The Best Specs for a Photo or Video Editing Computer or Laptop

Technology is always changing. So this list is by no means going to last the next six months before being outdated by something better. But for the moment, this is the mid-to-higher budget investment for editing visual media (photo, video, illustrations, multimedia, etc.).

Additionally, while I am writing only the specs which may or may not be available for laptops, this list has been compiled specifically for desktops. Please note that you will also have to check into the availability for laptops, should that be your only option. The hardware involved in the software manipulation (processors, hard drives, grafix cards, etc.), are most likely available in both. But the other hardware (cooling stations, motherboards, connection portc, etc.) will be more specific to laptops and may require further investigation for your needs.


If you are upgrading a current system, it’s probably best to shoot for desktop upgrades as they have the most adaptability. Laptops change so much, and so often, that the one you buy with an Intel chip today, may well be incompatible with the latest chip next week. So just keep that in mind when going over my recommendations below.

For PC, I recommend Windows Vista over Windows 8 for a wide variety of reasons (most of which revolve around software usability which has not caught up to most touch technology available on W8).

Intel Core i7-4770S or 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 Quad-Core Processor – Among all that is listed here, the processor will go out of date first. Just buy the absolute best one you can afford. The processor is the linchpin for all of the demands that your editing will place on your computer. DON’T compromise on the processor.

16GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM – You’ll want the absolute best RAM out there. Second only to the processor will be the RAM, which allows your computer the necessary space to functionally operate its editing programs.

1TB 7200-7600rpm (or better) SATA HDD  – The faster the drive, the better for rendering and finalizing your non-linear editing projects. Two terabytes would only be necessary if you’re using also storing larger video/photo files on the computer: like the D800 36 megapixel RAW images with timelapse video purposing, for instance. Having 1TB for video is adequate for supplying the computer/processor with adequate virtual memory for larger edits.

NVIDIA GT620 Graphics. There are better options out there. If you’ve got gamer friends, this is when you’ll pull in your favor from them. Ask them what they recommend. Gaming and editing pool the same resources and supply the same results.

USB 3.0 x 4 ports / 2.0 x 2 ports (I would recommend getting as many 3.0 ports as possible, though most only offer a mix of the two. When using several of the same brand of mass external storage devices, be sure to rename your drives so that the computer won’t confuse them when using the various ports. And make sure that your device drivers are always kept up-to-date.

ASUS P8H61 (or better motherboard) – Again, there are better ones out there. This one will be determined on the style of computer you have and what it is capable of handling. It is also a pretty variable item. You just want a motherboard that is the most compatable with upcoming hardware and its future upgrades. My recommendation may be well out of date, but it happens to be compatible with my other hardware requirements. Do your research for your own computer.

Coolermaster 750w PSU – This will be desktop specific. I recommend the better cooling systems because it’s going to do the most good in maintaining the functionality of your other components. Ever find your computer working slow, or programs are not responding? It may be because they’re overheating. And this could cause permanent damage to
your hardware components. You’ve invested all the time and money in the other items. Don’t get cheap when it comes to protecting them all. Short of storing your computer in a refrigerator, you’ll need to keep your system cool (especially all you travelers who find yourself in a muggy Cambodia squelcher or the sticky jungles of Costa Rica).

DVDR/RW – If you burn your own discs, this one should be a no-brainer. For laptops, it may just add weight and take up space. Look at what options you’re willing to travel with vs production you can do at home.

Gigabit Ethernet Connectivity – The NIC you use shouldn’t make that much of a difference. Nowadays, they’re all pretty good.

HDMI-out & VGA Connectors – Presenting your work brings with it the requirement of connectability to newer devices. I show my work in exhibitions and lectures all over the world. And I use HDMI in/out connections when linked up to my recording bodies. So I can’t afford to not have these components.

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) – Again, I wouldn’t go with Windows 8.

Wireless Mouse/keyboard – for desktop users, you need to keep your space clear – especially when you already have to put up with wires coming from your external drives and power supplies. Take up one of your 2.0 ports with the USB reciever on your mouse/keyboards. And save yourself the hassle of cables running all over your workspace.

