printer profiling.

First, let’s hook up the i1Pro 2 Spectrophotometer, and you can see in this screen shot (below) that we now have all the features enabled. The only difference here of course is that you’d not see the CMYK profiling enabled with the i1Photo Pro 2 solution.

i1Profiler with i1Pro 2 Connected

i1Profiler with i1Pro 2 Connected

Once you’ve selected Profiling from the Display section on the left, you are given a Workflow along the bottom of the i1Profiler screen. This will walk you through the process, and you can save the settings or workflow to recall later, so you don’t have to remember what you selected each time.

To gain maximum control over my display and how I view it in my work space, I always opt to measure the Luminance of the ambient light, and I’m instructed to first calibrate the i1Pro 2 device, as I start this process.

Calibrate i1Pro 2 Before Use

Calibrate i1Pro 2 Before Use

Then I am instructed to measure the ambient light in my work space, by removing the ambient light measurement head from the base of the tripod holder and fitting it onto the i1Pro 2, and then aim it at the light source, and click the measure button to take a reading.

Measure Ambient Light

Measure Ambient Light

Now the 1i Profiler software knows the lighting conditions in which I am working, and viewing my computer displays. This is incredibly important to the entire process, and one that I recommend you include, especially if you print your work.

Note though, that if you use artificial lighting with a strong color cast, this can adversely affect how your prints look, and you don’t want that. In this case, select 120 as a starting point for your Luminance and Illuminant D65 for your White Point. These are good defaults to work with for most situations.

Saved Ambient Light Measurement

Saved Ambient Light Measurement

Of course, most of us have work environments in which the ambient light levels will change, and to compensate for that, if you have an automatic brightness regulator on your monitor or laptop, by all means use it. This will usually take the brightness setting that you manually select during calibration as a base, and adjust from that point as the ambient light in your work space changes. As long as you set your starting point using a calibration tool you’ll be in good shape.

On the next screen, we select the Profile Settings, and I always just use the defaults, which is ICC Profile Version 4 because it’s the newest, a Tone Response Curve of Gamma 2.2 because that’s the most common, and a Profile Type of Matrix Based, because X-Rite made that the default and I trust them.

On the next screen, we select the patch set size. Those of you that have been listening to the Podcast for a while will know that my Mum embedded two very important principles into my mind from a very early age. The first was “If you’re gonna have one, have a biggun (big one)” and the second was “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. I apply both of these principles on this screen. Although it takes about 20 minutes to run through the calibration process, I always select the largest patch set available here, and give it time to run.

Patch Set Settings

Patch Set Settings

Note too that if you are having problems printing a particular image, you can fine tune your profile by adding color patches sampled from that photo too, which can be extremely helpful.

Patches from Image Files

Patches from Image Files

And the final setting before we start the measurement on the Measurement screen, is whether or not to use Automatic Display Control (ADC) or manual adjust your display’s brightness, contrast and RGB gains. I have tested both methods, and although ADC works perfectly, for my old external Eizo monitor, I generally opt to manually control this, as I have brightness and RGB gain controls. I don’t have the RGB Gain controls on my MacBook Pro’s display though, so hear I generally use Auto Display Control.

ADC or Manual?

ADC or Manual?

As you start the calibration or measurement process, if you opted to make any changes manually, you’ll be guided to make those changes by on screen messages. In this photo (below) we can see the i1Pro 2 Spectrophotometer attached to the display, but also we can see that this is the part of the process where I was adjusting the brightness of my display to match my work space. There’s an indicator on the display to tell you when you have it right, and this is very much how the RGB gain adjustment is displayed too, if you have the ability to change that.

i1 Pro 2 Display Measurement

i1Pro 2 Display Measurement

I wanted to note what I feel is a nice improvement over the original i1 Pro here too, which is that the USB cable for the device now comes out of the top as it hangs down over your display, as opposed to the bottom. I know that some people don’t like this, but I love it, mainly because when I used the old device to calibrate my MacBook Pro’s display, the USB cable would press my keys and generally get in the way. That’s no longer the case. It’s all just neatly over the top of the display and out of the way now.

So, once you have finished your manual settings, if you selected the largest patch set like I do, you go and get a cup or coffee or something while the i1 Pro 2 and your display get jiggy widdit for 20 minutes or so. When they’re done, all you have to do is save the profiles and you’re finished. You can save the profiles as User Level or System Level or both if you’d prefer. I generally save to both.

Dual Monitors

If you have a second display of course, you just have to repeat the process, selecting your second display at the start. One thing to note here though is that no matter how much you resist the need, there is no way at all to accurately bring two monitors into line without using devices like the i1Pro 2 from X-Rite to calibrate them. Using strips to see adjust the brightness, or on screen tools that you adjust based on your own vision will only work to a point, and are never accurate, and this is most apparent when you compare two displays from totally different manufacturers like this, that are basically in perfect harmony.

Dual Monitors in Perfect Harmony

Dual Monitors in Perfect Harmony

As we can see here (above) I have my MacBook Pro and my external Eizo display both showing the same image, and the color on both is exactly the same.

