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Joey Terrill: from Hasselblad film to Canon digital - Continued

Terrill's studio in Los Angeles houses an Apple Power Mac dual-2GHz G5 with 3.5GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive. Attached to it is a 21-inch Sony Artisan monitor for image display, and a separate 19-inch Sony monitor for displaying Photoshop's palettes. Terrill calibrates and profiles the Artisan with its own bundled colorimeter and software. He also has Gretag Macbeth's Eye-One Photo package for profiling other devices such as his Cinema Display.

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Joey Terrill in his Los Angeles office (Photo by Joey Terrill)

Among the many other gadgets in his digital darkroom are numerous FireWire external hard drives, a GTI TRV-2E transparency viewer, a Wacom Intuos 6 x 8-inch graphics tablet, a Nikon Coolscan 8000 film scanner (which "doesn't get much use anymore, obviously"), and an Epson Stylus Pro 7600 printer.

Terrill drives the Epson with v6 of ColorByte’s ImagePrint RIP. He uses the profiles that ColorByte provides for it, which give him excellent results. "The money I spent on that ImagePrint RIP was some of the best money I ever spent in my life," he says. "It's saved me so much time and money. I got decent results from the Epson driver and Bill Atkinson’s profiles, but the results from ImagePrint are phenomenal. It’s rare that I have to make a test print or have to re-print.”

For much of his first year with the 1Ds, Terrill browsed, organized, and edited images with the File Browser in Photoshop CS. Recently, however, he has switched to Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits (he is currently using v4.3.4). "Aside from the fact that it's an incredibly fast browser," he says, "one of the greatest functions is the multiple ingest function, where you can ingest [i.e. copy images from card to computer] a CompactFlash card to two [hard] drives simultaneously."

After he has culled his take down to a subset of selects, Terrill uses either the Camera Raw (ACR) 2.4 plug-in in Photoshop CS or Phase One's Capture One Pro v3.7 to convert the selects from RAW.

Terrill's initial forays into RAW processing were done with ACR, and he's very comfortable and familiar with it, having spent many, many hours developing default conversion settings for both of his cameras with his lights. Generally, he needs to make only small tweaks to these settings for any given set or lighting setup.

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For Sony Music. Nikon D100, 1/125, f/10 (Photo by Joey Terrill)

More recently, he's begun to use Capture One for jobs where he's converting larger numbers of images because he finds the program's batch processing features superior to ACR 2.4's. "Typically," he says, "if it's the kind of job where it's one picture, I'll do it in ACR. If it's a lot of pictures–like last week I did a job where I needed to deliver 130 images–that's a job for Capture One."

On Terrill’s To-Do list is camera profiling using the Digital Camera module in Eye-One Photo. If he can make camera profiling work to his satisfaction, he intends to gravitate more and more to Capture One, owing to its ability to use custom camera profiles.

A critical part of Terrill's workflow is PhotoKit Sharpener, a Photoshop automation plug-in from PixelGenius. "More than any other application that I have used in my digital imagery," he says, "that particular program has made me like digital images and the way they look. It made digital, to me, look real, as opposed to plastic, fake ones and zeros.

"I've never sat down and analyzed this pixel by pixel, but what I think it does for me is that it leaves the transitions from tone to tone smoother, more real feeling, rather than sharpening those transitions. I'm pretty sure that somebody who's really, really expert in Photoshop can do all this manually, but the advantage to [PhotoKit] is that, for a hundred dollars, I don't have to think about anything."

Terrill's settings for PhotoKit Sharpener vary from image to image, but he follows the plug-in's recommended workflow, which incorporates three stages: a capture sharpening step that Terrill performs right after converting the file from RAW, a creative sharpening step that he might perform, if appropriate, after toning and color-correcting the image, and an output sharpening step that is tailored to the intended printing process. Terrill normally omits the last step if he is submitting a picture to a magazine, leaving it up to the publication's art or imaging department to control final sharpening for the printing press.

Though he remains pleased with PhotoKit Sharpener, Terrill has recently experimented with, and been very impressed by, the Smart Sharpen feature in Photoshop CS2 (which he has not yet installed on his main editing machine), and thinks it will probably become his primary sharpening tool in the future. “PhotoKit Sharpener is great, but it’s slow. If I can get the same or better quality from Smart Sharpen, in a lot less time, I’ll make the switch.”

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For the American Bar Association. Canon EOS-1Ds, ISO 100, 1/250, f/13 (Photo by Joey Terrill)

Although Terrill owns a copy of iView MediaPro, he doesn't really use it to catalog images. Instead, he keeps track of his pictures by using a relatively simple date/subject naming scheme, which labels folders with yearmonthday_subject name and files with yearmonthday_subject name_XXXX (where "XXXX" is a four-digit number).

His assignments, he explains, "tend to be one subject, in one sitting, so it's pretty straightforward to find what I need. It's a piece of cake for me to say, I need to look at the shoot I did of David Duval from two years ago. I generally will know, just off the top of my head, approximately what time of year it was shot. So it's pretty easy to look in, say, the 2002 folder in the springtime and [find Duval] right there."

Terrill keeps all the images from any given assignment until the job has been printed or run in the magazine, at which time he'll discard the outtakes and move the remaining images into his archive folder.

He does running backups of his photos to an external FireWire hard drive on a regular basis, but he doesn't have a formal schedule for this. Then, once every quarter, he copies the archive folder to two different Maxtor 350GB FireWire hard drives, then deletes the images from his computer. One of the Maxtor drives is stored in a fire safe at his studio, and the other is kept in another fire safe at his father's house.

Like any photographer who has switched to digital, Terrill has traded time spent going to the lab and waiting for processed film for time spent in front of the computer. He finds that every day of shooting generates about half a day of computer work.

"It does get to the point," he says, "where you say, you know, what are you, a photographer or a computer technician. I'm in that place right now." Why not hire someone to do the post-processing? "The thought has crossed my mind, [but] I'm sort of loathe to do it, mainly because I think that's part of my job. I think it's part of my expression of the photograph."

Next Page: Delivering the Goods
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