Working Conditions

Some blogs of mine are philosophical, some blogs of mine are remembrances, some blogs of mine are profound (yeah right, Neal), some blogs of mine are experiential, some of my blogs are educational and some blogs of mine are mechanical.

Mechanical? Well, yes. Like this one. Today I want to talk about working conditions, more specifically, how and where you set yourself up in front of a computer screen to work on your files. Is this important? Yes, very.

Check this out. This was where I worked while in Georgia over the past two weeks while on an artist in residency:

This was my studio. You can see the 27 inch Apple display I am now using while traveling sitting on the desk in front of the window. Why there? So I could look out and see the real world.

This is both good and bad, of course. Good in that it kept me from being bored to death or going insane working on files hours after hour. Bad in that if it was bright outside it made it hard to see the screen well. I finally solved this problem by tacking some translucent plastic up over most of the window, leaving enough at the bottom so I could sill see out.

At home I also have my monitor set up in front of a window, admittedly with not as   glorious a view as in northern Georgia which was a river valley in early spring in the mountains with almost every color in the rainbow blooming in front of me, but nevertheless, very nice and fun to watch as it changes through the seasons. Again, to help me feel as though I am in the world somehow rather than locked away in some computer room with nothing to see. This window I can draw the blinds on to control the light or pull down a room darkening  shade to completely cut the outside world off if necessary.

This work area is in what used to be my daughter's bedroom. When she went away to school and then moved to Florida, I took it over. You should have seen her face when I told her. "You did what, Dad?" I used to tell my graduating senior students at Northeastern University, where I taught, "You can't go home again". Of course, some of them did, as they couldn't get jobs right away. Most were miserable, as I'm sure so were their parents.

Anyway, the monitor here at home is a 24 inch Eizo and a really good display. I wish it were a little bigger but besides that it is wonderful. I have a hood over it which is a good thing. The light you see to the left of the screen is by Ott Lite and uses a bright flourescent bulb at 5000 degrees Kelvin, which is daylight. This too is important for viewing prints as they come out of the printer. Both monitors are calibrated once a month or so.  I use a Color Munki.

The laptop and the 27 inch Apple Thunderbolt display are new for me and I really enjoyed having that big screen with me while teaching at Penland and working on files at Hambidge. Because if it, I prepped files while away that I can run right to the printer (I call these "RTP's", Ready to Print files). In the past, working off just a laptop when away I didn't think I could see the images well enough to prep them as RTP's.

What about working on one display and then finalizing files on another? I was concerned about this but, partially due to both being calibrated, I am not having difficulties with this issue. The Apple is brighter than the Eizo but not too much.

A few months ago I wrote about making a commitment to being an artist. (Here comes the "philosophical" part of the blog.) Looking at your digital files only on a small laptop, not making prints of things you've shot or, with no offense intended to my friends in the printing  business, sending off your files for someone else to interpret and print, or not having a dedicated space to make your work, isn't, I believe, a sincere form of "commitment" to being a digital photographic artist. 

Next up in this run of practical, mechanical blogs: printing.

Topics: Working Conditions

Permalink | Posted May 9, 2013