Thursday, September 23, 2010

Printing Series: Tyler Stableford – Adventure Photographer and Canon Explorer of Light & Print Master

Copyright © Tyler Stableford  –All Rights Reserved

When I was writing my Top Photographers article I was getting feedback from a lot of sources as to who their top photographers were, and someone told me about Tyler Stableford. I hadn’t heard about him, so I did some research and found out that he was consider to be one of the hottest new photographers on the scene at the time I was collecting my data. After looking at his work I was immediately impressed, so I wasn’t at all surprised to see that he was a Canon Explorer of Light and featured on the Digital Learning Center.

Tyler is not only a great photographer, but a member of Canon’s prestigious Print Master program, so it’s no wonder that you’ll find prints of his work in fine art galleries in Denver near his home. His work takes him to some wonderful locations where he creates amazing outdoor shots for companies like Gore-Tec, REI, Polartex, etc… that have caused him to be know as an Adventure Photographer. From cliff hanger shots to ice caves, Tyler has done it! His portfolio is filled with amazing colors of thrilling adventures on land, in the sea and in the air!

Tyler is quick to point out that his web site opens the door for new business, but it’s the print that closes the door to help land the next big job. When you’ve got 3 to 5 busy art directors who are only going to give a handful of photographers 20 minutes to sell their work, nothing beats a great print! I had a great time talking to Tyler about his printing workflow, and definitely look forward to talking to him again next year about photography in general. What follows is Tyler on printing, so I hope you enjoy it this one dimension of a wonderfully multidimensional talent!


I’m a geek so I like to talk technical details and compare things at the macro level, but Tyler is much more practical. When we talked printers and platforms he was very matter of fact. He pointed out that he prints his own portfolio in-house because he wants the highest quality and to control the process from end to end, so he isn’t going to support a platform  unless he feels it is giving him the best quality. His prints are a reflection of him and send a message to clients about his work, so they need to be top notch. This is why he uses the Canon platform, because he feels he gets the top quality results that his work demands.

When we got into a conversation about the quality of the different platforms, it really came down to two – Epson and Canon, both of which he acknowledged are very good. However, each platform has its strengths, and for a variety of decision points one may be stronger than the other, but in the end they are about the same. What Tyler uses as his final decision point is not the technical details or what you’ll see using a loop under a GTI light box, but what his clients will see. He asks, are clients going to notice a difference? If the answer is yes, then it’s easy to pick the best the product for the job and move on. Today, that means the Canon iPF6350, so that’s what you’ll find him using for his very best prints. 

At the Canon EXPO 2010 in New York, the Canon reps chose a wonderful image from Tyler’s portfolio to use as a test canvas print on the huge iPF9100. The picture below doesn’t do it justice as the colors are hard to sort out in that mixed color environment, but I think you can get the idea that it was a cool print that I can assure you looked awesome in real life.

Photo by Ron Martinsen taken of Tyler Stableford’s image output from a Canon iPF9100 printer

Favorite Papers

Tyler’s favorite paper is the Moab Entrada Bright White 190, altwhich is what he uses to print his portfolio work. However, he’s quick to point out that his busy schedule has kept him from trying out the equally great and similar Canon Fine Art Bright Whitealtpaper. He loves a great matte paper with a nice cotton fiber texture and no glare, so if you are in the same camp then Tyler’s paper recommendations are just the ticket!

Tyler also loves the Canon Fine Art Rag Papersaltwhich he uses for a variety of projects as well.

Copyright © Tyler Stableford  –All Rights Reserved

Q&A Session

I asked Tyler about a lot of different printing topics during our interview, so some are best handled in a Q&A format for his response. Here’s a short transcript of some of those Q&A’s:

What volume of printing do you do over the course of a year and what’s the purpose (teaching, fine art resale? Exhibition?, etc…)?

I enjoy making a lot large format prints for the subjects in my photos. It is the true highlight of my relationship with them! I also keep three versions of my portfolio. I am currently considering selling prints online, so if that happens then I’ll be doing much more in the future.

What things to look in a print before it’s ready for Fine Art resale?

I do a lot of shooting straight into the sun which means my images have tones ranging from bright whites to deep blacks. On top of that I crank my saturation, so I’m looking for a smooth gradation of the colors to ensure that the represent my artistic intent.

Do you do custom profiles?

Yes, I use some custom profiles, but I don't create them myself. I use and have them create custom profiles for me. It's a great service that keeps me focused on the things I want to do rather than printer profile generation. [Yes, readers - I'll be covering services like this in the future!]

Copyright © Tyler Stableford  –All Rights Reserved

How many prints do you typically do before you feel you've got the perfect print that is ready for your signature?

I typically do around 5 to 10 test prints. I'm working on a current print and have three tests here and I'm still a ways from where I want to be! It's always like this.

I want it to look as good as possible, and so I judge the print itself - not how it may compare to the original scene, the results in-camera, on my display, etc... The print is the final output, so I stop printing when I look at it and feel that it's done.

What color space and bit depth are your images, and what rendering intent do you mostly print in?

I image using the ProPhoto RGB color space with 16-bit images. When I print, I typically use the perceptual rendering intent, but I’ll soft proof or even run a print sometimes to compare to see which is best for any given image.

Do you calibrate your displays?

Yes, I use an X-Rite Eye-One Display. The reality is that the color temperature is the most important thing, but I don’t worry about variances between devices. As long as those variances are consistent I can figure it out. That’s the most important thing to me, because without consistent results it's much more challenging.

Conclusion / Parting words

Photo taken by Ron Martinsen of Tyler Stableford  @ the Canon EXPO DLC training event

I had the pleasure of hearing Tyler teach at some of his mini-classes at the Canon EXPO in New York, and I quickly saw a man who is passionate about his work, yet patient with students to help them improve their skills. This is definitely a guy who I want to learn more from and hope to take a class with one day. I’m also proud to have him on my Top Photographer’s list and suspect he’ll be there for quite some time!

It was a pleasure to interview him, and despite his super busy schedule he gave me twice as much time as he actually had available to make sure I had all the info I need. That’s the mark of a true professional, so it’s no wonder that he’s in such high demand.

Great work is one thing, but it’s even better when you enjoy working with the artist who can provide it, and Tyler is definitely one of those types of guys. With his adventurous spirit, generous volunteer work, passion for the environment, and amazing composition skills, I think Tyler is definitely a great person to follow on many levels to know. He defines what it truly means to be a Top Photographer!

Visit Tyler’s cool portfolio here!

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The opinions provided are of Ron Martinsen alone and do not reflect the view of any other entity

1 comment:

SUPERMHR said...

Tyler Stableford is my ABSOLUTE photography HERO!
anywhere, from composition to brilliant brilliant lightning and post production...tyler rocks!
if i ever wanted to choose a rolemodel, he would be first choice.
sadly im in a place that attending to his classes is near to impossible...
i hope that he comes up with more online sessions in the future.
and you make sure to have that talk with him!
BTW that's Gore-Tex and Polartec.
consider them this winter if you're not already using them.
they keep you dry and warm respectively!
MH. Rahmani