Inkjet paper de-roller

Worth every single penny

Some things don't seem worth money on paper, but prove to be worth every single penny when you finally take the plunge and buy them. One item that falls into that category is the £200 Lion paper de-roller you see below.

I’ve struggled for years to try to flatten inkjet paper that comes on a roll. I’ve tried leaving the paper under books for weeks in the vain hope that the curl in the rolled paper will be removed, but to no avail.

Then, I saw a YouTube video of someone using a roller blind to remove the curl in the paper. He claimed that his $10 dollar roller blind did the same job as the £200 de-roller, except when I tried it, I got a crease right through the middle of my prints because the roller blind fabric is too thin, so the edge of the paper tends to push through the fabric and imprint itself on itself as you roll the paper round. So as much as his claim that using a roller blind did the same job as the £200 de-roller at a greatly reduced price, he was incorrect. It did the job, but it did it badly as it damaged the paper.

Well, there are so many opinions out there, and the best way to find out if something is good or not is to try it for yourself. My good friend Kyriakos who lives nearby owns a de-roller so I went to try it out and found that it works perfectly. No creases in the paper because it has a thick laminate surface and the surface as it’s being wound round the pole is kept apart from touching the paper by a sandwich layer at the outer edges that keep the laminate away by around 4mm.

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Why does such a simple tool cost so much? Is it worth it? I know you might be feeling that £200 to re-roll paper is a crazy amount, but it’s no different from the argument about expensive tripods.

When we all first start out, we think a $200 tripod is all we need. We find the idea of spending $1000 on a tripod crazy. It only keeps the camera steady right? But after a few years with a poor flimsy tripod that doesn’t stay where you want it to be, or the ball head creeps once you let go, you soon start to realise the value of that $1000 tripod. I know myself that the money at first doesn’t feel like it’s worth it, but I feel very different these days. I certainly wouldn’t go cheap on a tripod in future and as for ball-heads - well, they are useless if they creep at all once I’ve tried to set them.

Same goes for a paper de-roller. I will gladly upgrade from a $10 roller blind that creases and damages my inkjet prints to a £200 de-roller if it does the job and does it well.

You don’t value products by how much they cost. You value them by how good a job they do and the de-roller does its job fantastically well as you can see from the two pictures above showing the curled paper (left) and it flattened once I used the de-roller on it.

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Above is another photo, showing a set of curled prints (I’m preparing for my special edition Altiplano books), and further up the desk is a set of prints after they have had their curl removed.

Alternatively, buy cut-flat paper rather than roll paper?

Well you could do that, but it’s a lot more expensive. Rolled paper works out to be a lot more cost effective than the cut sheets you buy. Plus, you can print endlessly on a roll whereas with the cut paper you have to load each sheet individually (if it’s thick rag paper) into the back of the printer one sheet at a time. So I ended up abandoning cut sheets to go for rolled paper. And now that I have the de-roller, I’m no longer stressed about my prints having a curl in them.

When handling prints, it’s a good idea to use cotton gloves, so that any natural oils in your skin don’t blemish the paper. Above is a stack of prints that had a natural curl in the paper. The curl has been removed by the de-roller.

When handling prints, it’s a good idea to use cotton gloves, so that any natural oils in your skin don’t blemish the paper. Above is a stack of prints that had a natural curl in the paper. The curl has been removed by the de-roller.

We shouldn’t rate products by how much they cost us. But we do. We should rate them by how well they do their job. Tools that do an excellent job, are in my book, priceless.

The de-roller does it’s job very well. It removes the curl in rolled paper of most thicknesses, and it’s built very well to ensure that the paper isn’t damaged in the process.

As with most things - you get what you pay for.

It comes very highly recommended.

Lion paper de-roller :

https://www.lionpic.co.uk/product/Expression-De-Roller--610mm-x-38mm---24---x-1.5--Roller-,34057,0.aspx

Exhibition 2019 Mockups

I'm holding another exhibition later next year (Summer 2019), t

The last few weeks I've been working on the image selection for the forthcoming book, and we have now completed this, along with the text that is going along side the book. Currently I am awaiting Spanish translations as I feel that since this is a book about a region of South America, it should honour the landscape by also having a Spanish translation.

