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|
|Life exhibit at the Volkswagen Automobil Forum, Berlin, Germany|
Once the images are managed and processed per the exact specifications of the final output, Lanting sends the images to be printed at one of a number of services he has come to trust. With the advances in digital technology and the history of close communication with his printers, Lanting is confident that the files he sends will result in images that meet his exacting standards.
"We optimize, we size the files for the appropriate print output, and we send a match print along, or we get a proof from the service and then we sign off on it," says Lanting. "There's a remarkable consistency these days between the files that we're able to produce, which are really optimized for particular applications. The kinds of vagaries that used to exist, where you had to go through several rounds of proofing, have been far reduced."
Frans Lanting has released over a dozen photo books covering various topics from jungles to penguins, and despite obstacles and technical limitations, he has maintained his standards in them all. The color gamut of the CMYK printing processes that photo books undergo is vastly inferior to the color-representation ability of the native files that Lanting starts with. This presents a different challenge to Lanting and his team—to ensure that the book images represent the intended vision of the original photographs. Lanting manages the difference by maintaining the original relationships between the represented colors while simultaneously accepting the reduction in overall color quality.
LIFE cover image with text
With careful file handling and image compression, the vast array of colors available in the native color gamut can be reasonably reproduced in the final CMYK separation used in book publishing. "We typically package the books for the publisher, so we go all the way up to prepress. We work with the designer, and we deliver the files that go directly to the printer, so we deliver them in RGB form, and they do the CMYK conversion," Lanting explains.
How the publisher then manages the files can't necessarily be controlled, but with accurate ICC profiles from the press, the final output can be more trusted. If necessary, Lanting can still visit the press and review the printing during the assembly process once the large sheets have been printed. This type of review might still be necessary for certain high-end publications, but Lanting says that the need has been mostly eliminated with the advances of digital technology. "It used to be that press checks were essential in order to safeguard quality," Lanting admits, "but these days, with the alignment between the files that we pass on to the printers along with match prints, the shared vocabulary is so good that I don't even need to go and do actual checks anymore."
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