When Chris Dunker of Dunker Imaging Services, Inc. in Logan, UT first learned that LexJet was planning to introduce Sunset Photo Metallic paper, he immediately knew it was a product he wanted to try. He was preparing to produce a series of prints of classic cars and motorcycles for an art-gallery exhibition and thought Sunset Photo Metallic might provide the ideal surface for showcasing the highly polished, meticulously photographed vehicles as works of art.
Dunker, who is known for his artistry in photographing industrial architecture and machinery, was already using a somewhat unorthodox method of finishing and displaying limited-edition prints. After outputting his images on a smooth, matte watercolor paper on his Epson Stylus Pro 9800, he would then mount the prints to sheets of aluminum, using a cold-roll laminator and an acid-free mounting adhesive. Then, he would take the mounted prints to a friend’s auto-body shop and have them sprayed with a high-gloss, polyurethane coating.
Although the matte art paper produced prints with a subdued color gamut, the polyurethane dramatically increased the color saturation and contrast. The coating really made the colors snap and gave each print a distinctive look. Dunker wondered if the Sunset Photo Metallic paper would help him achieve the same type of look without the need to apply the polyurethane coating.
So he made some test prints on the Sunset Photo Metallic paper almost immediately after the paper was made available. Even though the images did look gloriously vibrant and detailed when output on the Sunset Photo Metallic Paper, Chris (always the artist!) couldn’t help but ask himself: “Would these prints look even better if I continued to use the polyurethane?”
He took some test prints into the auto-body shop, and sure enough, the polyurethane coating made the Sunset Photo Metallic prints look even more spectacular. As Chris puts it: “I was amazed by the results.” So, he decided to use the combination of the polyurethane coating with the Epson UltraChrome inks on LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic Paper for all of the 18 prints he produced for the gallery show. He reports that the combination of the Sunset Photo Metallic paper and high-gloss coating really saturates and intensifies the colors of the inks and increases the overall Dmax. Although Chris admits this production method isn’t right for every artist, “It gives my prints a very characteristic look.”
The exhibition, entitled Things We Love, ran from May 29 to June 26 at the 511 Gallery in Lake Placid, NY and featured prints ranging in size from 12 x 20 to 24 x 30 in. The show itself was timed to attract the tens of thousands of motorcyclists and classic car lovers who would be gathering in Lake George for the Americade motorcycle rally and traveling throughout the Adirondack National Park region after Memorial Day.
The 511 Gallery in Lake Placid is a branch of the 511 Gallery in the Chelsea district of New York where Dunker had shown prints from his Dismantling Geneva Steel series two years ago.
Being invited to build an exhibition around classic cars and motorcycles was a natural for him, because Chris Dunker is a vintage car enthusiast himself. A 1972 Ford F250 truck displayed in the show belongs to him, and like many of the vehicles he photographs it has a story behind it. The vehicle had been his dad’s first truck, and Dunker has fond memories of spending time with his facther in the truck: “We camped in that truck, explored mines in Nevada, went to the dump, moved furniture, hauled wood, and changed U-joints.” Toward the end of his life, Chris’s father gave him the truck and said “Have fun with it!”
Many of the other vehicles depicted in the Things We Love exhibition belonged to friends or acquaintances. The rest were vehicles he had photographed over the past seven or eight years.
About half of the images were shot digitally on a 39-megapixel Hasselblad H3D II-39; the rest were shot on film and scanned with a Crosfield drum scanner.
Chris says the car owners were flabbergasted when they first saw the mounted prints of their vehicles. Each owner considers their vehicle a work of art in itself, because they have invested so much time and energy in restoring, painting, and polishing it. This deep sense of pride and joy is further intensified when they see how wonderfully the vehicle has been photographed and converted into to a gallery-worthy piece of art.
“Many of the vehicles I’ve photographed carry meaningful associations with them. Years of hard work. A dream realized. A connection to a loved one,” explains Chris. “When I photograph vehicles, it’s very much like photographing a person. They each have distinctive lines and proportions, characteristic curves, color, reflective qualities, and stances. I attempt to reveal the essence of that character through photographs.” The prints displayed at the show were offered in limited editions of five.
Janice Thomas, who manages the 511 Gallery in Lake Placid, says, “I love the prints, and I’ve been looking at them since Memorial Day weekend. The colors are beautiful and their mounting is perfect.” The aluminum mount is full bleed, with no visible apparatus supporting the image. When displayed, the image appears to be floating off the wall by about an inch.
While the Sunset Photo Metallic Paper worked particularly well with the reflective qualities and colors of the vehicles, Chris believes LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic paper is well suited for many other types of images. He urges fellow photographers to regard it as another valuable tool for creative visual expression. Chris reports that the photo-eye gallery in Santa Fe just sold one of his ‘Light Tunnel’ prints which was printed on Sunset Photo Metallic and displayed without the polyurethane coating.
If you have any questions about LexJet Sunset Photo Metallic paper, contact a LexJet account specialist at 800-453-9538.