What I found last year about preparing my book, was that I really needed to print each image out to ensure they were optimal. When I did print them out, I noticed that some of them didn't have the 'sparkle' that they seemed to have on my monitor (even though my monitor is tightly calibrated). Some things needed to be pushed so that I was using the tonal range of the paper. It was a fascinating thing to do, as you can so often think the image is finished on the monitor, only to notice discrepancies in the tonal range once printed.

Once I had completed the printing of all the images that were to be contained within the book, I then replaced the original files with the optimal ones. So in essence, the images that were contained within my 'Colourchrome' book were the result of fine-tuning by print-review. Most important and I would urge you to do the same for any image you work on: print it out and evaluate it. Sit with it for a while and see how your impressions of it changes over days if not weeks. You'll be able to notice problems in the image that you weren't aware of on the monitor.

And so it comes to which images to prepare for an exhibition?

If you are considering doing an exhibition (I highly recommend it : everyone of all abilities should exhibit their work: it is the final stage in photography in my opinion), it's a good idea to go into the exhibition space and take measurements. My dear friend Alan Inglis suggested this to me when I was in the initial stages of looking for a location to exhibit. He came in with me and took measurements of the walls and also made some iPhone photos of the walls too (the images you see here).

Once we'd done that, I could set up mockups of the actual frames, all to scale of course, so I could experiment with a layout.

This is what you are seeing on this post today. I have chosen a selection of images and laid them out whilst trying to give them sufficient space, while at the same time maximising the number of images I can display (the more you show - the more value and interest to the viewer).

Last year's exhibition was terrific. I really enjoyed the experience: I got to meet so many people from past workshops and tours who came in to say hello. I also got to meet people that have had me on their radar for sometime, yet I was not aware of them. And the exchange in discussing your work is not to be underestimated.

Once I'd finished the exhibition, I was sitting around thinking 'now what?'. What do I do next? So I asked my favourite Photographer - Michael Kenna that, and he said:

"Hey Bruce,

You should have a show every year - include a few classics and show new work.
It will keep you on your toes. Sales may not increase - that remains to be seen.
But, it’s a good way to measure your own progress. Specific goals and deadlines always make us work a little harder."

Well, you heard the man. He knows a thing or two about exhibitions. So I chose to listen to what he has to say and decided I would do another one this year.

About the mockup's : that is exactly what they are. They have given me the opportunity to see what the final exhibition may look like, and I have been able to move and swap things around till I get the 'flow' right. What is most inspiring of all though, is that by visualising the final exhibition this way, it all just begins to take on a more 'real' aspect. You feel you are one step closer to your goal! I always try to use visual pictures to help me see where it is that I am wanting to go, whether it is mockups of exhibition spaces, mockups of books I want to produce, or even mockups of future workshops I hope to hold.

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Printing is a vital part of image Editing

I've just completed the image selection and sequencing for my Altiplano book, which is due out later this year. 

As part of checking the images are ready for publication, I've printed them all out. There are a number of reasons why I've printed the images but it's mostly because no matter how calibrated my computer monitor is: no one should trust what they see on their computer screen. The only way to validate and prove that your images are as good as you think they are, is to print them out. 

You should invest in a daylight viewing booth to verify your monitor is calibrated (by comparing a print target). And also to evaluate your prints.

There are a number of reasons why you should print out your images:

1. The human eye is highly adaptive. Stare at a computer screen for too long, and your eye adjusts to discrepancies in the white balance and also in the tonal range. 

2. I've often noticed things in the print that I never noticed on the monitor. Yet, when I go back to check if the problem exists on-screen, I now see it. See point 1.

3. Loss of highlights or blocked shadows become more obvious once printed. It takes a lot of time and skill to be able to 'read' a computer monitor and know what it's telling you. See point 1.

Mostly it's all about point 1.

I'm a big fan of Charlie Cramer, the American landscape photographer and once protege of Ansel Adams. I was fortunate to meet Charlie a year or so ago and listen to him talking about the value of printing and in particular how the human visual system works (and deceives us!).

The most memorable point that Charlie made is this (which I am paraphrasing):

"An image can look good on screen, but not good in print. But if you get it to look good in print, it will also look good on-screen"

I agree entirely. Printing *should* be part of your editing process. When you are dodging and burning areas of your picture in Lightroom or Photoshop, you should be printing it out to verify your edits. Editing and printing are therefore highly iterative. You should be circling around between them as you continue to edit your work.

