Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill


Digital Darkroom: My Workflow - Computer Hardware

Part/Page 2: The computer hardware I use in my workflow...

If you're looking for information about the software I use in my digital darkroom, you're on the wrong page - go to Page 1 for that information!

Confession: I am a proud Mac user. I have been a Mac user for years. I will likely always be a Mac user. Getting into a Mac vs. PC debate here would be as useful as "debating" creation vs. evolution or pro-choice vs. pro-life. Both Mac and PC (Windows) systems can be configured to meet the needs of any digital photographer. If you like Windows-based PC's use 'em. If you're a competitor of mine, PLEASE use a PC ;-)

I am most productive using both a desktop system and a laptop. Plus, a few peripherals like a Lexar Professional Firewire CompactFlash Reader, an Epson colour printer, and a slew of LaCie backup drives. And, of course, I use an iPad and iPhone regularly, but they really aren't tools used in my day-to-day workflow...

Desktop Computer System

Most of my digital workflow occurs on my desktop computer with dual monitors. I tend to purchase fully loaded state-of-the-art CPU's and keep them 3 or 4 years - normally until buying the latest system will give me a speed bump of a factor of at least 5-fold (in Photoshop). I keep peripherals and monitors considerably longer. Here's my current Mac Pro desktop configuration:

CPU - Dual 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Processor. Loaded up with 32 GB of RAM and four 1.5 TB hard-drives and dual NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 video cards.

20" Cinema Display. My "smaller" of my dual monitor configuration. Has great colour (and matches the colour of my primary monitor very well). Normally visually occupied with thumbnails or text-based documents but not with the images I'm actively editing.

30" Apple Cinema HD Display. My primary monitor and where I do my serious image editing. Great colour (and colour matched to my colour printer) and a LOT of real estate. A wonderful luxury if it fits into the budget.


Day-to-day I use my laptop a LOT. For communication. For surfing the web (and testing websites). And, once in a while it comes with me on a long multi-day field trip when I may need to do some initial image cull/editing to free up some of my compact flash cards. I also use my laptop to "play" with images in the evening (or whenever I want to emerge from my office). I currently use a MacBook Pro with a 2.93 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and with 17" matte finish monitor. This laptop is NOT built for maximum portability, but it has a great display (you could do REAL image editing using this display) and enough horsepower to drive "real" imaging applications such as Photoshop and Capture One Pro.

Colour Printer

I currently use an Epson Stylus Pro 4000 for my colour printing needs, including printing my Limited Edition Prints. Old? Yes. But this printer produces brilliant output and allows me to produce prints up to 17" long along their shortest axis (and, because it accepts paper rolls, of any length along the long axis). The size of the output of this printer rarely limits me. When it does, I simply use a larger format Epson printer using the same printer drivers (which, fortunately, my local pro Nikon dealer has available). By the way, to get the most out of any professional Epson printer, I'd recommend "driving it" with ImagePrint software by ColorByte Software (for more on this see Page 1 (My Workflow...) for that information.

Backup Drives

Any even half-serious digital photographer absolutely MUST back-up their digital files on a regular basis. I have an array of multiple LaCie external firewire drives (all are 2 TB drives) and, at any one time, have a minimum of 3 copies of my image libraries (plus selected images on DVD's that are stored off-site). The interval between my backups is never more than 1 day, thus it would be extremely difficult for me to lose more than 8 hours worth of work on my images, even with a catastrophic drive failure. If your images have any personal or economic value to you, back them up regularly. Period.

Looking for a listing of the software I use in my digital darkroom? Proceed to PAGE 1: My Workflow...

Page Update/Revision: February 14, 2011