Category Archives: Information

Fine Art prints done local

Recently, I was contacted by a client, asking if they could purchase two of my images, but as Posters prints (24×36 inches).

It is not usual for me to get Print orders from 5×7 to 11×17, but never something as big as 24×36!

I said Yes, and then began to panic, especially when I realized the two requested images were taken back in 2013, with my Canon EOS Xti/400D, which is only 10.1 megapixels!

Images taken at Marsh Creek State Park during a sunset.
Images taken at Marsh Creek State Park during a sunset.

Going Big

Starting on Google, I searched for suggestions on how to enlarge files without losing quality.

I knew from passing interests, that there were some specialized software for doing larger than ‘normal’ sizes, and some of them were interesting, but I could not justify the cost for just two images.

Eventually, I found a trick with just using Photoshop.

Basically, instead of enlarging it in one step, in my case 3888×2592 to 11096×7396 (or 285.39%), you do a series of incremental enlargements at 110%, up to the size needed.

I did it both ways, and you can see the difference!

But, one problem.

Too Big

The final working file size.

Hay Bales at Stroud Preserve 2013
Some stylized hay bales taken in Chester County PA.

The color image, “Marsh Creek sunset” is a 16-bit HDR (11096×7396 @ 300dpi) file weighing in at 1.38 GBs; the B&W images was not as bad, coming in at 403 MBs.

Dealing with files over 1 GB is not usual for me on my local computer, but I knew my Print house in New York City (NYC) had a 200MB limit (TIFF 8-bit sRGB, no compression).

With the color file, the first thing that I did was reduce it from 16-bit to 8-bit, which got me down to 466MBs.

Finally, after some design changes of the poster layout, I got both files down to about 378MBs, still far too large for NYC.

Finding a Printer

So I started to look at local places to print, and Brilliant Studios in Exton popped up.

After looking at their home page, I needed to visit!

My Tech Geek was kicking in!

During my days at Kodak and TV Guide, I had to visited many commercial print facilities around the United States and Canada, and on the surface, Brilliant Studio looked too good to be true.

So I emailed the main contact on the website, Bob Tursack, who also happens to be the CEO, with the information on my  poster project.

Changing Printers is not an easy thing, especially when it comes to color printing.

I’ve been using the same Printer in NYC for 10+ years, so switching to someone new, on such a unique project, from my point of view, was very risky.

During several email exchanges with Bob, I mentioned my file size issue, and to my surprised, I never got the idea there was a limit, which seemed odd considering the 200MBs limit in NYC.

I was also introduced to the term giclée printing, “fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers.

Sounds like a marketing term, but when you dig deeper, there is a broader color range and papers.

Bob suggested the Hahenmule Baryta Gloss, “this paper has its own quality that is akin to traditional darkroom silver fiber papers”.

Now he had me hooked.

In my youth, I spent hundreds of hours in the darkroom, printing black & white photos, for hobby, school and work, so this was music to my ears!

After a day or so, late in the holiday season, Bob invites me in for Proofing.

I was excited.

Oh Wow!

I arrived at a building, that I had passed countless times in my 17+ years of living in Downingtown, questioning what I was going to see.

I walked into the reception area, and introduced myself to the receptionist.

While waiting, I looked around at various books on the tables and prints covering the walls.

My commercial printing background was kicking in.

Was this stuff being printed here?

I flipped through several art books, and the quality was amazing.

After several minutes, Bob arrived and escorted me back to the Proofing area.

Past the beautiful offices and sub-studios, and finally into the main printing area.

My jaw was on the floor!

Traditionally, high volume color printing is not a clean activity.

This place seemed spotless.

Even their 60+ year old Heidelberg offset printer looks brand new!
(If I remember correctly it was imported from Germany and rebuilt!)

Anyhow…

I snickered to myself as I entered the nearby Proofing booth, similar to the one I entered at Kodak, on my first day, to test for color blindness and how many places had I visited that had no concept of controlled lighting.

Part of me was in Geek heaven.

Needless to say, the Proofs looked great, and things that I worried about in my head, did not come up.

A couple of days later, I returned to pick up the final 24×36 prints, and they were gorgeous!

The size, print quality and paper all worked together to enhance the final pieces and I was extremely happy to present them to my client!

A Gem of a Neighbor

Again, I am blown away with this GEM of a Print house, right in my back yard, roughly 2 miles away!

I’m also amazed that I had never heard of them before, and they have been there since 2003!

As for pricing, it is definitely more expense then going with my NYC house, even with shipping, but now I have two options to present to future clients!