Waterproof Keyboard cover – If you’re on the road a lot, you’ll at least want to keep dust and liquids out of your keyboard. They’re getting better these days, but they can still use the help of a $5 cover. When I travel to the desert or other dusty places, I wrap the computer in plastic wrap, cutting out holes for ventilation and connections.

As for the monitor; these range the widest, though you wouldn’t expect it. There are a million forums talking about a million different monitors. So here’s what you need to know: Get a good sRGB unit with the best monitor color calibration software you can afford. If you’re just starting out, Calibrize will be a great first step. The software is free and will give you a great introduction in color calibration and maintainance.

Great resources for putting together your ultimate computer editing package:

B & H Photo/Video

Spider Color Calibration

Latest firmware updates for your camera and a staggering array of reviews ‘on all things photo’ at Digital Photography Review

PDN review of the new pro medium-format



Camera Review: Hasselblad H5D-50Hasselblad-H5D-50-camera-review-G


There are only a handful of camera brands, which, by name alone, can inspire confidence. However you feel about the Swedish company’s recent forays into enthusiast-level photography gear via its collaborations with Sony that resulted in the Stellarand Lunar cameras, Hasselblad is still a name that suggests quality. Without diving into the controversy surrounding the Stellar and Lunar—there are pages and pages of online photo forums dedicated to discussing these divisive cameras if you’d like to explore them—I will say that it’s a shame that coverage of those models has eclipsed that of Hasselblad’s latest medium-format camera, the H5D.

Yes, in case the Stellar and Lunar compact cameras somehow made you think otherwise, Hasselblad is still firmly in the professional photography business, and its H5D is a top-notch medium-format system for pros. I briefly shot with the H5D at the photokina show in 2012 and, since then, had been hoping to get some significant hands-on time with the camera to do a full review. But unlike the highly competitive consumer market, the medium-format world moves at a much slower pace, as do the cameras themselves (ba-dum-tss!), and it wasn’t until late 2013 that I received a working, 50-megapixel Hasselblad H5D-50 to test. It was worth the wait. The H5D, which also comes in 40-megapixel and 60-megapixel versions, is a significant upgrade from the previous model, with a more robust build and several key upgrades.

I tried out the H5D-50 with my frequent testing partner, the photographer Jordan Matter, and when you haven’t shot with a medium-format system in a while (it’d been about a year for me), it’s easy to forget what these amazing cameras are capable of … and what they’re not. Perhaps it goes without saying, but despite all the consumer-friendly advances that make using compact, mirrorless and digital SLR cameras a fully automated, idiot-proof experience, shooting medium-format is a bigger investment, both in time and money. But the rewards, like the unique format itself, can be huge.

The Hasselblad H5D-50 has the same distinctive design as Hasselblad’s previous H System cameras, but the company appears to have lightened the gray and darkened the black of the camera body/digital back, giving this new model more of a two-tone look. The H5D has an aluminum inner core and a stainless steel housing that’s brushed down to a matte-like finish. With its familiar pistol grip (which doubles as the battery), extended viewfinder scope and serious weight (it tips the scales at approximately 5.5 pounds with the 80mm f/2.8 kit lens), the H5D is a beast to behold. However, even though it’s a hefty camera, I found it to be ergonomic and comfortable. Matter, who shoots mainly with Nikon pro DSLRs, says it felt a bit awkward at first, but eventually grew comfortable with it during the course of several weeks of shooting.

We both agreed that clients would be impressed if you pulled such a serious-looking camera out at a photo shoot and, during our testing, some of Matter’s clients certainly seemed to be. This is not frivolous. If you’re spending $30,000+ for a medium-format system, it doesn’t hurt if the people who hired you to take pictures think your camera rig is something special. In other words, it looks professional.

This is not a putdown of DSLRs, which can be impressive looking in their own right. It’s just that with the ubiquity of DSLRs these days, most folks have probably seen some variation of those cameras before. Medium-format models, on the other hand, are rarer birds and the H5D will turn heads in the studio or out in the field. (The H5D also shoots gorgeous photos, but I’ll get to that later.)

While the H5D-50 weighs about the same as the previous H4D camera, there are some added touches to make the new model more rugged. There’s new sealing between the back and the camera body, and lining the viewfinder and the CompactFlash (CF) door to prevent moisture from seeping in. No one’s going to mistake the H5D for a fully weatherized pro DSLR, but I would have no problem shooting with this camera outdoors in inclement conditions. (I would, however, advise against letting it get a significant soaking from rain or otherwise.)

