Thursday, June 14, 2007
Tyler Hicks - Into The Combat Zone
While New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks takes pictures of some of the most hellish events on the planet, he manages to capture moments that reaffirm life in the midst of violence and death
“The only film photographs are those taken on 9/12, which take up just a few pages at the beginning of the book,” says Hicks. “The first half of the book uses photographs taken with the Nikon D1h and the second half with the Canon EOS-1D. It's interesting to see how well these JPEG images—from both digital systems—look on the page, considering that they were small JPEG files. If I had these as RAW files, there's no question that they would look better. The printed pages look great, however, and I'm very happy with the results. For the book, I used all the images I sent to the paper, but I used the original, high-quality JPEGs I had originally shot so I could pull more out of them. It was a good experience to see what I could pull out of these files given their limitations.”
Images, Software & Storage
Hicks acknowledges that he needs to learn more about Photoshop, but as he says, “For me, one of the dangers of using those tools in the field is the temptation to work on my images on my laptop and risk damaging them with every tweak and file save I make. Even though the PowerBook screen is high resolution, it's not as good as those back at The Times, and my monitor isn't properly calibrated, so I risk shifting the colors dramatically.
“The slightest dodge and burn I make will show up when viewed on the bigger monitors. My colleagues will ask me what I did to the image so I shy away from doing any kind of touch-up or tweaking.”
As a general rule of thumb, says Hicks, “I shrink the size down a bit, do some very basic toning and then send the images back to New York. The New York Times has their staff ready to clean up and prepare the images for publication.”
Storage media continues to grow in size and read/write speed. Digital cameras have faster CPUs as do their lap-top counterparts. Satellite communications continually evolve, providing faster connections. Would Hicks ever switch to higher-resolution images such as TIFF and RAW and stop using JPEGs?
“I might, but it still depends on what I'm shooting,” he says. “For the purposes of shooing for a newspaper, I simply don't need to shoot in TIFF or RAW. Maximum-quality JPEGs work just fine. I'd have workflow issues if I used higher-resolution images. That would entail more processing time with the camera buffer, the need for more storage media, more time spent downloading the images to my PowerBook, then more time spent compressing the files in order to satellite them back to The New York Times.”
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