Improving Fast… :)
So it’s been half a year since I last updated this blog, but in that time I’ve been doing a LOT of photography and continuing to learn from books, magazines, exhibitions, other photographers, and above all, experience. I’ve become much better at wielding my mighty 5DmkII – when I first got it, it was slightly overwhelming with all the functions and doodads, but now I can set it up and run it like it’s second nature. I also got a new lens for it, the 24-105mm f/4 L. The 50mm f/1.4 is still an incredibly good lens, but I’ve had countless occasions when I’ve wished I had a wide-angle or a bit of zoom, and the new lens means I can get some experience in a few different genres of photography – particularly landscape photography, for which I’ve also just purchased a top-of-the range Circular Polarising filter.
I’ve also been putting together an excellent digital studio. It all started when I put together a collection of portraits, doing my editing and proofing on a 6-bit Cold Cathode monitor… with disastrous results! Because of the limited colour gamut of the monitor and the cold temperature cast of the cold cathode backlights, the whole set came out with a yellow cast when viewed on my excellent graphics workstation at work!
I realised that if I was going to get decent results I’d need to be sure that the images I was creating would look good and display and print properly. What’s the point of taking great photos if they all have funny colours when they go out to print? So – I now have a wide-gamut 8-bit, 28-inch monitor, and I’ve been so happy with it I’m now looking at buying an Eizo 16-bit monitor. 🙂 Here’s a photo from my most recently post-produced set showing much better colour control:
On the software side of things, I’ve been very conscious of developing good workflows to ensure I have backups of my work and consistency of production. I’ve now set up a digital workflow using Lightroom and Photoshop, with various plugins and managers along the way to refine the process for particular kinds of work (portraits, landscapes, etc). One big discovery was that a lot of the work I’ve done in the past has been exported or saved using non-optimal colour spaces. As a result, some of the colours have looked a bit funny on screen (e.g. shadow tones on skin and hair) and I’ve pulled my hair our wondering why they looked so bad! Turns out I’ve needed to manage my colour spaces a bit better, and/or use the correct export features in Photoshop to ensure the exported shots look as good as what I’ve created in Lightroom/Photoshop.
So… 2009 was a big year of learning. The goal in 2010 is to start putting all these skills to the test and start creating commercial-quality and competition-worthy images and products. Look out for my new digital design & photography website, coming soon… 🙂