Category Archives: Projects

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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‘Jewels’ of Chester County

I started this idea for a project a couple of years ago, and lately, I’ve seen an increase of ‘jewels’ and in some very unusual places.

Over the years, it has not been uncommon for me to see small pieces of trash along the way, but there are other times…

In the early days, some of my captures were just looking at oddities that I came across.

Rusty Paint Cans 018
Rusty Paint Cans 018 – Below Marsh Creek Dam in Downingtown, Chester County PA

When the Mark Creek Lake was drained of 8 feet of water in late 2012, I found some more items…

Sometimes, not all is trash!

It is amazing how some folks will just leave ‘stuff’.

These images were taken just last week on a Sunday walk with my son along the Rim Trail in Hibernia Park [Map].

If you can carry it in, you should be able to carry it out!

Here in Chester County PA, we are very lucky to have groups like the Brandywine Valley Association, that organize demonstrations in local grade schools, and several years ago, I even volunteered for a day, when my daughter was in the 4th grade at Uwchlan Hills Elementary School (UHES)!

During the Event, there are several stations with each showing a different phase in how the Water System works  – It rains, the water washes over the roads and lawns, picking up various ‘elements’; flowing into the myriad of streams and creeks then into the Brandywine; the effects on the macro/micro organisms that are used to identify the health of the water; water treatment facilities to drinking water.  Full circle!

In the Fall of 2014, the new Marsh Creek 6th Grade Center (MC6GC) opened here in Downingtown, and one of the first field trips of the new school years, was to Paradise Farm Camps.

During the course of the day, each group of kids was introduced to new skills such as rope courses, teamwork building, collecting live samples and orienteering. By the end of the day my Fitbit had logged just over 9 miles walking!

What was very wonderful to see, that the same skills that were introduced during the Red stream Blue stream at UHES, were now being reconnected ‘in the field’ while the children were tasked to search for various specimens in the pond and stream that are part of Paradise Farm Camps.

But alas, even they had succumbed to the intrusion of the modern vehicle…

Earlier this year, in April, I volunteered again to help the MC6GS Science classes in their first (hopefully continuing) measurement of Shamona Creek.

During each session, the students would record the creek’s temperatures, ph/acidity, velocity, volume and the various macro/micro creatures found in the waterway.

At the beginning of the day, as we approached the testing locations, I noticed a car battery, on the bank of the creek, about 4 feet from the water’s edge.

Some of the cosmetic case had been cracked, and there was no way to tell how long it had been there. I picked it up and moved it closer to the road.

During the rest of the day, the car battery sat there, as a reminder to all what some folks are doing to the environment.

At the end of the day, we took it back to the school for disposal.

Other times, I seem to find items, that have just been swept away…

Then there are days, you still have to scratch your head!

Plastic Doll Head 037
Image taken while on an early spring walk at Stroud Preserve in Chester County PA

Knowing the area, it is very difficult to imagine how this plastic doll head got to this spot!

I did get a nice little note from the Stroud Preserve

“Oh dear! I’ll let our preserve manager know there’s litter out there!”

“As for the dry “ponds,” a few years back we restored the stream running through Stroud by removing the dams, which allowed land to convert from ponds (man-made and not good for water quality) to wetlands (more diverse than coral reefs and wonderful for filtering water).” – Stroud Preserve

Controversy

I have recently been reading several articles about the new Wyoming law that now

makes it a crime to “collect resource data”… including taking a “photograph”…Slate.com

But as the article goes on to say, the law is unconstitutional.

Here is a list of additional Links –

Needless to say, I have been a little anxious about Posting this…

Anyhow…

I hope to encourage you, when out walking about in Nature –

  1. Do Not Litter!
  2. If you see something, Pick It Up!
  3. Try to leave a place better than you found it!

If you have any Thoughts or Comments, please let me know!

- Andrew
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Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA
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2014 Christmas Parade

It is that time again! The annual Downingtown Christmas parade!

More images can also be found on my Flickr account – 2014 Downingtown Christmas Parade.

It was a little cold, but plenty of warm spirits!

- Andrew
§ § § § §
Photo Restorations in Chester County PA
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If you find some of the Information on this Site, useful or entertaining, please consider making a small Donation.

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If you Like an Image, and do decide to download it for Personal Use, please consider making a small Donation.

A Work in Progress

I recently had a chance to photograph a friend of mine, as she slowly adds more ink to the various works of art that cover her body – A Work in Progress.

These were done in the studio with two Alien Bee B800s with Fotodiox Pro (32″ x 48″) Softboxes at about half power – 1/200 (sync) at f16 iso 100 – Canon EOS T5i & EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6

There are plans to do some more images in the future…

If you are interested in doing some studio work, please let me know.