The buttons on the H5D are also larger, better designed and more of them are customizable, so I spent less time futzing around to adjust camera settings than with previous models. While the 3-inch, TFT type, 24-bit color LCD screen (with 460,320 pixels of resolution) on the back won’t make you forget the tack-sharp image playbacks on a DSLR, it’s decent enough, and with the histogram turned on, we got a pretty good idea of image sharpness and exposure while reviewing shots. (Ideally though, you should be tethering the H5D to a computer if you want quick, on-site image analysis.)

Hasselblad’s medium-format user interface, overall, has improved, but that doesn’t mean it’s great. Yes, there are easier-to-read menus. But fiddling with settings on the small monochrome screen on top of the camera’s pistol grip and via the digital back on the rear is confusing. Truth be told though, since this camera system will mostly be used in the studio with settings locked in from the first shot, most photographers won’t be playing with them very much. Landscape photographers, on the other hand, might wish the H5D were easier to adjust in the field.

Those frustrations will melt away when you gaze into the H5D’s lovely viewfinder. If you’ve only shot with that tiny window on a DSLR or, worse yet, those grainy electronic viewfinders on mirrorless cameras, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. The H5D’s optical viewfinder is one of the biggest and brightest on the market with 90 percent coverage, letting you get a nice frame on your subject before you fire away and kachunk! Yes, another thing you forget about when you haven’t shot with a medium-format camera in a while is the deeply satisfying, large mirror slap offered by this type of camera.

The most important feature on the Hasselblad H5D-50 is not really a feature at all: It’s the heart of this system. Namely, it’s the H5D-50’s 50-megapixel (6,132 x 8,176), 36.7 x 49.1mm, CCD image sensor with pixel size at six microns apiece. (In contrast, pixels in the 36.3-megapixel D800, Nikon’s “studio photography” full-frame DSLR, are 4.88 microns apiece.) The 35mm-size sensors in full-frame DSLRs are nice, but can’t compare to the  image quality, color accuracy, depth of field and dynamic range you get with a medium-format-size sensor. There are some trade-offs, of course, which I’ll get to in the image quality section, but the reason medium-format cameras are so expensive (and still so desired) is because of what these big chips can produce.

Among the notable new features on the H5D is Hasselblad’s upgraded True Focus II technology, which lets you lock in on a subject and then recompose your shot without losing the original point of focus. I’ve found this to be an effective if not exactly groundbreaking technology, which on a DSLR with multiple AF points would be irrelevant. But because the H5D—as with previous H System cameras—has only one center focusing point, True Focus II will let you focus, for example, on the eye of a person in a portrait and then shift the camera back towards the proper framing. True Focus keeps the original point locked while detecting the movement of the camera and compensating, so you get that wonderful blur in the background but still keep the eye tack-sharp.

When it works—and I found True Focus II had about 90 percent accuracy—you’ll really understand why medium-format cameras produce portraits that look more dramatic than those shot with a DSLR, with the background completely obliterated by bokeh, so the subject pops out of the photo. For wider subjects, such as landscapes, with a much wider depth of field, True Focus II is not necessary.

The H5D also features a new Immediate Focus Confirm feature, which harnesses the technology of True Focus II to instantly zoom to the area where the shot was focused so you can check sharpness. When you assign Immediate Focus Confirm to one of the custom buttons, cross hairs will appear on the image based on the True Focus position. You can then use the wheel controls to pan over or zoom in to 100 percent right at the crosshairs. Again, this is not revolutionary, but it does let you more speedily check your image focus afterwards.

In addition to being able to shoot high-resolution RAW images in Hasselblad’s 3FR format, the H5D adds a new JPEG-on-the-fly feature, letting you quickly fire off JPEGs at a quarter of the resolution. Shooting modes include JPEG + RAW along with RAW. As alluded to earlier, the H5D body adds five programmable buttons for personally configuring the camera; and there are extensive tether camera controls, including a new Camera Configurator feature in Hasselblad’s Phocus software, which lets you configure H System camera profiles and make them portable and interchangeable. The H5D’s battery grip also adds more juice, with approximately 50 percent more power. (Word to the wise though, always keep a spare battery on a shoot because this camera and digital back suck a lot of energy.)

