KRIS GRAVES PHOTOGRAPHY

Guggenheim Museum photographer Kris Graves uses NEC's color-critical monitor for photo and video editing because it offers realistic colors and improves workflow.
 
 
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Quick Facts
  • Facility: Kris Graves Projects
  • Vertical: Photography
  • Location: Long Island City, NY
  • Challenges: Provide photorealistic colors for professional printing of photos; Improve workflow between photo and video editing
  • Solution: 27” NEC MultiSync PA272W-BK-SV with SpectraViewII™ color calibration software
  • Result: Helped Graves stay true to his art form and allowed for photorealistic images to be produced
  • Date: August 2013

Based out of the vibrant city of New York, Kris Graves’s modest photography studio off of his apartment may suit the nature of his minimalist photography style, but it belies the depth found in his photos. Since 2004, Graves has worked on numerous photography and video projects and boasts an extensive portfolio, along with various published works

For Graves, photography isn’t merely the recording of an image as it is for most of us. It’s an art form he pursues with passion. Specializing in dramatic landscapes in all sorts of settings – urban, rural, and some of the most remote locations on the planet – Graves seeks to share the wonders of the world with those who view his work, whether it is as an individual print, on a website or in one of the numerous books he has published.

In order to make sure that the images he captures stay true to the moments in time when he experienced them and the places he has ventured, Graves knows he must have the best tools at his disposal.

The Challenge

In mid-2013, Graves, ever in the middle of multiple projects, came to realize a serious disparity in quality between the professional-grade NEC MultiSync PA271W monitors he used during his day job at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the more consumer-grade monitor he was using for his personal work. Graves’ Guggenheim work involves photographing works of art for archival purposes, something which requires significant care in almost all aspects of the task. Beyond the considerations necessary for the handling of any give piece of art, the importance of capturing the true colors, shadows, and overall style of each piece for the archive is something which requires high quality equipment. The NEC monitor functioned on another level, beyond what he was experiencing at home. As an artist, this difference stood out starkly to him, and he began to consider that it might be time for a change. “You always want your work to look its best,” said Graves. “And when you’re working with publishers and having your work printed, you have to make sure the colors are spot-on. This was something I couldn’t risk and decided I needed to take extra steps to ensure the quality.”

His workspace consisted of an Apple laptop that he used for video editing and a desktop PC that was used for photo editing. While both the laptop LCD and desktop monitor were used for different purposes, each had different color presentation and were inconsistent compared to his work environment.

The Solution

Fate intervened for Graves when he was contacted by NEC to review the very product he required, NEC’s new 27” MultiSync PA272W. NEC reached out to Graves after reading comments he made about his work at the Guggenheim and the current NEC monitors he used there. “It was really exciting to be given the chance to use this display before it was unveiled,” said Graves. “I grew up with NEC products. My father always used them in his work, so I knew what an exciting opportunity this was and felt fortunate to find myself in a situation where I could receive a unit to review for NEC.”

Graves immediately tested the limits of the PA272W, putting it through the paces as he designed the layout for his next book, edited scans for multiple artists, edited his own photography collection, and continued photographing and editing artworks overall.

Specifically, Graves found the resolution of the PA272W to be far more impressive than his previous monitor. “I was able to get a resolution of 2560 x 1440, which is impressive. The unit I had been using was the same size, dimension-wise, but could never offer this many pixels,” said Graves. This increased resolution meant he could now view drastically more detail in his images than he could before.

For his work, this meant special attention paid to the finer details of the scenic views he captured. For example, during one of his three trips to Iceland, Graves captured an image of melting icebergs which featured a variety of shades of blue, not only from the iceberg but from the water in which it floated. The details captured through his expensive camera equipment and lens can only be done justice with a monitor distinguishes between the subtleties of the various hues and gradients.

The effect is similar to the work of the Impressionist painters, where many hundreds or thousands of individual dots or brush strokes were used to create an image, but only when viewed at a distance. Georges Seurat’s iconic Saturday in the Park with Friends is perhaps the best-known example of this style. The closer you get, the more detail you see but the image itself cannot be taken in, only the dots.

For Graves, the reverse is true. While there is in image to behold from a distance, the closer you look, the more impressive it becomes. The subtle changes among shades of blue and white in the iceberg can be appreciated and offer a deeper sense of the moment itself. Perhaps there is an individual drip forming or the last bit of an ice lattice structure is failing. These minute details, which add drama and life to an otherwise simple scene, are all in the images which Graves captures. Without a high-quality monitor at his disposal, however, it is difficult for him to add the little touches that allow him to share what he saw in person with the rest of the world in his individual prints and books.

In that same vein, Graves also said the color correction feature provided by NEC’s SpectraViewII was an amazing addition to the display. “With my work, I have to make sure the screen is absolutely color correct for proofs when everything goes to press. Having the color correct option makes it easy to work for all mediums, books, video, the Internet, etc.”

Again, the beauty of the melting ice which he captured during his travels would be lost, if not done an injustice, without having technology which can complement his camera. NEC’s SpectraViewII system uses a color sensor to take color measurements of the display screen during calibration. The software analyzes these measurements and sends color adjustment commands directly to the display monitor. This means that color adjustments are made in the monitor rather than in the computer’s video graphics adapter, which is often unable to render the subtleties required for this type of work. With SpectraViewII, the video graphics adapter is not used at all to make any gamma or tone response curve corrections to the display, so the fidelity of the system is maintained.

Graves also noted that he’s actually able to use two separate computers via the PA272W at the same time. “Using two computers on the same monitor with the same keyboard is an amazing option for me because I often have an Apple laptop set up for video editing and my PC set up for photo editing,” said Graves. “It also allows me to have the same color correction on both devices, which assures me of the output.”

In the end, Graves says he is very satisfied with his switch to NEC’s PA272W. The unit will help him stay true to his art form and allow for photorealistic images to be produced.

 

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