At the Vail Cascade Resort in Vail, Colorado, thirty-three photographers and a faculty list of some of the most impressive names in photography have gathered for a week to work with the latest in digital imaging technology as part of the
Rich Clarkson Digital Summit. Apple, Nikon and Epson are sponsoring the Summit.
An offshoot of the long running Photography at the Summit Workshop this second annual Digital Summit began two years ago when founder Rich Clarkson noticed that the quality of digital photography was suddenly at the level where a photographer working exclusively in the digital realm was no longer forced to make a compromise. And the catalyst for the change? Professional digital gear from Nikon, and the power of the Macintosh.
“The Mac is pretty much the accepted computer for imaging,” Clarkson told MacCentral. “Always has been, and Apple has continued to position themselves at the front of this changing technology. The Mac is easier to use, and it’s better at doing things that the photographer needs.”
Until recently, Clarkson’s summits were sponsored by Kodak. Kodak would send two large processing vans from Rochester to Wyoming and Colorado for the Photography at the Summit Workshop, and the Sports Shooter Workshop. A staff of twelve Kodak employees worked day and night processing hundreds of rolls of film. “Here,” explains Clarkson “we can do that with digital cameras and Apple computers for one hundredth of the expense that Kodak went through to support these photographers.”
Certainly a peek into the workshop’s classroom reveals that digital photographers are squarely in the Macintosh camp. While many participants have brought their own equipment (the Titanium PowerBook being the most popular solution) the classroom is well stocked with Mac workstations ranging from G3 iMacs to G4 towers, and (the very popular) G4 iMac. A few shooters are more familiar with PC equipment, but working with the Mac this week has been an eye-opening experience.
“I’ve been a PC user for about five years,” says Robin Langsdorf, a photographer based out of Avon, Colorado. “I’ve never been able to get into the creative applications of it because [the PC] is so damn hard. It’s just complicated. What little exposure I’ve had thus far on the Mac seems so much more direct and so much easier.” Laughing, Langsdorf adds, “I have a friend who gave me advice when I was looking for a computer. He said ‘go PC. It’ll do all the things you want it to’. That friend just sold his PC and bought a Mac.”
Apple’s Bob Smith (the force responsible for the company’s sponsorship of the workshops, and a photographer as well) is not surprised. “I always think of things in terms of the integration between the OS and applications. When you look at solutions like PhotoMechanic and Photoshop, and the ease of working with a Mac portable in the field … I think there are a lot of pieces that fit together better on a Mac.”
For this seminar the pieces include the brand new Nikon D100 prosumer SLR, the Epson 7600 printer and Nikon’s new OS X versions of Nikon Capture and Nikon View. This event is the first chance award winning photographers like Olympics shooter Dave Black, National Geographic photographer Joe McNally, former White House photographer Susan Biddle (and a whole list of equally famous instructors) have gotten hands-on time with the new Nikon gear, and the first time many workshop participants have used digital cameras at all.
Instructors and participants alike are finding that the Mac can handle any digital challenge thrown at it. As Apple’s Smith puts it “I’ve had some people tell me that it’s confusing for them to use a Mac here when they are used to a PC, but I’ve never had anyone come to me at the end of a seminar and tell me that they wish they had done it on the PC.”