Heading to Imaging USA? Get Your Free Expo Pass, Courtesy of LexJet

If you’re heading to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville for Imaging USA 2018, Jan. 14 – 16, make sure to visit LexJet at booth #673. You can also go HERE to claim your free expo pass, courtesy of LexJet.

Stop by our booth to see some innovative new products, watch printer demonstrations and learn about media comparisons for several Sunset products:

Ask about our show specials on select LexJet Sunset media. Our technical director Michael Clementi will be on hand for general questions, or you can call ahead at 800-453-9538 to schedule an appointment for one-on-one training.

We will have the national winning prints from the 2017 Sunset Print Awards as well as information the upcoming 2018 awards. See you in Nashville!

Prints that Win: The Bike Builder

The Bike Builder by Michael Timmons

Michael and Tina Timmons are Sunset Print Award regulars, in one way or another. Both are past Sunset Print Award-winners for their outstanding photography, but have also printed award-winning images for other photographers across the country.

The Timmons’ most recent Sunset Print Award was earned by Michael at the Professional Photographers of Michigan competition for this slice-of-work image entitled The Bike Builder. It is a stellar example of capturing the essence of the subject and the environment in which that subject works.

The Bike Builder owns Arizona Thunder in Bisbee, Ariz. Michael stumbled upon the motorcycle repair and restoration shop during a road trip in the area following the Imaging USA show in Phoenix this past year.

“Being a motorcycle enthusiast, I noticed a big Harley-Davidson sign outside his shop. We were taking photos in town and stopped in to find out more. I asked him if I could take some photos and he agreed,” Michael recalls. “As soon as I saw the environment I knew I wanted to do something for competition, because of the clutter, the old parts and his character. At the time I got the capture we were having a conversation about his business. I had a tripod set up at the counter, so this scene is what you see from behind the counter when you walk into his shop. He had parts from all different makes, models and years in the shop with two or three bikes he was working on at the time.”

The image you see here is essentially what Michael captured with his Canon 5D Mark II with a 16-35mm lens on a tripod. The lighting is all natural light streaming through the window opposite the subject. The image was then converted in Photoshop with nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to black and white with some minor touchup with Silver Efex.

“When you’re working with someone in their environment, the key is to pull everything together and tell a story inside their everyday workspace. He’s real easygoing and laid back; this is what he does every day, so the story tells itself,” Michael says.

For the presentation at competition, Michael printed The Bike Builder on Sunset Photo eSatin Paper 300g, an inkjet photo paper he uses almost exclusively for competition printing.

“We’ve tested a lot of papers and found that the image quality on Sunset Photo eSatin surpasses other papers we’ve tested. We print competition images for people all over the country and everything that goes out is typically on Sunset Photo eSatin and Sunset Fibre Elite,” Michael explains. “The details, highlights and shadows print a lot better and the white point is a lot higher. We also like the weight and thickness of the paper; it’s easier to handle and it’s a lot more durable than other papers.”

The Connection between Print and Capture with Steven Katzman

This Miserable Kingdom
LexJet caught up with Steven Katzman during his presentation of This Miserable Kingdom at the State College of Florida in Bradenton. Click on each of the images in this post for the full-size version. Photos by Billy Elkins.

We recently caught up with Steven Katzman, a decorated photographer whose work could be best described as documentarian. However, there’s no one word that can describe his work, which, while straightforward, requires thought, introspection and interpretation from the viewer of his photography.

This Miserable KingdomKatzman’s most recent project, This Miserable Kingdom, is no different. The project documents the surviving members of the Pojoaque Pueblo people of Pojoaque, New Mexico. Katzman’s photography captures the essence of the Pojoaque Pueblo in 21st Century America while evoking their ancient past through their near extinction as a people.

In the short excerpt in the video embedded below from our conversation with Katzman about This Miserable Kingdom and the exhibition held at the State College of Florida in Bradenton, Jan. 31 through April 2, he discusses the importance of his relationship with LexJet during his move from analog to digital printing. Later, we’ll air the full story behind this exhibition – his thought process, the history of the Pojoaque Pueblo and how he captured the striking images – as well as his ongoing work on this project.

This Miserable KingdomIt was during this transition from analog to digital that Katzman was running into issues with inkjet printing, specifically metamerism on glossy inkjet papers. Metamerism is no longer an issue thanks to better printer and ink technology, but it was one of Katzman’s hurdles early on.

