DPP Home Profiles Douglas Dubler - Inspiration, Execution, Observation

Friday, June 8, 2007

Douglas Dubler - Inspiration, Execution, Observation

Douglas Dubler is the kind of pro who likes to have complete control over his work. He operates in an environment of tight schedules and highly demanding results.

The reality is that the digital pro shoots and evaluates the setup as he goes along. The images require almost no touch-up because of simple adjustments that were made while shooting. Any necessary retouching or color-matching was completed in the studio. The completed job was delivered as practically turn-key for the client. Both photographers produced good work, but the next time there's a job to assign, that client will remember the completeness of the work from the digital pro.

For the hands-on, detail-oriented Dubler, it's easy to see why he'd want to adapt digital technology right from the get-go. He might not always shoot with a digital camera, but Dubler is always operating with a digital workflow.

The choice of film versus digital capture is made based upon the needs of output as well as the actual subject matter. Compared to digital capture, Dubler relies on film for instances when there will be a need to make very large prints of the images. “I'll shoot medium-format transparencies and make 500 MB scans. That gives me the freedom to generate some pretty huge printouts.”

The other advantage that film has for some of Dubler's work is in skin tones. “The transitions between skin tones is still superior in film, and that's where I'll sometimes go to film over digital capture.” That said, Dubler figures that he shoots with a digital camera—be it a D-SLR or medium-format camera with a digital back—about 90% of the time. “If it wasn't for occasions when I need those really big prints with delicate skin tone transitions, I'd have very little use for film today.”

That Dubler makes a special point to say “today” shouldn't escape notice, though. In an environment of rapidly changing technology and tools, Dubler is eager to use whatever comes along to help him create the very best images possible. If film will do a better job, he'll choose film. If the solution should be digital, then that's the way he'll go.

Dubler's digital workflow is all about getting a perfect image. He scoffs at the notion that digital offers more latitude for errors. “I do it photographically, not in Photoshop. When I use film, I dial in exposures to 1/10th of an ƒ-stop. I do the exact same thing when I shoot digital.”

The idea that some adjustments can be made easily in a computer and therefore require less attention when shooting is a fallacy. Says Dubler, “When I shoot film, I use a color meter to get the exact color temperature of the scene correct. I do the same thing when I shoot with a digital camera. Some people think it's simple to just adjust colors in Photoshop, but that shows a lack of understanding about the technology. Anytime you're doing that, you're altering pixels and potentially losing data. I never want to lose image data. I want to get it exactly right when I take the picture. It's all about understanding and achieving the craft.”

Effects like selective depth of field aren't achieved through Photoshop artistry, but through the use of a tilt-shift lens. That's not to say that Dubler doesn't enhance an effect in postproduction, but he does everything possible with the camera first.


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