Sunset Image Awards Spotlight – Kenneth Martin & Jamie Steeno

When LexJet hosted the Sunset Image Awards Click & Win Event earlier this year, the categories began to fill quickly. One of the most competitive groups was the Wildlife & Landscape category, with over 400 submissions. For Kenneth Martin, who won with “Sacred Lands of the Navajo”, and Jamie Steeno, who placed second with “The Courtyard”, there’s quite a story behind the captures.

The couple, based in Green Bay, Wis., each submitted a photo for the contest without telling the other. “Neither one of us knew the other was entering, and we live in the same house,” says Steeno. The judging came up, and Ken says, ‘I’ve got to get to the studio before the Click & Win judging’ and that’s how we found out the other entered.”

While both images are taken at Hunts Mesa, Ariz., they each have their own story to tell.

Martin set up the exclusive adventure as a birthday present for Steeno. “I’ve been to Monument Valley on many occasions and I’ve always wanted to get to the top of Hunts Mesa,” he says. “That’s a special guided tour, only by the Navajo. I purchased two tickets to the top of Hunts Mesa to wish Jamie a Happy Birthday. It was a unique adventure.”

Steeno agrees. “We are instructors for Down Every Road Adventures. We explore the adventures ourselves, then we put together a workshop,” she says. “Here we are walking on these buttes that people are normally looking up at. So, we are getting a totally different view.”

The Courtyard
“The Courtyard” – Jamie Steeno

While the views from the top are peaceful and serene, getting to that vantage point was quite literally a bumpy ride. “We loaded up a couple of SUVs and as we were on the ascent to Hunts Mesa, the road got extremely rough,” says Martin. “You’re buckled in tight, and you feel like salt in a saltshaker.”

Once they reached the top, they prepared for a nighttime shoot, which is when Steeno captured her image. “The Courtyard” is a black and white sunset image. “I chose to do mine in the old-time zone system. I felt that it brought more depth to the image, the old-time feel,” she says. “It’s in a historic area, sacred grounds. I thought that image would be better portrayed in black and white.”

While Steeno was focused on recreating a historical look, Martin chose a sunset shoot to capture every detail for “Sacred Lands of the Navajo”.

“It is a 28-image capture that I then photo merged in PhotoShop. It took 8-10 minutes to shoot,” he says. “I could have captured everything with a wide-angle lens, but the mesas and buttes in the far background would’ve just disappeared. I employed a 100 mm focal length which brought that background up closer.”

Taking first place in the Sunset Image Awards isn’t his only win for this image. “I got third in the Grand Imaging Awards. Just getting to the platform is an honor,” Martin says.

It’s not just about capturing a great image for an award-winning photo, it’s also about having the right equipment and media.

Both photographers are avid fans of Canon equipment – both cameras and printers – and Martin recently purchased the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100 Printer from LexJet. “I got my first big printer, a Canon 8300, from LexJet. When it came time to replace the motherboard, I just purchased a Canon 2100, instead,” he says.

When it comes to media, both Martin and Steeno each have their favorites. “My favorite media is EPSON Premium Luster. For canvas, I use the Sunset Select Matte Canvas. I decided to go with the 24-inch printer so I could print 20-inch x 30-inch or 20-inch x 40-inch canvases. They are easier to handle than the larger ones I was doing on the 8300,” says Martin.

For some of the specialized work that Steeno does, she prefers something that offers a bit more shine. “For the light painting, cars, and motorcycles that we shoot, I love the Sunset Photo Metallic,” she says. “It makes the color pop. It’s amazing.”

This competitive couple was introduced to LexJet years ago through the Sunset Print Awards. “I first heard of LexJet when I won my first Sunset Print Award and I’ve been a customer since,” says Martin.

“In 2015, one of my other images – “Watercourse” – won the LexJet Sunset Print Award,” says Steeno.