“Metamerism wasn’t a problem with matte papers, so I was always using various fine art papers, but I didn’t get the same Dmax as luster and glossy substrates,” explains Katzman. “Being born and raised in the analog environment – wet processing doing my own black-and-white printing – my primary print medium was KODAK ELITE Fine-Art Paper, a fiber-based paper that had the most silver in the industry.”

Then, as Katzman notes in the video, he found LexJet and began working with Alex Ried, who would use Katzman as a sounding board for new inkjet papers that sought to emulate what Katzman was missing from the darkroom.

This Miserable Kingdom“Time goes by and Alex came to me with some paper he wanted me to try, which would eventually become known to the market as Sunset Fibre Elite. It was nice; it resembled the paper I had used in the past. Now, almost everything I print is on Sunset Fibre Elite,” says Katzman. “The reason I use the paper is not only for the qualities it has inherently to digital output, but how closely related it is to the finest silver halide papers once widely used in the industry.”

Ultimately, Katzman looks for a paper that “doesn’t get in the way of the image,” as he puts it. Metamerism was definitely getting in the way, and he needed a medium that would bring out the tones of images – both subtle and stark – that are one of the hallmarks of his photography.

This Miserable Kingdom“Photographers will use different types of surfaces, from canvas to fine art papers, but that’s not my vision and not how I want my images to be seen. I want an edge in detail. Whenever you use a semi-gloss paper that resembles the air-dried of an analog paper you’re getting the maximum resolution off those pixels,” explains Katzman. “To use a material that would diffuse that because of some atmospheric impression you want to add upon the scene goes against how I was brought up in terms of my own influences: Ansel Adams, Group f/64, and particularly Edward Weston. That’s why I’m using this paper. The way I present the digital image is the same as the way I presented it 20 years ago, and as far as that translation, it’s seamless. I have to output it, and I have to output it on Sunset Fibre Elite.”

Though fairly dogmatic about his use of Sunset Fibre Elite to adequately portray the reality of his photography, Katzman is adamant that he’s not making a blanket statement about the right medium to use for photography in general.

This Miserable Kingdom“Not one material supports all images. I’ve used Sunset Photo Metallic on traditional images and it provided a different interpretation of what I was trying to capture. On these different elements you have subject matter, the technical aspect and the material. If the material interferes with the first two, then as a photographer, you’ve failed to bring all three together and minimized the impact of what you’re trying to say. I don’t want that articulation to be diminished by the texture of the material. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, but for this photographer, I don’t want it to get in the way of the reality I’m capturing,” explains Katzman.

This Miserable KingdomFor This Miserable Kingdom Katzman was looking for that “wow factor,” with print sizes of the two dozen or so images featured in the exhibit at the State College of Florida ranging from 24″ x 36″ to 44″ x 80″. The range of print sizes maximized the range of his 44″-wide Epson Stylus Pro 9900 inkjet printer.

“All of the sudden when they see that image, they question what it is and how it was made: of course it’s a photograph, but maybe it’s not, but it can’t be a painting, because the colors are so vibrant and their point of reference is a smart phone capture, drug store prints or the family album. I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell them it was a photograph,” says Katzman. “With the PhaseOne IQ180 digital back I used and the Sunset Fibre Elite at those sizes I’m gaining so much information about what I’m documenting it adds another layer of reality to those who are going to look at that particular image. That’s the layer of reality where people are confused. That hyper sense of reality is very important to me, and at the same time it’s something the viewer is unaccustomed to.”

Step 2 in Color Management: Printer and Media Color Gamut

In Step 1 of the color management to-do list we discussed how the quality of your monitor impacts the precision of your output. Step 2 of 3 focuses on understanding how your printer and the inkjet media choices affect color.

Print accuracy doesn’t rely solely on your use of a custom profile and an accurate monitor, though these two components guide you toward the closest possible result. There are two additional variables that can have a big impact on the types of colors you can hit with any printer…

The first is the gamut of the printer. How an ink is formulated in order to print a Coca-Cola red or a Pepsi blue, for example, may differ slightly from technology to technology.

These days I field a lot of questions about choosing between an 8-color system and a 12-color system.  Or, should I use the 9-color or the 11-color printer? Is there a noticeable difference between them?

The answer is yes, there is a noticeable difference any time you add colors. However, the next question I usually follow up with is, “What are you using the printer to print?”

When considering printing technology, there are printers made for higher-speed production (HP Z5200, Canon S Series, Epson T Series, to name a few) that can print a sellable photographic image, but would not be the ideal to use for an artist, photographer or fine art reproduction house. These printers have fewer inks, which cuts down on gamut but improves on speed in most cases.

