Long time no see.
I have been crazy busy over the last few weeks. Daughter No. 1 is having her first baby, My friend and colleague just acquired $50K worth of Hasselblad 50 megapixel goodness he needed some help sorting out. A little work on some other projects. Getting ready for a new workshop promotion (not mine - I am helping with the media production for someone else). Tearing my hair out over the D7000 presets, etc, etc. Wrapping things up so that I can take two days off to play around in NYC for photoplusexpo or whatever it's called this week.
First off the D7000 color presets. Grrrrr. I have been fiddling with these things for over a month. It's not a matter of being done or not done. It's more a matter of playing with compromises and usability for something that I am actually going to charge a few bucks for. First off - they are not perfect in every picture taking scenario. They cannot be due to issues I have described before regarding the closeness or lack of differentiation in certain hues. Maddening. This makes me even more curious as to how well the Datacolor calibrator for Aperture 3 actually works considering it uses the same mechanisms I am trying to use for the presets. My bet - not that well depending on how obsessive you are.
In the past I have developed Aperture presets that get me close to what I want in my Nikon cameras and then gone from there with fine tuning of the color based on the scene. In putting together something that I am actually going to charge a couple of bucks for I am trying to somehow bundle my thought process into quick and easy with not a lot of additional thought required to get Nikon shooters to where they want to be. Not easy. Still working on it. Maybe I will just release what I have now at a really low price as version 1 with full disclosure (unlike some other folk that don't even mess with the hue issues - huh) and develop a version 2 using customer feedback with what would be most valuable to people… with a discounted of free update to version 2? Suggestions?
Moving on - color. When I shoot projects for myself I tend toward shooting black and white. I love black and white for my own personal endeavors. Way back when I shot commercial work I shot 99% color and color was very important to me. I have ranted before that for the most part digital color sucks with a few rare exceptions that cost major bucks. It takes way way too much work that I am not interested in doing to make it look "real" and "good" and "natural" - especially skin. Film = shoot and done. Digital = shoot and mess about with it to get it anywhere near as real/good/natural as film. I am not talking about LOUD - loud is easy. I am actually starting to think that as a society our collective visual perception is being dulled and slowly our perception is moving towards only being able to evaluate grotesque differences because of how lousy most of the color we all see everyday in photographs. No subtlety at all. Subtlety and gradation have left the building.
Case in point. Here is a D7000 RAW processed and neutralized - the grays at least via the latest greatest version of Adobe ACR…
And here is the wildest color neg film available, Kodak Ektar 100.
Yea, yea, yea, I didn't focus the film perfectly, I didn't even bother to blow the dust of the negative prior to scanning so it's gritty and grimy. Yea the digital looks clean and smoooooooooooooooth. Both images have a very similar overall and mid-tone contrast curve. If at all possible try to just look at the color. Some of you may prefer the digital color - my bet if you do is because that is what you are so accustomed to seeing at this point. Now look closer - see the lack of differentiation in the yellow and the green patch above and to the left? Look at the purple patch - now the red - now the blue that is close to a primary. I am sitting here looking at the images as well as the actual color target - forget accuracy, let's talk "real". The D7000 version looks sort of like a cartoon compared to the film. In fact that is the real issue - it's very much like a cartoon. Deep colors are not "deep" - they are thin and just build up saturation. The deeper and more saturated the patch on the chart the more apparent it is. Look at the darkest/deepest/most saturated of all the colors in each image and this should be amazingly evident.
Secret #452: Putting more saturation in is EASY. Taking it out does not improve things or increase subtle gradation - it just makes it dull. Loud cartoony color with no differentiation and subtle gradation is not "good color". Just my opinion.
NYC - photoplusexposuperdupershow, or whatever it's called. Anyone else going - I am leaving tomorrow and coming back Friday night. Drop me a line and maybe we can meet up… Always love chatting it up with fellow photo-nut-cases.