For this dynamic photography duo, it’s not only capturing award-winning photos that keep them going, but also the adventure and, of course, their competitive spirit. “I’m continuously motivated to up my game to stay ahead of Jamie,” says Martin. “We’re very competitive. It keeps us on our toes,” says Steeno.

Looking to “Get Recognized”? Submit your photo through Sept. 3 for the next Sunset Image Awards and you could win $300 in cash if your image is selected by our judging panel. For more information on Canon printers or LexJet media, contact a LexJet sales specialist at 800-453-9538 or visit LexJet.com.

Print & Win Judges Offer Tips for Capturing Competition-worthy Photos

With over 600 submissions for the Print & Win Competition, it was tough to narrow it down to the images that were selected to face the judges’ panel. In fact, there were several images that were on the cusp of making it to the panel.

Given that there was so much discussion about the images, several of the original judges – Pete Wright, Jeff Bowman, and Dennis and Cheri Hammon – returned to share a rare, public learning opportunity for up and coming photographers and photographers who have never entered their work in a formal competition.

The judges selected a few of the images and offered some great talking points not only to the photographer of the image but also to anyone looking to learn and hone their skills. Dennis Hammon is excited to share this sneak peek into a judge’s mind.

“We want you to learn from everybody’s image. We want to give everyone the experience to understand what judges are looking for,” he says. “We’re looking for sharpness, technique, and story-telling. The composition and subject are so important.”

The judges picked a wide variety of images ranging from a boudoir capture to a kaleidoscope creation and discussed what the photographers did right and how the image could be improved for another competition or what a photographer could do differently for future competitions. The suggestions were as simple as a closer crop and choosing a different time of day to as technical as changing settings and doing additional post-production work.

A consensus among the judges is the best way to improve skill and technique is to continue entering competitions. As many past Sunset Print Award winners have stated, anytime they put their work in front of judges, they learn something to help them improve.

Whether the Click & Win Image Awards was your first or fortieth competition, check out the video above to eavesdrop on the conversation. Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know what you learned from the discussions.

Now that you’ve learned more about how to capture the perfect image, contact a LexJet specialist at 800-453-9538 to find out how to take the next step – printing. Remember, it’s not a photograph until it’s printed.

LexJet’s “The Click & Print Event” Sponsored by Canon is Now Open

“The Click & Print Event” starts today and runs through April 2. This is a virtual, interactive, and educational experience for photographers at every level and features eight of the world’s best Canon photographers together to focus on education on everything from capture, to edit, to print.

Hear from current and former Explorers of Light, including:

  • Clay Blackmore – Get Moving! How Video Can Grow Your Photography Business
  • Gary Hughes – Model Behavior: The Best Ways to Photograph People
  • Bob Davis – Great Images in a Flash: Techniques to Master Off-Camera Flash
  • Jeff Bowman – It’s More Than Just Funny Videos: How Social Media Can Grow Your Photography Business
  • Eddie Tapp – Finding Light in the Darkness
  • Joel Grimes – The Best of Both Worlds: Combining Digital Technology with Classic Photography Techniques

All this week, there will be live Q&A sessions with each of the keynote speakers, bonus content, and if you’ve never been a part of a photo competition, you can watch the judges as they discuss submissions for the Sunset Image Awards to gain insight into the judging process.

If you can’t make it to one of the sessions, don’t worry, all of the keynote discussions, the printer and software demonstrations, and other video content will be available on-demand through April 16.

You won’t want to miss the chance to save over $3,900 off MSRP with special event pricing on the purchase of a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-Series printer available through now through April 16.

Click HERE to see the full schedule of events and sign up now!

The ABCs of Creating Back to School Safety Graphics

As school bells start ringing and “First Day of School” photos start hitting social media, that can only mean one thing: school is back in session. With many school districts offering in-person teaching, e-learning, and a hybrid of both, there are questions about how to keep students informed of health and safety requirements as they return to class.

To sort through all the information and to discuss the tools and resources available, we brought together two teams of specialists: one for print service providers, offering additional product and application advice, and one for educators who have limited experience with large format printing.