Here is Charlie's talk from the On-Landscape conference I attended. There is a lot of wisdom in what he has to say so I would stay with the video to the very end:

If you want to create great images, then you need to optimise them. The only way to do that is to print them out and evaluate them with a daylight viewing booth. If you're not printing your images, you're not really finishing your work, and it most probably still has a long way to go to being complete.

Printing is the only way to truly evaluate your work

It is only when we print, that we can truly see what we have. Until we print, we are dealing with a half-realised, half-baked image.

My calibrated & profiled monitor and daylight viewing booth. The daylight viewing booth is essential in print evaluation and also in calibrating my monitor.

My calibrated & profiled monitor and daylight viewing booth. The daylight viewing booth is essential in print evaluation and also in calibrating my monitor.

Even though my computer monitor is calibrated and profiled to a tight tolerance, I still find discrepancies in my photographs once printed.

One of the most obvious errors is to discover that the brightest tones in the image, aren't really bright at all. The weird thing about this, is that once I notice that the tones aren't as bright in the actual print, I can now see the same problem when I view the image on the computer monitor. Even though when I looked at the image originally on the monitor, I thought it looked fine.

Our vision is often tricked and what we think we're seeing, isn't the case at all. Let's look at how our computer monitor may fool us. Take for instance this image below. It's a snow scene and I've chosen to work on it with a black background. The image looks pretty bright to me, almost white.

But if I change the background of my monitor to a light-grey tone, the snow scene doesn't look so bright any more.

And this problem just gets worse if I change the background to white as you can see below. The snow scene isn't looking so white any more, but instead, it looks quite muddy. Those bright tones are really mid tones.

Interestingly, if my monitor is calibrated correctly, the white background should simulate what the image will look like if printed on a white piece of paper, and in the example below, I may find that the image will be too dark once printed.

In the final image below, I've brightened it up a bit more to convey what I was looking for originally. This has only been possible because first I viewed the final edit on a white background on my monitor, but more importantly, once I printed it, I noticed it really wasn't as bright as I'd hoped. Now that I've corrected it and printed it, I'm happy, but surprisingly, it also stands up on my monitor also.

My monitor can only take me so far in evaluating my work. I really need to print it to get a better feel for how far I've taken the work, and how much further I still need to take it.

There is certainly some form of perception 'error' at play here and I'm sure it's to do with the fact that when looking at a file on a monitor, the light is transmitted, while looking at a print the light is reflected.

Either way, what I do find to be true, is that prints show up any discrepancies in my images more easily than any computer monitor can. This has nothing to do with the quality or correctness of my monitor, but more to do with the simple fact that there is some perceptual errors introduced by looking at something that is electronically transmitted. 

So printing can be used as a kind of reference, to find discrepancies in the work so you can go back and work on ironing them out. The thing that is most surprising about this, is that if you are able to work on your images until they look great in print, they will also look great on the monitor also. But the same is not true the other way round.

If you really want to push your image editing forward and get the best out of your work. You really have to start printing it.

Just make sure that you have your monitor calibrated and profiled as best as you can get it (use a decent colorimeter for your monitor - X-rite i1 display pro for example), but even once you have calibrated and profiled your monitor, there is only one way to confirm that it is correct: that is to use proof print that is guaranteed to be close to the file it was printed from. I use Neil Barstow's ICC verification target. Once I have calibrated my monitor, I check it's accuracy by comparing the ICC verification target against the file it was created against. The target is placed under a daylight viewing booth such as my GTI viewer below, and I open up the file in Photoshop. I also ensure that the right ICC profile is selected and proofing is switched on. If there is a difference in the colours between my target and file on my monitor - then I need to redo the calibration. I often find that it is more about the colour temperature of my monitor. In the image below, you can see that my monitor is perhaps a little colder than the target is under the viewing booth. So I will turn the white point down of my monitor a little and reiterate the process until my monitor is very close to what I see on the target.

My GTI viewing booth on the left, and my  Eizo 27" monitor on the right. I have the target file opened in Photoshop and proofing switched on. This is the only way to confirm that my monitor calibration is right.

My GTI viewing booth on the left, and my  Eizo 27" monitor on the right. I have the target file opened in Photoshop and proofing switched on. This is the only way to confirm that my monitor calibration is right.

When you do print, let your gut tell you what's wrong with your work once you print it. If you notice that the tones aren't as punchy as you thought they were, then look again at the file on your monitor and I'll bet you that you will now notice that they indeed lack punch there also. Your monitor isn't the best reference for telling you how far you need to go with your edits: your prints are.

