The Perfect Combination: Amazing Photography and Amazing Canvas | LexJet Blog
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The Perfect Combination: Amazing Photography and Amazing Canvas

Sky on Fire The Canyon Gallery
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, just east of The Canyon Gallery in Montrose, is one of Harmsen’s favorite places to shoot. This particular capture Harmsen describes as possibly “the most stupid shot I’ve ever taken,” being at altitude overlooking the canyon with a lightning storm enveloping the area.

Wil Harmsen, owner of The Canyon Gallery in Montrose, Colo., is a busy man. Not only does Harmsen run the gallery with his wife, Amy, but they do everything soup to nuts, or capture to framing in this case.

Sunburst at Painted Wall by Wil Harmsen
Captured at sunset, Harmsen says the sunburst over the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is about 18 seconds of light as the sun disappeared behind the canyon walls. “The clouds rolled in and I thought I would have complete overcast and get shut out. Patience paid off and I just sat there and captured the sunburst,” says Harmsen.

One of the Harmsens’ specialties is canvas printing and finishing, either framed or as a gallery wrap. Wil Harmsen says canvas is the gallery’s most popular medium, providing a painted look that gallery browsers crave.

Gallery wraps are typically less expensive than framed pieces. If we have a really nice photo, the person who can’t afford a framed print can buy a less expensive gallery wrap. When we print something that big, it could be a $600-700 difference simply because of the frame,” explains Harmsen. “My wife is the framer extraordinaire. What I like about the frame is that it makes it feel like a painting, a piece of art, that gives it a different look and it’s been fairly popular. We usually mount the canvas on archival mount board and put it in the frame. It’s a simple process and the canvas stays flat and beautiful. We’ve been doing it for about five years and haven’t had any problems.”

To get the most out of their images for those who buy their prints, Harmsen has recently switched all of their canvas output to Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas, the new OBA-free canvas from LexJet with an unusually bright white point for an OBA-free print medium.

The Canyon Gallery
Harmsen chalks up this spectacular eagle capture to pure luck. Shot at Ridgway Reservoir in the winter, Harmsen recalls, “I’d like to attribute that to my incredible skill, but that was just luck. We printed it on the Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas because we get such spectacular detail in the feathers and the trees, but with a painterly effect people like.”

“I love the brighter white base and the wide color gamut I get out of it. I don’t lose any detail, sharpness or tonality. It tends to be spot-on,” says Harmsen. “You cannot tell the difference between printing on this canvas and photo paper other than the canvas gives you the feeling of a painting that many people like.”

Before framing or making a gallery wrap, Harmsen says they coat each canvas with Sunset Satin Coating or Sunset Gloss Coating three times, coating horizontally, then vertically and horizontally again.

Sneffels Range by Wil Harmsen
The Sneffels Range near Ridgway, Colo., is an iconic Colorado photography spot. Harmsen says you’ll see hundreds of photographers flocking to the area to capture the mountain range in the fall.

“I’ve learned in working with canvas is that if you have dark areas and shadows in the image, one coat typically doesn’t cover the dark spots correctly. It takes multiple coats so you don’t see any lines from rolling on the coating. That way it makes sure to even out the entire photo so there aren’t any issues,” explains Harmsen. “And here’s a big one, especially for galleries: a lot of times when we coat canvas we might get some ink peel coming up with the roller when we were coating. For some reason the new canvas is absorbing the ink a lot better and to date we’ve had zero ink pickup on the roller. That’s huge for us. I’ve got a Denali shot that I can’t print on other canvas because the blue in the sky would pick up on the roller. Now that we’re printing on Sunset by Fredrix, problem solved… gone.”

Regan has been involved in the sign and wide format digital printing industries for the past two decades as an editor, writer and pundit. With a degree in journalism from the University of Houston, Regan has reported on the full evolution of the inkjet printing industry since the first digital printers began appearing on the scene.

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