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Should I worry about linear workflow (as a photographer)?

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Daniel Schmidt
Should I worry about linear workflow (as a photographer)?
on Mar 16, 2013 at 3:29:25 pm

I hear people talking a lot about linear workflow recently and I am wondering if this is something that should concern me as a photographer. Is this an issue that is only relevant for 3D artists and motion graphics artists or does it also have relevance for still image editing in Photoshop?


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Jonathan Ziegler
Re: Should I worry about linear workflow (as a photographer)?
on Mar 17, 2013 at 3:58:13 pm

As far as I understand it, the equivalent of a "linear workflow" in photography would be shooting to JPEGs instead of RAW. Since photography relies on real light, none of it is linear because light is not linear. Instead, light has natural falloff, loses stops over distance, and, unlike the virtual, digital world, can't be controlled like that.

As far as I'm concerned, "workflow" is a misnomer. "Settings" would be more accurate. To me, a linear workflow would be: I do x, then y, then z, but it specifically refers to developing your 3D graphics using linear light and building gamma into your images. Photography, as a discipline, has filters, lighting techniques, lenses, film stocks, and a whole 150 years worth of techniques to draw upon. 3D graphics really doesn't because its so new and they naturally believe they have invented a new wheel, but its still just a tool that gets a job done. It's a shiny new wheel with neat bells and whistles, but its still just a wheel.

If you are having issues with your work and you think you need to change it up, do it, but don't try to force yourself to do some new catch-phrased technique because a marketing team says you should so they can sell more software. Only do it because it will actually help.

My 2c.

Save early. Save often.

Jonathan Ziegler

http://www.electrictiger.com
520-360-8293


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Conrad Olson
Re: Should I worry about linear workflow (as a photographer)?
on Jul 31, 2013 at 11:13:37 pm

I know this is an old thread but I thought I should reply.

As a visual effects compositor who works with a linear workflow every day in Nuke I would like respectfully disagree with Jonathan.

The reason that we work with linear light is because that is exactly how the real world works and all of the maths that we do to adjust our images is designed to work on linear images. That said, if your software is dealing with all the different colour spaces correctly is should take care of this for you.

Film however does not work in a linear fashion.

The main reason that we don't work with linear light all of the time is dynamic range. Most devices cannot record or display the full range of brightness values that our eyes can see, so apply some kind of curve to the values to remap them into something that visually makes sense.

Personally I don't know if RAW images from a stills camera are linear or not, the RAW plug-ins would deal with that. Jpegs are almost always nonlinear and are in sRGB.

I don't know how the colour science works in Photoshop or Lightroom, I let it deal with it all for me, so I can't answer your original question. But I thought I should chime in.

This PDF gives a decent explanation as to how Nuke works in a linear way. It might be interesting for non Nuke users too:
http://vfxio.com/PDFs/Nuke_Color_Management_Wright.pdf

---

conradolson.com


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