Sunday, October 1, 2006
John Isaac: Master Printer
The former U.N. photographer shares his experiences in creating superior prints
Isaac will create a Burning and Dodging layer by creating a layer and filling it with gray.
With the blending mode set to "soft light," he uses Photoshop's Dodge and Burn tools to lighten or darken isolated portions of the image without dramatically impacting color.
But it's always color that Isaac is attempting to control and enhance in his photographs.
While his global adjustments (meaning that they affect the entire image) are important, he finds that controlling small ranges of color and hue can be critical.
"If I have a slight magenta cast in my white areas, I go to Selective Color (Image > Adjustments > Selective Color) and select "white" as the individual color that I want to work on. I'll then move the magenta slider to decrease the colorcast in my whites. This is a very helpful tool, as you can go directly to the affected color area and change the color without messing with all the other colors in the photograph.
Isaac has been working recently with the Media Street line of paper and inks and is enjoying the possibilities this alternative system offers for his printing. He's especially attracted to the bulk ink system, which he feels is ideally suited for the high number of prints he produces.
Carefully storing his prints is a key step in his process as well. Poor handling and storage can quickly ruin a day's work.
"I have a shelf with trays," he says. "I store prints carefully between interleaving tissues in a big, oversized portfolio box if they're big prints. One of the things I've noticed is that papers with a matte surface have a tendency to scratch easily, so I quickly learned to take great care when handling all of my prints. It's always a good thing to use white cotton gloves when you're handling your photographs."
And for Isaac, it's the moment that all his work and effort are building toward."When you're holding that print in your hands," he says, "there's nothing like it."
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