Prints That Win: Upstairs Downstairs

Upstairs Downstairs Gordon Kreplin
“Upstairs Downstairs” by Gordon Kreplin, winner of the 2015 Virginia PPA print competition.


Sometimes the most dramatic photographs can be made in the blink of an eye. When North Carolina portrait, landscape and architectural photographer Gordon Kreplin toured a local Parade of Homes event, he set up a few lights and took one shot while the hallway was clear. That one shot, named “Upstairs Downstairs,” won Kreplin the 2015 Virginia Professional Photographers Association‘s print competition.

“I probably shot 15 houses that day, and this was the last one,” Kreplin says. “I loved the composition and entry into the rooms as well as the architectural lines.”

To evolve the photo from a straight-forward architectural shot to something a bit more moody, he created a faux high-dynamic range (HDR) in Photoshop. He printed the image on Sunset Fibre Elite, available from LexJet, and mounted it on a 16-x-20-inch black gator board. “I don’t typically finish the print at all by putting a lacquer on it,” he says. “It can make it look milky in the light and it dulls the blacks.”

Gordon Kreplin, M. Photog., Cr.
Gordon Kreplin, M. Photog., Cr.

A concert guitarist for 25 years, Kreplin began photographing the different areas he traveled to while performing. He and his wife began a recording label, and his photos would often grace the CD covers. When people started asking where they could get the images, he realized maybe it was time for a career switch.

He joined the Professional Photographers Association in 2000, but didn’t start entering print competitions until 2009. “I volunteered frequently on the district and state level so I could be there to listen to the judges [during competitions],” he says. Handling his portrait printing in-house helped him perfect his craft.

Today, his portrait studio focuses on high-end portrait work while he also exhibits art photography for the love of it. He’s been printing on LexJet products for the past 10 years, he says. “I’m so grateful to the folks at LexJet and their help for the last bunch of years,” he says. “They’re such helpful tech people to talk to.”

Printing Available Reality for a Gallery Show

Printing images for a gallery show

Award-winning PPA photographer Gordon Kreplin, owner of Ascencion Photography, is well know on North Carolina’s Outer Banks for his portrait photography, but he also has a sterling collection of photographic art, a series of which is being displayed this month at the Ghost Fleet Gallery in Nags Head, N.C.

When I spoke with Kreplin this afternoon he was busily battening down the hatches for the impending arrival of Hurricane Sandy, or at least the battering outer bands of the storm, as it storms past his location.

That’s reality, but the series on display at Ghost Fleet Gallery is called Available Reality, which is a little different. Kreplin explains that the concept is to strip away any preconceptions one may have about the scene portrayed in the image in front of them.

“With any type of art – whether it’s a painting, a sculpture or a photograph – the capture is not something done by the artist or photographer, but it happens because I’m available to it. It’s about pulling the veil away and allowing a relationship to take place without preconceived notions,” explains Kreplin.

To better portray Available Reality, Kreplin used Nik Software’s Silver Efex filters, particularly the infrared filter, to provide more drama, depth and dimension to the images. Most of the images were printed in black and white with a smattering of color, providing splashes of contrast in the gallery presentation.

“Some of those images didn’t work as well in color. When I switched to black and white and used the filters they popped out and became more dramatic,” says Kreplin. “The idea for me is that if the composition doesn’t work in black-and-white it doesn’t work. I always try to use that approach. In terms of zones, if it doesn’t work in color it’s not going to translate to black and white if you don’t have good exposure levels across all your zones.”

To ensure the best possible presentation, Kreplin chose LexJet Sunset Fibre Elite 285g for the print medium. Sunset Fibre Elite is one of Kreplin’s staple inkjet photo materials because it provides a wide dynamic range for his images.

“Sunset Fibre Elite accepts such a high dynamic range that it creates a better sense of depth. I’m able to cover all the zones – my blacks are really black and my whites have detail –so it allows me to broaden my vision of an image and see it a little better,” says Kreplin. “When I go from my Hasselblad RGB to Adobe RGB I can print directly to my Epson 9900 at 16-bit and the Fibre Elite really gets the dynamic detail. I absolutely love the paper.”

To view the images from Available Reality on display at Ghost Fleet Gallery, click here, and here’s a slideshow of the display in the video embedded below…

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.”

Making a Splash with the Promotional Power of Large Format Prints

Printing storefront promotional banners

It’s almost that time of year along North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Summer vacationers will soon flock to the area for R&R. Along the way it’s likely they’ll be stopped in summertime traffic right in front of Ascension Photography.

Ascension Photography’s proprietor and award-winning PPA photographer, Gordon Kreplin, recently placed traffic-stopping banners to give beachgoers food for thought as they make their way (slowly) to their destinations.

Promotional large format bannersAs a big believer in the power of print, and printing his own work, Kreplin had limited options for showcasing his work outside his studio and toward the road. After consulting with his LexJet customer specialist, Michael Clementi, Kreplin decided on two banners – one with a single horizontal image and another with two basically square images – placed together on the railing outside the second-floor studio.

Each banner is about 50 inches long by 40 inches high and printed on LexJet 11 Mil Valeron Banner with Kreplin’s Epson Stylus Pro 9900. To secure the banners, Kreplin used LexJet Banner Ups (White) and plastic ties from the local hardware store for extra stability. Kreplin says the banners weathered the first Nor’easter they encountered, so a summertime run looks good.

“It took me awhile to figure out the best ICC profile for the banner material, but I found a LexJet canvas profile that worked well through ImagePrint. For a poster-type image it looked great. The skin tones turned out beautifully and I was able to control the final output almost as much as a more high-end print,” says Kreplin.

Kreplin shoots with a Hasselblad H4D-31 and adjusted the images a bit using onOne Software’s Genuine Fractals and nik Software tools to bring out the highlights and draw more attention to banners that will typically be seen from at least 25 yards away.

“We’re very pleased with it, and we’re going to do more. The beauty salon would like something similar on their side of the building. In fact, I may wrap the whole building,” laughs Kreplin.