Printing for my exhibition

I'm holding an exhibition of my photography in July 2017 here in Edinburgh. 

I know it seems like a long way off, but my calendar is pretty busy for most of the year with only a few weeks now and then at home. So over the past few weeks while I am here at home for the festive break I've been preparing the mats, frames and prints that will form part of the exhibition.

Prints and frames, December 2016 for upcoming exhibition.

Prints and frames, December 2016 for upcoming exhibition.

If you have never exhibited your work before, then I would urge you to consider doing so. It can be an enormously rewarding thing to do - just the preparation, selection of images and working out how best to display them can be hugely satisfying.

One thing that I have noticed over the past few weeks of printing, is that I have had to shake up the collection a little. It was so tempting to print all of my personal favourites, but I found after a few days that there was perhaps too much repetition of themes or perhaps colour palettes. My images from some areas of the world can be muted or almost monochromatic, while other areas such as Bolivia are very colourful. Mixing up the collection of prints to be displayed has become vital in ensuring that the viewer's experience doesn't become too one-dimensional.

Then there has been the issue of discovering that some images are lacking the presence I thought they had. Computer monitors can be extremely deceiving in letting you think the work is as optimised as it can be and even though my system is tightly calibrated and I have a very real sense of how the final print will look, viewing an image on a reflected surface (paper) compared to one that is transmitted (computer monitor), the experience may fall down. So I've found that there is an iteration of printing, evaluating the print or living with it for a few days and then finding I wish to perhaps push to upper tones a bit lighter to maximise the dynamic range of the paper I'm using.

Some printed contenders for the exhibition.

Some printed contenders for the exhibition.

I certainly feel that preparing the work well ahead of the event is crucial as it give me time to let the prints settle in, to notice errors or possible improvements. Plus, I think it's just sensible to be prepared in advance, so there is nothing that you've overlooked - such as frames not arriving in time, running out of ink and paper, or just finding out that the set of images you've chosen hasn't been as wise as you thought it might be.

Either way, it's a real delight to print your own work and to see a true hard copy. There is simply too much reliance these days on the images living in the electronic world of pixels. Photography should be printed and in my view, is never really complete until at least one image has been printed per image that you have finished.

Epson Ink expiry dates

This week I've been doing some printing for my exhibition next year. But I've been having difficulty getting the prints to look as they do on my computer monitor. I've re-calibrated my system a few times and yet there was a colour shift in the prints I saw coming out of my Epson 4880 printer.

A 'before and after' simulation of what I was seeing in my prints with expired inks (1 year out of date)

A 'before and after' simulation of what I was seeing in my prints with expired inks (1 year out of date)

The expiry dates of my inks are now out of date by 1 year. I don't print that often so I seldom go through a 220ml ink cartridge in the time the inks are still valid. But I couldn't imagine how the expiry date would suggest a colour shift so prominent in such a short period of time so I checked around the web, only to find that there is a lot of misinformation and many assumptions by owners as to what happens when the inks expire.

In fact, Jeff Shewe simply stated that the coagulation of the inks would start to break up and maybe not lie on the paper correctly, but there was no mention in any internet search I did, that a colour shift may happen, despite this being what I saw.

So I took the plunge and ordered a brand new set of inks for my Epson 4880 and have just installed them. First I should point out that to do this requires a lot of inks. The old inks have to be flushed out of the system and in order to put enough ink into the print head, also requires the lines to the head to be refilled too. So for the half-size cartridges I've just installed (110ml) I've used around 1/3rd of them up just in the install.

The colours are now back to what my monitor shows me and the prints I'm making are very tightly aligned with what I see on my monitor. So I put out a question to a colour management expert I know, asking if the inks drift past their expiry date. This is what he had to say:

"Yes they do change after expiry, it's especially noticeable in proofing environments where a test wedge is checked."

Which I can confirm by my findings, since I've replaced the inks and I've compared the prints against my calibrated and profiled monitor.

So that's the upshot for you. If you have expired inks in your Epson printer, you're more than likely not getting the full gamut of colours you may be expecting. For me, I noticed that the blacks weren't as deep as they should be, and magentas were much weaker. Some of the blues were not as deep as they should be, and yellow tended to be absent on prints. In general, I felt my prints were a little lacklustre and not as vibrant or deep as I expected. In some cases, this was marginal when comparing before and after prints, but in other cases, it was very obvious.

