Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Michael Lichter - Born To Be Wild
Michael Lichter photographs the lifestyle and rolling artwork of today's motorcycle culture
For Lichter, the switch to digital was rough at first, but once technology evolved, he and Temple were able to streamline their business and take full advantage of digital technology. Temple was brought onboard in 1998 and he helped an apprehensive Lichter through the digital transition. In 1999, they bought their second digital camera.
“We felt the color wasn't as good [compared to film],” says Lichter. “We had problems with moirés and texture.”
Lichter and Temple weren't about to abandon the technology, though, and after some work with the software, Temple was able to get the camera working well.
Says Lichter, “Eventually, the Nikon D1x came out.”
Despite early problems, Lichter believes going digital was essential. His work demands travel, whether it's for bike shows, where he'll shoot five bikes a day, or for catalog work, and traveling without film is a big advantage.
Says Lichter, “Traveling with film is a huge nightmare. We're traveling with less equipment now, too.” With digital equipment, Lichter and Temple can have their work saved and backed up in a matter of seconds without having to worry about FedEx fees or X-ray scans at the airport.
For Lichter, backing up his work is perhaps one of the most important advantages of the digital shift. “I think what makes you a professional is expecting disaster, because it always comes,” he says. This means backing up the backup and being prepared for equipment failure.
“When we shoot a bike, we take pocket drives with us now, plus the drives in the three laptops. We're totally backed up before the bike is taken out of the studio.”
The capability to view images immediately also has enabled Lichter to work with his customers more efficiently. “We can show the owners and builders what we've shot before they leave and, as a result of that, we sell prints to them,” says Lichter. “We used to say they're not available because it was too hard to do with film.”
For now, Lichter has hired a third employee to help with archiving images on DVD and working on the website. Lichter stores all his images as RAW files, and he uses more than a terabyte of storage spread out over multiple machines. The goal is to remove the images, archive them and then wait until there's better storage technology to utilize. Lichter doesn't like the idea of storing all his images on one machine.
“My analogy is a guy who had 40,000 images that went up in smoke in the WTC. It was all stored in a safety deposit box in a bank in the WTC. Now, could there be anything safer than that? I'm sorry, but that sounds a whole lot safer to me than having all your digital images on one hard drive, because the hard drive could crash, it could go up in a fire, it could get dropped.”
Adds Lichter, “Digital photography is a tool. For some people, it opened up a universe of possibilities. I'm still a traditionalist. To me, a photograph is a representation of what's out there. I use digital photography to get there—and it's a wonderful tool for that.”
To see more of Michael Lichter's photography, visit www.lichterphoto.com.
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