DPP Home Profiles Richard Izui - Motor Drive

Friday, June 15, 2007

Richard Izui - Motor Drive

With a camera and a "tour bus," Richard Izui takes aim at fast subjects in a deliberate manner

This Was Photoshop Before Photoshop

For years, Izui photographed with a Deardorff 8x10 view camera. The quality of the large film format was unsurpassed, particularly when it came time to create masks and special effects. So when the computer came along and freed him from his loupe and blade, Izui jumped at the chance to see deeper into his photographs than ever before.

“In the '70s and '80s,” he recalls, “I did a lot of time exposures compositing products with backgrounds like star fields, explosions, smoke, fire, ice and other crazy effects. Eventually, I started masking transparencies with rubyliths that I cut with swivel blades. I used a jeweler's loupe to magnify the image, allowing me to be more precise in my cutting. While cutting with the monocle stuck to my eye, I always dreamed about getting in closer to make more refined cuts. I was destined for Photoshop!”

The Digital Workflow

Izui doesn't just use his computer as a powerful loupe; it has revolutionized his entire process. He's able to shoot faster, light better and do it all with instant client approval.

“Digital has vastly changed the way I photograph,” he says. “We're able to bracket digitally and combine highs and lows into a good middle-range image. In the old days, you were able to bracket, but then you had to just pick whatever sheet of film was the best. And seeing your shot immediately on a computer screen is an amazing tool for knowing whether you've got it or not. You know the job is a success when you view the image on your monitor and the client is happy. The process is the same, but the speed is a lot faster now. But you know as the imaging backs are getting larger, the file size is getting larger, so that tends to slow things down.”

The one thing Izui doesn't yet love about his digital workflow is the increased reliance on all the necessary high-tech devices. Not only can they take away from shooting time, but they can affect his budget's bottom line.

“It's at the point where you just have to constantly upgrade your computers,” Izui says. “Every time you upgrade your back, you need to upgrade your computer at the same time, and it's like once every two years now that you have to do it.

“I miss the view camera days,” he says of the era when a camera was a lifetime investment. “I shot 8x10 so extensively that the Deardorff just became like an extension of my arm. Making the transition to digital was difficult at first. I started with a Dicomed BigShot in 1998. Just to get that thing to operate took an hour and a half. There were so many cables that would have to be set just right, we would literally have it where we may move a wire just a centimeter or so and that would make it work. It was very frustrating, but I did so many jobs with that darn back that it really came through for me—and it introduced my clients to the quality of digital. But it was very difficult and it was kind of miserable setting the thing up every shoot.”

After a period of shooting digital side by side with film, Izui eventually convinced his clients to come around. He's now capturing 100 percent digitally and he wouldn't be as successful, he says, if he wasn't all digital—and he wouldn't love digital as much if he didn't rely on many of the techniques he picked up during his years with large-format film. The 8x10 camera changed the pace with which he shoots and improved his success with every subject, even the living, breathing kind.


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