Saturday, February 16, 2008
How much to learn
I've been spending some time learning to produce better prints, if only for 4x6 prints for photo cards. And no, this photo isn't scheduled to be a photo card, yet anyway. Because everyone I show the proof prints haven't expressed any interest in this one. But I like it, which is enough for me and my photography.
Ok, I wandered a bit, like I always do. My goal of late has been developing a portfolio for photo cards where I can print them on demand for family, friends, and anyone interested in some of them. Again, off the subject, I've learned that I'm a poor judge of what people like in photo cards, and I've also learned people choices vary if they're buying them or getting them for free. Currently I give cards away, the business and marketing of them isn't worth it.
Ok, back to the subject. When I started to print my third generation cards I decided to really learn printing. The first generation cards were with prints from local labs. The second was getting started with my photography computer, using a lot of default settings with the scanner, Photoshop and printer. And slowly I started playing with the tools and settings. I'm a learn by doing person, and read books when I want to know something or I'm stuck, usually the latter.
Then I discovered how little, really very little, I knew. But then I discovered how much information there is, except much of it is too complex and complicated to be useable to understand enough to get a basic understanding and get on with my workflow. So, it's a question of how much information does one need or want to know to do a better job and still understand the whats and whys of the process and work. And so I started going through the literature, mostly scanning to see if it's useful for basics and then onward to more.
Another part of my understanding is that I have to understand the logic and ideas behind something. It's not essential to doing the work, like a mechanic not knowing the enginneering to an engine but they can fix one. The same applies to photography. You don't have to know the concepts behind color management, photoshop, printing, etc, just the tools to produce what you want in the results. That's not always smart, but works for some people, just not me.
Or at least I like to know enough. And that's where it gets complicated, in both the information and the wealth of books and Websites. Doesn't anyone understand enough to write good overviews? Well, so far I've only found one, Harald Johnson's Mastering Digital Printing, Second Edition. It has a good overview in the chapter, "Understanding and Managing Color."
Well, that's it for now. I'm still reading, learning and printing. And hopefully the cards get better in the process.