Update – A couple of days later, another new client wanted  two 11x14s, and I immediately sent the files to Brilliant Studios, and also got excellent prints! – I have printed these in the past, and the yellows tended to be a little ‘hot’, but when done via the giclée printing, they were still rich without being too vibrant.

 

So with that being said, who wants a Fine Art Print?

- Andrew
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Review Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
My Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM for Insurance purposes.

On March 20, I purchased the new Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

I did a great deal of research be the purchase, and sweated how I was going to pay for much a lens.

Then there was the justification, and knowledge that it will probably not be replaced in the Canon lineup for at least 10 years (in theory, based on the 14 year lifespan of the previous model), and it’s safe to assume that the actual camera/sensor will only get better, and my current camera bodies are on the low-end…

Anyhow, I got it!

Four monthly later, I thought I would add my thoughts into the mix.

Amazon Review

Shortly after receiving the Len, I wrote a Review on Amazon – “Hate It! – Going to Cost me More Money!“, which was not well received, because I was a little too sarcastic…

Guess I was still a little upset after my last attempt to buy something from Canon direct… another story…

But at the same time there are points that are valid, and I will add to them in this post.

As one of the commentators suggested, I was mocking the cost of the lens, which was out of the price range of most buyers.

I agree, this lens, on a pure cost alone, is well beyond most camera owner’s budgets, but as I pointed out, I have owned Canon for nearly 40 years (film and digital); it was part of a ‘mid-life crisis’ purchase and my first L-series lens. I had ‘earned’ it, damn it!

Continuing, I said that I also opening a new insurance rider with this particular lens in mind, which adds to the cost.

As mentioned, I have been using and collecting cameras for over 40 years, starting with my first camera, a Canonet from the early 1960s.

At this point, I have six camera bodies and over a dozen different lens, filters, tripods, etc., so I was more than a little surprised when putting an insurance list together, to see how much I have invested over the years, with the 100-400mm being the single biggest line item.

I did NOT take the lens out of the box until I notified my insurance company!

One point to my Amazon Review Subject line contention. (1-0)

The next was filters.

I have several 58mm and 72mm glass filters, but the 100-400mm being 77mm. I needed to buy at least a Circular Polarizer Filter, and again in reading reviews, as some stated, ‘if you are going to spend this much money, are you really going to put cheap glass in front’, plus the lens hood is special designed with this type of filter in mind!

I will also have to upgrade my square 85mm filters to 100mm, but I should have invested in a 100mm system to begin with. My bad.

Another point to my Amazon Review Subject line contention. (2-0)

As I started to review my first images in Adobe Lightroom, using the 100-400mm on my T5i (700D), I did notice ‘things’ did appear to be crisper, and the first image I pulled up, I did say ‘Holy Sh1t!”, but since then, not in all cases.

I’ve shot in direct over-head sun, 1/1000+ at f8+ where it should be sharp, but found some softness, and other times, and I’ve gotten down to 1/30 full open aperture, and razor crisp – all hand-held!

With some of the close-up testing that I’ve done, I am seeing some fraying on some edges, that does not appear to be chromatic aberrations that I am accustomed to seeing.

I am getting the distinct feeling that the sensor (APS-C) is having problems with the resolution detail.

I bought this lens, with the knowledge that it will probably not be replaced in the Canon lineup for at least 10 years (in theory, based on the 14 year lifespan of the previous model), and it’s safe to assume that the actual camera/sensor will only get better, and my current camera bodies are on the low-end…

I will not really see the beauty of this lens without a serious upgrade to a full frame sensor camera body, or put another way, future purchase, future cost.

Point 3 for my Amazon Review Subject hypothesis.

After 4 months of Ownership

Now that I have used the 100-400mm on my T5i (700D) for the past 4 plus months, I wanted to do a follow-up Review, and change the Amazon Review from a 1 Star rating.

Auto-Focus & Ring Placement

In my original commentary on Amazon, I talked about the Auto-Focus (AF) being very fast, but I have also noticed that in fast close-up situations, it can fail very quickly while trying to track/pan with the subject, small insects in my case, carpenter bees.

During the early spring, they fight/protect their nests at high-speed dive bombing attacks, so trying to focus quickly can be difficult at best.

Okay, just switch to manual focus, and focus across on the plane.

No problem, for a shot or two.

For me, the problem is the placement of the Focusing ring, it is the inner most ring, right next to the body.

I have big hands and fingers, so while I am trying to focus, I can not easily steady the lens, the balance is off.