So my suggestion would be that if you are serious about your prints, you buy the cartridge size that allows you to use most of the ink in the allotted expiry date time, and also check when you buy the inks that the expiry date has a long time to come. Some of the inks I bought are due to expire next September and that is still too short a time for me, while others have around 18 months or more.

The proof is in the print

I've been working on my images for next year's exhibition (I know, it's a long way away, but I really need to utilise my free time - which is in short supply, when I have it). 

Despite having a calibrated monitor which I feel gives a very close representation of what I might expect to see on my prints, I have found that the only way to truly spot errors or inconsistencies in the tones of my images, is to print them and leave them lying around my house.

This does not mean there are any short comings in my monitor, nor any errors in the calibrating or profiling of it either. In fact, any issues I notice in the final print can often be seen on the monitor if I go back to check. This suggests a few things:

1. The human eye perceives electronic images differently than printed images

2. To get the best out of your work, you really need to print it.

I pride myself in having a tightly calibrated system as you can see below - my Eizo monitor is so well matched to my daylight viewing both, that I seldom find prints 'way off'. But this doesn't get round the fact that once I see an image in print form, I may find that either it's tonal aspects aren't as strong as I thought they were. Going back to the monitor to look again, I will find that the print has shown me problems in the work that are visible on the monitor, but somehow, I only became aware of them once I saw them in print form.

Daylight viewing booth and verification test print to confirm monitor is actually calibrated! (it's the only way to confirm calibration and profiling).

Daylight viewing booth and verification test print to confirm monitor is actually calibrated! (it's the only way to confirm calibration and profiling).

As much as I think that *all* photographers *should* print. I realise that many of us don't. Now that we live in the digital age, it seems as if printing is becoming something that many of us don't require. We edit, we resize for the web and we upload.

But if you do care about your work, and wish to push it further along, then I can think of no better thing to do than print it out. If you have a calibrated, colour managed system, then any problems you see in the print are most likely problems that you somehow weren't 'seeing' on the monitor. It is a chance for you to 'look again' and learn.

I've gained so much from my printing. I've realised that my monitor can only be trusted up to a point, and that if after reviewing prints I further tune them to give me a better print, I also improve them in electronic form also. But mostly, I'm teaching my eye to really see tonal inconsistencies and spot them more easily in the future. And that's no bad thing indeed, as photography is after all, the act of learning to see.

Printing - the act of making your work into a physical tangible object

Today is very windy outside, so despite being very keen to get my daily bike ride in, I can't. So what better way to spend the time than to do some printing.

I love small prints. This one is matted to 40x50cm and is a recent picture from Patagonia this May. It's actually a colour photograph, although you might not tell from the jpeg above.

Printing is enormously satisfying and dare I say it - the ultimate end-game with our photographic endeavours. I know, you love just being out there with your camera and it's all about the journey. I completely agree. But there's also something very satisfying about completing some work in print form. Your images cease existing as some electronic group of pixels on a website and instead are transformed into being tangible real-world physical objects. In this age, that alone for some of us is a rare thing indeed.

Inspiration from Printing one's own work

I've just finished printing and mounting one of my prints for an order I received a few weeks ago. Here is the very picture - an 8" x 8" print of Cono de Arita in the Puna de Atacama of Argentina.

Cono de Arita, Puna de Atacama, print, framed.

Cono de Arita, Puna de Atacama, print, framed.

When preparing images for framing, you should always use acid free materials. To not do so, would render the print prone to future damage. As time goes on,  the acids in the gum or tape leak onto the back of the print and can cause discolouration.

Here in the UK, I get all my supplies from Silverprint.co.uk.

Once you have a mount with an aperture cut into it, you should also have an accompanying backing board. Both should be made of museum grade acid free materials.

The next stage is to create a hinge so that the front board hinges to the back board at the very top. I use Lineco gummed linen hinging tape, which is acid free and extremely strong. You can get it here.

Once I have both front aperture board and backing board hinged, I then need to attach the print to the backing board. First I position the print on the backing board and move it around until it's centred in the front aperture window of the front mount board. Once I have that. Then, I attach two strips of acid free paper tape to the print in vertical orientation with the gum side up and attached to the back of the print. The vertical strips are going to form the vertical part of a 'T' shape with two horizontal strips attached to the top of each vertical strip. The reason for creating a 'T' shape is to allow the print to expand and contract with temperature changes and still be completely flat on the backing board. If you just attach the print to the backing board with one horizontal strip, you will find that the print will contract and expand at a different rate to the backing board as temperatures change in the room and the print will never be entirely flat as a result.

