October 14, 2021
Master Art Photographer, Les Picker, chose GTI’s VPI-52 to provide the ultimate print quality check he’d been missing.
Now he relies on it for an end-to-end color managed workflow
In a normal, non-Covid year, Les Picker spends from five to seven months traveling the world in pursuit of the extraordinary, award-winning photographs that have earned him an international reputation and more than 600 published articles in national magazines including the National Geographic and Forbes. Les shoots Fuji medium format and Nikon systems and is a member of Nikon Professional Services and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
Capturing majestic images of the natural world and other cultures
Speaking from Les Picker Fine Art Photography (LPFA), his large and well-equipped studio in Havre de Grace, MD, Les described his multifaceted life that began when he was a travel writer and photographer for Oceans magazine and the Baltimore Sun. His doctorate in environmental affairs (winter ecology) helps inform his breathtaking landscape and wildlife photography. He not only practices the art of photography to an exceptionally high level, he also shares his deep knowledge on far-flung adventure photographic tours and in studio workshops. Many photography groups up and down the East coast are grateful recipients of pro-bono speaking engagements conducted by Les Picker as a means to give back to the profession he loves.
Solving problems (and arguments) by proofing images prior to printing
Both Les and Bob Boyer, LPFA’s in-house Master Printer, tech guru, and co-instructor of their in-studio fine art printing workshops, are committed to crafting museum-quality prints, as well as wall coverings and specialty displays. Color is of incredible importance for their work, as is beautifully rendered black and white.
Les says, “Let’s put it this way, we’re meticulous about our color managed workflow. So, from camera to computer and from computer to the post-processing engine and from there to the printer, it is critical to have the color be consistent. And, what you see on your monitor needs to be what we expect the print to be. But, because we didn’t have an ISO 3664:2009 viewing booth like the GTI Vertical Print Inspector, we were always missing that final aspect. Once the print came out of the machine, we might view it under yellow light, or incandescent light, or under a fluorescent light. The longevity of the bulb can also affect its color. We have a fairly large studio and the lighting can be different in each place. We had looked at other manufacturers for a visual print inspection system, but we knew we wanted the GTI because of the response by the community of people that we respect.”
Enter the GTI VPI-52 Vertical Print Inspector, filling the gap in the color management workflow
“I’d been wanting a GTI VPI for years and so, with Covid restrictions slowly easing, I placed my order.” The VPI had to meet the exacting printing requirements of both Les and Bob. Thanks to the VPI-52, “we no longer have to rely strictly on our collective experience to judge whether the print colors are true.” The VPI Print Inspector answers questions, solves problems, and provides proof instead of opinion as to the accuracy of the color from start to finish. Les and Bob print a sample image on the paper they intend to use, frequently on an 8 ½” x 11” sheet. Les notes that when the print comes out and “we examine it under the VPI-52 lighting, we may see we are wrong, that maybe the paper we thought we wanted may not be the best solution here, because there is too little or too much texture.”
Making critical color adjustments before committing the image to expensive paper
Les Picker’s studio has four large printers and they may print in any size. They may install a 30’ x 10’ wallpaper image of his work as they have done in several hospitals, or they might just do a single series of single images that might be 40” x 60”. Picker says that paper is “probably the biggest printing expense we have.” Because his clients pay a premium for his work, he says, “I want to make sure that every ounce of effort that I’ve labored on, spent weeks on, maybe traveled 10,000 miles to get, I want to make sure that effort is fully represented in the finished product.” He delayed purchasing the GTI VPI-52 because of the investment but once it arrived, he wished he had purchased it several years earlier.
GTI VPI-52 provides the missing link for master printers
Commenting on his website, Les Picker said, “I am a Moab Master Photographer, an X-Rite Coloratti, and an Awagami Ambassador, meaning I love prints and the process of creating and displaying them. To get perfect prints you really need a solid color-managed workflow. And with the addition of the 52″ wide GTI VPI Print Inspector we finally have an end-to-end color managed workflow – from camera to final print.”
When the VPI-52 arrived, Picker observed, “It’s quite an impressive piece of equipment and extremely well made. First of all because the shipping and packaging was unbelievable. They accounted for every millimeter of space but it was easy to put together. It’s heavy but it is built on wheels, so I can move it wherever it’s needed. And the workmanship is good. Every edge is rounded and it’s painted and enameled.”
A surprising side benefit of the Vertical Print Inspector
Workshop clients have room to put their prints up straight from the printer with magnets holding the prints. The printing team “has to let the print dry for at least 24 hours to allow the outgasing of volatile substances as they dissipate. So, the VPI is great because it doubles as a drying rack as well!”
An impressive addition to the color management system
The clients that work alongside Les Picker at his studio are “very, very accomplished amateur photographers. They may not need a VPI-52, but if they’re planning an exhibition, or trying to show a few prints at a gallery, they would find one of GTI’s PDV desktop systems an immense help in proofing for the final product.”
Les Pickers expressed satisfaction with the investment he made with the GTI VPI-52. “It is critical in judging the quality of the product. Now that we have it, we see how really critical it is to our business, not just the workflow but when clients come in, they see that we know we have this lighting to make sure that their work is absolutely top notch.” For Picker, the VPI-52 has the potential to “save time, money and embarrassment. I want to be sure that what we do is done to the best of our ability.” The GTI VPI-52 is proving its value with every proof.