Not that it is going to make any difference, but I would have preferred the Focusing ring closer to the front of the lens to help with stability, with the Zoom ring in the middle and the Zoom touch adjustment ring in the rear.

By the way, I’m not a big fan of the Zoom touch adjustment ring.

Seems like too much real estate on the barrel for too little function, for me.

Lens Envy

I shot event photography, and the range on the 100-400mm is great!

But at the same time, it attracts attention.

I don’t mind, occasionally chatting with folks at an event, but how many times do you really want to hear “That is a big lens!” or “I have Lens Envy”.

This being my first off-white, L-series lens, I guess it might come with the territory…

Conclusions, so far…

The easiest answer is Yes, if you can afford it.

As I have hopefully illustrated, there can be more expenditures beyond the base price, and depending on how you have purchased your older equipment, the amount will be a variable.

My two biggest mistakes up front –

1) I should have had insurance earlier. Thankfully, in 35+ years, I have only ‘killed’ one camera (Canon A-1 (film)) and one Lens (70-300mm f4-5.6). I’ve been VERY lucky!

2) Filters – When I was looking into square filter systems, I thought long and hard about 85mm vs 100mm filter systems, and finally bought a 85mm system, and now I’m kicking myself…

Looking into the future, I can’t wait to pay off this puppy and get a new camera body!

Would I buy this lens again?

I hope not…

I LOVE the one I got!

- Andrew
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Cymatics by Nigel Stanford

This morning I was doing my daily social media check-in, and on one of my walls appeared a link to Fascinating: How Matter Reacts to Sound.

I got 41 seconds into the Link, and I had to jump to the YouTube link…

CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music – Nigel Stanford

I have been there pretty much ever since…

Cymatics is from Nigel Stanford’s new album, Solar Echoes, which is a Double Album download on iTunes and as mp3, wav files for only $9.95!

I have lost count of how many times I have listened to and watched this track!

It is mesmerizing!

The cinematographer,Timur Civan, captures nature “performing” to a mixture of well-crafted tones and beats similar to those found in Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre, Rick Wakeman, Mike Oldfield, and Sky.

To my ear, it is very addicting and can induce some serious desk dancing.

What is also very cool is that Nigel Stanford, Shahir Daud (Director), Timur Civan, and gang have also posted six mini videos of how they created and filmed each of the classic science experiments performed in the video!

I can only imagine how much fun it would have been to take part in creating this video!

To say that they had way too much fun doing this video would be an understatement.

While listening to Cymatics, I started to explore the rest of his site, and found out why Nigel’s music and style seemed familiar to me!

TimeScapes by Tom Lowe

TimeScapes was released at the end of 2011 and was an instant hit because of it’s stunning cinematography, slow motion capture, and music!

If you have not seen it, check out the Official Website and watch the clip!

If you have any interest in nature or science, and like great music, both CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music and TimeScapes are well worth your time!

If you happen to be a science teacher, the “Behind the Scenes” video for CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music are very well done, and are simple overviews of some classic science experiments, and should easily invite good conversations in the classroom.

Needless to say I can’t wait to show my kids when they get home!

- Andrew
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Additional Links

Additional Links

Fireworks time again!!

It is that time of the year again for fireworks!!

For those of you in Chester County PA area, here is a guide to local events that my friends of at County Line Magazine put together!

Where to Find Fireworks? (PDF)

My fellow photographer friend, Dan Potter, also put together a nice list of do’s and don’t when photographing fireworks!

I do take issue with his Bulb settings (#2) comment.

Looking back into my collection…

  • Canonet (circa late 1960s) – B on the Lens
  • AE-1 (circa early 1980s) –  B on the Dial
  • F-1 (circa mid 1980s) – B on the Dial
  • PowerShot A70 (circa early 2000s) – M on the Dial
  • PowerShot SX130 (circa early 2010s) – M on the Dial
  • Rebel XTi (circa 2007) – M on the Dial
  • Rebel T5i (circa 2014) – M on the Dial

What my data suggests, that you might be referring to an older analog film based camera, and if memory serves me correctly, Nikon did the SAME THING on their line during that time!

In both cases (Canon vs Nikon), it was the nature of analog film cameras to have the Speeds on the Upper Dial and the Aperture on the Lens itself.

These days, both are done via the various digital modes, one being (M)anual.

Dan also makes a good point to “know your location” and to be able to “adjust quickly”. (#4)

In the various years that I have photographed the Good Neighbor Fireworks, their launch area does seem to be a moving target from year to year!

In any case, enjoy the tips and have a GREAT 4th of July Weekend!!

- Andrew
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