Thanks so much to everyone who dropped by the Digital Workflow Experience booth at Photoshop World in Orlando. It was a great experience getting to meet you all and share my workflow with you. During each demonstration I walked people, step by step, through my workflow using the Digital Workflow Experience onsite photography studio and retouching workstation. Since I covered a lot of ground I thought it might be helpful to list the 10 workflow steps I demonstrated at Photoshop World.
- Lights: The first part of my Digital Workflow Experience presentation focused on some of the ways I like to use Speedlites in the studio. These amazing little lights can do quite a bit in the studio as well as on location. I use Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites and the Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT. I love this new radio based wireless system for it’s ease of use and simplicity. In this case I used between 1 – 4 Speedlites to demonstrate various lighting patterns and effects. If you’re interested in learning more about Canon Speedlites or lighting in general please check out my book, The Canon Speedlite System Digital Field Guide and my monthly lighting column in Shutter Magazine.
- Power: To keep my Speedlites powered up and moving fast I was using Lumedyne’s new X lithium batteries. These rechargeable batteries are slightly larger than a pack or tick tacks, plug directly into the high voltage jack on the side or front of the flash, requiring no straps or Velcro, and double my Speedlites recycle time!
- Light Modifiers: Whether I’m working in the studio or on location I look for light shaping tools that fit a variety of criteria. ExpoImaging’s Rogue Flash Benders and Grids are the prefect fit. They’re lightweight, affordable, multipurpose, and highly portable. Using various lighting setups I demonstrated how to create polished lighting effects by combining multiple Flash Bender XL’s in various configurations, using some as reflectors, some as softboxes and others as strip lights. To cast a soft circle of light on the background behind the model I used a Rogue grid spot.
- Grip equipment: The right light stands, grip heads and hardware make all the difference in the studio or on location. Robust equipment not only looks cool but protects your subjects as well as the investment you’ve made in equipment by making sure it’s secure and properly fastened. I was using Manfrotto’s Avenger C-stands and rolling stands during the Digital Workflow Experience.
- Background: The right background can make or break your concept and images. Drop it Modern’s Chevron Copper/Black backdrop perfectly complimented our model Ashley and the fashion/beauty style I was after.
- Tethered shooting: As I’m fond of saying “everything looks great in your camera’s 3” LCD”! Unfortunately later on, when you look at the same images on a full size studio monitor all the things you didn’t see on the back of your camera’s monitor can end up ruining your day. For this and other reasons I always shoot tethered so I can see exactly what’s being captured, how sharp it is, and what if any changes are necessary. Working this way also helps slow me down a little and approach things more thoughtfully and deliberately, always a good thing. This results in a higher percentage of successful images and images that require less retouching, in other words a more efficient workflow. Clients also love the immediate proofing. Shooting tethered pays huge dividends, and has saved my butt on more than one occasion, it’s definitely worth the extra effort. I use the Tether Tools Aero Master Table, TetherPro USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Cables and 3.0 Extension as well as a JerkStopper Camera Support to make sure my tethered shooting is fast, uninterrupted, secure, safe, and easy.
- Software: With the camera tethered to my laptop I used Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 to automatically import captured images and then opened my selects into Photoshop CS6 for additional post processing and finishing.
- Post processing: To take my images from ordinary to extraordinary I used onOne Software’s Perfect Photo Suite 7. This is a very powerful and full featured suite of tools that provides a complete imaging workflow solution. I started fine tuning my images by using Perfect Portrait’s facial recognition technology to help soften imprecations in my subject’s skin, while at the same time maintaining texture and detail where necessary. Here I was able to also whiten teeth and brighten eye whites. Once I was satisfied with the appearance of the skin I was ready to take things to the next level. I opened the image into Perfect Effects and choose from the myriad effects presets, effects brushes for local adjustments and seasoned to taste using the available custom controls until everything was exactly the way I wanted it. Perfect Effects, is extremely flexibility and allows anyone to quickly create compelling finished images that are truly their own. I also showed has easy it is to create timeless black and white images using Perfect B&W. There’s so much to this suite, I only had time time to show off 3 of it’s 7 integrated programs. So this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.
- Retouching: During the retouching portion of the Digital Workflow Experience I used Wacom’s Cintiq 24HD Touch Pen Display to work on my images directly onscreen with a pressure sensitive stylus. The Cintiq and Intuos 5 pen tablet are tools that I can’t image working without. I’m so comfortable with these tools and they’ve become so much a part of my daily workflow that I wonder how I ever got anything done without them. The Cintiq’s pressure sensitivity, programmable Express keys, Touch Wheel, and on screen heads-up Radial Menu, provides an efficient and customizable workflow that’s not only intuitive and natural feeling and but easy to use.
- Printing: This is final step in my workflow and one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the process for me. I’ve been producing images for over 35 years, working with wet darkroom techniques for 25 years, and I never imagined I’d embrace a fully digital workflow, let alone printing! The quality of Epson’s astonishing print technology has made my a convert. The transition form traditional printing techniques to digital has been a no brainer. I’m continually amazed by the quality and print sizes I’m able to produce right in my studio using my Epson printers. During the Digital Workflow Experience I demonstrated how quick and easy it is to produce beautiful prints with Epson’s Stylus Photo R3000 Inkjet Printer.
I hope this post inspires you to reach new heights in your workflow and clarifies any lingering questions you may have had, if not let me know. I look forward to seeing you all again next time. I’ll look for you at the next Digital Workflow Experience!