Projector Calibration

OK, so that’s the display calibration process. If I go through the projector and printer profiling with as much detail we’re going to be here all night, and I don’t have time for that, and I’m sure you don’t either, so let me just mention that if you have a need to calibrate a projector, the i1 Pro will do that, but again, so will the i1 Display Pro and the ColorMunki Photo for that matter.

X-Rite Product Comparison

X-Rite Product Comparison

Project calibration is very similar to display calibration, but of course, because the light is being projected onto the screen, you can’t attach the device to the screen itself. You use the Tripod Holder that comes with the i1Pro 2 to stand the Spectrophotometer up and point it at the screen. Alignment is assisted with on screen instructions, so a well trained monkey could do it.

Projector Calibration with the i1Pro 2

Projector Calibration with the i1Pro 2

Once you’ve completed the calibration, once again, you save the ICC profile, and you’re done. Ideally you would calibrate the projector every time you move it to a new location, but unless you are doing some color critical presentations, once you have a collection of profiles for each location you use your projector in, you can just reselect the profiles you already have as you move between locations.

Printer Profiles

OK, so just as quickly, let’s touch on printer profiling, although we won’t be able to really do this topic justice today, which is why my Pixels 2 Pigment workshop and seminar is a two day event. Of course we get into lots of other stuff as well, but you know what I mean.

Once again, you start in the i1Profiler software by defining the size of the patch set that you want to print as the basis for your measurement and calibration. As I mentioned earlier, I generally define a patch set with as many patches that I can fit onto two pages. With a bit of tweaking to the patch size, you can fit 920 patches onto two pages of 8.5 x 11″ paper.

Printer Profiling Targets

Printer Profiling Targets

If you use a prosumer printer, you can go ahead and print them right from inside of the i1Profiler software. In my case though, I often print to roll paper on my large format printer, and don’t carry 8.5 x 11″ sheet paper, so I save the two pages as TIFF files from the Profiler software, and then stick them together in Photoshop. If I have 17″ roll paper, that’s perfect for two 8.5″ tall profiles back to back, as we see in this photograph of the two targets being printed together.

Printing Printer Profiling Targets

Printing Printer Profiling Targets

You can also save them together lengthways for 24″ paper, if that’s all you have. If I was using an even wide format printer, or need to really go to town on the accuracy of the profile, I could define larger patch sets and print to more pages, and it’s even easier to do that with roll paper like this.

Note that if you do print from Photoshop or Lightroom, you have to ensure that you have no profile selected, and that the printer is also doing no color management. The patch sets have to be printed with no remapping of the colors at all, or your resulting profiles will be useless. In fact, if you ever create a printer ICC profile and then when you print your photos they look all wacky, this is the first thing to recheck in your troubleshooting.

Once you have your printed patch sets and given them at least 15 minutes to dry, longer if possible, you’ll use the backing board and ruler to scan the patches in to the i1Profiler software with the i1Pro 2, to create your ICC profile.

i1 Pro 2 Printer Profiling

i1 Pro 2 Printer Profiling

Here, a major improvement in version 2 is that the i1Pro 2 now scans from the front of the ruler guide, and not through a slot in the guide. This means that you can read the first few lines of patches much more easily than before. In the past, you often had to hold it all still by hand rather than using the clamp on the base board, because you couldn’t read the first few lines otherwise. That problem has gone away, and again the metal just feels sturdier and higher quality.

Positioning Detection Sensor

More importantly though, is the addition of Positioning Detection Sensor on the bottom of the i1Pro 2 that reads the notches on the metal rule so that differing scanning speeds or even stopping don’t cause errors, and this makes the scanning process much easier and less nerve racking, especially when you’re in a hurry. You can also define patch sizes down to 7mm now, which means you can fit more patches on each page, saving time, ink and paper.

ColorChecker Proof

OK, so before we move away from printing, I wanted to quickly mention the ColorChecker Proof process. I mentioned earlier that the i1Photo Pro2 contained a ColorChecker Proof and ColorChecker Classic target. The Classic is used much like the ColorChecker Passport, but it’s more for studio use, and not really built for carrying around in your pocket. The ColorChecker Proof patches though are used for something quite different.

You select the ColorChecker Proof option in i1Profiler and will see a screen similar to this. Your printer ICC profiles are listed, so you select the one you want to proof, and if you select “Show out-of-gamut indicator” you will see which of the colors on the target you may have trouble printing. We can see here that my Breathing Color Vibrance Rag profile will enable me to print all of the colors on the target. If you have any colors that won’t print on a certain paper, they appear with a line through the applicable color patch. To work around that, you can try creating a profile with more patches, but you can use this tool to select other papers that will work if you have the option of changes papers.

ColorChecker Proof

ColorChecker Proof

To perform a proof, you just need to print out the patches that you see here, and allow it to dry, then place the ColorChecker Proof over the top of the printed patches. If everything matches up, the color you see through the wholes will match the colors on the ColorChecker Proof target itself. If the colors don’t match, you’ll need to check your settings and make sure you don’t have the wrong profile applied when printing etc.