- Andrew
§ § § § §

If you find some of the Information on this Site, useful or entertaining, please consider making a small Donation.

Adobe Photoshop Retouching in Chester County PA

If you Like an Image, and do decide to download it for Personal Use, please consider making a small Donation.

Custom Photography Prints in Chester County PA
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Adobe Photoshop Training in Chester County PA

Keywords & Lightroom

I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom ever since it first came out, and during that time, I have always used Keywords for my images (40,000+). Lately, however, I have revisited my ‘home made’ Keyword List, and have stumbled onto a whole sub-topic within Lightroom that I wish I had found MUCH earlier!!

Here is one of the best tutorials on the subjects, which I found on lightroomqueen.com

Why Keyword A Stock Photograph?

It is not that technical or difficult, but the challenge is how deep you want to get into keywords.

What got me revisiting my Keyword List was a need to publish more stock photography, which requires keywords, and the more the better!

What is also kind of fun, along with frustrating, are the words and the various synonyms! As you go through the List, you realize that a given Word can have so many meanings or spellings, especially in English!

Getting Started, Again!

As mentioned earlier, I have been using the Keywords since I started, so essentially it was just a straight alphabetized list of words, without any organization.

After finding the Lightroom Keyword List Project website, which is Open Source and Free, I downloaded the Foundation List (ver 1.0.1), and Imported it into Lightroom.

Mistake One!

Stupid me…

After using computers for 30+ years…

I never Exported my ‘homemade’ List as a Backup BEFORE I started.

Oops…

So I have the GIGANTIC list of Words, some of which are organized, but most not…

I should have organized my ‘homemade’ Key Word List first, and then Imported the Foundation List.

Lessons Learned

At the moment, I have spent SEVERAL hours, going through my new Keyword List, and reorganizing it into a hybrid.

Again, I wish I had started this from the beginning!

That being said, here are some things learned, so far…

Keywords not equal

Even though the Keyword list itself is nothing more than an ASCII text file, having a Word on a single line does NOT mean it (the Word) will be Counted correctly in Lightroom.

Each Keyword is supposed to be on a Single Line, but there is a big difference between a Word and a [Tab space] BEFORE the Word!

This gets into the heart of Categories, which is covered very well on photo-keywords.com in their Tutorial.

It does make sense, when you think about it, and thankfully Lightroom gives you a much easier way to move Keywords into the Categories.

Yes, you could do the SAME thing in the Text file, BUT if you are unsure of the meaning of the Word, you can not “see” that, but in Lightroom, you can call-up the images, and “see” the Keyword’s meaning, and Edit from there.

Time to Clean-Up

As you edit your keyword list, you will find ‘bad’ words, for what- ever reason, and here is a get chance to clean-up the list!

At some point, do open up your “working” version of your Keyword list in a Text Editor, and run a Spell Checker on the List.

Lightroom becomes sluggish

While moving Keywords around, I began to notice Lightroom becoming sluggish, and after several large Keyword ‘moves’, I realized Lightroom is re-writing meta-tag data back into the various files!

    1. You Create/Update a Keyword;
    2. The Keyword is Created/Updated in the Lightroom database;
    3. The metadata is rewritten into the file (xmp, psd/psb, tiff, jpg, etc.)

Needless to say, you are going to want to do these operations across fast hard drives, and if possible, have your main collection of images on a separate disk(s) from where Lightroom is installed, so there will be less of a bottle-neck in processing the keyword “move” requests.

Also, remember to back-up and Optimize your Lightroom catalog!

You will also want to back-up your original images too, since these keyword changes are also re-written into the various files: xmp, tiff, psd, psb, jpg, etc.

Procedures

If you are starting Fresh, download one of the various Keyword Lists that are available.

I started at Victoria Bampton’s (Lightroomqueen.com) – Keyword Lists / Controlled Vocabularies, and looked at each list, and then stared with Lightroom Keyword List Project – Foundation List.

If you are starting with an existing list, be prepared to spend some time on this project, but it will be worth it!

        • Backup your Original List, “as is”
        • Review the Keyword List Structure (Foundation List) you have Chosen in a Text Editor
        • Organize your Original List (and Backup)
        • Import the new Keyword List Structure into Lightroom
        • Reorganize and Edit

In just reorganizing my list, I have noticed numerous other Keywords that could easily describe a given image, which can only help during my workflow in publishing to the stock photography market!

As mentioned several times, I wish I had started this sooner!

I hope that you have picked up some new ideas with this post, and feel free to comment or ask questions!

- Andrew
§ § § § §
Adobe Photoshop Training in Chester County PA
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If you find some of the Information on this Site, useful or entertaining, please consider making a small Donation.

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If you Like an Image, and do decide to download it for Personal Use, please consider making a small Donation.

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