If you’re in a rush, medium-format cameras are probably not for you. The quickest model in this class is the 37.5-megapixel Leica S, which can shoot at a maximum “burst” speed of 1.5 frames per second (fps). Hasselblad put a new processor in the H5D but it peaks at 1.1 fps. But, as I said, these cameras weren’t made to be speed demons.

We thought we’d put the H5D to the test, though, and used the camera as part of new project that Matter has been working on called “Athletes Among Us.” As part of our test shoot, we used the camera to photograph a former professional football player jumping to catch a Frisbee out of the mouth of a leaping dog. It was a challenging shoot, even with a high-speed DSLR, which we used as the second part of the test for comparison.

We photographed the football player and dog in a local park, late in the afternoon, using the Rotolight Anova LED EcoFlood Light as the sole, artificial light source. As with the H5D, the Anova LED wasn’t really the right tool for the shoot—it’s designed for up-close portraits—but we tried it anyway, with mixed results.

The H5D and its 50-megapixel back takes approximately 15 to 20 seconds to start up before you can fire your first shot, which might seem quite slow in the DLSR world, but is about average for a medium-format camera. After a few test shots of the football player—former New York Jets wide receiver Chansi Stuckey—leaping and falling artfully to the ground without hurting himself, we were ready to synchronize the player with the dog. The timing was tough, with Matter waiting to press the H5D’s shutter just when the player and dog reached the apex of their leaps. Because there isn’t really a fast burst mode, one shot per sequence was pretty much all we got with the Hasselblad. Of course, there were quite a few out-of-focus duds but Matter’s Nikon D3S, which can shoot 9 fps, wasn’t spot on 100 percent of the time either.

Matter later used the H5D to photograph a dancer leaping in natural light, and the camera did a decent job of keeping up but, as with the football player, his timing had to be spot on, because, to quote Eminem: “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance.”

If you want to shoot fast action with the H5D, the best way is to sync the camera to studio strobes and shoot at the fastest shutter speed you can. Timing is less of an issue if, for instance, you’re shooting dancers, because the pulse of the strobe will freeze the action at the right split second. And naturally, when Matter used the H5D to shoot portraits of the dancers holding a pose, the camera was plenty fast enough. For shooting commercial portraits, the H5D is one of the best imaging tools out there.

We did experience one glitch with the H5D while shooting a sequence, with the camera freezing between shots—an icon of an hourglass was frozen on the screen—forcing us to take the battery out and start over. The problem was, possibly, memory card related. When I later used a fast SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash card with a 90 MB/s (megabyte per second) write speed, I could not duplicate the issue. (Another word to the wise with this camera and its huge 65-megabyte RAW files: always use a fast card!)

Image Quality
When it comes to speed and operability, the Hasselblad H5D can’t compete with the fast performance of a DSLR, even an entry-level model. This big camera and its equally robust 80mm f/2.8 HC AF lens aren’t built for speed but they are built for imaging power.

While not all the images we shot of the football player or the dancer were in focus because the camera couldn’t quite keep up, the ones that were showed the sharp, rich, 16-bit color the H5D is known for. All that juicy resolution was a boon, too: When we zoomed in to 200 percent, we could see the pores and crisp detail of the natural-looking skin of our athlete and dancer. These shots could easily be blown up to billboard size for a marketing campaign.

As mentioned previously, the stunning depth of field you get from a camera with such a large sensor produced a beautiful effect, with the background completely blown out, creating portraits that almost looked three dimensional. Commercial product shooters, food photographers and architectural photographers will also love what this camera can do.

“The results are gorgeous,” Matter says about using the H5D. “There is so much detail, and the drop off at low apertures is stunning. If I was doing large-scale portraiture, this would be my camera.”