Other New Features

Let’s also take a look at some of the additional new features that I’ve not already touched on, starting with the new  i1Pro 2 Spectrophotometer itself. The original i1Pro was the industry standard, and X-Rite improved it, making it the most accurate profiling device available today, including support for the latest developments in ISO standardization.

Dual Illuminant Design and OBC

The i1Pro 2 now has a new Dual Luminance design with automatic Optical Brightener Compensation (OBC). All you have to do is do a dual-scan of your printer patch set sheets, and the second scan uses the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum, which gathers information about how the Optical Brightening Agents in a substrate emit light when they are illuminated with UV light. This also allows profiles to be recalculated later for different illuminants, which in practice will be a big time saver.

Optical Brighteners are found  in some modern papers and can cause problems under certain light sources. Basically this can now be automatically corrected as part of the profiling process.

Spot Color Measurement

You can also do Spot Color Measurement, if you need to know the exact color of a physical object. This helps for example if you are photographing products and have to ensure that your resulting images are exactly the same color as the physical products.

Ergonomics Improved Throughout

Ergonomically everything has been totally redesigned. We’ve already touched on most of the updates, but the i1Pro 2 itself also feels much better to handle than the original i1 Pro. The version 2 has a slight rubberized feel, so it’s very easy to grip, and less likely to slip out of your hand as you scan the patches, something that would happen on occasion in the past. In general though, from the case up, everything just feels better to the touch and higher quality. X-Rite have obviously paid a lot of attention to the details making the i1Pro 2 and it’s peripherals a total pleasure to use.

Upgrading

X-Rite have provided a number of upgrade options from previous and other product lines. Visit X-Rite Photo to see what’s available, or check the upgrade packages in the B&H Widget below.

Conclusion

All in all, the new i1Pro 2 and the solutions built around it simply wreak quality, and their ease of use is second to none. It’s an expensive system, and I’m sure many of you would rather get a nice new L lens than the i1Photo Pro 2 solution. That of course is your decision.

If you don’t need the best, X-Rite and a few other manufacturers produce alternatives, such as the ColorMunki Photo or Display Pro that we briefly looked at earlier. Hopefully if you are just considering calibration for the first time, you’ll have a slightly better idea now of what is available, from X-Rite at least. If you print to a large format printer though, or you have to create totally color accurate images for your customers, I suggest you take a good look at the i1Photo Pro 2. It’s simply the best.

If you are still wondering why you should even calibrate in the first place, stay tuned for next week’s Podcast which will be a Webinar that I just finished this morning, with Photoshelter and X-Rite, and we talked about that very topic in some detail.

B&H Affiliate Links

Please click here to visit my color management gear landing page on B&H Photo’s Web site.

Color Management


Show Notes

X-Rite ColorMunki Review

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Review

Music by UniqueTracks


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

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Podcast 301 : How to Create Really Punchy Images!

Podcast 301 : How to Create Really Punchy Images!

In September, I had a conversation by mail with a friend that some of you may know from the MBP Community, Jared Fein. Jared had taken a look at the images on 500px following Episode 295 : An Introduction to 500px, and asked how people achieve the punchy look that you often see there. I replied and the communication resulted in Jared making some progress in his photography, so today, I’m going to discuss what I told Jared, and include some other tools and techniques that you might consider.

Over the years, I’ve slowly changed how I make my images pop, and although I’ve discussed most of this in previous Podcasts, I’m going to briefly touch on this again, but let’s start with a bit of history.

Lens Quality Matters

Firstly, around eight years ago, I’d noticed that some of my images were pretty flat, and lacked contrast, and I remember someone telling me the last thing that I wanted to hear, and that was that my 100-300mm lens, one of three lenses that I’d been using for well over ten years, was a piece of crap. Until that point, I’d figured that a lens is a lens, is a lens. I’d just started using my first DSLR at the time, which was the Canon EOS D30, with the promise that I already had my three lenses, so all I needed to do was replace the camera body.

Well, if you know how many lenses I own now, you’ll be sniggering as you’ve probably witnessed me slipping down this very slippery slope, but basically, I pretty much immediately realized that two of my three lenses were indeed pieces of crap. The only lens that I could have kept was my 24mm F2.8 prime lens, but the 1.6X crop factor on the D30 caused me to set foot on that slippery slope and buy the old 17-35mm F2.8 lens, so I sold the 24mm. My mid-range zoom and long zooms were soon replaced too, and I noticed that my images now had much more depth and contrast. Luckily, now, some eight years on, even the crappiest kit lens is better than the my two old zoom lenses, so this is no long such an issue, but I mention this, because if you are shooting with really old lenses and unhappy with the image quality, it matters.

The D30 was a revolutionary camera, but the way it processed images did leave a lot to be desired. The JPEGs were OK-ish, but the RAW files were totally flat, and we didn’t have Lightroom and Camera Profiles back then to fix it. The only two options at the time were Canon’s Digital Photo Professional which remains the son of satan to this day, and never even get’s installed on my computers any more, or Photoshop. I remember that I would run entire batches of images through Photoshop, just automatically applying auto-curves, and watch the image just pop as the curves were applied.

