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Gorman Gets A-Depp At Digital



TEXT BY ERIN HARRINGTON-PLONSKI • IMAGE BY GREG GORMAN

This issue's Cover Technique explores how famed photographer Greg Gorman made his move to digital.

An analogue photographer for many years, Gorman admits he had a bit of trepidation about moving into shooting digitally professionally. "I'd done shoots with digital cameras," he recalls, "But to introduce it into my commercial workflow was another thing."

While shooting the Pirates of the Caribbean campaign with Johnny Depp (an old friend), which was done on film with a Hasselblad, the two agreed to take a stab at doing some digital shots, as well. It was all in fun, more or less an experiment for Gorman, to try and get more comfortable with the process. He did.

"I think it took a few shoots like that one with Johnny, and some of the other shoots that I've done, to virtually bolster my confidence and put me in a situation where I felt comfortable enough to do that," he notes. "Now, I basically do all of my editorial work digitally, unless a magazine has a gross aversion to me shooting digitally. That's usually just a color management issue because their staff doesn't know how to color manage the images and that's the biggest issue. They're used to having a third party production facility to do their scanning and color manage their files. A lot of those houses now are kind of scoffing at photographers shooting digitally because it's cutting out their work. It's cutting out the middle man and what it allows one to do, if you're aware of how you're working and the medium in which you're working is to have much more control over your work."

And that's the beauty of it for Greg Gorman. "It brings the control back to the photographer. It's not in somebody else's hands to interpret your imagery." Now, all of his work is being scanned, retouched, and finished digitally.

Pirates of the Caribbean, was shot in the studio, using a crushed, antique red velvet background. Greg set the Canon IDS color matrix to four, and shot with the Canon 70-200 USM lens at 125th of a second between 11 1/2 between Comet strobes. The final image reflects the drama, and although it isn't the image being used to plug the movie, it certainly served Greg Gorman's purposes of getting more adept at digital. The transition has impacted his workflow significantly. "It's allowed me instant gratification," Greg notes. "I'm ultimately able to know when I've got my shot and, at that point, I can take chances. It gives me more freedom to be more experimental, whereas with film, I'm more conscious of trying to make sure I've got the image With digital, once I know I've got the shot and I'm covered, I can take it to the next level and maybe try to do something a little more out there, a little more extreme than, let's say, Greg Gorman, for example, might be known for."

Like anything else, though, there are pros and cons. For Greg, the pros are the instant capture, the quality, the way that digital sees light much better than film. The cons are that, in post, in editing, it eats up all his free time! "I really don't allow anybody else to do anything, like I do with film. I'm spending ten times as much time trying to finish up my images then I was previously, where I could just edit a roll of film and boom, it's done. Now, going through the images, editing them, and retouching them, it's a much longer process."

GORMAN'S GEAR BOX: Here, Greg shares with DI readers some insights into the hardware and software he uses to continually master the art of photography.

A MACINTOSH PLATFORM: "I'm working with everything from the Dual 1 gig to the Dual 1.42 gig processors."

SONY ARTISAN MONITORS: "I really love these monitors, the calibration systems and the color spaces that they offer. I'm extremely happy with them.They work within Artisan's color reference system, so I'm able to calibrate the monitors and know they're all going to be very accurate, one to the next. I can have conversations with my retoucher in Santa Barbara and know, with full confidence, that what I'm seeing on my monitor is what he's seeing on his."

EPSON PRINTER (7600 TO THE 9600) "These printers are great, and the papers I like to print on are the Somerset Velvet for Epson and the Epson Velvet Fine Art. I like to differentiate that area of my work from my silver prints, so I tend to print on the more textured fine art papers. It gives my pictures a different look and separates them from the pictures that are printed on silver gelatin papers with a traditional photographic process."

FILM "When I do shoot film, and I still shoot quite a bit of B&W film, I tend to shoot Plus-X and Tri-X."

IMACON 848 SCANNER "I scan the film on the Imacon 848. It's a really spectacular scanner. I've worked with Imacon for a great deal of time and I rely on that, for my Legacy files and current film projects that I shoot. "

GRETAG MACBETH "I work with Gretag Macbeth for all my color management. For creating my profiles, Gretag Macbeth is a great solution because, from start to finish, I can calibrate my monitor, my scanner, my cameras, my printers, with tremendous accuracy. As well, I use a third party RIP for printing through the Epson printers, the Color Byte ImagePrint 5.6 and I find I do very well with it."

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