Prints That Win: Winter Pastel and Dressed to Impress

For Dorr, Mich. photographer – and recent double Sunset Print Award winner –  Kari Douma, photography has always been a part of her life. From darkroom classes in middle school and yearbook photographer in high school to recently completing the judging class to become an affiliated juror, photography is no longer just a part of her life, it’s intertwined in everything she does.

She initially started taking pictures to capture her children in special moments, but soon, family and friends were asking her to photograph them. “Eventually, I had to do a mental check. I wondered if I could really do this and make it a business, or continue as a hobby, where I might eventually have to turn people down,” Douma says of her decision to go pro. “I decided to go the business route and joined professional organizations so that I could learn more about the business.”

The first professional association Douma joined was Professional Photographers of West Michigan. It was the members of that local group who encouraged Douma to start competing. Before jumping straight in, she observed. “The first competition I attended, I just watched and hung on every word spoken. I had a notebook and wrote down everything the judges were saying. Every critique, every compliment. It’s all feedback.”

The notes and observing paid off. As a first-time competitor, she scored somewhere around 77-79, which is considered “above average.” As her experience and talent has grown, so have her scores. Competitions, by definition, are tough, but one of the biggest lessons that Douma has learned is that a score is simply the opinion of five judges on any given day. “It’s fun to create an image and match up to the Twelve Elements of Merit, but you can’t get caught up thinking about what five people are going to think about it.” She realizes the judges are there to help, “they are giving you feedback – good and bad – because they are there to help you grow as a photographer.” For Douma, the PPA – Northeast competition was successful, with wins in Landscape with “Winter Pastel” (pictured above) and Portrait with “Dressed to Impress” (pictured below).

In “Winter Pastel,” Douma was able to capture the beautiful pink sky, just as the sun was rising over an early-season Michigan snowfall. For the print competition, she used LexJet Premium Archival Matte with a torn edge and a traditional mat, which helped extend the texture of the clouds and snow beyond the edges of the image.

Douma’s second winning image, “Dressed to Impress,” was a photo that happened because of her husband’s morning trip to a local McDonald’s. While waiting in line, her husband spotted this gentleman saunter into the restaurant dressed to the nines: fire-engine red 3-piece suit, wing-tipped shoes, hat, pocket square, the works. She said, “he just walked right up to the man and said ‘my wife would love to photograph you.’ So, we set up a session, and the rest is history.”

When it was time to print “Dressed” for competition, Douma chose LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin Paper 300g to add an authentic photographic feel to the black and white image.

For Douma, what started off as a hobby to take beautiful images of her children has led to an opportunity to provide feedback and guidance, enabling photographers to grow. One day, there will be a photographer observing her first competition, and with notebook in hand, she will be hanging on every word Kari Douma says.

Prints That Win: The Gentle Giant

When it comes to capturing the personality of pets, Wyoming photographer Jen Hargrove has it down to a science. In fact, fellow photographer Dan McClanahan calls her the “Dog Whisperer” and has told her she should embrace this rare talent. That’s just what she did for her Sunset Print Award-winning photo “The Gentle Giant.”

For Fynn, a big, lovable English Mastiff – which Hargrove calls her “non-human muse” – the young chick was almost too much to handle. He’s so big in comparison, but the chick had him on edge. “Next year, I think we’ll try baby ducks. They aren’t quite as small and don’t seem to intimidate him as much,” she said of her very patient muse. “In fact, I would like to do an entire series with Fynn and other farm animals: cows, ducks, turkeys.”

When it’s photo shoot time, Hargrove doesn’t scold or discipline the dogs and she doesn’t want the owners doing so either. She gives them about 15 minutes to get acclimated to the set and then she starts shooting.

Flex Tek for Aqueous Wins on Color, Durability & Price

Earlier this year, we launched LexJet Flex Tek 170g for aqueous printers, and it’s turned into a fast favorite among print service providers looking for a cost-effective, easy-handling option for banners.

Photos: Jackson Beverages, La Grange, Ga.

This lightweight, 100% non-woven polyester is finished with a slight embossed texture that gives it the look and feel of a woven fabric, making it an ideal option for both banners and canvas wraps.