Canon’s Picture Styles

With the 10D though, I think it was, Canon introduced Pictures Styles, which I thought was a huge step in the right direction. In my film days, I used to shoot FujiChrome Velvia which was really heavily saturated, as I’ve always been partial to very rich colors, and Velvia gave me exactly that. Now with the Landscape Picture Style, I could get that Velvia look from my DSLR. The problem at the time though, was that Pictures Styles are proprietary, and only Digital Photo Professional could develop RAW images and maintain the Picture Style.

Then Adobe developed Lightroom which I fell in love with from the initial Beta stages, although I was hesitant to shift my workflow to Lightroom because of a lack of Picture Styles. After a bit of experimentation though, I found that if I added between 25 and 50 on the Red saturation slider, and around 18 on the Blue and Green saturation sliders, the result was very much like the Landscape Picture Style, and my old Velvia positive film, so I was able to fully switch to Lightroom. I would apply this saturation to pretty much everything I shot during import, and it worked for most of my work.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

Adobe then developed Camera Profiles, that were very similar to Canon’s Pictures Styles, which I also tried from time to time, but couldn’t really beat my simple saturation boost. This brought us to around two years ago now, and at the end of 2009, and by now, I’d been happy with my images for a few years, and producing nice crisp, and punchy images, but then I bought an X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, and it transformed my photography again.

I reviewed the ColorChecker Passport and posted a video for Episode 227, at the beginning of 2010, which you can still go back to and check if you want, but basically, you include a ColorChecker Passport target in an image when you start shooting, and then later on your computer, you use that image to create a Camera Profile that you can apply to your images just the same as your would any other Camera RAW Profile, under the Calibration section in Lightroom or Photoshop Camera RAW. When you do this though, the colors in an image just pop right out at you. Taking my word on this and picking up a ColorChecker Passport was Jared’s major breakthrough following our recent conversation.

Let’s take a look at a couple of images that I sent Jared to convince him that the ColorChecker would make his images pop! Firstly, here’s a White Tailed Eagle that I photographed in Hokkaido just after releasing Episode 227. It’s not a bad shot, but it’s nothing to write home about either.

Eagle Eye (No Processing)

Eagle Eye (No Processing)

Next though, here’s the same image with a Camera Profile that I made from a photo at this location including the ColorChecker Passport. This profile has become my standard Clear Winters Day profile for my 1Ds Mark III. If you can’t see the difference here, go to the gallery at the bottom of the blog post and click on the thumbnail of the first image, then click the right side of it to switch to the second image. The difference is obvious, and if it isn’t, you have a bigger problem in the your computer display seriously needs calibrating. 🙂

Eagle Eye (with ColorChecker Profile)

Eagle Eye (with ColorChecker Profile)

One thing to note though, is that I don’t apply ColorChecker Passport profiles to all of my images. I usually do this when I feel that the color could be enhanced, or when I’m shooting something that I need to be color accurate. Even so though, I’m very happy with the depth and punchiness of my color work, and wasn’t obvious why this is until I really thought about it to answer Jared’s question. Here are a few other things that I always do.

Never Use AWB!

Firstly, I never use Auto White Balance. AWB is the daughter of satin and should be banished from the planet along with DPP. Sure, Auto White Balance can get you close, and it is a lot better than it was until a few years ago, but still, it’s the result of the camera taking a look at the colors in the scene and/or the color of the light that falls on a sensor on some cameras, and even that light is reflected onto the camera from the scene you are photographing. The result is that if you are photographing a field full of red flowers, the camera will think the White Balance needs to be more blue, and cool it down. If you are shooting a field full of blue flowers, the opposite happens and your White Balance is warmed up.

I once shot for a few hours with my AWB turned on by mistake, having made number of exposures from exactly the same location of exactly the same subject but with very slight movements of the camera, the color was shifting all over the place. I thought maybe this was so, and checked the White Balance and it was on Auto. If you want to get close, and will reset your White Balance to something constant in post, then break a leg, but personally, I would rather have everything constant from the get-go, so I shoot with either a preset, usually Daylight, or a custom white balance created from the gray card included with the ColorChecker Passport. Usually if I do a custom white balance, I then follow on and shoot the main color target on the passport, and create a camera profile to really snap the colors in, but just have control over your White Balance can make a huge difference just by itself.

Expose to the Right

I also pretty much always use Manual Exposure. This can be scary, but taking control of your exposure makes you consciously think about how you are exposing the scene. Unless I’m going for a low-key, or overall dark image, I expose to the right. We’ve covered this before too, but generally what this means is that I keep increasing my exposure changing the shutter speed until the brightest part of my image is just about touching the right side of the histogram on the back of my camera. Note too that if your camera has the ability to display an RGB histogram, turn it on. The standard gray histograms are displaying an average of the Red, Green and Blue channels, and this can give you a false sense of security. Depending on your subject, one of the channels can start to blow out, or become over-exposed before the other channels, and it’s sometimes only possible to see this with an RGB histogram. So when I say that I expose to the right that means that the right-most color channel is just about touching the right side. The two other channels might still be a way off, but you don’t want to blow out any of the channels, unless on purpose or for specular highlights.