If there’s one gripe when it comes to image quality with medium-format cameras, it’s that they’re not the best low-light performers. One sequence we shot with the H5D of a dancer striking a pose under a streetlight at ISO 400 and 800 looked fine on the camera’s 3-inch screen but when we later reviewed the shots on a computer, they were riddled with splotchy noise. On the other hand, portraits we shot with the H5D at ISO 50 and 100 under controlled light looked so natural and showed so much color depth, it blew comparable shots from the Nikon D3S away. Landscape or architectural photographers shooting long exposures on tripods will probably be using the lower end of the H5D’s ISO spectrum, so its higher ISO weakness will not pose as much of a problem.

The Bottom Line
As I tried to make clear in this review, medium-format cameras are such a different beast from compact, mirrorless and digital SLR models, they’re almost a different species altogether. (Which makes it all the more strange that Hasselblad is expanding into the consumer and prosumer camera markets, but I digress.) And as far as medium-format digital cameras go, the H5D is the most fully realized imaging product Hasselblad has made yet and one of the best cameras in its class. With its robust and more weatherized build, the H5D feels as sturdy and luxurious as a camera with this price tag should feel. (Not all of the Hasselblad’s H System cameras have felt this way in the past, it’s worth noting.) Hasselblad’s also made a concerted effort to make the H5D more user friendly, with bigger buttons, a clearer interface and a more ergonomic design overall. If you’re a long time DSLR user, the H5D will definitely feel slow but if you give it time, your patience will be rewarded. Commercial, portrait, food, landscape and architectural photographers who haven’t yet made the jump to medium format should test out a Hasselblad H5D pronto. They may never go back to full frame.

Pros: Incredible image quality with impressive color depth, dynamic range and striking depth of field options; massive amounts of resolution from 50 megapixels will let you blow up your commercial prints to billboard size without loss of detail; more robust, weatherproof build than previous models; gorgeous viewfinder

Cons: Expensive; slow overall performance speed (but average for a medium-format camera); noisy images in low light at ISO 400 and above

$29,500 with 80mm f/2.8 HC AF lens;


Top Ten Photography Tips for Singapore

Okay, so this is wa- haa-hay more than ten tips. But I thought I would round it down and save some title space.

1. Depending on which time of the year, Singapore is a bright city. Take full advantage of the golden hours outside. But the rest of the day should probably be used for indoor photography.  This won’t be a difficult decision, though, since midday hours are the hottest time of day.


2. You will probably get some great aerial photography taking the cable car over to Sentosa Island during the day. But at night, there are definitely some great photographic opportunities from inside the Singapore Flyer.  Other good high points will include the Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino, the university library and any tall building that you can gain access to.  These will be good for day or night shots.

3. Landscape shots can be achieved from just about anywhere in the city from rooftops. But the city also hires out helicopter rides over the entire area starting around $300/half-hour. Check with for booking. And call well in advance.

4. As far as architectural shooting, I would choose a downtown location for evening shooting, depending on where you want the sun. Scouting the morning and night before you shoot will afford you a solid shooting schedule to fit into the very tight window of golden hour light.  Remember, this place is pretty close to the equator, so those dramatic light shots are limited to less hours than, say, somewhere farther north or south in the mid-latitudes.

5. For street portraiture, stick to the heavily trafficked times. The rail system and bridges, as well as public buses, may be off limits due to heavy regulations on filming or stills.  Check with other public works spaces for regulations on this as well.  You will get your kookiest characters at night in and around the Geyland Red-light District and along Arab Street.

6. For nature photography, you can’t go wrong heading into any one of the many public gardens and parks throughout the city.  These places are well kept, manicured daily and almost always free.  And you’re sure to find some rare plants and insects abound.


7. Singapore is a city in which you can run-and-gun to your heart’s desire. A tripod may as well be a ball-and-chain for much of what you’ll want to shoot here. The heat is also going to be a factor in how long you will want to stay outside. So unless you’re shooting time-lapse off a bridge (which may be illegal anyway), just go guerilla-style.

8. Fisheye and wide angle lenses work great downtown. It’s colorful enough in the evening that it might justify bringing the sticks out for a nice, panoramic shot.  30-50mm prime lenses will do great in capturing nice, fast action on the sidewalks for your street photography.  But if you head up to the cable cars, helicopter rides or find a nice perch at your rooftop hostel lounge, don’t forget your 200+mm telephoto. There is enough action to justify bringing the extra weight.