At Jackson Beverages in LaGrange, Ga., it’s become the new go-to for short-term outdoor banners.

“Since our primary use of banner/canvas material is outdoor signage, the two most important qualities are water resistance and physical strength in windy weather,” says Jackson Beverages’ Tom Weeks. “Flex Tek’s coating proved to keep the ink colors bright in foul weather and blazing southern sun.”

The polyester base also adds to its durability. “Although it is quite light and easy to handle, it is considerably more tear-resistant than any other non-woven fabric based banner material I have used,” says Weeks, who often finishes Flex Tek with grommets for easy hanging. “My overall impression of Flex Tek is that it is a very good medium for outdoor banners that will hang for less than a year.”

Photo: Orgill

For Vern Goodner, print services manager at Orgill, price was a big concern. Orgill supplies products to 6,000 hardware stores and dealers in more than 60 different countries. Goodner runs the print shop where he produces hundreds of flyers, posters and more for store displays.

Orgill also hosts a 1 million square-foot tradeshow two times per year, in which the company creates multiple mock stores to showcase the latest hardware goods. In these stores, Goodner makes 200 retractable banners, which he has now switched over to Flex Tek.

“I was looking for something with a bright white that gives an eye pleasing to eye popping color,” Goodner says. “And was as affordable as possible.”

At $0.50 per square foot he’s now considering switching all the tradeshow banners to Flex Tek. Both Weeks and Goodner print Flex Tek on Canon imagePROGRAF wide-format aqueous printers.

LexJet Flex Tek 170g Product Highlights:

  • PVC-free / recyclable
  • Versatile media for wall art, banners, gallery wraps
  • Can be grommeted or stitched and used indoors or out
  • Images look great close-up or at long-range viewing
  • Also available: LexJet Flex Tek SUV 200g, compatible with eco-solvent, latex and UV-curable inks

Sunset Bright Velvet Rag for Perfectly Distressed Edges

For Oklahoma photographer Kimberly Smith, 2017 was quite the year; not only did she take home a Sunset Print Award for her entry “The Beauty of Innocence” in the Southwest PPA regionals, but in February, she was presented with the 1st Place prize for the 2017 National Sunset Print Award at Imaging USA.

To create her signature style in these winning images, Smith uses LexJet Sunset Bright Velvet Rag 315g with distressed edges that create a fine art finish to her work.

In quite the follow-up to 2017, Smith won another Sunset Print Award in the 2018 Southwest PPA District, and she stepped to the head of the class for the first time to teach a group of students about the art of black-and-white photography … as well as her favorite deckled-edge finishing technique.

While preparing her curriculum, Smith wanted to include the distressed technique for her students. “I want to print out a few different images for them to practice tearing the edges,” she said. Of Sunset Bright Velvet Rag, she says “the thickness (of the paper) means the tears on the edges are perfect for a soft, multi-layered look.”

Sunset Bright Velvet Rag is a 20-mil thick (315g) 100% rag paper with a velvet surface. The bright white finish is the perfect complement to Smith’s preference for high-key black-and-white printing. “The cottony feel and thickness is what caught my attention and it prints beautifully,” she says.

With all the print competitions she does, it’s important that her prints stand up to being held, shipped and displayed all over the country. “Several of my images have been handled a lot, packed in print cases and shipped several times,” she says. “They come back looking the same.”

Bright Velvet Rag will continue to be part of Smith’s award-winning formula for a while. “It’s a beautiful product that I will continue using myself and highly recommend for others.”

If you are looking to give your photographs a fine-art finish, call your sales representative at 800-453-9538 to discuss LexJet Sunset Bright Velvet Rag 315g or visit us at lexjet.com.

Captured on Canvas: Memories & Moments That Last

When Kathy Ogg first became a mom 23 years ago, she soon realized she wouldn’t be returning to work as she once knew it. Instead, photographing and printing pictures of her kids, now age 4 through 23, became a hobby, then a passion, then a whole new career.

Five years ago, with her original Canon imagePROGRAF 8400 printer, she started Re:Image Printing, perfecting the art of using photos not only taken by professional photographers, but amateurs who were capturing family moments on their cell phones, as well.