The reason this will help with the overall punchiness of your images, is because you’ll probably end up capturing your images a little bit brighter than your camera would if you left it to its own devices. Nice bright images will generally be punchier. If you don’t expose your images like this, just try grabbing the exposure slider in Lightroom, Photoshop’s Camera RAW, or Aperture or whatever, and move it to the right until the histogram data just about hits the right side. You should be able to see that this makes your images look light and crisp. If the images appear to blow out when you do this, without your histogram running up the right side, then you have your computer display set too bright.

Shoot on Overcast Days

Another thing that I do is purposefully choosing overcast days to shoot on. Sure, the eagle shot that we looked at earlier was a beautiful clear day, and that works well, especially with a field of snow to bounce lots of light back into the underside of the bird, but a lot of the time, I head out on overcast days more than sunny days, especially for landscape work. When you shoot on overcast days, you don’t have bright reflections to deal with, and the sky is like a huge soft box, spreading light evenly and filling in the harsh shadows that a sunny day would create.

Take a look at this shot of a waterfall in the Oirase valley shot on an overcast day. There are a couple of things to note here. Firstly, if this had been a sunny day, the water would have reflected the light so much that had I tried to keep the water from over exposing, the surrounding greenery would have been much darker, and the shadow areas would have been totally plugged up and black. Also, the moisture in the air either from the waterfall or some light rain will have been keeping the surrounding foliage wet, and wet foliage is much more saturated color-wise. Pun intended.

Oirase Choushi Ootaki (Big Falls)

Oirase Choushi Ootaki (Big Falls)

Shoot in the Shade

Note that even if you are going out to shoot a waterfall on a sunny day, try to find out what time of day it will be in the shade, perhaps shaded by the valley walls if they’re high enough. Although you’ll lose that soft box effect, it doesn’t necessarily have to be overcast, if you can find some good shade.

Something else to keep in mind though, and this will certainly improve the quality of light in your photographs, is try to get out to shoot during the Golden Hour around dawn or dusk. Because the sun is low in the sky the quality of light is beautiful and warm, and even if it’s direct sunlight, any shadows that are made at this time of day have a special quality. The light is just so much more pleasing than the harsh light of a sunny day.

My advice to shoot on overcast days or in the shade will help you to get nice saturated colors, but of course this depends on the kind of photography you’re doing. If you are shooting a beach scene, you may well want lots of sun, and a blue sky with some fluffy white clouds. Personally, as I look through my work over the last eight years or so, I can only find a handful of blue skies, in my landscape shots at least. They just don’t appeal to me. That really is my personal opinion though of course.

Black and White Skies

When I do include the sky, I generally want it to be thick with dramatic clouds, and then, I’ll usually end up creating a black and white image from the resulting shots. When there are patches of blue, I’ll generally still use that to create a dramatic black and white image, like this one from last weekend, that I shot with my Lensbaby Composer during a walk in the Shinjuku Gyoen Park here in Tokyo.

Cocoon in the City

Cocoon in the City

I knew as I shot this that it would be converted to black and white, but sometimes I’ll try black and white on finding that the color doesn’t work the way I’d hoped. For the last few years I’ve done more and more black and white conversions, and now since Nik Software released Silver Efex Pro 2 that we looked at a few weeks ago in Episode 297, I really have fell in love with this process. This of course is not about punchy colors, but you have to admit that these contrasty black and white images have a lot of punch still. More so than a color image in some cases.

Nik Software: Color Efex Pro 4

I was a big fan of Silver Efex Pro even before the upgrade to version 2, and Nik Software have done it again with the last thing that I wanted to cover on this subject today. Even though I owned Nik’s Color Efex Pro 3, that was included in the Complete Collection that I bought a few years ago, I never really used it, and didn’t keep it as an option in my mental image enhancement toolbox. A few days ago though, I downloaded gave the brand new Color Efex Pro 4 a try, and have been blown away.

I love the dramatic skies that Silver Efex Pro gives me, and now, with Color Efex Pro 4 and the ability to use multiple filters simultaneously, I can bring out detail to create those dramatic skies in my color images as well. I’ve been back and reprocessed some of my Antarctica shots from March this year, and I really love what I can now do with Color Efex Pro 4. Here’s an example of one of the newly processed images, with a shot I called Iceberg Alley. This first image is my original processing, in which I did already bring out part of the sky and that beautiful blue ice just below the surface of the water.

Iceberg Alley (original processing)

Iceberg Alley (original processing)

Here though is the new version re-edited with Nik’s Color Efex Pro 4. Again, to really appreciate the difference, flick between these using the gallery at the bottom of the blog post.