9. As I mentioned before, there is no shortage of light during the dry season. This means you’ll probably want a set of Neutral Density filters. In the rainy season, a polarizer might work nicely for cleaning up those later evening high-humidity shots.

10. Weather can be a bit tricky from September to January as the rainy season throughout the region is in full effect during this time.  So if your travel plans have you going there in these months, be sure to bring a zippered raincoat to quickly stow a camera as the rain comes on quite quickly. It might not be a bad idea to carry a large umbrella (though I can’t even count how many of these I have left leaning against a fence because I was so focused on shooting that I forgot about it).  If you can find a way to attach it to a tripod or your backpack, that’s probably the best way to go. And of course, you’ll definitely want to have a cover for your gear bag. This should be with you anyway. But it’s worth a mention.

11. As for wind and dust, you should already have a dust rocket and fiber cloth. But if you don’t, add them to your pack.  You’ll also want to be mindful of changing lenses in the wind here. There is all manner of microscopic wind-borne debris floating around Southeast Asia. And Singapore is no exception.

12. One note about this region that you may either love or hate (but will otherwise still want to know about) is that around August every year, there is a country-wide burning session that takes place in the rice fields of Sumatra. And because of the trade winds pushing west-to-east from Indonesia, the haze that it creates causes havoc all the way up to northern Malaysia.

You could either use this haze to add drama to your shooting style, or it could quite possibly be the bane of your shooting experience here. It all depends on how you prepare and what you’re trying to shoot.  And in either case, you’ll also want to be mindful of your health as the experience of being here during that time is a lot like standing in front of a campfire for three straight weeks.


13. Your gear will be safe here. Don’t leave it sitting around, of course, and you’ll leave home with everything that you haven’t personally lost or broken by yourself.

Clothing and the rest:

14. Singapore is non-stop. So whatever you bring, make sure that patience and stamina are right there with you. You’ll be sweating, too. So a handkerchief and loose, light clothing would also be helpful. You won’t have to climb anything that isn’t made of concrete, either. So a light, breathable pair of tennis shoes will do the trick over the heavier hiking boots that other Southeast Asian countries might require.

15. Singapore has some strange laws. Among them are No Spitting, No Swearing, No Drinking in Public, and, sadly, No Filming on Public Lands. What does this mean for you, the photographer?  Well, it could mean many things. I personally have a home office in the U.S. and lawsuits across the pond normally die before they get started due to money, time and effort. But if you’re photographing a business with contacts in your home country, this could spell trouble. Model releases normally quash any question of future legal hassles. Keep them on hand. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I just have one copy on hand and have people sign a list indicating that they have read and understand the model, talent and property release that I can show them upon request.

Having said all this, it is strongly recommended that you do not publish any work that has not been released. If it can be construed as defamatory, fraudulent or otherwise piss someone off in general, you will be at the mercy of a court system you likely know nothing about. And you don’t want to end up in that situation. Get home before you publish your blogs. Singapore is not that big of a place. So you probably won’t be there that long anyway. And I wish I could say that I have never heard of anyone getting in trouble for what they publish in this part of the world, but I have indeed. And most of the time, this results in stiff fines and even imprisonment.

This goes for Malaysia as well. North of that all the way to China, you should be fine. But do not think that just because your blog only has a thousand followers, you won’t be picked up here. Play it safe and publish later.

That’s about it. If you have any questions or want to keep the conversation going, head over to and comment on the post.

Thanks for listening and happy shooting!

Nine Years and Nearly 80,000 Images later…

Today is a particularly wonderful day for me.  Not only did I get some amazing feedback from my friends on what to do to make my photography website more functional and more visually appealing, I also awoke this morning to find that my photos were completely transferred to my backup drive.

What’s so special about that, you might be asking?  Well, after I finished editing my last images from the Vietnam album (taken in the spring of 2010) over the weekend, I checked and rechecked — and checked again — and realized that I was completely finished editing nearly 80,000 images that I have collected in the last nine years of traveling, and living and working abroad!


This has also been the driving force behind the recent rebuilding of my entire website, and also the push to publish my photo-books (which has already been set in motion with last week’s release of Slices of Life in North America).

