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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Photograph Of Many Uses

Frans Lanting takes us through his workflow for optimizing and tracking a photograph through multiple end uses


This Article Features Photo Zoom
Between books, museum prints, projected multimedia shows and other displays, Frans Lanting frequently has to process individual image files multiple times. Getting each output to look consistent is a challenge—one that he and his talented studio staff work hard to get right every time. ABOVE: Frans Lanting at a 1997 press check for the Eye to Eye book, Germany.


World-renowned photographer Frans Lanting, director of projects and processes at the Frans Lanting Studio, has everything covered. Lanting has developed a comprehensive approach to photography, including capture, processing and distribution of high-quality images for limitless applications. From the highly precise original photography that Lanting creates to the scanning, postprocessing and optimization for final output, the Frans Lanting Studio is dedicated to perfecting images. Lanting and his team have managed images intended for every market, from standard web applications to fine-art prints and books to images printed on massive tiles or projected on 45-foot-wide screens.

Exterior installation image at Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands.
Workflow
The flexibility that the studio provides for various output applications has fixed Lanting as an industry leader for a variety of unique image solutions. His work can be found applied to the exterior walls of a museum or projected behind the inspiring and motivating speakers of the TED Conferences.

Lanting understands the complexities of providing images for a variety of applications, and because of that, no matter the final output, his workflow always starts with the highest-quality source material available.

"My images are used for a great variety of applications," Lanting explains. "Depending on the need, we provide lower-resolution scans or we make drum scans available. Or now, of course, in the era of digital capture, we make the highest-quality original files available."

For his current photography, Lanting works with Nikon cameras—specifically, the D3X and the D700—and RAW files to create the highest-quality digital file that he can when on location. When images from his film catalog need to be processed, Lanting and his team create drum scans or Imacon scans through a trusted service or as in-house camera scans so they can start at the same place for the remainder of their workflow.


Jungles exhibit installation, National Geographic Society's Explorers Hall.
Once the files are organized in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, Lanting and his group process each image with their basic Photoshop CS5 workflow. Starting with a 16-bit file in the native color space, the team works to create the appropriate contrast and density by setting the white point, black point and neutral grays. Once the beginning steps of the workflow are completed, which they refer to as the "priming" process, the images are flattened to 8-bit TIFF files and archived. Every image that goes through this procedure allows for a common starting point for the end-result applications, the variety of which is limited only by Lanting's imagination.

Fine-Art Prints
When a Lanting image is used for a fine-art print application, as with the vivid nature prints on display in his Jungles exhibit, the team starts with the archived TIFF file and applies a workflow to resize, color-correct and sharpen the image for the specific ink-and-paper combination and final print size to be used. The Frans Lanting Studio diligently works to reproduce the largest possible color gamut that the printing technologies can manage. To accomplish this, the team works to "reshape" the native RGB color space to exist within the boundaries of the color range that the ink-and-paper combination is able to reproduce.

 

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