Iceberg Alley (Color Efex Pro 4 Processing)

Iceberg Alley (Color Efex Pro 4 Processing)

I’m not a fan of over-processed HDR images, but the effect I can get with Color Efex Pro 4 look to me like a really well done HDR. Lots of tonality and punchiness, so I figured it was worth a mention here today too. I’m going to be using this much more in the future. Remember that if you decided to buy this, or any of Nik Software’s amazing plugins, do use our code MBP15 for a 15% discount [this code is no longer valid] on your order, or click through from our banner on the right side of the blog.

By the way, once I’ve gotten a little more used to what Color Efex Pro 4 can do, I’ll produce a video to walk you through it, probably over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for that if you’re interested.

So, these are all of the things that come to mind as I’ve sought crisp and punchy images over the last eight years or so since picking up my first DSLR. I hope it’s been of some use.


Show Notes

ColorChecker Passport Review: https://mbp.ac/227

Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.


Podcast 254 : Color Managed Digital Workflow Seminar Report

Podcast 254 : Color Managed Digital Workflow Seminar Report

On Saturday August 7, 2010, I gave a full day seminar at X-Rite Japan, focusing on the Color Managed Digital Workflow. Today I’m going to run through the key areas we touched on, to hopefully spark some ideas for your own workflow.We had a great time on Saturday. My main objective was to relay many of the things that I bear in mind when shooting, from pre-capture, to all sorts of output methods, including slideshows, Web, PDFs and my personal favorite, prints.

Title Page of my PresentationWe also did some hands on exercises, where we all photographed the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, and created profiles to apply to images, and we ran through a printer/paper combination calibration, again to create a profile to apply when we print, to ensure accurate color throughout the digital workflow.

I started by talking about why calibration and color management is important. I’ve heard it said that it’s important to calibrate our monitors, because it puts us all on a level playing field, and we know that other people will see our images as we expect them to see them. This is only true in very limited circumstances. They basically need to be using the same monitor and profile, with all the settings exactly the same, and viewing their screen under the same ambient lighting conditions that you do.

Of course this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to calibrate your monitor, far from it, but the main reason is so that you are in full control of your workflow through to output. You need to know that you are starting at the right place, so that you can proceed to work on your images with confidence, right through to the print. The print in my opinion is one output format that you can control how people view your images to a pretty high degree. Of course, prints are still affected by the ambient lighting conditions under which the viewer views them, but our eyes often compensate for that better than you might think, and you can adjust to certain viewing conditions if necessary. The fact that you have a calibrated monitor will of course help others to see your work as close to your intended finished images as possible, but don’t expect your images to be the same on all other monitors.

One major theme throughout the day was that I wanted to impress on the participants the importance of making everything you do, as stress free as possible. I turned up for the seminar in my usual shooting clothes. I explained how I buy quick drying outdoor gear, and will always choose something with a collar when possible, because this stops the camera strap from chafing your neck, especially when it’s hot and sweaty as it is in the Tokyo summers. I also mentioned that I always buy neoprene or some kind of elasticated camera straps, because these help to make the camera feel lighter than the straps that come with the camera. I also always buy straps that have clips to remove the strap easily when you are using a tripod, especially when shooting long exposure images, because the strap can catch the wind and vibrate the camera.

I also showed the group my Black Rapid straps, that I use for fast past hand-held shooting. I use single straps when I only use one body, or the double strap when I shoot with two bodies, like when I’m shooting wildlife. I also fit my straps with Really Right Stuff quick release clamps, so that I can quickly change bodies and lenses without having to screw things into my plates. I use Really Right Stuff plates and L-Brackets, because the all have screw threads, so I can screw the Black Rapid straps into them pretty easily, but I generally try to use the quick release clamps, and remember that I have Really Right Stuff plates on every camera body and lens that has a tripod collar. Everything is interchangeable, and very fast to switch between.

I spoke about the importance of shooting RAW, to give yourself the best possible image quality, and not so that you can change settings as an afterthought, or rely on getting the exposure right after the event. This will always result in lower quality images, and I suggest that we all strive to become better photographers, and get it right in the field. You only want to be changing exposure in post, if you messed up in the field, and have no other choice. Even then, having a RAW image instead of a JPEG, will give you much more latitude.

We talked about some auto-focus techniques, like using LiveView to tweak focus, and then moved on a simple studio setup, where I set up a graduated gray background, and set up some small constant daylight balanced lights that are OK for small subject still life work. I’d bought some flowers, which we would shoot, but before we did that, I took the group through the process of shooting the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport gray card, then setting a custom white balance, and then shooting the Passport’s Classic Target which we’d use to create our DNG profile, and we included the Color Enhancement Target, which we’d also use later to tweak White Balance when necessary.

Setting up the lights (Copyright © Lem Fugitt - http://www.robots-dreams.com)

Setting up the lights (Copyright © Lem Fugitt – http://www.robots-dreams.com)

I also shot the same flowers after putting orange gels over the studio lights, and we turned down the ambient light in the room, so that the orange light was the main light source. You can see the difference in the following two images. The first is the first gray card, shot with the daylight preset, and then the second image is the gray card under the orange light, shot with the custom white balance that we assigned having shot the first gray card.

