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OTG - Define the photographer needs - Part 2 - The Lab

In my previous article i was talking about the choice of your camera. And because it is a really personal decision, even after you've define the most important technical requirements for you, i haven't cover the subject in dept.

Now let's move to something more objective, and easy to define, your photographic lab.

First things first, what's a lab ?

A lab in photography, was first a place where you can develop and transform your negatives (remember silver photogaphy ? ). For those processes you were supposed to have some chemical skills, because every modification on your raw image was done across specific "recipes" of chemical solutions.

Now we've moved to the digital photography era, a lab is more a reference than a real idea. Still the place where you can develop and transform your raw image, but instead of a place it is a computer, and instead of chemical formula, you have some powerfull softwares.

What is the "OTG" version of the lab ?

Following the previous analysis, the goal is still to switch from an heavy and fixed equipment to something light, scalable and easy to transport.

On our modern version of the photographic lab, we have three major components

- The compute : Any powerfull computer

- The interface : A good screen and an optional graphics tablet

- The intelligence : An advanced photographic software

 My first lab was composed of a MacPro, an Apple Cinema Display 30" and the famous Adobe Photoshop CC. If you don't know what it look like, just check this picture : 

My MacPro a.k.a "The Beast"

Not really "light" right ? 

But when you've worked with this level of equipment it's difficult to think about working on something more transportable, and loosing performance and comfort. And shall we work on a Mac or a Windows ? (i'm personally an Apple fan, please don't rage...) 

So what are the solutions ? One of this heavy professional or gaming "laptop" ? A laptop with a touchscreen to replace the graphics tablet ? An expensive Macbook Pro ? I don't think so. 

Hybrid still the solution..

We have a new category where we can found an answer to those needs, as the camera, the hybrid laptop. This new category of computer exist in different versions.

- The laptop which dream of being a tablet : Those laptops look like the others. They are special because they have a touchscreen and generaly some advanced screen articulation which permit to "transform" them into an almost-tablet computer. The advantages of this solution are about battery and power you can have. But the major problem of this computers is, they are design as a computer. So even if they have those improvements, when you want to use it as a tablet, or as a graphic tablet, it's a pain in the ***. 

- The tablet which dream of being a laptop : This solution is my favorite (one more time it is my own point of view). Basically your device was designed as a tablet so it is easy to use as, and easy to take away. even if you are limited in term of power and battery, you can have enought of each to use it without restriction. The limitation is more about scalability. Because of the small format, this device is not customizable. 

Personnaly i've spend a lot of time with a Macbook Pro, an iPad, and a MacPro ( as i told you... Apple "fan"). Each of them were good in their segment. But none of them can satisfy the needs of an On The Go Lab (MacBook Pro is close but really too expensive for a powerful configuration). So i've finally switch to Windows, and more than just switch the OS, i've bought a Surface Pro (aka Microsoft home made tablet) ! 

Best Compute/Interface : The Microsoft Surface Pro

So why the Microsoft Surface Pro ? 

Across all the devices i've tested (HP, Dell, Toshiba), this one have the best finish, is really complete in term of technology and power, and there is a lot of accessories that make it look like a real computer. Full aluminium, beautiful HD screen, advanced tablet function, high sensitive pen, powerful processor, ssd, sd slot, and a lot of technology densely-packed inside this awesome device ! Ok... maybe i'm too enthusiastic ! But if you haven't already try one you should !

From left to right : Polaroid, Surface Pro, Fujifilm XPro-2

So now we have a tablet with the power of a computer and a good screen (Compute+Interface)! Fine, what about the intelligence ?

Intelligence ? Combo Adobe Lr + Ps

Here, no surprises, Adobe still a leader in photograpic software. But we can introduce some variations. 

Photoshop don't have to be the first step of your development process (that's what i was doing at first).
Now, Lightroom is a better choice. It was more a library management software than an advanced photo edition solution, but version after version, more and more photo tools were integrated inside. You can direclty import your raw data and edit some basics, and if you need more, Photoshop still THE solution. 

Lightroom interface

I'm just a beginner with Lightroom and i'm still searching how to use it on an efficient way. This software is a good mix between your library management and your photographic edition tool. I'll show you in next article that it can be more, it can be your photographic process hub (i mean, it will be the link between each step of your creation).

If you need more information about those two software feel free to search on the internet about tutorials. Because they are the major solution for photography edition and library management, it is easy to find help or videos about them. 

What's next ?

Now i've helped you define your Lab, we'll be able to continue our journey to a complete OTG environment.
As before i'm just giving you some advices across an explanation of the way i followed during my reflections. My advices are volontary global to let you find your way to the most adapted solution for you. 
In my next article i'll talk about the publication, followed by a part about security. Now you have your camera, your lab, and can already create, what about publishing those creations ? And what if during your walk your laptop fall to the floor ? You'll loose all your work ? Impossible ! 

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