Image © www.reframingphotography.com

Image © www.reframingphotography.com

For the inscription on the front of the print, it's best to use a pigment ink liner pen, or pencil. Either of these will not fade, whereas a standard ink pen will easily begin to fade after just a few years being subjected to daylight.

And that's it.

It's been a while since I prepared a print for a customer. Truth is: very few people actually buy prints and I think that even fewer photographers buy anyone else's work at all  (but perhaps that's a subject for another post sometime in the future).  

I've always thought that the ultimate journey with my photography has been to have the images in print form. Making this print has been enormously satisfying for me. It has allowed me to reconsider setting up an exhibition.  I'm currently working on a 3rd hard-back book to be released sometime either next year or in 2018..... some projects are never finished and I'm finding that the Atacama regions of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina seem to be an exhaustive area for me to make photographs in.

Maybe when I get round to releasing the 3rd book, I can coincide it with an exhibition of my work over the past few years. Who knows, but one thing is for sure - printing my own images is a hugely rewarding exercise and it has given me inspiration to think about a possible exhibition sometime in the future.

For more information about mounting, this is a good page to visit: http://www.reframingphotography.com/content/mounting-matting-and-framing

My First Black & White Print

I've spent a bit of time over the past few months researching black & white printing. Until this year, I had deliberately stayed away from monochrome work as I feel that it is a very different space in which to work. It is also an extremely difficult medium to master because any tonal errors or tonal distractions are more evident in the work. With colour, tonal errors are less critical because we have the added distraction of colour.

Printed on Museo Silver Rag paper, using Colourburst's RIP Print driver and Pixelgenius capture and output sharpeners

Printed on Museo Silver Rag paper, using Colourburst's RIP Print driver and Pixelgenius capture and output sharpeners

So I'd looked into using the John Cone system of loading up a dedicated Epson printer with monochrome ink sets. I really liked the sample prints I got from John, but I went ahead and used my own standard colour printer inks to do the monochrome print you see above. My feeling is that if you have a really well calibrated / profiled system, I think monochrome inks via the colour ink cartridges is really nice. I'm certainly happy with it and I would suggest if you are thinking of doing monochrome work with a colour printer, to use really good profiles, or as in my case - a dedicated RIP print driver.

When I looked into printing a few years back, I was amazed to discover that it is almost a religion for some and many people have different ways of tackling it. My system is very simple - I use BasICColour's Display 5 software to calibrate my monitor, and by using a RIP driver with good paper profiles installed, and suitable sharpening algorithms for the final print (I use Pixelgenuis' Sharpener toolkit), you can't go wrong. Oh, and of course you need a really good day-light viewing booth with which to evaluate the final prints.

The print you see above is my first monochrome print, and it's for my client and friend Stacey Williams, who is from Trinidad. Stacey will be on my Torridon workshop next weekend so I'll be delighted to hand her the print in person.

Printing is a very personal thing. The paper choices, how the work is presented are all personal decisions. But what sets a print apart from a computer screen is the fact that it's tangible, physical thing.

And with all tangible physical things, t's an extremely rewarding feeling to be able to actually give the work to whoever it was intended for :-)

Acid Free Tape

You can probably tell by now, that printing is on my mind of late. I've been matting a lot of my work for overseas clients - I guess Christmas must be calling. I thought it would be good to discuss the use of linen hinged tape - in particular - why you should use acid free tape.

Ineco linen hinged tape

As my framer says. Putting normal tape over your prints to hang them behind mats will eat through the photograph in a matter of months. I haven't seen that for myself, but the best thing to do when matting your own work is to use acid-free materials where possible.

What I particularly like about linen tape though, is that it's all water based. If you're not happy with the placement - just add some water to remove the tape and reposition.

If you're interested in getting some, one of the best places here in the UK for presentation material is Silverprint.

Christmas Print Orders

I've been receiving a lot of limited edition print orders for Christmas, and wanted to let you all know that the closing date for printing and shipping is Wednesday the 11th of December. Any orders placed after this date can't be honoured, I'm afraid as I will be out of the country then. prints-mailchimp-400x400

Please check below for the last posting date for your country (see below for table).

If you wish to order a print, you can browse my print selection here.

If you wish to have any of my images from my portfolio made up as a print, that is not available on my store, please just email me.