If you’re in the market for a printer, talk to a LexJet customer specialist and explain the market you are in. We will make sure that you are using the right equipment for the job.

If you are seeing a color that is in your photograph or art piece that you just can’t nail with your printer, it may be out of gamut for the printer or out of gamut for the media you chose to print to.

If you’ve calibrated the monitor, make sure your printer is running at 100 percent capacity, that you’ve soft-proofed the image with the chosen rendering intent, and used a specific printer profile to print. If it still doesn’t portray what’s on your screen, then either of the above mentioned may be at fault.

Now I just spit out a bunch of jargon that may be foreign to you, so click on the links to the tutorials here to find out more…

Download and install ICC Profiles:

PC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W-F-k8z5io

MAC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuOhztAqoyY

How to Softproof before Printing using Photoshop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahf9yEPO4zA

How to print using ICC Profiles (find your printer and computer combination):

http://www.youtube.com/user/LexJet/search?query=Printing+Through

Color gamut difference between a gloss and matte photo paper.
Figure 1 shows the difference in gamut between a gloss and a matte paper in the high, mid and low range of color (top to bottom). The gloss paper is our Sunset Gloss Photo Paper (red line) and the matte our Premium Archival Matte Paper (green line) as profiled on the Canon IPF8400 with the X-Rite DTP70. Click on the image for a larger version.

You can’t do anything to increase the gamut of the printer, but you can make the right decision based on your needs at the time you purchase the equipment. Making sure you use the right equipment for the type of work you are doing will dramatically increase the quality of your print.

Our second extremely important variable to understand is the media with which you choose to print. The less reflective the media, the less light that reflects back into your eyes, and therefore, the lower the gamut and detail your print will realize (see Figure 1).

Artists have come to love matte watercolor papers and canvas, yet always demand the best color on those surfaces. This is where the owner or production manager at a fine art reproduction house runs into the biggest conflict.

The reflectivity of your media is not the only aspect of the printable supplies that affects color outcome.  White point can change your gamut as well. The brighter the white point, the more gamut you’ll pick up, not to mention an increase in that lovely term the experts like to use, Dmax, which is the darkest measurable value your printer-media combination can hit.

For canvas, Sunset Select Gloss Canvas has the highest dynamic range and color gamut of the canvas offerings LexJet produces. The highest-gamut matte canvas is our Sunset Select Matte Canvas, which has a very punchy white base. Partnering the Sunset Coating line with Sunset Select Matte Canvas has been a very popular choice amongst artists and photographers.

If you are trying to appease the artist crowd who prefer fine art papers, the highest-range matte paper is Sunset Fibre Matte (a very smooth bright-white fiber cellulose paper). If you need 100% cotton with a smooth finish, Sunset Hot Press Rag will be close behind.

If they would like texture on their cotton paper our latest addition to the line is Sunset Bright Velvet Rag.  This paper has the highest Dmax of our cotton line and prints very elegant-looking velvet-textured prints.

On the photographic side of media options, all of our bright white glossy and semi-glossy fibre-based papers put out a phenomenal range. They are all meant to emulate different versions of old-style air dried chemical bath papers that film photographers were used to exposing in the darkroom. These papers include Sunset Fibre Gloss, Sunset Fibre Elite and Sunset Fibre Satin.

Our newest paper in this category is Sunset Fibre Rag, which is 100% cotton and has a warm tone to the base. Even though it is warm in tone, the range is very large and the texture is very fitting to that style of paper.

For RC photo-based paper replicas, nothing tops the gamut of the Sunset Photo Gloss Paper. It reflects the most light, has a high-gloss wet-looking surface like one you would receive from a photo lab providing chemical-style glossy prints.

Also ever so popular for printers looking for a beautiful thick luster paper (e-surface) is our Sunset Photo eSatin Paper. This paper has a very cool white point and the surface is the most popular amongst the RC-emulating class of papers.

LexJet will provide you with the ICC profiles for every media above mentioned. If we do not list one here for your technology we will happily make one for you free of charge! Next time, we’ll tackle Step 3 in the color management to-do list: understanding ICC Profiles and settings. In the meantime, feel free to call us any time at 800-453-9538 with questions.

Prints that Win: Now and Then

Photo Printed on Sunset Fibre Elite

One of the great things about being a photographer has to be the interesting people you meet along the way. For this LexJet Sunset Award-winning print at the recent North Carolina Professional Photographers Association print competition, Randy McNeilly met Bonnie and Clyde.

