The Journey Into Art: My Fine Art Workflow

June 16, 2019
sunset in the Grand Staircare

I have been asked by a number of people to expand on the description of my basic capture and processing workflow as described on the Artist's Process page. It is important for me to share that what I do is not remotely close to point-and-shoot photography.

So I am happy to share what I do. But I must state up front that what you end up doing with your RAW images defines your art. This is mine at the present time, but it may change in the future, as I and technology change.

To capture my images I currently use a Canon system, mostly a 5DSR, but occasionally a 5D Mark II for handheld work. I also will use a Fuji XT-2 for handheld work. Lenses for the Canon system are all 2.8 lenses (all of which are zoom lenses), and one Zeiss 18mm prime lens. I prefer tripod use for the high megapixel cameras as they are less suited for handheld use, particularly in lower light.

I shoot exclusively in RAW format to maintain the highest amount of information in the captured file as possible.

I import all files into Lightroom, which uses the Adobe Camera RAW converter.

From there I spend several weeks to months categorizing and honing the images down to the five best images of a particular project or location.

After making some basic contrast and color adjustments in Lightroom, I export the final 5 into Photoshop to complete the technical and artistic processing of each image.

I save the final multi-layered Photoshop file as a master file should I need to re-edit in the future. I then save a flatten file copy as a single layer PSD file set at 360 dpi, as that is the dpi preferred for Epson prints. If I chose to print on a Canon printer, I would set the file to 300 dpi.

From that final flattened file I can resize the final print to any size needed.

After flattening the file, I do a number of test prints using ImagePrint to an Epson printer. I do not print from Lightroom or Photoshop at the present time. Lightroom printing is getting better and certainly cheaper than ImagePrint. I would avoid printing out of Photoshop at the present time, as the output printing from ImagePrint and Lightroom is superior. I consider ImagePrint superior to all other printer algorithms as of this post, even Lightroom's.

If the test print does not come out the way I want, then I go back to master file and make the needed adjustments. I then save as a new flattened image and repeat the print process until I have the print I want.

IF I want the final print to be on matte paper, I do the test prints using Red River Premium Matte and then final prints on Epson Hot Press Bright paper.

IF I want the final print to be on glossy paper, I do the test prints on Epson Ultra Premium Photo Luster paper and then final prints on Canson Baryta Photographique.

The test print paper choices reduce the costs of the test prints. I have spent a stupid amount of money doing test prints on the final paper selection!

I am certainly open to using other papers, but for now these work for me.

The last test print is printed on 13" x 19" paper, labelled AP for an artist's proof, signed, and placed in an archival box. All final prints are, of course, on the museum-quality papers listed above.

All print files are stored and printed from a print server folder on a local computer.

There are two local backups, one off-site back up, and one cloud backup on Backblaze. I use Blackblaze only for the most extreme of circumstances. That basically means there has been a nuclear disaster. (In that case fine art prints would not be needed for a very long time, if ever.)

So there you go for the technical aspects of my work. The artistic aspects would take many more volumes.

Posted in Thoughts, Technique and tagged basic workflow.