All prints are 7" x 9", matted to 14" x 13" or if the image is square, the print is 7" x 7" and mated to 13" x 14". All prints are £150 and signed, numbered to an edition of 45 only. They are shipped in a strong ready-pack carboard carton and are insured for transit.

- Printed on Museo Silver Rag Paper - Epson 4880 Print - Mount 14 x 13.5 inches (35.56 x 34.29 cm) - 9 x 7.2 inches image size (22.86 x 18.28 cm) - Signed, titled and numbered on front - Stamp of authenticity, titled and numbered on back

last-posting-dates

Matting & Signing

I've been busy printing a few images as special orders. You might have guessed I've been busy of late with the printing side of things due to the subject matter of my recent posts !

Tonight I thought I would share some of them with you. Each of these images is around 7" inches wide by 7" inches high. Printing, matting, the whole presentation side of things is really a very personal decision, I feel. It should be taken into account as part of the photographers 'signature'.

To my mind, printing is a further extension of the photographers 'voice'. As I said a few days ago - the print is the ultimate calling card, it goes out there into the world, as a representative of who you are as an artist.

So treat your prints well. Give them a lot of care and special love.

Do your utmost best.

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Black & White Printing with Piezography inks?

I'm in the process of thinking of setting up a second printer to specialise in black and white printing. I've known about the Piezography black ink set for a while. This is a custom system whereby each cartridge slot in your colour printer is replaced with a separate black tone ink. The printer becomes a dedicated monochromatic printer.

 

In my mind, I am reasoning that having a dedicated printer set up with different tones of black inks will produce a much better black and white inkjet print, than if I were to use the standard Epson colour inks.

I would really love to hear from you if you have experience of this system, or if you know of any other specialist black and white inkjet system. Specifically, any issues you had, how you feel about the final results compared to doing black and white prints using the normal Epson inks.

Your thoughts are appreciated, and if you feel going 'public' on my blog is too much for you - as was the case a few years ago when I asked for input about colour printing - you can e-mail me directly instead.

The Art of Printing

If we were to gather some stats about photographers, we would discover that few actually print their images, or ever get them printed. The truth is, most images, if they get any further than the hard-drive of a computer,  get as far as a website.

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Which I think is a real shame, because I think there's something very beautiful about the print. It is for me, what I always thought was the ultimate aim with photography.

Way back in the 80's when I was a teenager, I remember looking at some Ansel Adams book's that my friend Craig brought round for me to look at. At the age of 19, I was more interested in music and writing songs. But when my friend showed me these beautifully printed books of Ansel's work, I was really taken in. I still look back at this moment and realise that for me, I've always thought that the final result for any photographer is the print.

I understand that things have changed. We live in a more electronic world these days, and one where everything lives on-line. We enjoy music streamed down from the internet, and we often do the same with photographic images. But I've always been at a loss as to why we're satisfied with this? It's different for music, because the quality of the audio is pretty good. Whereas the quality of a photographer's work can't be enjoyed to the same degree as it would when viewing a well produced print of their work.

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When I released my first book, I had so many emails from buyers who told me that it was so nice to discover there was so much more detail present in the prints, that they hadn't been able to enjoy on my website. It was a very heartening thing to know that others were keen to get closer to my work - because that's what prints do - they allow us to have a more intimate audience with someone's work. I think this is because of two main reasons: the first is that the image is brought into the real world. It exists as a piece of paper and we can touch it and enjoy the quality of the paper it's printed on. Secondly, it's much easier on the eyes to look at work that is printed, rather than being transmitted at so many hertz from an illuminated panel. We tend to interpret work differently when it is presented on different mediums. The way we look at a print, is very different from the way we look at a computer screen.

I would love to see more photographers printing. Because printing is an art-form. It takes a long time to master printing, and it is one half of the photography story. As photographers, we should feel a need to strive for excellence in how our work is presented. And printing our work well is a craft.

In the screen shots you see above, you can see some of my prints. But what you can't see is how much work has gone into them. It's not simply a case of sending a file to my inkjet printer. It's only part of the story to get the entire thing colour managed. It's mostly about being able to convey your vision on a paper medium, and that takes a lot of interpretation skills. Just like deciding on how much editing to do on an image for the web, I have to decide on what kinds of things I need to do to convey my work well on paper. I will often use contrast-masks to achieve this, I will also use creative sharpening applied where needed.

