Do You See What I See?

Why, why, WHY do we sometimes see different things on our monitors? Occasionally I hear about image brightness or color. Surprisingly though, not too often. When I edit an image, do you see it the same way I did? Depends.

Computer monitors, like almost anything else in the world of tech (thermostats, tire inflators, your Subaru’s speedometer), need to be calibrated to be consistent. What does that mean? Calibration means setting up a device to a specific set of standards. If both our monitors are calibrated, they should match in brightness, color, and contrast.

Note: Out of the box, and adjusted to your visual preference, your monitor is NOT calibrated. Calibration makes it accurate, but not necessarily pretty. How I calibrate my monitors:

Using a specific hardware device and software package (this requires specialized external hardware), I plug this little puck in and stick it to the face of the monitor. I then allow the software to access color settings, and let it rip.

The next few minutes are interesting: The screen goes black, bright white, a hundred shades of gray, and cycles through multiple colors both bright and pastel. The process takes a few minutes. The result? They call it: White Point to 6500K (D65), White level to 120 cd/m2 and Gamma to 2.2 – recommended settings for editing photographs.

If you’re in marketing or communications, or are in the business of reviewing graphics and photography, you need to calibrate your monitors! Ask a photo or graphics vendor what to buy to do it yourself, or ask your IT department to do it for you. Happy editing!

Is Your Photographer Insured?

You make sure the gardener, cable guy, plumber, and roofer are insured, right? Often trade licensing carries a liability insurance requirement, but photography does not. You should still require it.

Liability means that if the photographer, or any other contractor working on your property, breaks something or hurts someone, they will be responsible for it, not you or your company. Altitude Arts carries $2 million in liability, plus other additional coverage.

Here’s a standard “Acord” certificate. Once you confirm that your photographer is insured, it’s your option to request an insurance certificate, or proof that you (your company is mentioned specifically) are covered. There may be small fee.

Not sure? Ask HR. The answer will be an unequivocal yes! Read a short column by Gordon Rudd, CISSP (a risk expert) here. And call me with questions!

Gotcha Covered: How Altitude Arts Backs Up Our Work

Stop worrying.

That’s my gig. Nobody thinks more about lost files more than me. And that should give you peace of mind! That and the fact that Altitude Arts’s backup system is battle-tested.

Here’s why your files are safe: Every shoot, as it’s put onto my editing computer, immediately starts backing itself up both locally and in the cloud. Just copying the files onto my machine puts them in five—FIVE—places:

  • Two cards in the camera
  • My editing machine
  • My local backup drive
  • My cloud backup (Backblaze)

And after that, they get manually dragged, when editing is complete, to another cloud backup, Amazon Web Services. So, six copies total. If something terrible happens, we can probably get our hands on at least one.

Just last month, I was asked by a client for a shoot from 2001. That’s right, twenty years ago. I had it. I unarchived it (sometimes unarchiving carries a small fee, just FYI), reprocessed it, and delivered it the next day. Boom!

And guess what? This complimentary redundancy is included in the price of every single shoot. However, if you want guaranteed backup, covered by an actual insurance policy, that’s extra. Please inquire .

How Do I Save My Pictures?

Good question.

Our new system is cool and fast, but those little CDs that used to come in the mail (a week later)? Well, you probably won’t miss them.

So here’s a step-by-step guide to saving and backing up your shoot.

  1. Enter your final shoot (not proofs) URL and password. Note the download button.Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.23.43 PM
  2. Click “Download” then “Select All”Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 5.24.40 PM
  3. That’s it! They’re on their way to wherever your downloads go.

You can download individual files as well—Just select them one at a time. Be sure to burn them to a disc, copy them to a backup drive or the cloud, and make a note of where they’re living. You’ll need then again soon, I hope.

If you need a CD, just ask! They’re not free anymore (Sorry!) but I’m happy to make you one just the same. Pricing depends on data capacity.

Amazing Cakes

Freelance Art Director Dylan Kiszlowski always arranges great shoots.

This week, we were shooting cake product shots to be used on the set of  Last Cake Standing, a Food Network competition that shoots in Denver. They were going to be blown up to several feet high each and featured prominently!

Rachael from Intricate Icings hosted us in her Erie, Colorado studio where we set up early on a weekend morning, and waited for her amazing creations to come rolling out of the kitchen.

From drop-dead gorgeous to funny to very, very chocolaty, we shot variations on dozens of themes, even making Rachael squeeze the icing bag with the wrong hand over and over again for the camera. We kept her from her family until almost 9 that cold night, when she showed her displeasure by seeing us to the door with a half-dozen fresh cake-pops each.

What an awesome ride home that was.

Photo: ©2011 PR Newswire/Food Network

A Day in the Candy Store

Another great Food Network shoot this week. Adam Gertler, host of Kid in a Candy Store, was in Denver to shoot an episode at Hammond’s Candies.

The LA-based crew, helmed by director Gordon Recht, was in typical reality TV mode: Up early, blocked and lit by 9am, and rolling by 9:30. And they had a lot to cover.

I shot both “hero” promotional and behind-the-scenes stills as Adam and the candy makers at Hammond’s made a 5 lb. lollipop, starting with putting the sugar in the copper kettle and ending, hours later, with hand pulling the still-warm candy into the iconic twist.

Kid in a Candy Store airs Mondays on Food Network.