At Color Six Johnny Lee (right) and Simon Lo assess test prints for a Lee Fook Chee exhibition.
Taking images forward to where they are ready to print requires care and detail. If all is done well, each stage adds further image quality to the preceding process.
Publishers today benefit greatly from the remarkable power of modern scanning and imaging equipment, and related digital software. Images, if slightly flawed, can still be worked up to make aesthetically strong reproductions. In this, Color Six, with Johnny Lee and Simon Lo, has been an invaluable ally and friend.
This is evident in three of Edward Stokes’ books: Hong Kong’s Wild Places (1995), its Chinese edition, Shan Shui Yau Ching (2000), and Hong Kong Nature Landscapes (2010). Each of the two later books has some photographs from his original Hong Kong’s Wild Places; and in both of the later books there is a striking improvement in the overall and specific image quality. But only in the last, Hong Kong Nature Landscapes, are the printed reproductions absolutely true to Ed’s original transparencies. This reflects recent progress in digital imaging, his greater print experience, and book publication funding.
Regarding photo enhancement, photographers always exploit the best technologies of their day. But there is still a clear line between acceptable image ‘enhancement’ and fundamental ‘alteration’. In the latter case, the entire meaning of a photograph is manipulated through changing its content, or by drastically modifying the image’s original lighting or moods. Always to be avoided!