A customer’s candid image captured on canvas.

“I’ve worked with a lot of families who thought that Facebook would be the way to store all their pictures and they got rid of their originals,” Ogg says. “But then they realized that once they’re on Facebook, the photos are tiny.”

So Ogg helps families determine which photos would work best as prints on either photo paper or canvas wraps. She’s now upgraded to the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 and is a loyal user of Fredrix 777VWR Vivid Matte Canvas and LexJet Sunset Select Matte Canvas.

Often, potential clients shy away from canvas wrap prints because they think they need a professional photographer in order to get professional prints made. However, Ogg says, “I’m trying to teach people that cell phone pictures do print really well now — I can blow them up to 24×36-inch canvases. You just have to ask yourself: Does that picture do something to your heart? If so, then it’s worthy to print to a canvas and put on your wall.”

Memories aren’t only photographs. This recipe card is forever remembered on a canvas print.

Ogg moved from Indiana to Winter Garden, Fla., a few years ago, where she now runs a print and canvas wrap shop. When testing the media that she prints to, she looks for consistent results, vivid, accurate colors without a lot of texture and handling without cracking in the corners when stretched on canvas bars.

She’s opted for the canvas wraps because she finds the finished look to be “timeless,” unlike frames that can go out of style and glass that can stick to — and ruin — the printed image. She tops the canvas with a coating for extra protection — gloss coating for landscape images and colors that need a lot of “pop” and satin for family photos.

“Some professional photographers think there’s no way that canvas can reproduce their colors,” she says. “But I just say – why don’t you let me show you. Between the printer and the Fredrix or LexJet canvas, I can guarantee the quality.”

Ogg has also been experimenting with LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric, a removable repositionable self-adhesive product that delivers great image quality, as well.

LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric used for a nursery room mural.

“Print-N-Stick is the most fun material I’ve ever printed to,” she says. “I love how versatile it is, and it will stay up as long as I want it to. It’s truly removable without peeling paint or damaging the wall behind it. It feels more like fabric and really adheres to the texture of the wall.”

Ogg uses Print-N-Stick mostly for her children’s room murals, but is starting to offer it to her customers, too. Between the fun wall murals and canvas wraps, her own home is a reflection of what she can create for clients’ homes. “There’s a reason behind every picture hanging up on my wall,” she says. “I walk in and I’m home — I’m happy and at peace.”

A ChromaLuxe EXT Print Project That’s Really for the Birds

Felts Audubon Preserve is a hidden gem, tucked away among sprawling neighborhoods in rural Palmetto, Fla. Whether you’re a novice birder or an avid twitcher, Felts is the perfect place to visit when you want to unplug and see some of the spectacular species of birds and butterflies Mother Nature has to offer.

The Preserve land once belonged to Otis and Anita Felts, who owned and operated a family-run dairy farm. When Otis died in 2002, the family wanted the land to remain natural and free from future development, so the Felts family donated the 27-acre parcel to the Manatee County Audubon Society.

The property is beautiful and serene today, but back in 2002, it was in rough shape, and any improvements were always completed by volunteers. There are still no paid staff members at Felts, and original member Don Bansen remembers the first major project: volunteers cleared more than 300 tires out of the lake. “Everybody was covered in mud, it was a mess,” he says.

While tires in the lake no longer pose a problem, one issue occasionally plagues groundskeeper Fred Allen: vandalism. In the past, volunteers witnessed graffiti and spray paint on signs or broken display cases. Membership Director Lucette Wombacher believes mischief increases a little when school lets out for the summer.

“Everything is made possible by volunteers. They help keep the grounds looking good and Fred is instrumental in keeping the trails neat, so birders can walk through,” says Wombacher. “It’s important to have something that resists damage so we can stay focused on clearing invasive plants and trails rather than cleaning vandalized signs,” she says.

To make it easier for the volunteers at Felts, Heather Reece from LexJet suggested ChromaLuxe EXT metal photo panels with graffiti and fade-resistant properties that stand up to outdoor elements. The panels offer a glossy white finish, which makes them perfect for art and photo reproductions. The 0.045-inch metal panels have been tested to last three years or more outdoors without fading.