Gray Card Under Daylight Balanced Lights

Gray Card Under Daylight Balanced Lights

Gray Card Under Orange Gelled Lights

Gray Card Under Orange Gelled Lights

The difference in the color of light is striking, and yet we went on to shoot the flowers again under the orange light, but with the correct white balance for that light, and this is the resulting image. It is correctly balanced, and looks exactly the same as the first photo of the flowers that was made with the daylight balanced light source.

Flowers, Shot Under Orange Gelled (Tungsten) Lights

Flowers, Shot Under Orange Gelled (Tungsten) Lights

This image also of course has the DNG profile that we created from our X-Rite ColorChecker Passport shots, using the Lightroom Plugin that comes with the Passports applied. I took the group through how to create the profiles, and we then applied them to our images, and with the colors in the flowers that I selected, you could really see the subtle pinks in the carnations and the violet colored flowers to the right pop as we assigned the profile. I’d wanted to bright reds and pure blues, because these really pop, but couldn’t find these colored flowers. When we assigned the profile to the photo of the ColorChecker Passport used to create the profiles though, again, we could see all of these colors just pop into place. It’s really quite impressive to see.

I explained to the group too that I used to add saturation to my images, with a preset that I created years ago to emulate FujiChrome Velvia, which was a heavily saturated slide film that I used back in the day, and still really like the look of. I actually used to apply +25 on the Blue and Green sliders, and +50 on the Red sliders in Lightroom. Then as cameras changed and RAW images got a little punchier right out of the camera, I dropped this down to +18 on the Blue and Green, and +25 on the Red channels. Now, with the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport and the accompanying software to create my profiles, I find that the colors pop enough, and look so natural, that I no longer need to adjust the saturation of my images in Lightroom. I just create the profile, or use one that I already have from similar lighting conditions, and the images look exactly how I want them to.

Trying to be as thorough as possible, I gave a brief talk on Depth of Field, but as it was such a full day, I’m going to be dropping this and a few other subjects from future seminars. Everyone agreed that the day was very useful, but we covered a little too much, so I’m going to be tweaking the contents for the next time. This took us to our morning break, where I actually ended up showing the group how I configure my tripod to get down to ground level for macro or ultra-low angle photography. They were hungry for all sorts of information, so it was a pleasure to be working with them, and not having a break didn’t bother me, or the group.

After the break, I spoke about customizing the ID Plate and the Panel End Marks in Lightroom, and we moved on to some of my most used Keyboard Shortcuts. I’m not going to go through these here, but I do want to stress the importance of learning shortcuts for everything that you do regularly on your computer. If you ever watch a professional graphic designer, or anyone that spends a lot of time in an application, it’s often difficult to even see what they are doing, because they make such extensive use of keyboard shortcuts. If you have to reach for the mouse every time you want to make a selection, it can really slow you down.

We talked about rating images too. Not just on the keyboard shortcuts to help us to work through lots of imags quickly and efficiently, but also the importance of a good edit of your selection. I also mentioned that you want to edit differently depending on the type of photographs you are editing down. For example, for your portfolio, you only want to include your very best images. Your portfolio is only as good as your worst image.

For clients, you don’t want to only include images that you like. If you have a bunch of images that are technically accurate and artistic, but you just don’t like them, you’ll do your client a disservice by at least not showing them a selection of these shots, because there may be something in there that really sings to them. Indeed, I often find that the images that my clients select are the images that I least expect them too, so leave in anything that is technically good and well balanced. Do though, remove duplicates. If you have 5 shots of essentially the same thing, get rid of four of them. Don’t make your client, or your family members and friends for that matter, look through all of your images. It’s your job to make that selection, not theirs.

Having explained all about the import dialog, and how heavily I rely on presets through my entire Lightroom workflow, we went on to actually import our images of the Passport and the flower shots that we’d shot earlier. We changed the file name on import, as well as deciding on a file organization strategy, and we added our generic keywords, all on import, so that we don’t have to mess around do that later. My general rule of thumb is do everything as early in the workflow as possible. Everything that you put off for later, will take more time to revisit. I even apply a metadata preset that fills out my copyright information in all of my images, right there on import.

We also discussed Collections and Sets and organization images once you have them on the hard drive, after which we went on to actually calibrate our monitors. I went through the process myself, and then the group all calibrated their monitors using the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo, and that took us to lunch time.

Syncronized Monitor Calibration

Syncronized Monitor Calibration

After lunch, now that we had calibrated monitors, a bunch of our own images and the photos of the ColorChecker Passport on our hard drives, we went on to use the Lightroom plugin that comes with the Passport to create a DNG Profile. We also created a profile with the desktop utility that also comes with the passport, which you have to use on occasion if the Lightroom plugin can’t find the registration marks that it needs to identify the color target, in your photo of the Passport.