It might not seem like a big deal to those of you out there who don’t do much photography.  But editing photos is a pretty big deal.  Think about the time it takes to make one, single image from snapshot to professional- or portfolio-worthy status:

You research possible shot opportunities.  You go out and find the scene.  You look at the scene through your creative eye — scanning for angles and composition.  You frame up the shot.  You snap a single image — or, in most recent cases, several images at different exposures to edit down into a High Dynamic Range image.

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Then you take that image home to edit it.  You spend anywhere from a few minutes to possibly a few hours working over all the intricate, minute details in order to make everything just right.  And when you’re finally satisfied, you crop it, resize it, and even save it in several different formats in order to ensure that it prints well or looks right in different applications.  And all of this effort is for one, single frame.

Now imagine the time it must take to do that to an entire card-full of images — 1,000 pictures, say.

That’s a long time.  But this is still just the tip of the iceberg when you multiply this effort nearly 100 times over.  At that point, one might begin to get a picture of just how hard bloggers, photographers, journalists and other media professionals endeavor to produce the work they love.

So when my friends wonder why every time they ask me what I am up to, I tell them I am editing, it will come as no shock that for the last two-and-a-half years I have been editing no less than 78,488 images across 663 folders and taking up more than 670 gigabytes of drive space.JakartaResize (20)

All told, it took my computer more than 14 hours to back up these images from my master drive to my redundant drive.  I set it running last night at around 8pm and it ran until just about an hour ago (10:30 this morning).

I have worked pretty tirelessly to create these images — from the excursions to collect them, to the countless hours poring over them.  I am very proud of them.  I know it sounds cheesy and dramatic, but they are ultimately my life’s work.  They are my gift to the world.  And hopefully someone thinks enough of just one of them to remember them as the embodiment of my efforts.  Hopefully someone will take what I have done and seek to outdo it.  Or perhaps something I’ve captured will move someone to educate themselves to the culture or tradition of a foreign place or populace.

I like to think that my brand of images has a unique feel.  And while I have posted the entire lineage of my photographic pursuits online — from my photojournalism days working for the newspapers putting myself through college, to my global travels abound — I find comfort in the thought that there might be a few people out there who have been witness to the evolution of my photographic style, creativity and scope.  Perhaps if they have watched it grow into something better, I can call myself a successful photographer.

I also enjoy the fact that I have paved my own way to creating my type of images, my way, on my schedule and without any outside influences.  Just as a painting would be distorted by a pressured painter, my images would not be what they are today if I had been kept to a deadline, forced to shoot in undesirable locations or to support the agenda of specific content.  I’d certainly hate to think that my hard work would simply wind up acting as a vehicle for some corporate sponsored advertisement.

JakartaResize (23)What I have chosen to do with my photography, too, has been a point of pride.  My images have been published in dailies from the Midwest U.S. and Costa Rica, to Bangkok and Taipei.  My work has been seen in magazines in Asia and the Americas.  My pursuits have won awards with prestigious organizations like the Society of Professional Journalists, the South Asian Journalists Association and the NPPA.  They have earned repeat invitations to sit as judge to various imaging contests.  They have been published in six books to date, with more than a dozen either on the way or in manuscript form.  And I have use them in international exhibits and as I have worked as a lecturer in visual communications on two continents over the last five years.

These images have been the driving force that brought me back into the field of video production as well.  Ever since my brother and I ran the cameras that put our local church service on the air every Sunday morning, he and I have had many years of experience in the photo and video business.  We’ve remained in the field in one way or another throughout our lives.  And the lessons and techniques that have been honed in my time behind the lens have lent themselves to a rewarding experience producing some pretty amazing films.Thaipusam1_resize

And as I look over my newly backed-up database of visual creations, these are the thoughts that cross my mind.  So if I die tomorrow, I would do so knowing that I have finally completed one of my most deeply held aspirations — to capture and share a body of work representative of one man’s perspective in a visual journey through one decade of growing, learning and creating.

And my only hope for the future of this catalog of media is that I can inspire just one other person to embrace the diversity that I have aimed to capture within my images.  We are all birds in the same forest.  Whether we realize it or not is the difference among those of us who have chosen to look beyond the bars of our own birdcages.

Malacca Day 3: Night Driving

This timelapse sequence covers the entire trip from the old Dutch Quarter, through downtown Malacca, to the restaurant hub behind the newest part of town.

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