Tag Archive for 'printing'

So You Take Great Photos, Big Deal… What are you doing with them?

Me with a framed 30x46 limited edition on traditional canvas of Doorway to Winter. Just the start of a long study in how we can better present and display images.

by Gavin Seim: A lot of photos are being made these days. Some bad, some good, some amazing. But what gets me is how little we’re doing with them. Art seems to have become something that lives on Facebook. Most the worlds photographers seem to not even be selling prints to their clients. They just hand them digital file and the cycle of images that exist in nowhere but bits goes on. A few Facebook likes and comments later, the image disappears into the mists of digital bliss.

When we do make prints they tend to be small and cheaply presented. We find the cheapest company to make a gallery wrap that can be bought at WalMart. We buy a plain print, or whatever cheap new product the labs are kicking out in bulk. We take whatever is available. Often it seems we’re not selling heirlooms, we’re selling throw-aways. Has the beautiful art of printing and presentation been lost? Is this good enough?

I say no.. Most images mean nothing until their properly hanging on the wall.

I’m not trying to slam anyone here. I just think serious photographers should think more about the potential of their images and how well their using it. On the business side this is very relevant and wall prints can make a major diffence is sales and profits. Read, Wall Portraits. Why the 8×10 Is Stealing Your Impact & Profit. This stuff matters to our craft.

Sure there are commercials jobs and stock, there are a few projects where prints are not as relevant. But most of the time that’s not really the case. In truth I think we started doing all this because it was easier. It’s a lot of work to make and sell great prints. So we’ve lowered expectations.

Printers and paper options are getting less expensive and have countless choices of presentation and creativity. I bought a Canon 8300 wide format printer last year and just making my own prints has changed the way I think. I no longer just settle for what’s easy. I study mediums, mounting and presentation. I’m getting into mounting prints myself and looking at how I can stand out with unique offerings. While I still offer digital files if needed, my focus has shifted almost entirely to making and selling prints. And it feels so good.

So what does all this mean. Not that you need to go buy your own printer right now, or take your work in an entirely new direction. But you might find you want to do both. My bottom line is that we owe it to ourselves and our clients to start thinking about how we can be better presenting images, what sizes are appropriate. About how we can make more than a digital file and start producing furnishings for walls. Very few people are making really quality wall art. It’s about the only photo market that’s not over saturated right now.

It’s not easy and it’s not cheap to make and display great prints. But so few are doing it anymore that it’s not only satisfying, it’s become a great opportunity to set yourself apart and stand out in a crowded industry. Doing it well is more than just making an 11×14 and buying a frame at Target. It takes time, study and planning. But the reward is like nothing nothing else.

I hope to post an article soon looking in detail and at the mounting and presentation options I’ve been studying and working with. But what do you think? Am I crazy, have you found presentation ideas that are unique and working for you. Share your thoughts in the comments… Gav

The Straight Dope on Digital Resolution and Printable Size.

by Gavin Seim: Updated 11/22/12. There’s a lot of confusion out there about resolution as it relates to making prints, so I want to help clear it up. I make mostly large prints and spend quite a bit of time studying factors that effect my image quality. Often I use a 5D MK II, which is 21MP. I also use 4×5 film because of it’;s vastly higher resolution. It scans in at closer to 200MP. But to start with lets use an average 18MP file as our example.

First let me say that digital has a long way to go in terms of resolution. Today’s camera’s are amazing, but lets get a perspective. Ansel Adams did much of his work on 8×10 sheet film. It’s hard to compare film to digital exactly, but using a good film he probably would have had a rough equivalent of around 400 million (mega) pixels. This makes our digital cameras look pretty paltry at times and it’s one of the reasons I’ve started working with 4×5 film for some of my projects, as it can give me  200+ effective megapixels when scanned (more of that on my pictorials website).

Say we have a full size file from a Canon 7D. The resolution of that file would be 5184×3456 pixels. About 18 mega pixels (roughly 22x less than that 8×10 film). Our file comes in at just over 11 x 17 at 300 PPI. Note that PPI and DPI refers to Pixels Per Inch or Dots Per Inch (a printing term). For today’s purpose I’ll refer to it as PPI as it’s becoming the more common term.

First and foremost, PPI and actual file resolution (or pixels) are not always the same. For example I could take our file in Photoshop and set the size to 30×20. Unless I told PS to Resample (or increase the resolution) of the file, the computer would now see this file as a 20×30. Only now it would show as being just over 172 PPI instead of 300 because the pixels have not changed or increased, which means there must be less pixel per inch when printed at that size – It’s still an 18MP file. I’ve just told the computer it’s larger in physical print size. What really matter however is if you have enough overall resolution. Here a screen capture to show how I was changing PPI. The PPI on each is different, but the pixel quantity is the same.

So what if I printed this file as a 4×6. I’m not sure why I would want a print that small (see the wall portrait article), but bear with me. At 4×6 our 18MP file would print out at just over 860PPI if we left it at full resolution. That’s a lot since most human eyes can’t see any difference above 300PPI. Bottom line, my file has more than enough pixels. Printing with that extra PPI won’t hurt anything. Though depending on the printer, all that information may not be used.

Why does all this matter. Well mainly so you don’t get confused. PPI has relevance in sizing and printing because it can quickly tell us something about how good our print will be. That brings us to larger prints and how this all relates.

Click for larger view – Gavin’s 30 inch canvas, Bull of the Mist. This a medium sized print. Taken in early morning at ISO 3200 made the detail on this slightly less, but it was needed for shutter speed. As you can see, the detail is good, but not flawless. The canvas helps give it an organic art feel. This was made from a file that was 5464 x 2732 pixels. It was up converted to 9000px wide before print. More about this image here.

Resolution VS Large prints.
This is where things get subjective. I’ll speak from my own experience as I regularly produce prints 40 inches and beyond. With our 18MP file we know we have plenty of information for a baby print. What about a serious print meant for the wall. Lets look at that 20×30 again. Lets go into the “Image Size” box of Photoshop and changing the file dimensions to 20×30, without altering the resolution as I did above. I left Resample un-checked which means I changed the print size but not the amount of pixels in the file. We’ll now have 172PPI at a print size of 30×20. Are you getting it? This is telling us how much information we have to lay on paper in terms of real life printed pixels – 172PPI is not bad. Most peoples eyes can probably see a bit more detail than that, but the print should still be good. Continue reading ‘The Straight Dope on Digital Resolution and Printable Size.’

Pro Photo Podcast #74 – Crazy Awesome Image Quality

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Today’s Host... Gavin Seim.

Today we’re going in depth on digital quality and the Six Keys to Image Quality. Gavin discusses what he’s learned about getting down and getting the best image quality possible from digital files.

Gav with the new printer. The image links to the post about it.

Podcast #74 forum discussion:

Notable Time Indexes:

  • 00:00 Introduction. The Challenge
  • 07:05 The Six Keys to Quality.
  • 26:07 Editing Process in depth.
  • 29:18 Film resolution thoughts. More process.
  • 49:05 Thoughts on cameras, sensors & lenses.
  • 51:23 The new printer. Canon IPF8300.
  • 56:52 Picks of the week (links below)
  • 59:20 Coming workshops and closing thoughts.
  • 1:04:32 The after show.

NOTE: The Pro Photo Show Christmas contest winners will be announced soon. Stay tuned.

The Six Keys to Getting Great Image Quality.

The Fuji X100 looks really good.

A look at RAW vs JPEG.

File degradation article.

Continue reading ‘Pro Photo Podcast #74 – Crazy Awesome Image Quality’