Printing is not only an art form, it is also an immensely satisfying thing to do. To see your images finally come to life, as real objects - ones that you can hold and touch, takes our photography to another level. Our work becomes more defined, because we are no long working in a virtual world. Our work becomes committed, because unlike the electronic world of pixels and websites, the print is an immutable object. It is a fixed constant, a statement of your intent. Above all, it is the ultimate calling card of who you are as a photographer.

Creating a market for Photography

I was delighted this week to hear that there is a new photographic gallery that has opened up in the heart of Edinburgh's city centre.

I'm so pleased, because I wish there were more galleries out there for photographers to illustrate and sell their work.

My motivation is easy to understand, because if there were, the medium would be taken more seriously as a collectable form of art than it currently is.

So this leads me onto my main reason for this post....I've been wondering just how many photographers buy the work of other photographers? I'd hazard a guess that the answer is 'not many'.

And yet, when we look at the number of people out there who take up photography and eventually wish to look for a place to exhibit their work, we will find that there are few places available for budding photographers to show their work in print form. The reason for this is simple: photographic prints do not sell for one reason or another - particularly here in the UK where there is almost no market for them. I could go into great depth as to why I believe they don't sell and I'm sure that the comments to this post will go down that route. There are of course exceptions to this when we consider the big names such as Steve McCurry or Michael Kenna, but I'm really talking about the general photographic community that you and I are part of.

There are thousands if not more photographers who create beautiful work, yet have no means to sell it. Sure we have things like Flickr and it's easy to make our own website and put up a web store in which to sell our work, but prints do not sell from websites because people need to see them in the flesh to appreciate what it is they are buying. Each time I have had an exhibition, despite reassuring buyers that everything on my site is up to the same quality as the prints they see at the exhibition, they always buy from what is on display at the exhibition, even if they prefer a particular image from my website.

In one way, photographers are more blessed these days because they have an outlet and many forums in which to illustrate their work. But the truth is that there is no market for photographic work. People do not buy prints.

I think the main issue for me is a lack of support for photography as an art form from within the photographic community itself. Many of us photographers have never bought another photographers work, because we're far too interested in selling or promoting our own work. And therein lies the problem. If we were more willing to consider other photographers work and patronise it, we would be creating a market in which many photographers, including ourselves, could flourish. In a nutshell, if we wish our work to be patronised, we should patronise others work.

I've had a look around my home, and so far, I have two prints made by other photographers. One I bought from a 'photo of the week' winner on Photo.net many years ago titled 'London Tourists' by David Malcolmson. I was so taken with the image that I contacted David and bought a print from him. It has pride of place in my sitting room and I still enjoy looking at it very much. There's something extremely satisfying about owning a piece of work that I love. I'd like to own a Michael Kenna print at some point, and I've decided to ear mark his work for some time when I know I'm in a position to invest in his work.

I've decided that this year, if things are going well for myself, I'd like to start collecting some more work by photographers I admire. So far, I've only been able to afford to buy their work in book form, and I think this is a great start. The print reproduction quality in book form these days isn't too far away from print quality (the exception for me being Ansel Adams work, which is stunningly beautiful in print form and a million miles away from the excellent reproductions in his books. Same applies to Fay Godwins work also - her prints are so beautiful and although the books are good, they pale into insignificance to her silver gelatin prints).

But books are a great way to patronise and endorse the work of a photographer you like, and perhaps this is the crux of the matter. As a photographer, I'm inspired by my heros, and I've bought just about everything that Steve McCurry or Michael Kenna have produced in book form. I get a great deal of inspiration and I learn a lot by studying their work too, but the learning is less important than the inspiration I've gained from enjoying their work. So often I feel, that it's easy to become engrossed in the 'how' of photography, rather than just enjoying the work at hand.

I'm digressing here a little perhaps. Ultimately, if we wish to have a market space for our own work to be bought and endorsed, we should be opening up ourselves to buying other photographers work, be it in book form, or as prints. We should be supporting and encouraging our field of interest, and I can think of no other better way to do this than to buy other photographers work.

First Prints on their way

I've just packed up my first set of Ltd Edition prints for shipping. Both of them are on their way to different addresses in Canada. Anyway, it's all very exciting to be able to finally do this. Each print has been wrapped in black acid free tissue paper and then wrapped in bubble wrap for the journey.

They are both matted in 'snow white' with a stamp of authenticity on the back of them. Both are edition 1/45.