Well, not really, but the old photo he used as a background for a profile portrait of a couple celebrating their 75th (!) wedding anniversary is a reasonable facsimile of the infamous pair. The pair McNeilly photographed, while not nearly as infamous, had tales to tell that even their daughter, who was there for the session, didn’t know about.

One of those nuggets was that the couple eloped some 75 years ago and had the photo McNeilly used as the background for the portrait snapped the day of their elopement as they leaned against an automobile of the day.

“We had a good laugh about them looking like Bonnie and Clyde in that photo. They brought that photo in the same day as the portrait session and that’s when I started developing the idea,” says McNeilly. “I photographed them separately with a Hasselblad medium-format digital camera and I did minimal retouching because I didn’t want to take any character out of the portraits. I created a composite of the two portraits, and used Nik filters and textured overlays to add some grunge to the background.”

The creative juxtaposition of the couple, which McNeilly titled Now and Then, certainly got the judges’ attention. McNeilly printed the image on LexJet Sunset Fibre Elite on his Epson Stylus Pro 9900 through ImagePrint RIP software.

“I use Fibre Elite a lot and I’ve been a long-time fan of it. I really like the non-gimmicky look of it; it looks like the old days when I printed black-and-white photos on fibre paper. It renders this image particularly well and seems to have a wider color gamut,” says McNeilly.

For more information about Randy McNeilly and his print making, check out this previous blog post.

How Award-Winning Photographer Gordon Kreplin Makes Inkjet Printing Pay

Printing and mounting photos
Black-and-white gallery mount printed on Sunset Photo eSatin Paper by Ascencion Photography.

The last time we spoke with Gordon Kreplin, award-winning PPA photographer and owner of Ascencion Photography in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, he told us how important being able to print his own work was to his advertising and promotion.

As noted in that blog post, the ability to produce large, eye-catching banners that draw in traffic from the busy thoroughfare nearby is a big plus. The bigger plus, according to Kreplin, is in his daily photography work. A high-quality inkjet print produced in-house is incredibly effective word-of-mouth advertising.

“We’ve had the experience where someone who’s seen one of our prints somewhere and calls because they have seen their neighbor’s prints. The word of mouth from the quality of the print hanging up is very strong advertising. “You can’t get that quality and ability to control the process any other way; it’s less time, energy and money for me to do it myself,” says Kreplin. “The only way the photography business as a whole can survive is if we offer high-end imaging and printing, and that’s what’s separated our business. We tell our clients that they’ll get a classical portrait printed in a very refined manner using the same care with which I print my own competition prints and competition prints for other photographers.”

Printing canvas gallery wraps
Gallery wrap by Ascencion Photography printed on Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

Kreplin reports that one of Ascencion Photography’s best sellers this past year has been Sunset Fibre Elite, which has been a nice complement to his other standard photo print media: Sunset Photo eSatin Paper, Sunset Select Matte Canvas and Sunset Photo Gloss Paper.

“Printing on any of the Sunset Fibre-based papers is a great seller because the Dmax is so much greater: your darks are richer, your lights are more detailed and you get the sense of more of a three-dimensional image when it’s displayed,” says Kreplin. “Sunset Photo eSatin Paper is the paper I use the most. When someone gets a regular 8×10 on that, it’s beautiful. Plus, we use gallery mounts we get from Pacific Mount, apply the eSatin and coat it with Hahnemuhle Protective Spray. The eSatin is great for that application because it’s a nice, thick paper that holds up well. Those gallery mounts fly out the door.”

The power and importance of print will be part of a workshop Kreplin will teach at the Virginia Professional Photographers Association annual conference in February. The pre-conference workshop is planned for Feb. 22 (the event in Roanoke is scheduled to run Feb. 22-26), the proceeds of which will help raise money for scholarships. Be sure to check back here for more information about the event and Kreplin’s workshop.

Printing photo albums
Ascencion Photography offers albums printed on Sunset Fibre Elite. The albums are sent to a botique album company for assembly.

Entitled Walk into the Light, the focus is on making environmental lighting work in your favor, from capture to print, or, as Kreplin puts it, “It’s about how to make lemons into lemonade if you don’t have the perfect lighting on location.”

“We’ll also talk a lot about image capture and how using the information from the capture will help you understand what can be produced: how you look at your dynamic range and how that will relate to a print,” adds Kreplin. “If you keep printing in mind throughout the process, you’ll know how to present a great image electronically as well.”