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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Douglas Dubler: Fine Art & Commerce

Douglas Dubler brings an artist’s sensibilities to every job he gets

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Advances In Camera Technology And The “Look” Of Photography
With such dramatic growth in camera technology and the tools to work with the files they make, Dubler simply believes that it’s never enough. He explains, “Friends often ask me, ‘When is enough going to be enough? When is the number of megapixels a camera can acquire going to be enough? When is an Epson printer going to print with enough resolution to match or surpass a wet-darkroom film print?’ And I tell them, ‘Never! It’s never going to be enough.’ In the case of Epson, they have already surpassed chemistry-based prints in accuracy, color gamut and longevity. I can create prints that have a much greater and more accurate range of color.”

Inspiration. Execution. Observation.
Dubler returns to explaining how this cycle of image-making and learning has added to his own personal knowledge base. “An important theme to me is the adage that knowledge is power. And this knowledge, as you know, changes every day, sometimes, every minute! If you’re not the person at the apex of this information, you’re yesterday’s news.”

According to Dubler, production value is what separates him from other photographers. To get the best production value, he tries to work with only the best models, stylists and makeup artists and then gives them the freedom to do their best work. In terms of the print, Dubler is very particular about skin tones and uses Leaf digital backs, which he feels have more of a film look and give the look of real skin. His makeup artist, Sylvia Pichler, applies makeup with an airbrush, which Dubler feels is much faster and more efficient.
Dubler’s participation in a variety of professional groups and working as a beta tester all serve to keep him in the loop and learning. “I’m fortunate to be a member of Epson Stylus Pros and am one of three people who are afforded the opportunity to beta-test new wide-format printing technologies,” he says. “I also enjoy a similar position with X-Rite, who’s the dominant supplier of color-management hardware and software, and as a member of their elite Coloratti group, we’ve helped them develop and better their technologies. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with them on the next generation of profiling software that will be a considerable leap forward.”

Dubler also has worked with X-Rite on the development of a product called Optical Brightener Compensation (OBC). As he explains, “It helps to compensate in building a print profile by taking into account the optical brightness of the paper and the viewing light source. You build your profile, and at the end of the process, just before you’re about to make the profile, you print out a gray ramp and put that into the viewing source that you would use to look at your prints and compare that to something they give you and cross reference how it looks to your color print patches. You then have an optical proof that compensates for the optical brightness in the paper. You can make this true for any color temperature that you know the paper will be viewed under, so that regardless of the light source—daylight, incandescent, fluorescent, etc.—by using OBC, you ensure that the colors print accurately.”

The Importance Of The Print
For Dubler, the end result of the cycle of inspiration, execution and observation is the print. “I go through all the trouble with the capture to get to the print; it’s a means to an end, and the end is the print,” he says. “So I’m going to use whichever technology is going to serve me in that regard. I’m always going to use the latest and the greatest technology and am going to combine that with my intuitive way of working with the hardware and the software. Whatever direction I see and can pursue in search of excellence is where I’m going. I don’t care where it is, to be honest.”

And to get to the print, Dubler has a demanding eye for skin tones. “I get the best skin tone from the Leaf digital backs as I’m very particular about that. From my years of beauty work, I’m known for being very particular about skin tones when I shoot. I have a very critical eye, and for me, the Leaf file looks more analog, more like film, more three-dimensional and, most important, more like real skin. And the files from the new Nikons are looking outrageous! I used the D3X for the studio shoot of Elodie with Sunflower. The color was so good right out of the camera that my retoucher did very little correction on the file. I like using a 35mm D-SLR in the studio because it’s light and I can maneuver closer to my subjects.”


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