I have been a custom printer and film photographer for more than 20 years. I used to shoot an event and send the film to a lab. The proofs were only as good as the lab that printed them.
Today’s photographer has to wear many hats. With so many things to think about about—from color theory, color management, resolution, and TIFF vs. JPEG vs. RAW, to uploading, FTP sites, and PDFs—the learning curve can be quite steep.
I had heard that a digital workflow offers endless opportunities for the professional photographer to create unique and individualized images that could excite clients and help generate increased sales. Still, I balked at entering the digital age for a longer time than the average photographer. Countless late nights sitting at the computer working images, Photoshop, and a little mouse as my only companion just didn’t sound appealing.
Recognizing the sound of the coming digital express train, I decided to buy a ticket to Kevin Kubota’s “Digital Da Vinci” mini digital boot camp, offered by Imaging Workshops of Colorado (coloradoworkshops) this past summer. I wanted to find out if digital is the advantage I had been seeking.
Seeing is Believing
Within the first hour of the five-day workshop, I had my proof. I was a convert. When Kevin shared his post-production workflow using Adobe CS2 Bridge, I saw that with RAW capture digital can be easy, fun, fast, and efficient. I was further amazed to see that image quality rivals that of traditional film capture.
Using RAW capture coupled with Adobe Bridge I can edit, sort, crop, renumber, rename files, adjust my color temperature, add vignettes on one or all images, process, and save images in a matter of minutes—without even opening Photoshop.
Previously, when I captured a JPEG or TIFF image, it would literally take me hours in post-production time. The icing on the cake at Kevin’s workshop was the introduction of countless pre-recorded yet completely modifiable actions, which can be easily loaded into Photoshop. The many hours I had spent on each image, burning, dodging, and creating special effects are now just a mouse click away.
Putting Kubota’s Actionsto Work
In addition to saving me time and effort, Kevin’s actions help me add distinctive looks to my images.
Take a look at the “before” image of Michael (below, left). While it is generally acceptable, I wanted to create an image that is a reflection of my style. First, I used KPD Hollywood Intensity from Kubota Artistic Actions Vol. II v 2.3. This technique automatically cleans up the skin and produces a hard highlight with soft edges.
Next, I used my favorite action, the “star vignette,” to draw attention to the model’s face. Finally, to create the antique feel of this fashion image, I used Kevin’s B&W Modern Antique action, and modified it to suit my taste. It literally took me longer to select a border from Kubota’s Sloppy Border Vol. One DVD than to modify the image.
The Biker image was photographed with a Lensbaby. I wanted a more defined look, so I intensified the effect with Kubota’s Modified Edge Blur. Next, I added a “Tone Blue 2” from Kubota Artistic Pak I, followed by a Grain #2 action from the same CD, and modified the actions for style.
I created the Dalmatian image for a theater friend in New York. I had shot this image with a low-megapixel camera and wanted a larger image. By using Kevin’s “Res up 110 bicubic smooth” action, from his Kubota Production Pak CD, the resolution increased without pixilating. I enhanced the eyes and skin using his Portrait Set Up.
The workshop reinforced my knowledge of traditional photography and gave me the confidence to marry that knowledge with new technology. I came away with the tips I need to maintain my creative edge and increase my sales.
Kubota’s workshop goal was to “empower photographers.” His generous sharing of knowledge did precisely that.