My ColorChecker Passport, Shot Under Orange Lights

My ColorChecker Passport, Shot Under Orange Lights

On applying the profiles we could see the color pop in, as I mentioned earlier, and I also showed the group how you can use the Color Enhancement Target on the Passport to modify the white balance by clicking on the slightly warmer or cooler white balance patches that X-Rite included in the target. This in really useful if you want to warm up or cool down an image after the event. Remember that the passport will give you accurate color balance, but at the end of the day, how you want the image to look is part of your artistic vision, so it’s nice to have the tools to modify this quickly, easily and reliably.

I also pointed out that once you have your profiles, you can apply them not only in Lightroom, but they also appear in the Camera Calibration section of Adobe Camera RAW, that you use from Bridge or Photoshop. I also mentioned that X-Rite have now provided a tool called the DNG Profile Manager, that can be downloaded after you register your ColorChecker Passport, and this helps you to manage the profiles on your hard disk, filtering by camera, and changing the names etc. We also touched on the importance of backing up your profiles, because they are stored on the system drive and would be lost if you re-install your computer.

We then went through some of the common editing tools that you have in Lightroom, like the Dust Removal tool, Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter, and I spoke a little about the histogram, and how to use it as a guide, both when shooting and editing images, and how to use the over or under-exposure warnings while editing images too. We worked through cropping and rotating images, the new Lens Correction in Lightroom 3, and Vignettes, and I showed the group a few trick to easily reset sliders by double clicking on its text label, or how you can reset entire groups of sliders or settings, by double clicking on the group’s text label. You can also do this by holding the ALT key down and single clicking the group label.

We did some Black and White and Duotone conversions in Lightroom, and I cranked up Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro to walk the group through what I did on one of my favourite black and white images. I also demonstrated how to add frames and watermarks to images during export from Lightroom using the LR/Mogrify 2 plugin, from Timothy Armes. We walked through how to create Slideshows and export them as both a PDF, and as a Video, which again is new in Lightroom 3, and we looked at the Web Gallery options, which took us to the afternoon break time.

After the break, we walked through creating a printer profile for your printer and paper combinations, using the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo. The great thing about the ColorMunki Photo is that you use it to calibrate both your monitor and your printer. You can also calibrate projectors with it, so it’s a very versatile tool, especially for the price. If you missed it recently, I actually released a video walking you through the process of calibrating your monitor and printer with the ColorMunki, in Podcast episode 249, so check that our if you’re interested. I also included a section on how to optimize profiles in both the video and the seminar.

Printer Calibration Charts (Copyright © Lem Fugitt - http://www.robots-dreams.com)

Printer Calibration Charts (Copyright © Lem Fugitt – http://www.robots-dreams.com)

We then went on to take a look at the Lightroom Print module, and actually printed out some of our photographs of the flowers that we’d shot. I discussed presets again, as I probably use more presets in the print module than any other module, because of all of the combinations of papers and print sizes, as well as various types of borders. I also showed the group my Excel spreadsheet that I created to calculate the size of my borders and the cell sizes that contain the images, so that I can ensure that my images occupy the same percentage of the paper in relation to the border, across all of my fine art prints.

Marcus, Eiji and Lem

Marcus, Eiji and Lem

We then covered soft proofing in Photoshop CS5, and moved on to the importance of backing up our images, both at home, off-site, and in the cloud, with services like Backblaze and Mozy. This took us to the end of the day, and although one guy had to leave as soon as we’d finished, to watch some fireworks with his family, we hung back a little longer, and did a little more printing, courtesy of X-Rite, and discussed the day.

All in all the feedback was that the seminar was very useful, though I could cut out a few areas, and I fully intend to do that. As my first attempt at this totally home grown workshop though, I was really pleased with how it went. I hope you also got something out of listening to how the day progressed today as well.

Marcus and Eiji (from X-Rite Japan)

Marcus and Eiji (from X-Rite Japan)

Before I wrap up, I would publicly like to publicly thank the folks at X-Rite for loaning the color management tools, and the room in their offices to enable me to deliver this seminar. I really appreciate all of your support, and especially would like to thank Eiji, for not only spending his Saturday with us, but for also helping on some of the technical areas that I would not have been able to answer accurately without his help. Thanks Eiji!

I’d also like to thank the guys that turned up for the seminar, and shared their Saturday with me. It was a pleasure to meet those that I’d not met before, and to see those that I had met before again. Thanks for your incredible feedback too, especially Marcus, who just sent me some of the most valuable feedback I could have possibly wished for. Also, thanks to Lem Fugitt, of www.robots-dreams.com, for the photos that you took during the day, some of which you kindly allowed me to use in the Podcast and blog post today.


Podcast show-notes:

Details of the seminar: http://bit.ly/mbpcmdw

My video on the X-Rite ColorMunki Photo: http://bit.ly/mbpcmp

ColorMunki on B&H: http://bit.ly/mbpbhcmp

ColorChecker Passport on B&H: http://bit.ly/mbpbhpassport

X-Rite Product Details: http://www.xritephoto.com/

Checkout X-Rite’s Webinars here: http://www.xritephoto.com/ph_learning.aspx?action=webinars

Music created and produced by UniqueTracks.


Audio

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