For educators and faculty members, Canon Technical Analyst Pete Wright and LexJet Application Expert Michael Clementi join us to provide some guidance to teachers and educational staff who may be working with large format printers for the first time as school districts consider bringing printing in-house rather than outsourcing graphics.

Clementi and Wright discuss how easy it is to work with the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-Series 2100  and PosterArtist Lite, the free software that comes with the printer and they offer some suggestions for versatile media that can be used throughout the school for a variety of indoor and outdoor signage.

For PSPs, we sit down with LexJet Senior Account Executive, Ramiro Torrez, and Large Format Output Specialist, Nolan Dowdy, to discuss some of the applications and products that are available to help supply schools with health and safety signage for the upcoming school year.

When it comes to messaging in schools, consistency and location is the key. Reinforcing the everchanging guidelines put in place by the school, county, or state means that there could be the need for the quick and easy turnaround to get updated graphics installed.

For an in-house school print shop, some of the versatile and easy-to-install products that are compatible with the Canon printer include LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric for floor graphics, LexJet 8 mil Production Satin Photo Paper for posters, and LexJet TOUGHcoat Thrifty Banner and Banner Ups for banners. For PSPs, offering the right solution for the right location is paramount to helping keep the students and faculty safe.

The approaches of educators and PSPs might be a little different, but the end goal of keeping students safe and healthy is the same. You can learn more about their efforts by clicking HERE. If you have additional questions, you can also reach out to one of our specialists at 800-453-9538 or visit LexJet.com.

Catch up on LexJet’s Educational Series with “Let’s Go Replay”

If you missed the original broadcast of a Let’s Go session or you just want to watch your favorite again, you can find them in this replay library.

Here’s a rundown of past events:

  • LexJet Webcast: Several of our sales specialists reconvened to talk about how PSPs can get ready to re-open as well as ways they can help their customers understand what graphics are needed during this time of social distancing. In Navigating the Print Industry as Businesses Re-open, they also discuss different products for floor graphics, elevator graphics, and small business solutions.
  • Canon: Life Hacks for the Printmaker: Pete Wright discussed the best ways to create beautiful images with your Canon printer.
  • Onyx: ONYX unveiled new TruFit software: ONYX technical instructor Alicia Wallace demonstrated the recently released ONYX TruFit software.
  • Vinyl Applications Demos: Steve Lowe from LexJet and Keith Bernard from Now That’s a Wrap demonstrated a variety of real-world applications for HP Adhesive Vinyl.
  • Window Textile: Johan Bonner from Squid Textiles discussed many of the glass décor applications for the high-end self-adhesive textile.
  • Social Media Marketing: Shellie Terry & Adam Wentworth from S-One’s marketing team discussed the best social media marketing practices during and after a high visibility event like COVID-19.
  • Dye-Sub Applications: Epson’s Tim Check talked about the Epson F-Series Printers and some of the most popular dye-sub applications.
  • Latex Print & Cut Demo: Catch a replay of Timothy Mitchell – HP’s Solutions Architect – discussing the benefits of latex printing in this HP Latex Print & Cut Academy.

Stay tuned, as we continue to create more sessions, including choosing the right equipment, specialty applications and demos, and more appearances from LexJet specialists.

For a full list of COVID-19 industry information, visit our resources page.

If you have additional questions, you can reach out to a member of our team at 800-453-9538 or visit LexJet.com.

ICYMI: Catch up on the Let’s Go Educational Series

Over the last few weeks, LexJet has partnered with experts from all facets of the printing industry to bring you the informative series Let’s Go. If you missed any or want to catch them again, you can see the full library HERE.

Choose from these previous sessions:

  • Onyx TruFit Software
  • Vinyl Application Demos
  • Squid Window Textile
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Dye-sub Applications
  • Latex Print & Cut

Stay tuned for future events with other industry experts and hear from some of your favorite LexJet representatives. For more information, give us a call at 800-453-9538 or visit us at LexJet.com.